Environment

About 25 people are walking the route of an oil pipeline in the Northeast Kingdom to raise awareness about potential plans to ship tar sands oil across the region.

The pipeline crosses 10 towns in northern Vermont. A pipeline executive said last winter the company is looking for new business, including using the line to ship tar sands oil east from Canada to Portland, Maine.

AP/Toby Talbot

State utility regulators are considering sanctions against Green Mountain Power for violating sound limits at its Lowell wind project last winter.

GMP says the problem was caused by snow build-up on the turbine blades. It says the violations were extremely limited and that monitoring now shows that it’s in full compliance.

Don Nelson and his wife Shirley live just below the Lowell ridgeline. He doesn’t have sound monitoring equipment at his farmhouse, but he describes a thunderous noise from the turbines one weekend in early November last year.

sectionhiker.com / Flickr

Thurs 07/11/13 Noon and 7PM  It’s late at night and you’re desperate to get to sleep, but there’s one solitary mosquito whining around your room. Mosquitoes are more than just an annoyance, though. They can carry deadly diseases, and it seems like there’s more of them every year.

We'll talk with state entomologist Alan Graham and infectious disease epidemiologist Erica Berl to learn more about mosquitoes, the diseases they carry, and how to get rid of them.

Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Basin Program

The last two months of heavy rains have pushed Lake Champlain to near flood stage, and aggravated the lake’s pollution problems.

The high water and increased pollution comes as federal and state officials are preparing a clean up plan for the lake.

The plan will likely include everything from new limits on sewage treatment plants to increased controls on storm water.

As if persistent rains haven't done enough to thwart outdoor recreation this year, state health officials say heavy runoff in recent weeks could turn rivers, ponds and lakes into breeding grounds for algae blooms and disease-causing pathogens.

Some of the wettest months on record have ensured an oversupply of nutrients in Lake Champlain and elsewhere, heightening the risk of blue-green algae blooms that sometimes contain toxins. Experts say the high waters of late could also translate into increased levels of E. coli, which can signal the presence of other unhealthy bacteria.

Hinesburg Joins Lawsuit Over Well Contamination

Jul 8, 2013

A drinking water well used by the town of Hinesburg is contaminated with low levels of the gasoline additive, MTBE.

Although the levels are below the threshold considered dangerous for drinking, town officials are eager to clean up the pollution problem. 

Hinesburg now plans to join a lawsuit against major oil companies to recover costs for the clean-up.

Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) was added to gasoline to boost octane performance and to make the fuel burn cleaner.

theclyde / Flickr

Mon July 8, 7pm and 12Noon We’ve probably all had that frustrating moment trying to set up the tent in the near dark. We’ll learn some tips and tricks to avoid camping disasters. What's your worst camping horror story? Email vermontedition@vpr.net or post your stories below.

We'll talk to Frank Spaulding and Sarah Clark, stars of the camping how-to videos on the State Parks Website.

AP/Toby Talbot

Biologists say moose herds across parts of northern New England are facing a new challenge with ticks because of recent warmer winters.

They believe the milder weather has helped increase the populations of a tick species that can cover large moose with an estimated 150,000 ticks, about half of which can grow to the size of a grape.

Vermont moose biologist Cedric Alexander says the ticks could be contributing to a decline in the reproduction rates and general health of the state's moose population, estimated now at about 3,000 animals.

The wet weather of May and June hasn’t exactly been conducive to outdoor activities – including camping. 

The weather has been taking its toll on business at Vermont State Parks.

Montpelier set a new record for wettest June and most of the state feels like it could be wrung out.

rick020200 / Flickr

Wed 07/03/13 7pm & 12noon If you love thunderstorms, then you've probably loved this summer so far. We'll check in on how all this wet weather is affecting the state. Tell us how it's affecting you: vermontedition@vpr.net.

We'll talk with Bob Paquin, from the USDA Farm Service Agency; Brian Searles , Secretary of the Agency of Transportation; and Jen Butson, from the Department of Tourism and Marketing.

VPR/John Dillon

It’s an hour or so after dawn in the Sterling Forest -- 1,500 acres of mixed northern hardwoods that belongs to the town of Stowe.

