The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
A new coalition of state attorneys general gave vocal notice to fossil fuel companies on Tuesday that obfuscating the realities of climate change has put ExxonMobil and its peers under the searchlight of a broadening multistate investigation.
Announcing an alliance of top state law enforcement officers to press for urgent climate action on multiple legal fronts, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was joined by six of his counterparts, their ranks bolstered by aides from nine additional states and the District of Columbia.
Hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas operations contaminated the groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming, according to a new study by Stanford University scientists. The findings raise concerns about possible water pollution in other heavily fracked and geologically similar communities in the U.S. West.
Kinder Morgan, the largest energy infrastructure company in North America, announced this week that it has suspended construction of a $1 billion pipeline project that would pump gasoline and diesel fuel across the Southeastern United States. The decision is being hailed as a victory by an unlikely coalition of Republican legislators, private property owners and environmental organizations.
The announcement came the same day Georgia state lawmakers sent a bill to the state’s governor that would place a moratorium on the 360-mile pipeline’s construction until 2017, after they voted overwhelmingly in support of the legislation.
Scientists, including a University of California, Riverside professor, studied more than 15,000 sites in the United States and found that increased nitrogen deposits from human activities are causing a decrease in the diversity of plant species. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition is increasing due to such things as fossil fuel combustion, agricultural fertilizer application and livestock waste. While smaller amount of nitrogen may act as fertilizer, stimulating growth in plants, large accumulated amounts can decrease soil health and cause a loss in the number of plant species.
A new study from climate scientists Robert DeConto at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and David Pollard at Pennsylvania State University suggests that the most recent estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for future sea-level rise over the next 100 years could be too low by almost a factor of two. Details appear in the current issue of Nature. DeConto says, “This could spell disaster for many low-lying cities. For example, Boston could see more than 1.5 meters [about 5 feet] of sea-level rise in the next 100 years. But the good news is that an aggressive reduction in emissions will limit the risk of major Antarctic ice sheet retreat.”
UC San Diego biologists who examined the biological impact of replenishing eroded beaches with offshore sand found that such beach replenishment efforts could have long-term negative impacts on coastal ecosystems. The scientists, who studied the effects of beach replenishment efforts on the abundance of intertidal invertebrates at eight different beaches in San Diego County, discovered that the movement of sand onto those beaches resulted in a more than twofold reduction in the abundance of intertidal invertebrates after 15 months.
Scientists have shown for the first time that common bird populations are responding to climate change in a similar pronounced way in both Europe and the USA. An international team of researchers led by Durham University, UK, found that populations of bird species expected to do well due to climate change had substantially outperformed those expected to do badly over a 30 year period from 1980 to 2010.
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