Citizen Science Association Conference — May 17-20, 2017 — Minneapolis

This conference offers the opportunity to make face-to-face connections with leaders in areas of science, policy, conservation, science education and citizen science practice to inspire social responsibility through participation in citizen science.

Program Highlights

Thursday, May 18th
Dr. Marc Edwards
is the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering in The Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. With the support of an NSF grant, and most importantly, engaged citizens, Edwards was instrumental in demonstrating Flint, MI dangerously contaminated water. Citizen LeAnne Walters, a Flint citizen and mother of four, and member of Coalition for Clean Water, will join Edwards to discuss how they worked together to bring Flint’s water crisis to national, and international, attention.

Friday, May 19th
Dr. Ellen Jorgensen is co-founder and Executive Director of Genspace, a community biolab. She is passionate about science literacy in both student and adult populations, particularly in molecular and synthetic biology. In 2011 she initiated Genspace’s award-winning curriculum of informal science education for adults in biotechnology and synthetic biology. Ellen has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from New York University, spent many years in the biotechnology industry, and is currently adjunct faculty at New York Medical College, the School of Visual Arts, and a Visiting Professor at The Cooper Union. She is @FeyScientist on Twitter.

Registration is Now Open for NEEF’s National Environmental Education Week

Register now for the 13th annual National Environmental Education (EE) Week sponsored by the National Environmental Education Foundation. EE Week will be held from April 23-29, 2017. Registration provides you with resources for educators, resources for everyone and advance notice of special events and activities during EE Week.


First evidence found of popular farm pesticides in drinking water

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Of the many pesticides that American farmers have embraced in their war on bugs, neonicotinoids are among the most popular. One of them, called imidacloprid, is among the world’s best-selling insecticides, boasting sales of over $1 billion a year. But with their widespread use comes a notorious reputation — that neonics, as they are nicknamed, are a bee killer. A 2016 study suggested a link between neonicotinoid use and local pollinator extinctions, though other agricultural researchers contested the pesticides’ bad rap.

As the bee debate raged, scientists studying the country’s waterways started to detect neonicotinoid pollutants. In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey collected water samples from streams throughout the United States and discovered neonicotinoids in more than half of the samples.

And on Wednesday, a team of chemists and engineers at the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Iowa reported that they found neonicotinoids in treated drinking water. It marks the first time that anyone has identified this class of pesticide in tap water, the researchers write in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs

Read the full story in the Washington Post. The Alliance for Water Efficiency has posted the memo detailing all of the cuts here.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 percent of its employees and scrapping 56 programs including pesticide safety, water runoff control, and environmental cooperation with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

A Comparison of Major Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tools

Lakshika Nishadhi Kuruppuarachchi, Ashok Kumar, Matthew Franchetti (2017). “A Comparison of Major Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tools.” Environmental Management and Sustainable Development 6(1), 60-71.

Abstract: The concept of Environmental Justice (EJ) has evolved in United Sates for more than 30 years. Since then most empirical studies have shown that low-income and minority neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards. Across the world, communities are struggling to protect their land, air, water, forests, and their livelihoods from damaging projects and activities with heavy environmental and social impacts. A Number of tools already exist to identify and map those areas with potential environmental justice concerns. This paper presents a comparison of the three major EJ tools; EJSCREEN (version 2016), CalEnviroScreen 2.0, EJ Atlas and their methodologies. There are some common parameters across these tools in presenting Environmental Justice and in identifying environmentally burdened communities, socially burdened communities, or both. Environmental burdens can include any environmental pollutant, hazard or disadvantage that compromises the health of a community. The tools are expected to help in understanding and studying the distribution of environmental benefits and burdens, decision making for disadvantaged communities in certain areas and in setting up environmental policies and planning.

Ohio EPA Announces New Online Materials Marketplace

Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler is in Sandusky today to announce the launch of a new online service whereby Ohio businesses, not-for-profits and government organizations can advertise and acquire potentially useful products and materials that might otherwise be destined for disposal in landfills. The new Ohio Materials Marketplace (OMM) is a free online platform allowing these organizations to connect and find solutions to material reuse and recycling needs.

“With statewide access to thousands of Ohio’s businesses, communities and other organizations, Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental & Financial Assistance (DEFA) is well positioned to bring members together in this modern online marketplace,” Director Butler said. “This new service positions Ohio as a leader in the circular economy, helping remove materials from the waste stream, promoting jobs and allowing for better efficiency and savings in the processes of creating goods and services.”

Examples of materials posted on OMM (and their potential re-uses) might include common items such as bulk wooden pallets (mulch base) or used bricks (building materials). Other items might reflect materials from industrial processes such as spent foundry sand (to be mixed with potting soil), or specialized items such as spent hydro-treating catalyst (metals recovery).

Along with browsing for materials, users of OMM can post “wanted” items that might substitute for raw materials or other items members currently purchase. Examples of such requests that have been posted thus far include bulk alumina oxide (for metals harvesting/recovery) and bulk food waste in packaging (to be used for anaerobic digestion/energy recovery).

What differentiates the Ohio Materials Marketplace from other online markets is that the platform is active in design and functionality rather than passive. Previous models (such as the Ohio Materials Exchange) and similar services in other states worked as a simple bulletin board with little or no engagement by the host. The new OMM is maintained by Ohio EPA which markets the site to potential users, verifies that users (and items posted) meet qualifications to participate, and actively works to facilitate connections between users. The site is specifically designed as a business-to-business or business-to-community exchange for recyclables and reusable materials.

In the circular economy, products and by-products recirculate productively through reuse, remanufacturing, recycling and maintenance. Users of OMM can make or save money by finding a market for their unwanted materials and avoiding landfill tipping fees; buyers save money by having access to sellers’ discounted (or free) materials; Ohio’s environment benefits by having more material removed from the waste stream.

The program is being launched with support from the not-for-profit United States Business Council for Sustainable Development. More information about OMM is available online:

London sculpture spotlights the deadly relationship between seabirds and plastic

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

The last time environmental activist and underwater sculptor par excellence Jason deCaires Taylor worked in London, it was on “Rising Tides,” a hauntingly ephemeral installation positioned in the River Thames that served as commentary on rising sea levels and our unquenchable thirst for fossil fuels.

Taking the form of four prophetic horsemen — two children, two bureaucratic-looking gents in suits and ties — straddling oil pumpjack-headed equines, “Rising Tides” was as provocative as urban statuary gets. Centered around plastic-barfing seabirds, Taylor’s latest work — a somewhat rare terrestrial piece that’s not fully or partially submerged underwater — is no different, perhaps even a bit more startling than its predecessor. As it should be.

New York, other states take on Trump over energy efficiency

Read the full story from Reuters.

A coalition of U.S. states has mounted a broad legal challenge against what it called the Trump administration’s illegal suspension of rules to improve the energy efficiency of ceiling fans, portable air conditioners and other products.

The Green Room: The Carbon Dividends Plan: A Breakthrough on CO2?

Read the full story from WEMU.

Carbon taxes are a seemingly simple way to deal with the climate crisis. As the price of fossil fuels goes up, consumption goes down.   But fears of negative economic impacts have kept the idea from moving forward in the U.S.  Now, a group of leading Republican elders has a proposal that goes a step further.  They call it “Carbon Dividends,” because the taxes collected are returned to the public.  What is the local reaction?  In this installment of WEMU’s “Green Room” series, Barbara Lucas sets out to find out.

Ballast water can harbor invasive viruses, study says

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Ballast water entering the Great Lakes may contain viruses dangerous to wildlife and humans, according to a recent study published by the American Chemical Society.