The lush woods are crisscrossed with hiking, skiing and mountain bike trails. The forest is also actively managed for timber production. But the morning chorus indicates there’s another beneficiary of this hilly timber lot: songbirds.

PSB Reviews Yankee's Impact On Connecticut River

Jun 26, 2013

State utility regulators heard conflicting evidence this week about Vermont Yankee’s impact on the Connecticut River.

The three-person Public Service Board is reviewing Entergy Vermont Yankee’s request to operate until 2032.

A key issue is Yankee’s impact on the environment and whether hot water released by the nuclear plant harms fish and other river life.

AP/Toby Talbot

Heavy rain is expected in Vermont through Tuesday, and officials are preparing for the possibility of flooding.

Vermont Emergency Management is working with municipalities, emergency responders, and the National Guard to prepare for any problems that could occur during periods of heavy rainfall.

Officials fear that saturated soils and rivers may not be able to absorb the continuing rain. The National Weather Service says no flooding is ‘imminent’.

Lake Champlain is also nearing flood stage, and will likely continue to rise when the rains end.

AP/Jason R. Henske

The Public Service Board has cleared the way for critics of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to examine the plant’s impact on water quality.

The ruling was a reversal for Entergy Vermont Yankee, which tried to keep water pollution issues out of the ongoing hearings over the nuclear plant’s future.

The PSB this week rejected Entergy’s argument.

The board said it was allowed to independently examine water impacts, even though Yankee must also get a separate permit from the state Agency of Natural Resources.

AP

Gov. Peter Shumlin has asked for a detailed federal environmental review if an oil pipeline than runs through the Northeast Kingdom is reversed to carry tar sands crude.

The governor has written to Secretary of State John Kerry about the issue, since the State Department has jurisdiction over a project that crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

Shumlin’s letter to Kerry asks for a presidential permit for the pipeline and an impact statement to assess the environmental costs of reversing the pipeline.

State agencies are investigating whether a pesticide sprayed for mosquito control caused a fish kill in an Addison County lake earlier this month.

The fish die-off was seen in Fern Lake a few days after trucks applied a chemical in the area to kill adult mosquitoes.

Leicester resident Zachary Saxe has lived near Fern Lake for a decade. He often fishes and swims there, and the first weekend in June his swim was interrupted by the sight and smell of dozens of dead fish. Saxe, who once worked as a wildlife technician, went out to collect samples in plastic bags.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed three bills that promote energy efficiency and clean energy for homes, farms and businesses.

The legislation signed Monday creates new financing programs for residential and commercial sectors. It allows the Vermont Economic Development Authority to borrow up to $10 million from the state Treasury to establish the loan programs and a new energy efficiency loan guarantee program.

The bill also provides $6.5 million for residential efficiency loans through a program run by Vermont Housing Finance Agency.

How much is a little brown bat worth? According to Green Mountain Power’s calculation, about $1 million a year.

The utility has asked for a state permit to kill four of the endangered creatures a year at its 21-turbine Lowell wind project. GMP says if it has to follow all the protections needed to spare every bat from getting thrashed by the turbine blades, it would cost the utility $4 million a year in reduced power output.

The town of Monkton has signed an agreement with Vermont Gas Systems that sets out the conditions the company must follow if it’s allowed to build a natural gas pipeline through the community.

Vermont Gas wants to extend its line 41 miles south to Addison County. Some residents in Monkton oppose the project. The town selectboard last week voted to reject a legal agreement – called a memorandum of understanding – between the town and the company.

VPR/John Dillon

Before there were ski areas, before snow cats groomed the slopes and high-speed lifts whisked you uphill, there were people who would climb miles to ski on some of Vermont’s most rugged terrain.

Clem Holden is 90 now, and still skis when he can. Back when he started in the 1930s, the skiing involved a lot of uphill motion.

“We used to start down on Route 2, and we’d ski up to Bolton lodge, and that’s about halfway, and then we’d keep going to Bryant’s camp, and that’s about eight miles from the main road down below,” he said.

Pages