Environment

A look at the natural world around us.

VA's Largest Polluter Scales Back Outdoor Burning

Jul 27, 2015

The Radford Army Ammunitions Plant is one of the few places that still burns waste from the making of explosives, outdoors, in the open air.

For years, activists have been urging the practice be stopped because of threats to human health and the environment.  Now plans are in the works to do that and more.

Matt Wasson, Appalachian Voices/Creative Commons

Burning coal to make electricity isn’t its only impact on the environment. The mining process has also been shown to pollute nearby waterways.

New rules proposed by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to protect that water, will be debated over the next several months. Some see them as a potential threat to dwindling coal jobs and others, as not strong enough to protect the environment.

REDIT HARALD HOYER / CREATIVE COMMONS

The ultimate routes of natural gas pipelines that would run through Virginia have yet to be determined.  Among the concerns that raises, is; what effect could pipeline construction have on people’s well water? 

File Photo

For years the use of hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—has been exclusive to Southwest Virginia, but some organizations and communities are vehemently opposed to it. Now, as companies are exploring more energy sources throughout the state, such as natural gas and shale, officials are feeling more pressure to amend regulations that govern the practice. 

State Water Commission Chair and Delegate Thomas Wright says he's in favor of offshore drilling and whatever the state can do to produce more energy—but he also advocates environmental stewardship.

Chincoteague Pony Swim Celebrates 90 Years

Jul 22, 2015

This month marks the 90th year the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company's Saltwater Cowboys run their annual pony swim. The wild ponies, whose Spanish lineage dates back centuries, are moved from Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, to the fire company's carnival grounds where a selection of foals are auctioned off. But unless there's a fire, rounding up cowboys is sometimes more difficult than ponies.

At a booth to the entrance to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, park ranger Naomi Belton collects park fees and gives directions to the best places to see them.

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