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"Climate Change Expedition Held Up by Climate Change." That story and more in the latest edition of "This Week in Water"[ Show/Hide Transcript ]

A Legionnaires' Outbreak Leads to Charges of Involuntary Manslaughter Against Michigan State Officials

In connection with the Flint water crisis, the Michigan Attorney General charged five people with involuntary manslaughter for the death of an 85-year-old man who succumbed to Legionnaires' disease. The outbreak of the illness is alleged to have been caused by officials switching to the corrosive Flint River, the same water that caused lead poisoning. About a dozen people died and many were infected with Legionella in 2014 and 2015 in the county where Flint sits.

Those charged include the director of the state’s Health and Human Services Department who allegedly failed to warn the mostly black population of Flint about the outbreak. Facing other charges is the state’s top doctor who is accused of threatening to cut funding to researchers studying the link between the Flint River and Legionnaires'. She is also accused of lying to investigators.

Robert Skidmore, the 85-year-old who died in 2015 had lived in Flint his whole life and worked at General Motors for 37 years. By the time he contracted the disease, the Attorney General said that state officials knew about the outbreak, but had not made it public.

EPA’s Scott Pruitt Is Blasted by a Surprising Group of Opponents

Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA testified at a House committee hearing on Thursday where he was barraged with tough questions from Republicans. The White House has proposed cutting the EPA’s budget by more than 30% and many members of the GOP showed their displeasure.

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican from New Jersey, expressed concern over the substantial cuts to nearly 100 hazardous waste sites of which his state has more than any other. Republican David Joyce from Ohio, pointed out that, if the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is cut as Trump plans, it would have economic consequences. And a Republican from Idaho, Michael Simpson, told Pruitt that the job cuts at the EPA would mean fewer people testing and approving pesticides that potato farmers need.

According to Mother Jones, Trump’s budget would eliminate more than 50 EPA programs and cut the agency’s research nearly in half. Representative Mark Amodei, a Republican from Nevada, told Pruitt, that the EPA would get more money than Trump asked for, because, he noted that frankly nobody is standing on the rooftops begging for dirty water, dirty air, and dirty soil.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Scores a Victory Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

When the Army Corps of Engineers completed its review of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it failed to adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s fishing and hunting rights. So ruled a federal judge in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. While the judge ruled that the agency had largely complied with environmental laws he also said that the Corps did not evaluate environmental justice issues. Federal agencies are required to consider whether a project will have an especially negative impact on poorer and minority communities. However, the judge said that he was hard pressed to conclude that the Trump administration had used reasonable criteria in doing so.

It is not clear what will happen next with the pipeline that is now transporting oil. The judge did not stop its operation, but he asked the Tribe and the owner of Dakota Access Pipe Line to submit briefs as to whether it should be stopped. The judge did order the Corps to reconsider its review, but an attorney for the Sioux told the Associated Press that the government might simply decide the pipeline is safe enough and reissue the permit. Nevertheless, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault, II, called the ruling a major victory. The next hearing in the matter comes on Wednesday, June 21st.

Climate Change Puts Arctic Research on Ice and at the Other End of the World a Common Pest Is Threatening to Invade Antarctica

The first part of a climate change study to be conducted in Canada’s Hudson Bay had to be cancelled last week because of problems caused by climate change. Researchers from five Canadian universities were scheduled to travel north on an icebreaker, but due to warmer temperatures, hazardous sea ice from the Arctic is traveling further south.

The team has been monitoring and analyzing the effects of climate change on Arctic marine and coastal ecosystems since 2003 according to a statement from the University of Manitoba. One of the experts involved said that climate changes are increasing the mobility of sea ice now and will do so more often in the future. The ship the team used was earlier diverted off its course to help ferries and fishing boats deal with heavy ice in areas between Labrador and Newfoundland.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the world, the common housefly is threatening to invade parts of the Antarctic. The Guardian reports that with soaring temperatures plants and insects normally not present pose a major threat. The flies come on ships and then base themselves on the continent. One researcher said that the flies carry pathogens that could have a devastating effect on indigenous species.

Is It a Croc or Is It a Crock?

croc or crock? And finally, just outside Vancouver, Canada, there's a new roadside attraction. Or, should we say, roadside distraction. Police in Surrey, British Columbia, say they've received numerous calls from motorists claiming they’ve seen a crocodile in a marsh just off the highway. Now, saltwater crocodiles, the world’s largest living reptile at twenty feet long can be found in North America—but the furthest north you should find them is Florida and maybe South Carolina. You won’t find a croc wandering through wetlands in Canada.

If you’re lucky though, you may find the Northwestern Alligator Lizard, which can grow to a scary eight inches in length. Okay, then, so what’s lurking off Highway 17? According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, it's a blown-out truck tire. They tweeted that "any croc' sighting in Surrey is just a load of garbage—literally."

Or, so they say... The Mounties are not willing to wade into the marsh to remove it. Sounds fishy? We looked at it, and you can, too. You decide if the so-called tire is a reptile, or if the Mounties’ claim is a crock of bull.

Music Credits: The Fixer, Funkygroove  | Qin, Dr.Guonake  | Jah Moon, Sun Ska Riddim Originale  |  Scott Holmes, Cat and Mouse  |  Grégoire Lourme, Rain  |  Creative Commons

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