This Week in Eco News - May 3, 2013

Happy Friday! We're kicking off this week's compilation of Eco News stories with a link to our Best of the Web Video feature. We alternate weekly to share the best in food, water and energy videos from around the web along with the news stories we follow, circulate internally and publish synopses of throughout the week. You can find them all week long — in real time — in the column to the right, just above our Best of the Web Video viewer. You can also sign up to receive Eco News via email each Thursday. If you see a story you think we should include, drop us a line at blog@gracelinks.org.

Best of the Web Video - Food

Dance of the Honey Bee
A gorgeous short film about the importance of the honey bee. A Miro Challenge final film produced, directed, photographed & edited by Peter Nelson, original music by John Powell, narrated by Bill McKibben, founder 350.org.

Take Action:
Learn more or join in the BEE Protective Campaign, an education effort focused on local actions to protect honeybees and other pollinators.

Food

Federal Bill Would Require Labeling of Genetically Modified Food
US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have introduced legislation to require the FDA to clearly label genetically engineered foods so consumers can make informed choices about the foods they eat. [Raw Story]

Over 100 Restaurants to Participate in ''Food Waste Challenge''
Mayor Bloomberg has announced that more than 100 restaurants will participate in the first-ever Food Waste Challenge, a new New York City program aimed at reducing the amount of food waste sent to landfills and the greenhouse gases that waste produces. [Mike Bloomberg]

Study Finds Antibiotic-Free Turkey Less Likey to Harbor Resistant Bacteria
A new study by Consumer Reports reveals that ground turkey from birds raised without antibiotics is less likely to be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than conventional ground turkey. [Food Safety News]

Venture Capitalists Are Making Bigger Bets on Food Start-Ups
The next big thing in tech is food! In the last year, venture capital firms in Silicon Valley have invested about $350 million into food projects, and investment deals in the sector were 37 percent higher than the previous year. In 2008, that figure was less than $50 million. [New York Times]

Bee-Harming Pesticides Banned in Europe
Big news! A European commission voted on Monday to enforce a continent-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, which are largely thought to be responsible for the dramatic decline in bee populations. [The Guardian]

Venture Capitalists Are Making Bigger Bets on Food Start-Ups
The next big thing in tech is food! In the last year, venture capital firms in Silicon Valley have invested about $350 million into food projects, and investment deals in the sector were 37 percent higher than the previous year. In 2008, that figure was less than $50 million. [New York Times]

Indiana Lawmakers Went Home Without ''Ag-Gag''
Some good news out of Indiana: The state legislature refused to pass an "ag-gag" bill that would criminalize whistleblowers who expose animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, environmental destruction and other illegal and unethical activities on industrial operations. [Food Safety News]

Public School 244 In Queens First In NYC To Adopt All-Vegetarian Menu
Public School 244 has become the first school in New York City, and possibly the country, to go vegetarian. The school now offers an all-vegetarian menu for its breakfast and lunch programs. [Huffington Post]

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria: Big Ag Washes Its Hands of Any Responsibility
Andrew Gunther of Animal Welfare Approved explains why the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is changing everything, and how Big Ag is ignoring this looming public health threat. [Huffington Post]

Local Food - Put a Sticker On It!
The city of Chicago is rolling out a new local food label to appear on signs around the city, as well as fruits, veggies, herbs and eventually processed foods like kombucha and jams. The label is designed to support the city's growing urban farming and local food movement. [Grist]

Water

Towns, Ecologists Seek Climate-Friendly Culverts
A fresh redesign of the lowly roadside culvert could help wildlife - from fish to bobcats - safely "get to the other side" of the road. Simultaneously, this could manage the torrential runoff that occurs with heavy rains - events projected to happen more frequently because of climate change. [AP]

Bottled Water Good for the Planet, Said IBWA
The International Bottled Water Assn. (IBWA), just in time for Earth Day celebrations, promoted bottled water as an eco-friendly product. Uuuhhhm, yeah... [Food Production Daily]

What Happens When Asia's 'Water Tower' Dries Up?
A four-year drought - the worst in 60 years - in parts of Asia is significantly dropping water levels of springs, streams and lakes and raising this question: Could climate change make mountain glaciers retreat so much that the ice melt that helps provides freshwater to millions will be in jeopardy? [E&E News]

Colorado ''Most Endangered'' American River
And the biggest loser on American Rivers' 2013 "Most Endangered River" list is...the Colorado River. See what National Geographic, Take Part and others are doing to help restore the River through their Change the Course campaign. [Chance of Rain]

Relief for a Parched Delta
Since the Colorado River no longer reaches the Gulf of Mexico, the once-fertile river delta has all but dried up. Mexico is hopeful that environmentally-minded US water releases stipulated by Minute 319, an amendment to the Colorado River treaty, will restore some vigor to the delta. [New York Times]

