The Science of Sustainability

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Renewables on Indian Land

Renewables on Indian Land

Indian reservations hold an estimated 10 percent of the nation's renewable energy resources — hot, windy tracts that suddenly seem more valuable than ever. The Campo tribe, near San Diego, has taken the lead, building the country's only utility-scale wind installation on Indian land. Plans are afoot to triple the project. But tribe members say tax incentives and other federal programs put Indians at a disadvantage.

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Energy Storage: The Holy Grail

Energy Storage: The Holy Grail

This week, we continue our series "33 by 20," a look at California's ambitious renewable energy goals. Solar and wind power are booming across the state. But renewables have a downside: there are times when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. California utilities are looking to smooth out those bumps with a new strategy: storing electricity.

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Reporter's Notes for Energy Storage: The Holy Grail

Reporter's Notes for Energy Storage: The Holy Grail

Energy storage (through batteries) is something we use everyday in our cell phones and computers. So it may be a little surprising that when it comes to the electric grid, storing energy is something that's rarely done.

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Delta Predators

Delta Predators

As the state dries out from a long, rainy winter, the battle over water rights in the Sacramento Delta continues. Water contractors are hoping an upcoming court ruling will find that water pumps are not the only threat to the imperiled Delta Smelt. Some of the blame is getting pinned on a bigger fish that happens to have an appetite for endangered species. Alison Hawkes reports.

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Reporter's Notes: Delta Predators

Reporter's Notes: Delta Predators

Striped bass are almost a naturalized citizen to the Delta, but farmers hope to blame the big fish for the plummeting numbers of endangered fish.

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Using DNA to Stop Dogfighting

Using DNA to Stop Dogfighting

Researchers at UC Davis are collecting DNA from dogs seized in police raids on dogfighting operations. The goal is to create a database to help identify and prosecute the extensive underground breeding programs that sell puppies for as much as $50,000 to dogfighting rings. But the database is controversial among some animal rights activists, who believe it would allow shelters to euthanize dogs whose DNA match fighting lineages.

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Reporter's Notes: How the Michael Vick Case Was Good PR for Fighting Dogs

Reporter's Notes: How the Michael Vick Case Was Good PR for Fighting Dogs

Dogfighting rings, as we report in this story, rely on a sophisticated, interstate network of breeders, just like you'd find for any other breed.

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Solar Heats Up in S.F.

Solar Heats Up in S.F.

The solar industry has descended on the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco this week. QUEST Senior Radio Editor Andrea Kissack reports from the Intersolar North America Conference and Expo.

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Protecting Marine Reserves

Protecting Marine Reserves

In April, California continued its ambitious efforts to restore declining ocean fisheries by creating 21 new marine protected areas between Half Moon Bay and Mendocino County. In all, fishing would be banned or reduced in 20 percent of state waters there. But with the state budget crisis, how will California enforce these rules?

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Reporter's Notes: Protecting Marine Reserves

Reporter's Notes: Protecting Marine Reserves

Argentine ants have had amazing success as an invasive species in the US. Their West Coast super colony numbers in the billions and spans from Mexico to Oregon. But aside from invading homes, they've had a dramatic effect on native ants and local ecosystems.

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Bay Area Ant Invasion

Bay Area Ant Invasion

If you've ever had small, black ants in your kitchen, chances are they're Argentine Ants. These invasive insects have spread across California, forming what some scientists say is one of the largest colonies on Earth. They're also harming native ants. Now, scientists are developing ways to stop the invasion, by learning the language ants use to communicate. Lauren Sommer reports.

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Finding a Home for Big Solar – Part Two

Finding a Home for Big Solar – Part Two

A plan that requires California's utilities to generate one third of their electricity from solar, wind and other types of clean energy by 2020 has been held up by a glacially slow permitting process. The Panoche Valley, south of Hollister, is finding itself in the center of one of those debates.

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Finding a Home for Big Solar – Part One

Finding a Home for Big Solar – Part One

California has set ambitious goals for a transition to clean, renewable energy: 33 percent by 2020. Some are skeptical that the goal is within reach.QUEST and Climate Watch continue to examine the promise and pitfalls of this historic transformation. Craig Miller reports on one Silicon Valley company's controversial proposal for Panoche Valley.

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Strawberries and Worker Safety – Part Two

Strawberries and Worker Safety – Part Two

The Schwarzenegger Administration plans to approve a new chemical called methyl iodide, which is used by strawberry farmers. Although methyl iodide can cause cancer and miscarriages, regulators say that protective measures like respirators and buffer zones will keep farm workers safe. Scientists consulting for the state say these measures often fail, and methyl iodide is too toxic to take chances. Amy Standen reports.

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Reporter's Notes: Strawberries and Worker Safety – Part Two

Reporter's Notes: Strawberries and Worker Safety – Part Two

How much can we count on respirators, buffer zones and other tools to protect people from a toxic chemical? That's the focus of this week's QUEST radio story.

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Strawberries and Worker Safety

Strawberries and Worker Safety

Methyl bromide – a powerful fumigant used by strawberry growers to sterilize the soil before plants go in – was found to harm the Earth's ozone layer. Strawberry farmers have been clamoring for a replacement, and they may get their wish if the state approves a chemical called methyl iodide. But some state scientists say it could cause cancer and miscarriages in farm workers and nearby communities.

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Reporter's Notes: Strawberries and Worker Safety

Reporter's Notes: Strawberries and Worker Safety

After millions of dollars of research, strawberry growers have come up with an alternative to methyl bromide, which damages the ozone layer: methyl iodide. Unfortunately, methyl iodide has its own set of problems.

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Soundscapes of National Parks

Soundscapes of National Parks

Many Californians will be spending summer traveling to their favorite getaway spost. Some of the most popular tourist destinations are national parks. But we can love them just a little too much. Too many hikers crowd trails, exhaust from automobiles clouds park air, and as Craig Miller reports, we can also have a big impact on one of the most treasured aspects of a park, its sound.

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Editor's Notes: Race for Renewables

Editor's Notes: Race for Renewables

Where did California go wrong? And as other states try to learn from its lessons, does the Golden State have any hope of reaching its next ambitious target – 33 percent renewable by 2020?

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Race for Renewables

Race for Renewables

With its wind and solar resources, California is known as a hotbed of renewable energy. Driving that development is an ambitious goal: by 2020, state law requires utilities to generate one third of their electricity from renewable sources. But the road to clean energy is full of obstacles. Lauren Sommer reports on how we got here and the chances of meeting our big green power goals.

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