Environment

A recently hatched Loggerhead turtle crawls on the sand headed for the ocean
National Park Service

A record-breaking number of sea turtle nests have been recorded at Cape Lookout National Seashore this year, and more are expected in coming months. 

The previous record was set in 2016, said B.G. Horvat, chief of interpretation at Cape Lookout, when researchers confirmed 352 established nests.

a colorful artists' rendering of the greenhouse effect
Jaime Van Wart

Eleanor Spicer Rice spent her childhood fascinated by ants, flies, maggots, bones and other natural curiosities. Her family encouraged that inquisitiveness — her father would take her on walks in the swamps near their Goldsboro home, and her parents never told her the bugs that enchanted her were gross.

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Windows to the Deep 2019. / NOAA

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered a methane seep field off the coast of Bodie Island in 2012, but they didn’t get a look at it until this year.

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

A study out of Michigan examining the persistence of chemicals like PFAS in drinking water could have repercussions for communities in North Carolina.

Albemarle Sound, NC
NASA / PD-USGOV

Large-scale algae blooms in the Albemarle Sound and its tributaries are prompting water quality experts to remind the public to avoid contact with green or blue water where algae may be over-abundant.

Tim Parkinson / flickr, creative commons, https://flic.kr/p/3X2t7D

National forecasters say high tide flooding hit record levels in some parts of North Carolina and expect it to be more common over the next 30 years. 

Michele Lamping holds three sea turtle hatchlings out on the beach.
Courtesy of North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Hundreds of sea turtles climb onto North Carolina’s shores to lay eggs each year. The state has about 330 miles of ocean-facing beach that is potential nesting habitat for sea turtles. Four different species commonly nest in North Carolina: the loggerhead, green turtle, Kemp’s ridley and leatherbacks. All seven of the global species of sea turtles are listed as endangered or threatened. These turtles face many predators in the wild — and humans also pose a great threat.

A beach public access entrance at Wrightsville Beach
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

A new study from an environmental advocacy group estimates North Carolina will face $35 billion in costs by 2040 to protect its coastal communities from rising seas.

A bill seeks to protect air space for military exercises by prohibiting wind farms.
Paulo Valdivieso / Flickr Creative Commons

Legislation designed to prevent wind turbine projects from interfering with North Carolina military training operations — threatening the future of installations — no longer contains outright bans on their construction.

Satellite view of the contiguous United States
National Centers for Environmental Information / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Orange County is set to levy a quarter-cent tax on property owners specifically to fight the effects of climate change.

Map of the east coast showing the outer continental shelf where drilling would occur.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The state Division of Coastal Management formally objected this week to a company's application for a federal permit to begin oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast from Maryland to Florida.

WesternGeco needs the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's approval to conduct seismic testing that would involve towing airguns offshore and firing them approximately every 10 seconds for more than 200 days over the period of a year.

A picture of a running tap.
247homerescue / commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:247_Home_Rescue_tap_sink_plumbing_water.jpg

Lack of rainfall in southeastern North Carolina is prompting the utility providing drinking water to about 200,000 customers around Wilmington to impose restrictions on the use of water.

In a sweet tea-colored swamp in Bladen County, North Carolina there is a group of trees that has intrigued researchers for decades.

Scientists knew the bald cypress trees that sprouted up from the Black River were old, and a new study reveals a number of the trees date back millennia. One tree is at least 2,624 years old.

The bald cypress' remarkable age reveal information about climate history in the region, including whether the people who lived in the area experienced significant droughts.

Google Maps

A $4 million dollar appropriation in the state Senate’s budget would enable Audubon North Carolina to purchase a portion of one of the state's last undeveloped barrier islands.

Duke Energy
Duke Energy

A Duke University researcher says that Sutton Lake, near Wilmington, has been the site of numerous coal ash spills, both before and after Hurricane Florence.

Artist's rendering of how the Molok waste collection system will look in Raleigh.
City of Raleigh

The City of Raleigh is testing out a new way to collect trash and recycling.

A year-long pilot program aims to get roll carts off the sidewalks downtown. Instead, garbage, mixed recycling, and cardboard will be collected in large underground cylinders. Six of the cylinders are being installed at the corner of Wilmington and Hargett streets this week.

