A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.
North Dakota's oil boom isn't just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there's a problem with that: The state doesn't have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There's also no place to store it.
The asteroid belt, a ring of rubble between Mars and Jupiter, has sometimes been written off as discarded leftovers from the solar system's start. But new research published in the journal Nature shows that the belt actually formed during an unruly later era, when planets themselves were on the move.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 2:30 pm
If you've seen any coverage of North Dakota's oil boom, you've seen the images — oil rigs, truck traffic, "man camps," miles of temporary housing.
But there is something about this place that just can't be captured by a still photograph. It's a feeling you get when you cruise down an endless highway under a vast, big sky — until suddenly: BOOM. You're wedged between semitrucks dwarfing what was once a quiet farm town.
According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, PURA will now delay their decision on United Illuminating's ambitious tree-cutting plan past Wednesday, January 29, due to a public hearing request from UI to discuss "technical issues."
Parker Liautaud, 19, is a sophomore at Yale University studying geology and geophysics. He’s also a polar adventurer who just returned from an expedition, where he and another explorer broke the world record for the fastest unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.
Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 8:38 am
The National Weather Service is warning, once again, that brutally cold weather is going to be spreading across much of the nation, from the upper Midwest down to the deep South and up through the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England.
The Weather Service even throws an exclamation point into its forecast for this week:
Governor Dannel Malloy called Thursday night's Metro-North maintenance failure "totally avoidable." The outage brought the entire network of commuter trains to a halt for just under two hours in frigid temperatures.
As cold weather returns to Connecticut, a slew of potholes are expected to appear around the state. According to Jim Mahoney from the Connecticut Transportation Institute, "This is about as perfect as a setup as you can get for potholes, and unfortunately, every road is susceptible to them."
Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 4:10 pm
Lots of consumers are smitten with local food, but they're not the only ones. The growing market is also providing an opportunity for less experienced farmers to expand their business and polish their craft.
But they need help, and increasingly it's coming from food hubs, which can also serve as food processing and distribution centers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that there are about 240 of them in more than 40 states plus the District of Columbia.
"I don't know why you're on Mars, but whatever the reason for going to Mars is, I'm glad you're there and I wish I was with you."
That was a part of astrophysicist Carl Sagan's message, recorded a few months before he died in 1996, to the future human inhabitants of Mars.
Some of the earliest science fiction imagined voyages to the Red Planet. We now have the space-faring technology, and getting humans to Mars actually seems within reach. It would certainly involve massive resources and a lot of danger, but some believe the rewards would be massive.
In desperation to save the rare northern spotted owl, biologists are doing something that goes against their core — shooting another owl that's rapidly taking over spotted owl territory across the northwest.
"If we don't do it, what we're essentially doing, in my view, is dooming the spotted owl to extinction," says Lowell Diller, senior biologist for Green Diamond, a timber company.
Like other animals and many living things, we humans grow when we're young and then stop growing once we mature. But trees, it turns out, are an exception to this general rule. In fact, scientists have discovered that trees grow faster the older they get.
Once trees reach a certain height, they do stop getting taller. So many foresters figured that tree growth — and girth — also slowed with age.
As we began working on a Colin McEnroe Show about composting, Colin made sure we included Susannah Castle, who runs Blue Earth Compost. She provides pails to subscribers in the Hartford area, and for a monthly fee, picks up the pails full of food scraps and other compostable materials from the household once a week.
You may think that composting all your kitchen waste sounds like a good idea, but you probably don't realize how many things really can be composted, what services are available if you can't get yourself organized to do it, and if you do have a compost pile, which animals visit it at night, and for what purpose?
On 'Morning Edition': Ashton Marra reports from West Virginia
Relief is finally arriving for the 300,000 or so people in nine West Virginia counties who haven't been able to drink, cook or clean with their tap water for more than four days.
Officials announced at noon Monday that tests show the level of a potentially harmful chemical have fallen to the point where the water can be turned back on. But, they cautioned that the process of bringing customers back on line will take several days and has to be done systematically.
Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 11:39 am
The amount of a dangerous chemical in West Virginian's tap water is more diluted, but it is still unsafe for drinking, washing or bathing.
WCHS-TV reports that Col. Greg Grant with the National Guard told reporters that they are seeing readings of methylcyclohexane methanol dip below 1 part per million, the amount that the Center for Disease Control says is safe, but those readings have spiked from time to time.
"The numbers are turning in the right direction," Grant said.
While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.
That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.
In the past five years, 600 single-family homes have been demolished in Arlington, Va., many to make way for larger houses, according to a preservation group. One architectural firm is so determined to save one 1920s Sears kit house from demolition, it's giving the house away for free. But there's a catch: the buyer would need to pay to move it to a new location.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:52 pm
A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.
Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.