Environment

Poachers massacre elephants in Congo park

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — At least 68 elephants, some 4 percent of the population of one of Africa's oldest parks, have been slaughtered by poachers over the last two months using chain saws and helicopters, the non-profit group managing the park has warned.

The Johannesburg-based African Parks group said that since mid-May, the 5,000 square kilometer (1,900 square mile) Garamba National Park in Congo, which was established in 1938, has faced an onslaught from several different bands of poachers.

Water woes force big brewers to tighten the tap

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Some of the largest brewers in the U.S. are trying to reduce their water-to-beer ratio as drought and wildfire threaten the watersheds where they draw billions of gallons every year.

No independent group tracks beer-makers' water usage, but MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch both say they have made reductions. MillerCoors released a sustainability report Wednesday that shows it has cut its water use by 9.2 percent from 2012.

"Water is just critical to us," Kim Marotta, the Chicago-based company's sustainability chief, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Looking ahead, we needed to find a way to brew more beer but use less water."

Study: States short on some Chesapeake Bay goals

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — States in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have made strides in reducing pollution in the nation's largest estuary, but many jurisdictions in the six-state region are falling short in implementing practices that cut contaminants from agriculture as well as urban and suburban runoff, a study by environmentalists has concluded.

The study, which is being released Wednesday by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Choose Clean Water Coalition, focuses on two-year commitments made by neighboring states and the District of Columbia. Advocates say the report marks the first time in the history of efforts to restore the bay that they can measure and evaluate how well states have done on short-term commitments — their two-year milestones.

They say the milestones allow the states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to identify shortcomings and take action before deadlines near for goals to further reduce pollutants in 2017 and 2025.

Oil

Oil company, group agree on Congo park plan

GENEVA (AP) — An agreement announced Wednesday between a London-based oil company and a wildlife protection group could prevent oil drilling in a national park in Africa where 200 endangered mountain gorillas live.

A joint statement by SOCO International PLC and Switzerland-based WWF said there will be no exploratory drilling in Congo's Virunga National Park, which is Africa's oldest, unless the government and the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO agree it would not threaten the park's world heritage status.

As part of the understanding, SOCO agreed to suspend exploration once it finishes seismic testing on Lake Edward and WWF pledged to drop a complaint that the oil company violates good-practice business guidelines set out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Green groups says conservation could create water surplus in California

Source: 
Bloomberg

The Pacific Institute and the National Resources Defense Council said in a study that smarter conservation and water management policies could help drought-stricken California reach an overall water surplus of more than 6 million acre-feet, Bloomberg reports.

Feds declare western mouse endangered

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A rare mouse found in New Mexico and two other western states now has protection under the Endangered Species Act, and that's expected to aggravate ongoing battles between the federal government and ranchers over water and property rights in drought-stricken areas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an order Monday listing the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as endangered.

The tiny mouse lives along streams and in wet areas in parts of New Mexico, southern Colorado and eastern Arizona. Biologists say the biggest threats are grazing and water use and management.

EPA promotes global warming proposal to governors

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency promoted proposed clean power plant rules to Western governors Tuesday, framing the plan as a way to deal with destructive wildfires and floods that have ravaged the region in recent years.

"There are some states that are really feeling some of the brunt of the changing climate most dramatically with wildfires and floods and droughts and all of those challenges," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Tuesday after a two-hour meeting with 10 governors in Colorado Springs where the annual Western Governors' Association conference is happening.

McCarthy emphasized that states will have flexibility in developing plans to reduce carbon output. But she acknowledged that some governors whose states depend heavily on coal expressed concern about the new rules.

Obama signs $12.3 billion water projects bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Capping a rare instance of congressional compromise, President Barack Obama signed a $12.3 billion water projects bill Tuesday, financing improvements ranging from a harbor expansion in Boston to flood control in Iowa and North Dakota.

Obama praised the work of Democrats and Republicans and said he hoped it set a pattern for agreement for more spending on capital works projects across the country.

"Right now we should be putting a lot more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure," he said. "There are a lot of guys with hardhats sitting at home."

Obama pitches wildfire plan to governors

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday encouraged a group of governors to support a plan to pay for wildfire suppression, and the proposal got a positive reception from the 10 leaders gathered for an annual summit.

Obama made the pitch by telephone to governors meeting in Colorado Springs at the Western Governors Association conference. Under the plan, the federal government would budget money for fighting wildfires instead of raiding funding allocated for mitigation efforts.

The change is pending in Congress, and Obama encouraged the governors to urge enactment.

Tropical Storm Cristina forms off Mexico

MIAMI (AP) — Forecasters say Tropical Storm Cristina has formed off the southwestern coast of Mexico and is expected to blow into a hurricane later in the week.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, says the storm late Monday was about 155 miles (255 kilometers) south-southwest of Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Maximum sustained winds are about 40 mph (65 kph). It is moving west at about 2 mph (4 kph) and is expected to keep moving in that direction out to sea.

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