A look at the natural world around us.

Tiny Country May Beat Virginia to the Wind Power Punch

Sep 24, 2015

This week, Dominion Virginia Power said it still hoped to build a couple of wind turbines off Virginia Beach.  The federal government has promised more than $50 million for planning and construction, but the utility could only find one company willing to build the demonstration project, and it wanted far more money than the firm was willing to pay.  Dominion says it will seek a new round of bids early next year.

Meanwhile, a tiny country in Europe is on track to build 150 wind turbines off its coast.

A highly destructive invasive insect that attacks tomatoes is spreading rapidly around the world.  A Virginia Tech Plant Pathologist is calling for preventative measures to stop it from reaching the U.S. 

The tiny South American Tomato Leaf Miner bores into the leaves, stems and fruit of tomato plants. With no natural predators outside that region, like any invasive species it proliferates largely unchecked. Already the tiny moth, called ‘Tuta Absoluta,’ has affected 40% of the world’s tomato crop and where it strikes, it can cause nearly total crop loss.

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The coal counties of Appalachia have seen their share of the boom and bust cycle, but industry officials fear this time could be different. 

The comment period for new rules protecting waterways near coal mining is being extended after industry officials asked for more time to digest them, but to many, it looks like the handwriting is on the wall for the future of the coal industry.  Harry Childress is the son of a coal miner, now President of Virginia’s coal and energy alliance.  He worries the proposed new rules would make this time more than just a cyclical down trend.

It’s been 20 years since Virginia started subsidizing coal companies with tax credits that have cost the state more than $500 million.  As lawmakers review the governor’s budget for the next two years, some experts say it might finally be time to stop propping up King Coal in Virginia. 

Uprooting Appalachia

Sep 8, 2015

The image of “Appalachia” many people have today came from a 1964 Life Magazine story that featured the town.  Now researchers are looking to add another chapter to the story of the small southwestern Virginia town, written in the voices of people who live there today. 

“You know how it got its name, don’t you? This guy had a big old bucket. And he had a whole lot of apples in it and these kids kept messing with it and he said, if y’ all don’t stop that I’m going to throw an Apple a’cha.”