From scholarship to climate action at PSU

February 4, 2017 by  
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Portland State University’s learning journey from a veteran education center to a national champion of sustainable scholarship.

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From scholarship to climate action at PSU

Episode 62: Where are we now? Adobe on hope in the Trump era

February 3, 2017 by  
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On this week’s episode: We talk about the findings of our State of Green Business report 2017; Richard Eidlin from ASBC and Vince Digneo of Adobe let us in on their plans for navigating our new political reality.

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Episode 62: Where are we now? Adobe on hope in the Trump era

The 5 Most Interesting Things We Learned About Recycling from a Pew Study

January 25, 2017 by  
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Did you know that the gap between the state that recycles the most and the one that recycles the least is a whopping 49 percent? Or that almost every lead-acid car battery in this country gets recycled? We learned this — and a whole lot more — by…

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The 5 Most Interesting Things We Learned About Recycling from a Pew Study

Wyoming lawmakers launch bill that would ban selling renewable energy

January 17, 2017 by  
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In a move that puts the “R” in regressive, a group of Republican lawmakers in Wyoming just launched a bill that would effectively ban selling wind and solar power in the state. The measure proposes to fine utilities for purchasing energy produced by large-scale renewable power projects. According to Inside Climate News , the bill is chiefly sponsored by representatives from the state’s main coal-producing counties. If enacted, it would force utilities to use power from only approved energy sources like natural gas, nuclear power, hydroelectric, oil – and of course coal. Your average homeowner could still install a rooftop solar, backyard wind or other renewable energy setup, but the state’s utilities would get slapped with big fines for buying power from renewable projects. According to Inside Climate News, the move is confusing some locals who know the lay of the land. “I haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Shannon Anderson, director of local organizing group, Powder River Basin Resource Council . “This is essentially a reverse renewable energy standard.” But Inside Climate News adds that Republican Senator David Miller, the bill’s sponsor, says the goal of the legislation is to make sure Wyoming residents have access to inexpensive power. Related: Judge orders Exxon-Mobil to disclose 40 years of climate change documents “Wyoming is a great wind state and we produce a lot of wind energy,” Miller said. “We also produce a lot of conventional energy, many times our needs. The electricity generated by coal is amongst the least expensive in the country. We want Wyoming residences to benefit from this inexpensive electrical generation. “He added that he doesn’t want to see Wyoming “averaged into” other states that require utilities to supply “more expensive” renewable energy. The proposed bill would allow renewable energy producers in the state to sell power to customers outside Wyoming without a penalty. The cost of selling power in their own state would be $10 per megawatt hour of energy sold. Republicans significantly outnumber Democrats in both the state’s House and Senate, but Miller still puts his chances of passing the bill at “50 percent or less.” Via Inside Climate News Images via Flickr Creative Commons, Jeremy Buckingham and CGP Grey , Wikimedia Commons

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Wyoming lawmakers launch bill that would ban selling renewable energy

California voters pass Proposition 64 to legalize recreational marijuana

November 9, 2016 by  
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Yesterday, California voters passed Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state. While law enforcement expressed displeasure, other people think the legalization could help shake up California’s criminal justice system in a positive way. California’s legalization move could also pave the way for other states to legalize the drug. Instead of treating marijuana possession and recreational use as a crime, California law will now regulate and tax marijuana as it does alcohol. Under Proposition 64, Californians can buy, possess, transport, and use as much as one ounce of cannabis . They can also cultivate as much as six cannabis plants. The measure applies to adults 21 and older. There will be a 15 percent tax on marijuana sales in retail stores, and California fiscal analysts think the criminal justice system in the state might save $100 million every year under the measure. Related: Legal Marijuana More Popular and Profitable than Smartphones in the U.S. California Police Chiefs Association President Ken Corney said his organization was disappointed the proposition passed and would look for “legislative solutions” to what they see as flaws in the measure like “lack of prosecutorial tools for driving under the influence of marijuana.” California legalized medical marijuana about 20 years ago, and the legalization of recreational marijuana could significantly change how many people are imprisoned in California. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons , 46.4 percent of federal inmates in the United States are in prison for drug offenses. Drug Policy Alliance State Director Lynne Lyman said in the past the prohibition of marijuana “disproportionally impacted communities of color.” California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom told the Los Angeles Times, “I think it’s the beginning of the end of the war on marijuana…I think it will have repercussions internationally, particularly in Mexico and Latin America. And there are a million people who tomorrow can begin the process of clearing their records.” Nevada and Massachusetts voters also legalized marijuana, and it appears Maine voters will too. Arizona voters rejected a measure to legalize marijuana. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana voters passed medical marijuana measures. Via the Los Angeles Times Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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California voters pass Proposition 64 to legalize recreational marijuana

