KGOU

Elizabeth Shogren

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This week, the federal government announced a record-breaking $5 billion settlement in a remarkable environmental case. The toxic legacy of the company involved, Kerr-McGee, stretches back 85 years and includes scores of sites across the country.

Kerr-McGee ran uranium mines in the Navajo Nation, wood-treating businesses across the Midwest and East Coast, and a perchlorate plant on a tributary of Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir — and it was messy.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Whale lovers scored a major victory today. For almost two decades, Japanese whalers have been killing whales in the Antarctic Ocean. The Japanese government claimed it was all for scientific, not commercial, purposes. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports that today, an international court rejected that claim and said the whaling must stop.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Earlier this year, a chemical spill in West Virginia forced officials to put a ban on drinking water that affected some 300,000 people. This also highlighted an unsettling truth: While officials test our drinking supply, they're only targeting a few chemicals. Many contaminants go undetected.

Here's NPR's Elizabeth Shogren.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: Toxic chemicals can make it into tap water for years without experts knowing it. That's because of a basic fact about how treatment plants test their water.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The spill in the Houston Ship Channel is another assault on one of the world's richest fishing grounds. The channel drains into the Gulf of Mexico and new research out today shows the Gulf's marine life is very vulnerable to the effects of oil. Much of what scientists have learned comes from studying the underwater leak of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig back in 2010. Here's NPR's Elizabeth Shogren.

On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine water. At the time, it was the single biggest spill in U.S. history. In a series of stories, NPR is examining the lasting social and economic impacts of the disaster, as well as the policy, regulation and scientific research that came out of it.

Twenty-five years of research following the Exxon Valdez disaster has led to some startling conclusions about the persistent effects of spilled oil.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas from oil and gas production. The rules require companies to find and repair equipment leaks. The rules also will reduce air pollution that contributes to smog.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday about the Environmental Protection Agency's first-ever greenhouse gas regulations for the biggest polluting facilities.

The case focuses on a 3-year-old requirement that companies get permits anytime they construct new plants or modify existing ones that will emit a lot of greenhouse gases.

EPA's supporters and most of its challengers agree this case is narrow in scope; the court's ruling is not expected to threaten EPA's broader strategy to fight global warming.

People who grow marijuana illegally in the backwoods of Northern California use large amounts of rat bait to protect their plants — and these chemicals are killing several species of wild animals, including rare ones, biologists say.

Here's what happens: The growers plant their marijuana in remote locations, hoping to elude detection. They irrigate their plants — with water from streams — which lures animals looking for water. Rodents chew the flourishing plants to get moisture, which kills the plants. Researchers believe that's the prime reason growers use the poisons.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We heard elsewhere in our program that conservation experts are meeting in London this week to try to crack down on the trade in illegal wildlife. Here in Washington, the White House announced yesterday new restrictions on the import and sale of African elephant ivory.

NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: Elephant ivory goes for $1,500 a pound. Rhino horn is worth its weight in gold - $45,000 a pound. Dan Ashe heads the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service.

The U.S. Department of State says Canada's production of tar sands crude, which has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than other types of oil, is unlikely to be affected by the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

That assessment came Friday as part of a massive environmental review by the State Department — the analysis fills 11 volumes.

The fact that a second contaminant in West Virginia's drinking water eluded detection for nearly two weeks — despite intense testing of the water — reveals an important truth about how companies test drinking water: In most cases, they only find the contaminants they're looking for.

The dolphin roundup by a Japanese community is an annual hunt. But this time, new U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy has weighed in with displeasure. That puts her on the side of several wildlife and animal rights advocates who've condemned the annual slaughter. The Japanese defend it as traditional — just as the U.S. does with native Alaskans who kill whales.

In desperation to save the rare northern spotted owl, biologists are doing something that goes against their core — shooting another owl that's rapidly taking over spotted owl territory across the northwest.

"If we don't do it, what we're essentially doing, in my view, is dooming the spotted owl to extinction," says Lowell Diller, senior biologist for Green Diamond, a timber company.

The chemical that was found last week to be contaminating the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of West Virginians is used to clean coal. But very little is known about how toxic it is to people or to the environment when it spills.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work in National Parks and forests in the Civilian Conservation Corps. President Obama's Secretary of the Interior wants to bring back that spirit, to create jobs and a new generation of conservationists.

But as NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports, it's not the easiest thing to do in tight budget times.

Archeologists who study the people who lived in the Arctic thousands of years ago are in a race against time. Coastal settlements are being washed away by erosion, storm surges and other climate changes related to global warming. Clues to the past that were frozen intact in permafrost for thousands of years are melting and being destroyed by the elements. Archeologists are looking to climate scientists to predict where the erosion will be the fastest so they can pinpoint their research on the places that will disappear the soonest.

The Endangered Species Act, which turns 40 on Saturday, helped bring back iconic species such as the wolf, grizzly bear and bald eagle, after hunting, trapping and pesticides almost wiped those animals out.

But a very different kind of threat — global warming — is pushing some species like the polar bear to the brink of extinction.

One government biologist discovered the best way he could help save polar bears was to quit his job.

A New Kind Of Conservation Problem

Pages