View of Smokies shows air quality improving in East Tennessee

Don Barger can tell from his commute to work that air quality in East Tennessee has improved in recent years. Barger, the southern regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, said the views of the Great Smoky Mountains on his way to work from Norris to Knoxville are evidence enough without the need to consult any data. “We’ve got our...

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Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front is place of surprises

In his book “This House of Sky,” Ivan Doig described them as a “steel-blue army of mountains, drawn in battalions of peaks and reefs and gorges and crags as far along the entire rim of the earth as could be seen.” “Summit after summit bladed up thousands of feet as if charging into the air to strike first at storm and lightning, valleys and...

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Think Like a Deer: Award-Winning Video Aims to Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions

Collisions between vehicles and wildlife are a big problem on U.S. roads. Each year, on average, 1-2 million collisions with large animals, especially mule deer and white-tailed deer, end in 200 fatalities, 26,000 injuries, and costs exceeding $1 billion. About a third of the collisions reported on rural roads are wildlife-related, and two-lane highways with speed limits...

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EPA Just Saved Utilities a Lot of Money With Weak Coal Ash Regulation

When power plants burn coal, they’re left with a coal ash residue containing arsenic, mercury, lead, and selenium. Until today, there were no federal standards for utilities to dispose of it. Utilities produce more than 100 million tons of the stuff annually, and what’s not recycled into concrete is spread across the country in 1,400 dry and wet ponds. The problem,...

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America’s Second-Biggest Form Of Waste Is About To Be Federally Regulated For The First Time

The EPA has confirmed that on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014 it will release its first-ever regulations on the second-largest form of waste generation in the United States: coal ash. When it is is finalized, the rule is expected to include requirements on how coal ash should be disposed, how existing coal ash pits should be cleaned up, whether coal ash should be designated as a...

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What One Wolf’s Extraordinary Journey Means for the Future of Wildlife in America

On Feb. 5, 2014, the world’s most famous wolf woke up somewhere along the Oregon-California border, very likely in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, a landscape of Alpine forests and grassland valleys. For the better part of a year he had been making his home in this place where the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou mountains converge. It was cold that day, in the...

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WNC’s National Forests at crossroads

On Oct. 21, 2014 the U.S. Forest Service unveiled draft management area boundaries that put 692,700 acres — about 69 percent — of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest in management areas that make “timber production, for the purposeful growing and harvesting of crops of trees to be cut into logs” the “primary or secondary use of the land.” Today, the Nantahala-Pisgah is one...

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Take a Walk on a Leaky Uintah Basin Oil Well With a Whistleblowing Oil and Gas CEO

Three separate and very interesting things have happened over the past few months, and what makes them even more interesting is the timing, and the fact that they all happened within such a short period. Sequentially speaking, the second and most recent thing that happened, is that a midwife in the highly conservative oil patch community of Vernal, Utah in the Uintah...

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House Republicans Voted Against the Environment More Than 500 Times in the Past Four Years

The House of Representatives will end its legislative session this week having recorded at least 234 votes against the environment in two years. According to a December 1, 2014 count by the minority staff on the Energy and Commerce committee, the House floor held 551 anti-environment votes over the four years since Republicans took control—including votes on bills and...

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We have the technology to make invisible pollution visible

Out of sight, out of mind. This certainly applies to methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. That’s because methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas and the primary constituent of natural gas, is invisible to the naked eye. And it’s one reason methane emissions, while a significant threat to our environment, don’t get the attention they should from policymakers or...

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NC’s ongoing coal ash regulatory disaster shows urgency of EPA action

It’s been 10 months since a pipe broke beneath a coal ash waste pit at a shuttered Duke Energy power plant in North Carolina, sending 39,000 tons of toxic waste into the Dan River, a drinking water source for downstream communities in Virginia and North Carolina. One might think that 10 months would have been enough time for the company and North Carolina state...

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