Sci-News.com – June 22, 2015

There is agreement among researchers that extinction rates have reached levels unparalleled since the last ‘great extinction’ 66 million years ago when the dinosaurs perished. However, some scientists have challenged the theory, believing earlier estimates rested on assumptions that overestimated the crisis. The new study, led by Dr Gerardo Ceballos from the Universidad Autónoma de México, shows that even with extremely conservative estimates, vertebrate species are disappearing up to 114 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions.  For full story, click here.

Contact: Sylvia Rainford – USDA – June 22, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of $17.5 million in financial and technical assistance to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on private and tribal agricultural lands. "USDA has leveraged partnerships to accomplish a great deal on America's wetlands over the past two decades, Vilsack said. "This year's funding will help strengthen these partnerships and achieve greater wetland acreage throughout the nation." For full news release, click here.

By Rebecca Shabad – The Hill – June 18, 2015

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a $30.01 billion spending bill that takes aim at President Obama’s environmental regulations. The bill would fund the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department for fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1, by $400 million below the level Congress enacted for 2015 and $2.2 billion less than Obama’s request. For full story, click here.

By Deena Shanker – Quartz – June 19, 2015

A toxic algae bloom off the US West Coast that began earlier this year has grown into the biggest and most severe the region has seen in more than a decade.The bloom and its toxins have thus far been reported from the coast of Santa Barbara, California, all the way up to Alaska, Raphael Kudela, a professor of ocean sciences at University of California Santa Cruz tells Quartz. “For comparison, the other really large event occurred in 1998, and occurred from approximately San Diego to Washington state.” For full story, click here.

 By Jim Spencer – Star Tribune – June 11, 2015

A bill that would effectively overturn a new Environmental Protection Agency clean water rule won a critical committee vote Wednesday and now appears headed for a decision by the full U.S. Senate. The clean water rule was EPA’s attempt to re-establish jurisdiction over some remote streams, ditches and wetlands that could be sources of pollution to the nation’s rivers and lakes. For full story, click here.