Extra Extra : Environment

$15 million in state funds held in non-profit bank account

KARK 4 News spent two months going through years of board minutes, financial documents and audits after receiving a tip that millions of state dollars were sitting in an out-of-state account, even as rice farmers continued to pay millions in check-offs each year. The station found that members of the state board voted to send this money into a nonprofit bank account, failed to report the revenue to financial officials and may have spent millions of those dollars without the authorization to do so.

No statewide plan to address rising sea levels across Florida coastline

Florida has 1,200 miles of coastline. Many communities along the coast — such as historic St. Augustine — have experienced chronic flooding. Potable drinking water has been contaminated with salty seawater. Rising tides and frequent storm surges have washed out roads from Jacksonville to Key West. Despite growing concerns from local officials in charge of these coastal communities, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has downsized many vital environmental agencies across the state and set aside efforts to combat rising sea levels, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Hundreds of water permits expired in national forests

Hundreds of permits to use water from national forests in California have expired, but that hasn’t slowed the use of the water, according to an investigation by The Desert Sun.

The Palm Springs newspaper obtained more than 1,100 water-related permit records and found that 56 percent of the permits were expired. The pipelines run to water districts but also to cabins and neighborhoods, as well as properties such as cemeteries, lodges and ranches.

Extra Extra Round-up: Whistleblowing farmers, no oversight for IT contractors, and grand jury investigating landfill contractor

Cock Fight: Meet the Farmer Blowing the Whistle on Big Chicken | Fusion

Craig Watts is a chicken farmer – and now, a whistleblower. Fusion documented Watts’ journey, from his struggle to speak out to the reaction of his employers: Perdue Farms. Two months after going public with his grievances, Watts says he has been visited 26 times by company representatives and even placed on a “performance improvement plan.” Meanwhile, the majority of chicken farmers live at or below the poverty line, four companies control more than half of the industry, and animals are subjected to insufferable living conditions.

Assault of Central ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Jailers without jails, deadly debris, and state medical examiners

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Only in Kentucky: Jailers Without Jails | Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

Jeanette Miller Hughes is the personification of a wasteful, nepotism-laced but little-discussed system that costs Kentucky taxpayers approximately $2 million annually. She is one of 41 elected county jailers across the state who don’t have jails to run. And she is the highest paid of them all.

Only in Kentucky does this curious practice ...

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Veterinarians face conflicting allegiances to animals, farmers - and drug companies

Veterinarians are taking a crucial new role in public health in 2016 -- gatekeepers to tons of farm animal antibiotics now freely dispensed without prescription and contributing to a surge of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that infect people.

What will the companies selling antibiotics do about that? A Reuters investigation found broad, pervasive and mostly undisclosed financial ties between drugmakers and veterinarians:

Pharma companies gave $3.3 million to the main U.S. veterinary association over the past four years. Zoetis, the world's largest animal drug maker, named a prominent veterinary dean to its board at $240,000 a year, almost doubling ...

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Regulators lack resources to confront risks posed by exploding oil trains

Almost a year and a half after an oil train explosion devastated a Quebec town —and after three railcar explosions in the United States — those headline-grabbing measures have turned out to be less than they appeared. Idling oil trains are still left unattended in highly populated areas. The effort to draft new safety regulations has been bogged down in disputes between the railroads and the oil industry over who will bear the brunt of the costs. The oil industry is balking at some of the tanker upgrades, and the railroads are lobbying against further speed restrictions. The story and video ...

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Six years after Hurricane Ike, Texas coast remains vulnerable

Hurricane Ike sent a clear message that the people and vital energy industry of greater Houston, one of America's largest urban areas needed protection from rising seas. Six years later, it remains an easy target as storm surges grow increasingly more destructive. Many major coastal cities are in the same boat.

A Reuters analysis of RealtyTrac data for the third installment of the “Water’s Edge” series found that at least $1.4 trillion worth of businesses and homes line the country’s tidal shores, yet the U.S. lacks a unified national response to rising sea levels. The ...

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Water officials in California refuse to follow own conservation rules

In Southern California, a region in severe drought, many cities have passed rules on water usage per household per day. While the average water usage in a single-family home is now using 361 gallons per day, water conservation advocates on city councils haven’t been following their own regulations. Mike Soubirous, a Riverside City Council member who voted for new, strict rules in July, used over a million gallons in his home last year, nearly ten times the amount of the average family.

Soubirous is far from alone. According to The Center for Investigative Reporting, 25 other officials in similar ...

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Landslide safety all over the map in Washington

The deadly Oso landslide in March sparked a debate over Snohomish County’s apparent failure to protect residents at the base of a known landslide zone.

But Washington state is dotted with landslide-prone slopes, and many counties and cities do less than Snohomish County to keep homes away from harm.

A joint KUOW-EarthFix investigation found that local rules vary widely around the state, leaving some communities with much smaller margins of safety than others.