Shellfish farmers push to use pesticides in oyster beds

February 12, 2019 by  
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Pesticide use for oyster beds is once again threatening Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. Shellfish growers are making another push to allow for the spray of pesticides on clam and oyster beds in the region, which environmentalists and state officials say is a major risk to invertebrates, like the Dungeness crab. Oyster growers claim they need the pesticides to kill burrowing shrimp that harm oyster beds and prevent them from harvesting their product. The companies are looking to reverse a current ban on the use of pesticides such as the neurotoxic imidacloprid. They area also supporting three bills in the state legislature. If passed, these initiatives would make it legal for the companies to spray pesticides in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The Ecology Department has already put measures in place that prevent the use of pesticides on oyster and clam beds. Related: France is the first country to ban all 5 pesticides linked to bee deaths Officials with the state and federal government claim that there is strong evidence that suggests these pesticides are harmful to the environment . While the chemicals are effective against burrowing shrimp, they also kill other forms of ocean life that include the Dungeness crab. Fortunately, there are a variety of groups that are fighting the oyster growers and the newly proposed laws. This includes the Western Environmental Law Center, the Center for Food Safety, the Center of Biological Diversity and the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, all of which are filing appeals to keep the pesticide ban in place. The appeals will be heard at the Pollution Control Hearings Board over the next few weeks. It is unclear if the oyster growers will be successful in their attempts to lobby for legislation that makes it legal to spray pesticides in oyster beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Via Capital Press Image via SeahorseDigital

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Shellfish farmers push to use pesticides in oyster beds

Trump threatens to halt federal disaster relief funding for California wildfires

January 11, 2019 by  
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President Trump has threatened to withhold federal disaster aid from California after a series of deadly wildfires devastated the state. For months, the POTUS has accused California of bringing the wildfires on itself because of poor forest management. But in a recent tweet, he took things further by threatening to halt federal aid, and this drew criticism from lawmakers in his own political party. “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” Trump tweeted just one day after Western governors asked for greater federal funding for wildfire prevention. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!” the president wrote, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, this appears to an empty threat, because President Trump lacks the authority to cut funding under federal statutes. One law specifically bars the president from delaying or impeding disaster relief once there has been a disaster declaration. The research shows that the growing rate and intensity of California wildfires is largely because of the prolonged drought in the state, which is a symptom of climate change . But the Trump administration has downplayed the role of climate change in the worsening wildfires. The president’s recent tweet drew criticism from California’s top republicans, like Senator Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher, who said in a joint statement that Trump’s threats are “wholly unacceptable.” They added that people have lost everything in the fires, and they expect the federal government to follow through on its promise to help. In November, Trump toured the Camp Fire zone and promised to “take care of the people who have been so badly hurt.” FEMA said that it can’t respond to questions about Trump’s order because of the partial government shutdown. Federal agencies manage more than half of California’s 33 million acres of forest lands, with state and local agencies controlling only 3 percent. The rest of the forest lands are privately owned. Via Reuters Image via Peter Buschmann

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Trump threatens to halt federal disaster relief funding for California wildfires

Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone

January 11, 2019 by  
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When tasked with creating a family home in Austin, local firm, Michael Hsu Office of Architecture , decided to go with a blend of charred wood , locally-sourced stone and glass panels. The result is the stunning Llano retreat, a design that was strategically built to embrace the natural landscape, while providing a contemporary, but cozy living space.   Situated along the Llano River in central Texas, the building site was used for years by the family as a camping and fishing spot for the weekends. After years of spending the warm Texas nights under a pole structure with metal roof, the family finally decided to put up a proper shelter, in the form of a beautiful family home that was specifically designed to take advantage of the idyllic natural setting. Related: Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool “After years of getting to know the ranch land, the family chose a site for their home at the top of a hill overlooking the river, only accessible through a low-water crossing,” said the team. “The design is a result of the knowledge of the landscape and the desire to retain the connection to nature.” The U-shaped layout of the home allowed the architects to bring the outdoors into the living space via a front courtyard . In the back of the home, the natural landscape consisting of trees, shrubs and wildflowers was left in its natural state. The home’s exterior is clad in locally-sourced limestone and wood charred in the Japanese shou sugi ban style.   Large glass panels not only further connect the interior with the exterior, but also flood the home with natural light. Large roof overhangs shade the windows during the hot summer months, but allow sunlight to enter the home during the colder months, reducing the need for artificial heating. The home’s doors and operable windows were strategically placed to enable air circulation. Inside the home, the interior design , led by the team from Laura Roberts Design, was focused on providing the family with a rustic yet cozy atmosphere. Double-height ceilings were clad in warm Douglas Fir and crossed with expose beams, giving the home a modern cabin feel. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels enable the homeowners to comfortably enjoy the stunning views from virtually any corner of the home. From the large kitchen, sliding glass doors open up to an outdoor space. + Michael Hsu Office of Architecture Via Dezeen Photography by Casey Dunn

