The Stream, June 5, 2020: U.S. Ranks 24th on Environmental Performance Index, With Low Scores on Water, Waste Management

The Global Rundown

A new analysis by Yale and Columbia universities ranks the United States 24th in the world on environmental performance, with particularly low scores on water and waste management. South Africa extends a national drought-related state of disaster by a month. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) says it plans to hold a hearing on how the replacement of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline could affect streams and wetlands. Ukraine faces water security issues as rivers and reservoirs dip to their lowest levels on record. Michigan residents fear that recent flooding around Midland’s Dow Chemical Company could have stirred up contaminants lingering in the soil. 

“The reality is, no one knows where the contaminated sediments are now. It was such a huge flood, the currents were so large … it undoubtedly moved some of the contamination.” –Allen Burton, a professor at the University of Michigan, in reference to recent flooding around the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan. Dow’s industrial activity in the area has tainted river sediments and soil with a slew of chemicals, including dioxins and furans, which may cause cancer and other health related issues. The total contamination has an estimated footprint of around 50 miles, a stretch of which had already been designated as a Superfund cleanup site. Testing is underway to determine whether the floods in Michigan last month stirred up contaminants. Bridge 

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By The Numbers

24th Rank of the United States in a new analysis of environmental performance conducted by Yale and Columbia universities. The Environmental Performance Index ranks 180 countries on several dozen performance indicators. Overall, the U.S. ranked 15th on climate and 16th on air quality, but scored poorly on indicators related to water protection and waste management. The Guardian

1 month Length of time that South Africa extended a national state of disaster due to drought. The declaration began on March 4 and was set to last three months. It will now be in effect until at least July 4 as a years-long drought continues to impact several parts of the country. Bloomberg 

Science, Studies, and Reports

Ukraine’s rivers and reservoirs are at their lowest levels since record-keeping began in 1885. The shortages are affecting Ukrianian households and threatening to disrupt exports. Officials also fear the water insecurity could undermine relations with Russia as tensions rise over water supplies for the occupied Crimea peninsula. The Jamestown Foundation 

On the Radar

Energy company Enbridge Inc. is planning to replace its Line 3 pipeline, which runs from Alberta, Canada, to the midwestern U.S. This week, however, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announced that it will hold a hearing to determine how Enbridge plans to protect streams and wetlands crossed by the pipeline. The hearing could delay the pipeline’s replacement by up to three months. Reuters

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