This Week in Eco News - July 3, 2014

Caption Robin Madel

Happy Fourth of July!

Celebrate July 4 with sustainable food and fun! We're also cheering for the arrival of plum season and a video featuring the great work being done at Brooklyn Grange. If you'd like to see more videos featuring urban ag, check out this Kickstarter for Growing Cities which would get the doc aired on PBS! As always, if you see a story we should share in this week's food, water and energy Eco News, please drop us a line at blog[at]gracelinks[dot]org.

Best of the Web Video - Water

The Ways of Water 2 
As clean freshwater resources are constrained by growing human demands, human intervention into the water cycle through sustainable water reuse might help us secure water supplies on which we rely.

Take Action: Go to Greywater Action to get information and tips on  how to make water reuse a sustainable part of your life.


Fruit and Vegetable Prices Going Up as California Drought Continues
Rising food prices are expected to cost the average American family over $500 extra this year, according to federal forecast. Drought in California, where half of the nation’s produce is grown, and rising water prices elsewhere are at fault, pushing fruit and vegetable prices up by 6 percent and beef up by 9 percent. Farmers and consumers are facing this dry spell together. [Los Angeles Times]

TerraCycle’s Packaging Sustainability Drive Lands a Starring Role on TV
After finishing a sustainable snack, what do you do with the packaging, if there is any? A new show called "Human Resources" might give you some ideas. Airing next month on the cable channel Pivot, the new comedy goes behind the scenes to document the work life at TerraCycle, a growing recycling company promoting materials conservation and sustainable packaging. [Food Production Daily]

Obama Promises Immigration Action
Obstruction of an immigration reform bill in Congress for the past year has President Obama taking executive action. This Monday, he announced his intention to order an influx of federal resources along the southern border and plans for further action later this summer. Agriculture industry representatives argue that current immigration policies threaten the US economy by driving fruit and vegetable production out of the US. [The Packer]

AMA Seeks Ban on Antibiotic Use on Farms for Growth Promotion
The American Medical Association (AMA) is calling for a federal ban on the use of antibiotics as growth stimulants in agriculture. About 80% of all American antibiotics are used in agriculture, and 70% of those are used for non-medicinal purposes, the AMA reports. The association passed a resolution in June to support greater regulation and oversight of antibiotic usage to slow antibiotic-resistance. [Food Safety News]

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday Goes To The White House: Second Grade Student Wins "Healthy Challenge"
First Lady Michelle Obama is hosting a "State Dinner" for 55 students who created nutritious dishes as part of an Epicurious contest. And 8-year-old Lily Vinch's "Mo-Rockin Meatless Monday Special" earned her an invitation! Kudos to the second grader bringing Meatless Monday to the White House! [Meatless Monday]


Setting the Record Straight on Waters of the US
In this post, EPA water chief Nancy Stoner cuts through misinformation regarding the agency’s proposed Clean Water Act rules. Called “Waters of the US,” the rules clarify what is covered under the Clean Water Act after two Supreme Court rulings muddied the jurisdictional boundaries. But Big Ag boosters, among other industries, are trying to shut it down. [EPA Connect]

Swimmers Beware: Water at Some US Beaches May Make You Sick
Before heading to your favorite beach, check out NRDC’s 24th annual “Testing the Waters” to see whether coastal and Great Lakes beaches have water quality that either passes or fails EPAs standards. The report shows that 10 percent of the 3,500 beaches sampled in 2013 had bacteria levels exceeding EPA recommendations for safe swimming, the main culprits being stormwater runoff and sewer overflows. [Reuters]

The Colorado River’s Problems: If You’re Not Talking About Alfalfa, You’re Not Being Serious
In the parched Colorado River Basin, over 90 percent of pasture and cropland require irrigation, with 60 percent dedicated to pasture, alfalfa and other feed crops for cattle and horses. As demands on the river grow, forage crop water reduction is essential since it consumes one-third of the river’s annual flow, which means water-saving methods like “deficit irrigation” to help farmers and other thirsty users are needed. [jfleck at inkstain]

Seven in 10 Worldwide Are Satisfied With Water Quality
A Gallup survey found that 71 percent of people worldwide were content with their local water quality in 2013. Satisfaction was considerably lower at a little over 50 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and some countries of the former Soviet Union. Clean water provision has risen significantly for many African nations, but it hasn't done so quickly enough to ensure wellbeing and satisfaction. [Gallup]


