This Week in Eco News - May 17, 2013

Happy Friday! We're kicking off this week's compilation of Eco News stories with a link to our Best of the Web Video feature. We alternate weekly to share the best in food, water and energy videos from around the web along with the news stories we follow, circulate internally and publish synopses of throughout the week. You can find them all week long — in real time — in the column to the right, just above our Best of the Web Video viewer. You can also sign up to receive Eco News via email each Thursday. If you see a story you think we should include, drop us a line at [email protected]

Best of the Web Video - Water

Water Changes Everything
charity:water explains what the water crisis means for the nearly one billion people without access to clean drinking water, mainly in the global south. Clean water projects located near thirsty communities can greatly improve the lives and health of the residents and most especially, women and children.
Take Action
: Find out what charity:water is doing around the world to help solve the world water crisis.


One-Third of US Honeybee Colonies Died Last Winter, Threatening Food Supply
Last winter nearly one in three commercial honeybee colonies in the United States died or disappeared. Honeybees are an essential part of our ecosystem, and their decline poses an impending threat to our nation's food supply. The European Commission recently banned neonicotinoid pesticides based on evidence that they're at least partially responsible for this epidemic, while a recent USDA report on honeybee decline does not recommend any such action. [Wired]

Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Bill to Increase Data Collection on Antibiotics
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced a bill called The Antimicrobial Data Collection Act that would require the FDA to collect more data on exactly how antibiotics are used in livestock production. [Food Safety News]

Food & Water Watch Sues FDA for Concealing Records on Arsenic in Poultry Feed
On the heels of a new study led by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), which found that feeding arsenic-laced feed to chickens increases consumers' exposure to inorganic arsenic, Food and Water Watch has announced that they are suing the FDA for concealing information about arsenicals from the public. [Food & Water Watch]

Cassava Was Supposed to Help Us Survive Climate Change And Now It's Dying
When it became clear that climate change was taking its toll on the productivity of potatoes, wheat and rice we turned to cassava because it is more resilient to changes in temperature. Unfortunately, cassava too is now in jeopardy. A disease is ravaging crops in Africa, which is not only an ominous sign for our climate-changed future but also poses an imminent threat to the food security of millions of Africans who currently rely on the crop. [Grist]

A Million Acres of Glyphosate-Resistant Weeds in Canada?
An online survey of 2,028 Canadian farmers has revealed that more than one million acres of Canadian farmland have glyphosate-resistant weeds growing on them. [Manitoba Cooperator]

Fast Food Workers Strike in St. Louis
Last week fast food and retail workers in St. Louis, Missouri walked off the job in the third major strike of its kind in recent weeks. Employees are demanding a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. The current hourly minimum wage in Missouri is $7.35. [The Nation]

Vermont House Committee Approves GMO Labeling Law
The Vermont House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill requiring labeling of food products containing GMOs, making it the first legislative body in the US to do so. There isn't enough time left in the session to get the bill through to the Senate, so the measure isn't expected to pass into law until next year when the Senate takes it up in January. [Burlington Free Press]

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam Vetoing 'Ag Gag' Bill
Tennessee Governor Haslam has announced that he is vetoing a controversial ag-gag bill that would require intentional documentation of animal abuse be handed over to law enforcement within 48 hours. His very sound reasons for doing so include the bill being "constitutionally suspect," that it infringes on the rights of journalists and that it would make it more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases. [Times Free Press]

GE Crop Thriller Leaves Bond and Bourne for Dust
Food & Water Watch has released a damning new report that shows how the US State Department has been aggressively pursuing foreign food and agricultural policies that would benefit the largest biotech seed corporations and often collaborating directly with representatives from Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience and Dow Agrochemical. [Huffington Post]

Supreme Court Supports Monsanto in Seed-Replication Case
On Monday, the Supreme Court sided unanimously with agribusiness giant Monsanto in a case against 75-year old farmer Hugh Bowman who planted second and third generation Roundup-resistant soybeans - violating a signed licensing agreement. The ruling resulted in Bowman being ordered to pay Monsanto $84,000 in damages, and legally establishes that when farmers use patented seed for more than one planting in violation of their licensing agreements, they are liable for damages. [New York Times]


Safe Storage of Water? Go Underground
From Austin to Australia, water engineers and managers have great interest in storing water in aquifers rather than more commonplace surface water reservoir storage. Groundwater storage has advantages for water supplies; avoiding evaporation and damming of rivers, to name two. [New York Times]

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Aims for Zero Wastewater Overflows by 2035
By installing new stormwater pipes alongside traditional wastewater pipes in Milwaukee-area buildings, the city seeks to completely eliminate sewage overflows into local waterways by 2035. Green infrastructure will also be used to avert overflows as downpours are expected to intensify. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

Today, the fossil fuel divestment movement is growing and creating student environmental leaders at the same time.

