Environment

Living by the ocean might sound nice, but in the era of climate change, it's a risky proposition.

As sea levels rise, coastal residents are faced with tough choices: try to fortify their homes, move to higher ground or just pull up roots and leave.

Homeowners in Nahant, Mass., are grappling with these wrenching questions. The community lies on a rocky crescent moon of land in the Atlantic Ocean just north of Boston.

For its entire history, it has been at the mercy of the ocean.

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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency Pruitt has long criticized.

The Senate approved Pruitt on a 52-46 vote Friday afternoon, with two Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — voting for his nomination. Republican Susan Collins of Maine voted no.

It's been a long week. Take a moment — or even a minute! — to watch something beautiful.

Since going over capacity last week, the water level in the Oroville Dam has dropped, but it's still at a higher level for this time of year than the previous 16 years.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Today is Carrie Lewis’ last day on the job she has held for 20 years.

She arrived, not long after one crisis surfaced, and she’s leaving, as Milwaukee Water Works is addressing another - figuring out how to replace what could be more than 80,000 lead pipes that carry water into city homes.

Lewis came to town in 1995, two years after Milwaukee’s devastating cryptosporidium outbreak. It sickened hundreds of thousands of water drinkers, and dozens, many of whom had compromised immune systems, died.

On Jan. 25, President Trump signed an executive order instructing construction to begin on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Environmentalists and civil rights activists say the proposed wall on the southern border with Mexico is a threat to the environmental rights of the people who live on both sides of the border.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a pretty simple mission in principle: to protect human health and the environment. It's a popular purpose too. Nearly three out of four U.S. adults believe the country "should do whatever it takes to protect the environment," according to a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center.

Political support for the EPA, though, is less effusive.

The economy in southwestern Pennsylvania has been hit twice, once by the collapse of big mining and steel employers, and again by the environmental destruction that accompanied those industries.

It's a part of the country that voted heavily for Donald Trump.

Ashley Funk grew up an hour outside Pittsburgh. The area feels kind of left behind with buildings named after mining companies and polluted ponds turned fluorescent, alarming colors.

Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. But a broad swath of the country has had no large, commercial wind farms — until now. A new one with 104 towers is up and running near Elizabeth City, N.C., where it spans 22,000 acres.

You know those nasty brown spots that can ruin an otherwise perfectly delicious apple? Those spots and other problems — like blossom blight and yellow leaves — are often caused by fungi. Apple growers usually fight back with fungicides, but a new study has found that those fungicides could be hurting honey bees.

"The long-standing assumption is that fungicides won't be toxic to insects," says May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

After two days of round-the-clock work to control water flowing over the Oroville Dam in Northern California, people who live downstream of the structure are allowed to return to their homes, officials announced Tuesday.

Nearly 200,000 people were affected by evacuations after water scoured enormous holes in two of the dam's concrete spillways beginning Sunday, raising concerns that the tallest dam in the country could fail.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The Freshwater For Life Coalition, or FLAC, delivered a letter to Barrett on Tuesday.

The group is demanding the city take big, immediate steps to address its crisis of lead pipes carrying water into thousands of homes.

The call comes after news erupted late last week during a Water Quality Task Force meeting.  Its members learned Milwaukee did not mandate the use of copper pipes until 1962. For months, city leaders had been repeating the message that only people living in homes built prior to 1951 likely had lead service lines.

In the world of electric cars, there's a chicken-and-egg problem: More people might buy electric vehicles, or EVs, if they were confident there would always be a charger nearby. And businesses might install more chargers if there were more EVs on the road.

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