Nov 08 2012

The Environment on the Ballot: 2012 Edition

Published by under News

Voting Sign in California, via wikimedia

Though the major news networks focused mostly on the presidential and congressional elections, the voters also decided on some environmental measures, especially in the states and localities. Below is a collection of the biggest results.

Virginia Passes Eminent Domain Limitations: Virginia voters passed by a large margin a constitutional amendment that will prevent private property from being taken by the government for the benefit of private parties. The amendment also contains language that expands the definition of “just compensation” to include lost profits and loss of access, which could increase the cost of even public projects requiring the use of eminent domain. For poorer localities, expanding public transportation routes or other infrastructure improvements could be financially out of reach. [Washington Post]

Fracking Ban Invites Lawsuits: The City of Longmont, Colorado passed Ballot Question 300, which effectively banned all hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking) within the city limits. Opponents of the measure warned that lawsuits from oil companies and landowners would be forthcoming. The state is currently in a lawsuit with Longmont over an earlier ordinance the city passed forbidding drilling in residential areas. The state claims that the ordinance is preempted by state law. The linked article also has an interesting statistic: 90% of all oil and gas wells in the country are fracked. [Denver Business Journal]

North Dakota Passes “Right to Farm” Amendment: Measure 3 amended the ND Constitution to forbid passage of any law that would restrict farmers and ranchers from using “agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.” The amendment was primarily designed to prevent changes to factory farming practices such as battery cages, but opponents worry that it could allow farmers to avoid pollution regulations. [InForum] [BNA (W&M Access Needed)]

GMO Labeling Law Fails in California, but Clean Energy Fund Passes: A hotly contested effort to require labeling on all raw and processed foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) failed by a few percentage points. However, California passed another measure that would close a tax loophole for multi-state businesses and use the revenue to fund clean energy projects. [CNN] [Christian Science Monitor]

Michigan Rejects Increase in Alternative Energy Goals: Voters on Tuesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment in Michigan that would have set a goal that the state get 25% of its energy from alternative sources by 2025. The current goal is to have 15% by 2015. State Treasurer Andy Opponents to the measure argued that it would raise electricity costs for consumers and spent $23 million to get their message out.[Michigan Live] [BusinessWeek]

Obama Reelection Allows EPA to Advance Environmental Regs: Among the various environmental regulations that are currently underway and will likely proceed under an Obama second term are: cooling water intake rules, new Clean Water Act guidance on intermittent streams and isolated wetlands, regulations on hydraulic fracturing practices, stormwater regulations from power plants and construction sites, stricter regulation of antimicrobial pesticides, greenhouse gas rules under the Clean Air Act, and new regulations of perchlorate in drinking water. EPA is also discussing expanding the list of industries required to report to the Toxic Release Inventory and Congress is working on a bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). [BNA (W&M Access Needed)] [BNA (W&M Access Needed)]


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Mar 02 2011

Alien Invaders: Drawing Awareness to the Problem of Invasive Species

Published by under Animal,Land Use

Kudzu on trees in Atlanta, Georgia, via wikimedia

Most of the time, environmentalists work to protect species from things that threaten their existence.  However, in certain instances those threats can come from other species that have been imported into the area. The problem is big enough to warrant a whole week devoted to promoting awareness of invasive species. Invasive species can come in many shapes and sizes and types.  There are plants that are invasive such as the Kudzu vine, which is sometimes called “the vine that ate the South”.  Native to China and Japan, it grows over any stationary object, including other plants, choking them of sunlight and air.

Another invasive species that is causing a lot of concern recently is the Asian Carp. This large, prolific fish has already become the most prevalent fish in some areas of the Mississippi River and was recently found in the Illinois River, which connects to the Great Lakes. This has created a lot of concern in the region that the Asian Carp and its voracious appetite could devastate the already fragile Great Lakes ecosystem. To learn about other invasive species being fought across the country, see this list of the 100 most disruptive invasive species or check out some of the articles below. Continue Reading »

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