Biosyntia ApS Secures Seed Investment to Establish a Bio-based Vitamin...

PR Web - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:37

The Danish-based synthetic biology company Biosyntia ApS has completed a DKK 12.5 M financing round with Novo Seeds as lead investor.

(PRWeb May 21, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12720673.htm

Categories: Environment

Electric Feel's Indiegogo Campaign Aims to Make Electric Vehicle...

PR Web - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:37

Electric Feel launches an IndieGogo campaign to kickstart its long-term goal -- to have more than 200 electric vehicle charging stations in the Washington, DC metro area.

(PRWeb May 21, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015-5-21/ef-ig/prweb12734685.htm

Categories: Environment

Advancement In Agricultural Equipment Is Featured With Host James Earl...

PR Web - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:37

New tools allow farmers a great deal of efficiency...

(PRWeb May 21, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12736642.htm

Categories: Environment

Silvex Surface Technology Is One Of Top Finishing Shops in America

PR Web - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:37

Silvex Surface Technology has been awarded as one of the “Best Finishing Shops in America” by Products Finishing magazine.

(PRWeb May 21, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12727060.htm

Categories: Environment

Successful Turnout for Lesser Prairie Chicken Seminar in Hays, Kansas

PR Web - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:37

Balius Compliance Services Inc., subsidiary of Balius Energy, Inc., hosted a Lesser Prairie Chicken seminar in Hays.

(PRWeb May 21, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12733545.htm

Categories: Environment

The kingdom of heaven comes to our house

PR Web - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:37

Visiting Angels of Stamford is part of a nationwide network of home-care agencies which is locally owned by Jim and Carol Keane, who have lived in Greenwich and Stamford for 23 years. Carol and Jim...

(PRWeb May 21, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12734617.htm

Categories: Environment

Meridian Solar Installs Second Round of Solar at LegalZoom’s Austin,...

PR Web - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:37

LegalZoom is now equipped with 520 kW of solar energy installed by Meridian Solar

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12731662.htm

Categories: Environment

What’s the most bike-friendly city in the U.S.? Not what you’d guess

Grist.org - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 00:05

Wanna know how bike-friendly your city is, for real? The brainiacs at Walk Score got your back. These are the folks who have spent years easing the pain of finding an apartment on Craigslist by figuring out how walkable our neighborhoods are. In 2012, they launched Bike Score, a rating system is driven by real live data — and not just the miles of bike lanes painted on the streets, unlike some of the more subjective ratings you’ll find bouncing around the interwebs.

To compile its annual list of America’s most cycling-friendly cities, the company takes into account bike-lane availability, plus the number of hills in a city, bike-commuting rates, and how often bikers have to de-saddle along their routes, among other factors. This year’s list, which includes 154 cities, has a few surprises.

Sure, there were a handful of unsurprising list-toppers: The beach towns of Santa Cruz and Santa Monica, hippieville Berkeley, and outdoorsy hipster-filled Boulder. Minneapolis is there, too, despite its crazy snow. But Cambridge, Mass. — home of the Car Talk guys? (Er, guy. R.I.P. Tom.) Who would have guessed they’d land at the top of the list!? Just below the top 10 were a couple of real oddballs: Hoboken, N.J. (WHAT) and Arlington, Va. (“Suburban HELL,” according to a Grist staffer who shall remain unnamed). These relatively small-town underdogs beat out the whole dang country!

Here are the top 10, scored out of 100 points:

1) Cambridge, Mass. (92.8)
2) Davis, Calif. (89.3)
3) Berkeley, Calif. (88.8)
4) Boulder, Colo. (86.2)
5) Santa Cruz, Calif. (83.8)
6) Santa Monica, Calif.  (82.6)
7) Minneapolis, Minn. 81.3)
8) Fort Collins, Colo. (80.1)
9) State College, Penn. (77.4) 
10) Iowa City, Iowa (77.2)

More weirdness: Few major cities, which one would expect to be pretty bikeable, ranked all that high. San Francisco only earned a 75.1 and Portland, Ore., (!) scraped by with a 72. Denver, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., didn’t even make the top 20.

