Environment | New Hampshire Public Radio

Environment

Reverend Don Ruggles, courtesy Chisasibi Heritage & Cultural Centre.

On July 6, a federal judge ordered the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline -- a victory for the resistance movement led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

But pull on the thread of this moment and you'll find it’s connected to a long and complicated history, of treaties made, kept, and violated, as well as the Supreme Court decisions that constitute so-called “native law."

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  Every other Friday on Morning Edition NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown tracks down answers to questions about the environment and outdoors for our listeners in a segment we call “Ask Sam.”

Sherry From Meredith asks: “I’m noticing a lot of chipmunks this year, as my son Josiah put it. Are we having a Chip-ocalypse? Like we had Squirrel-mageddon a couple of years ago?”

 

A new study says children drinking from private water wells may be more likely to have unsafe levels of lead in their bloodstreams.

A story about crickets that isn't actually about crickets at all.

There’s a tendency to think of “the natural world” as everything beyond the asphalt. But soil often lies just a couple inches below the concrete, and the design of our cities represents choices about how much space we give to “built environment” and how much we give to “grown environment" -- and specifically, to trees.

 

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  Every other Friday on Morning Edition, Outside/In Host Sam Evans-Brown answers listeners' questions about the mysteries and quirks of the outside world.

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A new study, commissioned by advocates in New Hampshire, shows that most firefighters’ protective gear is treated extensively with toxic PFAS chemicals.  

Scientists at the University of Notre Dame picked up the issue, with funding from the National Science Foundation and the firefighter-focused Last Call Foundation, after a request by a Granite State couple.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Near-drought conditions in southern New Hampshire are straining vegetable farmers in the midst of planting season, after more than a month without substantial rainfall.

The state expects to soon declare a drought in the southern tier and lower Lakes Region, after an abnormally dry spring and a winter without much snow to recharge streams and groundwater.

Denis Kuschter, https://bit.ly/2YbohbO

For months, producer Taylor Quimby has been trying to craft a story about spicy peppers. Every one of his pitches has been shot down…until now. On this episode of Outside/In, a culinary challenge in which four producers argue about which seed-bearing delicacy is the ABSOLUTE best.

Jessica Hunt / NHPR

Southern New Hampshire looks to be headed for a drought this summer, after more than a month without any significant rainfall following a low-snow winter.

The state got about half an inch of rain on May 15. 

The landmark Supreme Court ruling known as Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency held that greenhouse gases were pollutants that could be regulated by the executive branch, and defined de facto federal climate policy in the United States for a decade.

Could it soon be reversed? 

Flickr Creative Commons | Nicholas A. Tonelli

Every other Friday on Morning Edition, Outside/In Host Sam Evans-Brown answers listeners' questions about the mysteries and quirks of the outside world.

Laurie from California asks: “In all of the five big extinction events, how did plants fare versus animals? Are trees going to take over after we’re gone? Are trees with flowers still going to be around?”

NH State Parks

The state will not conduct some routine sampling of inland beaches this summer due the pandemic.

The Department of Environmental Services says they’ll focus on monitoring and responding to blooms of toxic algae at freshwater shores this season.

They will not regularly sample those beaches for fecal bacteria as they have in other years.

They say their lab capacity and other logistics have been hampered by the coronavirus.

Design by Chelsea Connor and Sheridan Alford

Outside/In is a show about the natural world and how we use it – but access to nature is not equal.

Chris Nash / NHDES

The state is temporarily banning shellfish harvesting in coastal Atlantic waters because of a severe bloom of potentially toxic algae.

The ban applies to mussels, clams and oysters in near-shore and offshore waters. It does not apply to lobsters, or to inland areas, such as Great Bay and Little Bay.

The advisory also does not indicate a threat to swimmer or surfers, who were allowed back onto the Seacoast beaches as of Monday.

NHPR

A state Senate committee signed off this week on a package of bills designed to address PFAS chemical contamination. 

The new omnibus bill got bipartisan support and combines several proposals from the House and Senate. 

