Utah National Monuments, North Carolina Coal Ash, Asteroids. Sept. 28, 2018, Part 1
Back in December, the Trump administration announced reductions to two of Utah’s national monuments: Grand Staircase-Escalante, which runs from the Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park, and Bears Ears, newly established by the Obama administration just a year before. The reduction opened up nearly 2 million acres of previously protected federal land to fossil fuel and mineral exploitation, angering Native Americans, for whom the land is historically and spiritually significant, as well as environmentalists, archaeologists, and paleontologists.
Then, just this week, it was announced that a group of lawsuits to reverse the cuts would remain in federal court in Washington, D.C., rather than move to Utah, a decision the plaintiffs are celebrating. As the legal process continues, scientists are waiting to see what will happen to the newly excluded acreage, which still contains hundreds of thousands of sites they consider important. Will the Department of the Interior open the land completely to oil and gas extraction? And what specimens—ancient dinosaurs, mammals, fish, and more—could be lost? Two paleontologists and a law professor discuss the implications.
After Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina, historic flooding caused several dam breaches late last week—leading to a coal ash controversy. Now, an ongoing disagreement ensues between environmentalists and industry representatives about the levels of coal ash in the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, North Carolina.
Last week, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, also known as JAXA, landed two rovers on the asteroid Ryugu. The Hayabusa2 mission will explore the surface of the asteroid, blast an impactor into it to study the core, and return to Earth with samples. And, Science Friday video producer Luke Groskin talks about his visit to a lab where scientists are mixing up recipes for asteroids here on Earth to help researchers test rovers for future missions.
Plus, geologists and archeologists debate a new potential geologic age, starting around 4,200 years ago.