Latest Bird Flu News

FLASHBACK, 2015: Congress could help solve antibiotic resistance. This Congresswoman explains why it won’t.
Friday March 16th 2018, 11:37 PM

Rep. Louise Slaughter has been trying to tackle the superbug problem through legislation — and failing again and again.

[News Source]

Statoil to rebrand as Equinor in green energy push
Friday March 16th 2018, 11:27 PM

Norway’s Statoil plans to change its name to Equinor, reflecting its commitment to become a broad energy company rather than one focused only on oil, it said on Thursday.

[News Source]

Feds reject Michigan permit for mine near sensitive tribal waters
Friday March 16th 2018, 5:10 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has objected to a wetland permit for the proposed Back Forty Mine in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula near the Wisconsin border.


The Menominee Indians across the border in Wisconsin—but whose tribal lands once encompassed the mine site—have fought Michigan’s permitting process for years, saying the state was ignoring their concerns both about the project’s threat to water quality and sacred cultural artifacts nearby.

Mining opponents cheered the federal action Friday. The EPA’s letter, they said, places significant hurdles before the state and the developers.

“There’s no one small fix the company can do,” said Kathleen Heideman of the Upper Peninsula’s Mining Action Group, which opposes the mine. “The company would have to fix it in so many ways it would become a different permit, or a different project.”

The mine—a proposed 83-acre open pit gold, zinc and copper mine by Aquila Resources— has been making its way through the state’s permitting process for years despite opposition from the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, other regional tribes, local residents and environmental groups.

The tribe considers the land sacred, even though—thanks to a series of treaty revisions and land grabs over the past 150 years—the Menominee reservation is about 80 miles away, across the state line in Wisconsin.

The mine would sit within 150 feet of the Menominee River, a core part of the tribe’s creation story, and near burial sites, centuries-old raised garden beds.

The river forms the border between Wisconsin and Michigan and is the largest watershed in the Upper Peninsula, covering about 4,000 square miles. More than 100 tributaries drain into the river. It supports large populations of bass, pike, walleye and spawning grounds for sturgeon.

The tribe has fought the mine for years, citing neglect for cultural impact.

In

the letter

, the EPA suggested the state had not fully addressed the tribe’s concerns.

“The applicant has not provided sufficient information to support the assertion that the proposed project would likely not impact potentially eligible or eligible resources. Historical and cultural resources should be addressed for the entire expanded project site,” the letter read.

Environmental Health News highlighted the Menominee’s fight in the 2016 series

“Sacred Water,”

a national look at how culturally significant water resources get sullied, destroyed and defaced by activities often happening beyond Native Americans’ control.

The

EPA letter

, sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which is overseeing state permitting, also said the mine project does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines. The EPA, wrote agency Water Division director Christopher Korleski, “objects to the issuance of a permit for this project as proposed.”

Some areas where the permit was lacking:

  • Information on how historical, cultural resources will be protected.
  • A complete project and site layout description
  • Information on how bluffs near the mine will be kept stable
  • Details on how discharges will be brought up to water quality standards
  • Full wetland mitigation details

Aquila did not return requests for comment.

The letter comes two months after the Menominee filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA claiming the agencies had failed to take “primary responsibility” for wetland permitting.

Menominee Tribal Chairman Doug Cox was traveling and unable to comment on the EPA’s letter.

Environmental groups and regional fishing associations applauded the letter. “We are thrilled to see EPA leading the charge to protect Michigan’s world-class waters and habitat from the potentially devastating impacts of the Aquila mine development,” said Cheryl Kallio, associate director for

Great Lakes-based nonprofit Freshwater Future, in a statement.

Jerry Pasdo, president of the Wisconsin Smallmouth Alliance, said in a statement: “We are working to protect water quality for our safe enjoyment of the Menominee waterway – and Lake Michigan. We hope the entire wetland application gets turned down – flatly.”

The EPA letter, which represented the comments from the EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, gives the Michigan DEQ 90 days to work with Aquila on the permitting issues. If that doesn’t happen, the wetland permitting authority transfers to the Army Corps.

