Environment

John Burroughs seniors Garrett Moore and Hunter Wilkins plant milkweed at Bellerive Park on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Plants such as milkweed, blazing star, goldenrods, turtleheads, and the aster and cardinal flowers are just a few that are native to the St. Louis area. And, planting them is not only aesthetically pleasing but they are environmentally beneficial, especially to pollinators such as butterflies and honeybees.

Provided by Solar Roadways

Roads paved with solar panels may sound futuristic, but people soon will walk and maybe even drive on them in Missouri. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation recently announced plans to build a walkway with solar panels at the historic Route 66 welcome center in Conway, Mo., which is about 180 miles southwest of St. Louis. Electricity generated from the panels would power the welcome center.  The pilot project will examine how feasible it is to use the technology before the department considers putting it on more roads and sidewalks.

The Fenton Water Treatment Plant had been knocked off line due to historic flooding
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Warnings to avoid contact with flood water. An executive order temporarily waiving Missouri Department of Natural Resources regulations. Periodic updates on the millions of gallons of raw sewage flowing into the Meramec River due to shuttered wastewater treatment plants.

St. Louis Public Radio referenced these announcements as they happened in the course of reporting on the human and economic toll wrought by the record-high waters. But what impact, if any, do those warnings and waivers have on the environment?

Charles stretches.
Mark Glenshaw

On December 29, Mark Glenshaw celebrated his 10th anniversary of monitoring a pair of Great Horned Owls in Forest Park. The amateur naturalist made his first appearance on “St. Louis on the Air” two years ago to introduce listeners to the pair he had dubbed Charles and Sarah. In April of this year he returned to report on the birth of the couple’s offspring, a pair of owlets whom he later named Harold and Grace. At that time he described the parents as the “Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt” of Great Horned Owls.

Moose Winan, "Rolling Thunder & Hills," Ozark Mountains
Moose Winans | Flickr, Creative Commons | http://bit.ly/1YyPCLb

One word comes to mind when we think about the environmental news that’s been a conversation starter in St. Louis in 2015: landfills. Specifically, what is going on at the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills north St. Louis County. On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” St. Louis Public Radio’s science reporter Véronique LaCapra joined the show to discuss the evolution of the landfill situation and other big science, environmental and wildlife news of the year.

Some of the topics we discussed:

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

A tractor trailer from Anheuser-Busch’s St. Louis brewery will be hard to miss.

The trucks have gone green, both literally and figuratively.

The beer giant announced Tuesday that it’s converted 97 diesel tractor trucks to compressed natural gas. To highlight the change, all of the trucks now sport a bright green exterior and Anheuser-Busch’s “Seed to Sip” logo.

(via Flickr)

The controversy over coal use hits close to home.

It’s not only that coal-burning companies Ameren Missouri, Peabody Energy, and Arch Coal are headquartered in St. Louis, or that statewide battles have been waged over coal burning and the storing of ash.

The historic entrance arch to the Lewis Place neighborhood, which will receive state aid nearly a year after a tornado damaged 91 homes in the area.
Adam Allington | St. Louis Public Radio

When natural disasters hit, neighborhoods where many residents live in poverty often have a harder time rebuilding than their more affluent neighbors.  

The Metro St. Louis Coalition for Inclusion and Equity (M-SLICE) is hosting a panel discussion Wednesday evening to brainstorm the future efforts to build infrastructure resiliency on the city's north side.

Five-year-old Charlotte Pappan selects foam leaves for a sun painting at the Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April, 26, 2015. Her mother, Sara Pappan, looks on.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The sound of music, children, dogs and generators filled the air Sunday at the annual Earth Day festival in Forest Park. Food trucks and other booths needing electricity were fueled by propane generators that release half the emissions of standard diesel generators.

According to festival organizers, more than 50,000 people attended the event.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Monsanto lined up its experts for a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, to challenge last week’s determination by a World Health Organization committee that the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer could be dangerous to people with frequent exposure. 

St. Louis Public Radio

Eager to assert their policy differences with the president once they have control of both gavels on Capitol Hill come Jan. 6, Republicans say they plan to advance legislation backing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, by TransCanada. 

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of the GOP leadership, says the president will likely have a pipeline bill "on his desk in the first three months” of the year.

Ameren's coal-fired power plant in Labadie
Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

Post updated 11:13 a.m. on Monday, 11/24/14. 

After four years and a court order that pitted environmental groups against the coal industry, the Environmental Protection Agency is nearing its December deadline to finalize regulations for how coal-fired power plants dispose of the ash they create.  

Coal ash — which contains toxic substances like mercury, lead and arsenic — can leach into groundwater if not properly contained. That has raised concerns among environmental groups who say Missouri does not properly regulate coal ash disposal.  

Gateway Media Literacy Partners

New types of media, including social media, are changing the media landscape, but aren’t changing the need for media literacy.

“We define media literacy at Project Look Sharp as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media,” Sox Sperry told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday. Sperry is director of curriculum and staff development at Project Look Sharp, a media literacy initiative at Ithaca College in New York.

Chris Weiss and John Koch load tires into a trailer at Gravois Creek near Grant's Trail on Saturday, October 18, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

As water flows south through the River des Peres Watershed in St. Louis, trash, tires and metal gets deposited along the way. Over the weekend, hundreds of volunteers worked to pick up all that trash during the sixth annual cleanup called the River des Peres Trash Bash.

