Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Environment

Edwardsville Approves Shopping Bag Fee. Will Other Metro East Cities Follow Its Lead?

Oct 17, 2019
Mike and Vicki Blunt, of New Douglas, load their vehicle with groceries in single-use plastic bags at Schnucks in Edwardsville in March. The couple usually bring their own reusable bags, but on this day, they bought too many groceries and needed more.
Teri Maddow | Belleville News-Democrat

Edwardsville will become the first city in downstate Illinois to require retailers to charge for single-use plastic and paper shopping bags to help protect the environment.

Edwardsville City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved an ordinance that was first proposed by a grassroots organization called Bring Your Own Bag Glen-Ed. Members argued that single-use bags pollute land and water, harm wildlife and human health and waste resources.

Kemet Ajanaku, right, spots an egret near the Audubon Center at Riverlands on July 1, 2019. Teens learn the basics of environmental conservation, then lead a series of summer camps for elementary schoolers.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

White, upper-middle-class Americans have held the reins of the mainstream conservation movement for decades — and some say change is long overdue.

A small group of biologists and educators in West Alton are working to jump-start that change through a series of outdoor camps. The Audubon Center at Riverlands’ Flight Crew program aims to help more young people of color connect with nature. 

Josh Davis tends to his American mulefoot hogs on his farm in Pocahontas, Illinois on September 15, 2018.
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

At the end of 2018, Green Finned Hippy Farm in Pocahontas, Illinois, decided to stop selling its meat and poultry at farmers markets.

The reason, according to co-owner Alicia Davis, is she and her partner Joshua were spending a large amount of time driving their products to markets and explaining the farm’s practices, but only a few patrons would actually buy anything. They decided to pursue other ways of reaching customers, which included joining the Missouri Coalition for the Environment’s Known & Grown campaign that launched this month.

Leticia Colón de Mejias thinks no problem is insurmountable if Americans come together.

“Sometimes we take these subjects and we make them so big and scary that people feel we can’t take action,” said Colón, 42, a Connecticut entrepreneur, environmentalist and mother of seven. “Climate change seems terrifying. And everyone’s like, it’s too big.”

Mayor Lyda Krewson at St. Louis City Hall On April 17, 2019.
Andy Field | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson presented a two-year report at City Hall Wednesday touting the city’s completed and ongoing development projects. She also highlighted the city’s efforts to tackle climate change.

The report says that $8 billion in projects have been recently completed or are underway. These include the Gateway Arch Park and Museum, the Soldiers Memorial and Ballpark Village.

Winfred Obruk (right) from Shishmaref, Alaska shows Amy Martin (right) where the island used to be before erosion, caused in part by climate change, ate away at the island.
Nick Mott

Amy Martin has reported many times on environmental issues for NPR and other public radio outlets. Through that reporting, she realized she wanted to “go deeper and really dive into one issue with a lot of detail and a lot of nuance.” So she founded the Montana Public Radio show and podcast, “Threshold,” which delves into environmental topics and issues.

Martin, the podcast’s executive producer, spoke to host Don Marsh on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air and explained why she chose the subjects for the show’s first two completed seasons: bison and climate change.

Johnson & Johnson hit with $4.69 billion loss in baby powder-ovarian cancer case

Jul 13, 2018
Quentin Lueninghoener | Fairwarning

The legal assault on Johnson & Johnson and its signature baby powder reached new heights today, when a state court jury in Missouri found the company responsible for the ovarian cancers of 22 women, and ordered the drug and consumer products giant to pay $4.69 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to the cancer victims or their survivors.

The verdict by the jury of six men and six women in St. Louis Circuit Court was by far the largest yet in the mushrooming baby powder litigation.

Piles of concrete and brick line a fence separating the former Pruitt-Igoe housing development from the Gateway school complex. Parents and staff at the school say placing the rubble there stirred levels of dust high enough to sicken students and teachers
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

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Demolition and excavation work for a new federal intelligence agency headquarters in north St. Louis received environmental scrutiny and regulation that officials said is “above and beyond” what’s required.

When some of that demolition material from the site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s West headquarters was moved across the street, and next to a public school, little if any monitoring occurred. Parents and staff at the Gateway school complex on North Jefferson Avenue, point to the 30-foot piles of rubble they say brought high levels of dust and caused breathing problems and other ailments at the school over several months.

Parents and staff blame illnesses inside the Gateway school complex on debris brought over from the site of the planned National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters. The piles tower over a fence next to the school. May 6, 2018.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Isaiah Carson was happy and healthy on an early April afternoon as he worked on spelling with his dad at the family’s kitchen table.

That wasn’t the case a few months earlier when he started having trouble breathing. He was wheezing and had a shallow cough.

