Science and Environment

Environment
3:33 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Baton Rouge's Corroded, Overpolluting Neighbor: Exxon Mobil

An evening view of the Exxon Mobil oil refinery complex in Baton Rouge, La.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 8:50 am

If you stand in front of Almena and Sidney Poray's house in Baton Rouge, La., and look straight down the street, past the other houses and the shade trees, you see more than a dozen plumes of exhaust in various hues of gray and white.

"That's something you see every day, the same thing if not more," says Almena Poray. "Sometimes it's a darker gray; sometimes it's a black smoke coming out."

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Environment
2:01 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Breathing Easier: How Houston Is Working To Clean Up Its Air

The Houston Ship Channel is home to a wide range of heavy industry, including chemical processing plants and petrochemical refineries.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 11:18 am

The Houston area produces about a quarter of the nation's gasoline, and about a third of the plastics that are in our cars, cupboards and just about everywhere else. So it is no surprise that this heavily industrial area has a problem with air pollution. But in the past decade, Houston's air has improved dramatically.

How that happened is a tale of good science, new technology and a Texas law that prompted companies along the Houston Ship Channel to disclose their emissions.

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Environment
5:13 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Gulf Coast States Get Creative With BP Oil Spill Money

Tourists watch as workers clean oil from the sand along a strip of oil that washed up on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., in 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast.
Dave Martin AP

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 10:29 am

Gulf Coast states are lining up to spend $1 billion from BP on coastal restoration. The money is part of BP's legal responsibility to restore the Gulf of Mexico's natural resources in the aftermath of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.

But the nature of some of the state projects, including boat ramps and a beachfront hotel, is raising questions about just what counts as coastal restoration.

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Environment
5:16 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

'Extremely Active' Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted

Hurricane Sandy churns off the Atlantic coast on Oct. 29. NOAA officials are forecasting seven to 11 hurricanes, compared with about six in a typical season.
NASA Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 7:23 pm

Unusually warm ocean temperatures and favorable wind patterns mean the Atlantic is likely to see "an active or extremely active" hurricane season this year, say officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The agency expects between seven and 11 hurricanes and as many as 20 named storms during the 2013 season, which runs from June 1 through November.

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Environment
6:20 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Why Oklahomans Don't Like Basements

A heavily damaged home in Moore on Monday. Chances are, it doesn't have a basement.
Joshua Lott AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 7:39 pm

When Randy Keller moved from Texas to the Oklahoma City area seven years ago, he couldn't find the house he was looking for.

"I was moving from Texas, where there are also a lot of tornadoes," says the professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Oklahoma who experienced the 1970 tornado in Lubbock, Texas. "But I just couldn't find one."

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Louisiana Coast
8:36 am
Mon May 20, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — River Diversions

The Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Structure in 1999 and 2003. The structure part of a project that is attempting to reverse land loss and ecosystem degradation in the marshlands.

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 2:37 pm

It’s almost impossible to find anyone in coastal Louisiana opposed to the idea of “coastal restoration.” Storms like Katrina, Gustav and Isaac have shown everyone the value of the marshes and swamps that once stood between them and the Gulf.

But when “restore” means turning things back to the way they once were, problems can arise.

The best-known example of that is the conflict over using river diversions.

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Louisiana Coast
10:42 am
Thu May 16, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — How We Got This Way: Rising Seas, Sinking Land

A street submerged by water in Venice, La. in 2010.

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 2:39 pm

The clang of tide gauges throughout parts of southeast Louisiana aren’t from a science fiction movie, though they may make residents feel like they’re caught in one.

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Louisiana Coast
9:29 am
Wed May 15, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — How We Got This Way: Canal Dredging

Man-made canals in the Barataria Basin wetlands.
Dr. Terry McTigue NOAA

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 2:39 pm

These days when fishing guide Ryan Lambert motors away from the boat launch in Buras, he’s fishing in the what locals call “the land of used-to-bes.”

As in, that used to be Yellow Cotton Bay, or Drake Bay, or English Bay… and dozens more. It’s all one big open body of water now because the marshes, cypress swamps and ridges that separated these water bodies for most of his life are gone.

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Environment
2:29 am
Mon April 29, 2013

After Sandy, Questions Linger Over Cellphone Reliability

Residents of the East Village in New York City look for cellphone reception Nov. 1 after Hurricane Sandy wiped out power and some cell towers.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 12:07 pm

Roughly one in four cellphone towers in the path of Hurricane Sandy went out of service. It was a frustrating and potentially dangerous experience for customers without a landline to fall back on. Now, local officials and communications experts are pushing providers to improve their performance during natural disasters.

Lori McCaskill lives in Brooklyn, and when Sandy hit last October, her Verizon cell service went out. She couldn't work. She couldn't check in with family and friends. Her sister was due to have a baby any day.

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Environment
1:56 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Lionfish Attacking Atlantic Ocean Like A Living Oil Spill

Lionfish, like this one spotted in the Bahamas, are a nonnative predatory fish that can decimate native fish populations.
Cammy Clark MCT/Landov

Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 12:45 pm

A gluttonous predator is power-eating its way through reefs from New York to Venezuela. It's the lionfish.

And although researchers are coming up with new ways to protect some reefs from the flamboyant maroon-striped fish, they have no hope of stopping its unparalleled invasion.

Lad Akins has scuba dived in the vibrant reefs of the Bahamas for many years. But when he returned a couple years ago, he saw almost no fish smaller than his hand.

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