Report for America places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.
Report for America Corps Member Journalists are part of a movement to strengthen communities, and our democracy, through local journalism that is truthful, fair, fearless and smart. Report for America helps local newsrooms report on under-covered issues and communities by helping them find great emerging or experienced journalists and paying half their salary. Corps members are talented, service-oriented journalists who provide residents with the information they need to improve their communities and hold powerful institutions accountable.
Applications are open Dec. 8-Jan. 30.
The Society of Environmental Journalists is hosting an informational webinar on Dec 8 at noon CST. Attend this webinar to learn more about Report for America and how to apply for more than 100 full-time journalism positions, including many environmental positions, 10 of which will be offered through a partnership with the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the Society of Environmental Journalists. These 10 positions are part of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, a new collaborative network meant to boost coverage of environmental and agricultural issues throughout the river basin.
This report responds to Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which directed the Department of the Interior (DOI) to conduct a review of Federal oil and gas leasing and permitting practices. This report considers both onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing programs in light of the Secretary of the Interior’s broad stewardship responsibilities over public lands and Federal offshore waters.
The review found a Federal oil and gas program that fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers; inadequately accounts for environmental harms to lands, waters, and other resources; fosters speculation by oil and gas companies to the detriment of competition and American consumers; extends leasing into low potential lands that may have competing higher value uses; and leaves communities out of important conversations about how they want their public lands and waters managed.
Two Bratenahl residents are scheduled to argue before the Ohio Supreme Court next week that a state board should not have granted a certificate that will allow construction of the Icebreaker wind project on Lake Erie.
On Dec. 7, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear an appeal from W. Susan Dempsey and Robert M. Maloney against the Ohio Power Siting Board, the panel that reviews wind generation proposals and, when it deems appropriate under state law, provides certificates of environmental compatibility and public need, which are necessary for construction to begin. Icebreaker, if built, would be the first freshwater wind project in North America. It’s proposed as a demonstration project of six wind turbines, generating 20.7 megawatts of electricity.
A high-stakes effort to reform the Texas electric grid after deadly blackoutsin February may have an unexpected byproduct: a change in direction for renewables.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas has zeroed in on intermittent generation as a critical issue as it tries to boost grid reliability. Texas has the most installed wind energy capacity in the United States and a rising solar profile, so any new policies could have a significant impact on emissions and the electricity mix.
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the latest expansion of its Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program to accelerate the commercialization of clean energy technologies. Hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), West Gate will join three existing sites of the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program to equip scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs with the training, technical resources, and mentorship they need to develop next-generation technologies that will pave the way to a zero-carbon economy.
Through West Gate, up to five innovators will be selected via a competitive process and will each receive:
Two-year paid fellowships: Each fellowship provides an annual stipend of $100,000 with healthcare and relocation benefits for qualifying candidates.
National laboratory access and research funding: Participants will gain unparalleled access to NREL’s facilities, equipment, and expertise, as well as receive $175,000 of research and development funding to foster research collaboration.
Business mentors, entrepreneurial training, and networking: Fellows will have access to experienced business mentorship, entrepreneurial training programs, and exclusive networking opportunities. These programs will expose fellows to a wide range of leaders from academia, industry, government, and finance that can serve as advisors and partners.
The program is seeking scientists and engineers with novel ideas to decarbonize the manufacturing industry, deploy clean energy technologies that will reduce emissions across the U.S. economy, and support an equitable clean energy future made in America. Past Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program innovators have developed breakthrough technologies spanning American industries – from new materials to create higher efficiency solar panels to a biomanufacturing process to make fungi-based meat alternatives.
Interested participants should review the West Gate webpage for more information on program offerings, eligibility, and application instructions.
The Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs are primarily funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). Since the program’s inception in 2015, AMO has awarded more than $48 million to over 115 innovators running 93 start-ups. Program participants have gone on to attract over $520 million in additional federal funding and follow-on private funding from philanthropy, angel investors, venture capital, and strategic investors.
As the Biden administration prepares to make the biggest investment in U.S. infrastructure in more than a decade, there’s much discussion about how systems like roads, bridges and electric power grids affect people’s daily lives. Here’s an angle that’s received less attention: Wildlife depends on infrastructure too.
