Fish prefer plastic to natural prey

Read the full story in Resource magazine.

When grown, fish that were exposed to microplastics as larvae prefer to eat plastic rather than their natural prey and are less active and responsive to predator cues, threatening the sustainability of entire species, according to research published today (3 June).

A study by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden, published in the Science journal, exposed Eurasian perch larvae to ‘environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic polystyrene particles’, and found that they exhibited changed behaviours and stunted growth that led to ‘greatly increased mortality rates’.


Washington limits carbon pollution from largest sources

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Washington state regulators on Wednesday unveiled an updated plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters, the latest attempt by Gov. Jay Inslee to push ahead with a binding cap on carbon emissions after struggling to win approval from legislators.

E3 Sustainability Tools

On this page, you will find more than 60 tools/resources that E3 has assembled to help participants, stakeholders, and assessment teams address various area of improvement.

Green Infrastructure Cost-Benefit Resources

Green infrastructure can be a cost-effective approach to improve water quality and help communities stretch their infrastructure investments further by providing multiple environmental, economic, and community benefits. On this page, learn more about how other communities have realized cost savings through their green infrastructure programs as well as about tools you can use to inform your own cost-benefit analysis.

Healthy Materials

Read the full story in Architectural Record.

If there’s one thing architects know, it’s materials. Attention to detail? It practically defines the profession. Now, however, as awareness of building materials’ environmental and health impacts grows, architects are being asked to consider materials at an even smaller scale: molecular.

Funding: Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Water for Agriculture Challenge Area

This AFRI Challenge Area addresses critical water resources issues such as drought, excess soil moisture, flooding, quality and others in an agricultural context. Funding will be used to develop management practices, technologies, and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners and managers, public decision makers, public and private managers, and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality. The long-term goal of the AFRI Water for Agriculture Challenge Area is to tackle critical water issues by developing both regional systems for the sustainable use and reuse, flow and management of water, and at the watershed and farm scales, water issues focused on production and environmental sustainability efforts. Project types supported within this Challenge area are multi-function Integrated Research, Education, and/or Extension Projects and Food and Agricultural Enhancement (FASE) Grants.

In FY 2016, applications are sought in the following priority areas:

  1. Water Availability for Diverse Agricultural Uses: The Right Water for the Right Place and Time
  2. Understanding Decisions and Behaviors Connected with Agriculture and Post-harvest Processing Industry Water Use
  3. Understanding the Human Health Impacts to Exposure from Nontraditional Water Used in Agriculture

Proposals are due August 4, 2016.

Grocery Manufacturers Association: Date Labeling ‘Not THE Solution to Food Waste’

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Date labeling food to help prevent food waste is important, but it’s not the “silver bullet” for reducing food waste, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, whose 300 member companies include Coca-Cola, General Mills and Kraft Foods.

Last week GMA’s senior director of sustainability Meghan Stasz testified at a US House Agriculture Committee hearing addressing the issue of food waste across the food supply chain.

The hearing comes several months after the US government set a goal to cut food waste in half by 2030 and one week after Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) introduced legislation to clarify dates on food labels and combat waste. The legislation would standardize food labels, requiring packaging for shelf-stable food to indicate “best if used by” and “expires on” for perishable foods such as raw meat and eggs.

Can Scientists Help Crack California’s Drought Conditions? For Industry’s Sake, Let’s Hope So

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

We are a thirsty nation. We consume nearly 1,500 gallons of water each day, with three-quarters of it going to supply industry and to create energy, as well as for food and fiber to feed the masses. The rest goes to homes and businesses.

These practices are unsustainable in the long term, but in water-short California they’re already coming to a head. After several years of drought with little relief, the state and its electricity providers want to make sure there is enough water to keep industry humming, and to serve the agricultural industry. Possible?

Well, it has to be. But the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is working on a solution that tries to understand the balance between energy and water. With the twin challenges of population growth and climate change adding to the resource pressures, Berkeley Lab’s Water Resilience Initiative aims to use science and technology to optimize coupled water-energy systems and guide investments in such systems.

Energy Department Awards Up to $4 Million for Projects to Recover Critical Materials from Geothermal Fluids

The Energy Department today announced four research and development (R&D) projects in California, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming that will receive up to $4 million in total funding to assess the occurrence of rare-earth minerals and other critical materials that may be dissolved in higher-temperature fluids associated with energy extraction. Critical materials like rare-earth elements and lithium play a vital role in many clean energy technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting. More of these materials—which are of high value or critical to U.S. businesses and other national interests—may become available and economically recoverable through this research.

By validating methods for recovering and purifying critical materials, the economic and production benefits of geothermal energy projects can be improved, making them more cost-competitive at a wider range of locations. These valuable minerals could also be found in elevated temperature fluids produced by oil, gas, or mining operations. The selected projects will research breakthrough approaches for extracting these materials and quantifying this resource potential, which represents an opportunity to help meet America’s need for domestic critical materials while strengthening the economic viability of geothermal energy operations.

Examining how to economically recover these dissolved materials represents one of a range of R&D efforts the Department is pursuing to secure and diversify the supply of critical materials, identify substitute materials, and develop better ways to recycle these materials. Results from this work will enhance current applications of geothermal energy, support planned development, and potentially open additional U.S. regions for future projects.

The selected R&D projects are:

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Livermore, California—LLNL will use bioengineered microbes in the design and operation of a rare-earth enrichment and separation process to efficiently deliver high-purity products from geothermal fluids.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, Washington—PNNL will demonstrate a magnetic nanofluid approach to recover rare-earth minerals and other high-value materials from geothermal fluids.
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah—University of Utah will perform a resource assessment of the western United States to identify high-value materials in geothermal fluids and other fluids produced from energy projects.
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming—University of Wyoming will assess rare-earth element concentrations in waters produced by geothermal and oil and gas projects.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Visit to learn more about EERE’s Geothermal Technologies Office, funding opportunities, and efforts to develop innovative technologies capable of locating, accessing, and developing geothermal resources.  View this Energy 101 video to learn more about how geothermal works.