The Stream, January 5: Protected U.S. Waters Opened Up to Offshore Drilling

The Global Rundown

The U.S. opens up previously protected parts of the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans to offshore oil and gas drilling. Engineers develop wearable sensors that allow crops to measure water use. Brazil reevaluates its hydropower policies amid growing environmental concerns. Icy water floods cities along the coast of Massachusetts as a powerful winter storm hammers the U.S. Northeast. A study finds that the number of ocean ‘dead zones’, areas with zero oxygen, has risen steeply since 1950.

“We’ve never had this level of flooding on top of the snow.” –Donna D. Holaday, mayor of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in reference to flooding along the state’s coast, including in Boston Harbor. A record-breaking winter storm surge, which has swept away cars and prompted several evacuations, is the cause of the flooding. The Boston Herald

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By The Numbers

70 percent Proportion of Brazil’s electricity that comes from hydropower. The country has constructed numerous mega-dams in recent years, but the government announced this week that it will rethink future hydropower plans due to growing environmental concerns. The Guardian

In context: Popularity of big hydropower projects diminished around the world.

500 Number of ocean dead zones that have been reported near coasts. Dead zones, ocean areas with little or no oxygen, are the result of climate change and sewage run-off. These zones are inhospitable to aquatic life. The Guardian

Science, Studies, And Reports

Engineers at Iowa State University have created wearable plant sensors, which allow for the measurement of water use in crops. The graphene-based sensors could also have other applications, such as monitoring the environment and testing crops for pesticides. Science Daily

On The Radar

As part of a five-year leasing plan, the U.S. Interior Department is opening up the largest area on record to offshore oil and gas drilling. The plan allows for drilling in previously protected parts of the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. Reuters