A small town in Texas. A huge explosion. An unsolved mystery — and the long road back.

The deadly 2013 explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Tex., was the prologue to an epic investigation, a baffling twist and a series of epiphanies on what it means to be a community.

WEST, Tex. — If her son hadn’t stowed that damn ’66 Chevrolet Impala in her garage, Jeanette Holecek would have died the day her town exploded. But its sloping steel bulk was in just the right place, at just the right time, and it shielded her from the concussion that shattered her home.

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Iowa Farm Bureau
Water

Report: Iowa drainage districts key to reducing nitrate pollution.

Drainage districts, one of the lowest tiers of Iowa government, could play a big role in addressing nitrate pollution that threatens water quality, according to a new report from an Iowa think tank.

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Toxics

Even third-hand smoke poses health risks.

Yes, there is such a thing as thirdhand smoke and it’s more dangerous than you think.

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Water

Clean water vs. farm profits at heart of fertilizer-rule debate.

By Josephine Marcotty Star Tribune OCTOBER 9, 2017 — 10:24PM

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Joshua Mayer
Toxics

Strips of native prairie plants could reduce pollution runoff from farm fields.

Strips Of Native Prairie Plants Could Reduce Pollution Runoff From Farm Fields

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Tony Webster
Water

Muddy Minnesota River swamped by increasing volume of water.

The increasing volume of water flowing down the Minnesota River is offsetting slim gains in water quality.

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Justice

North Carolina’s big pig waste problem.

This feature is part of Salon’s Young Americans initiative, showcasing emerging journalists reporting from America’s red states. Read more Young Americans stories.

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Water

Could this be the key to solving farmer–environmentalist conflicts?

September 28, 2017 — Imagine waking up one day and learning that your community’s water supply is contaminated by a pollutant in concentrations deemed unsafe by officials. That’s what happened to the citizens of Perham, Minnesota, in the 1990s, when workers discovered that the level of nitrates — a pollutant that can cause serious illness or death in infants — in city well water was so high that they needed to dilute it with water sourced from uncontaminated wells to meet public health standards. The likely culprit was the use by local farmers of nitrogen fertilizer, which, if applied in quantities greater than what crops use, can end up contaminating groundwater. The finding set the stage for a potential standoff between farmers focused on growing crops and environmentalists focused on keeping water clean.

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Toxics

A dairy revolution.

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Will Allen and Michael Colby. Allen is the co-founder of Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford. Colby is a writer and sugarmaker in Walden. Both are co-founders, along with Kate Duesterberg, of Regeneration Vermont. This essay is excepted from the full report, “Failure to Regulate: Big Dairy & Water Pollution in Vermont.”

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Toxics

Power plants get two-year reprieve for parts of wastewater rule.

From Daily Environment Report™

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Toxics

Can American soil be brought back to life?

Four generations of Jonathan Cobb’s family tended the same farm in Rogers, Texas, growing row upon row of corn and cotton on 3,000 acres. But by 2011, Cobb wasn’t feeling nostalgic. Farming was becoming rote and joyless; the main change from one year to the next was intensively planting more and more acres of corn and soy, churning up the soil and using ever more chemical fertilizers and herbicides to try and turn a profit.

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From our Newsroom

My urban nature gem

Thanks to the Clean Water Act and one relentless activist, Georgia's South River may finally stop stinking.

Dust from your old furniture likely contains harmful chemicals—but there’s a solution

Researchers find people's exposure to PFAS and certain flame retardants could be significantly reduced by opting for healthier building materials and furniture.

Hormone-mimicking chemicals harm fish now—and their unexposed offspring later

Fish exposed to harmful contaminants can pass on health issues such as reproductive problems to future generations that had no direct exposure.

America re-discovers anti-science in its midst

Fauci, Birx, Redfield & Co. are in the middle of a political food fight. They could learn a lot from environmental scientists.

How Europe’s wood pellet appetite worsens environmental racism in the US South

An expanding wood pellet market in the Southeast has fallen short of climate and job goals—instead bringing air pollution, noise and reduced biodiversity in majority Black communities.

Roadmap points Europe toward safer, sustainable chemicals

EU Commission releases ambitious strategy for getting hormone-disrupting chemicals out of food, products, and packaging.

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