Environment

Birmingham area receives poor grades on air quality report

The American Lung Association’s 2023 State of the Air report used research from the Environmental Protection Agency to measure air quality by year-round particle pollution, short-term particle pollution and ozone quality. 

North Birmingham’s Bluestone Coke plant issued warning for Clean Water Act violations

The industrial plant has 60 days to clean up contaminated water in Five Mile Creek before it faces a federal lawsuit, local environmental groups warn.

The Birmingham Zoo wants to build a new cat exhibit. First they must deal with unmarked graves

The zoo has filed for a permit with the Alabama Historical Commission to professionally exhume the graves and reinter them nearby.

US Forest Service and historically Black colleges unite to boost diversity in wildland firefighting

Wildfire season around the U.S. continues to grow while minorities remain underrepresented in forestry and firefighting.

As the US invests more in climate-smart ag, these Louisiana farmers could serve as a model

Climate-smart agriculture is getting a “once-in-a-generation” investment of $20 billion. Louisiana farmers show what a successful rollout could look like.

An Alabama program helps residents stormproof their homes. Louisiana wants to copy it

Strengthen Alabama Homes gives residents up to $10,000 to retrofit homes to the FORTIFIED standard. Other states see it as a model for their own insurance woes.

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Cahaba lily season draws crowds, inspires conservation efforts

Alabama is thought to be home to one of the world's largest populations of the unique flower, which is only in bloom for a few more weeks.

Feds say Alabama ignored sewer issues, harmed Black residents

The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services announced the results of the environmental justice probe and a settlement agreement with state health officials to address longstanding wastewater sanitation problems in Lowndes County, a high-poverty county between Selma and Montgomery.

Tornado’s swift arrival in Rolling Fork highlights Gulf South’s emergency management needs

Residents in some Mississippi towns didn’t get much warning before deadly tornadoes struck. It exposed the challenges of emergency response in rural areas.

Pascagoula residents sue EPA to halt production of Chevron’s plastic fuel

Cherokee Concerned Citizens and Earthjustice are seeking to halt Chevron from producing new chemicals from plastic waste at a nearby refinery.

Why preventing flooding in Mississippi’s Yazoo Backwater is easier said than done

The Vicksburg Post’s Anna Guizerix discusses the history of flooding in the Yazoo Backwater area, and why finding a solution is considered controversial.

A months-long landfill fire in Alabama reveals waste regulation gaps

An unregulated landfill that accepts vegetative waste has burned underground for months. Neighbors were inundated with smoke and left wondering why the site wasn't regulated in the first place.

Legal complaint claims Alabama discriminates when distributing sewage infrastructure funds

Alabama only allows state funds for sewage infrastructure to go to public bodies. A civil rights complaint argues the policy hurts communities of color.

Mississippi updated its solar energy guidelines. Renewable energy advocates want more

Mississippi added incentives for low-to-moderate income residents to encourage more investment in renewable energy. Activists are pushing for more access.

Red Mountain Cut features time capsule of Alabama’s robust geologic history

A national natural landmark, the road cut along Birmingham's Red Mountain Expressway documents more than a hundred million years of geologic history and was once an educational centerpiece.

While rebuilding homes, Amish volunteers bond with South Louisiana over faith and food

Amish groups have stepped in to help Louisiana storm victims rebuild when other forms of aid have ended. It’s also led to cultural exchanges and connections.

Advocates criticize state environmental commission about response to Moody landfill fire

Speakers at the meeting argued the Alabama Department of Environmental Management took too long to act on the fire and that steps must be taken to regulate these types of landfills.

Who would put out a landfill fire near Moody? That question consumed officials for weeks

A private landfill near Moody smoldered for almost two months, inundating residents miles around with noxious smoke, before the EPA stepped in.

This swampy paradise is Alabama’s winter haven for sandhill cranes

As many as 25,000 sandhill cranes migrate to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge every winter, along with a handful of highly endangered whooping cranes. 

Residents worry about unknown health impacts of toxic landfill fumes

Officials have advised people to stay inside, seek medical care if they feel sick and relocate if necessary, a response that frustrates many residents.

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Presence of chemicals in landfill fire smoke catalyzes EPA to step in

The EPA is taking action to extinguish the fire after air sampling results showed carcinogenic chemicals in smoke from the site.

A Mississippi community is ‘grateful’ for more air testing, but skeptical of what comes next

A $500,000 EPA grant will make more air testing in Pascagoula’s Cherokee Forest community possible. Residents worry their voices will — again — not be heard.

Lawsuit filed over landfill fire near Moody seeks class action status

The complaint cites years of inspections and violations from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management showing that the agency had found unauthorized waste on the property.

In the fight for environmental justice, Birmingham tells Jackson to stay loud

Gulf States communities have been living in contaminated environments for years. Jackson and Birmingham residents share strategies that can help.

St. Clair County declares emergency in response to landfill fire

The declaration means the county can ask the state for funding and resources. But residents are left with unanswered questions about the fire's affect on the local air and water quality.

Officials see hurdles to putting out landfill fire near Moody as neighbors suffer

Residents near landfill fire say the smoke is affecting their health, but officials are still trying to figure out how to put out the blaze — and who will pay for it.

Landfill fire near Birmingham burns for more than a month

Smoke from the underground blaze has caused the air quality in the area to reach hazardous levels.

The story of Alabama’s favorite homegrown Christmas tree

The Leyland cypress is a holiday staple for Alabama farmers. But the non-native tree has a surprising history.

Santa brings in freezing temperatures for the holidays

After a cold blast of air Thursday night, temperatures will plummet to the teens. Birmingham National Weather Service meteorologist John De Block says it's been a while since it’s been this cold.

Wealthy Governor’s Company to Pay Nearly $1 Million for Chronic Air Pollution Violations

In the generations before Bluestone acquired the plant in 2019, people living in the area faced exposure to levels of contaminants in the air and soil that have ranked among the worst in the nation.

Underground landfill fire still contained; smoke could be worse for a few days

While rain would typically aid in fighting an above-ground fire, it likely can’t reach fire that is smoldering under the surface.

Fire department says landfill blaze that spread smoke more than 20 miles away is ‘contained’

The Moody Fire Department determined that a landfill fire that has been burning largely underground has been contained.