Environment

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

How Salt + Car Battery = Clean Water

Jul 2, 2015

It's easy to take clean, safe water for granted. It just flows out of taps continuously — even in drought-ridden California.

But for hundreds of millions of people around the world, clean water is a luxury. In many places, even patients in hospitals and kids at school don't have water that's safe to drink.

Now, an unlikely partnership of an outdoor equipment manufacturer and a global health NGO is trying to change that.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Scallop fishermen off the East Coast could soon see one of their biggest bumper crops ever. A federal survey in waters off Delaware is predicting a boom in the next couple of years for the nation's most valuable fishery.

Every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looks for young sea scallops on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. This year, when they stuck their camera in the water, they got a huge shock, says Dvora Hart, a research analyst with NOAA's Fisheries Service.

A small company in California is hoping to make a big splash by providing detailed flood maps to homeowners and insurance companies. And to do that, the company is using one of the fastest supercomputers in the world.

The company is called Katrisk, based in Berkeley, Calif. Hydrologist and computer modeler Dag Lohmann is one of the company's founders. He says the flood maps the Federal Emergency Management Agency already produces will tell you how prone a particular area is to flooding.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency made a mistake when it told electric power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The high court says the EPA should first have considered how much it would cost power plants to do that.

The decision comes too late for most power companies, but it could affect future EPA regulations.

Mercury in the air is a health risk. When you burn coal or oil, you create airborne mercury that can end up in fish we eat and cause serious health problems.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

The Supreme court has ruled against an Obama administration effort to limit toxic mercury emissions from power plants, saying the costs of compliance should be taken into account at the very earliest stages of the regulatory process.

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