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28 August 2015

North is Not Up, Nor is South Down

I can’t count the number times I’ve heard a TV weather person make a statement akin to “this line of thunderstorms will pass below New York by Thursday afternoon.” Yes, and while it’ll be sunny up top on the street, if you’re working all day in the subway, or on underground utilities, you’ll need an umbrella. Be prepared to seek safety in daylight as those storms may produce lightning and …

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20 November 2014

Update: American Farm Bureau Federation et al. v. EPA Oral Arguments

American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments were held Tuesday (see previous post) and early indications suggest the Farm Bureau is fighting an uphill battle as it attempts to block the EPA from implementing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program for Chesepeake Bay. The program calls for a 25% percent cut in nitrogen, 24% cut in phosphorus, and 20% reduction in sediment loads by …

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16 November 2014

American Farm Bureau Federation vs. EPA: Oral Arguments Scheduled for Tuesday

American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. The American Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its authority to regulate farm runoff. The issue has gained attention following this summer’s “do not drink” advisory affecting over 500,000 residents in the Toledo, Ohio …

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2 January 2014

Dams and Demand for Sand Threaten World Beaches

Documentary filmmaker Denis Delestrac has recently completed the movie Sand Wars, which looks at the intense demand for what may seem like an abundant natural resource. In some cases worldwide, the sand business has taken on a dangerous criminal dimension. In a TedxBarcelona Talk called Let’s talk about sand, Delestrac introduces the complex subject of beach sand, including erosion and exploitation, with style and charisma. There are also some good …

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18 August 2013

Groundwater Whack-a-Mole

In two high-profile cases, efforts to block the flow of contaminated groundwater resulted in short-term relief – until water tables rose and leaks started popping up all over the place. It’s groundwater whack-a-mole. Red and Bonita Mines Near Silverton, CO, owners of a metallic mine with an acid mine drainage problem and state regulators reached a consent decree that was supposedly going to solve the problem. A tunnel access to the …

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21 March 2013

EPA to Enbridge: Dredge More Submerged Oil from the Kalamazoo River

On July 25 2010, the 30-inch diameter Enbridge 6B pipeline ruptured near Marshall, Michigan. Roughly 1 million gallons of diluted bitumen (DilBit) from Canadian oil sands spilled into Talmadge Creek, a tributary to the Kalamazoo River. Nearly three years later, the cleanup continues. Last week, the U.S. EPA issued a final Administrative Order requiring Enbridge, the owner of the pipeline, to conduct additional dredging to remove submerged oil from three portions of …

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19 July 2012

Introducing the European Geoscience Union – Soil Systems Science Division

The European Geoscience Union, a leader in the free dissemination of scientific research, has rolled out its Soil Systems Science Division (SSSD). The SSSD has a blog newsletter with some fine articles and beautiful images about soils and surface geology of Europe. When Editor Jessica Drake (Soilduck) kindly invited me to write a short “why I do soil science” biographical piece, I jumped at the chance. Being that I’m American, …

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25 September 2011

The Top-Down Risk of Hydrofracturing

ExxonMobile commercials fail to address flowback fluids. ExxonMobile geologist Erik Oswald is becoming quite a media “star.” As a fellow geologist, I think this is great. Erik’s on-camara presence is warm, friendly, competent, and, most importantly, reassuring. I have no doubt that’s exactly how he is in real life. What Erik describes in Exxon commercials with respect to 1.5 mile vertical distance and engineered borehole barriers between the gas formation …

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19 September 2011

China’s Solar Factory Pollution Causes Riot

One reason American solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers have had trouble staying profitable is price competition from China. China can build PVs cheaper because of reduced labor costs and lax environmental regulations. Local residents in Haining have apparently had enough, forcing a factory to shut down. AFP reports: China has ordered the closure of a solar panel factory in the east of the country after hundreds of local residents staged violent …

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12 September 2011

Lake Erie Algae Bloom

This September 3, 2011 MODIS image of Lake Erie reveals a bright green algae plume concentrated in the western basin. The western basin of the lake is the shallowest part and receives discharge from the Maumee River, the largest river watershed in the Great Lakes with 6,354 square miles (16,460 square km) of land drainage. Land use in the watershed is about 85 percent agricultural and growers typically use a …

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