Feedlot violations yield penalty

Feedlot penalized for manure pollution
A Marshall-area cattle producer has agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty for alleged violations stemming from manure-contaminated water runoff during land application of manure from a feedlot holding about 3,000 cattle.

In a Stipulation Agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Donald DeLanghe will also revise the feedlot’s manure-management and emergency-response plans.

On Sept. 8, 2010, the MPCA received a complaint about manure-contaminated water runoff from cropland about four miles south of Marshall. Manure from the feedlot, which is stored in two earthen basins, was being applied to the cropland as fertilizer. Over-application of liquid manure, combined with the marginal field conditions due to wet weather last fall, resulted in manure-contaminated water escaping to field drain tiles and to an intermittent stream.

In a related Administrative Penalty Order, the manure application contractor received a $10,000 penalty for failing to report the discharge, and for not taking immediate steps to contain or recover it.

The MPCA regulates the collection, transportation, storage, processing and disposal of manure, and provides assistance to counties and the livestock industry. Large feedlots with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits must operate so that no manure or contaminated water is allowed to enter waters of the state. More information about feedlot regulation and assistance is available on the MPCA feedlot program Web page.
–MPCA News Release

Radio series probes Great Lakes’ future
Interested in the Great Lakes? Check out a remarkable series of news and feature reports on the lakes’ future assembled by WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio. The series, titled Front and Center, deals with a range of issues: from the threat of invasive species, to the recovery of the bald eagle, to the nagging question: How likely is it that the arid west eventually will buy — or steal – the Great Lakes’ water.

Spotted owl plan released
It has been two decades since the fate of a bashful bird that most people had never seen came to symbolize the bitter divide over whether to save or saw down the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. Yet it was not until Thursday that the federal government offered its final plan to prevent the bird, the northern spotted owl, from going extinct.

Barred owls, bigger and more adaptable, now increasingly compete with spotted owls.

After repeated revisions, constant court fights and shifting science, the Fish and Wildlife Service presented a plan that addresses a range of threats to the owl, including some that few imagined when it was listed as a threatened species in 1990.

The newer threats include climate change and the arrival of a formidable feathered competitor, the barred owl, in the soaring old-growth evergreens of Washington, Oregon and California where spotted owls nest and hunt.

One experiment included in the plan: shooting hundreds of barred owls to see whether that helps spotted owls recover.

–The New York Times

Report: Deferred maintenance plagues parks
America’s national parks are threatened by unchecked human development, voracious invasive species and climate change and the government has failed to protect or catalog millions of priceless artifacts, according to a decade-long
report (pdf) released by the National Parks Conservation Association.

The group’s report, “State of America’s National Parks,” warns that adjacent residential, commercial and industrial developments threaten air, water and noise pollution and fragmented wildlife habitats for the National Park Service’s nearly 400 parks and other attractions.

It also warns that cultural resources such as battlefields and prehistoric sites have received far less attention and funding than natural resources and are threatened by looting, vandals and a lack of qualified staff to interpret their meaning for visitors.

The report cites a recent agency estimate that 43 million of the NPS’s 80 million museum artifacts were uncatalogued, and that 28 million objects were at risk of decay or loss.

–The New York Times

2010 was one of two warmest years ever
Worldwide, 2010 was one of the two warmest years on record according to the 2010 State of the Climate report, which NOAA released. The peer-reviewed report, issued in coordination with the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 368 scientists from 45 countries. It provides a detailed, yearly update on global climate indicators, notable climate events and other climate information from every continent.

This year’s report tracks 41 climate indicators ― four more than last year ― including temperature of the lower and upper atmosphere, precipitation, greenhouse gases, humidity, cloud cover, ocean temperature and salinity, sea ice, glaciers, and snow cover. Each indicator includes thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets that allow scientists to identify overall trends.

While several well-known cyclical weather patterns had a significant influence on weather and climate events throughout the year, the comprehensive analysis of indicators shows a continuation of the long-term trends scientists have seen over the last 50 years, consistent with global climate change.
–National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration news release

Homebuilders sue over Chesapeake Bay plan
The National Association of Home Builders is the latest group to sue the federal government in an attempt to thwart the new Chesapeake Bay “pollution diet.”

The builders group filed its lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania on Friday, alleging that the Environmental Protection Agency’s computer modeling is faulty, the process didn’t allow for adequate public review and the federal government doesn’t have the authority to define specific pollution limits.

Tom Ward, an attorney for the home builders, said he hopes the court will require the EPA to complete a do-over on the new pollution rules.