Heck, Grist’s hometown of Seattle barely made the top 50, coming in at No. 45 on the list with a score of 63. This is a city with a self-proclaimed bike obsession, vibrant bike polo scene, and swarms of business folk donning bike shorts en route to the office, fer cryin’ out loud! The next time I feel like dying as I’m attempting to bike uphill, I’ll just keep Walk Score’s list in mind. Maybe that tiny bit of reassurance will make my calves burn a little less.

To see where your city’s bikeability ranks, check out the full list here.

Filed under: Article, Cities
Categories: Environment

Solar space sails are real, and Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson are stoked

Grist.org - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

Solar sailing sounds cool. Solar sailing in space sounds like the kind of crazy sci-fi fantasy that would have Bill Nye busting out of his bow tie.

But it’s real! In fact, one of the first U.S. solar sails launched on NASA’s Atlas V shuttle just this morning (Japan also launched one a few years ago), and Nye himself was down in Florida to watch (don’t worry — he managed to hold on to his bow tie):

T-10 minutes #LightSail http://t.co/5uHF7Geel8

Bill Nye (@BillNye) May 20, 2015

Actually, Nye wasn’t just there as a spectator. He and his colleagues at the Planetary Society, a public nonprofit space organization, have been working on project LightSail for a while. Their goal is to build lightweight spacecrafts about the size of bread loaves that propel themselves through space using 344 square-foot solar sails, rather than chemical fuel. Ultimately, the Planetary Society hopes that space sails could be a reliable, low-cost way to propel all kinds of little satellites, or CubeSats, through space.

And just to be clear — these sails are actual sails, not just solar panels. Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson do a pretty good job explaining the science behind the sails in the video above (yes, this already cool project is also crowd-funded, and actually, they do an awesome job explaining the science, because they’re Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson). But here’s the quick and dirty: Light is composed of particles called photons. Those photons don’t have mass, but they do have momentum. And when they reflect off the shiny mylar surface of a solar sail, some of that momentum gets transferred to the sail, thus pushing it and its tiny spacecraft through space.

Today’s launch was just a test of the sail’s deployment mechanism, but the Planetary Society plans to actually put one of these puppies in orbit next year. It’ll be attached to Prox-1, a small autonomous satellite designed to inspect other spacecrafts. Prox-1 will launch on a SpaceX rocket called Falcon Heavy. (An NGO-built solar sail launching on a privately owned rocket — the future of space exploration is looking pretty interesting!)

To add to all that awesome, consider this: The project is actually the realization of an old idea that Carl Sagan was talking about way back in the ’70s. Here he is explaining solar sails to Johnny Carson:

Oh, and in case you’re interested: Atlas V also took a secret government space plane into orbit this morning. No one really knows what the plane is for, but according to The New York Times, the government promises it’s not for firing secret space weapons.

Filed under: Article, Science
Categories: Environment

Secretary Jewell Announces $50 Million to Help Conserve Water in...

PR Web - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

The Department of the Interior's WaterSMART Program through the Bureau of Reclamation will support 64 projects in 12 states.

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12738857.htm

Categories: Environment

Award-Winning Author Visits Garden Media Group, Challenges People to...

PR Web - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

Doug Tallamy shares the benefits of natural ecosystems.

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12730408.htm

Categories: Environment

Golf with NFL Legends while Raising Money for Animal Conservation at...

PR Web - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

Play a round of golf with former NFL All-Pros and Pro Bowlers – while raising money for animal conservation – by registering for David Fulcher’s Putt for Penguins Celebrity Golf Outing on June 6 at...

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12737470.htm

Categories: Environment

Scientists Tackle Mystery of Thunderstorms That Strike at Night

PR Web - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

From June 1 through July 15, NCAR researchers and their colleagues from across North America will fan out each evening across the Great Plains to study the mysterious phenomenon of nighttime...

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12737747.htm

Categories: Environment

Kick Off Summer with the South Carolina Aquarium this Memorial Day...

PR Web - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

Celebrate World Turtle Day® and the New Shark Shallows Exhibit

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12737899.htm

Categories: Environment

SEIA Launches Spanish-Language Section on Website

PR Web - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

In an effort to expand awareness of the importance of diversity in the workplace – as well as solar energy’s growing contributions to the economy and environment – the Solar Energy Industries...