At Gravois Creek on Saturday morning, about a dozen volunteers stacked muddy tires into a trailer hitched to a four-wheeler.

Earlier, volunteers had fished the tires out of the creek using canoes. By mid-morning, volunteer Doug Geist estimated that they had collected more than twenty tires.

Lois Gibbs holds her daughter Missy stands outside her Love Canal home in Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 1978.
Courtesy of Lois Gibbs

Environmental activist Lois Gibbs will be in St. Louis this weekend for a “teach-in” to address problems at the adjoining Bridgeton and West Lake landfills, located in Bridgeton a few miles from Lambert Airport.

Missourians are joining people from across the country in New York City Sunday for the People’s Climate March. Tens of thousands are expected to demonstrate in a call to halt global warming in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit, which begins Tuesday.

Morton Bearman
Provided by the Family

Morton R. Bearman, who helped elect two generations of Symingtons to Congress and who became one of the St. Louis area’s first environmental attorneys, died Friday. He was 92.

Mr. Bearman was a staunch Democrat who was active in politics throughout his life. He served as campaign chair for both the late Stuart Symington, the former four-term U.S. senator from Missouri, and Symington’s son, James, who was elected four times to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden annual Green Homes Festival is this Saturday at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening. One of the focuses of this year’s festival is gardening with native plants, or “naturescaping.”

Using native plants is environmentally friendly because it works within the existing ecosystem, explained Jean Ponzi, Green Resources Manager at the EarthWays Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Collinsia verna
Provided by Scott Woodbuyr

Blue-eyed Mary is a Missouri wildflower that germinates in winter, enduring freeze and thaw before blooming in spring. Its bloom spans the month of April when Virginia bluebells, wild geranium and wild sweet William are each making colorful contributions to shady Missouri woodlands. In nature it grows along rivers in carpets where fall flooding carries away leaf litter, allowing seeds to germinate successfully.

Saint Louis University | Provided

It’s a stretch to think about summer now. 

But close your eyes and imagine.

The sun is shining; bees are buzzing; your arms move through warm air; you even have to mop a thin veil of perspiration from your brow. And on the news in the morning, Geri Mitchell intones the familiar admonition: “It’s a red air quality day. Sensitive groups should avoid exercising outdoors.”

(Via Flikr/Kate Ter Haar)

When it comes to the economy, a rise in consumer spending is seen as an indicator of  better times ahead. But when it comes to the environment, increased consumer spending can have a downside.

"Consumption is a problem because that's really the root driver of our environmental problems," said Madalyn Coici, waste prevention specialist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

About 50 activists delivered a petition to the St. Louis Board of Elections on Wednesday, calling for the city to cut tax breaks from businesses involved in what they call “unsustainable energy production.”

The group marched with signs that said “Take Back St. Louis" and chanted things like "We will stand, we will fight, a greener city is our right!"

The petition was organized by Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), and the group’s leaders say they have more than 36,000 signatures, which is well above the requirement for a ballot initiative.

Carter Carburetor was a major manufacturing plant from 1915 to 1984. Officials announced that the facility undergo a $30 million environmental cleanup.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Federal and local officials marked a milestone today in cleaning up the Carter Carburetor Superfund site in north St. Louis. The polluted and abandoned manufacturing facility has sat dormant for several decades.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

A Missouri appeals court has ruled that a jury should decide whether Monsanto's chemical production division is responsible for cancers allegedly caused by the widespread use of certain toxic chemicals in everyday products.

Over the course of several decades, Monsanto manufactured 99 percent of the polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCB's, found in the world. High concentrations of the chemicals can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other forms of cancer.

(via Flickr/Missouri Botanical Garden)

Campaigns to protect our environment and improve sustainability efforts are numerous and ongoing in the St. Louis area.  Host Don Marsh talks with environmental experts about what has been done, what is being done, and what still needs to be done to further protect our planet. 

(Wallpaperstock.net)

People from a range of religious traditions and faiths will be gathering this afternoon to talk about environmental sustainability.

St. Louis EcoFaith co-organizer Steve Lawler says the goal is to build an interfaith network that can support environmental awareness and action.

Himself an Episcopal priest, Lawler says concern for the environment is integral to many different religions, from Buddhism to Islam.

(via Flickr/außerirdische sind gesund)

Both were subjects of new laws signed by Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn today.

(Courtesy of the White House Council on Environmental Quality)

Nancy Sutley is President Obama’s principal environmental advisor and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

She was recently in St. Louis to speak with high school students and utility regulators.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra caught up with Sutley between speaking engagements to talk about what the Obama Administration is doing to address some of the environmental issues facing our region.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation creating a commission to ensure minorities and the poor aren't disproportionately affected by environmental pollution.

The Environmental Justice Act was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Chicago Heights and Rep. Will Davis of East Hazel Crest.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

Officials at Ameren took questions from shareholders about the utility company's procedures for disposing of coal ash today.

The annual shareholder's meeting was open to all Ameren investors.

Diana Oleskevich works for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.  The sisters are part of a group of five institutional investors calling on Ameren to clean up their coal ash disposal procedures.

Oleskevich says Ameren's claim that its 35 coal ash storage ponds comply with current regulations does not satisfy her concerns.

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