Alabama Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill in June creating a new Cabinet agency for homeland security. It is the first such state department that isn't within another state agency. -- Office of Governor Riley

University of Illinois researchers are using a radio-controlled miniature helicopter to help improve crops. The helicopter's camera takes color and infrared field-map photographs to help identify fields infested with a specific weed or that lack a particular nutrient. -- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Louisiana and two companies have applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for a grant to develop and test a hover barge to use for coastal restoration and oil and gas extraction. The barge could float above the marshes without requiring new canals, and could help plug thousands of abandoned wetland wells. -- Dredging News Online

New Hampshire is asking drivers to answer an online survey about expanded rail or bus service and their overall interest in mass transit. The state will spend the rest of 2003 collecting information from the survey and public meetings. -- Foster's Daily Democrat/Laconia Citizen

The New Jersey Transportation Department began a radio ad campaign to promote its cell phone hotline for reporting aggressive drivers. The $180,000 campaign will feature messages promoting the hotline number: the pound key followed by 77. Since the hotline's launch in May, aggressive driving reports have increased from about 100 to 600 daily. -- N.J. Department of Transportation

A new Web site developed by North Dakota and federal emergency agencies is aimed at helping determine the flood risk at specific lake elevations in the Devils Lake area. The site is intended to provide a central place for government agencies, businesses and homeowners to run through what-if scenarios. -- USA Today

Two Oklahoma wind farms should start generating electricity by the end of the year, officials said. One of the plants is being constructed in Lawton. The other is in Woodward. -- USA Today

This fall, the University of Washington plans to offer a new online master's degree in strategic planning for critical infrastructure. The 45-credit program will prepare managers and other professionals to protect transportation systems, electrical grids, water systems and other essential infrastructure from terrorist attacks and other hazards. -- University of Washington Educational Outreach

A sensor designed to track underground water flow is being tested in West Virginia. Researchers say the technology could help prevent flooding from abandoned mines or alert regulators to a leaking coal waste impoundment. The sensor, carried by a low-flying helicopter, uses electromagnetic waves to detect water below the surface. -- USA Today

Miriam Jones  |  Chief Copy Editor