Aug 20, 2009
In a decision that environmentalists are praising and biofuel producers are fuming about, Massachusetts has announced that waste-based biofuels are the only ones guaranteed to meet the state's renewable fuel standards.
The ruling could potentially leave algae-, switchgrass-, and corn-based producers high and dry, although it's not quite the ban that some news outlets have called it, says Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources spokesperson Lisa Capone.
In accordance with the state's Clean Energy Biofuels Act of 2008, petroleum suppliers are required to make 2 or 3 percent of their sales by volume from qualifying biofuels beginning July 2011. (The program officially begins July 2010, but the mandated volume will be waived in the first year.)
Aug 19, 2009 | 2
Sorry, folks. No multiple birth records are likely to be broken this month. The Tunisian woman who claimed to be carrying six boys and six girls is unlikely to even be pregnant, a British newspaper reported today.
She has refused to undergo a medical examination and has gone into hiding, The Daily Telegraph reports.
A spokesman for the Tunisan health ministry told the paper, "Our staff interviewed her at length, but even her pregnancy appears to be in her imagination." Although she claims to be nine months pregnant, the ministry says, "there's absolute [sic] nothing about her appearance which indicates this."
Aug 18, 2009 | 9
A woman in Tunisia is said to be pregnant with six boys and six girls, The Sun reported yesterday.
If the woman, a teacher in her 30s who was not named in the newspaper, successfully delivers all 12 infants, as she has vowed to do, she would be going against medical advice and shattering the world record for multiple births.
"In the beginning we thought that my wife would give birth to twins," the father, identified as Marwan, told the paper, "But more fetuses were discovered. Our joy increased with the growing number."
After suffering previous miscarriages, the woman reportedly turned to fertility treatments, which are known to increase the probability of multiple births. However, it is highly unlikely that all the babies will make it to term, experts say.
Aug 18, 2009 | 12
Serious bummer, dude. California's totally ablaze, and the cops are laying the blame on marijuana growers.
That's right. Investigators with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Narcotics Unit have confirmed that the camp at the origin of the La Brea fire was an illegal marijuana operation believed to be run by a Mexican drug organization. The suspects are currently on the lam and thought to be hiding out in the San Rafael wilderness, the U.S. Forest Service said in a prepared statement.
The La Brea fire first flared up east of Santa Maria, Calif., on Aug. 8 and has since burned 75,000 acres of chaparral, grass and timber. Last week, 234 houses were evacuated, but the blaze is now 25 percent contained, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Aug 17, 2009
After a slow start, the 2009 hurricane season is kicking off in a big way. Currently, three named storms are swirling around the Atlantic, including the season's first hurricane, Bill.
Tropical Depression Ana, which first appeared last week but never became a full-fledged storm, is now causing extremely wet weather in the Caribbean Sea near the Dominican Republic.
Tropical Storm Claudette struck the Florida Panhandle this morning with winds up to 50 miles per hour and about 4 inches of rain, but has already been downgraded to a depression as it moves into Alabama.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Bill is currently passing about 1,080 miles west of the Lesser Antilles and is poised to skirt Cuba and head straight toward Bermuda over the next five days. Bill is a Category 1 hurricane, with winds up to 90 mph, but it is expected to strengthen and become a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) by Wednesday.
Aug 13, 2009 | 17
ExxonMobil pled guilty to five violations of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act stemming from the deaths of 85 protected birds at natural gas facilities in five states, including Texas and Colorado, the Justice Department said today.
Hawks, owls, and other birds were apparently looking for a place to rest when they made an unfortunate stop in the company's oily open pits, where they became coated with or swallowed fatal amounts of contaminants.
With development of oil and gas resources encouraged by the Bush Administration, many new waste ponds have appeared on public lands. Some companies use electronic hazing devices that make noises and flashing lights to scare birds away. Others clean the water before discharging it or cover ponds to keep birds from landing there. Whatever ExxonMobil was doing, it apparently wasn't enough, even though a spokesperson told the Associated Press that the company has "a long-standing water-bird protection program."
Aug 12, 2009 | 5
Swine flu has been reported for the first time in Amazonian Indians, raising fears that the virus will cause more contagion and potential deaths in tribal groups around the world.
Seven members of the Matsigenka tribe in the Peruvian Amazon have tested positive for H1N1, the first example of the virus in Amazonian peoples, according to the human rights group Survival International.
Indigenous communities have little to no immunity to outside pathogens, which is why many Native Americans succumbed to disease when Europeans first arrived on the continent
Indeed, swine flu deaths are already stacking up in tribes around the world. Last month, H1N1 took its first casualty in Australia, a 26-year-old Aboriginal man in Kiwirrkurra, one of the country’s most remote Outback communities, the BBC reported.
Aug 11, 2009 | 1
As Typhoon Morakot slammed into Taiwan over the weekend triggering massive mudslides and leaving hundreds missing, Americans along the Gulf Coast may have thought they were getting off easy this storm season. That could change.
The National Hurricane Center issued a warning this morning that a tropical depression is forming in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa and has a chance of moving west and turning into the U.S.'s first tropical storm of the season, to be named Ana, in the next day or two.
Aug 11, 2009 | 23
Here’s a potentially tasty solution to Australia’s invasive species: Eat them.
In the 1840s, explorers first brought camels of all sorts to Australia from India and the Middle East. Today, there are more than 1 million one- and two-humped animals in Australia and their population has been doubling every nine years. In a land where vegetation is already scarce, camels are competing with native fauna and livestock. They also, apparently, are fond of breaking water pipes and bathrooms in their quest for hydration.
Aug 5, 2009 | 2
ALBUQUERQUE—Cellulosic biofuels extracted from native switchgrass could lend a helping hand to imperiled birds that depend on vanishing prairies in the Midwest.
With palm oil plantations overrunning Indonesian rainforests and corn-based ethanol in the U.S. spurring new deforestation abroad, it may seem like biofuels and biodiversity don't mix. That's why ecologist Bruce Robertson at Michigan State University's W. K. Kellogg Biological Station and his colleagues wanted to know how birds and bugs would fare if the U.S. switches from corn-based ethanol production to cellulosic biofuels based on grasses. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pushing these biofuels to help achieve further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Switchgrass has been singled out for biofuel production because of its low water requirements and high nutrient efficiency, along with the fact that it is native to the U.S.
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