Conservation & Environment

After Malheur, side effects of the Bundys’ extremism linger

Posted by on Jun 16, 2018 @ 6:51 am in Conservation | 0 comments

After Malheur, side effects of the Bundys’ extremism linger

High Desert Partnership began about 15 years ago, as a conversation between Chad Karges, who was then deputy manager for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and a cattle rancher named Gary Marshall. Relations between local ranchers and refuge employees had been volatile for decades, as the two sides butted heads over livestock and wildlife. The bad blood extended beyond the Fish and Wildlife Service, to the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service, whose management decisions were tied up in litigation.

Karges knew something had to change. The refuge was supposed to create a new 15-year plan in a few years. “If we didn’t do something different, we shouldn’t expect a different outcome than what the BLM and Forest Service were experiencing.”

So Karges and Marshall started looking around the West for communities that had forged lasting solutions to thorny disagreements. They reached out to the Blackfoot Challenge in Montana, the Quivira Coalition in New Mexico, and the Malpai Borderlands Group in Arizona, all of which created successful partnerships between federal agencies, locals and conservation groups.

Two things became clear: Natural resource projects needed to come as much from the community as the federal government, and they needed a nonprofit to provide a safe, neutral forum for conversation around tough issues, like cattle grazing in a bird sanctuary.

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Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade. If that continues we are in serious trouble.

Posted by on Jun 15, 2018 @ 12:08 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade. If that continues we are in serious trouble.

Antarctica’s ice sheet is melting at rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels a half millimeter every year, a team of 80 scientists has reported.

The melt rate has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists’ worst fears about rising oceans could be realized, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they’d hoped.

The result also reinforces that nations have a short window — perhaps no more than a decade — to cut greenhouse gas emissions if they hope to avert some of the worst consequences of climate change.

Antarctica, the planet’s largest ice sheet, lost 219 billion tons of ice annually from 2012 through 2017 — approximately triple the 73 billion ton melt rate of a decade ago, the scientists concluded. From 1992 through 1997, Antarctica lost 49 billion tons of ice annually.

For the total period from 1992 through the present, the ice sheet has lost nearly 3 trillion tons of ice, equating to just under 8 millimeters of sea level rise. Forty percent of that loss has occurred in just the last 5 years, again underscoring the increase in losses recently.

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A Village in Ecuador’s Amazon Fights for Life as Oil Wells Move In

Posted by on Jun 14, 2018 @ 3:30 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

A Village in Ecuador’s Amazon Fights for Life as Oil Wells Move In

At the headwaters of the Amazon River system in eastern Ecuador, the nighttime jungle is not quiet at all. The chatter of nocturnal canopy birds and crickets, mixed with the submarine sonar–like pinging of tree frogs, is startling to the first-time visitor. The 80 or so Waorani villagers who live here find comfort in these sounds. They tell them that their ancestral home is healthy, that it still teems with life, that the relentless march of oil wells and logging into the jungle hasn’t reached here yet.

Inside a dirt-floored hut constructed of layered palm fronds, I speak with a muscular, middle-aged man, Penti Baihua, who knew nothing of the outside world until he learned Spanish at an elementary school run by missionaries. He makes the case for the survival of his people, whose way of life today is largely unchanged from that of their ancestors centuries ago. But increasingly, he is seeing oil spills contaminate the jungle and eliminate the game these indigenous people depend on. He is seeing cocoa and coffee plantations replace the rainforest. He knows precisely the stakes for which he is fighting.

To an outsider visiting the rainforest of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park, one of the most biologically diverse places on earth, it seems almost inconceivable that Baihua and his people have survived as hunter-gatherers there in the 21st century—and even harder to believe they’ll be able to do so for much longer. Momentum is not on their side. This year, in January, drilling began on a new oil well by Petroamazonas, a division of the Ecuadorian state oil company Petroecuador, just 15 miles from the village. It is the first of 97 wells likely to sprout within the national park as a result of the Ecuadorian government’s decision in 2013 to allow petroleum extraction inside the wildlife and anthropological reserve.