I’m studying how human-made structures affect salmon migration between freshwater streams and the Pacific Ocean. Washington state is home to five species of Pacific salmon: chum, pink, and the locally endangered sockeye, coho and Chinook. Salmon are commercially, environmentally and culturally important to the Northwest, and many people here follow their migrations.
To travel out to the sea and back inland to spawn, salmon have to pass through thousands of culverts – tunnels that carry streams beneath roads or railways. When culverts fall into disrepair or are blocked, water might still be able to pass through, but fish can’t. This can be a death sentence to fish that migrate.
Washington state has thousands of culverts that need repairs. Salmon are in critical decline, and fixing culverts could increase fish migration and reproduction.
This issue isn’t unique to the Pacific Northwest. Atlantic salmon in the U.S. Northeast are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. State and federal agencies have undertaken significant habitat restoration and conservation efforts, particularly in Maine, to boost salmon populations. These initiatives, which are projected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming decades, involve actions such as removing river dams. New infrastructure investments could help salmon, as well as people, get where they need to go.
From streams to the sea and back
Most salmon are anadromous: They are born in streams, dine on aquatic insects and then make their way downstream to live the majority of their adult lives in the ocean. Then, one to seven years later, depending on the species, they return to the streams where they were born to reproduce.
Salmon are at the top of many rivers’ complex food chains. They are a primary food source for orcas found off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. And they play vital roles in maintaining the health of the state’s waterways by providing essential nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Salmon also hold significant cultural value for Indigenous peoples, who have fought to maintain tribal fishing rights on Washington’s rivers in the face of dam construction and lack of culvert maintenance.
An uphill journey to spawn
Anadromous salmons’ arduous journey upstream to reproduce can cover several thousand miles. Once the fish pass through estuaries – tidal zones where rivers meet the ocean – they stop feeding, using all their energy to swim.
When roads cross over streams or creeks, engineers build culverts to maintain the flow of water. They can be made of concrete, steel or other materials, in various shapes, but usually they are arches or tubes. Maintaining a stream’s flow prevents flooding, which is good for the roadway and everyone around it, and supports the animals living in the waterway.
Migrating fish depend on accessible waterways. Young salmon and other anadromous species need to reach the ocean – where there is space to disperse and much more abundant high-energy food than in fresh water – in order to mature and grow to large sizes.
And since water flows downhill, returning upstream to reproduce is literally an uphill battle. Salmon are powerful fish and can bypass some natural barriers by jumping out of the water, but they can’t get around obstructed culverts.
Repairs and rights
Unfortunately, many culverts that are meant to keep streams and rivers accessible to fish are in disrepair, congested or completely blocked. This interferes with fishing rights that the U.S. government granted to Northwest Tribes in 19th-century treaties.
In 2001, 21 of Washington’s treaty tribes took the state to court to force it to repair or replace culverts that would ensure safe passage for salmon and other fish. In 2013, a U.S. District Court judge set deadlines to repair Washington’s worst culverts.
The state appealed the ruling, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it. As a result, the state now faces a 2030 deadline to repair 490 of its most problematic culverts. In 2018 Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife conservatively estimated that the state had 20,000 impaired culverts, including those affected by the federal injunction.
Washington’s Fish Barrier Removal Board oversees culvert repair projects. It includes appointees from many state organizations, but none from the treaty tribes involved in the litigation. The board has approved about eight funded repair or replacement projects per year since 2017, but it needs to fund at least 36 per year to meet the injunction deadline.
Compared with these benefits, I see investments to fix culverts and make the state’s infrastructure more environmentally friendly as a bargain. As human populations increase and development pushes deeper into wild areas, I believe there will be a growing need for measures like this that can help people coexist safely with wild species.
Infracapital, the infrastructure team at international savings and investments business M&G plc, announced today the final close of its latest greenfield infrastructure investment strategy, raising €1.5 billion from a global investor base to invest in sustainable European infrastructure.
Welcome back to “Women in Circularity,” where we shine a light on women moving us toward a circular economy. This month, I connected with an EPA scientist and advisor who is an expert in sustainable materials management: Kimiko Link. Kimiko is an environmental scientist and project officer for the U.S. EPA Region 2 materials management, disaster recovery and resilience programs. Kimiko leverages citizen participation and public engagement in creative problem solving, and continually seeks to crowd-source and crowd-vet local and global solutions.