[News Source]

Feds reject Michigan permit for mine on tribal land
Friday March 16th 2018, 5:10 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has objected to a wetland permit for the proposed Back Forty Mine in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula near the Wisconsin border.


“There’s no one small fix the company can do,” said Kathleen Heideman of the Upper Peninsula’s Mining Action Group, which opposes the mine. “The company would have to fix it in so many ways it would become a different permit, or a different project.”

The mine—a proposed 83-acre open pit gold, zinc and copper mine by Aquila Resources— has been making its way through the state’s permitting process for years despite growing opposition from the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, other regional tribes, local residents and environmental groups.

The tribe considers the land sacred, even though—thanks to a series of treaty revisions and land grabs over the past 150 years—the Menominee reservation is about 80 miles away, across the state line in Wisconsin.

The mine would sit within 150 feet of the Menominee River, a core part of the tribe’s creation story, and near burial sites, centuries-old raised garden beds.

The river forms the border between Wisconsin and Michigan and is the largest watershed in the Upper Peninsula, covering about 4,000 square miles. More than 100 tributaries drain into the river. It supports large populations of bass, pike, walleye and spawning grounds for sturgeon.

The tribe has fought the mine for years, citing neglect for cultural impact.

In

the letter

, the EPA suggested the state had not fully addressed the tribe’s concerns.

“The applicant has not provided sufficient information to support the assertion that the proposed project would likely not impact potentially eligible or eligible resources. Historical and cultural resources should be addressed for the entire expanded project site,” the letter read.

Environmental Health News highlighted the Menominee’s fight in the 2016 series

“Sacred Water,”

a national look at how culturally significant water resources get sullied, destroyed and defaced by activities often happening beyond Native Americans’ control.

The

EPA letter

, sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which is overseeing state permitting, also said the mine project does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines. The EPA, wrote agency Water Division director Christopher Korleski, “objects to the issuance of a permit for this project as proposed.”

Some areas where the was permit lacking:

  • Information on how historical, cultural resources will be protected.
  • A complete project and site layout description
  • Information on how bluffs near the mine will be kept stable
  • Details on how discharges will be brought up to water quality standards
  • Full wetland mitigation details

Aquila did not return requests for comment.

The letter comes two months after the Menominee filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA claiming the agencies had failed to take “primary responsibility” for wetland permitting.

Menominee Tribal Chairman Doug Cox was traveling and unable to comment on the EPA’s letter.

Environmental groups and regional fishing associations applauded the letter. “We are thrilled to see EPA leading the charge to protect Michigan’s world-class waters and habitat from the potentially devastating impacts of the Aquila mine development,” said Cheryl Kallio, associate director for

Great Lakes-based nonprofit Freshwater Future, in a statement.

Jerry Pasdo, president of the Wisconsin Smallmouth Alliance, said in a statement: “We are working to protect water quality for our safe enjoyment of the Menominee waterway – and Lake Michigan. We hope the entire wetland application gets turned down – flatly.”

The EPA letter, which represented the comments from the EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, gives the Michigan DEQ 90 days to work with Aquila on the permitting issues. If that doesn’t happen, the wetland permitting authority transfers to the Army Corps.

[News Source]

Lawsuit seeks LANL study detailing costs, risks of plutonium work
Friday March 16th 2018, 4:00 PM

The Los Alamos Study Group accuses the National Nuclear Security Administration of improperly withholding information that it says should be released upon request under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

[News Source]

Glyphosate linked to shorter pregnancies in Indiana women
Friday March 16th 2018, 11:11 AM

Women with high levels of glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer—were more likely to have a shorter pregnancy, according to a

new study.


Shorter pregnancies can leave babies on a path to reduced learning and brain development. The new study is the first to study glyphosate in pregnant U.S. women and pregnancy length, and suggests exposure to the chemical is widespread and it may be setting some children up for a lifetime of challenges.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—the most widely used herbicide in the world. About 300 million pounds are applied each year in the U.S. alone, with much of the application in the Midwest corn and soybean states.

