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Articles from John McManus

Most people know that solar and wind energy is only generated when the sun shines or the wind blows. This leaves potential power gaps at times of no sun or wind. One of the Holy Grails of renewable energy has been storage systems (think battery here) that can store surplus energy when it’s produced for use later.

Last Friday, the federal government proposed to protect wolverines as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Wolverines are the biggest member of the weasel, mink, marten and otter family, but they don’t act like good family members—they are loners who cover huge ranges usually high in mountain ranges above tree line up in the rock, ice and snow.

There’s a dangerous type of mouse and rat poison on the market that when eaten by the rodents, causes them to bleed to death internally. Problems arise when the poison sometimes finds its way into the hands of kids or pets or moves up the food chain from rats and mice to foxes, bobcats, owls and the like that pounce on sickly rodents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on the government, schools, parents and medical professionals to take concerted action to protect children from pesticides.

The 60,000-member physicians organization is worried about the growing body of scientific evidence that links these toxic chemicals not only to obvious poisoning but also to subtle health problems kids can be particularly vulnerable to.

A new report has some not-so-great news for those who love to eat fish. Mercury is turning up in fish from all over the world—and coal is one of the main culprits.

Coal burned in power plants releases mercury, basically dissolved in smoke, that later settles out over the land. It typically falls out of the atmosphere within 30 miles or so of where it was burned and then finds its way into soil and runoff that eventually end in the oceans.

One of the newborn bison calves, born at Montana's Fort Peck in the spring of 2012.

Home on the range, where the deer and antelope play? Forget about it. How about buffalo (yeah, I know they’re really bison).

After years of dreaming about getting one of the original Americans back out on the prairie where they belong, we’re a big step closer to seeing it happen.

In a video interview, federal judge James A. Redden said four dams on the lower Snake River should go. As he explained, it’s easier to take the dams out than it was to put them in and the change is needed for salmon to survive.

Currently, America's transmission grid—the power lines and electrical equipment that bring us electricity—has very few devices that store power from renewable clean energy sources such as solar and wind. This is hindering the deployment of these energy sources and limits their usefulness.

Consider solar … the sun shines during the day, lots of electricity is produced on rooftops with solar photovoltaic panels, yet there’s almost no ability on the grid to store excess power to be used at night.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld a unique air pollution rule that requires developers in California’s polluted San Joaquin Valley to mitigate for the added air pollution their new development brings.The rule was created by the San Joaquin Valley air district in a desperate move to do something about the out-of-control air pollution in the region.

Earlier this week, Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine went to court to argue that the state of Montana was legally required to consider steps to minimize the consequences of burning more than a half-a-billion tons of coal before leasing it to St. Louis-based Arch Coal, Inc. Earthjustice is representing the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club in a lawsuit asking the court to cancel the lease so that the state may study options for minimizing or avoiding the environmental consequences of this massive strip mine.

Next month, contractors will start removing two massive dams on the Elwha River which runs through Washington’s Olympic peninsula. It is expected to bring about the largest single increase of salmon habitat and population in the Northwest.

The dam removal caps efforts started more than 20 years ago by a local tribe and visionary activists with support from Earthjustice. The dams once provided power for a paper and pulp mill, but other sources will now provide the power.

An issue that has cropped up as the country moves towards more renewable energy generation is how best to store excess energy generated, say by wind mills during windy periods or solar panels during sunny periods. Energy storage in the form of industrial strength batteries and other technologies is coming, but such things aren’t yet installed where they’re needed.

It’s hard to view the recent actions of some big agricultural operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley as anything but hostile to the state’s wildlife. Some of the biggest growers are refusing to take an overflowing allotment of irrigation water as enough and are cluttering up the court system with lawsuits aimed at wringing every last drop of water for themselves, no matter what damage that causes native fish species. 

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency took a giant step away from the path it was on under Bush by moving a step closer to finding that carbon dioxide from major global warming polluters threatens our health and well being.

The EPA proposal to the White House could result in national limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.