Environment

  • California Democratic lawmakers want a go-slow approach to fracking

    California may be on the verge of an oil rush. It is estimated that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at the Monterey Shale formation may tap reserves of fifteen billion barrels of oil. Democratic lawmakers do not see it that way, and have proposed numerous anti-fracking bills aiming to control the use of the controversial technology. Ten bills have been tabled so far, and more are on the way.

  • As wildfires increase, scientists call for more study of terrestrial, atmospheric effects

    Wildfire is a disturbance of ecosystems, and concerns continue to grow about the terrestrial and atmospheric effects of wildfires. Wildfires are expected to increase 50 percent across the United States under a changing climate, over 100 percent in areas of the West by 2050 as projected by some studies.

  • GOP lawmakers urge Obama not to link Keystone decision to climate policies

    Democrats who are uncomfortable with the Keystone XL pipeline have urged President Obama to consider attaching policies requiring cuts in greenhouse gases emissions to his approval of the project. Republican lawmakers are urging the president not to link approval of Keystone to climate change policies.

  • Administration more actively to support expansion of fracking

    The Obama administration is leaning toward offering more active support for the expansion hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, despite the opposition of environmental groups.

  • House will see floor battle today over Keystone XL pipeline

    Republican and Democrats lawmakers are set to engage in a fierce battle on the House floor over the fate of the Keystone XL project. Representative Lee Terry’s (R-Nebraska) proposed legislation to allow TransCanada to start construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which runs from Hardisty, Canada through seven states to Houston, Texas. The bill will come to the House floor today.

  • Algae could become an important source of fuel in U.S.

    A new analysis shows that the U.S. land and water resources could likely support the growth of enough algae to produce up to twenty-five billion gallons of algae-based fuel a year in the United States, one-twelfth of the country’s yearly needs.

  • Asteroid 1998 QE2, nine times larger than cruise ship, to glide past earth

    Two weeks from now, on 31May 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles, or about fifteen times the distance between Earth and the moon. While QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, other asteroids are. NASA recently announced developing a first-ever mission to identify, capture, and relocate an asteroid for human exploration.

  • California community sinking into the ground, and engineers are baffled

    Several homeowners in the community of Lake County, California are faced with a problem: their houses are sinking into the ground and they do not know why. The situation has been deteriorating steadily, and now mail delivery has been cancelled in the area, and city and county crews have been forced to change the subdivision’s sewage line to an overland pipe as a result of manhole collapses.

  • A “cauldron of events” has brought the nuclear industry to a halt

    Until two years ago, people talked of a nuclear energy renaissance. Now the talk is about nuclear malaise. The Fukushima scare, the emergence of alternative energy sources as a result of fracking, and the lack of action on climate change – which means that limits on fossil fuels are not coming any time soon – have, in the words of one experts, brought the nuclear industry to a halt.

  • Hazard of Western Indian Ocean earthquake, tsunami greater than thought

    Earthquakes similar in magnitude to the 2004 Sumatra earthquake could occur in an area beneath the Arabian Sea at the Makran subduction zone, according to recent research. The study suggests that the risk from undersea earthquakes and associated tsunami in this area of the Western Indian Ocean — which could threaten the coastlines of Pakistan, Iran, Oman, India, and potentially further afield — has been previously underestimated.

  • Assessing asteroid risk to Earth

    Of the more than 600 000 known asteroids in our Solar System, almost 10 000 are classified as near-Earth objects, or NEOs, because their orbits bring them relatively close to Earth’s path. A dramatic proof that any of these can strike Earth came on 15 February, when an unknown object thought to be 17-20 meter in diameter arrived at 66 000 km/h and exploded high above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with 20-30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

  • Silica particles purify water by acting as oil magnets

    Engineers develop an innovative method designed to purify water through the rapid removal of oily pollutants. The technology involves the deployment of surface engineered silica particles, which act as oil magnets in water, adsorbing oil, yet repelling water.

  • New grass hybrid helps reduce runoffs, flooding

    Scientists use hybridized forage grass to combine fast root growth and efficient soil water retention. Field experiments show Festulolium cultivar reduces water runoff by up to 51 percent against nationally-recommended cultivar. The hybrid captures more water and reduces runoff and likelihood of flood generation.

  • Lower waves' impact on coastal communities uncertain

    Coastal impacts of climate change studies have predominantly focused on the influence of sea-level rise and, until now, not focused on how changing wave conditions will impact the coastal zone in a changing climate. Scientists note, though, that waves are dominant drivers of coastal change in these sandy environments, and variability and change in the characteristics of surface ocean waves can far exceed the influences of sea-level rise in such environments. Since warmer oceans will see lower waves, the effect of warming on coastal communities is uncertain.

  • U.S. may acquire additional land for constructing border fence

    A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) draft plan regarding the final sections of the border fence that separates the United States from Mexico could impact about 100 people, most reside in a nursing home, according to federal documents.