Bats: Ecologically Vital

Bats - ecologically vital

Bats can be found on all continents except Antarctica. They fulfill three ecological roles that are highly beneficial to humans: pollinating food plants, dispersing seeds, and controlling insect populations. More than 300 fruit plant species require bats for pollination, including bananas, guavas, and mangos. Without bats, there would also be no Tequila, as the Agave plant from which it’s derived depends on bats for pollination. In addition to the pollination services they provide, bats play a critical role in the seeding of tropical forests, which rely upon fruit-eating animals for seed dispersal. When animals consume fruit, they protect seeds from… read more

Carbon Tax Coming?

Carbon Tax COming?

A new report released Tuesday by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) shows that a carbon tax of $20 per ton which rises 5.6% annually could halve the projected 10-year deficit—from $2.3 billion to $1.2 billion. In the first year alone, the CRS estimates the tax could generate $90 billion. However, there is a catch: it is possible the generated revenue would not go entirely toward debt reduction, and instead go back into the industry in one way or another. Groups of people who disproportionately bear the carbon price might have revenue “recycled”; some revenue may be offset by lowering the payroll… read more

Last Minute House Bill

Last Minute House Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a sweeping anti-environmental bill as their last act before leaving Washington D.C. until after the November elections. The bill is called the Stop the War on Coal Act (SWCA), H.R. 3409, and applies to more areas than just the coal industry. It is a package act of four previously passed House GOP bills, plus another one aimed at blocking pollution standards. The bill is full of industry deregulations, and begins the far-right position of dismantling the EPA: eliminating clean car standards, nullify mercury and air toxic standards, weaken the Clean Water Act and block… read more

Corporations and Climate Change

Corporations and Climate Change

The environment appears to have found an ally from an unlikely source. Due to the inaction and delays in Congress pertaining to environmental policy, and the lack of attention paid to the environment in the current presidential campaign, corporations have taken action to combat climate change and aid the environment. The interesting part is the clear, identified and admitted ulterior motives corporations have for implementing responsible energy policies. It is a wise fiscal decision to commit to a large initial expenditure with the guarantee of not only a return, but also a profit, whether it is selling energy back to… read more

Future For Fracking

Future For Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been a controversial issue for some time now, mainly due to the safety and contamination problems that are inherent in the practice. However, researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered a possible solution: chemical-degrading bacteria which can clean the used water and eliminate contamination. Centimeter-sized silicon beads will house the bacteria, and when introduced to the polluted water, the porous bead will soak up the water and the bacteria will eat away at the contaminants, effectively cleaning the water. While this is a way to make fracking safer on the whole, it cannot be… read more

Halt To Alaskan Oil Drilling

Halt To Alaskan Oil Drilling

Shell announced plans to postpone the planned oil drilling in Alaskan Seas, a move which has been met with general acceptance. Being either genuine or deceitful, Shell cited the failure of the oil spill-containment dome in preliminary tests as the reason for the delay, and went on to say it would be irresponsible to begin drilling into the oil-bearing zones of the seas under such conditions. However, Shell was accused of conducting only the most limited preliminary safety tests on its vessels, which made many environmental groups uncomfortable and upset. Additionally, the testing was done in calm waters, which further… read more

Drilling in Alaskan Seas

Drilling in Alaskan Seas

On August 27th, oil giant Shell began exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea, in addition to another drilling rig being anchored in the Beaufort Sea. This marks the first time an oil drill has touched the sea floor in two decades. Shell received a waiver from U.S. air pollution regulations regarding the generators on its drill ship, which allowed for the drilling to begin. Further, Shell is required to tow its repurposed oil recovery barge into Barrow, Alaska after it passes the U.S. Coast Guard inspection before any drilling into the oil-bearing zone can commence. The U.S. Coast Guard is… read more

Future For The Great Lakes

Future For The Great Lakes

Last week, the United States and Canada agreed upon and signed the newly amended Great Lakes Agreement, which was last amended in 1987. The goal of the Great Lakes Agreement is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters,” with new provisions aiming to make it easier for the United States and Canada to take direct action on threats to Great Lake water quality, and to anticipate and prevent ecological harm. Interestingly enough, the governments consulted stockholders and independent groups which have vested interests in the Great Lakes regarding the amendments, which has resulted in… read more

Congress Still an Obstacle

Congress Still An Obstacle

Amidst all the attention surrounding the upcoming presidential election, it seems as though Congress has been exempt from criticism surrounding the environment. This could be in part due to the extremely low public approval ratings of Congress which contribute to apathy, and the recognition of certain powerful members of Congress being unwilling to do anything about the environment. For whatever reasons, Congress has been flying under the radar as of late, which is frequently a bad thing. As expected, members of Congress took this opportunity to get controversial measures passed, especially through the House of Representatives. Led by U.S. Representative… read more

Money Talks, Walks & Works

Money Talks, Walks & Works

Unfortunately, money has a significant impact in politics and policy. However, this is not a new claim, nor is it surprising. Ever since Citizens United passed, money in politics has been accepted, though not without backlash. Last year, a piece of legislation was brought up in the California senate which aimed to allow non-property owning residents to buy-in to distributed renewable energy programs in their territories. Current California law allows for property owners, i.e. homeowners, to add renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, onto their homes. Further, homeowners can apply for government loans and tax credits to help fund… read more