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California

A scientist holds a lithium Ion battery made in the materials lab at the Solar Energy Research Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO.

California’s energy storage market is showing just how regulation can encourage innovation. Last year, California’s Public Utilities Commission set the nation’s first energy storage procurement targets, over the initial opposition of the state’s three largest utilities. Now, a year later, the targets are in place and the utilities are actively working to meet them, invigorating California’s energy storage market in the process.

The 2010 explosion and fire at the 'Pick Your Part' junkyard in Wilmington, CA took more than 30 hours to extinguish, releasing particulate matter, dioxins and heavy metals across neighboring communities.

Last month, I toured a scrap recycling facility as part of a weeklong conference put on by the Society of Environmental Journalists in New Orleans, Louisiana. As an Earthjustice employee who has written before about recycling’s dark side, I was curious to hear the industry’s take on the health impact of scrap recycling.

Child suffering from asthma.

There’s something in the air, and Kevin Hamilton knows it all too well. A respiratory therapist in the San Joaquin Valley, Hamilton has watched his patients and his family struggle with the effects of fine particle and ozone pollution for decades.

“They are convinced the air quality is affecting their health and so am I,” he said. “Their asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are acting up more.”

Smog covers the city of Los Angeles.

California cities top an unfortunate list—the nation's worst places to breathe. The Golden State claimed all five of the top slots for the highest air pollution in the American Lung Association's 2014 State of the Air Report. Sadly, the report was nothing new. Los Angeles, and cities in the San Joaquin Valley like Bakersfield and Fresno, have been in the top five since the ALA started its annual reporting in 2000.

Butte Creek, during the Chinook spring-run in 2014.

This year, Earthjustice and California’s Butte Creek received a major assist from an unexpected source. Thanks to Pacific Gas & Electric’s Centerville Powerhouse—which when functioning diverts water from the creek—breaking, the creek is receiving maximum water flows for the first time in decades. The full flows are providing clean, cool water, which will greatly help to reduce stress and mortality of salmon as they travel home to spawn.

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