Environment

New York Thruway
9:20 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Tappan Zee Bridge to Be Replaced Using 400-Foot Floating Crane

The current Tappan Zee Bridge from Westchester County, New York.
Credit Brett Weinstein / Creative Commons

The Tappan Zee bridge across the Hudson River is being replaced, and to get the job done, one of the world's largest floating cranes has arrived in New York.

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Great Plains Oil Rush
10:08 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Much Of North Dakota's Natural Gas Is Going Up In Flames

Gas flaring near Highway 85 southwest of Williston. Analysts estimate that almost 30 percent of the gas being produced in the state is burned off.
Jeff Brady/NPR

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:44 am

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.

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Space
3:30 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Asteroid Belt May Be Just One Big Melting Pot Of Space Rocks

An artist's concept of a narrow asteroid belt orbiting a star similar to our own sun.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:32 am

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.

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Great Plains Oil Rush
11:04 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Oil Boom: See A Modern-Day Gold Rush In Motion

Ritter Brothers, a jewelry shop in Williston, N.D., sells novelties that might appeal to those benefiting from the region's recent oil boom.
Annie Flanagan for NPR

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.

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Utilities
6:01 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Officials Delay Decision On Fate of UI's Ambitious Tree-Cutting Plan

A downed power line following an ice storm in 2011.
Chion Wolf / WNPR

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."

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Open Season On Open Land?
2:12 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

State Parks and Forests Aren't as Protected as You Think

Credit Flickr Creative Commons / ChrisHConnelly

If you think Connecticut's roughly 270,000 acres of forests and parks are protected forever, you're wrong. That's according to a new report from Connecticut's Council on Environmental Quality claiming state conservation lands aren't always preserved forever.

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Invasive Species
1:31 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Environment Committee Holds Informational Forum on Aquatic Invasive Plants

Don Les of UConn speaks before the Environment Committee.
Credit CT-N

The Environment Committee of the state legislature held an informational meeting on Tuesday about aquatic invasive species. 

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection notes a number of non-native plants and animals that cause problems for native species, such as zebra mussels, rusty crayfish, and an aggressive perennial called hydrilla.

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Antarctica
8:28 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Yale Student Treks to the South Pole at Record Pace

Yale student Parker Liautaud and explorer Doug Stoup in Antarctica.
The Willis Group

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.

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North is South and South is Cold
6:57 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Looking To Escape The Deep Freeze? Head To Alaska

A man walks across a bridge in Trenton, N.J., on Saturday. More cold weather is headed his way.
Mel Evans AP

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:

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Weathering the Storm
2:48 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

UConn Launches New Climate Change Institute

The Institute will be located at UConn's Avery point campus on Long Island Sound.
Credit Harriet Jones / WNPR

The University of Connecticut has launched a new institute that will focus on how the state and the nation can adapt to climate change.

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Metro-North
12:18 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Malloy: Metro-North Outage Was "Totally Avoidable"

MTA signal maintainers clearing switches after a snowfall.
Credit Marc A. Hermann / MTA

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. 

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Leadership Changes
1:11 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Top Esty Aide Named As New Commissioner of DEEP

Robert Klee will take over as the new head of Connecticut's DEEP.
Credit Yale World Fellows

Robert Klee, a lawyer who served as chief of staff to Dan Esty, will take over as the new commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Agriculture
5:27 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Should Farmers Give John Deere And Monsanto Their Data?

Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 8:01 pm

Starting this year, farmers across the Midwest can sign up for a service that lets big agribusiness collect data from their farms, minute by minute, as they plant and harvest their crops.

Monsanto and John Deere are offering competing versions of this service. Both are promising to mine that data for tips that will put more money in farmers' pockets.

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Again with the weather
7:20 am
Tue January 21, 2014

What Is This Bombogenesis And Why Is It Dumping Snow On Us?

People walk in a park along the Hudson River across from New York City as snow begins to fall in Hoboken.
Gary Hershorn Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 8:54 pm

  • From the NPR Newscast: 'Bombogenesis'

Just as we're getting used to hearing about the polar vortex, there's another cool-sounding weather term being thrown around that we've had to look up:

Bombogenesis

This post by Philadelphia meteorologist John Bolaris caught our eye: "Old Man Winter to drop bombogenesis."

