Weekend Environment Reader

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Environmental Health News: Journalism that drives the discussion.

In the shadows of Corpus Christi's Refinery Row,a parable of redevelopment and race.

Hillcrest is squeezed between the port and the interstate, hemmed in by oil tanks on one side and miles of refineries on another. more…

What Changed the World This Week

Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers.

Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say. more…

Editor comments: This is a problem. Many of us would prefer not to deal with insects, but they are an essential component of the web of life.  Ecosystems will not work without them. -JPM

Desperate Puerto Ricans are drinking water from a hazardous-waste site.

In Puerto Rico, water is being pumped to people by water authorities from a federally designated hazardous-waste site. more…

Editor comments: Climate-related weather disasters are driving health concerns in Puerto Rico (Superfund water), Texas (petrochemical spills) and California (toxic air). -JPM

How big water projects helped trigger Africa’s migrant crisis.

Major dam and irrigation projects are drying up the wetlands that sustain life in the arid Sahel region of Africa. The result has been a wave of environmental refugees. more…

Vikings razed the forests. Can Iceland regrow them?

The country lost most of its trees long ago. Despite years of replanting, it isn’t making much progress. more…

PSU researchers find plastic in shellfish at 14 different sites.

Researchers sampling shellfish on the Oregon coast are finding oysters and razor clams contaminated with tiny plastic particles. more…

Dolphin diets show how climate change could alter food chains off the California coast.

Scientists studying dolphins dining off the California coastline have found that the marine food web is starting to look a little threadbare. more…

Cleanup from California fires poses environmental and health risks.

In California, the road ahead to cleanup and the safe return to properties will probably not be smooth or fast. Think of the environmental cleanup after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, as debris and dust swirled through Lower Manhattan. more…

Report: Pollution kills 3 times more than AIDS, TB and malaria combined.

Exposure to polluted air, water and soil caused nine million premature deaths in 2015, according to a report published Thursday in The Lancet. more…

Glyphosate: WHO cancer agency edited out "non-carcinogenic" findings.

When the International Agency for Research on Cancer assessed the best-selling weedkiller glyphosate, significant changes were made between a draft of its report and the published version. The agency won't say who made the changes or why. more…

Puerto Rican families draw water from Superfund site.

Past water tests at the site have shown the presence of potentially harmful industrial solvents. more…

Editor comments: Climate-related weather disasters are driving health concerns in Puerto Rico (Superfund water), Texas (petrochemical spills) and California (toxic air). -JPM

Fish blood in their veins — but few salmon in their river.

This fall, the number of chinook salmon making their way from the ocean up the Klamath River in the far northwest corner of California is the lowest on record. That’s devastating news for the Yurok tribe. more…

Exposure to air pollution before birth may shorten our lives.

Pollution affects us even in the womb: Women who are exposed to air pollution during pregnancy have babies with shorter telomeres (a genetic biomarker), a study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics found. more…

China's pollution crackdown is gaining momentum.

In pockets of China’s industrial heartland, a government push to clean up the environment and cut excess output is starting to bite: Furnaces have gone cold, the lights have been switched off, migrant workers are drifting back home. more…

EPA crews working on Gold King cleanup find elevated lead threatening birds, animals and, potentially, people.

Lead surfaced in sampling required by Superfund cleanup process spurred by spill that turned that turned the Animas River mustard-yellow. more…

Amid fear and guns, polio finds a refuge.

Wild poliovirus clings to a tenuous existence in areas like those haunted by Nigeria’s Boko Haram, where eradication is costly, dangerous, and urgent. more…

ACLU wants Flint kids screened for impact of lead.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan want a federal judge to order state and Flint education officials to screen and evaluate all Flint schoolchildren for health and education disabilities stemming from the lead water crisis. more…

Health watchdog finds lead in Infowars diet supplements.

Alex Jones, conspiracy theory and dietary supplement monger, has been accused of being a snake oil salesman. But two of the elixirs he pushes in his Infowars online shop appear to be significantly more dangerous than reptile grease. more…

An 11-year-old has become 'America's Top Young Scientist' for her sensor detecting lead in water.

Gitanjali Rao, an 11-year-old from Lone Tree, Colorado, is the winner of this year's Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her sensor that can detect lead levels in water better than traditional methods. more…

The hunt for the brain-eating amoebas of Yellowstone.

It was a lovely September day in Yellowstone’s Boiling River and although no one here has ever fallen victim to Naegleria fowleri, signs posted onshore warn swimmers: This thing can ruin your day, and most likely your life. more…

'Lead in my bones': Living a contaminated life in East Chicago.

The NAACP kicked off an initiative in East Chicago to teach children how to test their soil, water and air for lead. more…

Top Weekend News

Why has the E.P.A. shifted on toxic chemicals?

An industry insider helps call the shots. New York Times

Editor comments: An extraordinary piece of reporting on Nancy B. Beck, former executive at the American Chemistry Council. -DF

The E.P.A.’s top 10 toxic threats, and industry’s pushback.

