Road salts wash into Mississippi River, damaging ecosystems and pipes

Read the full story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Wisconsin Watch.

This winter has already brought significant snowfall to much of the U.S. Historically, more snow has meant more road salt. It’s an effective way to clear roads — but also brings cascading environmental impacts as it washes into rivers and streams. 

But amid one powerful winter storm that walloped the Midwest in December, employees from the La Crosse County Facilities Department in Wisconsin did something a little different. 

As usual, they clocked into work well before dawn to plow the county’s downtown parking lots. They were followed by facilities director Ryan Westphal, who walked each of the lots, checking for slick spots. Finding none, he didn’t lay any salt down on top. 

That’s a major departure from how he would have handled the situation a few years ago – before their department made the decision to dramatically cut back on salt use to prevent it from flowing into waters like the nearby Mississippi River, which new data show has been growing saltier for decades.

NRDC is seeking new cities to join its food waste reduction program

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is expanding its Food Matters initiative with a goal of helping more cities develop strategies around food waste reduction, recovery and recycling.

Cities with populations of 200,000 or more are encouraged to apply by Feb. 17. NRDC will provide technical assistance for certain initiatives, such as estimating food waste generation, assisting with food waste reduction, planning, messaging and funding proposals, facilitating city support for edible food recovery programs and expanding community composting.

The U.S.’ addiction to road salt is out of control. These cities are trying to cut back

Read the full story in Time.

Ice-free roads may be good for drivers, but scientists warn that salt is seeping into lakes and rivers, including the Mississippi, killing wildlife and posing health risks to humans. Salt also corrodes asphalt and metal, causing some $5 billion in damage each year to roads and cars. And it lures deer and moose onto highways to lick it up, triggering accidents.

And yet, North Americans are addicted to road salt. Road crews have been pouring the stuff in ever greater quantities since the 1950’s, when cars and highways began to proliferate across the region. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the amount of salt used on U.S. roads ballooned from 1 million tons in 1954, to 10 million tons in 1985, to around 24 million tons a year by 2019, as drivers demanded increasing levels of safety and convenience. “Fifteen years ago, it wasn’t common practice to expect dry pavement after snow,” Gleason says. “But somehow this idea has taken over that everyone should be driving like it’s summer in the winter.”

Can zero-emission delivery zones cut traffic, pollution and greenhouse gases?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Support is increasing for zero-emission delivery zones, areas in which only zero-emission vehicles have unrestricted access, a scalable climate solution.

A ‘bootcamp’ to help smaller cities win infrastructure grants

Read the full story at Route 50.

Small and midsize localities tend to lack the dedicated grant-writing teams and expertise that bigger towns use to score federal dollars. A new–and free–initiative aims to get them onto more equal footing competing for the funding.

Pigeons on the pill: Cities tackle climate-related pest boom

Read the full story at Politico.

Urban pest species are on the rise thanks to climate change — and city authorities are resorting to increasingly inventive methods to control them.

A history of US cities adopting zero waste goals

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

The concept has become a mainstream part of municipal waste planning, experts say, even as targets largely remain aspirational and some recent efforts have faced pandemic-related setbacks.

Cities’ zero emissions (over) ambition faces reality check

Read the full story at Politico.

Cities raised eyebrows when they announced they’d embarked on a race to hit zero-emissions by 2030. As reality sets in, some now admit the target may be more aspiration than achievable.

As part of an EU-funded scheme announced earlier this year, a clutch of 100 EU cities and 12 from outside the bloc pledged to reach climate neutrality by the end of the decade and signed up to receive EU support to achieve that goal.

The cities are on the hook to submit plans for how they’ll get their emissions down to zero, which will then get a sign of approval from the European Commission with the aim of attracting private investment.

Although that all sounds good on paper, cities are likely to struggle to meet their ambitious emissions targets.

How cities are deciding where electric vehicle chargers should go

Read the full story at Route Fifty.

Places where street parking is the norm and residential driveways are rare face unique challenges when it comes to making sure drivers can plug in their cars.

Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation

Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation (CMRA) integrates information from across the federal government to help people consider their local exposure to climate-related hazards. View climate-related hazards in real time and use information on past, present, and future conditions to understand exposure in your area in order to plan and build more resilient community infrastructure.

People working in community organizations or for local, Tribal, state, or Federal governments can use the site to help them develop equitable climate resilience plans to protect people, property, and infrastructure. The site also points users to Federal grant funds for climate resilience projects, including those available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.