The Defense Department will be paying for a study to find ways to remove ammunition barrels the military dumped into Lake Superior during the Cold War. For 30 years, environmentalists have been asking the government to clean up the mess. Mike Simonson reports that the federal government is now paying for a study to find ways to remove the barrels:
The Defense Department will be paying for a study to find ways to remove ammunition
barrels the military dumped into Lake Superior during the Cold War. For 30 years,
environmentalists have been asking the government to clean up the mess. Mike
Simonson reports that the federal government is now paying for a study to find ways to
remove the barrels:
The Red Cliff band of Lake Superior Chippewa will study ways
to remove the barrels of munitions. Documents show that between 1959
and 1962, the Department of Defense had 1,437 drums dumped into Lake
Superior. It amounts to about 400 tons of munitions containing toxic chemicals such as
PCBs, mercury, lead, chromium, benzene and even uranium.
Patricia DePerry is the Red Cliff Tribal Chairwoman. She says the barrels must be
“Not only the time is of essence, it’s the not knowing what the contaminants have been
doing at the bottom of the lake.”
DePerry says not only is the ecology of the lake at risk, but the barrels of munitions lie
within a quarter mile of Duluth, Minnesota’s drinking water intake.
Environmental and health groups from around the country are criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency for its new air quality rules. Dustin Dwyer has more:
Environmental and health groups from around the country are criticizing the
Environmental Protection Agency for its new air quality rules. Dustin Dwyer has more:
The new standard for short-term exposure to particulate matter, or soot, has been cut in
half. The standard on long-term exposure was left unchanged. EPA administrator
Stephen Johnson says it’s the most health-protective standard in the nation’s history:
“These are significant, significant steps to improve the quality of our air.”
Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club have criticized the new rules, and Paul
Billings of the American Lung Association also says the new soot standards do not go far
“They quite simply fail to protect public health.”
Huge areas of the country already failed to meet the previous standards on soot. Now,
another 32 counties are out of compliance. It’s up to the states to force smokestack
industries to reduce soot pollution within the next 10 years.
A federal judge says the Bush Administration broke the law when it opened up protected forestland to logging. A rule under the Clinton Administration kept nearly one third of all national forestland off limits to logging and new road building. But last year the Bush Administration repealed that rule. Mark Brush has more:
A federal judge says the Bush Administration broke the law when it opened up protected
forestland to logging. A rule under the Clinton Administration kept nearly one third of all
national forestland off limits to logging and new road building. But last year the Bush
Administration repealed that rule. Mark Brush has more:
The federal judge said the Bush Administration did not comply with environmental laws
when it repealed the so-called Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
The Administration opened the door to more road-building and logging. And it
required states to petition the federal government if they wanted their roadless areas
Just last month in Oregon, the first protected roadless area was opened up to logging. The
trees were killed four years ago in a fire. Patty Burel is a spokesperson for the U.S.
Forest Service. She says the federal court’s ruling won’t affect the current timber sale:
“It’s our understanding, from what we’re hearing from our legal counsel, that nothing
prohibits us from continuing, so we’re continuing to proceed with the plan of operation
with these two fire salvage sales.”
It’s expected that the timber industry and some states like Idaho will appeal the judge’s ruling.
There’s more evidence that small amounts of pharmaceuticals are finding their way into the environment and potentially causing harm. So, some communities are collecting unused drugs and destroying them. Chuck Quirmbach reports:
There’s more evidence that small amounts of pharmaceuticals are finding their way into
the environment and potentially causing harm . So, some communities are collecting
unused drugs and destroying them. Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Sewage treatment plants can’t screen out all the medicines that either pass through the
body, or if unused, are flushed down the drain. Some studies have shown the
pharmaceuticals affect fish, or end up in fertilizer that’s put on lawns and gardens. So
some cities have started pharmaceutical collection days. Jean Zyla brought a grocery
bag full of old medicine to a site in Milwaukee:
“I believe very strongly in the environment, and preserving it, and
I wanna protect the citizens and the animal population and everything. I believe very
strongly in that!”
Pharmacists were on hand to examine the medicines and make sure that controlled
substances were taken in by police. The rest of the drugs are to go to an incinerator in
A federal court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to start regulating the discharge of ballast water from ships. Rebecca Williams reports it’s the first time the agency has had to take responsibility for the problem:
A federal court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to start
regulating the discharge of ballast water from ships. Rebecca Williams
reports it’s the first time the agency has had to take responsibility for
Ballast water helps stabilize ships, but it can also carry foreign invasive
species that might harm local waterways.
For 30 years, the EPA has exempted ballast water from the Clean Water Act.
Now, the judge has given the EPA two years to come up with rules to limit
the discharge of ballast water.
Tim Eichenberg is with The Ocean Conservancy. The group is one of three
environmental groups that sued the EPA.
“Within two years, EPA should come up with something, some approach, that
could phase in a series of controls that could eliminate invasive species in
ballast water over a period of time.”
The shipping industry is concerned about having enough time to comply with
any new federal regulations.
Shippers already face some new laws at the state level. States such as
Michigan and California have passed their own laws restricting what ships
can do with their ballast in local waters.