The nine-banded armadillo has been spotted more than 170 times in North Carolina in the past 12 years. Wildlife officials are asking the public to share photos and details to get a better idea of the creature's range.
Jay Butfiloski / N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

If you’ve come across a nine-banded armadillo anywhere in North Carolina, wildlife officials want to hear about it.

Alan Stark / Flickr Creative Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency may change the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution, according to the New York Times. The change would make it easier to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which took steps to decarbonize the electricity sector. The EPA’s new math would attribute fewer predicted premature deaths to air pollution than the model that has been in place for decades. It would also suggest that improving air quality beyond a set threshold is unnecessary. 

A picture of beer bottles
Pixabay

The Greensboro City Council voted this week to end the city’s glass recycling program. Waste Reduction Supervisor Tori Carle said downturns in the market for recycled glass forced the decision.

photo of red wolf
Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Illegal killings and longstanding political resistance have undercut the return of two species of endangered wolves to the wild, frustrating government efforts that already cost more than $80 million but have failed to meet recovery targets.

This week in Washington, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce held hearings on 13 PFAS bills introduced in Congress. PFAS are toxic fluorinated chemicals, found in the Cape Fear River and across much of the country. The chemicals are linked to cancers and immune problems, according to the EPA. Now, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has detected these chemicals in New Hanover County well water.

Dopiaza / Flickr Creative Commons

In literature, film and popular culture, vegans have long been mocked and dismissed as naive, privileged white women who allow emotion to guide their lifestyles. Food choices are indeed shaped by class and race, but using a “vegan lens” to analyze what people see and read may allow them to better recognize these “enmeshed oppressions,” according to Western Carolina University English Professor Laura Wright. She’s the editor of “Through a Vegan Studies Lens: Textual Ethics and Lived Activism” (University of Nevada Press/2019). 

solar
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A new report shows the economic impact of more than a decade of clean energy investment in the state. The study from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association finds clean energy development projects generated more than $28.2 billion dollars statewide since 2007.

Daniel Brookshire, the NCSEA’s regulatory and policy analyst, said the solar industry in particular continues to grow, despite the expiration of state tax incentives.

Black River
Will Michaels / WUNC

A swamp on the Black River near the town of Ivanhoe, North Carolina has been a long-running fascination for researchers.

Decades ago, they identified dozens of bald cypress they believed were part of an ancient forest, but until now, they weren't sure how long these trees had been living in this remote corner of Bladen County. A recently published research paper has revealed the trees to be among the oldest in the world.

Horace Kephart with a pipe in his mouth, a gun in his hand and a snake nailed to the wall.
Courtesy of Western Carolina University Hunter Library, Special and Digital Collections

Naturalist Horace Kephart is a Southern Appalachian icon. He authored beloved books about hiking and exploring, and one of his most famous is even lovingly referred to as the “camper’s Bible.” But Kephart is perhaps best known for his crusade to preserve the Great Smoky Mountains.

Picture of an imported red fire ant
Alex Wild / University of Texas

Imported red fire ants are known for building large mounds that get in the way of everything from lawn mowing to crop harvesting. They swarm aggressively when disturbed, and defend themselves with painful, venomous stings.

An Enviva wood pellet plant in Northampton, N.C.
Courtesy of Enviva

Burning wood pellets as a form of energy has been a growing trend since 2009 when the European Union deemed it carbon neutral and began to subsidize the conversion to this “greener” form of energy.

Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.

Update3d at 9:08 p.m. ET

The Mississippi River has been at major flood stage for 41 days and counting, and this week a temporary wall failed, sending water rushing into several blocks of downtown Davenport, Iowa.

In that same area — the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois — the river crested at a new record height. The National Weather Service says a new record appears to have been set at Rock Island, Ill.

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Zen Sutherland / Flickr / www.flickr.com/photos/zen/1796555301/

North Carolina's environmental agency exceeded its authority by ordering Duke Energy Corp. to dig up all of its coal ash and move it from unlined storage sites where toxic chemicals have seeped into water supplies, the country's largest electric company said Friday.

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