environment

The Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canadian oil sands down to the U.S. Gulf Coast, isn't just an infrastructure project. It's also a symbol for the fight over the future of energy.

Producing oil from Alberta's tar sands emits more pollution than traditional oil drilling, so many environmentalists want that crude left in the ground. And more broadly, they want the world to turn away from climate-changing fossil fuels toward cleaner forms of energy, like wind and solar.

Eric Knapp breaks apart a burned pine cone, looking for seeds — in his line of work this is considered a clue.

"Going into an area after a fire, you almost feel like CSI, you know, sleuthing," Knapp says.

He is standing in a part of the Stanislaus National Forest that was severely burned by the Rim Fire. Knapp, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, is studying how forests recover.

"It's completely dead," he says. "These trees won't be coming back to life."

A lot of the forest was charred like this.

Rally kicks off Sustainability Week at MU

Apr 21, 2014
columns at university of missouri
File Photo / KBIA

Just in time for Earth Day, the University of Missouri kicked off its third annual Sustainability Week.

Abigail Keel, ColumbiaFAVS.com

Three years ago, Larry Lile became his own boss. He started a consulting group that does energy audits of businesses and helps plan sustainable buildings.

His favorite part is the short walk to work: “I have about a 15-step walk to the office.”

But Lile also finds purpose in his work. Energy decisions, he said, are some of the most important issues we as a culture are making. He is dedicated helping businesses see that sustainable decisions are not only more ethical, but also economical. His personal life is proof of that.

Updated Thursday 10:15 p.m.

The Sierra Club says Ameren has been routinely violating air quality standards at its St. Louis-area power plants.

In a Notice of Intent to Sue delivered to Ameren on Wednesday afternoon, the Sierra Club alleges the company's Labadie, Meramec, and Rush Island plants have exceeded air pollution limits almost 10,000 times since 2008.

Sierra Club threatens suit over Ameren air quality

Dec 12, 2013
machinecodeblue via Flickr

An environmental group says it plans to soon sue utility provider Ameren over what it calls repeated violations of federal air pollution standards.

The Sierra Club told Ameren Corp. it plans legal action in the next 60 days over what the group says are nearly 10,000 violations of the Clean Air Act since 2008 at coal-fired power plants in St. Louis, Jefferson and Franklin counties

The alleged violations involve the amount of soot released from smokestacks at the Meramec, Labadie and Rush Island plants.

Clay Masters for Harvest Public Media

Thanks to tight competition, hog farmers are feeling a push to expand or get out of the business. That means indoor confined animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, are growing, even in the most environmentally sensitive areas.

The hog industry’s impact on the water supply is worrying many residents of northeast Iowa’s Winneshiek County, near Decorah.

Kate Grumke / KBIA

Arborists and tree lovers from across Missouri joined together Tuesday to care for the famous "Big Tree," just South of Columbia, a Bur Oak that is hundreds of years old- and starting to show its age.

Energy farm
USDA

An environmental group is heading to court in another attempt to change the way Missouri officials have implemented a 2008 ballot initiative about renewable energy.

The initiative requires investor-owned utilities to tap renewable energy sources for at least 5 percent of their electricity by 2014, with that amount gradually rising to 15 percent by 2021.

Updated at 5:00 p.m.

A St. Louis-based environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to provide information about a multi-state oil pipeline project.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment says the Corps unlawfully withheld documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation that would have shielded a Missouri lead mining company from punitive damages in some contamination lawsuits.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Eleven miles northeast of Centralia, Mo., five U.S. Geological Survey scientists don waders and bright reflective life jackets to wade into Goodwater Creek. Plenty of fish live in the stream’s murky slow-moving waters, along with snakes, crayfish, mussels and snapping turtles. On this overcast morning, the team collects water samples and checks submerged cages of fathead minnows for eggs.

Environmental groups are once again urging state officials to require groundwater monitoring at Ameren’s coal-fired power plants in eastern Missouri.

The Sierra Club and Labadie Environmental Organization submitted a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Thursday asking the state not to allow Ameren to build new coal ash landfills before testing groundwater for contamination.

Updated Wednesday, May 22, 5:30 p.m.: The Department of Health & Senior Services is also posting its evaluations of the air monitoring data here. The regulatory standards that DHSS is using to estimate the health risks from landfill fumes are here.

faucet
Jenn Durfey / flickr

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department collected almost 650 pounds of prescription drugs from drop-off locations around Boone County in a drug pick-up event this past weekend … and the sheriff’s department reports there is an increase in people dropping off prescriptions for environmental reasons.

gliuoo / Flickr

Nearing the end of one of the warmest years on record, local researchers and healthcare professionals are urging Mid-Missourians to take steps to cope with the rising temperatures. 

Kellie Kotraba/ColumbiaFAVS / KBIA

Religion was one of those things Cliff Cain's mother raised him not to talk about in public – that, along with politics and sex.

With religion alone, he's breaking that rule – in his words, "Religion is as polarizing as politics and as passionate as sex."

Cain is a religious studies professor at Westminster College in Fulton, and he was the chair of the committee for the school's annual symposium. This year, the topic was religion, and more than 40 experts came to give lectures and facilitate discussions. 

Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Herculaneum, Mo., a small town on the bluffs above the Mississippi River, was always a company town.  The company, Doe Run, is the largest lead producer in North America, trucking in lead from Missouri's rich mines to a 120-year-old smelter on the river.  For 25 years, the smelter didn't meet federal air standards for lead, and now, after decades of battling government regulators and angry parents, Doe Run is leaving town at the end of next year.


File / KBIA

Columbia area residents and officials have started developing recommendations for cleaning up a local waterway.

puakrus / flickr

The Missouri Department of Conservation says zebra mussels have been found in Smithville Lake, a reservoir north of Kansas City.

Mo News Horizon / Flickr

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to spend $1.25 million to settle claims over a southwest Missouri contractor's disposal of unsold products such as charcoal, potting soil, herbicides and pesticides.

City takes aim at energy efficiency in rental units

Mar 8, 2012
Kelly Sims / Flikr

The City of Columbia wants rental property owners to make their units more energy efficient. The city's first step is to find out just how efficient – or inefficient – those houses and apartments are.

Bill Bumgarner / flikr

Boone County and the City of Columbia are using a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to study storm-water runoff into Bear Creek, north of I-70. A task force will focus on reducing pollutants, which flow directly into the creek, untreated.  

ozark riverways sign
Jimmy Wayne / Flickr

This week on the show: why aren't the candidates for President talking about agricultural issues? Plus: environmental groups petition the National Park Service to take better care of Missouri rivers.

Mark Morgan, University of Missouri

A statewide coalition of environmental groups and advocates has submitted five thousand signed petitions to the National Park Service, urging the agency to do more to protect the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri. As St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra reports, the coalition is pushing for more enforcement and a stronger management plan for the Current and Jacks Fork rivers.