Fish Kill in Eastern Ohio Might be Linked to Fire at Fracking Well 
A recent shale well fire in Ohio displaced 25 families and may have caused a fish kill that reportedly stretched several miles down Possum Creek. While there hasn't been any confirmation yet, an Ohio Environmental Council member speculated that fracking chemicals could be the cause of the fish kill. [Columbus Dispatch]

Put a Lid On It
Proof that federal energy regulations can improve air quality: A 1998 EPA regulation called on 22 states to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) which contribute to ozone and can harm public health. Thanks to the rules reducing emissions from power plants and vehicles, NOx levels have since been cut nearly in half. [EIA Daily]

Towns May Ban Fracking, New York State High Court Rules
There may be just a temporary moratorium on fracking in New York, but the state's highest court ruled that towns can use zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing. The court emphasized that the decision was simply a question of the division of power between state and local governments, but it remains a big defeat for oil and gas companies looking to tap into Marcellus shale. [New York Times]

The Energy Paypack for a 2-Megawatt Wind Turbine That Lasts Over 20 Years is... 5-8 Months
Anti-renewable energy types like to argue that wind turbines require so much energy to make that they're not nearly as "green" as many assume. But that's completely false. A new study found that it takes at most one year of electricity generation from a wind turbine to make up for its production, meaning that it'll run for 19 years (assuming a 20-year lifespan) without requiring any energy at all. [TreeHugger]


Drought Has Drillers Running After Shrinking California Water Supply
"It's officially getting crazy," says Steve Arthur, operator of a busy California groundwater drilling company. The Golden State drought has caused severe water shortages, sending thirsty farmers and landowners to drill for new water wells. With groundwater unregulated, the unsustainably fast pace of drilling is depleting aquifers, the state’s water of last resort. [NPR]

Report: Voters More Likely to Back Climate-Friendly Candidate
A Yale University public survey found that voters are two and a half times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who backs action on global warming. More liberal or moderate Republican voters are in favor of CO2 limits on power plants, but the hyper-partisan Congress doesn't reflect such subtleties in opinion. [E2 Wire]

Room for Debate: The Water Crisis in the West
Water problems in the western United States, like widespread drought and lower flows of over-allocated river water, are real. Six freshwater experts discuss a wide array of solutions such as paying the true cost of water, eating less animal products to lower one’s water footprint and ramping up water reuse to make water-saving efforts real. [New York Times]


Bayou Corne Sinkhole Collapses Into Aquifer 
Well this is a mess! A sinkhole created by the collapse of a salt mine owned by the petrochemical company Texas Brine Co. has collapsed into an aquifer. There is a layer of shallow gas in the aquifer that is now polluting surrounding bayou waters and nearby drinking water wells. This video clearly illustrates the unfortunate interface between humans and nature. [youtube]

A Farm Grows in Brooklyn — On the Roof
US cities are leading a farming movement that’s spreading around the globe, and our friends at Brooklyn Grange are leading the charge in NYC. They’ve been the subject of a few Ecocentric blog posts and we’re pleased to see their work highlighted in this video by National Geographic. Way to go Brooklyn Grange! [National Geographic]

Self-Taught Artist Layers Glass Sheets Together to Form Ocean Waves
You know we can’t help but like these. Sydney-based artist Ben Young creates astonishing glass sculptures that look just like ocean waves. He turns the glass sheets into water by hand, drawing, cutting and crafting them from beginning to end without the use of computers. The planning and sketching are the longest and most difficult parts. As these photos show, the results are so worth the effort. [BoredPanda]

Baltimore's Water Wheel Keeps On Turning, Pulling In Tons Of Trash
John Kellett used to walk by Pier 6 every day on his way to work at the Baltimore Maritime Museum on the Inner Harbor, where he'd notice the trash floating in the water — and it bugged him. So he developed his idea: a big water wheel to collect the plastic cups, cigarette butts and Cheetos bags that flow into the waterway after rainstorms. The water wheel is now docked in the harbor. Find out more in the podcast. [NPR]

Ogallala Water Data
Once thought to be an infinite supply, there’s no question that now the Ogallala Aquifer is running out of water due to agriculture. The big questions facing the eight states that lie above it are "How long will it last?" and "How sustainable do we want to be with our use of it?" The answers might surprise and disappoint you as you check out these maps that highlight the issue. [Circle of Blue]

Food Eco News contributed by  Audrey Jenkins; Water Eco News by  Kai Olson-Sawyer; Energy Eco News by  Peter Hanlon and Multimedia content by  Robin Madel.