Wildfire at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge

Weekly Environmental News, July 14-21 – Batteries, Gasland Part II, Wildfires and More

This week’s stories include utilities testing a new kind of battery that could help prevent blackouts; “Gasland Part II” takes aim at the political system; wildfires likely to get worse out West; and oxygen depletion kills fish in Baltimore.

Battery Seen as Way to Cut Heat-Related Power Losses
Several utilities in the U.S. and Europe plan to test a battery half the size of a refrigerator to see if it can help them avoid summer blackouts. The battery, made by Eos Energy Storage, relies on zinc, a relatively inexpensive element. Eos claims the batteries could provide power in periods of high demand more cheaply than a natural gas power plant.

With ‘Gasland Part II,’ the Battle Over Fracking’s Safety Is Rejoined
Josh Fox just released the sequel to his 2010 film, “Gasland,” and the Washington Post’s Steven Mufson says he covers some old ground in the debate over fracking, but “also widens the lens to indict the political system for failing to protect landowners from contaminated water.”

Wildfires Will Worsen and Further Strain the Forest Service
In this NPR interview, Ray Rasker, an economist who lives in southwestern Montana fire country and tracks forest fire data, notes some disturbing trends. Fires are now twice as large and burn twice as long as they used to — and more homes are being built next to national forests. Also, when temperatures rise, more land burns.

200 Fish Die in Milky Jones Falls
The Baltimore Sun reported the Jones Falls stream turned a milky green July 18 where it empties into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and hundreds of fish turned belly up. Authorities described it as a bacterial event that suffocated the fish and released noxious sulfur from the bottom muck.

(Creative Commons image “Wildfire” courtesy of USFWS/Southeast on Flickr.)

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