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Written by From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Friday, 25 September 2009 11:30

Dear EarthTalk How can I make good use of the rainwater that runs down my

roof and into my gutters?         -- Brian Smith, Nashua, NH

For most of us, the rain that falls on our roof runs off into the ground or the sewer system. But if you’re motivated to save a little water and re-distribute it on your lawns or plants—or even use it for laundry, dishes or other interior needs—collecting rainwater from your gutters’ downspouts is a no-brainer.

If it’s allowed in your state, that is. Utah and parts of Washington State have antiquated but nonetheless tough laws banning anyone but owners of water rights from collecting rainwater flowing off privately owned rooftops. Such laws are rarely enforced, however, and one in Colorado was recently overturned.

Written by From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Tuesday, 08 September 2009 10:22


"Like many industries today, the boat business is looking
into greener ways to do their part and to attract some
of the increasing numbers of environmentally conscious
customers. Pictured: The recently retrofitted Hornblower
ferry to Alcatraz and Angel islands in San Francisco, which
runs on several alternative energy sources, including a
hybrid diesel-electric system powered by solar cells and wind
turbines right on deck."

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard that hybrid engine technology is now being used to

power boats. What’s happening with that?       -- D. Smith, Portland, ME


With concerns about climate change and the fate of the world’s imperiled oceans and waterways at an all time high, it makes sense that the boating industry would be looking into greener ways to try to do their part and to attract some of those increasing numbers of environmentally conscious customers.

Americans spend 500 million hours zipping around in recreational boats each year. But until recently the engines on these boats were held to much lower efficiency standards than their automotive counterparts. Last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new more stringent emissions standards for marine engines—both in-board and outboard—that will go into effect in 2010. In fact, several hybrid boats are already on the market, boasting emission ratings well below the new standards.

Written by From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Tuesday, 01 September 2009 08:14

Dear EarthTalk: I haven’t heard much of late about big oil spills like the

infamous Exxon Valdez. Has the industry cleaned up its act, or do the media just not report them? -- Olivia G., via e-mail

In the wake of 1989’s massive Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, when 11 million gallons of oil befouled some 1,300 miles of formerly pristine and wildlife-rich coastline, much has been done to prevent future spills of such magnitude.

For starters, Congress quickly passed the 1990 Oil Pollution Act which overhauled shipping regulations, imposed new liability on the industry, required detailed response plans and added extra safeguards for shipping in Prince William Sound itself. Under the terms of the law, companies cannot ship oil in any U.S. waters unless they prove they have response and clean-up plans in place and have the manpower and equipment on hand to respond quickly and effectively in the case of another disaster.

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