These tenacious bees create sturdy nests by carving out standstone

September 14, 2016 by  
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Bee populations have suffered in recent years , but one tenacious species thrives in a harsh environment: the deserts of the American Southwest . An entomologist from Utah State University (USU) found not only does this new bee species build nests in sandstone , they actually prefer to construct homes there, and their curious habit helps them survive. Almost 40 years ago, USDA-ARS entomologist Frank Parker found bees living in sandstone at two places in the San Rafael Desert in Utah . Although he researched the unusual bees, his work was set aside for many years until USU doctoral student Michael Orr began to once again research the insects . Orr found nests made by the “uncommon” and “hard-to-find” bees in five other locations in southern Utah, Death Valley in California, and at the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in Colorado. Related: Australian beekeepers celebrate rare flowering of trees that are a magnet for bees The new species, called Anthophora pueblo , “actually prefers nesting in sandstone,” according to Orr. He’s the lead author on a paper published this week in Current Biology . Though now retired, Parker is also credited on the paper. Orr said, “The desert is a hard place to live. Anthophora pueblo has pioneered a suitable niche between a rock and a hard place.” Sturdy sandstone offers the bees protection. Orr says sometimes bees stay inside the sandstone nests as a way to cope with drought when flora is limited. Built high into the rock, the bee nests also offer safety from flash floods or erosion. There’s even less chance of microbes that threaten bees coming to the sandstone nests. Since sandstone doesn’t have as much organic matter as some habitats, most microbes growing in the rock make food for themselves, and so aren’t as likely to invade the bees’ home. Via Phys.org Images via Michael Orr, Utah State University

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These tenacious bees create sturdy nests by carving out standstone

USGS, EPA investigate link between underground wastewater disposal and Oklahoma’s largest earthquake

September 7, 2016 by  
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On Saturday, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook north central Oklahoma , prompting the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to investigate whether the quake was caused by the oil and gas industry’s practice of underground wastewater disposal . The quake, which is reportedly the largest in the state’s history, damaged some buildings but there have been no reports of injuries or deaths. Many environmental scientists have long suspected that industrial activities like this are linked to, and can even cause, earthquakes, and hopefully soon the USGS will have answers about what is happening in Oklahoma. Saturday’s earthquake occurred near the city of Pawnee at 8:03 a.m. local time and was reportedly felt in six surrounding states. The quake was somewhat unusual because it occurred on a fault that seismologists didn’t even know existed. In fact, the fault that triggered the quake runs perpendicular to the larger well-known fault system. This is the key feature of the earthquake that piqued the interest of USGS researchers, who suspect that human activity may be partially responsible for kicking off the tremor. The Environmental Protection Agency is also investigating the causes and implications of the earthquake. Related: Surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma puts fracking under fire “Without studying the specifics of the wastewater injection and oil and gas production in this area, the USGS cannot currently conclude whether or not this particular earthquake was caused by industrial-related, human activities,” the USGS said in a statement. “However, we do know that many earthquakes in Oklahoma have been triggered by wastewater fluid injection.” State regulators at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission have ordered oil and gas operators to shut down 35 disposal wells that may have contributed to this weekend’s earthquake in what Governor Mary Fallin has called “a mandatory directive.” The wells located within five miles of a 10-mile section of the fault linked to the quake, and they have been ordered to shut down within seven days, and all the other wells must be shut down within 10 days. Last year, a series of earthquakes in Oklahoma had many scientists and environmentalists pointing fingers at fracking, the common practice in the oil and gas industry of injecting high-pressure liquids underground to open fissures, in an effort to gain access to oil and gas. As industry activity in the state has steadily grown, so too have the number of earthquakes measuring at least 3.0 on the Richter scale. After the  magnitude 5.1 quake between Tulsa and Oklahoma City in February, 2015 , residents feared that the worst was yet to come. With this weekend’s quake now being called the strongest ever in the state, and plenty of oil and gas industry drilling ongoing, nobody is sure at this point what to expect next. Via Fox News and USGS Images via USGS and Shutterstock

