environment

Nadya Faulx

Kansas business groups have mobilized to snuff out a budding movement among a few cities to ban single-use plastic bags and straws, frustrating environmentalists who can't get the Republican-controlled Legislature to tackle climate issues.

Lisa Dusseault / Flickr

The Sedgwick County Environmental Services Department is turning Christmas trees into mulch until Jan. 23 as part of its annual Christmas tree recycling program.

Department officials say the program helps lessen the flood of old Christmas trees to Wichita landfills.

The program also provides another use for the trees: People who drop off their trees for recycling at one of 22 locations in the county are able to get free mulch in return.

Officials remind people to remove all ornaments and lights before dropping off their tree for disposal.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Electric buses will soon be on Wichita’s streets.

MGP Ingredients Inc., a leading producer of distilled spirits and specialty proteins and starches, has agreed to pay a fine of $1 million in connection with a toxic chemical release at its plant in Atchison, Kansas, three years ago.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service file photo

WICHITA, Kansas — The water coming out of your tap might meet legal standards, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe to drink — at least according to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy nonprofit.

EWG found that nearly all of the 870 water utilities in Kansas tested for at least one contaminate above what it considers safe, though most water utilities in the state meet federal standards, which are different than EWG’s. 

Patrick J. Alexander, USDA-NRCS Plant Database

WICHITA, Kansas  Deanna Caudill hasn’t used an inhaler since she was a child. That all changed for the 25-year-old Wichita State graduate student this month when, after getting a back-to-school cold, she never seemed to recover.

“It’s like every morning I wake up and I cannot breathe,” she said. “It’s just a feeling I’ve never had in my whole life be this bad.”

Caudill suffers from an allergic reaction to ragweed pollen and the lingering effects of a cold — a combination that’s becoming increasingly common for Kansans in September.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Wichita — Cindy Hoedel and Scott Yeargain, who live in or near the Kansas Flint Hills, began looking into oil and gas operations near their homes as early as 2016.

The two, separately, worried about earthquakes and water quality issues that new wastewater injection wells would create.

Hoedel documented a few dozen instances where injection well permit applications didn’t follow Kansas Corporation Commission guidelines. That led to a KCC report identifying more than 1,000 similar cases.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA — Toxic blue-green algal blooms have been causing major problems on Kansas’ lakes since about 2010.

Because the pond scum can make people sick, the lakes became out of bounds for swimmers and the like.

Yet now the phenomenon is costing Kansans money. It’s infiltrating city water systems, triggering slightly more expensive treatments to keep drinking water safe.

GARDEN CITY — Nearly all American cattle spend their final months in massive feedlots, munching on feed designed to fatten them for slaughter.

But not all that goes into the beasts transforms to beef.

Their four-chamber-stomach digestive systems continually seep all forms of gasses, including the powerful greenhouse gas methane they burp up silently and constantly.

Jason Penney, Creative Commons

Drive on any major highway in Kansas and you’ll likely see some roadkill.

For decades, biologists at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism have found a treasure trove in their counts of flattened animals. It’s a way to create a population index of raccoons and beavers.

In 1986, the scientists also started counting armadillos.

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