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Oyster Beds Still Empty Four Years After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill – April 21, 2014

Gulf communities and wildlife still reeling from the damage, but BP ends cleanup efforts

Four years ago, on April 20, 2010, the United States suffered the greatest oil spill in American history. With the explosion of a British Petroleum (BP) offshore oil rig, five million barrels (roughly 206 million gallons) of oil were released from the Deepwater Horizon oil well into the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven rig workers lost their lives, and immeasurable damage was wrought on coastal communities and wildlife.

photo of oyster shells in a huge stackphoto by faungg on Flickr

Four years later, many Gulf communities are still coping with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and scientists are still struggling to understand… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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California’s San Joaquin tops list of America’s 10 Most Endangered Rivers – April 9, 2014

This isn’t a list of the worst rivers, but of rivers at crossroads, says American Rivers

For many Americans, rivers bring to mind languid summer days, exuberant tubing adventures, or family fishing excursions. For me, they represent a kind of wild, untamed beauty, which I take every opportunity to enjoy.

In reality, few of America’s 250,000 rivers are truly untamed. They have been used for centuries as a source of energy, drinking water, agricultural irrigation, and recreation. This use has taken a steep toll, and many rivers are now threatened by excessive water diversions and withdrawals, outdated water management plans, dams, and pollution.

photo of a grassland and a reservoir, sailboats visiblephoto by eutrophication&hypoxia on FlickrMillerton Lake on the… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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Spring Cleaning: Dusting Toxins Off Couches – April 8, 2014

Proposed California bill aims to inform consumers and reduce use of toxic flame retardants

Ever wondered if your couch was filled with toxic flame retardants? If you have, chances are you weren’t able to find out because the manufacturer wasn’t required to inform you.

dog lying on couch Photo by This Year's LoveThe bill requires manufacturers to stop using flame retardents in furniture stuffing.

Fortunately, that may be changing. Last month, California State Senator Mark Leno introduced SB 1019, a bill that would require furniture manufacturers to label furniture that has been treated with flame retardants and to inform consumers of such use at the point of sale. If passed, the proposed bill will be implemented in… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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Drought-ridden California Plans Trucking Salmon Smolts to Sea – March 25, 2014

Effort could save 30 million young salmon, but may impact Chinook spawning patterns

Every year between late March and early June, roughly 30 million Chinook salmon make their way from five Central Valley hatcheries to the Pacific Ocean. This year, however, these young salmon, called smolts, face a perilous journey due to California’s enduring drought.

juvenile chinook salmonPhoto by Roger Tabor/USFWSDrought conditions in California mean that there isn’t much rainfall or snowmelt to convey young salmon to the ocean.

In order to ensure that the Chinook make it all the way to the sea, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have adopted a drought contingency… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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LED Streetlights Save Energy, but Could Have Some Serious Side Effects – March 10, 2014

Exposure to blue-rich LED lights can disrupt natural circadian rhythms in humans and wildlife

This post has been updated to include information about San Francisco's choice of yellow-rich LEDs.

Streetlights don’t make a lot of headlines. They are a constant in our cityscapes, rarely drawing the attention of passing pedestrians and motorists.  

photoname Photo by flickr user meltedplasticLED street lights on a Houston, TX residential street. LEDs definitely bring some benefits, the
biggest of which is energy savings.

That is, until recently. During the past few years, cities from Baltimore, to San Antonio, to Los Angeles have begun replacing traditional streetlights (typically high pressure sodium bulbs) with newer light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs). Last year, Oakland,… more

by: Zoe Loftus-Farren

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