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Giant African baobab trees die suddenly after thousands of years

Posted by on Jun 14, 2018 @ 12:42 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Giant African baobab trees die suddenly after thousands of years

Some of Africa’s oldest and biggest baobab trees have abruptly died, wholly or in part, in the past decade, according to researchers. The trees, aged between 1,100 and 2,500 years and in some cases as wide as a bus is long, may have fallen victim to climate change, the team speculated.

“We report that nine of the 13 oldest … individuals have died, or at least their oldest parts/stems have collapsed and died, over the past 12 years,” they wrote in the scientific journal Nature Plants, describing “an event of an unprecedented magnitude.”

“It is definitely shocking and dramatic to experience during our lifetime the demise of so many trees with millennial ages,” said the study’s co-author Adrian Patrut of the Babeș-Bolyai University in Romania.

Among the nine were four of the largest African baobabs. While the cause of the die-off remains unclear, the researchers “suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part with significant modifications of climate conditions that affect southern Africa in particular.”

Further research is needed, said the team from Romania, South Africa and the United States, “to support or refute this supposition.”

The baobab is the biggest and longest-living flowering tree, according to the research team. It is found naturally in Africa’s savannah region and outside the continent in tropical areas to which it was introduced. It is a strange-looking plant, with branches resembling gnarled roots reaching for the sky, giving it an upside-down look.

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Yellowstone National Park is a natural laboratory for researchers

Posted by on Jun 12, 2018 @ 8:13 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Yellowstone National Park is a natural laboratory for researchers

Yellowstone National Park is an incredible natural laboratory. Researchers from around the world travel to Yellowstone every year to conduct scientific studies across a range of disciplines, from A(nthropology) to Z(oology) and everything in between.

Managing this constant influx of scientists is a full-time job, not only in terms of ensuring that their work is used to better manage park resources, but also taking advantage of the unique environment at Yellowstone. This combination of conservation of resources and capitalization on opportunities has yielded Nobel Prize-winning results.

Scientific research is an ongoing and never-ending process. For example, as the park geologist for Yellowstone put it, our current understanding of Yellowstone geology is merely a progress report, and not the final word. With changing technologies and fresh ideas, scientists will continue to discover new and exciting facts about Yellowstone.

The Research Permit Office in the Yellowstone Center for Resources assists scientists in their endeavors to study the park. The office issues approximately 150 research permits each year, covering topics from bumble bees to fire ecology to whitebark pine. Scientists from the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory also obtain permits to study various aspects of the volcano, including seismic activity, ground deformation and the dynamics of hydrothermal features.

Scientific exploration has been a part of the Yellowstone National Park story from the beginning.

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Cradle of Forestry Invites All Ages to Pink Beds BioBlitz

Posted by on Jun 9, 2018 @ 4:34 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Cradle of Forestry Invites All Ages to Pink Beds BioBlitz

The Cradle of Forestry in America invites nature enthusiasts of all ages and knowledge levels to the Pink Beds BioBlitz on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Be a citizen scientist with naturalists and forest scientists to discover the diversity of life in this special part of Pisgah National Forest, and add to knowledge gained about the area.

Those who would like to participate can come the day of to the Cradle of Forestry in America’s outdoor amphitheater before 1:00pm. Following a brief welcome they will split into zones throughout the Pink Beds and take photos of all species they find along the way. One zone has been established on the Cradle of Forestry’s Biltmore Campus Trail, which is wheelchair and stroller accessible and friendly to our youngest observers. Registration is free as is entrance to the Cradle of Forestry for BioBlitz participants that day.

After exploring, the groups will gather at the Forest Discovery Center and upload observations to the iNaturalist app. This citizen science tool aids in identification and data collection. You can download this app at home on a smartphone or at the Cradle of Forestry. Bring your smartphone or regular camera with a laptop to upload photographs.

Participants should wear closed-toe shoes and pants for extra protection, bring along water, and prepare for the weather. Magnifying glasses and binoculars are fun and useful exploring tools. Pack a lunch or enjoy a meal at the Café at the Cradle, open from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This event is supported by the National Environmental Education Foundation. Other partners include ecoEXPLORE and El Centro of Hendersonville.

