Solar panels aren’t designed to be recycled—which is a $15 billion mistake

Read the full story at Fast Company.

For emerging technologies to be truly sustainable, they need to be designed with the circular economy in mind from the start.

EPA moves to crack down on dangerous coal ash storage ponds

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking its first major action to address toxic wastewater from coal-burning power plants, ordering utilities to stop dumping waste into unlined storage ponds and speed up plans to close leaking or otherwise dangerous coal ash sites.

Plants in four states will have to close the coal ash ponds months or years ahead of schedule, the EPA said Tuesday, citing deficiencies with groundwater monitoring, cleanup or other problems.

Virginia Democrats aim to block Trump’s EPA chief from state agency

Read the full story in the New York Times.

A rare confirmation battle is brewing around the nomination of Andrew Wheeler, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald J. Trump, to take a similar role in an incoming Republican state administration in Virginia.

Democratic leaders said they would try to block Mr. Wheeler from taking charge of conservation programs, environmental cleanups and climate change initiatives like the ones he opposed as E.P.A. administrator.

Protecting the Integrity of Government Science

Download the document and read Nature’s take on it.

This report is the first product of the SI-FTAC. As called for in the 2021 Presidential Memorandum, it assesses scientific integrity policies of Federal departments and agencies and instances in which they have not been followed or enforced, and it identifies effective practices for strengthening scientific integrity in specific areas, including training and transparency in scientific integrity, handling scientific disagreements, supporting professional development of Federal scientists, addressing emerging challenges to scientific integrity, and effective communication of the results of Federal scientific activities. The report is intended to assist Federal departments and agencies in creating or updating scientific integrity policies and implementing effective practices. It was developed by the SI-FTAC with contributions from other Federal Government staff, extensive public engagement, and support from the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Advancing Equity in Utility Regulation

Download the document.

Salt Lake City librarian cares for library’s bees in backyard during rooftop renovations

Read the full story in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Amber Lawvor is taking the Beehive State to heart — and home.

The enormous hole that whaling left behind

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

In the 20th century, the largest animals that have ever existed almost stopped existing. Baleen whales—the group that includes blue, fin, and humpback whales—had long been hunted, but as whaling went industrial, hunts became massacres. With explosive-tipped harpoons that were fired from cannons and factory ships that could process carcasses at sea, whalers slaughtered the giants for their oil, which was used to light lamps, lubricate cars, and make margarine. In just six decades, roughly the life span of a blue whale, humans took the blue-whale population down from 360,000 to just 1,000. In one century, whalers killed at least 2 million baleen whales, which together weighed twice as much as all the wild mammals on Earth today.

All those missing whales left behind an enormous amount of uneaten food. In a new study, the Stanford ecologist Matthew Savoca and his colleagues have, for the first time, accurately estimated just how much. They calculated that before industrial whaling, these creatures would have consumed about 430 million metric tons of krill—small, shrimplike animals—every year. That’s twice as much as all the krill that now exist, and twice as much by weight as all the fish that today’s fisheries catch annually. But whales, despite their astronomical appetite, didn’t deplete the oceans in the way that humans now do. Their iron-rich poop acted like manure, fertilizing otherwise impoverished waters and seeding the base of the rich food webs that they then gorged upon. When the whales were killed, those food webs collapsed, turning seas that were once rain forest–like in their richness into marine deserts.

But this tragic tale doesn’t have to be “another depressing retrospective,” Savoca told me. Those pre-whaling ecosystems are “still there—degraded, but still there.” And his team’s study points to a possible way of restoring them—by repurposing a controversial plan to reverse climate change.

Fertilizer washes off Midwest farm fields and taints communities’ drinking water, poisons Gulf of Mexico

Read the full story from the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

As rainfall events become more intense and frequent, fertilizers applied to Midwestern farmland wash away, contaminating waterways near and far.

Misled on lead: The campaign to keep toxic lead in hunting ammo and fishing tackle

EHN investigated hundreds of claims from webpages, documents, and testimony, and found that groups including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the National Rifle Association (NRA) spread misinformation and engage in science denialism most of the time they communicate about lead ammunition or fishing tackle.

Lead poisoning “is killing large numbers of animals in a manner that is often prolonged, painful, and cruel. Whether it causes heart, kidney, reproductive, or nervous system problems, there is strong scientific evidence to show that any quantity of lead can be harmful,” said Mark Pokras, a wildlife veterinarian and Associate Professor Emeritus at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Here are the stories:

Melting Arctic is a bonanza for the ocean’s natural born killers

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Audio recordings in Arctic seas show orcas in waters that were once blocked by ice and the effects are being felt up and down the food chain.