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Game of Cones
2:15 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Brace Yourselves, Potholes Are Coming

Potholes in New York City. This winter's multiple frost/thaw cycles are expected to contribute to a high volume of potholes in the spring.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

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."

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Agriculture
8:02 am
Mon January 20, 2014

How Food Hubs Are Helping New Farmers Break Into Local Food

Marty Travis (right) started the Stewards of the Land food hub in 2005. His son Will helps him transport food from local farms to area restaurants.
Sean Powers Harvest Public Media

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.

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Space
6:26 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Mars Or Bust: Putting Humans On The Red Planet

Tracks from NASA's Opportunity rover disappear toward the horizon on the Meridiani Plains of Mars. The rover has been on the planet since 2004.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 6:42 pm

"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.

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Wildlife
4:11 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

To Save Threatened Owl, Another Species Is Shot

A northern spotted owl in a Redwood forest.
Michael Nichols Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 12:19 pm

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.

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Now You Know
3:27 am
Thu January 16, 2014

An Old Tree Doesn't Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Bodybuilder

The world's biggest trees, such as this large Scots pine in Spain's Sierra de Baza range, are also the world's fastest-growing trees, according to an analysis of 403 tree species spanning six continents.
Asier Herrero Nature

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 9:12 am

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.

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Rubbish
3:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

A Compost Professional Explains How It's Done

Composting can be complicated. But you should try it.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

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. 

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Leadership Changes
12:04 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Dan Esty To Leave DEEP, Return To Yale

Dan Esty has led Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection since 2011.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Dan Esty will step down as commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection effective Feb. 3. He told Governor Malloy he plans to return to a teaching position at Yale. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:04 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Why Compost?

Susannah Castle runs Blue Earth Compost.
Chion Wolf WNPR

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?

This hour, a heap of information about compost!

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West Virginia
11:43 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Thousands Have Water Again In W.Va. As 'All-Clear' Areas Spread

4:45 p.m. ET, Jan. 14: Areas in red still can't use their water. But the blue area is starting to expand.
West Virginia American Water

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 9:23 pm

The map that shows residents of nine counties in West Virginia whether they can start using the water from their taps is slowly starting to change from red to blue.

That's good news because blue means customers in those areas can start flushing their homes' and businesses' pipes — and after that, start using their water again for cooking, cleaning and drinking.

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NIMBYISM, Considered
7:00 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Wind Turbines Have Little Impact on Property Values, Study Finds

A new study observing 122,000 home sales in Massachusetts says nearby wind turbines have little impact on residential property values.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / lamoix

A new UConn report looked at more than 120,000 Massachusetts home sales and found wind turbines have little impact on prices. Carol Atkinson-Palombo is co-author of the paper, which tracked the data spanning a 14-year period.

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West Virginia
7:04 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Slowly, Water Is Flowing Again In West Virginia

On Saturday in South Charleston, W.Va., Cathy Mabe was one of many who came to get water from a temporary filling station.
Lisa Hechesky Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 8:20 pm

  • 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.

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West Virginia
11:02 am
Sun January 12, 2014

Chemical In West Va. Water More Diluted, But Still Unsafe

Members of the Nitro Volunteer Fire Department distribute water to local residents on Saturday.
Michael Switzer AP

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.

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West Virginia
10:12 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Hundreds Of Thousands Still Without Water In W. Va.

Shelves at Krogers remain empty after running out of water in Kanawha City a neighborhood of Charleston on Friday.
Tom Hindman Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 3:59 pm

(This post was last updated at 4 p.m. ET.)

For the third day in a row, hundreds of thousands of West Virginians are unable to drink, cook or wash with the water in their homes.

During a press conference, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre, who oversees the states largest water treatment plant, said it could be days before the water is safe for use.

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Invasive Insects
9:44 am
Sat January 11, 2014

The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees

Tom Tiddens, supervisor of plant health care at the Chicago Botanic Garden, displays bark with beetle larvae.
David Schaper NPR

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

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.

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Architecture
5:25 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Historic House Is Yours Free, But There's A Catch

Architects at Paolasquare International are giving away this historic house in Arlington, Va. for free.
Sarah L. Voisin The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:53 pm

This little house is looking for a home.

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.

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Genetic Modification
12:39 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

A Green-Movement Website Shakes Up The Debate Over GMOs

After Grist's six-month-long series on genetically modified foods, some loyal readers accused the site of changing directions in the debate.
iStockphoto

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.

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