Robinson Township in western Pennsylvania is home to a couple thousand residents and about 20 fracked wells. In a resounding victory for common sense and for local governments throughout the state, residents there and in six other towns won an epic court battle last week that will give them back the right to regulate or even evict the fracking operations in their midst.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday struck down elements of a state law that had prevented local governments from regulating fracking activities. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
Nature is so sweet! No, literally: Diet drinks are turning rivers into something out of Candyland. This is bad news for most of us, but good news if you’ve ever wished fresh spring water was more like Sprite.
Scientists poked around the Grand River in Ontario, Canada, which feeds into Lake Erie (so pay attention, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York). They found “elevated concentrations” of sucralose, saccharin, and two other sweeteners less fun to say. Apparently the 30 water treatment plants that dump into the river aren’t filtering everything out. Writes the L.A. Times:
Antidepressants, antibiotics, steroids and fragrances are among the products that have been detected in surface waters. Some of the contaminants have been found in fish tissue. Some compounds not only get through sewage plants, they also survive purification of drinking supplies and have been measured in trace amounts in municipal tap water.
Snowmen and -women might be the best climate activists (at least, until sweaty polar bears are commonplace). So thought the Onion in an oldie but goodie that just resurfaced on Reddit. The article includes these gems:
Joe Centigrade, president of the Advocates For Beings Of Frozen Precipitation, spoke at a mass rally Tuesday on Washington's National Mall.
"The unseasonably warm winters of the recent past are a clear indication of a real environmental threat to humans and their frozen simulacra," said Centigrade, his coals arranged in a frowning pattern. "As snowmen and snowwomen, we accept the inevitability of melting, but the actions of man are causing us to evaporate well before our time."
Speakers at the Washington rally included a Chicago snowwoman who had lost three snowchildren to warm temperatures, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Larry Chilly, formerly a 6-foot-tall, triple-segmented Muncie, IN snowman, who had been reduced to a slushy head.
Poor Larry! At least there was a good crowd of snowpeople at the rally (as well as stray snow abdomens rolling around). But of course there were skeptics too:
Q.Traditional wine bottles weigh a lot to transport, but the glass and cork seem to be good for recycling. The economical cardboard wine box weighs a lot less and can also be recycled or composted, but inside the box there is a plastic bag which may be recyclable, but may also impart unwanted ingredients to the wine.
Could we add a little weight in the formula to the health of the consumer, since the environmentally and politically active part of the population seems to include a higher percentage of wine drinkers (impression, not hard data), who, if they remain healthy, may better be able to help restore our planet's health?
Ron L. Philadelphia, Penn.
A. Dearest Ron,
Your question puts the environmental impact of wine in a whole new light. If the world indeed depends upon the health of our wine-swilling, lefty-leaning, grassroots-organizing neighbors, then the presence of dangerous chemicals in their Chablis is a matter of national, nay, global security.
And even if your assumption about a link between wine drinking and eco-activism doesn’t pan out (though it sure is fun to examine the evidence), the health effects of a particular wine package are worth considering when we’re choosing between bottles and boxes.
Earlier this month I wrote about the upcoming FDA monograph on triclosan, that plucky little disco-era chlorinated aromatic compound whose antifungal and antibacterial properties made it the hottest additive around for anyone afraid of germs/decay. Were you a seller of hand soap or toothpaste, looking to make your product seem even more awesome by saying that it was "antibacterial" rather than just regular "soap" and "toothpaste?" Add triclosan. Were you selling something that you didn't want mold to grow on, like a mattress, or makeup, or a cutting board? Add triclosan to it. Now, after years of pressure from activists, …
The politics of climate change and dirty energy in the U.S. have changed for the worse over the last five years, as I noted on Friday. The percentage of Americans accepting the reality of climate change declined dramatically, although it has recently rebounded. Senate Republicans who had previously supported proposals to cap carbon emissions, such as John McCain, refused to vote for any cap-and-trade bill after Obama took office. Several Republican contenders for president in 2012 -- Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty -- recanted their previous admissions that climate change is real.
The reasons usually given for this backsliding are the economic downturn and the GOP’s reactionary opposition to anything President Obama supports. A new study by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, released Friday afternoon in the journal Climatic Change, suggests another reason: massive investment in climate change denial by interests that benefit most from frying the Earth.
If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard more about this, it’s because those interests are hiding it. Brulle found that wealthy right-wing ideologues and dirty energy corporations are using foundations with innocuous-sounding names as middlemen for their efforts to sow confusion about climate science.
This article originally appeared on Food52.com. You've all heard the expression, "It's the thought that counts." It's probably what you told yourself after a dinner guest brought Franzia as a house gift or your great aunt gave you socks for your birthday ... again. While we do our best to be grateful for every gift that comes our way, we want to give gifts that are more than plain old thoughtful. Instead, we want to give gifts that leave our loved ones in awe of our great culinary prowess. Gift-giving isn't a competition, but if it were, these homemade treats would …
This is going to drive the Tesla-haters crazy. The luxury electric-car maker is getting a huge new tax break from California, SFGate reports. The state will let it off the hook for sales and use taxes on some $415 million in new equipment it’s purchasing in order to expand production of the Model S at its Bay Area factory. That amounts to a $34.7 million tax break to produce more of a vehicle whose sticker price starts above $70,000.
Tax breaks for the rich! Corporate giveaways! The working people forced to pay for tech titans’ fancy rides!
Well, sort of. But as SFGate’s David R. Baker explains:
When Barack Obama took the oath of office for the first time, the day began with a faint electric hum in the air -- as though the neighborhood I lived in was a sound stage and all of us, going about our daily routines, were on the verge of bursting into collective song. This was not far off. By the time night fell, a brass band had appeared and a dance party was in full swing. One of my last memories of that night is of a man dressed as Dick Cheney dancing in the middle of the street with a man dressed as a disco ball.
People were already voicing doubts that Obama could do much. Other people wondered exactly what mattered to this new president, what would he fight to accomplish. Hope was just one word, and there was a lot that we hoped for.
As 2013 winds down and we approach the longest night of the year, the question arises again: What, Mr. President, have you been doing for the environment? We now know what pretty much everyone suspected, which was that the Obama administration deliberately delayed implementing environmental regulations in the years before his reelection, on the grounds that it might keep him from winning a second term. But 2013? 2013 looked like it might be a magical year. This was the first year of Obama's last term as president, and it was hard to not experience that expectant feeling again -- as though perhaps, just perhaps, he would walk into a phone booth and come back out dressed like Captain Planet.
If you're talking to policy wonks like Jonathan Chait, who wrote a long and thoughtful article this May, Obama has done more for the environment than we realize. Obama didn't get enough credit for legislation like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Chait argued, which put a $90 billion subsidy into green energy. American wind-power generation has doubled, solar power has increased sixfold, and the move, Chait wrote, "transformed the Department of Energy, previously a sclerotic backwater charged mainly with overseeing the nuclear-weapons cache, into a massive new engine of cutting-edge environmental science."