Environmental news you may have missed over the holidays


If you’re like most people, the holidays consist of two major, ongoing events: stuffing one’s face with delicious, seasonal fare; and washing that feast down with delicious, seasonal spirits. So if all that bingeing left time for little else (i.e. reading the news), fear not: We’ve got a roundup of the major enviro stories you missed.

 1)      Tennessee’s stocking gets stuffed with coal ash. Three eves before Christmas, retention walls failed at the Kingston Fossil Plant, releasing more than a billion gallons of sludgy, disgusting coal ash into waterways and properties. The ensuing media storm has examined the ash’s effect on residents and nearby waterways, questioned whether their can ever really be “clean coal,” and NPR even dubbed the event the “Exxon Valdez of Coal Ash.”

2)   2009: It’s getting hot in here. British researchers say that 2009 is set to be one of the warmest years on record, ranking as one of the top five hottest. Temperatures are expected to measure 0.4 degrees Celsius above the long-term average, showing that global warming is unfortunately still alive and well.

 3)    Even more 11th-hour regulations. You know who wasn’t taking the holidays off to relax? The Bush administration. Bush and his decidedly un-eco pals proposed two new 11th-hour regulations aimed at the heart of the nation’s forests. The Interior Department decided to double the rate of logging in Oregon’s federal forests, while the US Forest Service moved to make it easier for mountain forests to be converted into housing subdivisions.

 4)   Speaking of trees…Apparently Canada’s forests are now contributing to global warming—a pretty shocking feat considering that trees absorb CO2, the main culprit in global warming. Scientists concluded that due to stress from climate change, increased insects, and forest fires, Canada’s forests are now releasing more CO2, than they are sequestering—an alarming pattern that is expected to continue until at least 2022.

 5)   California takes the lead. Obama’s been picking his cabinet members, with many of the top enviro choices coming from the Sunshine State. Nancy Sutley will head the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Steven Chu will become the next Energy Secretary. Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Henry Waxman also hail from California, and are sure to push forward environmental agendas once the next administration takes office. Attorney General Jerry Brown recently sued the federal government over changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), claiming the new regulations could put California’s threatened and endangered in even greater jeopardy.

6)  Toxic Schools. USA Today continued “The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America’s Schools,” a groundbreaking series covering children’s exposure to noxious chemicals in schools throughout America. The publication reported on a new manufacturing plant scheduled to be built right behind an elementary school in Ohio, and that air hazards are rarely considered when planning where schools will be built.

 

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