April 14, 2024

Ethanol and Methane Put US Farms at Center of US Energy Strategy

With the exception of federal and state programs to convert corn into ethanol and soybeans into biodiesel to fuel cars and trucks the United States has never regarded farming as a primary energy producer. That changed when Congress passed the climate provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act last August. The law provides $140 billion in tax incentives, direct loans, and grants to replace fossil fuels with cleaner renewable energy that lowers emissions of carbon dioxide. …

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New Climate Law Includes Provisions That Will Make Midwest Water Pollution Worse

Earlier this year I was awarded an investigative fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation to pursue the causes and serious consequences of farm-related nutrient pollution in the nine-state Corn Belt at the center of the country. The project, undertaken with the collaboration of Circle of Blue, The New Lede, and The Guardian, builds on what I learned in 2022 reporting for Circle of Blue on phosphorus contamination for “Danger Looms Where Algae Blooms.” When I …

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Earth Day 2022 – Resisting Panic

More than 30 years ago James E. Hansen, the eminent American physicist, told a U.S. Senate hearing in the hot and dry summer of 1988 that the Earth was warmer than it had ever been since the invention of modern instrumentation, and that “with 99 percent confidence” the cause was human-induced global warming. As a moment in contemporary American environmental history, Hansen’s appearance before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources ranks with the …

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Arizona’s Water Supply Peril

Due to the first-ever formal federal water shortage declaration issued in August 2021, Colorado River deliveries to Arizona this year are cut more severely than in any state. Arizona will lose 170 billion gallons. That’s a third of the water that is transported each year in the Central Arizona Project, and 8% of the state’s annual water consumption. More losses are projected. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation warns that Colorado River flows will continue to drop. …

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Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Is Grand Tribute To Earth Day 2021

AUDUBON, N.J. — On March 31, you probably heard, President Joe Biden introduced a $2.2 trillion proposal to repair and modernize America’s transportation system, invest in research and technology, and expand the industrial sectors that are curbing climate change. By themselves, those provisions make Biden’s American Jobs Plan a great leap forward in how the White House regards its responsibilities to nature, and to the nation. Biden’s impressive plan, though, is considerably more expansive and …

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Water Could Make Michigan The Place To Be Later This Century

TRAVERSE CITY, MI –Intrigued by warming winters, researchers from the University of Michigan set out in 1989 to formally measure changes in the geographical distribution of plants and animals in the dense pine and hardwood forests of northern Michigan.  Their laboratory, the university’s 10,000-acre Biological Station east of Petoskey, had advanced forestry and natural sciences since the field station’s founding in 1909. Few projects, though, attracted the same level of attention as the migration research.  Completed in …

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Like Developing Nations, Texas Confronts Lingering Water Crisis

By Saturday, as the deep freeze lifted and temperatures across Texas warmed to near normal for this time of year, water poured from broken lines beneath streets. Fountains of water sprayed from valves and cracks in building exteriors. Indoor waterfalls spilled from caved-in ceilings in schools and homes and hospitals. Homeowners gathered up the last remnants of melting snow and stored them in buckets and bathtubs.  “Where do you want to start?” said Ty Edwards, …

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AppHarvest’s Big Idea: Bringing Food Production Indoor At A Mammoth Kentucky Greenhouse

MOREHEAD, Ky. – Almost 70 percent of American consumers, including those who love fresh tomatoes, are a day’s drive from eastern Kentucky. That proximity to big markets is the primary reason AppHarvest is building the largest greenhouse in the United States in a big field in Rowan County just outside this university town. Sometime next summer, when production commences, the $97 million, 60-acre building will begin shipping 45 million pounds of fresh produce annually, primarily …

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Confrontation of The Century – Gas vs. Renewables

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Last September California affirmed its commitment to supply all of the state’s annual demand for electricity with renewable sources of energy by 2045. New Mexico enacted similar 100 percent renewable legislation. This month Minnesota pledged to be the third U.S. state to achieve 100 percent renewable electrical generation, committing to do so by 2050. The three states are joined by nine other states considering the 100 percent commitment, and 100 American …

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California’s Fire Calamity

REDDING, CA. — Cities along the Carolina coast were under water this month. Neighborhoods in California’s northern highlands were incinerated in July and August. Mother Earth is pushing back hard in this quickly unfolding era of ecological menace and there are twice as many people in the way as there were 40 years ago. I’m in California reporting for ProPublica on the causes and the solutions to the state’s wildfire emergency. You’ve heard something no …

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