Big city residents expect a lot out of urban parks. They want open space, things to do there, and literally, a place to breathe. But if the park’s beautiful, it’s bound to attract out of town visitors, who might make it crowded. Shawn Allee meets one man who wants to expand the welcome mat in his park:
Big city residents expect a lot out of urban parks. They want open space, things to do
there, and literally, a place to breathe. But if the park’s beautiful, it’s bound to attract out
of town visitors, who might make it crowded. Shawn Allee meets one man who wants to
expand the welcome mat in his park:
Grade-schoolers are busy romping around Chicago’s Grant Park. At first blush,
it doesn’t seem odd at all, but the sight surprises Bob O’Neill, a local parks advocate:
“When you think of a park, a lot of times you do think of children. Grant Park actually is
underrepresented in that demographic.”
But O’Neill wants to change all that and get more children in the park. One way would
be to bring one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions here. The Chicago Children’s
Museum lures half a million children each year, but its success has caused growing pains.
It’s outgrown its space on an isolated, tourist trap on Chicago’s lakefront and O’Neill
wants the museum’s kids in Grant Park.
“As they grow up their memories will be having gone to, and interacted with, and learned
from a premier children’s museum in Chicago’s front yard, surrounded by the high rises,
and using the outdoor space. I think it’s wonderful.”
O’Neill sees it like this: city high rises are an efficient use of land, but museum visitors
from the suburbs never see that. So, if the museum’s in the park, maybe kids will fondly
remember the urban landscape, but when he pitches this idea of moving the Children’s
“You might think that a toxic waste dump was proposed for Grant Park on its north end,
not a children’s museum.”
And what’s got him stumped most is who opposes it, namely, local parents.
Vicky Apostolis is one of them. She’s bringing her daughter to a field house for an art
(Daughter) “I made a flower…”
Apostolis says, when her neighbors got wind of the museum’s move, they sprung into
action. Before long, they’d gotten the local alderman and civic groups to oppose the plan.
For Apostolis, this park’s enormity is misleading. Developers are building more high
rises here, and each one will house hundreds of additional kids. She says, if you add the
museum’s visitors, the neighborhood will be awash in children and the park will be
overcrowded. Apostolis says people are drawn by the quality of life here, and this quiet
stretch of park is part of it:
“Everyone who has a family who has children, they know the value of going to a safe,
secure location that we can take our children, we can trust the people around there.
And there’s not a lot of car traffic either, that’s safe to get to.”
Apostolis says, if half a million annual visitors arrive, she and her daughter might get
“We have tourist attractions all over the city of Chicago, which are perfect – we love
tourists. However, we also want our neighborhoods, too.”
But parents groups aren’t the only ones watching this fight. Preservationists and urban
planners are taking note, too. Land-use expert John Crompton says Chicago should take
a hard look at the proposal:
“If these things are good things, and they obviously are, then they should find their own
niche in the world and not take it from parks.”
Crompton says green space is always on the defensive in public parks. There’s pressure
to fill it with something, say, a sports venue or, maybe, a museum:
“They see it as inexpensive land, and since it’s
leisure, we’ll put it there. I think that’s a totally wrong mindset. This is very expensive
land, it’s a very scarce and precious resource downtown, and in a hundred year’s time, what will
people think of us giving this up?”
Bob O’Neill is confident no one has to give up anything. After all, the museum would be
underground. But the parents fear out-of-town kids would still crowd the park, especially
in the summer. Again, O’Neill says it’s worth a try:
“The more that we can have children experience a downtown urban environment and all
the good and even some of the bad that goes with that, the better.”
On the other hand, the park’s high rise neighbors say they’re already living the urban good
life and they resent sacrificing today’s urban garden for a more crowded one in the future.
DeKalb County, close to Chicago in Illinois, is facing rapid urban sprawl. (Photo by Lester Graham)
Farmers are often tempted to sell their land to developers, who may have
plans to build strip malls, big box retail stores or subdivisions. (Photo by Lester Graham)
Some counties are trying to help farmers by paying the difference between
farmland value and development value in order to preserve green space. It's
called purchase of development rights. (Photo by Lester Graham)
Some counties near big cities are trying to save farmland from being developed into sprawling suburbs. Lester Graham reports the problem is finding money to fund programs that would preserve the rural character of an area:
Some counties near big cities are trying to save farmland from being developed into
sprawling suburbs. Lester Graham reports the problem is finding money to fund
programs that would preserve the rural character of an area:
The real value of land as farmland is a lot less than what a developer will pay for the land
to use it to build strip malls, big box retail stores, or subdivisions of wallboard mansions.
Farmers are tempted to sell when it means they’d make more money off the land selling it
to developers than they would farming for the rest of their lives, but many feel they’re forced into the situation. They don’t really want to give up life on
the farm. They just feel they’d be foolish to keep farming when they could make so much
money selling to a developer.
Some counties that want to preserve the rural character of their area are putting together a program
that helps farmers by paying them some of that difference between farmland value and
development value. It’s called the purchase of development rights.
