June 26, 2012
California Condor

California Condor     Photo: Jim Bahn/Flickr

Bullets Poisoning California Condors

Study calls for ammo controls

Fragments of ammunition left behind by hunters' bullets are poisoning California's critically endangered condors at “epidemic levels,” according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. Researchers say the species will not recover unless the government places more stringent controls on hunting ammunition. While a 2007 law signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger banned lead ammunition in the condors’ range, nearly 20 percent of the birds were found to have potentially fatal lead levels. Surveys had shown high rates of compliance with the law, but the scavenging birds remain vulnerable, given the that they eat 75 to 150 dead animals each year. “If just one has a lead bullet fragment, that can be enough to kill the bird,” said Myra Finkelstein, a research toxicologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Environmental groups are now pushing for a country-wide ban on lead ammunition.

Read more at USA Today


Gila National Forest, New Mexico

Gila National Forest, New Mexico     Photo: Samat Jain/Flickr

Court Backs EPA Global Warming Rules

Landmark appeal upholds CO2 regulation

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was "unambiguously correct" in creating the first-ever regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. The 2009 rules, challenged by business interests, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and several states, set limits on industrial and automotive emissions under the Clean Air Act. Opponents of the regulation argued that greenhouse gases did not endanger human health or welfare and that limiting emissions would hurt businesses. In the court's ruling, the three-judge panel said the EPA had sufficient evidence to conclude that human emissions were, in fact, contributing to climate change. "Today's ruling by the court confirms that the EPA's common sense solutions to address climate pollution are firmly anchored in science and law," said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Read more at Bloomberg Businessweek


Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte     Photo: NicoleElocin/Flickr

Lochte Beats Phelps at First Trials Event

Sets up London showdown

Ryan Lochte scored his first-ever victory over Michael Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley in Monday's U.S. Olympic swimming trials, securing his berth in the event at this summer's London games. Lochte edged out Phelps by nearly three tenths of a second, despite a pyrotechnic error that sent flames shooting up from the side of the pool during the race. After the race, Phelps said he was happy with his performance. "I'm very pleased," he said. "I just wanted to put myself in a position to win." Both swimmers qualified for the London Olympics, which begins July 27.

Read more at ESPN


    Photo: Peretz Partensky/Flickr

Japan Warned Against Nuclear Restart

Reactors sit near active fault lines

Seismologists warned Japan on Tuesday that the nuclear reactors they plan to reopen next month are not fit to operate under the threat of future earthquakes. Scientists say Japanese regulators did not take into account active fault lines near the Ohi nuclear power plant that houses the approved reactors. The plant is the first to come back on line after the last of Japan's 54 reactors was shut down in May 2011, following the March Fukushima disaster. "Instead of making standards more strict, [the new safety guidelines] represent a severe setback in safety standards," Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist at Kobe University, said. Ishibashi noted that other devastating earthquakes were likely to follow last year's magnitude 9.0 quake. 

Read more at The Chicago Tribune