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USGS, EPA investigate link between underground wastewater disposal and Oklahoma’s largest earthquake

World’s largest flower parade thrills again with millions of dahlias

September 7, 2016 by  
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According to the parade organizers, each float includes a staggering half a million dahlias. Floats can be as large as 20 meters, or around 65 feet, long and nine meters, nearly 30 feet, tall. Volunteers create the floats beginning in May to get ready for the parade in early September. But the flowers can only be put on the floats during the last three days leading up to the parade, which makes for a crazy few days for the hundreds of people from each of the 20 districts that participate. Related: Millions of blooms revive Van Gogh in breathtaking Corso Zundert flower parade While 20 floats were entered, two weren’t able to roll down the parade route in 2016 due to strong winds. Dangerous Transportation, constructed by the Tiggelaar hamlet, won the day. Floats ranged from rollicking animal designs to a Gothic building caught in a whirlwind to a woman being retouched. One float even offered a commentary on climate change . The statement for second place winner Manpower 12 says, “Human intervention contributes to climate change. It’s not only the force of nature that smashes ships to pieces on a stormy sea, but also the force of mankind.” While around 30 flower parades take place in the Netherlands, Zundert is home to the largest, and it is also where artist Vincent van Gogh was born. Corso Zundert is judged by “an independent and professional jury” comprised of people with backgrounds in theater or art . According to the parade organizers, “…for people in Zundert, winning the parade is among the best experiences in life.” + Corso Zundert Via Colossal Images courtesy of Malou Evers, Werner Pellis, and Erwin Martens/Corso Zundert

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World’s largest flower parade thrills again with millions of dahlias

Oil company sics attack dogs on Native American protestors in North Dakota

September 7, 2016 by  
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A protest against a proposed oil pipeline turned violent on Saturday as Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners unleashed pepper spray and attack dogs against a group of Native American activists. The protesters have been attempting the halt the construction of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline that would cut directly through their tribal land and sacred burial grounds in North Dakota . At least six protesters have suffered bites from security dogs, including a young child, according to Standing Rock Sioux tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear. In addition, at least 30 people were pepper sprayed. The Morton County Sheriff’s Office reports injuries on their side as well, with four private security guards and two guard dogs injured in the clash. There were no law enforcement officers present during the incident, and no arrests were made. The construction project is currently being considered by a federal judge, who is expected to rule on the Dakota Access oil pipeline on September 9th. Permits have already been granted to the developers by the Army Corps of Engineers, however, activists claim that the project will destroy their sacred sites and potentially poison drinking water used by 8,000 tribe members. Related: The Keystone-style pipeline you probably didn’t know about To add insult to injury, the tribe has only recently been given access to the land in question to survey it, delaying their ability to take legal action. Already, the tribe has accused construction crews of removing topsoil from an area 2 miles long, overturning ancient cairns and stone prayer rings on an ancestral burial site. Tribe Chairman David Archambault II said in a statement, “In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.” The protests are said to be the largest gathering of Native Americans in over a century, with members of over 90 tribes lending their support. Via RawStory Images via Tomas Alejo

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Oil company sics attack dogs on Native American protestors in North Dakota

Greenpeace takes aim at not-so-sustainable seafood

August 30, 2016 by  
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Sodexo and Aramark lead off a less-than-glowing analysis of the state of sustainable seafood.

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Greenpeace takes aim at not-so-sustainable seafood

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