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A collection of items and links to interesting stories and podcasts on environmental issues. Check here to see what we’ve found for you to explore. We’ll do the digging so you don’t have  to. If you have any suggestions for items you think might be appropriate to include here, please send them to bspinelli@spinellipinto.com.

Thursday January 4, 2018

Trump administration plans to allow expanded drilling off U.S. continental waters


Drill baby drill…I guess.

The Trump administration unveiled a controversial plan Thursday to permit drilling in all U.S. waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic, where oil and gas exploration is opposed by governors from New Jersey to Florida, nearly a dozen attorneys general, more than 100 U.S. lawmakers and the Defense Department.

More than 3 billion barrels of oil is recoverable on the outer continental shelf, along with more than 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the Interior Department, which announced the plan. States stand to gain royalties from extraction of these natural resources, and drilling could create hundreds of jobs.

But the plan faces a wave of bipartisan state opposition, led in part by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who has said: “I’m not in favor of offshore drilling.” A catastrophe on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil leak in 2010 would be disastrous for one of the state’s most precious resources, the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Read about it here.

Friday December 22, 2017

AP finds climate change risk for 327 toxic Superfund sites


Toxic Sites at Risk From Flooding

In Houston, more than a dozen Superfund sites were flooded by Hurricane Harvey, with breaches reported at two. In the Southeast and Puerto Rico, Superfund sites were battered by driving rains and winds from Irma and Maria.

The vulnerable sites highlighted by AP’s review are scattered across the nation, but Florida, New Jersey and California have the most, and the most people living near them. They are in largely low-income, heavily minority neighborhoods, the data show. Read about it here.

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come

Worse Than It Seems

Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control. Read about it here. You can go directly to the IPCC report at this link.


Monday March 3, 2014

GOP’s “inane” war on science: Plasma physicist congressman takes on the denialists

Congressman Rush Holt

Retiring New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt gave an interview to Salon magazine where he discussed the rejection of scientific research and information by our representatives in Congress.  You can read the full interview here. Holt, a plasma physicist and eight-term congressman (and five-time “Jeopardy!” champion), last month announced he’ll leave the House in January. For “future generations, who will pay an even greater price than the current generation from climate change,” Holt told Salon late last week, “it will be hard to explain to them the inaction of America and the U.S. Congress.” Holt’s departure from Congress does not bode well for our national policies moving forward.

Saturday March 1, 2014

Ash Spill Shows How Watchdog Was Defanged

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Last June, state employees in charge of stopping water pollution were given updated marching orders on behalf of North Carolina’s new Republican governor and conservative lawmakers.“The General Assembly doesn’t like you,” an official in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources told supervisors called to a drab meeting room here. “They cut your budget, but you didn’t get the message. And they cut your budget again, and you still didn’t get the message.” Read the full article here.

Thursday February 27, 2014

A Discussion on Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

More Certainty on Climate Change

For those of you who wish to get your information on climate change from experts, the US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society cordially invite you to join them for the release of “Climate Change: Evidence & Causes,” a new publication produced jointly by the two institutions. Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the publication is intended as a brief, readable reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative information on the some of the questions that continue to be asked.  For those of you who prefer other sources, there’s always right wing talk radio. Get the report here: http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/exec-office-other/climate-change-full.pdf

Friday February 21, 2014

Toxic Leak Taints North Carolina Coal Plants, And Regulators

Dan River Coal Ash Spill

The coal ash spill discussed here in That’s Not My Job has resulted in scrutiny of the NC regulators and Governor McCrory. The U.S. Justice Department began a criminal investigation into North Carolina’s coal ash ponds and the state’s environmental officials last week. The inquiry , The Associated Press reports, as federal prosecutors called for 20 state employees to testify before a grand jury.Read and listen here.

Tuesday December 4, 2013

Why Some Meteorologists Still Deny Global Warming

Joe Bastardi has made a cottage industry out of being a climate change skeptic.