It would re-authorize the state's tight new limits on four kinds of PFAS, industrial chemicals linked to health problems. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR File Photo

A new federal permit for New Hampshire's largest coal-fired power plant will not require the installation of cooling towers, which advocates say are vital to protect the Merrimack River.

The Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t updated Merrimack Station’s five-year water quality permit since the 1990s. The permit regulates water intake and discharge between the plant and the adjacent Merrimack River.

Taylor Quimby

In the latest installment of our series Inside/In, short science stories for families and individuals who want to discover how the natural world ties us together even when we're stuck inside, we explore a pair of organisms that we often just step right over or immediately pitch into garbage.

Meet our friends, mold and moss.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Eversource has notified the state that it plans to power up its new Seacoast transmission line at the end of this month, on May 29.

The Seacoast Reliability Project runs about 13 miles between Madbury and Portsmouth, with a mile buried underwater beneath Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Eversource proposed the project in 2015 as part of its response to a call for more reliable infrastructure from the regional grid operator, ISO-New England. The utility says the line will help carry electric load and back up other transmission lines in the area.

Pascal Terjan, https://bit.ly/2Tajgxg

On this show, the urban evolution of pigeons, the magic of kettle bogs, and what to do if you've been bitten by a tick. 

Flickr Creative Commons | Brian Gratwicke

Every other Friday on Morning Edition, Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown tackles a question from a listener. 

Susanne from Rumney asks: "I’ve been going for a walk every morning since we’ve been quarantined. So, I’ve noticed lately that I’ve heard a lot of woodpeckers in the morning and I haven’t noticed them before. And I wondered if there are more of them or if this is the time of year that they are seeking wood from the trees?"

 

Massive solar flares, mental health in the time of coronavirus and all the time, and taking a deep breath about "murder hornets."

Flickr Creative Commons | USFWS Mountain-Prairie

Every other Friday on Morning Edition, Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown tackles a question from a listener. 

Cindy from Chichester asks: "Every year I have a skunk that comes around and makes divots all over my yard looking for grubs. The question is this: Do they actually know that there is a grub in the place that they dig, or do they just randomly dig holes until they find something? I have not been able to get an answer to this question, so it’s your turn." 

Challenge accepted, Cindy.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

New Hampshire is laying out a potential phased plan for resuming normal operations at state parks and other outdoor recreation sites, with new controls to protect public health.

Most state parks have remained open and well trafficked, including by out-of-state visitors, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, many public and private campgrounds, beaches and other amenities and attractions have closed.

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From seismology to the lives of lab animals, coronavirus is changing science in a variety of ways.

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Democratic state lawmakers say they'll push for renewable energy development as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19.

State senator and gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes addressed the issue during a virtual Earth Day town hall Wednesday.

Click here to sign up for our coronavirus newsletter to get the latest updates.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Members of Congress from Massachusetts want details on how Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant is handling COVID-19.

Seabrook Station is currently offline and in the midst of a periodic refueling. That process requires a large extra workforce.

The plant’s owner, NextEra, has said it’s operating under its pandemic plan but it hasn’t offered more details.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR File

Before the coronavirus pandemic, another global crisis was capturing more and more of the world’s attention: climate change. 

Now, the virus is reshaping our response to global warming -- changing how we think about everything from disaster preparedness, to the role of science in public policy.

NHPR wants your help to tell this story, starting this Wednesday, April 22, on a special edition of The Exchange for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Taylor Quimby

With so many of our favorite outdoor activities currently off-limits, we’re looking for accessible ways to explore the magic of nature from the safety of our homes and neighborhoods. This is the first in a series of short episodes for families and individuals who want to discover how, even when we’re stuck inside, the natural world ties us together.

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Every other Friday on Morning Edition, Outside/In host Sam Evans-Brown tackles a question from a listener. 

Claudia Asks: “What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Which do we have in New Hampshire? Could you give some examples of each please?”

This is one of the classic turtle questions, and as such we’re going to knock it out of the park quickly and pivot to some #turtlefacts.

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