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Friday Finds: Lights Out for Light Pollution


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06 January 2011, 2:57 PM
Discount parks, fishy trees, banned bags
Light pollution across the U.S. Photo courtesy of NASA.

 Americans see the light on night bright cities
Approximately 300 counties, cities and towns are beginning to see the light on excessive light pollution by enacting so-called dark-sky legislation that's supported by treehuggers and army brats alike, reports USA Today. Light pollution doesn't just keep you up past your bedtime. Over the years, studies have accused light pollution of causing everything from animal disturbances to bungled military drills and increased air pollution, not to mention all that energy that's being wasted by keeping the lights on when nobody's home.

Labor Department buries Massey Energy mine
This week the Department of Labor dug up a long-forgotten enforcement tool to use against Massey Energy, a repeat-offender of mine safety regulations that made headlines last April when an explosion at its Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia killed 29 people. According to NPR, the Labor Department used a section of federal mining law known as "injunctive relief" to force a settlement against Massey's Freedom Mine #1 in Kentucky that will require the company to observe enhanced safety precautions, among other things. Check out Earthjustice's Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining campaign to find out how you can eliminate the need for companies like coal-mining companies like Massey in the first place.

Christmas comes late for tree-loving fish
Dried-up Christmas trees bound for the trash may get a second life as fish habitats, reports the New York Times. It turns out that tossing old or unwanted Christmas trees into barren lakes brings about algae growth, which then draws in insects and eventually fish, a win-win for everyone. The tree-to-sea campaign is quickly catching on in places as far-flung as Oakland, Calif. to Shelbyville, Ill., and is just the latest of many unique ideas to reuse a popular holiday icon.
 
Cheapskates get a break on park fees
The National Park Service has announced that admission fees for entry to the almost 400 national parks in the U.S. will be waived for 17 days out of the new year, reports the Washington Post. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the fee-free days will help families affected by the dismal economy afford vacations to such places as Yellowstone and Yosemite, as well as to lesser-known (but equally important) places like the Big Cypress Swamp in Florida and Salt River Bay in the Virgin Islands.
 
Italy deems plastic not so fantastic
On Jan. 1 Italy became the first country in the European Union to ban plastic bags, joining the likes of China, Ireland and Uganda in outlawing an item that has been deemed by many environmentalists as a scourge on the environment. In place of polyethylene bags, Italians can use biodegradable, fabric or paper bags, reports the Guardian. Despite plastic bags' environmental harms, such as clogging landfills, killing wildlife and contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the U.S. has yet to enact a similar ban.

 

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