Schoolkids might soon know more about climate change than you do. Millions of young Americans will finally be taught, in a methodical manner, about the science behind the biggest threat to their generation: climate change.
Inside Climate News reports that new national science standards, which will make global warming lessons a part of the public school curriculum, are expected to be adopted by the 26 states that helped craft them. Another 15 states have indicated that they may also adopt the standards. Textbook publisher McGraw-Hill thinks that number could climb even higher.
A WNYC and ProPublica analysis of federal data shows at least 10,500 home and business owners have been approved for $766 million in SBA [Small Business Administration] disaster loans to rebuild in areas that the government now says could flood again in the next big storm. The data, which shows loans approved through mid-February, was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.
Nearly all of America's cities contain brownfields -- contaminated, abandoned sites that can be as big as old rail yards or as small as former dry cleaners. The EPA estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfield sites nationwide.
Greening all those brownfields is no easy task, and the EPA's Brownfields Program still has a long way to go. But a new bill introduced in Congress could help.
The BUILD Act -- BUILD stands for Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development -- would make brownfields cleanup grants available to a wider variety of groups and local governments, and would generally smooth the way for communities to redevelop these properties. The bill specifically calls for extra assistance for disadvantaged and rural communities.
The legislation is sponsored by a motley bipartisan crew of senators: Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.). That's right: Republicans are working with Democrats to support the EPA's efforts to clean up cities. Even in these mad, sequestery times, there appears to be a bit of sanity on Capitol Hill.
With year-round high temperatures and less than two inches of rain on average a month, the desert town of Lancaster, Calif., just north of Los Angeles, seems like a great place for solar. But Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris isn't taking any chances (which is exactly what you would expect from a mayor named R. Rex Parris).
Parris, a Republican, is "hell-bent on branding his sprawling Antelope Valley community not just as the solar capital of California but as the 'solar energy capital of the world,'" according to Mother Nature Network.
The mayor is proposing a zoning change that would require houses built after Jan. 1, 2014, to include solar-power systems. Lancaster has long been a solar leader, but Parris is trying to take it to a whole 'nother level, pending the city council's vote.
That's the message from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La). She is among the lawmakers who say the federal government needs to cut the company some slack and allow it to bid on Gulf Coast drilling leases when they're auctioned off by the Department of Interior later this month. The company was temporarily banned by the EPA in November from bidding on new leases because of the "lack of business integrity" it demonstrated "with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response."
That ban has now dragged into its fourth hellish month and has so far prevented the company from bidding at one entire auction. Enough is enough, as far as Landrieu is concerned.
On Tuesday, the U.S. EPA hosted a bee summit to talk about the problem. "The EPA has been working aggressively to protect honey bees and other pollinators," the agency says. "The 2013 Pollinator Summit is part of the agency’s ongoing collaboration with beekeepers, growers, pesticide manufacturers and federal and state agencies to manage potential pesticide risks to bees."
The summit highlighted some sobering details on the scope of the problem, but it also gave a platform to Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont, and Monsanto -- companies that make the very kinds of pesticides that have been linked to bee deaths. This week, Bayer also announced a "bee care tour" and new efforts to "minimize the impact" of neonicotinoid pesticides that mess with bee brains.
Yesterday's #EPA#beesummit was a farce. What gives? All about efficient new technologies, not about protecting pollinators.
I would probably be bitter, too, if I were Beef Products, Inc. Those are the folks behind uber-gross "lean finely textured beef," aka "pink slime," the ammonia-soaked cow trimmings added as filler to ground beef. During pink slime's heyday, it ended up in more than two-thirds of American hamburgers, at a ratio of up to 15 percent slime to 85 percent burger. That slime was cheap, and so chemical-packed that it sterilized the rest of the meat. Mmm, food!
According to TIME, only about 5 percent of ground beef contains the "lean finely textured" stuff now. Following an 11-part ABC News series that ran last March and April, BPI says its revenues have dropped from more than $650 million a year to $130 million. The company filed a lawsuit last September against ABC, anchor Diane Sawyer, and other named defendants seeking $1.2 billion in damages. ABC didn't coin "pink slime" -- a USDA scientist named Gerald Zirnstein did, in 2002 -- but ABC and its parent company Disney sure do have deep pockets.
BPI has hired "a high-powered Chicago trial lawyer," according to Reuters, which reports the case "is shaping up to be one of the most high-stakes defamation court battles in U.S. history." The company's founders say they plan to fight 'til the bitter, slimy end, regardless of the cost. "We have to do this," one told Reuters. "We have no other choice."