Tom Pelton | WYPR

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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.

President Obama's proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants have been attacked as a neo-socialist, federal power grab. Ironically, however, his "cap and trade" strategy for reducing carbon dioxide is actually a conservative and modest approach that uses a Wall Street-friendly method of reducing pollution championed by President George H.W. Bush.

The centerpiece of the Obama Administration's climate change policy -- which calls for reductions in emissions of about one percent a year over the next 16 years -- is far from radical. 

Nutria, also called Myocaster coypus (latin for mouse beaver), are large rodents native to South America that wreaked havoc on the Chesapeake Bay's wetlands when they were imported in the 1940's for the fur trade.

But now nutria face their last stand on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Only a few are left after an intensive, more than decade-long trapping campaign by federal and state government agencies.

Wildlife managers have been trying to eradicate the invasive species because they eat the roots of wetlands plants. This accelerates the erosion of marshes that are important breeding grounds for fish and birds, and also work as water pollution filters that clean the Chesapeake Bay.

On Friday, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley used a rare veto to stop legislation that would have delayed (and perhaps killed) the first wind farm proposed for the Delmarva Peninsula.


Biologist Bryan MacKay's new book, “A Year Across Maryland: A Week By Week Guide to Discovering Nature in the Chesapeake Region,” describes the miraculous diversity of the Mid-Atlantic's natural world.


Scientific data collected over three decades proves that upgrading sewage plants and government regulation of fisheries work to improve the Chesapeake Bay.  A report by U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science documents the success of clean water and air laws in cleaning up Bay tributaries. 

A few years ago, a massive bull shark was caught in a Chesapeake Bay tributary, creating quite a stir about "Jaws in the Potomac River."

The truth is, however, that sharks are far more likely to be prey than predator when they encounter people.

Overfishing of sharks up and down the East Coast has destabilized the balance of life in the Bay, with cownose rays multiplying -- and eating more oysters -- because there are few sharks left to eat the rays.    (Originally aired Oct. 27, 2010)

(Photo of bull shark courtesy of Buzz's Marina)

Since Darwin's time, most scientists and school children have assumed that the singing of song birds in the spring is an almost exclusively male trait.  But new research by Kevin Omland and Karan Odom of the University of Maryland Baltimore County and colleagues shows that both female and males sing in 71 percent of the surveyed song bird species around the world.

Once nearly extinct in the East, beaver populations are booming.  Their comeback, however, is creating complications for storm water pollution control systems, which beavers love to dam up.

Stephanie Boyles Griffin, director of wildlife response for the Humane Society of the U.S., is convincing governments to use devices called "beaver deceivers." They foil beaver dams in a way that does not kill the animals.

Fourth generation farm owners Mary Anne and Rick Peterman are among the residents of the Eastern Shore of Maryland who would profit from a proposed 50-turbine wind farm that could be the first built on the Delmarva Peninsula. 

A coal waste containment pond owned by the nation’s largest power company, Duke Energy, ruptured in February, spewing almost 40,000 tons of toxic muck into North Carolina's Dan River.

The disaster -- along with a chemical spill into a West Virginia river -- illustrate the need for strong regulatory action by EPA to protect waterways at a time the federal agency is being criticized as unnecessary.   (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Steve Alexander)  

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is using tiny cell-phone like devices in backpacks on osprey to follow the migration of the fish hawks from South America to North America.

"The Dover Eight"

Mar 20, 2014

Can we engineer Earth's atmosphere to stop global warming?

In a new book, Frankenstein's Cat, author Emily Anthes makes the provocative argument that cloning and genetic engineering could be used as tools to help bring back endangered species and perhaps even to resurrect extinct animals.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley pledged to "fully fund" the state's land preservation program when he ran for office, but then diverted $693 million from the dedicated land preservation fund to help solve a budget crisis after the recession hit.  


Why did the Attorneys General of Texas and 20 other states recently join a lawsuit to stop the Chesapeake Bay cleanup? 

Clean energy advocates are urging the Maryland General Assembly to close a loophole in the state's renewable energy law, which allows paper mills to burn a wood waste called "black liquor" to collect millions of dollars in subsidies from electricity rate payers.

Double-crested cormorants were nearly wiped out in much of the U.S. before a rebound sparked by the federal government's 1972 ban the pesticide DDT and prohibitions on shooting the fishing birds.  

An advertising and public relations battle has erupted over stormwater pollution control fees in Maryland. 

Three years ago, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's administration promised to impose regulations on poultry manure to help reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Every winter since the 1930's, federal wildlife managers have burned sections of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

More than 90 percent of the roses purchased in the U.S. are flown in from overseas, which creates greenhouse gas pollution.

I Love Blue Sea

Because wild Chesapeake Bay oysters are increasingly scarce, many oyster harvesters are switching to growing their own oysters in tanks and underwater cages.

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