Energy and Environment | KUNR

Energy and Environment

Climate Central

As an increasing number of states focus on renewable energy, batteries are becoming more of a necessity. And according to a new report, battery costs are dropping—but not enough to compete with fossil fuels.

The report comes from Climate Central, a nonprofit organization that studies the impacts of climate change. In it, the authors state that batteries and renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper by the year.

A new draft proposal by the Trump administration may throw both current and future clean air and water laws into question.

Wildfire smoke crosses the U.S. on jetstream
NASA

For much of the last decade, air pollution was decreasing. But it’s now on the rise, particularly in the West.

That’s according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It found that between 2016 and 2018, the levels of fine particulate matter increased 11.5% in the West. California's been impacted the most.

State of Colorado

As the Trump administration begins the process of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, three states in the Mountain West pledge to follow the tenets of the accord anyway.

Ed Franklin shows one participant how to take a reading on a solar panel, during the Native Waters on Arid Lands 2019 Tribal Summit in Reno, Nev.
DRI / Native Waters on Arid Lands

The climate crisis is threatening traditional ways of life throughout Indian Country. Now, tribal leaders and scientists are working together to help reservations become more climate resilient.

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

The Promise And Peril Of Environmental Philanthropy | A Privately-Funded Park For The People | Save The Cowboy, Stop The American Prairie Reserve | A Hunter’s Paradise | The Buffalo Is A Symbol of God

The northern Great Plains aren’t much to look at. It’s the drab, boring part of a cross-country interstate drive between Seattle and Chicago. 

No trees in sight. No water. But Sean Gerrity, founder of American Prairie Reserve, has always seen something more out here. 

Bree Zender / KUNR Public Radio

Researchers say forest fires are typically good for rebooting the health of forests, but a new study published in the journal Ecosphere says that high-intensity wildfires are dramatically changing the plant habitat structure of forests in the Sierra Nevada. 

A new study suggests huge fire blankets can help protect homes during wildfires.

A wildlife overpass on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana
Montana Department of Transportation

This time of year the number of vehicle collisions with deer and other wildlife are at their highest, a problem that’s especially acute in parts of the Mountain West.

On Tuesday, officials in Nevada held a summit to discuss how the state can address an issue that each year results in more than 500 reported crashes, costs taxpayers more than $19 million, and kills an estimated 5,000 wild animals, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Off-road vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs will soon be allowed on roads in Utah’s national parks after a controversial policy change last week.

 


U.S. Geological Survey

Chronic Wasting Disease is a wildlife illness similar to Mad Cow Disease.  It’s rooted itself in the Mountain West and is thinning herds throughout the region.

Nevada and Idaho are the only states in our region with no confirmed cases of the highly contagious and fatal wildlife infection. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t made it there.

U.S. Department of Energy

Waste from the nation's worst nuclear accident could remain in our region for another 20 years.

In 1979, a nuclear reactor had a partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania. And the waste from that incident has been living in Idaho since the 1980s.

Researchers are looking into what may be a peaceful solution to the timeless struggle against a Mountain West rodent. They’re giving prairie dogs birth control. 

A study published this week in the journal Science found that the bird population in the U.S. and Canada has fallen by nearly 30%, or 3 billion birds, over the past 48 years.

 


For the second time this year, kids around the world are striking from school to demand action around climate change. And it’s happening just before world leaders gather at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City. There were only a handful of strikes in our region last time but this time there are several dozen.

Our region is leading the way on training helicopter pilots to fight fires at night.  There are costs and hazards involved but the move could also help firefighters get the most threatening blazes under control more quickly.

Much of the Mountain West saw record breaking snowfall last year which was great news for the mountain resort industry. This year's snowfall may be less intense. 

Bree Zender

Note: Fire officials say mandatory evacuations for Milford area have been lifted, but area residents should be prepared to evacuate if needed. Other mandatory evacuation orders remain intact.

The Walker Fire continues to burn south of Susanville.

It’s charred nearly 44,000 acres and has been 7 percent contained, making it the biggest wildfire in California so far this year.

KUNR’s Bree Zender visited some of those who have been displaced by the evacuation orders to find out how they are adjusting. 

InciWeb

Editor's note: As of 9/13/2019, KUNR has stopped actively updating this web post. The U.S. Forest Service-Plumas National Forest is providing regular updates on Facebook.

09/12/2019 at 10:00 PM:

The burn area for the Walker Fire has grown to 49,272 acres, with 32 percent containment.

09/11/2019 at 10:45 PM:

Dan Meyers / Unsplash

Lawmakers in our region are meeting Thursday to discuss the potential economic windfalls from nuclear waste storage. It's the first meeting of Wyoming's Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee, which was created earlier this year.

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