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12738357.htm

Categories: Environment

Renewable Choice Energy to Exhibit at Canada Green Building Conference...

PR Web - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

International provider to join industry leaders in green building

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12737925.htm

Categories: Environment

Style Magazines Expand Their Reach With The Official Launch Of The...

PR Web - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:37

MyTravelinStyle.com Provides the Best Resources to Discover and Plan Getaways to Dream Destinations Around the Globe

(PRWeb May 20, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12738252.htm

Categories: Environment

Railroad safety fact check: Fires and spills are up despite industry claims

Grist.org - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 22:29

The following story was reported by Isaiah Thompson of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and published here in collaboration with Grist. NECIR trains the next generation of journalists in investigative reporting with summer high school workshops in Boston. Click here to learn more and apply today.

Despite the terrible derailment of an Amtrak train last week and a spate of other fiery accidents involving trains carrying flammable crude oil — five so far this year — railroad industry and government officials have taken pains to reassure the public of rail transportation safety.

2014 was “the safest year on record for the railroad industry,” the Association of American Railroads has boasted in web “advertorials” and statements to news organizations.

But it’s a claim that, under scrutiny, doesn’t completely hold up to the numbers.

A review of federal reports and railroad safety data by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting suggests that while rail is much safer than it was in recent decades, at least some indicators of safety have gotten worse, not better, over the past few years:

  • Accidents involving fires have at least doubled in the past year.
  • Hazardous materials releases have increased two years in a row.

And derailments are expected to more than double over the next few years, according to projections buried in government reports from the same agencies that are issuing new safety rules.

NECIR’s findings come amid a media relations push by the railroad industry. It’s responding to increased concerns over recent accidents as well as the federal Department of Transportation’s release of new rules this month regulating the tank cars carrying crude, ethanol, and other flammable liquids. Those tank cars, so-called DOT-111s, have been known for decades to be prone to puncturing, and have been involved in at least 17 serious accidents and explosions since 2013, including the July 2013 derailment of a train carrying crude that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

READ MORE FROM NECIR: New rules for ‘oil trains’ fall short of recommendations

Experts on the railroad industry asked to comment on NECIR’s findings said they weren’t surprised that the number of hazardous releases, fires, and major accidents is rising, but cautioned that those findings don’t mean the rate of such incidents has increased.

Flammable liquids traffic “has increased from nominal numbers to significant numbers in just two years,” says Allan Zarembski, a research professor and director of the University of Delaware’s Railroad Engineering and Safety Program. “If you increase traffic, even if the safety rates are going down, the number of accidents might go up.”

That seems to be the case now: While accident rates might not be increasing, the sudden rise in the transport of crude oil and ethanol — from 30,000 carloads in 2004 to 800,000 in 2014, thanks in large part to an oil boom in the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota — has also led to a rise in the number of fires, hazardous releases, and major derailments involving those substances. That traffic is only expected to increase in coming years.

Fires and hazardous releases are increasing

Railroad safety in general has, indeed, steadily gotten better over the past few decades.

But even a “safe” year means hundreds of accidents and dozens of derailments. The railroad industry’s self-declared safest year on record — 2014 — included 1,755 accidents, 1,241 derailments, 145 collisions, and dozens of fires.

Most of those accidents were small and relatively harmless. However, an NECIR analysis of data collected by the Federal Railroad Administration found that the number of more serious kinds of accidents — fires, explosions, hazardous releases, and accidents causing damage — has actually increased in recent years.   

Accidents involving fire or “violent rupture” have doubled in three years. In 2011, railroads reported 23 such accidents. Last year, by contrast, saw 47 such accidents.


READ MORE: Gov’t data sharpens focus on crude-oil train routes

In a written statement to NECIR, American Association of Railroads spokesperson Ed Greenberg emphasized that most of these incidents were small fires that caused little damage and were quickly extinguished. He also noted that even if the number of such accidents is rising, that’s because of increased traffic of crude — the rates themselves are not rising.

Even so, more accidents are more accidents, and Greenberg said the AAR had called for stricter “thermal protection” for tank cars — manufactured and usually supplied by the rail shipping industry — than the federal government itself has asked for.