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Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone

New Jersey first state to ban wild animals in circuses

December 20, 2018 by  
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Last week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill banning the use of elephants, tigers and other wild and exotic animals in circus acts that travel through the state, making New Jersey the first state in the country to pass such a law. Known as “Nosey’s Law,” the bill is designed to protect animals in traveling circus acts from being exploited and abused. Nosey, the law’s namesake, is a 36-year-old African elephant that was forced to travel around the country with a circus even though the animal suffered from crippling arthritis. “These animals belong in their natural habitats or in wildlife sanctuaries, not in performances where their safety and the safety of others is at risk,” Gov. Murphy said in a press release . Governor Murphy said that the law finally became a reality because of the years of hard work by Sen. Ray Lesniak, and the bill passed the New Jersey legislature with only three opposing votes. The bill also overwhelmingly passed during the state’s last legislative session, but then-Governor Chris Christie refused to sign it. Christie’s pocket veto of the bill forced the legislature to start from scratch when Murphy became governor. One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Nilsa Cruz Perez, is now calling on other state’s to follow New Jersey’s lead. She said that circus animals suffer from routine abuse by their handlers for the sake of entertainment. But this law protects other animals from being abused like Nosey— who is now safe and living in an animal sanctuary . Last year, the public’s growing concern over animal welfare led to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shutting down their “Greatest Show On Earth” after a 146-year run. When they removed elephants from their show tours, the circus was not able to recover from declining ticket sales. Illinois and New York have already banned the use of elephants in traveling or entertainment acts. But, New Jersey was the first to ban all wild and exotic animals. + State of New Jersey Via EcoWatch Images via Shutterstock

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New Jersey first state to ban wild animals in circuses

Indonesia unveils first zero-waste restaurant built with sustainably sourced materials

December 20, 2018 by  
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Eliminating food waste is an arduous task for restaurants around the world. But one new eatery in Bali, Ijen , has implemented various strategic methods to become Indonesia’s first zero-waste restaurant. In addition to only serving sustainably sourced food and providing leftover food scraps to local farms, the forward-thinking restaurant was almost entirely built with reclaimed materials . Ijen is part of the Potato Head Beach Club , which has locations in Jakarta, Bali, Hong Kong and Singapore. The zero-waste restaurant is located on the grounds of the Jakarta location. The design and operation of the open-air venue was designed to reflect the company’s ethos of running hospitality zero-waste venues with absolute minimal impact on the earth. Related: Zero Waste Bistro offers four days of sustainable food and design in NYC Ijen’s building materials feature a number of sustainable products mostly made from reclaimed materials. The interior furnishings include items made out of old motorcycle foam remnants and ethically-sourced Mersawa wood. The flooring was made from a cement mix comprised of broken plates and glassware. The candles found throughout the restaurant were with used cooking oil. Deadstock cloth napkins were given new life thanks to a local dye house. Even the menus are printed on sustainably harvested paper bound to boards made from recycled tires provided by local flip-flop brand Indosole. Additionally impressive is the restaurant’s commitment to working with local fisherman and farmers to provide sustainable farm-to-table menu options . Executive Chef Wayan Kresna Yasa works with local fisherman to source fresh fish caught using a hand-reeling process. Vegetables are farm-fresh, and rice served at the restaurant is provided by the UNESCO-protected Jatiluwih terraces. Although the kitchen strives to use all of its stock, there are a variety of methods used to reuse any leftover food scraps. Ijen staff members meticulously separate organic and inorganic waste. Additional food remnants are fed to pigs at local farms or composted on site . Shellfish shells are powdered and used in animal feed or fertilizer. All dry goods are sent to be recycled through a local responsible waste management service. + Ijen Restaurant Via Treehugger Images via Potato Head Beach Club

