The Environment in Focus

Wednesday at 9:35 am and 5:45 pm

The Environment in Focus is a weekly perspective on the issues and people changing Maryland's natural world.  There's a story behind every bend of the Chesapeake Bay's 11,684 miles of shoreline, in every abandoned coal mine in the Appalachian Mountains, in every exotic beetle menacing our forests and in every loophole snuck into pollution control laws in Annapolis.  Tom Pelton gives you a tour of this landscape every Wednesday at 9:35 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.  He describes the people behind the news and discusses the broader government policies and trends shaping our ecology -- our land, our air and our Bay.
The Environment in Focus is sponsored by The Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.

   

Full Archive of Environment in Focus

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The Environment In Focus
2:56 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Multiplying Oyster Harvest Triggers Debate Over Catch Restrictions

After more than a century of decline, the  harvest of oysters from the Chesapeake Bay has quadrupled over the last four years.  This increase has inspired a debate over whether more -- or fewer -- restrictions are needed on the harvest of the Bay's keystone species. 

Environment In Focus Podcast 7-23-2014

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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.

This audio is pending

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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.

Environment In Focus Podcast 7-9-2014

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The Environment In Focus
12:55 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Governor O'Malley's Visit to Iowa Sparks Protest

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's political campaigning in Iowa, a farming capital of the U.S., has sparked complaints from some environmentalists, who claim that he is pandering to the powerful farm lobby.

The Environment In Focus Podcast 7-2-2014

  Michele Merkel, co-director of the justice program at Food & Water Watch, accused O'Malley of avoiding action in his own state to regulate manure from Maryland’s huge poultry industry, which is polluting the Chesapeake BayFor example, she said, the governor in 2013 signed a law – sought by farmers and their allies -- called the “Agricultural Certainty Act.”  It provides exemptions from any new pollution control regulations for farms that meet minimum requirements.

The O’Malley administration also twice delayed poultry manure regulations that would prohibit the spreading of more poultry waste on Eastern Shore fields that are already overloaded with phosphorus from chicken litter. 

O'Malley's Secretary of Agriculture, Buddy Hance, however argues that the O'Malley Administration has made real strides toward preventing runoff pollution from farms.

For example, Hance said, the state issued regulations prohibiting the spreading of manure in the winter, and required water pollution control permits for 80 percent of the large poultry farms in Maryland.  

Hance said the administration may still issue the long-delayed manure management regulations to control phosphorus -- after conducting an economic impact study to determine the cost for farmers.

The Environment In Focus
1:57 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Singing to Stop an Incinerator in their Back Yard

Sisters Leah and Audrey Rozier wrote a song to protest the proposed construction of what would be the largest incinerator in the United States near  their homes in far south Baltimore.

The sisters, aged 16 and 19, want Maryland  officials to stop the construction in the Fairfield neighborhood of the Energy Answers waste-to-energy plant, which would burn pulverized garbage to generate electricity.

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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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The Environment In Focus
1:14 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

President Obama's Conservative Approach to Global Warming

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. 

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The Environment In Focus
3:18 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Ancient Dumps Are Fertile Ground for Wildflowers and Archeologists

Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are studying Native American trash heaps full of oyster shells around the Chesapeake Bay that date to thousands of years ago.

Susan Cook-Patton, Torben Rick and colleagues recently published an article in the journal Landscape Ecology that describes how these old oyster shells enrich the soil with calcium, nitrogen and phosphorus, spurring the growth of unusual communities of wildflowers and grasses.

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The Environment In Focus
1:10 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

The Last Stand for the Mouse Beaver

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.

The Environment In Focus Podcast 5-28-2014

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.

The Environment In Focus
1:01 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Wind Farm Resurrected by Governor's Veto

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.

Environment In Focus Podcast 5-21-2014

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