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Friday Finds: New Mexico’s Dairy Industry Steps In Cow Pie

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09 December 2011, 2:53 AM
Tiny plastic problems, “green” tanning, dry-clean druggies
New Mexico's dairy farms must clean up their act. (USDA)

New Mexico dairies forced to clean up their cow pies
New Mexico recently passed some of the most progressive water regulations for dairy farm operations in the West, reports High Country News. Large dairy operations create huge waste problems—each cow produces about 145 pounds of solid and liquid waste per day—so when Texas transplant Jerry Nivens found out in 2007 that a large dairy was planning to set up shop near his town, he and a band of allies teamed up against the powerful dairy lobby, and won. Four years later, after countless hours of grassroots organizing, New Mexico citizens have done what others in Idaho, Washington and California—all big dairy states—haven’t yet been able to: stop dairy farms from polluting their groundwater with nitrates, antibiotics and deadly bacteria like E.coli and salmonella. The new rules may inspire citizens in other states to follow suit by taking matters into their own hands when Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations of any kind—whether they house chickens, cows or pigs—poison their community.

Oceans get fleeced by clothes with microplastic
Polyester yoga pants may seem harmless with all of their comfy-ness and warmth, but every time you wash them you may be polluting the ocean, reports Grist. According to a new study by Environmental Science and Technology, approximately 2,000 polyester fibers are released for each piece of polyester clothing thrown the wash. And since the home appliance industry doesn’t filter out these tiny fibers, they end up in the world’s oceans where they can potentially harm marine life. Though most of the attention to date has been on plastic giants like the garbage patches found in the Atlantic, Pacific and elsewhere, these tiny microplastics worry scientists because they can be eaten by bottom feeders like clams and mussels, eventually making their way up the food chain, to us.

Solar powered tanning wastes money, time and energy
If you’re feeling guilty about wasting energy on tanning, check out the new SunLounge, which offsets a percentage of its energy demand with solar power. The tanning salon’s confusing tagline, “Green is the new tan,” is in reference to a handful of sustainable actions that the company has taken to green its operations, like using bamboo walls, tankless water heaters and non-toxic paints. Though the salon surely get green props for trying to be sustainable, one can’t help but wonder whether SunLounge tanners, while lying in a tanning bed, are asking themselves an obvious question, “Why not just cut out the middle man and sit outside to get a tan?”

Dry-cleaning chemical exposure could make you want to get high
Exposure to a popular dry-cleaning fluid during an early age has been linked to drug use, reports the Cape Cod Times. According to a new study by Boston University’s School of Public Health that examined the exposure of PCE or “perc” treated drinking water pipes to Cape Cod residents between 1969 and 1983, fetuses, infants or toddlers exposed to the solvent through drinking water were 50 percent more likely than those unexposed to have used two or more illicit drugs later on in life. Though exposure to PCE is already well documented to cause liver and kidney damage in humans, this most recent study is the first to link the chemical to risky behavior.
Obama dusts off rarely used energy saving program
Obama is doing a run around a sclerotic Congress by announcing a $4 billion push to cut energy use in government and private sector buildings without costing taxpayers a dime, reports the Associated Press. Though the Energy Savings Performance Contracts program has been around since former President Bill Clinton's era, it’s barely been used since its inception, until now. Obama’s goal is to up energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020 with a $2 billion commitment from the government that will be matched by a coalition of businesses, labor unions, universities and others. So how is a $2 billion investment by the federal government not going to cost the rest of us, you ask? By paying the contractors who do the upgrades with the savings from using less energy. The program is also expected to create about 50,000 jobs over two years. Sounds like a win, win.

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