• Energy securityEnergy security The Promise of California Offshore Wind Energy

    As California aims to provide 60 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045, a Cal Poly study provides some good news: Offshore winds along the Central Coast increase at the same time that people start using more energy — in the evening.

  • WildfiresWildfire in Northern California's Coastal Ranges on the Rise Since 1984

    High-severity wildfires in northern coastal California have been increasing by about 10 percent per decade since 1984, according to a new study. From Berryessa to Klamath Mountains, High-Severity Burns Quadrupled During Warm Drought.

  • WildfiresDoes Experiencing Wildfires Create Political Consensus on Resilience Measures?

    By Bruce E. Cain

    As of last weekend [12-13 September], 97 large fires have burned 4.7 million acres across the American West, causing widespread evacuations in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Idaho and Utah.  The smoke from these summer wildfires has spread very widely over the region, curtailing outdoor activity and sending many to the hospitals with respiratory ailments, heat attacks and strokes.  Will this move us any closer to achieving a consensus on the topic of dealing with climate change?

  • WildfiresInsurance Markets Face Challenges in Higher Fire-Risk Areas

    Wildfires in California destroy thousands of structures each year, and in 2017 that number jumped to 10,800. In 2018, wildfires wrought even greater destruction, with more than 22,000 structures destroyed. Those conflagrations can devastate homeowners and bring heavy costs for the insurance industry. In a new study, RAND researchers found that while the insurance market in lower-fire-risk areas was working relatively well as of 2017, higher-fire-risk areas faced challenges.

  • Wildfires & Calif.’s electric gridWhat the Wildfires Tell Us about the Shortcomings of California’s Electric Grid

    In addition to the vast destruction they have caused, the wildfires that have engulfed California in recent weeks have laid bare serious concerns about the state’s electric grid. UCLA’s expert Eric Fournier explains why the architecture of California’s grid isn’t well suited for such extreme conditions and what it would take to improve it.

  • Energy securityWhat’s Ailing California’s Electric System?

    By Cheryl A. Lafleur

    California made headlines for all the wrong reasons recently with widespread rolling power outages in the middle of a heat wave and a pandemic. These blackouts were not an accident—they were intentionally scheduled by the grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), due to a shortage of resources available to keep the lights on.

  • Food securityWarming May Force Some Favorite Produce Crops to Get a Move On

    Record drought and heat have some farmers worried about where and when crops can be grown in the future, even in California where unprecedented microclimate diversity creates ideal growing conditions for many of the most popular items in America’s grocery stores Warmer California temperatures by mid-century will be too hot for some crops, just right for others.

  • GunsHandgun Purchaser Licensing Laws Associated with Lower Firearm Homicides, Suicides

    State handgun purchaser licensing laws—which go beyond federal background checks by requiring a prospective buyer to apply for a license or permit from state or local law enforcement—appear to be highly effective at reducing firearm homicide and suicide rates, according to a new analysis of gun laws.

  • Coastal challengesSea-Level Rise Linked to Higher Water Tables Along California Coast

    In the first comprehensive study of the link between rising sea levels and inland water tables along the California coast, researchers found an increased threat to populated areas already at risk from rising water tables, and the possibility of flooding in unexpected inland areas.

  • Flood insuranceDemographics Data Helps Predict N.Y. Flood Insurance Claims

    In flood-prone areas of the Hudson River valley in New York state, census areas with more white and affluent home owners tend to file a higher percentage of flood insurance claims than lower-income, minority residents, raising the issue of developing more nuanced, need-based federal flood insurance subsidies in these floodplains, according to a new study.

  • FloodsA Warming California Will See Reservoirs Overwhelmed by Floods

    By the 2070s, global warming will increase extreme rainfall and reduce snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, delivering a double whammy that will likely overwhelm California’s reservoirs and heighten the risk of flooding in much of the state.

  • Water securityOverhauling the Circulatory System of the American West

    It might be tempting to think of cowboys and cattle drives, but the real story of the American West can be summed up in one word: water. While the costs might be daunting, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has teamed up with the Oregon-based Farmers Conservation Alliance to radically reimagine the role of irrigation systems in the West.

  • PortlandU.S. Federal Agents to Begin Portland Withdrawal

    Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon said federal officers would begin leaving the city of Portland on Thursday after an agreement between local and federal officials. Brown was among the leaders who criticized the presence of the federal agents, saying Wednesday they “acted as an occupying force and brought violence.” The federal government said the deployment to Portland was necessary to restore order and faulted local leaders for allowing ongoing protests that they said endangered federal property, including a courthouse.

  • Flint water crisisSimultaneous, Reinforcing Policy Failures Led to Flint Water Crisis

    Concurrent failures of federal drinking water standards and Michigan’s emergency manager law reinforced and magnified each other, leading to the Flint water crisis, according to a University of Michigan environmental policy expert. Flint’s experience offers lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated local financial challenges while highlighting the importance of access to clean, safe drinking water.

  • Border securityEroding Private Border Wall to Get an Engineering Inspection Just Months after Completion

    By Jeremy Schwartz and Perla Trevizo

    Months after the “Lamborghini” of border walls was built along the Rio Grande, the builder agreed to an engineering inspection of his controversial structure. Experts say the wall is showing signs of erosion that threatens its stability.