Additional Activities during the Pink Beds Bioblitz Schedule include:

* 9:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. – Photography booth with National Geographic photographer, Kevin Fitzpatrick of All Species Photography. Visit with Hemlock Restoration Initiative, Natural Inquirer and Wild South.
* 9:30 a.m. -11:00 a. m.- Conducting citizen science projects including The Ant Picnic and Caterpillar Count with Cradle staff
* 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Introduction to ecoEXPLORE with North Carolina Arboretum staff. Please register for ecoEXPLORE ahead of time at
* 12:45 p.m. -3:00 p.m. Meet at Amphitheater and head out to BioBlitz!
* 3:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. Meet in Perkins Room of Forest Discovery Center to upload photos to iNaturalist and register for a small door prizes.
* 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. – The Search for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee guided walk with Wild South staff.
* 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Flip a Log reptile and amphibian search with Cradle of Forestry staff.
* 9:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Bat mistnetting with N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission staff in Pink Beds. Nocturnal bug hunt with Cradle staff.

The Cradle of Forestry in America is located on U.S. Highway 276 in the Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway about six miles north of Looking Glass Falls and four miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 412. The Cradle of Forestry is open daily from 9:00 to 5:00 and offers restrooms, a gift shop, exhibits, trails, and the Café at the Cradle to enjoy.

For more information about the Pink Beds BioBlitz call the Cradle of Forestry at 828-877-3130 or visit


Crane’s Nest Nature Center & Store: Historical Context

Posted by on Jun 8, 2018 @ 8:48 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Crane’s Nest Nature Center & Store:  Historical Context

The building that currently houses the Crane’s Nest Nature Center & Store at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon was built in the mid-1930s by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, at the same time as many of the other structures at Refuge Headquarters. In fact, most of the historic infrastructure located throughout Malheur Refuge was installed by CCC crews stationed there between 1935-1942. The stone blocks used to construct many of these buildings-including the one housing Crane’s Nest-were quarried near Buena Vista Station, south of Headquarters.

Located near the display pond at Headquarters, the Crane’s Nest building was the former residence of Refuge biologist David B. Marshall and his family during the 1950s. The display pond and adjacent trail are named for Marshall, who was known for his strong advocacy for wildlife and habitat conservation.

Dave Marshall long knew his life would center around birds. During a 1939 Audubon trip to southeast Oregon, a 13-year-old Marshall decided he wanted a career being paid to observe them. Birding was already in his genes.

His great-great grandfather traveled by covered wagon to Oregon carrying a pair of field glasses, and his parents were early members of the Audubon Society of Portland. Wildlife photographer and conservationist William L. Finley was a family friend.

Marshall began working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Nevada and California in 1951. In November 1955 he returned to southeast Oregon, transferring from Sacramento Refuge to Malheur as the Wildlife Management Biologist. He held this position for five years before transferring to the Regional Office in Portland, where he served as the Regional Wildlife Biologist for 12 years. He retired in 1981 after a distinguished 30-year career with the Service. Marshall passed away in November 2011 at the age of 85.

Marshall’s legacy lives on in the trail and pond at Headquarters that bear his name.

Learn more here…


Why the loss of amphibians matters

Posted by on Jun 6, 2018 @ 7:53 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Why the loss of amphibians matters

Amphibians matter to humans more than we tend to realize. The number of amphibian species around the world has been plummeting at an incredibly rapid rate in recent decades, and this decline poses a serious threat.

About 200 species of frogs have vanished since 1980, according to a 2015 study. These extinctions are due to many factors, including herbicides, habitat loss, invasive species, general pollution and chytrid fungus. The latter causes chytridiomycosis, which Save the Frogs calls “quite possibly the worst disease in recorded history” in terms of its effect on biodiversity.

The fungus has been detected on at least 287 amphibian species from 36 countries, and is suspected in more than 100 extinctions since the 1970s. The fungus most likely originated in East Asia, according to a 2018 study, and its spread is probably assisted by the international pet trade.

