environment

Around the Nation
2:05 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not: Town To Tap Sewers For Energy

Brainerd Public Utilities' Scott Sjolund at a sewer site. Sewers around the city were monitored to gauge the amount of potential energy flowing through the system.
Conrad Wilson for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 11:21 am

Most Americans use electricity, gas or oil to heat and cool their homes. But the small city of Brainerd, Minn., is turning to something a bit less conventional: the sewer.

As it turns out, a sewer — the place where a city's hot showers, dishwashing water and organic matter end up — is a pretty warm place. That heat can generate energy — meaning a city's sewer system can hold tremendous potential for heating and cooling.

It's just that unexpected energy source that Brainerd hopes to exploit.

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Environment
11:56 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Despite Debby, Fourchon beach rebuild progresses

Lafourche Parish officials say a restoration project aimed at rebuilding beach and dunes at West Belle Pass on Fourchon beach is nearly halfway done.

Progress has been made despite some damage from Tropical Storm Debby in late June.

Lafourche Parish Coastal Zone Administrator Archie Chaisson told The Courier that the restoration project was moving along smoothly with 66 percent of the beach and dune recreation finished. Sand fending to prevent erosion is 44 percent complete.

Shrimp Season
11:21 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Shrimping to close Saturday in Pontchartrain Basin

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the 2012 spring inshore shrimp season will close at 6 a.m. Saturday in most remaining state inside waters east of the Mississippi River. The closure is designed to protect developing white shrimp.

The open waters of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds will remain open, but all other inside waters will be closed to shrimping.

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Latest News
12:05 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Oilfield waste site plans upset some in Houma

Houma residents who live and work near the site of a proposed oilfield waste disposal well say they're upset about a court ruling that allows the project to move forward.

A judge ruled Friday that a state permit allowing Vanguard Environmental to drill the well supersedes local laws preventing such drilling within a mile of residences or businesses. State law only requires the well to be 500 feet away.

Terrebonne Parish officials said they plan to appeal the decision.

Environment
4:46 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Rising Shale Water Complicates Fracking Debate

A water tank truck is seen on the main street in Waynesburg, Pa., on April 13. Scientists say naturally polluted water can rise to the surface of the Marcellus Shale; that finding suggests that frack water could seep out, too.
Mladen Antonov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 5:47 pm

The nation's boom in natural gas production has come with a cost: The technique used to get much of the gas out of the ground, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has contaminated drinking water. But how often and where this contamination is taking place is a matter of much debate and litigation.

Now, a new study has found natural pathways of contamination — but that doesn't mean the drilling industry is off the hook.

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Environment
12:15 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Nature takes a crack at rebuilding marsh

A small breach on the marsh-covered east bank of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans is giving rise to calls to let the river run wild.

The debate centers on a 77-foot-wide channel the river carved through a levee road in the unused Bohemia spillway in Plaquemines Parish, about 45 miles south of New Orleans. The breach is outside levees that protect thinly populated communities on the sliver of delta that extends south to form Louisiana's boot.

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Jefferson Parish Recycling
11:59 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Jefferson Parish recycling has banner first week

Officials say about half of the households in unincorporated East Jefferson participated in the first week of curbside garbage recycling, a significant increase for a service they last had before Hurricane Katrina.

Director Marnie Winter of the Department of Environmental Affairs tells The Times-Picayune (http://bit.ly/MUJnkD) the overall rate of households putting out the new green bins Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was 51 percent.

Before Katrina, Winter says an average of about 32 percent of homes participated in curbside recycling.

U.S.
5:08 am
Sun July 8, 2012

Texas Seeks New Water Supplies Amid Drought

Receding water at Lake Travis near Austin, Texas, has the state concerned about its water supply. In 2011, Lake Travis had the lowest inflow since it was created about 70 years ago.
Joshua Lott Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun July 8, 2012 1:59 pm

The punishing seven-year drought of the 1950s in Texas brought about the modern era of water planning. But the drought of 2011 was the hottest, driest 12 months on record there.

Though only a handful of towns saw their water sources dry up last summer, it got so bad that cities, industries and farmers began to think the unthinkable: Would they run out of water?

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The Picture Show
5:10 am
Sat July 7, 2012

Portraits: Texas Ranchers Remember An Epic Drought

Eugene "Boob" Kelton, 80, is an Upton County rancher and brother of writer Elmer Kelton.
Michael O'Brien

"Between 1950 and 1960," according to NPR's John Burnett, Texas "lost nearly 100,000 farms and ranches," and rural residents who had made up more than a third of the population dwindled to just a quarter of the population.

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U.S.
5:08 am
Sat July 7, 2012

How One Drought Changed Texas Agriculture Forever

Siblings Charles Hagood and Nancy Hagood Nunns grew up in Junction, Texas, in the 1950s. Charles says the drought drove ranchers to find other types of work.
Michael O'Brien Michael O'Brien

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 2:40 pm

In Texas, there is still the drought against which all other droughts are measured: the seven-year dry spell in the 1950s. It was so devastating that agriculture losses exceeded those of the Dust Bowl years, and so momentous that it kicked off the modern era of water planning in Texas.

From 1950 to 1957, the sky dried up and the rain refused to fall. Every day, Texans scanned the pale-blue heavens for rainclouds, but year after year they never came.

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