Analiese’s Reading 5/31

Special environment and climate edition. EPA approves Appalachian mountaintop mining permits, U.S. CO2 emissions fall in 2008, ethanol producers unhappy with EPA climate accounting, new model for global ocean currents, restoring Mississippi rapids in the Twin Cities, and tracking water pollutants remotely.

EPA Mining Decisions Favor Coal Industry

Despite renewed vows to protect Appalachian waterways from the ravages of mountaintop coal mining, the Environmental Protection Agency has recently authorized a number of pending mountaintop permits that will bury dozens of streams in the nation’s oldest mountain range. The move has left mining supporters cheering the federal endorsement of a popular extraction method, environmentalists wondering if the Obama administration truly intends to prioritize water quality concerns above those of the powerful coal industry, and both sides unsure what to expect of mountaintop permitting in the future.
Washington Independent

2008 U.S. Fossil Fuel CO2 Emissions See Biggest Drop in Nearly 30 Years

Sky-high fuel prices, declining energy use and a slumping economy gave the U.S. its largest annual decline in fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since 1982, when emissions fell 5.3 percent.

Energy-related CO2 emissions in 2008 fell 2.8 percent compared to the year before, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Ethanol lobby could kill climate bill

Ethanol producers, who hold sway with a raft of rural Democrats, are taking umbrage with the recent Environmental Protection Agency finding which said that the “indirect land use” involved in ethanol production must be taken into account when calculating the carbon footprint of the gasoline additive. The EPA finding, when indirect land use is taken into account, calls into question the utility of ethanol as a greenhouse-gas-reducing fuel.
The Raw Story

Surprising New Pathway For North Atlantic Circulation

Oceanographers have long known that the 20-year-old paradigm for describing the global ocean circulation- called the Great Ocean Conveyor – was an oversimplification. It’s a useful depiction, but it’s like describing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as a catchy tune.
Terra Daily

River restoration: Should we bring back Mississippi’s roaring white-water rapids?

For thousands of years, the Twin Cities had a white-water rapids roaring through it, tumbling and roiling over and around enormous limestone chunks that still litter the Mississippi River’s floor for eight miles from the St. Anthony Falls dam all the way down to Ft. Snelling.

If it were restored to its natural state, the “gorge” would be a kayaking and recreational wonder with hundreds of acres of new parkland, a photographer’s delight and a sportsman’s paradise. Scores of eagles would nest there, drawn by all the fish that would mass in oxygen-rich water and spawn in gravel beds under swirling eddies.

Researchers use remote-controlled sensors to track pollutant loads from storms

The next cup of stale coffee you pour down the drain may end up as evidence. Not in a courtroom, but in a study of how well Twin Cities sewers and waterways handle the loads of pollutants washed into them by storms.

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