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Indonesia unveils first zero-waste restaurant built with sustainably sourced materials

Federal judge blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline

November 12, 2018 by  
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In a major setback for President Trump and his administration, a U.S. district judge has issued an order to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline while the State Department studies its impact on the environment . Last year, the Trump administration approved the controversial 1,179-mile pipeline, but Judge Brian Morris’ 54-page order is preventing it from being built — for now. The decision does not permanently stop construction, but it is putting the development on hold until the State Department takes a harder look at the impact the pipeline will have on oil prices, the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, potential oil spills and cultural resources. Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought Under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, there is an obligation to protect the environment. Under the Obama administration, the State Department denied a permit to build the pipeline because of the environmental effects. But President Trump shifted the policy when he took office and invited TransCanada to re-submit its permit application just four days after he was sworn in. Then, in March 2017, the POTUS signed an executive order supporting the Keystone Pipeline’s construction. Judge Morris wrote in his decision that the president did not give a reasoned explanation or a fact-based determination for the course reversal. According to NPR , there has been a lot of backlash from environmentalists and indigenous peoples since the pipeline’s conception in 2008 because of the possible environmental impact and violations of historic treaties. “Today’s ruling is a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they cannot bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities.” If the Keystone Pipeline does become a reality, it will run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Canada, and it will transport about 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day. Via NPR Image via Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Federal judge blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline

A quick guide to the environmental issues you’ll find on the ballot

November 2, 2018 by  
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The general election for 2018 features many interesting issues related to environmental improvements. But with these environmental proposals competing with other issues on the ballot, it is easy for them to get lost in the shuffle. From funding eco-friendly projects to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, here is a quick guide to some of the environmental issues on the 2018 ballots around the U.S. Alaska Salmon Initiative The first measure on Alaska’s ballot is an initiative that would force the state’s Department of Fish and Game to hand out permits for projects and activities that might harm fish . The measure also focuses on improving habitats for anadromous fish, like salmon, by looking at water quality, stream flow and temperature. If passed, the measure will create a system for processing permits, which includes allowing public input on major permits. The fish and game department will still have the authority to deny permits if the project or activity harms fish or habitats. Any existing projects would be exempt from the new permit system. Arizona Proposition 127 In a push for clean energy, this proposal would mandate that 50 percent of electric utilities come from renewable sources by 2030, and the percent required would steadily increase each year. The acceptable renewable energy sources would include solar , wind and biomass as well as certain hydropower, geothermal and landfill gas energies. California Proposition 3 There are a number of propositions on California’s ballot related to environmental issues, but Proposition 3 is one of the most significant. This initiative will give the green light for close to $8 billion in funds for surface and groundwater storage, watershed protection (habitat restoration) and water infrastructure. The measure outlines where all of the money will be dispersed and how much funding each project will receive. Colorado Proposition 112 This proposition on Colorado’s ballot would limit the areas available for oil and gas development, including fracking , in an effort to maintain public health and safety. If passed, oil and gas developments would have to maintain a distance of 2,500 feet from occupied structures and vulnerable areas, including homes, schools, hospitals, parks, lakes, rivers, sporting fields and more. Florida Constitutional Revision 4 Florida is taking a major step against offshore drilling this election. Constitutional Revision 4 could ban offshore drilling, putting an end to oil and gas mining on lands under state waters. Lumped into this revision is a ban that will prevent individuals from vaping inside closed workplaces. The ban includes any electronic device that generates vapor, such as electronic cigarettes. The ban would only be enforced in indoor workplaces. Georgia Amendment 1 This amendment would allow up to 80 percent of the revenue from sales and use taxes of outdoor recreation and sporting goods retailers to go to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund for land conservation, including protecting water quality, conserving forests and wildlife habitats and improving state and local parks. Montana Ballot Issue #14 I-186 This initiative will help regulate new rock mines in the state. If passed, new mines would be required to have plans for reclamation, restoration or rehabilitation to receive permits. More specifically, the new mines would be required to have adequate plans to avoid water pollution. Water contaminated by acid mine drainage often results in perpetual treatment to make the water safe for consumption. The measure also gives the Department of Environmental Quality the right to reject permits that do not have a reclamation plan in place. Nevada Question 6 Nevada’s environmental initiative this year will put the state on track for renewable energy by 2030. Question 6 on the Nevada ballot proposes that all utility companies invest in renewable energy over the next 12 years. If passed, the measure would require electric companies to transform half of their electrical output to renewable sources by the projected date. The current law requires utility companies to use 25 percent of renewable electricity by 2025. Rhode Island Question 3 This measure would authorize $47.3 million in funds for various environmental projects throughout the state. The measure outlines where the money will be allocated and the different types of projects that will be funded. The projects include coastal resiliency and access, clean water and treatment, dam infrastructure, bikeway initiatives, farmland access and local recreation. The largest project on the ballot is related to improving water quality and would receive $7.9 million. Washington Initiative 1631 Initiative 1631 in Washington targets greenhouse gas pollutants and rewards companies that promote clean energy. If voted in, the law would impose fees on carbon emissions. The price of the fee starts out at $15 for every metric ton of carbon, increasing every year by $2. The money generated from the fees will go right back into the environment. The revenue would help improve air quality, raise awareness about clean energy and examine environmental issues in various communities. Companies that comply with environmental standards could also receive credits from the added revenue. The measure also requires that Native American tribes have their voices heard on projects that affect their land. All of the money dispersed from the carbon fee will have to be approved by a public board first. Via Vote Smart , Ballotpedia and NCSL Image via Element5 Digital

