This Week in Eco News - October 18, 2013

This week in Eco News, Banksy commented on factory farming, a new water tunnel decades in the making is up and running in Manhattan, and nearing Sandy's anniversary, we're prompted to think about how to safeguard our energy systems. We also have climate news and fun multimedia for your viewing pleasure! See a story we should share? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Best of the Web Video - Food

Why Genetically Engineered Foods Should be Labeled: Gary Hirshberg at TEDxManhattan 2013
Gary Hirshberg, Chairman of Stonyfield Farm, the world's leading organic yogurt producer, spoke at the most recent TEDx Manhattan about why GE foods should be labeled. Studies show that more than 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. Yet for twenty years we have been denied that right. While our reasons for wanting to know what's in our food may vary, what unifies us is the belief that it's our right.

Take Action
: We have a right to know what is in our food. No GMOs, Cheerios! Breakfast is not an experiment.  


Monsanto Hires Former Sen. Blanche Lincoln As Lobbyist
On Wednesday, former Senator Blanche Lincoln and her lobbying group, Lincoln Policy Group, were announced as lead lobbyists for Monsanto after the biotech giant signed on as a client this month. At the same time, Lincoln Policy Group added Comcast and oil refiner Valero to its list of corporate clients, which already included Walmart. [Huffington Post

Washington State Sues Lobbyists Over Campaign Against GMO Labeling
The Washington state attorney general has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Grocery Manufacturers Association broke campaign finance laws by not disclosing funders’ identities. The association is the largest donor to the "No on I-522" campaign, which has raised $17 million to oppose Washington's GMO-labeling ballot initiative. [Reuters]

Blue Catfish: Overabundant, and the Key to a New Nonprofit Group's Mission
In an effort to preserve biodiversity in the Chesapeake Bay and reduce hunger, a new nonprofit called the Wide Net Project is promoting local consumption of the invasive blue catfish. The Wide Net Project has partnered with distributors to reduce blue catfish numbers by marketing the fish locally and subsidizing catfish for hunger-relief groups throughout the area. [Washington Post]

Kauai County Crosses the Rubicon, Council Passes Pesticide and GMO Bill
Early Wednesday morning, the Kauai County Council voted 6 to 1 in favor of Bill 2491 requiring big agricultural companies to disclose information about the type and amount of pesticides they use. The new law, which takes effect next July, places restrictions on the spraying of chemicals and requires all farmers to report their use of genetically modified crops. [Honolulu Civil Beat]

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday Celebrates Tenth Anniversary
Transform your family's pizza night! This week, Meatless Mondays’ celebrated its 10th anniversary. The campaign isn’t just about not eating meat, but discusses other protein options like nuts, tofu, beans or seeds. Overall, it’s come a long way in ten years, educating the public about the environmental and personal health ramifications of our meal choices. [Everyday Health]


After Decades, a Water Tunnel Can Now Serve All of Manhattan
The Stage 2 Manhattan section of New York City's Water Tunnel No. 3 - running underground from Yonkers - is complete and will back up the overworked second tunnel. Authorized in 1954, the new tunnel is the city's largest capital project (that's saying something), which to date has cost $4.7 billion and will ultimately also provide water to Queens and Brooklyn. [New York Times]

Water Desalination Capacity Climbs on Power, Energy Needs
Worldwide, desalination plant capacity will rise by 50 percent in 2013 over the previous year. Some major reasons for this surge in capacity is the need for freshwater to cool power plants and produce oil and gas on top of its primary use--drinking water supplies. [Bloomberg]

Unregulated, Agricultural Ammonia Threatens National Parks' Ecology
Ammonia and other nitrogen compounds generated from human activity are drifting into national parks' soil and water, lowering the pH and producing algae blooms through over-nutrification. The Harvard-led team studying "accidental fertilization" from above noted that the industrial agriculture sector remains unregulated even as its share of pollution grows. [Harvard School of Engineering]


Natural Gas 'Fracking' Has Flipped US Energy Map
With so much fracking for natural gas, the US northeast will likely switch from the country's largest demand region to a net supply region. Out of forty planned natural gas pipeline expansions, 20 are geared toward sending gas to the Southeast. [Christian Science Monitor]

Myth-Busting Germany's Energy Transition
According to many media outlets the German transition to renewable energy has been an expensive failure. But not so fast, because there are several myths - Germany is burning more coal, the grid can't handle renewables, the public is opposed - that are easily dispelled. [SmartPlanet]

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to EPA Rules on Gas Emissions
The Supreme Court received a lot of petitions to challenge the EPA's greenhouse gas rules, but in the end decided to hear just one this session: Whether the EPA can regulate emissions from stationary sources like power plants. The good news is that the court won't touch its previous decision that allowed EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses. [New York Times]


One Year After Sandy, We Need to Safeguard Our Energy Systems and Our Climate
It's been almost a year since Superstorm Sandy made it painfully obvious that we need to better protect our energy systems, drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities, public transportation and emergency response systems. Energy systems, in particular, must have long-term resilience plans and incorporate more renewables and efficiency. [NRDC Switchboard]

Warmer Waters Fuel Toxic Algal Blooms in the Great Lakes
Large parts of Lake Erie are experiencing huge algae blooms, some of which are extremely poisonous to humans and other animals that come into contact. The expanding blooms are caused by excessive nutrient loading (especially phosphorus from agricultural runoff) and worsened by higher water temperatures that boost growth (a factor tied to global warming). [North Country Radio]


"Sirens of the Lambs"
Banksy's in town, and he's got a little something to say about factory farming and industrial meat production...well his friends do anyway. Find out what in the viral video. [Banksy]

How to Set Up Worm Composting
Have you ever thought about setting up a worm composting bin (also known as vermicomposting)? Here's a quick photo essay that shows you how it's done. [City Farmer]

National Wildlife Federation Sunken Hazard
You might not realize how vulnerable the Great Lakes are to oil spills, especially considering there is a pipeline running through them. In this video, divers use underwater cameras to help the National Wildlife Federation examine the pipe and identify some of the vulnerabilities. [EcoWatch]

2013 Bicycle-Friendly State Ranking
The League of American Bicyclists annually ranks all 50 states on how bikeable they are, using a multi-faceted Bicycle Friendly State℠ ; questionnaire that is answered by each state's bicycle coordinator, and illustrated in this map. Categories ranked include legislation & enforcement, programs & policies, infrastructure, education & encouragement and evaluation & planning. Some of the rankings might surprise you. [League of American Bicyclists]

Food Eco News contributed by Audrey Jenkins.