This Week in Eco News - July 12, 2013

Happy Friday! We're kicking off this week's new-and-improving 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 Friday. If you see a story you think we should include, drop us a line at [email protected]

Best of the Web Video - Energy

Project Permit: Cutting Red Tape for Solar Energy

Fees, delays and non-standard practices associated with the local permitting process are adding unnecessary costs to solar energy in communities across America. Fortunately, local governments have the power to cut through the permitting red tape and become solar champions.
Take Action
: Find out how small scale renewable energy can pave the way to a clean energy future.


US Weighing Increase in Herbicide Levels in Food Supply

The EPA has proposed increasing the allowable amount of glyphosate in certain crops. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, a herbicide known to have long-term effects on reproductive health and to be dangerous even at low levels. EPA, what gives? [IPS News]

Hawaiians Fight Back Against GMO Experiments

As dystopian as this may sound, GMO companies use the beautiful Pacific archipelago as a natural laboratory for their experimental genetically modified crops, and they spray those crops with herbicides and other toxic chemicals. Hawaiians have had enough, and legislation has been proposed to ban the experimental and commercial use of GMOs until an environmental impact study is completed. [Grist]

As Biotech Seed Falters, Insecticide Use Surges In Corn Belt

Rootworm-fighting genes that Monsanto introduced ten years ago are failing and pesticide use is up. Way up. Some pesticide companies are reporting huge increases in sales, 50 or even 100 percent over the past two years. [NPR]

WHO Director-General Slams Industry Involvement in Health Policy

The director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the food and drink industry's involvement in public health policy is 'dangerous' and has urged governments to put public health before business, at a global health promotion conference in Finland. Radical, eh? [Food Navigator]

Quinoa Should be Taking Over the World: This is Why it Isn't

Did you know this about quinoa: "Agronomists have found evidence of its cultivation in the Mississippi Valley dating back to the first millennium AD, but it faded away after farmers opted for higher-yielding corn, squash, and bean crops." So why aren't we growing more of it? [Washington Post]


Choke Point: India -- The Leopard in the Well

Millions of people in pre-1960s India were on the verge of starvation if famine hit. This largely ended due to increased grain production from the Green Revolution in agriculture, but the methods used to achieve this food self-sufficiency are exhausting freshwater and energy resources, stemming in part from a massive, inefficient bureaucracy and farm subsidies that encourage waste. [Circle of Blue]

Influx of Syrian Refugees Stretches Jordan's Water Resources Even More Thinly

The water-strained nation of Jordan is in the midst of a freshwater crisis with half a million Syrian refugees now residing in the country pushing it to the brink. The situation has become as much a national security problem as one of basic needs. [Washington Post] 

Brown Algae Threatens Fishing, May be Killing Wildlife in [Florida] Lagoons

Florida's Indian River Lagoon system is one of the world's most diverse estuaries generating $3.7 billion for the state. Yet as brown algae seems to be slowly killing the lagoon's aquatic life - from sea grass to fish to manatees and dolphins - no plan to combat the gooey invasion is in place. [Daytona Beach News-Journal]

H2O Consumption for Fracking Exceeds Industry Projections

Don't know how much water per frack job is being used? "No worries," says the oil and gas industry, "It's not that much!" (even though it can be and regulators don't often keep track anyway). And what about community safeguards for water safety? "Whatevs...!" says industry! [Shale Gas Review]

MAP: America's 21 Most Vulnerable Rivers

Are you afraid your local river was tagged by American Rivers in 2012 and 2013 as one of the "most vulnerable" from risks like drought, flooding or pollution from agriculture industry? Zoom in to find out using this interactive map and protect your waterways. [Mother Jones]


Deadly Derailment in Quebec Underlines Oil Debate

Five people are dead and 40 remain missing after a train filled with oil derailed and exploded in a small Quebec town. Some say the tragedy raises a big question: is it safer to ship oil by pipeline (hello, Keystone XL!) or by rail? Okay, but pipelines have a poor safety track record and rail shipments receive little to no government oversight. Pick your poison! [New York Times]

Water Warming to Boost Hydro, Nuclear-Power Costs: Study

Power plants that are dependent on ample water supplies aren't just a problem in the US. A new report says that European electricity prices could go up by a third because of warming waters and dropping river levels. The best way to cope with these climate-induced challenges is to ramp up the use of water-free renewable energy sources like solar and wind. [Bloomberg]

Minnesota Communities Declare Independence from Frac Sand Land

The fracking industry uses a lot of sand to grind its way into the oil and gas buried deep beneath the ground. Minnesota is a major sand mining state, and residents and local leaders are fighting back against the increased strip-mining of its sandstone bluffs and the ubiquitous - not to mention hazardous - silica dust blowing off of huge piles of sand waiting to be shipped to shale country. [Earth Island Journal]

Climate Change Will Cause More Energy Breakdowns, US Warns

Climate change is just starting to wreak havoc on our energy system, and the DOE says every corner of the country's infrastructure will be impacted: Windstorms and wildfires knock out transmission lines, power plants shut down because of a lack of cooling water, low river levels keep barges from carrying coal and oil, and floods and storm surges inundate ports, refineries, pipelines and rail yards. [New York Times]

Power Plants Near River Mouths Cause Less Damage to Ecosystems

Of the heat generated by power plants, over a third is converted to electricity, one quarter is dissipated by cooling towers and a whopping one-third is transferred directly into rivers.  All that heat can harm river ecosystems, especially if the power plant is sited far upstream from cooler coastal waters. [Environmental Research Web]