How the upper Mississippi goes from pristine to polluted

By Jennifer Bjorhus – Star Tribune – January 24, 2017
The Mississippi near Bemidji is the untainted river of our imagination. As it travels south of St. Cloud, however, the pollutants start pouring in, and by the time the historic waterway hits Minneapolis, the fish are often under consumption advisories and the water is sometimes unsafe for swimming. A comprehensive new study finds the majestic river under growing threats from changes in the landscape of central Minnesota and warns that growing levels of nitrates, primarily from fertilizer, threaten its safety for drinking. For full story, click here.

During Sandy, Wetlands Averted US $625-Million in Damages

By Jackie Snow – Hakai Magazine – November 16, 2016
In 2012, tropical cyclone Sandy made landfall in the United States’ northeastern coast, killing scores and causing extensive damage. The storm went on to become the second costliest cyclone in US history, after Hurricane Katrina. But as new research shows, it could have been much worse. Confirming their long-argued role as natural defenses, scientists calculated that coastal wetlands prevented as much as US $625-million in property damage during the storm. Overall, Sandy caused an estimated $50-billion in flood damages. Storm surge causes much of the damage during a tropical cyclone, but wetlands helped absorb some of the wave energy and rising water. For full article, click here.

The gulf oil spill literally caused wetlands to sink beneath the waves, scientists say

By Chelsea Harvey – The Washington Post – November 21, 2016
Six years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are still taking stock of the damage it caused. And increasingly, they’re reporting that widespread shoreline erosion and loss of wetlands — which can hurt important salt marsh ecosystems and leave coastal areas, and the city of New Orleans, more vulnerable to sea-level rise — was a major side-effect of the disaster. For full story, click here.

Pain of Sandy endures: Recovery from 2012 superstorm not possible in a few neighborhoods

By Ula Ilnytzky, Associated Press – Albany Times Union – October 28, 2016
For four years, people have worked hard and mostly successfully to erase the deep scars Superstorm Sandy left on the New York and New Jersey coastlines when it crashed ashore with deadly force Oct. 29, 2012. But recovery will never come to Oakwood Beach, among several places along the coast that have seen permanent changes wrought by the storm. The Staten Island neighborhood, improbably built on a salt marsh, is slowly being returned to nature after state officials concluded it would be foolish to rebuild in a place with so little protection from the ocean. For full story, click here.

The Deepwater Horizon spill may have caused ‘irreversible’ damage to Gulf Coast marshes  

By Chelsea Harvey – The Washington Post – September 27, 2016
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been called one of the worst environmental disasters in American history — and more than six years later, scientists are still investigating how much damage it actually caused. Now, a new study suggests the spill may have permanently marred one of the Gulf shore’s most important ecosystems.  For full story, click here.

Thousands of Homes Keep Flooding, Yet They Keep Being Rebuilt Again

By Katherine Bagley – Environment 360 – August 29, 2016
More than 2,100 properties across the U.S. enrolled in the National Flood Insurance Program have flooded and been rebuilt more than 10 times since 1978, according to a new analysis of insurance data by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). One home in Batchelor, Louisiana has flooded 40 times over the past four decades, receiving $428,379 in insurance payments. More than 30,000 properties in the program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have flooded multiple times over the years. Those homes, known as “severe repetitive loss properties,” make up just 0.6 percent of federal flood insurance policies. But they account for 10.6 percent of the program’s claims — totaling $5.5 billion in payments. For full story, click here.

Enforcing rules could hasten the Bay’s cleanup, reduce costs

By Timothy B. Wheeler – Bay Journal – April 17, 2016
As hundreds of millions of dollars get poured annually into the 33-year effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, with progress still lagging in many places, some suggest that state and federal authorities are neglecting an essential tool — one that might reduce the cost and hasten the recovery of the beleaguered estuary. “The most important thing is to hold people accountable when they don’t do what they said they were going to do,” contended Rena Steinzor, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and former president of the Center for Progressive Reform, a Washington, DC, think tank. Appearing on Maryland Public Television’s Chesapeake Bay Summit broadcast last year, Steinzor called for making polluters and governments alike answer for their failures to clean up. For full article, click here.