Insight: Sea-level Tipping Points Affect Groundwater Quality Near Coast
In arid and semi-arid coastline regions already susceptible to climate change variation, another problem might rise with the sea level: salt water intrusion of freshwater aquifers. A recent study finds that sea water may enter aquifers if a tipping point is reached. [Environmental Research Web]

In Love With My Planet
Famed photographer and author, Sebastião Salgado, is interviewed about the upcoming release of his book "Genesis," the revelation that he "fell in love" with the Earth and his personal commitment to help restore the rainforest on his parent's land in Brazil. (See the website for the photo slideshow.) [New York Times]

New Rain Could Mean Worse Flooding in Drenched Midwest
The weather forecasts predict more rain, snow - and flooding - in the coming days. Flooding along the Illinois River is especially bad and might crest to record levels. [CBS]

Big Changes in the Country's Drought Profile this Week
Thankfully, because of a number of big storms in 2013, the area of the United States in moderate to exceptional drought slid below 50 percent for the first time in a year. In fact, there has been so much rain and snow in the Mississippi River Basin that record flooding could happen as even more storms are predicted to hit. Drought or deluge anyone? [E&E News]

Is Oklahoma Going to Run Out of Water?
Just as Oklahoma prepares for its Supreme Court legal fight with Texas over water supplies, some residents and officials in water-rich parts fear their brethren in rapidly growing Oklahoma City will slurp up too much water, which could lead to in-state legal problems. With a shift towards a drier climate expected, lower water use must be part of the plan. [NewsOK]

Energy

Fertilizer Plants Spring Up to Take Advantage of Cheap Natural Gas in the US
There haven't been any new ammonia plants, which produce fertilizer, built in the US in 20 years. But thanks to cheap natural gas supplies, there are now 14 ammonia plants proposed which could produce nearly 12 million tons of fertilizer...along with large amounts of CO2 emissions.  [Scientific American]

Power Grids Iffy, Populous Areas Go for Generators
The number of gasoline generators installed by homeowners is rising rapidly after recent extreme storms and power outages, a reflection of not just a changing climate but aging power grids. Sounds like a great opportunity to seize upon this interest in renewable distributed generation. [New York Times]

Listen in on the first 30 seconds of this podcast to hear the deafening, explosive noise caused by undersea air gun testing used to search for oil and gas beneath the seafloor. These blasts could become common off of the US east coast if a proposed plan is approved, causing concern for sea life.

Three Injured in Fuel Barge Explosion in Mobile River
More evidence of the dangers associated with the fossil fuel industry: Three people cleaning fuel barges in Alabama were hurt when vapors from the barges caused six explosions scattered over three hours. [Birmingham News]

Court Orders EPA to Impose Power Plant Water Pollution Rule
The utility industry lost a court battle to delay new EPA rules that would require power plants to clean up the arsenic, lead and other pollutants that the plants release into the nation's waterways. [Environmental News Service]

EPA Lowered Estimates of Methane Leaks During Natural Gas Production
The EPA revised its estimates of methane emissions from natural gas production, reporting that there's been an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, a 20-percent reduction from previous estimates. But as Bill McKibben comments, we still need a dramatic shift off carbon-based fuel. [FuelFix]

NRC Cautions Power Plants on Water Damage and Spent Fuel Containers
After discovering corrosion and cracking in dry casks used to store spent nuclear fuel, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent out a notice last week explaining how to keep water damage from damaging these containers commonly used at US nuclear plants. [York Daily Record]

Air Gun Blasts Shatter Undersea Tranquility
Listen in on the first 30 seconds of this podcast to hear the deafening, explosive noise caused by undersea air gun testing used to search for oil and gas beneath the seafloor. These blasts could become common off of the US east coast if a proposed plan is approved, causing concern for sea life. [Scientific American]

Energy Efficiency Means Lower Utility Bills, Less Mortgage Risk
Here's a compelling reason to invest in home energy efficiency: The risk of mortgage default is one-third lower for people with energy efficient homes because lower utility bills could be the difference between making the next mortgage payment. [Christian Science Monitor]

Pipeline Slurry Spills Threaten Wetlands
The Ohio EPA is demanding that the oil and gas industry reduce the numerous recent spills (called "inadvertent returns") of lubricants used to dig tunnels for natural gas pipelines. There are 138 pipelines in the state in various stages of planning that link shale wells to processing plants. [Columbus Dispatch]

In Texas and Nationwide, Many Shales Left to Explore
Geologists say that we have just begun to tap the many oil and gas shales in the US, but even with fracking technology many shales will be too expensive or too small to develop, especially if oil prices fall or environmental regulations tighten. [Texas Tribune]

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