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A quick guide to the environmental issues you’ll find on the ballot

Hurricane Florence could cause dangerous floods of toxic sludge and animal waste

September 12, 2018 by  
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Torrential rains are not the only thing Hurricane Florence will bring once it hits landfall. The massive storm is expected to dump record amounts of rain in the southeastern United States — rain that could overflow toxic chemical waste and animal manure sites along the coast, increasing danger to both public health and the environment. One toxic waste site in North Carolina is particularly vulnerable to the incoming storm. Two years ago, the state tasked Duke Energy Corp. with cleaning up coal-ash ponds in the area following a major spill, because the ponds posed serious hazards to nearby communities. Close to 40,000 tons of toxic waste was dumped near the town of Eden, North Carolina. State officials ordered the company to clean up the ponds by the summer of 2019. Although Duke Energy Corp. has started the cleanup process, it is nowhere near the finish line. The company is currently in the middle of cleaning up the sites and will not be finished by the time Hurricane Florence rolls in. Given the condition of the ponds, excess rain from the hurricane could lead to overflow, dumping the waste into the surrounding environment. Related: Climate change is expected to bring more intense storms like Hurricane Florence North Carolina is also home to lagoons that contain manure from the state’s hog and poultry industries. Hurricane Florence could overwhelm these lagoons with massive amounts of rain, which would dump the animal waste into surrounding waterways. If that happens, the state would be facing a major environmental disaster. That is, of course, if Florence stays on its current path and hits North Carolina. Hurricane Florence is growing in both strength and size as it prepares to make landfall. If the storm continues at its current pace, it could be the strongest hurricane to reach the Carolinas in the last 30 years. With Florence getting closer every day, about 1 million residents have already evacuated. Via Bloomberg Images via NASA and NOAA

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Hurricane Florence could cause dangerous floods of toxic sludge and animal waste

Making it happen — the road ahead

June 29, 2018 by  
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Last December, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to commit to 100% renewable fuel sources for public and private ground transportation, with a target of 2045 (and a pledge to transition all fleet vehicles to 100% renewables by 2035). This was not only historic, but an incredibly ambitious proclamation by the state’s four mayors.

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Making it happen — the road ahead

SHOCKA — the story of energy in Hawaii

June 29, 2018 by  
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A short, high-energy rock musical number with choreography from Honolulu Theatre for Youth — a professional theatre production. An inspiring case study of how partners nationally and locally can work together to integrate arts and educational messages to inspire multi-generational solutions as the islands transition to 100% clean energy.

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SHOCKA — the story of energy in Hawaii

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