Who are you going to believe? Actual scientists or the bubble heads who stand in front of a green screen and read a teleprompter?   Read the Mother Jones article here. Just before Thanksgiving, many conservatives seized on a new study examining the climate views of members of the American Meteorological Society. It’s no secret that there’s a schism between climate scientists and weather forecasters over climate change, and the study captured this, to skeptics’ delight. The fact that a sizable percentage of AMS members disagree with mainstream climate science represented “the latest in a long line of evidence indicating the often asserted global warming consensus does not exist,” according to Forbes blogger and Heartland Institute fellow James Taylor.

Monday November 25, 2013

New Plan to Clean-up Passaic River Draws Criticism

They actually pay people to come up with ideas like this!  Read this article. Sadly, it is not from the Onion. “This is only an attempt to help their bottom line since they’re looking at a very expensive cleanup,” said Mans, head of NY/NJ Baykeeper, an environmental advocacy group. “That you would stand on the banks of the river and hand out a healthy fish for a contaminated fish is nonsensical.” You tell ’em Debbie!

Tuesday November 19, 2014

Midwest Tornado Outbreak

With seven people dead and still many unaccounted for, federal and state emergency officials are beginning to assess the toll of a series of tornadoes that hit the Midwest Sunday afternoon. The Christian Science Monitor provided coverage of Sunday’s unprecedented tornado outbreak here. 194 tornado warnings have been issued in Illinois in the month of November since 1986; 101 of those warnings were issued Sunday.

Cyclone Cleopatra

The U.S. wasn’t the only place encountering unprecedented severe weather on Sunday. At least 18 people, including four children, have been killed in flooding on the Italian island of Sardinia after a cyclone and heavy rain struck the area. You can read about it here.

Wednesday January 9, 2012

The Market and Mother Nature

Thomas Freidman writes in today’s NY Times about our plunge towards the cliff both economically and environmentally.  You can read about it  here. He urges that we take notice because “we are actually taunting the two most powerful and merciless forces on the planet, the market and Mother Nature, at the same time.”  Indeed.

Saturday January 5, 2013

The Natural Gas Bubble

The natural gas industry is waging an aggressive public relations campaign to bolster investor confidence, despite evidence showing that shale gas is an unreliable resource and that the production process releases large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Although hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is in the media’s hot seat, the prospect of a drilling bubble coupled with the under reported problem of methane leakage may be the most destructive qualities of natural gas in the United States. Read about it here.

Wednesday October 24, 2012

Finding Zen in a Patch of Nature

The Domain at Sewanee

Not political, but a reminder of why understanding and protecting the environment is important. Read about biologist David Haskell here.   A professor at the University of the South has just published his memoir, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature. When I visited Sewanee with my son, I told him you go back to New Jersey, I’ll stay here! Here’s a little insight into why.

Tuesday October 23, 2012

Vote for the Dinner Party

GMO’s & The Food Supply

Read Michael Pollan’s article regarding California’s Proposition 37 and Genetically Modified food crops. If you care about what you’re eating and the potential implications of introducing food products from plants that have been genetically manipulated, you need to check this out. You can access the article by clicking here.

Sunday July 15, 2012

Our Newly Lush Life

Elevated Rail Line Turned Park-NYC’s High Line

A very interesting op-ed on the greening of urban America. New urban parks and green spaces can dramatically alter the landscape of our cities and improve the quality of life for hundreds of millions of Americans who live in urban areas. New York City can provide a great object lesson for how we can make our cities greener and more livable.

Saturday July 14, 2012

Chemicals and Health

Dry Cleaning-Just One Source Of Ubiquitous Chemicals In Our Environment

There are tens of thousands of chemicals in everyday products. Only a fraction of these have been tested for toxicity and health effects in the U.S. Host Bruce Gellerman talks to Richard Denison, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, about news studies that raise troubling health questions. Listen to the story fr0m the radio program Living on Earth here.