These numbers matter because a major decline in amphibian diversity can cause a major decline in the health and sustainability of ecosystems as a whole, and a deteriorating ecosystem means the deterioration of the quality of human life. Amphibians can help us in numerous ways — from assessing the general health of our ecosystems, to pest control, water filtration and medical research.

One of their greatest contributions is their role as “bioindicators” — markers that allow scientists to clearly identify the need for biological examination.

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Recreation is redefining the value of Western public lands

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 @ 7:54 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Recreation is redefining the value of Western public lands

Once, the West’s public lands were valued primarily for the timber, minerals and fossil fuels they held, which were extracted and then sold around the world. In the 1970s, more than two dozen Western counties relied on timber for at least a fifth of their revenue, while energy companies expanded onto public lands for coal and natural gas.

Small communities swelled with loggers and miners and the businesses that supported them, providing an economy that helped preserve the West’s rural feel. Today, though, natural resource economies are waning, and many of those towns are struggling. Public lands are increasingly used for fun and leisure, and the West has joined the Northeast as the two most urbanized regions in the country, according to U.S. Census data.

The West’s vast public lands remain its defining factor, but these days, their economic value increasingly comes from the outdoor industry. Nationally, that industry is worth nearly $900 billion annually, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

People made over 290 million visits to the West’s public lands last year and spent a lot of time — and money — along the way. Those numbers are growing, while the jobs and revenue associated with hydrocarbons and timber have declined over the past several decades. The West’s nearly 600 million acres of public lands have tremendous influence on what it means to be a Westerner, and that picture is changing.

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The water war that will decide the fate of 1 in 8 Americans

Posted by on Jun 4, 2018 @ 8:21 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The water war that will decide the fate of 1 in 8 Americans

Lake Mead is the country’s biggest reservoir of water. Think of it as the savings account for the entire Southwest. Right now, that savings account is nearly overdrawn.

For generations, we’ve been using too much of the Colorado River, the 300-foot-wide ribbon of water that carved the Grand Canyon, supplies Lake Mead, and serves as the main water source for much of the American West.

The river sustains one in eight Americans — about 40 million people — and millions of acres of farmland. In the next 40 years, the region is expected to add at least 10 million more people, as the region’s rainfall becomes more erratic.

An especially dismal snowpack this past winter has forced a long-simmering dispute over water rights to the fore, one that splits people living above and below Lake Mead.

Users of Colorado River water below Lake Mead — including the cities of Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas (collectively referred to as the “lower basin”) — rely on the reservoir as a lifeline. The people in the lower basin exist partly at the mercy of what happens in the upper basin, an area encompassing the snowcapped peaks of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and northern New Mexico, the source region of the river.

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Megafires, Wildland Fires, and Prescribed Burns

Posted by on Jun 2, 2018 @ 9:12 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Megafires, Wildland Fires, and Prescribed Burns

Healthy forests are important for clean and abundant water supplies. A recent USDA Forest Service study examined how wildland fires, including megafires, and prescribed burns affect river flow.

The study is the first nationwide look at fire impacts on surface freshwater resources. Led by Dennis Hallema, research hydrologist and ORISE fellow, the research team analyzed three decades of data on fires — along with climate and river flow datasets from 168 river basins in the lower 48 states.

“The impacts of wildland fires on water resources are extremely variable across the U.S.,” says Ge Sun, co-author and research hydrologist. “Our study aims to assist with mitigation strategies that can be designed locally to suit local climate, watershed characteristics, and wildland fire conditions.”

Recent wildland fire seasons are now longer due to recurring drought, more ignition sources, and more fuels. “Our findings show that climatic variability and fire characteristics both affect river flow,” says Hallema. “Therefore regional water management strategies need to be flexible and adaptable.”

The challenge for the near future is to determine where the increased river flow can be treated economically as a source of water and used to reduce drought impacts.

