National News

Concerns Renewed as Mining Pollutants Increase in Montana Watershed

By Tristan Scott  – Flathead Beacon  – November 17, 2014

With renewed plans to expand coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia’s Elk River drainage, located upstream from one of Montana’s world-class transboundary watersheds, researchers and government agencies are intensifying scrutiny on environmental hazards spanning the border. The concerns center on increasing amounts of coal waste byproducts leaching into the heavily mined Elk River and its many tributaries, which drain into two bodies of water shared by B.C. and Montana – Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River – both of which are showing increased levels of mining contaminants like selenium in the muscle tissue of fish species. For full story, click here.

USDA and Partners Complete First-of-Its-Kind Sale of Carbon Credits from Working Ranch Grasslands

USDA – November 17, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today said a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant has helped initiate a partnership that is improving the environment, creating a market for carbon credits generated on working grasslands. Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, recently purchased almost 40,000 carbon dioxide reduction tons generated on working ranch grasslands in the Prairie Pothole region of North Dakota. "This announcement is the first-of-its-kind. The amount of carbon dioxide removed from our atmosphere by Chevrolet's purchase of carbon credits equals the amount that would be reduced by taking more than 5,000 cars off the road," Secretary Vilsack said. "This public-private partnership demonstrates how much can be achieved with a modest federal investment and a strong commitment to cut carbon pollution." For full press release, click here.

House passes bill to reform EPA science panel

By Cristina Marcos – The Hill – November 18, 2014

The House on Tuesday passed legislation to overhaul the Environmental Protection Agency's Scientific Advisory Board. Passed 229-191, the measure, H.R. 1422, would change the process of selecting members of the Scientific Advisory Board and the terms of office. Among other provisions, the measure would require the Scientific Advisory Board, which consults the EPA on its regulations, to have at least ten percent of members from state, local or tribal governments. The bill is part of the House GOP's package of legislation this week to limit the EPA's ability to issue new regulations. Later this week, the House will vote on bills to require the EPA to make public its scientific data to justify regulations and limit updates to air pollution rules. For full story, click here.

The Russia-USA Wetland Center Exchange Program: Linking People and Wetlands

Wetlands Institute

Having been awarded a grant through the US State Department's US-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program, The Wetlands Institute (TWI), Wetland Link International (WLI) and Wetlands International Russia (WIR) have teamed up to generate a beneficial international dialogue between wetland centers in the US and Russia. This project, Russia-USA Wetland Center Exchange Program: Linking People and Wetlands, seeks to identify the shared challenges of those working in wetland education and outreach throughout the US and Russia and assemble cases of best practice and delivery. This project is currently seeking six (6) wetland centers, divided equally between the US and Russia, to participate in an international exchange program and conference, develop a proven methodology for use of social media, data sharing and outreach materials, and produce a final manual for advising wetland centers on the best practices for public education and engagement as they pertain to wetland education. For complete project details and to download participant applications, click here. Applications must be received by Friday, January 16, 2015.

Protecting our dwindling water

By Marty Schladen – Alamogordo News – November 15, 2014

People who live in the Rio Grande Basin will have to take dramatic steps if they hope to have a future that involves more than just dust. Experts say population in the region has swelled during unusually wet years, leading to growth and creating habits that tree rings and other scientific data indicate we shouldn't expect in the future. Stream flows measured at the Otowi Gauge on the Upper Rio Grande were well above historical norms between 1980 and 2000, when El Paso's and Albuquerque's populations grew 42 percent and 38 percent, respectively. Add climate change — which an overwhelming majority of those who study it say is happening — and you have a future that might not be very promising for cities such as El Paso, Juárez, Las Cruces and Albuquerque. For full story, click here.