Coal loaded on a train

America’s Dirty Secret: Coal Ash

In Juliette, Georgia radioactive water flows from the tap. In Pennsylvania, three adjoining counties battle a rare form of cancer. One thing these communities have in common is their exposure coal ash. Coal combustion powers 40 percent of America’s electricity but generates 130 million tons of coal ash each year. Though it is known to contain carcinogens, coal ash is often dumped in unlined ponds where it leaches into groundwater. There is no federal coal ash regulation on the books—only a patchwork of state level standards. But people who live near the coal ash dumps in Georgia and Pennsylvania say they are shrugged off as collateral damage by corporate interests and slow moving government agencies. An original "Earth Focus" investigation.

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Fueling Change: Oil Extraction in Alaska and California

The global demand for oil and gas has long-lasting impacts on the communities that supply it. In Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, powerful native communities are at odds over an oil exploration and drilling plan that will boost their economy but have long-term consequences on native species and their environment. In California’s Kern County, the mayors of two neighboring towns face off on the economic benefits and health risks of oil production and their vastly different visions for the most sustainable path to the future.

Avocado Wars: The Battle Over Water Rights In Chile

The popular demand for avocados, once considered an “exotic” item, is having a devastating impact on a drought-stricken community in Chile. Lying within one of the largest avocado producing regions in the country, Petorca avocado plantations are in a battle over water rights, where claims of illegal water diversion are creating civil unrest.

Building A Future: Lumber Poaching In Oregon and Brazil

Wood is found in countless products consumers use every day. In fact, lumber is closely connected to the world’s economy – a country’ s importation of lumber tends to rise in correlation with its gross domestic product. Following groups like “Guardians of the Forest,” we explore illegal lumber poaching in the forests of Brazil and Oregon, where citizens and scientists are working together to combat the illegal lumber trade.

Dairy Alternatives: Rethinking Milk In California and Kenya

The realities of milk production are forcing dairy communities across the globe to rethink the dairy production process. In this episode, we travel to a village in Kenya where the commercialization of camel milk is proving a sustainable solution in the face of drought. In Northern California, the heart of the U.S. dairy industry is finding innovative alternatives to limit the use of water and manure emissions.

Lighting A Path: Embracing Solar Power In California and Zanzibar

Solar power is changing lives in unexpected places. At the Barefoot College in Zanzibar, Muslim women who have traditionally been marginalized in the workforce are learning solar installation and bringing it back to their villages, which are primarily powered by candles and paraffin lamps. In East Los Angeles, formerly incarcerated individuals are finding green job opportunities as they transition underserved communities into solar power.