Accidents involving hazardous materials releases — which includes everything from a leak the size of a teaspoon to a major spill — have increased two years in a row. Whereas 2012 represented one of the lowest years for hazardous releases since 2006, the number of such incidents had begun to climb again by 2014, rising by about 8 percent to 714 compared with two years prior.

Greenberg noted that hazmat incidents rose as a result of increased traffic of hazardous materials in general, and that the number of hazmat incidents in 2014 was still lower than in most years prior.

Major accidents are on the rise, expected to keep rising

Most of the accidents, derailments, and hazardous materials releases that occur in a given year are relatively small incidents. But the number of major accidents, those involving big fires or spills, is also on the rise — and, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s own analysis, expected to continue to grow.

An NECIR count of incidents of major spills and fires shows a stark increase in such incidents, like the April 30, 2014, derailment of a train in Lynchburg, Va., that spilled 300,000 gallons of crude into the James River, or the Feb. 16, 2015, derailment of a crude train in West Virginia that resulted in 19 cars catching fire.

Records show one major accident per year for the years 2006 through 2009, none in 2010, and two each year in 2011 and 2012, all involving ethanol.

In 2013, by contrast, there were six major accidents in North America, including the Lac-Mégantic disaster, all involving crude. In 2014, there were five major accidents involving crude. And so far this year, there have been five accidents involving major derailments of trains carrying flammable liquids that resulted in fires. That category doesn’t include the Amtrak disaster — but Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who recently hired a special consultant to look into the dangers of crude-by-rail in Pennsylvania, noted that the Amtrak derailment happened near parked oil train tankers, saying that was “an additional cause of concern.”

What’s more, buried 300 pages into an “impact analysis” of the new rules as proposed by the Department of Transportation is a table showing “Predicted Crude and Ethanol Derailments,” which foresees derailments more than doubling in the next five years.


The one thing that everyone agrees on is the fact that more traffic of flammable liquids will inevitably result in more accidents involving them. And that’s where the new federal regulations governing tank cars come in.

The rules should make tank cars less prone in accidents. But they also allow the older, less-safe tank cars to remain in service for years to come.

Last week, a coalition of environmental groups, including Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, and the Waterkeeper Alliance, filed a challenge against the Department of Transportation’s new rules in a federal appeals court.

“It doesn’t make sense for an agency to admit that there are sub-standard cars and then let them remain on the rails for up to 10 years,” says Kristen Boyles, an attorney for Earthjustice. “We don’t do that when we regulate other products.”


Isaiah Thompson is a reporter at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, an independent, nonprofit news center based at Boston University and WGBH News. Read more of his reporting on crude and ethanol trains here. Isaiah can be reached at isaiah_thompson@wgbh.org and on Twitter at @isaiah_thompson.

To get more investigative journalism from NECIR, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our email list.

Filed under: Business & Technology, Climate & Energy, Politics
Categories: Environment

What do we need to fight climate change? More worms.

Grist.org - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 21:28

Let’s hear it for the humble but awesomely underrated worm: They do a lot more than just serve as fishbait or kid-sister torture devices. According to a new study out of Yale, these slimy, soft-bodied soil-dwellers could help slow global warming.

Worms feast upon tiny microbes that themselves eat decomposing organic matter. These microbes also happen to release boatloads of planet-wrecking carbon dioxide in the process of munching. To summarize: More worms, fewer microbes, less doomsday.

Al Jazeera America has the story:

Global warming, however, accelerates this decomposition and leads to greater emissions, said Thomas Crowther, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale F&ES and lead author of the study. Elevated temperatures stimulate growth and enzyme production, which aids the decomposition process. That in turn leads to a feedback cycle in which human-caused warming exacerbates microbial-caused warming, Crowther said.

“Effectively the microbes that live in the soil are responsible for producing 10 times more carbon emissions than even humans have produced,” Crowther said. “That’s the biggest flux of carbon into the atmosphere that there is on Earth.”

Crowther said an increase in microbial carbon production will likely be responsible for a rise of 2-3 degrees Celsius in global temperatures over the next 100 years.

As temperatures warm, “the limitations on fungal growth are alleviated, stimulating total enzyme activity and decomposition rates,” the report said. In this scenario, according to the study, grazing soil animals emerge as one of the largest controls on that growth.

