Environment

Calif town's water shortage stokes fears of future

WILLITS, Calif. (AP) — In this small logging town in Northern California's redwood country, small blue signs urging water conservation are almost everywhere you look.

Just south of Willits, in one of the state's most verdant corners, crows and other birds peck at dry ground that should be covered in water at the city's Centennial Reservoir, which is less than a third full. The creek that feeds it has slowed to a trickle.

"It's common at this time of year for the water to be going over the cement wall right here. In fact, we'd be standing in water," said Bruce Burton, a Willits city councilman, gesturing toward the small cement dam in the creek. "In the 20 years I've been in local government, we've never experienced this kind of condition."

USDA chief: Climate change already hurting farmers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Climate change is already hurting American farmers and rural residents, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday, warning that the U.S. would regret any failure to adapt and prepare for shifting weather realities.

Unveiling a new effort to coordinate the government's response, Vilsack said extreme weather events have already taken the U.S. by surprise, putting ranchers and others out of business. He pointed to the intensity and frequency of recent storms, long droughts, snowstorms and subzero weather as evidence that climate change is no longer hypothetical or in the future.

"The combination of all those factors convinces me that the climate is changing, and it's going to have its impact, and will have its impact, and is having its impact on agriculture and forestry," Vilsack said.

Wide gap between New Delhi, Beijing smog policies

NEW DELHI (AP) — Think twice before taking a deep breath in New Delhi, where worsening air pollution has drawn comparisons with Beijing, the world's pollution poster child.

On bad days in India's congested capital, the air is so murky it slows traffic to a crawl. Conversations are punctuated with rasping coughs. Weak bands of sunlight filter through a grainy sky.

Air monitoring sensors around the landlocked Indian capital have routinely registered levels of small airborne particles at "hazardous" levels in recent months — three to four times New Delhi's own sanctioned limit, rivaling Beijing.

Calif. drought expected to idle 500K acres of farmland

Source: 
Reuters

The current drought in California is expected to idle as many as 500,000 acres of farmland in 2014 as scant water supplies have limited irrigation potential, Reuters reports.

White House threatens veto of GOP drought bill

Source: 
Reuters

The White House threatened to veto a bill backed by Republicans that would slash restrictions on pumping water from California's San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta in response to a severe drought in the state, Reuters reports.

Senate Energy hearing on forestry bills

Washington, February 6, 2014, 9:30 am

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013, National Forest Jobs and Management Act of 2014. U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell, BLM Acting Deputy Director for Operations Steve Ellis to testify. 

Palau to ban commercial fishing, promote tourism

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The president of Palau declared Tuesday that his Pacific island nation will ban commercial fishing and become a marine sanctuary.

President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said in a keynote address to a U.N. meeting on "Healthy Oceans and Seas" that once current fishing contracts with Japan, Taiwan and some private companies expire only fishing by island residents and tourists will be allowed in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

Remengesau said establishing "a 100 percent marine sanctuary" will enable Palau to preserve "a pristine environment" and promote snorkeling, scuba diving and ecotourism as an alternative way to grow its economy.

7 new 'climate hubs' to help rural areas adapt

WASHINGTON (AP) — Aiming to help rural communities deal with climate change, the Obama administration is creating seven regional "climate hubs" that will serve as clearinghouses for information and outreach about extreme weather across the U.S.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was to announce the new hubs Wednesday at the White House. The hubs fulfill one aspect of a broader climate change plan that President Barack Obama unveiled last year.

Based at existing Agriculture Department facilities, the hubs aim to help farmers and rural communities fight climate change and adapt to weather changes. The hubs will assess local climate risks, such as drought and wildfire, then develop plans for dealing with them, such as improved irrigation techniques.

Bears, eagles, seals: How endangered animals fare

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars trying to save more than 1,500 animal and plant species listed as endangered or threatened.

A group of House Republicans say that's translated into just 2 percent of protected species taken off the list. They called Tuesday for an overhaul to the 1973 Endangered Species Act, giving states more authority over imperiled species and limiting litigation from wildlife advocates.

Environmentalists credit the act with saving species from extinction and say that hundreds more are on the path to recovery. The Endangered Species Act enjoys fervent support among many environmentalists, whose Democratic allies on Capitol Hill have thwarted past proposals for change.

Drought forcing ranchers, farmers to make radical choices

Source: 
Los Angeles Times

The continuing drought in California has forced some ranchers to sell off their livestock to slaughterhouses, and some farmers are considering ending cultivation of certain water-intensive fruits and nuts, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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