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Eyes Still Burning in W.V., as the Crow Thinks, a Mute Swan Song?
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Mind your beeswax: So, funny story. The Obama administration wants to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. But the state attorney from Alaska has a big problem with that. As do state attorneys from 20 other states, most of which are nowhere near the Chesapeake Bay. What gives? Well, the phalanx is part of an American Farm Bureau Federation effort to derail the Environmental Protection Agency before it can establish a cleanup precedent that, it says, could affect watersheds across the nation—even though the EPA says it has no interest in developing cleanup plans in states that haven’t requested one. That, of course, doesn't mean many other watersheds—like the Mississippi River and its massive, fertilizer-induced dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico—don't desperately need a cleanup plan. Washington Post

Water fountain of despair: About one month has passed since Freedom Industries allowed coal-cleaning chemicals to leak into West Virginia’s water supply. And for weeks, government officials have been telling people that the water is safe to drink. But just this week schoolchildren had to be dismissed after several kids reported burning sensations around their eyes and noses. Two people even went to the hospital. The symptoms are consistent with exposure to the chemical that was spilled, MCHM, and several other schools have reported smelling the contaminant’s telltale odor. Safe to say the situation has long ago transcended “mild inconvenience” and leveled off into “ongoing nightmare.” Huffington Post

N.C. is the new W.V.: Elsewhere in irresponsible water disasters: Duke Energy is still working feverishly to plug a whole that’s allowed 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash to flow into North Carolina’s Dan River—turning the water to gray sludge. Officials are still waiting on water tests to assess safety, but coal ash can contain some of the more toxic elements from the periodic table: lead, arsenic, mercury, and radioactive uranium. Good thing this stuff is highly regulated, right? Yeah, no. There are currently no federal standards on how coal ash is disposed. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed two options for regulation in 2010, but lobbying from utility companies has stymied the regs to this day. Perhaps everyone who's dragging their feet on this should go take a dip in the Dan for motivation? Associated Press, Washington Post

I, me, mine: I don’t know about you, but they don’t write climate change articles about my hometown of Acme, Pennsylvania. And that lack of specificity can contribute to the idea that climate change is a thing happening off in the boonies, like Indonesia or … Florida. But a handy new web app is putting things in perspective. Just enter your location and see how much the climate has changed in your area since 1880. New Scientist

Popularity contest: Getting rid of invasive species, like boars and beetles, is usually an easy sell. But what happens when the invasive is charismatic, beautiful, and beloved by humans? That's the case with New York’s mute swans. Scientists say mute swans annihilate aquatic vegetation and intimidate other birds. Animal advocacy groups say the scientists are wrong. And the swans? They have at least until the end of the public comment period on February 21st. Wired

The boom: It’s tough to truly appreciate the transformation North Dakota has undergone in just the last few decades. The Bakken shale formation is the largest in the United States and has turned the out-of-the-way state into prime real estate for oil companies and roughnecks alike (see "This Is Your Town on Fracking"). Towns spring up out of the dust, along with trailer parks, hotels, and restaurants to support the people who live there. About 200 new oil wells go up every month. In some ways, you just have to see it to believe it. The Daily Climate

DAILY DISTRACTION

Clever girl: You’ve probably heard that crows are intelligent. Well, nothing illustrates that fact quite like watching one solve an eight-part puzzle to get at a morsel of food. Prepare to be astounded. Huffington Post

OTHER HEADLINES

The Seeds of a New Generation New York Times

Solar Water Pumps Wean Farmers from India’s Archaic Grid Bloomberg

How the U.S. Exports Global Warming Rolling Stone

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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