So can we count on worms alone to remedy all our climate woes? We’re still far from being off the hook: As long as we keep spewing carbon and warming the atmosphere, we’re speeding up decomposition rates as well — which means little microbes are going to keep spewing carbon out beneath our feet. Dumping worms into the earth would help, but not enough to close the feedback loop if we don’t reduce emissions ourselves. The Circle of Life bites us in the ass once again.

Filed under: Climate & Energy, Living, Science
Categories: Environment

Mike Huckabee can’t make up his mind about ethanol

Grist.org - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 20:58

This story is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

On the campaign trail, GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has been a vocal supporter of the ethanol industry. The former Arkansas governor has repeatedly spoken out in defense of the Renewable Fuel Standard — the federal policy that requires energy companies to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel supply. That makes political sense in Iowa, where corn is big business. Ethanol made from corn constitutes the vast majority of domestic biofuel consumption. And roughly 40 percent of corn grown in the United States is used to produce ethanol.

So it was a bit surprising when Huckabee used his latest book to take direct aim at biofuels such as ethanol. In the middle of a chapter questioning the science of climate change, he suggested that biofuels have been propped up by unscientific “environmentalist policies” that drive up food prices and make global warming worse. Here’s the relevant passage from God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, which was published in January:

Climate change isn’t the only field in which the environmental movement has claimed to represent unassailable scientific truth, only to be brought up short by new data.

For years, we were told that biofuels were the future. Skeptics who questioned whether it took more energy to create a gallon of fuel from corn than was generated by burning it were dismissed. But as we devoted more and more of our food crops to energy production, we discovered yet again that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. (Science!) In this case, so-called environmentalist policies hurt the poor when the supply of corn and other grains fell, causing skyrocketing food prices and shortages that led to riots in undeveloped nations. At this writing, the European Union has just agreed to limit biofuels, for those reasons and also because they were found to make some engines run less efficiently, to cause more pollution than expected, and to harm the environment and contribute to global warming, due to the need for clear-cutting more farmland.

Huckabee’s professed skepticism about biofuels actually echoes the views shared by a number of conservative activists and environmentalists. But it diverges greatly from much of what he has said and written elsewhere. For example, here’s what Huckabee wrote in his 2007 book, From Hope to Higher Ground:

One energy source that makes perfect sense for America to aggressively explore and dramatically increase is the production and use of biofuels. The most common biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel, both of which have the potential of decreasing our dependence on oil, but could also have a dramatic and positive impact on America’s agricultural production. It could give our farmers the ability to feed and fuel us. While the cost of converting a biofuel source to usable fuel has been historically expensive and therefore not as attractive as gasoline, creating incentives with potential hefty financial rewards could be valuable in the production of ethanol and biodiesel. New technologies using forms of biomass are increasingly viable, and the production of these would be controlled within our own borders. An added advantage of biofuels is that unlike gasoline and conventional diesel, they contain oxygen, which allows petroleum products to burn more completely, reducing air pollution and cutting back on the buildup of greenhouse gases.

Huckabee reportedly backed the Renewable Fuel Standard during the 2008 campaign (although, in at least one debate, he appeared to reject the idea of biofuel mandates). At the time, his campaign website said that “we need more ethanol.”

This past March — less than two months after slamming biofuels in his book — Huckabee attended the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines, where he spent 20 minutes answering questions posed by ethanol kingpin and GOP megadonor Bruce Rastetter. “You’ve been an unabashed supporter of the RFS,” Rastetter said.

“Yeah,” responded Huckabee, adding that the biofuel mandate was part of a “bigger picture of energy independence and energy security” that could help the United States “turn the tables” on Russia and Iran. He didn’t say anything about “skyrocketing food prices.” You can watch the exchange here:

Huckabee addressed the issue again at a May 7 campaign event in Sioux City, where he argued that ending government support for ethanol puts farmers and companies “out of business, and it destroys what is beginning to become a more reasonable, responsible, and economically viable industry.”

I asked Huckabee’s campaign how they reconcile the candidate’s campaign-trail biofuels boosterism with the sharp criticism leveled in his book. They didn’t respond.

Filed under: Article, Climate & Energy, Politics
Categories: Environment