Former President Bill Clinton hugs House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California as another Democrat, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, looks on at Wednesday's ceremony naming the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters for him.
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey sample water in Goodwater Creek, Mo., for pesticides and other chemicals that may have run off from the surrounding land.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media
America's hugely productive food system is one of its success stories. The nation will export a projected $139.5 billion in agricultural products this fiscal year alone. It's an industry that supports "more than 1 million jobs," according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
But all that productivity has taken a toll on the environment, especially rivers and lakes: Agriculture is the nation's leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
If you stand in front of Almena and Sidney Poray's house in Baton Rouge, La., and look straight down the street, past the other houses and the shade trees, you see more than a dozen plumes of exhaust in various hues of gray and white.
"That's something you see every day, the same thing if not more," says Almena Poray. "Sometimes it's a darker gray; sometimes it's a black smoke coming out."
Any gardener will tell you that compost is "black gold," essential to cultivating vigorous, flavorful crops. But it always feels like there's never enough, and its weight and bulk make it tough stuff to cart around.
I belong to a community garden in Washington, D.C., that can't get its hands on enough compost. So you can imagine my delight when I learned that the U.S. Composting Council was connecting community gardeners with free material from local facilities through its Million Tomato Compost Campaign.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could soon issue a final ruling that aims to force oil companies to replace E10, gasoline mixed with 10 percent ethanol, with E15.
This move could come just as widespread support for ethanol, which is made from corn, appears to be eroding.
Mike Mitchell was once a true believer in ethanol as a homegrown solution to foreign oil imports. He owns gas stations, and he went further than most, installing expensive blender pumps that let customers choose E15, E20 and all the way up to E85.