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A Truckload of Plastic Enters Our Oceans Every Single Minute—This Has to Stop

Posted by on Jun 1, 2018 @ 7:37 am in Conservation | 0 comments

A Truckload of Plastic Enters Our Oceans Every Single Minute—This Has to Stop

Our oceans are facing a plastic pollution crisis. The equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters our oceans every single minute, every day, all year long. Not only are plastics entangling and killing marine life, they are ending up on our plates through the seafood we eat and polluting our tap water.

More and more people are realizing that this is a crisis we must tackle urgently, but beach cleanups and recycling aren’t going to cut it. The scale of the issue is far too large for us to focus our efforts on waste management alone.

Since the 1950s, only 9 percent of the plastics created have been recycled. And China’s recent ban on foreign waste makes our country’s plastics addiction even more urgent. We can no longer rely on another country to bail us out—no more “out of sight, out of mind.”

It’s time for the corporations responsible for the continuous flow of plastic packaging and products into our lives (and the ocean) to step up and limit the production of single-use plastics. It’s not up to us to clean up their mess. And while many of us do everything in our power to avoid plastic packaging or recycle, it’s just not stopping the avalanche of plastic junk companies push at us.

Thankfully, all over the globe, people are starting to push back. From massive beach art pieces in Europe to ridiculous packaging photos on social media to a hot air balloon at EarthX in Texas, activists and change agents are calling for companies to #BreakFreeFromPlastic. That doesn’t mean corporations get by with plans to add more recycling options or false “biodegradable” bottles, it means reducing the amount of plastic they produce. No more excuses.

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You’ve Never Seen National Parks Looking Like This Before

Posted by on May 31, 2018 @ 7:29 am in Conservation | 0 comments

You’ve Never Seen National Parks Looking Like This Before

The world’s national parks are a unique natural resource. Not only for their biological diversity but also for their beauty and accessibility – many are otherworldly, an environment alien to our everyday but close enough to travel to with relative ease.

Every park is different too. So whether you’re looking to explore waterfalls or lakes, jungles or deserts, glaciers or mountaintops, there’s a national park to showcase them in all their natural wonder.

To stoke the fires of your inspiration, has done something a little different and created a series of extraordinary 3D topographical maps for some of the most popular parks in the world.

Zion National Park’s 148,000 acres should give you plenty of options. Whether that’s carving trails through verdant forests, strolling lazy rivers or climbing unimaginably spectacular rock formations formed and eroded over 270 million years into a landscape like no other.

Like much of its native New Zealand, Fiordland National Park is one of the most eye-wateringly beautiful places on Earth. Set in the south of South Island, Fiordland, as its name suggests, is a vast tangle of naturally carved waterways – deep deep fjords, pristine icy lakes and steep sided valleys culminating in snow capped mountain tops.

See the 3d relief maps here…


New national parks around the world

Posted by on May 27, 2018 @ 8:21 am in Conservation | 0 comments

New national parks around the world

Southern Chile is famous for Torres del Paine national park in Patagonia but much more of the region’s spectacular landscape is now being made accessible. Donations of vast tracts of wilderness by foundations run by US philanthropists and environmentalists to the Chilean state has led to the creation of national reserves covering 4.45m hectares. 17 national parks and reserves are now linked by the 770-mile Route of Parks, which starts in the port city of Puerto Montt on the doorstep of Alerce Andino National Park and continues south to the town of Villa O’Higgins. A road trip through all of them could take months.

In Denmark, following years of preparation, the inauguration of the new Royal North Sealand National Park, west of the capital Copenhagen, is to take place on May 29, 2018. The park, to be Denmark’s fifth, covers 64,900 acres with the forest of Gribskov and the lake of Esrum Sø at its heart. Gribskov is one of Denmark’s largest forests, with centuries-old oak trees, rich fauna and flora, and prehistoric sites. Esrum Sø, the second largest lake in the country, is noted for its clean waters, recreational facilities and the 10th-century monastery Esrum Abbey at its northern end.

In Sweden, the 4,700-acre Åsnen officially opens this month. It is its first new addition since 2009. Nearly 75 percent of the park is water — the rest is made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered across Lake Åsnen, old-growth deciduous forests, wetlands, and lowland plains across a stunning swath of southern Sweden.