The chemical has come under fire as it’s been linked to a host of health problems, including cancer, birth defects, damaged DNA, endocrine disruption and reproductive issues. There are currently hundreds of lawsuits from farmers and others claiming that Roundup gave them cancer. A federal judge in San Francisco is reviewing the science behind the chemical’s link to cancer.

In the new study, researchers tested 71 pregnant women in Central Indiana. They found more than 90 percent of the women have glyphosate in their urine, and women with higher levels of the chemical were more likely to have shorter pregnancies. The results were published last week in the journal Environmental Health.

They also tested the women’s drinking water—none of which had detectable levels of glyphosate. However, women who lived in rural areas had much higher levels.

“This suggests the inhalation of contaminated air or dust may represent another exposure pathway for higher urine glyphosate levels in rural areas,” the authors wrote.

Iowa and central Illinois, Indiana and Ohio make up the core of the nation’s corn belt, producing half of the nation’s crop. Glyphosate is one of the nation’s most widely used herbicides.

Lead author, Shahid Parvez, an assistant professor and researcher at the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health, said in addition to inhalation, exposure from foods is the most likely culprit. He said none of the women studied worked in agriculture.

“Even though this study was in Central Indiana, if diet is the route by which everyone is exposed this is not necessarily a regional issue but a national or global issue,” he said, adding that there was some evidence from a survey of the women that eating organic curbed their glyphosate levels.


Credit: USGS

Amy Cornell, president of the Agribuiness Council of Indiana, stood by the safety of glyphosate use in her state, which has more than 5 million acres of planted corn, and almost 6 million acres of soybeans,

according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture

. More than 90 percent of U.S. corn, soy and canola are genetically modified to be glyphosate resistant.

“Glyphosate is one of the world’s most studied chemicals,” she said. “It has been safely used by farmers and homeowners for decades.”

However, scientists increasingly question its safety. Some animal studies have linked Roundup or glyphosate to birth defects and damaged DNA in animal studies. Scientists are still trying to tease out ways that glyphosate may impact human pregnancies.

Parvez said they suspect that glyphosate may spur oxidative stress in pregnant women, which could lead to shorter pregnancies—this is what he and his team want to look into next.

The study was limited in that it was pretty small and the women were almost all white. Parvez said they plan on conducting a similar study on larger scale with more diversity and from different regions.

In addition, glyphosate—while the active ingredient—is just one part of Roundup, so testing for the full suite of compounds in the marketed weed killer could show different impacts, said Nichelle Harriott, science and regulatory director for Beyond Pesticides. “Studies have shown one of the “inert” chemicals in Roundup was linked to some reproductive issues,” she said. “It’s also found in umbilical cord cells, and affected embryonic development. If you had to rate them, Roundup is much more toxic than glyphosate.”

The Indiana Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union both declined to comment on the study.

[News Source]

Tourist islands unite to save environment
Friday March 16th 2018, 7:11 AM

Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan in Surat Thani province will ban “unfriendly activities” which hurt the environment and marine ecological systems at the country’s top tourist destinations.

[News Source]

PFOA and PFOS contamination found outside an NC military base. It could be just the start.
Friday March 16th 2018, 7:00 AM

The Department of Defense announced in 2016 that more than 390 installations had a known or suspected release of the chemicals, including six in North Carolina.

[News Source]

Fish advisories issued for Michigan lakes, river impacted by PFAS contamination
Friday March 16th 2018, 6:53 AM

New tests show the presence of the toxic chemical in fish at four sites, prompting the state to update its local fish consumption guidelines.

[News Source]

Blame the dogs: Road runoff pollutes Long Island pond
Friday March 16th 2018, 6:39 AM

Canines are responsible for 67 percent of fecal bacteria, birds for 24 percent.

[News Source]

Nashville school administrator on leave after secret recording reveals talk of bypassing lead filters
Friday March 16th 2018, 6:28 AM

Metro Schools officials say the district has taken numerous steps to mitigate lead in its drinking water.

[News Source]

Survivor digs for answers in cancer cases around Michigan hometown
Friday March 16th 2018, 6:21 AM

Mary Zack thought her cancer at age 17 was a rare case. After her sister and friends were also diagnosed, she’s looking for the cause.

[News Source]