Tuesday July 10, 2012

New Study: Fluids From Marcellus Shale Likely Seeping Into PA Drinking Water

Fracking Rig Pennsylvania

Oh! Say it Ain’t So! New research has concluded that salty, mineral-rich fluids deep beneath Pennsylvania’s natural gas fields are likely seeping upward thousands of feet into drinking water supplies. Read the article in Pro Publica here.   Who could have foreseen that injecting chemical laden water into the ground would have an impact on groundwater?

Monday July 9, 2012

Top U.S. Science Official: ‘Climate Change Is Under Way…It’s Having Consequences In Real Time’

Colorado Wildfires Driven By Extreme Heat &  Drought

One of America’s top science officials says the current onslaught of extreme weather in the U.S. is raising awareness of climate change among Americans. Read here about a presentation made by NOAA chief Jane Lubchenko this week regarding an increase in extreme weather events and their relationship to climate change.

Saturday July 7, 2012

Kalamazoo River Spill Yields Record Fine

The Biggest Mess You Never Heard About

Ten days after the Macondo oil well was capped on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in July 2010, a pipeline in Michigan cracked open, leading to the biggest pipeline spill since records have been kept. Listen to the story about the spill of Canadian Tar Sands crude oil here from the radio program Living on Earth.

Friday June 29, 2012

‘Gasland’ Filmmaker Takes on Cuomo and ‘Dot.FlatEarth’

Map of Marcellus Shale Formations

Watch The Sky is Pink, a short film by Gasland documentary director Josh Fox here. After you spend a worthwhile 18 minutes checking out this new film, read an interview with the director in the New York Times here or a discussion of the film and proposed fracking in New York in Rolling Stone by clicking here.

Wednesday June 27, 2012

Cape Spin! An American Power Struggle

Offshore Wind Farm

When the energy entrepreneur Jim Gordon first proposed building the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, he assumed the project would be a slam dunk. Liberal Massachusetts communities would surely embrace a clean energy initiative, he figured. More than 10 years later, the offshore project is still not up and running, although it has passed some regulatory hurdles and survived a few legal challenges from locals who oppose the project. The long controversy is now the focus of a documentary, Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle. Read a synopsis of the documentary in the New York Times here. Check out the film’s trailer at this link.

Monday June 25, 2012

How About Gardening or Golfing at the Mall?

Last One Out
Please Turn Out The Lights

Is the “free market” catching up with sustainable planning? Malls, over the last 50 years, have gone from the community center in some cities to a relic of the way people once wanted to shop. While malls have faced problems in the past, the Internet is now pulling even more sales away from them. And as retailers crawl out of the worst recession since the advent of malls, many are realizing they are overbuilt and are closing locations at a fast clip. Read here about the trends that may make the monsters of sprawl go the way of the dinosaurs.

Sunday June 24, 2012

The BLM’s Corrupt Coal Leasing Program: Billions In Subsidies To Peabody, Gigatons Of Carbon Pollution For The Rest Of Us

Surface Coal Mining on BLM Lands

Check out this article from Climate Progress discussing how our public lands are being diverted for exploitation by coal companies. Next week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is scheduled to hold an “auction” for 721 million tons of taxpayer-owned coal in the Powder River Basin.  The BLM’s coal leasing program is deliberately designed to benefit a few coal mining companies like Peabody and Arch at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

Saturday  June 23, 2012

Fracking with Propane Instead of Water

Fracking Crew at Work in Pennsylvania

Listen to this story from this week’s PRI radio program Living on Earth. In an effort to avoid some of the issues involved with the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into deep rock formations, a Canadian company has turned to experimenting with the use of propane as a substitute for water.  This method is not without it’s own set of environmental hazards and consequences.