Keystone I Leak Raises More Doubts About Pipeline Safety

By Phil McKenna – Inside Climate News – April 6, 2016
An oil spill that surfaced in South Dakota over the weekend prompted Canadian pipeline company TransCanada to shut down its Keystone I pipeline, a predecessor to the controversial  Keystone XL project. TransCanada had still not confirmed the leak as of Tuesday, calling it a "potential incident." According to Chris Nelson, chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, the leak was first reported by a passerby. TransCanada reported to the U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday that 187 gallons of oil had leaked, Nelson said. The line is expected to remain closed all week. For full story, click here.

Flood risk to persist in Mississippi River basin -NOAA outlook

By Julie Ingwersen – Planet Ark – March 16, 2016
Heavy winter rains have left the Missouri and Mississippi River basins, from Iowa to Louisiana, at an elevated risk of moderate flooding through June, U.S. government forecasters said on Thursday. The risk extends to eastern Texas and the southeastern Coastal Plain, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in issuing its spring outlook. For full story, go here.

Obama rescinds Atlantic coast drilling plan

By Timothy Cama – The Hill – March 15, 2016
President Obama is rescinding his proposal to open the Atlantic Coast to offshore drilling after encountering strong opposition. The Interior Department announced the decision Tuesday, reversing Obama’s previous proposal for 2017–2022 of organizing a single lease sale on the outer continental shelf in the area from Virginia to Georgia.For full story, click here.

Canada and U.S. to reduce phosphorus 40% to improve Lake Erie water

By Environmental Protection Agency – Ag Professional – February 23, 2016
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced that Canada and the U.S. have adopted targets to reduce phosphorus entering affected areas of Lake Erie by 40 percent. The targets announced will minimize the extent of low oxygen “dead zones” in the central basin of Lake Erie; maintain algae growth at a level consistent with healthy aquatic ecosystems; and maintain algae biomass at levels that do not produce toxins that pose a threat to human or ecosystem health. For full story, click here.

National Wildlife Federation to Sue Pipeline Safety Administration to Protect Communities, Wildlife from Oil Spill in the Great Lakes

By Jordan Lubetkin – The National Wildlife Federation – February 22, 2016
The National Wildlife Federation today officially sent a notice of intent to sue the federal agency largely responsible for overseeing oil pipeline safety. The notice asserts that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) had no authority to authorize the transport of oil through pipelines that run through the Straits of Mackinac and navigable waters in Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. PHMSA also incorrectly authorized the transport of oil through pipelines on land without assessing the impacts on the environment, fish, and wildlife, including the impacts on endangered and threatened species, such as the Piping Plover and Kirtland’s Warbler. For full article, click here.

EPA Again Postpones Enbridge Fine for 2010 Kalamazoo River Spill

By David Hasemyer – InsideClimate News – February 19, 2016
Negotiations between Enbridge Inc. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been extended again over a fine that could exceed $100 million for violations under the Clean Water Act in the pipeline operator’s 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster. The spill of highly toxic tar sands oil fouled a 40-mile stretch of the river in Michigan. It was the biggest inland oil spill in U.S. history and resulted in a massive cleanup that kept the river closed for nearly two years. The cleanup has cost the company more than $1.2 billion. In addition, Enbridge has already been assessed almost $83 million in penalties by other state and federal authorities. For full story, click here.

Levees among possible cause of more frequent flooding

By Jim Salter, Associated Press – Las Vegas Sun – January 4, 2016
The Mississippi River floods more often than it used to, and at higher levels. Richard Knaup thinks he knows why. The veteran emergency management director for southeast Missouri's Cape Girardeau County is fighting floods again, just as he did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. "Prior to levee building, the river was a wild thing and it spread out between the river bluffs," Knaup said Monday. "Now we've tried to tame it. Mother Nature and Old Man River will fight back." The rains that caused this winter's flood, blamed already for 25 deaths and damage to hundreds of homes and businesses, ended a week ago, but the water was still rising Monday in southern Missouri and Illinois. For full story, click here.

Southern states brace for flooding as overflowing Midwest rivers recede

Reuters – January 1, 2016
Overflowing rivers were receding in Missouri and Illinois on Friday after flooding swamped communities and forced towns to evacuate, with forecasters warning that rain-swollen waterways flowing downstream could menace Southern states. At least 28 people have died in the U.S. Midwest since the weekend in rare winter floods, mostly when driving into flooded areas after storms dropped up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain, officials said. Flooding in the Midwest usually comes in the spring as snowmelt swells rivers. Dozens died in U.S. storms that were part of a wild worldwide weather system over the Christmas holiday period which has also brought heavy floods and storms to Britain. For full story, click here.