Usually, local governments, sometimes state, pay farmers to waive that right to develop
the land forever. No one can build on it. The land has to be kept as open space.
There are lots of reasons state, county and city and township governments might want to
do that. Some politicians want to make sure their communities continue to be surrounded
by scenic green space. Some want to preserve the rural character of their community.
Some want to make sure they have a source for locally grown food.
Scott Everett is with the American Farmland Trust. He says it can come down to simple
economics. Some politicians like purchase of development rights for lower taxes:
“Because we won’t have to add public services. Cows don’t go to school. Chickens don’t
dial 9-1-1. Corn, wheat and soybeans need a lot less fire and police protection than
Everett says purchase of development rights is a long term plan and if a county sees its
farmland might be threatened in the future, it better get busy now:
“In an urban-influenced county, you know, there’s a county next door to a big
metropolitan area maybe like Chicago, one of the things that really ought to be happening
to counties that are next to that county is some planning needs to take place. It
takes a very long time for a purchase of development rights program to take ahold.”
We found a place that fits that description exactly. DeKalb County is on the fringes of
the Chicago metropolitan area. The counties between it and the city are seeing incredible
development pressures. Farmland is being gobbled up at a rate almost unparalleled in the
nation. DeKalb County is trying to draw a line that would stop urban sprawl and allow only
carefully planned growth.
Pat Vary is a DeKalb County board member. She’s watched as counties closer to
Chicago have gone from farmland to urban sprawl in almost no time. She doesn’t want that to happen to
DeKalb County and she says most of the towns don’t want that:
“Most of the municipalities have said, ‘We want to grow this far, but we want to keep
green space around us and we don’t want to go much further than that.’ There’s lots of
pressure from developers right now.”
Vary, who’s also a biologist, says as the population grows and farmland is lost, she sees a
moment in the future where land that produces food is going to be a lot more valuable
than it is today:
“I really think that in about thirty years, forty years from now, that an acre of farmland in
DeKalb County will be worth more than an acre of downtown Chicago. You can’t eat
buildings. You can’t eat pavement. People are going to need to eat. I really believe it’s
critical, it’s vital to do something fairly fast.”
But, as we heard earlier, it takes a while to get a purchase of development rights program
rolling. It has to be funded, usually from several levels of government, and then you
have to persuade farmers that dedicating their land to only growing crops is the right
thing to do.
Scott Everett with American Farmland Trust says successful purchase of
development rights start out slowly, but gain popularity after everyone sees how it works:
“It’s one of these programs where once one farmer does it, the other farmers next door
and the neighboring farmers really start taking a look at it and saying to themselves ‘You
know, if they’re going to make the commitment, I will, too.'”
But Everett warns, if your county is one of those urban-influenced counties, if a
purchase of development rights program isn’t put in place and funded soon, your
farmland will be gobbled up by gridlock, strip malls, and dotted with residential suburbs
that often cost the government more in infrastructure and additional services than the new
real estate taxes will ever pay for.
For the Environment Report, this is Lester Graham.
When you think of cougars, you usually think of the big cats roaming mountains in the West. But researchers say evidence of cougars in the Midwest has increased considerably over the last fifteen years. So far, scientists say, the big cats have not settled permanently in the region.
Bob Allen has more:
Researchers say confirmed evidence of cougars in the Midwest has
increased considerably over the last fifteen years, and the number of
unconfirmed sightings by the public ranges into the hundreds. But so
far, scientists say, the big cats have not settled in the region. Bob Allen
The Eastern Cougar Network tracks hard evidence of cougars in
Midwestern states. That means photos, DNA samples or a carcass
confirmed by an expert.
Clay Nielsen is a wildlife researcher at Southern Illinois University in
Carbondale. He’s the scientific advisor for the Cougar Network and he
thinks cougars likely are dispersing from Western states where their
population is growing but their habitat shrinking. He says carcasses
found in the Midwest mostly turn out to be young males:
“And so a major limitation of getting populations to become established
has a lot to do with females getting here. Because some of the habitat in
the Midwest especially the forested areas the big woods are going to be
probably good habitat for them.”
Wildlife scientists say there’s no confirmed breeding population of
cougars east of the Dakotas.
Researchers have been finding trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in rivers and lakes. Now, a new report suggests that the presence of Prozac in water bodies might be endangering freshwater mussels. Celeste Headlee has details:
A new report suggests that the presence of Prozac in natural water systems can increase
the risk of extinction for freshwater mussels. Celeste Headlee has details:
Many freshwater mussel species are already highly endangered. Experts say about 70
percent of the 300 known species of mussel in North America are extinct, endangered or
declining. Authors of the new study say even trace amounts of anti-depressants like
Prozac are dangerous to mussels because they interfere with reproduction.
Prozac and other prescription medications are flushed into sewer systems and then
released into rivers and streams. Researchers placed female mussels carrying larvae into
tanks with various concentrations of Prozac. Within two days, all of the mussels had
prematurely released their larvae, which then died.
The authors of the study say new wastewater treatment procedures might have to be
developed to filter out prescription and over-the-counter drugs before they reach