High Country News Simplifies Colorado River Plumbing - Again!
The Aquadoc wants readers to know about the "Colorado River Plumbing" poster which has been updated from the original version created by the High Country News in 1986. [WaterWired]

Record Snow, Fires and Drought Replace May Flowers for Much of the US
What do May 2013 weather events like the early onset of wildfires in southern California, historic piles of snow in the upper Midwest and drought over half the country have in common? Water, or the lack thereof (whether frozen or liquid). [E&E News]

Boston's Water: Public or Private?
Nineteenth century Bostonians engaged in a contentious, decades-long debate about the merits of public vs. private ownership of the water system's infrastructure and ultimately decided that it is the public that owns it as a common good. This became a model concept for the rest of the country. [Boston Globe]

How Mussel Farming Could Help to Clean Fouled Waters
Along the shores of New York Harbor, scientists are investigating whether this ubiquitous bivalve can be grown in urban areas as a way of cleansing coastal waters of sewage, fertilizers, and other pollutants. [e360 ]

Researchers Think Industrious Oysters Could Clean Up Chesapeake
A four-year study discovered that oyster reefs eliminated 20 times more nitrogen pollution from the Chesapeake Bay test site than from a nearby unseeded site. Stocking the Bay with oysters could improve the amount of oxygen and reduce dead zones that choke the water body. [Washington Post]

A Local Approach to Water Resource Management Along the Mexico-US Border
Twenty aquifers that underlie both the US and Mexico are expected to help the borderlands' population to grow by 40 percent. Because no binational groundwater compact seems possible, the opportunity for quasi-formal, community-led cooperation might help manage the current over-pumping and pollution of the aquifers that puts millions of inhabitants' future at risk. [International Water Law Project Blog]

Just How Stressed Out Is Your Drinking Water?
Many countries around the world are threatened by severe water shortages, stemming from a mix of their hydro climate, climate change and poor water management. Analytics firm Maplecroft's Water Stress Index ranks the most at-risk nations, all of them located in the Mideast. (Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait are the top - or bottom - three.) [TakePart]

Water Pollution: EPA Stumbles Again in Releasing More CAFO Documents
For the second time in a month, the EPA unwittingly (or incompetently) released to environmental groups confidential documents that detailed CAFO operators' personal information, drawing fierce criticism from meat industry trade groups. The CAFOs are being scrutinized for alleged water pollution. [E&E News]


Nuclear Power Plant in CT Seeks Permission to Use Warmer Long Island Sound
A changing climate brings real problems for thirsty power plants. The Millstone nuclear power plant draws in water from Long Island Sound for cooling, but because the Sound was so warm last summer it had to shut down for two weeks. Now operators of the plant are asking federal regulators for permission to use water warmer than is allowed now. [AP]

Foes Suggest a Tradeoff if Pipeline Is Approved
If Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline as expected, some are calling for the president to address climate change by pushing stricter coal power regulations or a national clean energy standard. [New York Times]

Plans Shelved for Coal Export Terminal in Oregon
The chances of exporting coal out of the Pacific Northwest are getting slimmer as a third major terminal proposal has been shelved. Pollution from dust off of coal trains carrying coal from Wyoming to Washington and Oregon have led to public opposition. Just two more proposed terminals remain. [Los Angeles Times]

US Oil Boom Means Oil Prices Must Drop, Right? Wrong.
US oil production is booming and demand is dropping. Sounds like a perfect recipe for a price drop, yet prices have remained steady because outside of the US oil production is dropping and demand is steadily increasing. [Christian Science Monitor]

Fewer Rain Forests Mean Less Energy for Developing Nations, Study Finds
If increasing CO2 levels and destruction of indigenous communities isn't reason enough to stop clear cutting tropical rainforests, how about this: The loss of tropical rain forests is likely to reduce the energy output of hydroelectric projects and harm economic growth. [New York Times]

Spray On Solar Windows Inch Closer to Market
A startup company claims that it is moving closer to manufacturing a solar "spray" that would coat windows with a thin solar film, a potential renewable energy boon for skyscrapers. [SmartPlanet]

College Divestment Campaigns Creating Passionate Environmentalists
In the 1980s, college students got their schools to drop stocks in companies that did business with South Africa's racist Apartheid regime and in the 1990s, students pressured their schools to divest Big Tobacco. Today, the fossil fuel divestment movement is growing and creating student environmental leaders at the same time. [NPR]

It Doesn't Matter If We Never Run Out of Oil: We Won't Want to Burn It Anymore
Amory Lovins argues that oil use has already peaked, or is soon to peak, in most of the world, and modern energy technologies to save or displace oil cost far less than oil. And when it comes to electricity, distributed renewable energy plus "microgrids" will enhance reliability and national security. [The Atlantic]

White House Arctic Strategy: What's Next for Oil, Gas Drilling?
There's a temporary pause on arctic oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, but interest is definitely not waning. In a new federal report, the US expresses concern about the feedback loop of Artic drilling: more drilling leads to more fossil fuel emissions, which leads to warming temperatures and a changing Arctic environment, which makes Artic drilling significantly more challenging. [Christian Science Monitor]

Mercury in Seafood Diet Linked to Fox Die-Off
Mercury emitted by power plants and cars may be the reason that a remote population of Arctic foxes are dying off; the foxes' diet is almost entirely dependent on mercury-laced fish. [Scientific American]