A dose of nature: doctors prescribe a day in the park for anxiety

Posted by on May 25, 2018 @ 7:41 am in Conservation | 0 comments

A dose of nature: doctors prescribe a day in the park for anxiety

For many patients, like Lauren Huddle, 31, a big dose of Mother Nature is exactly what she needs after a stressful day.

“I have pretty bad anxiety and depression,” said Huddle of Bellingham, Washington. “And I don’t do well with pharmaceuticals, so my husband Nate would actually tell me all the time, ‘just go outside, you’ll feel so much better.’”

And that’s exactly the plan that Lauren and her doctor laid out. The Huddle’s family physician wrote her a prescription that read: “Five times a week… spend 30 minutes at a park near your home.”

Huddle’s treatment plan is part of a growing field of medicine called “ecotherapy” — nature-based programs and exercises that can help patients cope with mental and physical illnesses. Instead of prescriptions for more pills, doctors around the country are increasingly prescribing trips to the park for a range of conditions, including anxiety and depression, attention deficit disorder and chronic illness such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

There’s plenty of evidence of the healing power of a walk in the woods. “Forest bathing,” a version of the Japanese practice Shinrin-Yoku, is taking off in American as a way to boost happiness and help with insomnia. And scientists have long studied how going into nature changes the way the brain works.

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Here Are 7 Ways to Be Sustainable — Without Breaking the Bank

Posted by on May 24, 2018 @ 9:28 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Here Are 7 Ways to Be Sustainable — Without Breaking the Bank

When you have everything, it’s really easy to take things for granted. You know, when you can easily afford to buy a new tube of toothpaste, you don’t need to squeeze every last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, and then cut it open to get more of the paste that didn’t squeeze out, just to keep from having to spend money on more toothpaste in that moment.

That might sound like a bit much to some, but the practice is actually resourceful and sustainable: How biodegradable is your toothpaste container? Why waste a few day’s worth of toothpaste just because the tube is designed to encourage waste? Generally, the longer items are used, the less waste is produced.

Too many fibers, like lycra, polyester, and spandex, are plastic and aren’t biodegradable, and those plastic microfibers end up polluting our water systems. And, currently, 87% of the clothing we consume in America ends up in a landfill. Recycling helps.

There are a lot of little things people do like this, when they lack resources, that are actually supportive of a more healthy and sustainable life, while often cultivating community.

Here are just a few…


How Trump’s EPA Is Moving to Undo Fracking Wastewater Protections

Posted by on May 22, 2018 @ 8:19 am in Conservation | 0 comments

How Trump’s EPA Is Moving to Undo Fracking Wastewater Protections

Back in 2008, residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas received a notice in the mail advising them to drink bottled water instead of tap water—a move that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) internal memos at the time described as “one of the largest failures in U.S. history to supply clean drinking water to the public.”

The culprit: wastewater from oil and gas drilling and coal mines. This included fracking wastewater that state officials had allowed to be dumped at local sewer plants—facilities incapable of removing the complex mix of chemicals, corrosive salts and radioactive materials from that kind of industrial waste before they piped the “treated” water back into Pennsylvania’s rivers.

The levels of corrosive salt in some of the oil and gas wastewater was so high that at some sewage plants, it was suspected of killing off the “good bacteria” that removes fecal coliform and other dangerous bacteria from raw sewage.

State and federal regulators responded with a mix of voluntary requests and, eventually, rules designed to stop drillers from bringing their wastewater to ill-equipped water treatment plants.

Eight years after the Pittsburgh incident, in 2016, the EPA finished writing the rules that would stop that kind of failure from reoccurring, specifically forbidding sewage treatment plans from accepting untreated wastewater from fracked wells.

Now, the Trump administration’s EPA is announcing that it wants to study the industry’s wastewater all over again. The Trump-era study will examine oil and gas wastewater, asking, in the administration’s words, “whether any potential federal regulations that may allow for broader discharge of treated produced water to surface waters are supported.”

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