Isaiah, who’s 5, would lie in bed with his parents at night, unable to sleep. His father, Michael Carson, felt helpless. “He scared me to death,” Carson said.

Michael Dawson of the St. Louis Zoo shows an American toad to a group of fourth-graders from Community School on May 4, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Armed with clipboards and binoculars, students from the St. Louis area got a chance to explore nearby forests, fields and ponds, all while cataloging local wildlife.

Local naturalists and wildlife experts helped guide small groups of students as part of the first BioBlitz at Principia School in Town and Country on Friday. The BioBlitz, which happens each year in communities across the U.S., is an effort to record plants and animals, while also helping “citizen scientists” feel more connected to nature.

Carol Van Strum has been in legal battles with the federal government and chemical industries since the 1970s. She amassed a trove of government documents, which are now being published for the first time.
Risa Scott | RF Scott Imagery

Bending a rusted, gnarled piece of wire gate just above her head, Carol Van Strum ducked into the old, dark shed where she kept some old, dark secrets.

“This was my bear deterrent,” she said of the makeshift gate.

She shined a lantern past a stack of hay bales, lighting up a row of decaying cardboard boxes that housed what’s left of her document trove.

“This is where the worst of them were,” she said. “This whole, it was just filled. And you can see the state of them. This is what they all looked like.”

After gathering dust, rust and rat poop for decades in the Siuslaw National Forest, Van Strum’s piles of documents about the chemical industry are poised to become evidence in lawsuits with billions of dollars at stake.  

John Posey, director of research for the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, has researched what the impacts of climate change could be like in the St. Louis region.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Maybe you've heard it suggested that as the impacts of climate change are felt more keenly in the coming century and sea levels rise, that people living on the coasts will move inward to the Midwest … a place like St. Louis, for example.

A recent New York Times article suggests that prospect may even be a little warmer than initially expected. What can we expect the St. Louis of the future, under the impacts of climate change, will be like?

A magnolia tree in full bloom at Tower Grove Park in March 2017.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The unusually warm winter in and around St. Louis has caused many flowering plants and trees, such as magnolias and peach blossoms, to bloom early this year.

But with temperatures expected to fall below freezing this weekend, experts are concerned it will affect the growing things that already seem to think it's spring.

Chronic stress and the West Lake Landfill

Mar 6, 2017
This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
File photo | Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public Radio

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On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we spoke with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Eli Chen about her story detailing environmental chronic stress related to the ongoing situation at Westlake Landfill.

Sylvester Brown and Tamara plant sweet potato seeds in front of Union Avenue Christian Church in June.
Kim Oswalt | St. Louis Public Radio

Encouraging more residents to grow fruits and vegetables in St. Louis could depend on making it easier for residents to acquire vacant lots, according to a new survey. 

The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, consisting of environmentalists, policy experts and community leaders, collected 854 responses that came from nearly every neighborhood in the city. Residents were asked about their interest and participation in urban agriculture and the challenges they faced in doing so.

Amy Harmon covers science and society for the New York Times.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Harmon has been a national correspondent for The New York Times, covering the intersection of science and society, since 1997. On Thursday, she joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the divide between public opinion and scientific data. She will address audiences on similar subject matter at the Danforth Plant Science Center on Thursday evening as well.

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Mary Delach Leonard weighed the postcards mailed to her home in Madison County by Ill. state representative candidates Dwight Kay (R) and Katie Stuart (D), 112th district. They weigh 4 1/2 pounds.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio.

Whether you’re in a blue state, red state, happy or fed-up state, it’s all over, except for the recycling.

Yes, it’s time to make a clean sweep of the election flyers and door hangers.

The campaign yard signs and banners.

The political postcards that stuffed your mailbox every doggone day.

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle will recieve the World Ecology Award from the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center on Oct. 16.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

It took hundreds of millions of years to populate oceans with its vast array of wildlife from plankton up to Coral Reefs and blue whales. It only took a few decades for humans to extract 90 percent of the big fish in the ocean and cut the number of Coral Reefs in half, said Dr. Sylvia Earle, a famous oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence.

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.

(Peabody Energy, via Wikipedia Commons)

Peabody Energy has three coal mines in far southern Illinois, all of which are still producing coal.

When those mines eventually shut down, the company is required by state and federal laws to pay for the clean-up and reclamation of the land. St. Louis-based Peabody has guaranteed the state of Illinois it has the estimated $92 million to cover that work.

But as the company considers bankruptcy, some question whether the St. Louis-based company’s promise is worth much.

The Fenton Water Treatment Plant was knocked offline 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.

Does Earth Day matter? Festival-goers respond

Apr 26, 2015
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.

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