Wednesday June 20, 2012

Environmental Groups Say They Will Fight Cuomo’s Gas Drilling Plan

Fracking Rig

The Sierra Club, NRDC, Environmental Advocates of New York and a number of local environmental groups have joined to oppose a plan to permit hydraulic fracturing in areas of New York State along the Pennsylvania border. The groups position is that drilling should not be permitted until a full assessment has been made of the environmental and public health impacts of fracking has been completed. You can read about it here.

Tuesday June 19, 2012

Storm Intensity Forecasts Lag; Communities More at Risk

Hurricane Irene Makes Landfall at the NJ Coast

Is forecasting science keeping pace with climate change? The 2011 North Atlantic hurricane season cost the U.S. billions in damage, largely from inland flooding. Hurricane Irene alone killed 45 people and cost upwards of $7.3 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But while Irene’s storm’s track was forecast with near pinpoint accuracy days in advance, in keeping with the general state of the science, the intensity forecasts were not nearly as accurate. An article by Andrew Freedman that you can access here.

Monday June 18, 2012

In Its First Life, an Oil Platform; in Its Next, a Reef?

Platform High Island 389-A

The dormant oil platform known as High Island 389-A rises out of the Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles southeast of Galveston. An interesting debate has arisen over its removal. Read here about the discussion about the potential removal of a structure that has come to provide a rich marine habitat and a destination for fishermen and divers.

Sunday June 17, 2010

Under The ‘Nuclear Shadow’ Of Colorado’s Rocky Flats

Rocky Flats Nuclear Facility

Listen to an interview with author Kristen Iversen about her book Full Body Burden from NPR’s Fresh Air. Iversen spent her childhood in Colorado close to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons factory, playing in fields and swimming in lakes and streams that it now appears were contaminated with plutonium. Later, as a single mother, Iversen worked at the plant but knew little of its environmental and health risks until she saw a feature about it on Nightline.

Saturday June 16, 2012

Will the U.S. join the Law of the Sea?

Arctic Oil Drilling

Listen here as Living on Earth presents a discussion of the efforts to get the United States to join the international convention that governs resources that lie beyond national boundaries in what have long been considered international waters. The race is on for oil and minerals under the melting Arctic ice. But the U.S. is still not on board with the Law of the Sea, the UN treaty on who gets access to ocean resources.

Friday June 15, 2012

Vast Defenses Now Shielding New Orleans

An Inundated New Orleans

A $14.5 billion project to help protect New Orleans from future flooding is now in place. Read here about this massive public works project designed to avoid the disastrous consequences seen after Hurricane Katrina hit the Crescent City. As sea level rise continues, will other U.S. coastal cities require similar measures?

Climate change could cause ‘zombie weeds’

Wild Rice in Minnesota

An article by Rachel Cernansky discussing genetics, natural selection and climate change as it relates to weeds and our food supply. Has our use (or overuse) of  genetic selection and manipulation of food crops placed them at a disadvantage when it comes to adapting to changing climate conditions?

Tuesday June 12, 2012

Four Major Heat Records Fall in Stunning NOAA Report

Map of Latest Climate Data

An article by Andrew Freedman discussing the latest climate data released from the National Weather Service from the web site Climate Central. The lower 48 states set temperature records for the warmest spring, largest seasonal departure from average, warmest year-to-date, and warmest 12-month period, all new marks since records began in 1895.

Monday June 11, 2012

Virginia Lawmaker Says ‘Sea Level Rise’ Is A ‘Left Wing Term,’ Excises It From State Report On Coastal Flooding

Sea Level Rise Over The Last 130 Years

Its difficult to know just where to start. Virginia’s legislature commissioned a $50,000 study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state’s shores. In order for the project to move ahead, terms like “climate change” and “sea level rise” had to be removed from the study’s description.  According to the House of Delegates sponsor of the study, these are “liberal code words,” even though they are noncontroversial in the climate science community. Read about the latest political idiocy over climate change here. Stick your head in the sand, but not too close to the water.

