Environment

Low oil prices are causing a drop in new drilling and exploration in North Dakota, but not as much as you might expect.

Take the boom town of Watford City, over in the northwestern corner of the state and in the heart of the Bakken oil patch. Its population has tripled since 2010, and today, continues to climb.

The Department of the Interior has unveiled new regulations on hydraulic fracturing operations that take place on federal lands, requiring companies using the drilling technique to ensure wells are safe and to disclose chemicals used in the process.

The rules change follows a more than three-year review process and will affect the 90 percent of oil and gas wells on federal lands that now use so-called fracking to extract oil and gas.

S Bence

During the first public hearing, the Joint Finance Committee heard citizens express their concerns about cuts to education, changes to the state’s long-term care program and funding for transportation projects. Occasional comments about the environment were sprinkled throughout the hour-upon-hour of testimony.

Lawmakers in New Jersey heard testimony today about one of the biggest environmental cases in that state's history.

ExxonMobil recently agreed to pay $225 million in damages for contamination at two oil refineries. Gov. Chris Christie called it a "good deal." But environmentalists complain the state is getting pennies on the dollar compared to the billions it was seeking in court.

The proposed settlement still requires approval by a state judge, and the public will have a chance to comment once the details are released — probably in the next few weeks.

The story of how kale went from frumpy to trendy is a great inspiration to Gabriela Bradt, a fisheries specialist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

"Nobody cared about kale. Then it became the green du jour," says Bradt.

President Obama wants to shrink the federal government's carbon footprint.

With hundreds of thousands of buildings and vehicles, the government is the nation's single biggest energy consumer. The president signed an executive order Thursday directing agencies to get more of their power from clean energy sources.

"We're going to cut the federal government's greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent from 2008 levels within the next ten years," Obama said, after touring a rooftop array of solar panels at the Department of Energy.

President Obama signed an executive order at the White House on Thursday directing the federal government to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 percent from 2008 levels within the next decade and to increase its use of renewable energy sources to 30 percent of total consumption.

For the first time, biologists have caught a rare type of coral in the act of reproducing, and they were able to collect its sperm and eggs and breed the coral in the laboratory.

The success is part of an effort to stem the decline in many types of coral around the world.

When utility companies burn coal to make electricity — and it generated 39 percent of U.S. energy in 2013 — it leaves behind ash that can contain arsenic, selenium, boron and many other toxic substances.

More than 70 years ago, the federal government took land from descendants of West African slaves, known as the Gullah, living in Georgia. Now they're fighting to get it back.

In 1942, they were given just weeks to leave marsh property on the Georgia coast so that the U.S. military could construct an air base for training pilots and conducting anti-submarine flights. Twenty years later, the former base and the land around it were converted into the 2,762-acre Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

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