Half of the airborne mercury pollution in the US comes from coal-fired power plants. After years of study and debate, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to announce new limits on mercury from coal plants in November. Meanwhile, utilities are scrambling to meet other new federal regulations and industry groups are asking the government to slow down.
California is known for its "green" reputation, so it might be a surprise that residents in Southern California still depend on coal power when they turn on the lights.
Over the last 15 years, more than a billion dollars has been spent to protect Lake Tahoe's clear waters from runoff and erosion. Now, new threats to lake's clarity are emerging, just as restoration funding is drying up.
The Bay Area's vast Hetchy Hetchy system, "a dream in granite, concrete, and steel," is getting an overhaul. The system carries water 167 miles from Yosemite to Bay Area taps; pretty soon that voyage will include the Bay's first true tunnel.
One of the most ambitious wetland restoration projects in the country is underway in San Francisco Bay. Thousands of acres of those ponds are being restored for shorebirds and wildlife.
Every year, only 18-percent of all American electronic waste is recycled, according to the EPA. Hoping to cut down on the growing mountain of high-tech trash, two dozen states have passed laws that require the electronics industry to pay to set up recycling programs. But navigating this patchwork of legislation has been a challenge.
Companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Heinz ketchup have determined that plastic made from plants — not oil — makes sense both for the environment and for business. The growing demand has meant a boom in the bioplastic industry. Could this mean the end of the plastic bottle as we know it?
Here's one silver lining to a slow economy: High recycling rates. Americans are wasting far less, and recycling far more. Nowhere is the trend as strong as in California. As Amy Standen reports, this change is sending ripple effects throughout the economy.
Supercomputers are becoming increasingly vital to modeling complex scientific problems. As they get bigger, they're also becoming massive energy hogs, using as much power as small cities. Now, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab are hoping reduce that energy load through an unusual source: the technology in your cell phone.
At the end of this month, some hybrid drivers will lose their solo carpool privileges. Beginning July 1, only drivers of all-electric and natural gas powered cars will be allowed to drive alone in California's carpool lanes. How effective was the hybrid perk and what will be the new wave of fuel efficient hybrids that gets this special benefit?
At one hospital in San Francisco, more than half of the patients in an alcohol abuse program refuse medications that could help them stop drinking. So Bay Area scientists find themselves waging two campaigns: to develop drugs that work, and to convince alcoholics to take them.
Pain is the most common reason for trips to the doctor's office. So it makes sense that pain treatment is a huge part of our health care system, costing more than $100 billion dollars a year. But how exactly pain works is still a mystery in many ways. As Lauren Sommer reports, some researchers are trying to understand it better by looking at a very unusual creature.
Peer into San Francisco Bay and you probably won't see much, thanks to the murky water the bay is known for. But over the past decade, scientists have made a surprising discovery — the bay's water is clearing. As Lauren Sommer reports, clearer water is not always good news.