Tom Pelton

Host, The Environment in Focus

Tom Pelton, a national award-winning environmental journalist, has hosted "The Environment in Focus" since 2007.  He also works as director of communications for the Environmental Integrity Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health. From 1997 until 2008, he was a journalist for The Baltimore Sun, where he was twice named one of the best environmental reporters in America by the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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The Environment In Focus
3:07 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

The Impact of Falling Gas and Oil Prices

As the Maryland General Assembly session opens today in Annapolis, one of the hot topics will be whether Governor-Elect Larry Hogan will try to loosen up restrictions on hydraulic fracturing to allow drilling companies to frack in Western Maryland for the first time.

But the state forests may be protected from drilling, at least in the short term not by politics, but by economics.   Industry analysts say that plunging natural gas and oil prices – caused by a glut of fuel produced by fracking -- are causing oil and gas companies across the country to shut down rigs, lay off workers, and avoid new development in places like Maryland.


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The Environment In Focus
2:30 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Life on the Wing

Children are so sensitive to the natural world, sometimes all it takes is a single moment to alter the course of their lives.

Lincoln Brower is now 83 years old.  But he still remembers with perfect clarity a time one day when he was six and growing up in Northwest New Jersey.  He was lying on his stomach in the grass, near where his parents were playing tennis.

 “In those days, the lawns were full of an array of weeds and wild plants and caterpillars galore,” Brower recalls at his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  “And this little copper butterfly appeared on a clover blossom, sipping nectar.  And I got really interested in that butterfly, probably because I was lying down really close to it. And I could see this gorgeous pattern on the wings.”


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The Environment In Focus
2:42 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

The Singing Crab Pickers: A Chorus of Hope

The women of the island town of Tylerton in the Chesapeake Bay sing gospel hymns as they pick the crabs caught by their husbands and sons.  Their music sounds timeless, and visitors might imagine pickers in the fishing community singing work songs like this since the English landed here in 1638.


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The Environment In Focus
4:02 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Orchids: The Smartest Plants in the World

Orchids are sometimes called "the smartest plants in the world" because of their ingenious ability to trick insects and people into helping with their pollination and transport. But many of the 25,000 known species of orchids are threatened or endangered, and Dennis Whigham and colleagues at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are investigating why. The scientists are also trying to bring these dinosaur-era plants back. 


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The Environment In Focus
2:53 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

MD Governor Elect Hogan Promises to Fight Clean Water Regulations

On Monday, Maryland Governor-Elect Larry Hogan announced that his first fight when he takes office next month will be to overturn new poultry manure regulations meant to reduce phosphorus runoff pollution into the Chesapeake Bay.

“The first fight [when I take office] will be against these politically motivated, midnight-hour phosphorus management tool regulations that the outgoing administration is trying to force upon you in these closing days,” Mr. Hogan, a Republican, said in a speech to the Maryland Farm Bureau Convention in Ocean City, according to The Washington Times. “We won’t allow them to put you out of business, destroy your way of life or decimate your entire industry.”

His statement – combined with support for the pollution control rules among some Democratic lawmakers – suggests that a battle over the future of the Chesapeake Bay is brewing in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session. Agriculture is the single largest source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, with 53 percent of the phosphorus pollution from Maryland coming from farms.


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The Environment In Focus
3:04 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

The Booming Rent-a-Goat Industry vs. Invasive Species

A growing number of businesses are renting herds of goats to gobble up invasive species and other weeds as an environmentally-friendly alternative to spraying herbicides. 

Shown in this picture is Veronica Cassilly, owner of the Harmony Herd in Harford County.  Towson University recently hired her and 17 of her goats as a weed whacking crew.  Their mission: to devour an invasive species of plant -- English Ivy – that was smothering a forested stream valley beside a dorm on their campus just north of Baltimore.


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The Environment in Focus
3:43 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Bullfrog Farming Spreading Deadly Fungus

Populations of frogs and other amphibians have been declining around the world and biologist Lisa Schloegel believes that she may have discovered why.


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The Environment In Focus
11:27 am
Wed July 16, 2014

The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay

In a shallow bay of the Potomac River about an hour south of Washington, D.C., lie the remains of 214 wooden cargo ships from World War I, some of which have sprouted trees and become islands.


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The Environment In Focus
2:57 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Pollution Now Driving Evolution

For years, people thought that evolution was something that happened slowly, over thousands or millions of years. Not true, as it turns out.


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The Environment In Focus
3:37 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Farmer Profits by Flying from Big Poultry Company

After 23 years of raising chickens for Perdue, Carole Morison found she could earn more money by becoming an independent farmer and selling her own pasture-raised eggs.

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