Environment

WNPR's Environmental Reporting Initiative is made possible by United Technologies Corporation.

ISO-New England

New England's electricity grid operator said natural gas pipeline bottlenecks and retirement of aging power plants could put pressure on the price of energy.

A new study published this week and led by a Bard College biology professor shows catastrophic flooding can be mitigated by protecting biodiversity.  WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne spoke with the lead author, who says though the flooding was studied in Germany, there could be comparisons to the Hudson Valley.

Wikimedia Commons

Plum Island, an 840-acre land mass in Long Island Sound, is becoming a focal point for environmentalists. That's because of government plans to sell the island to fund the construction of a new USDA animal-testing center. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

When it comes to space, there’s a lot to be excited about. Telescopes are scanning the farthest reaches of our galaxy and we’re learning more than ever before about the origins of planets.

John Cruden served with U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam, taking his law school aptitude test in Saigon and eventually becoming a government lawyer.

Earlier this month, he started a new job running the environment and natural resources division at the Justice Department. For Cruden, 68, the new role means coming home to a place where he worked as a career lawyer for about 20 years.

Cruden has been around long enough to have supervised the Exxon Valdeez spill case, a record-setter. That is, until the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Standing on Boston’s Long Wharf, John Barros, the city’s chief of economic development, recalled what the site looked like in January 2014, when a nor’easter brought record high tides.

“We’re at ground zero here,” said Barros, who was part of a steering committee that spent the past year working on a plan to prepare for storms like that one, as well as the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.

“When we think about what 2-to-5 feet means, which is some of the conservative estimates of sea rise, 2 feet, this place would probably be underwater every day,” he said.

More than a decade after it went missing, British scientists say they have found a small spacecraft on the surface of Mars.

Update at 6:46pm ET:

On their 19th day of climbing, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson reached the top of El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park at 3:25 p.m. PT. The Los Angeles Times reports the climbers' families were waiting for them at the summit. From The New York Times:

Health insurer Aetna is raising its minimum wage. The Hartford-based company announced that from April of this year, its lowest paid workers will receive $16.00 an hour. 

Weston Observatory / Twitter

Have you been feeling the earth move?

In what's becoming a daily event, a minor earthquake has shaken parts of eastern Connecticut.

Northeast Utilities

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has notified the Millstone Power Station of possible enforcement action following a November 24 inspection that found problems related to unspecified safety issues. 

The city of Northampton, Massachusetts is planning a number of solar power projects that would further reduce the city’s carbon footprint, while providing a new source of revenue.

As soon as this summer, Northampton is likely to join dozens of other municipalities in the state that have turned old landfills into solar farms. And, in what appears to be a first in western Massachusetts at least, solar arrays may pop up at some municipal parking lots, according to Chris Mason, the city’s energy officer.

The bat disease known as white-nose syndrome has been spreading fast, killing millions of animals. But for the first time, scientists are seeing hopeful signs that some bat colonies are recovering and new breakthroughs could help researchers develop better strategies for helping bats survive.

U.S. Geological Survey

Scientists on Monday recorded five small earthquakes within five hours in the same area of eastern Connecticut, including a 3.1-magnitude tremor felt more than 60 miles away in Massachusetts. 

SpaceX has successfully launched another resupply mission to the International Space Station months after a competitor in the private space-launch business suffered a catastrophic lift-off that resulted in the unmanned rocket's destruction.

Mamata.mulay / Creative Commons

Leaders in the state senate say there may be hope of reviving the Tenet Healthcare deal to buy five Connecticut hospitals.

The Texas-based hospital company pulled out of the partnerships after the state’s Office of Healthcare Access specified unacceptable conditions for a deal involving Waterbury Hospital. 

There's a cold front across much of the U.S. – with temperatures in places like New Orleans at around 29 degrees and Houston about 34 degrees. This map from NASA tells us just how cold it was on Wednesday.

The image was captured at 11 a.m. EST. Here's NASA's explanation:

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment / Creative Commons

Dorceta Taylor’s most recent book, Toxic Communities, takes a magnifying glass to the modern environmental justice movement. In it, she provides an in-depth analysis of some of the biggest environmental issues facing low-income and minority communities across the U.S. 

Northeast Utilities

Northeast Utilities is adopting a new name as part of a rebranding effort. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

These days of falling oil prices may be causing alternative fuel suppliers a few sleepless nights. But one tiny company in Eastern Connecticut is forging ahead with plans to break into the fuel pellet market with a surprising new ingredient. 

Keeping up with road repair — and finding funds to pay for it — is a struggle for many states, particularly in places where winter weather takes a toll on highways and streets. Wisconsin’s transportation department faces a deficit and is looking for ways to raise $750 million over the next two years.

There are 4,800 dams in New Hampshire but only two where a full time dam operator is required to live on site.  There's Moore Dam in Littleton and Murphy Dam in Pittsburg.  NHPR's Sean Hurley recently visited with Murphy Dam Operator Alan Williams to learn more about life on a dam. 

Near sunrise, nearly every morning, coffee in hand, Alan Williams leaves the dam house and walks up the dam road and heads out across the half mile bunker of piled earth that is the Murphy Dam.  

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant entered its final shutdown Monday at 1:03 p.m. The 620-megawatt reactor has been generating electricity for more than 42 years.

preserve1000acres.com

A fundraising effort to buy 1,000 acres of shoreline land is nearly complete.  The land is called The Preserve, and it spreads across Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook.  

Dave Ginsberg / Creative Commons

A national transportation research group says Connecticut’s deteriorating roads are costing state drivers more than $4 billion a year. 

NASA is building a new space telescope with astounding capabilities. The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018, will replace the aging Hubble Space Telescope and will provide unprecedented views of the first galaxies to form in the early universe. It might even offer the first clear glimpse of an Earth-like planet orbiting a distant star.

NASA's Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen

We know that technology and price can drive electricity demand, but what about culture?

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and a host of federal, state and local officials took an inaugural train ride Monday on newly rebuilt tracks in western Massachusetts.

The trip from Springfield to Greenfield highlighted the dawn of high speed passenger rail service along what is known as the Knowledge Corridor.  For the first time in decades passenger trains will stop in Northampton and Holyoke.  Kathleen Anderson, president of the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, said it opens a lot of possibilities including more tourism.

Creative Commons / angeloangelo

Legislators and lobbyists are calling for the state's largest electric utility to lower its fixed residential charge with a new proposal that would set Connecticut Light and Power's fixed rate at $10.00 a month.

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