Saturday June 9, 2012

The Oil Spill’s Threat to Academic Freedom

B.P’s Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Listen to this story from PRI’s Living on Earth here. An interesting discussion of academic freedom and litigation over B.P.’s Gulf  of Mexico oil disaster. Living on Earth host Steve Curwood talks about the issue with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Director of Research, Larry Madin.

Friday June 8, 2012

National Geographic: Philadelphia Cleans Up Stormwater With Innovative Program

Percy Street
Philadelphia, PA

We can do better with the built environment. Read how Philadelphia is working to use innovative methods to deal with styormwater runoff in the urban environment.  Retrofitting existing development to handle stormwater is one of our biggest challenges from both an engineering and design perspective. Just because its hard  doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

Bad News for the Badlands

Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch

Mining for oil in the Bakken Shale formations in the Badlands of North Dakota threatens  Theodore Roosevelt’s historic Elkhorn Ranch. You can read about it here. It’s hard to know where to even start listing the number of ways this is bad. The phrase “rolling over in his grave” does come to mind.

Thursday June 7, 2012

Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere

Headed For Trouble

Earth is rapidly headed toward a catastrophic breakdown if humans don’t get their act together, according to an international group of scientists. Read the article summarizing the report by Anthony Barnosky and a group of scientists. If you are a subscriber to the journal Nature, you can access the actual article here.

Americans disagree on everything, forever

Pew Poll on Environmental Attitudes

Article from Grist on the political divide in our nation and its implications for both electoral politics and the environment. Includes some interesting polling data from the Pew Research Center. The polls probably just confirm what you’ve been sensing as the general polarized attitudes of people towards environmental protection based upon their party identification. Access the Pew report here.

Wednesday June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury, Master of Science Fiction, Dies at 91

Ray Bradbury

Not about the environment, but the passing of this great writer should be noted. He was always thinking about the future and man’s role in shaping it. Isn’t that what protecting the environment is all about? RIP Ray and thank you for sharing your imagination with us. You can read his obituary in the New York Times here.

Tuesday June 5, 2012

The Planet Wreckers
Climate-Change Deniers Are On the Ropes — But So Is the Planet

Heartland Poster

A good read from Bill McKibben about both the politics and the reality of the climate change debate. You can find it here at  Tomsdispatch.com. There’s a great discussion of the political tactics of climate change deniers.

Monday June 4, 2012

Hands Across Riverdale: The Human Costs of Fracking

Fracking Bedford County, PA

Fracking has real consequences for the communities where drilling is occurring. Not all are positive. Read about one  town’s fight to exist in this article by Stanley Rogouski regarding the central Pennsylvania town of Riverdale. You can also read about the mobile home community’s struggles here.

Sunday June 3, 2012

An Oil Industry Witch Hunt in Canada Threatens Us All

Alberta Oil Sands Mining

An interesting article from Frances Beinecke  of the NRDC and Rick J. Smith of  Environmental Defence Canada discussing the political tactics of big oil in Canada regarding the Keystone XL pipeline and efforts to limit the mining of tar sands.

It wasn’t just the billboards: How activists brought down the Heartland Institute

Heartland Institute’s Climate Change Denying Billboard

Activism can be effective. Read here about  how public outcry over the Heartland Institute’s offensive climate change denial advertising campaign resulted in corporate sponsors abandoning the organization. Daniel Souwine discusses how the actions of ordinary people expressing their outrage over Heartland’s latest efforts at discrediting climate change science through lies, disinformation and now just plain craziness backfired on them.

Saturday June 2, 2012

Mr. Hornaday’s War

William Temple Hornaday

An interesting story about early environmental advocate William Temple Hornaday from PRI’s Living on Earth.  You can listen to the story at this link to the Living on Earth web site. Hornaday was a contemporary of Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and Gifford Pinchot.

He is credited with saving the American Bison from extinction and was director of the Bronx Zoo and founder of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. . Yet, he is a little remembered figure from the early conservation movement. Author Stefan Bechtel discusses his new book Mr. Hornaday’s War   with host Steve Curwood.

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