Scientists at Virginia Tech are urging the public to be careful using boxwood clippings in holiday wreaths and garlands because of a plant disease that is threatening the shrub up and down the East Coast.
Unless the erratic bursts of energy generated on a windy or sunny day can be stored and later measured out in an even way, these renewable sources of power can't be counted on to stabilize the electrical grid. Several battery-making startups hope to help — and reduce electric bills.
Over the past decade, the government has been paying farmers to keep their land covered with native grasses instead of crops. But as grain prices have risen, the conservation reserve has shrunk by more than 25 percent. This decline in native grasslands means more soil erosion and less habitat for wildlife.
This year, crews have collected 4.6 million pounds of oily material from the Gulf Coast shoreline. Coastal residents are asking how long they'll be living with the effects of BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Chesapeake Bay once supplied most of the nation's oysters, but overharvesting and disease nearly wiped them out. Now, major public-private efforts to re-establish the oyster as a quality local food product appear to be working. And chefs say the results are sweeter than oysters from other waters.
Crude oil from Canada's tar sands is booming business for refineries but residents of a Chicago neighborhood charge a byproduct called petroleum coke, or petcoke, is a nuisance and health hazard. They want towering mounds of the dusty substance moved out of the city. Chicago officials have reached a deal with one company requiring them to do so.
Sarah Ramirez left a high-prestige career to bring California's bounty of unsellable fruit to food banks in the state's Central Valley. Her grassroots organization is trying to address a regional conundrum: While many area farms end up with imperfect fruit that can't be sold to supermarkets, local farmworkers struggle to afford fresh produce.
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