The Environmental Protection Agency has published a list of 10 toxic threats it will evaluate first under a law passed last year intended to crack down on hazardous chemicals. New York Times

A string of dangerous accidents in Alaska sends BP reeling, emails show.

Internal emails, recordings, interviews, and other documentation obtained by BuzzFeed News show how BP Alaska executives are struggling to “reset” the company’s safety culture after five dangerous accidents this year alone. BuzzFeed

A huge salmon die-off is happening — and our cars might be responsible.

Female coho salmon were suffering ghastly deaths before spawning. Scientists had no idea why until they took a closer look at the water. Washington Post

This Week in Trump

Trump’s mine-safety nominee ran coal firm cited for illegal employment practices.

Records show the coal mining company formerly run by David Zatezalo retaliated against a foreman who complained of harassment and unsafe conditions. ProPublica

Interior looks at behind-the-scenes land swap to allow road through wildlife refuge.

The deal with Alaska, to benefit a remote town, would ignore a decades-old ban on development in protected wilderness. Washington Post

EPA head seeks to avoid settlements with green groups.

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a directive to his agency on Monday seeking to end the practice of settling lawsuits with environmental groups behind closed doors, saying the groups have had too much influence on regulation. Reuters

Bristol Bay's Pebble Mine is back in play.

One of the most contentious environmental fights of the past 30 years is suddenly back in the news, now that EPA head Scott Pruitt is poised to withdraw measures protecting the bay's storied salmon runs. Outside

Scott Pruitt suggests he will restrict scientists who get EPA grants from advising the agency.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt hinted Tuesday at plans to rid the agency’s scientific advisory boards of researchers who get EPA grants, arguing that the current structure raises questions about their independence. Washington Post

Another Obama decision reversed? Now it’s about food safety.

USDA

Citing President Donald Trump's calls for deregulation, Republican lawmakers and the chicken industry are aggressively lobbying to speed up poultry inspection lines. NBC News

Trump has taken longer to name a science adviser than any modern president.

The administration is moving forward on decisions that depend on science despite leaving the top White House scientific position open. Washington Post

The state of Trump’s USDA: What you need to know.

Can the USDA continue to do its work amid major reorganizations and minimal appointments and new hires? Civil Eats

Trump pick for top environment post: Carbon dioxide is 'the gas of life.'

President Donald Trump has picked Kathleen Hartnett White, a former Texas regulator and unapologetic advocate of expanding U.S. fossil fuel production regardless of carbon dioxide emissions, for the top White House environment post. InsideClimate News

We asked 4 agency bosses about Trump. They're worried.

Take it from four former U.S. EPA chiefs - this is all going to get much worse before it gets better. ClimateWire

Opinions

Insectageddon: Farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown.

The shocking collapse of insect populations hints at a global ecological meltdown. more…

Even in Alberta, views on oil are changing: Steward.

Catastrophic weather events have shifted the views on burning greenhouse gases and politicians will need to respond. more…

How a healthy economy can shorten life spans.

In general, prosperity brings better health. But economic booms are also associated with air pollution, stress and car accidents. more…

Transition sacred.

As Pope Francis has put it, we need an "ecological conversion." more…

The diplomat behind the Paris climate agreement says the world is moving forward without Donald Trump.

Christiana Figueres remains optimistic about tackling global warming. more…

A male infertility crisis is coming. The Middle East can help.

Western men’s sperm counts are falling, and we ought to be concerned. The end result may be a new social crisis of male infertility. more…

Editor comments: Unfortunately, this op-ed ignores the bigger issue. What is causing male infertility and how can it be prevented? -JPM

Craft: EPA administrator should see Houston's post-Harvey pollution firsthand.

Ignoring science, weakening protections and crossing our fingers that the next storm does not target the Gulf Coast will not get the job done. more…

Editorials

The White House sees only dollar signs in the Arctic.

With subterfuge and an ear for those who can gain financially, the administration pushes to drill oil and mine gold in fragile areas. more…

Mr. Trump outdoes himself in picking a conflicted regulator.

The nominee to lead the E.P.A. chemicals office is a threat to public health. more…

Eye in the sky offers clearest vision of Earth.

The world’s latest carbon-monitoring satellite has advanced our understanding of how the planet functions. US politicians should take note. more…

Health study in Sarnia’s ‘Chemical Valley’ is long overdue.

Sarnia and its environs are home to 57 polluters. Yet the government has never done a baseline study to see how residents are affected and its reporting system on chemical leaks appears lax. more…

Fire-fighting chemicals and drinking water.

The PFAS saga is not just an issue for those who live near the Williamtown RAAF base and other hot spots around the nation. more…

Learning lessons from Northern California’s fires.

After 10 stressful days, things are returning to normal — at least a new normal — for most of us. more…

See it, say it: Climate change.

Denial by the White House will sadly increase the intensity of storms and wildfires. more…