February 6, 2014 |
California hasn't completely escaped the effects of the polar vortex. Although the Golden State avoided the freezing snowfalls that affected regions farther east, power plants in the Southland are now grappling with low supplies of natural gas brought on by cold weather that won't quit. That has prompted the state's electric power grid operator, known as the California Independent System Operator, to issue a Flex Alert asking for voluntary energy conservation on Thursday until 10 p.m. PHOTOS: Richest and poorest cities in America The operator, which normally issues such alerts during the hot days of summer when air conditioners are on full blast, is working closely with California gas companies to ensure "the reliability of the electric and gas systems in California.
February 4, 2014 |
CLOVIS, CALIF. - Beneath unyielding blue skies on a recent afternoon, Ryan Indart knelt down to examine what was left of one of his sheep pastures. Land that should have been lush with native grasses this time of year has been reduced to powdery dirt, splotched with a few withered strands of filaree and foxtail. And where there's no vegetation, there are no sheep. A fourth-generation rancher, Indart has already sent 10% of his 4,000 ewes - which he normally would want to keep - to the slaughterhouse because he can't afford the hay to feed them.
February 1, 2014 |
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Pete Carroll sits back in his chair, grins and starts to chuckle. For the second time in as many days, he has stood before busloads of reporters in a hotel ballroom, answering questions that will be repeated in unending variations throughout Super Bowl week: How will Carroll's Seattle Seahawks stop Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning? What about the weather? Richard Sherman? Now, in a quiet hotel office monitored by security officials, Carroll has retreated to his personal Super Bowl command center, replete with two desktop computer monitors and speakers, two flat screen televisions, a whiteboard and an iPad.
January 27, 2014 |
Clean Energy Fuels Corp., the Seal Beach company that builds and operates natural-gas filling stations for some of the nation's biggest bus and truck fleets, is banking on corporate customers to buy more clean-energy vehicles this year. Executives hope that a growing fleet will boost sales of natural gas and propel Clean Energy to its first annual profit since its 1997 founding by Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, the onetime oil baron and corporate raider, and the company's chief executive, Andrew Littlefair.
January 22, 2014 |
BRIDGEWATER, Va. - The headwaters of the Potomac River rise amid the hills and hollows of George Washington National Forest in Virginia. Small creeks dart past oak, white pine and hickory, become streams that nourish farmland and towns, and create a river that courses through two states and the nation's capital. About 4 million people depend on that water. For decades, the U.S. Forest Service identified preserving its purity as the top priority for the national forest. Now, the agency is considering allowing George Washington to become the first national forest to permit high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
January 21, 2014 |
On the surface, the members of local quartet Warpaint give the impression they're low-key when it comes to making music. Bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg will tell you she doesn't think about music - she "feels" it - and along with singer-guitarist Emily Kokal, the two will regularly apply words such as "chill," "vibe" and "energy" to the band's creative process. Don't be fooled. With the release of a self-titled second album this week, Warpaint enters a key phase of its career. The band's 2010 debut, "The Fool," sold 150,000 copies worldwide, and its success allowed Warpaint to call on some of the most respected studio technicians in the music industry for the follow-up.
January 19, 2014 |
Do genes make us do it? The idea that human behavior is driven by genes makes many people uncomfortable, and nowhere is the dispute more bitter than when discussing the biological underpinnings of violence. The war of ideas over violence and human nature has raged since the 1600s, when philosopher Thomas Hobbes first speculated that the "natural condition of mankind" was one of violence and conflict. In the 1700s, Jean-Jacques Rousseau saw things differently. Enthralled with accounts of the New World, he argued that civilization, not nature, shaped the human propensity for violence.
January 7, 2014 |
Contrary to what many consumers assume, a "natural" label on foods doesn't necessarily mean much. The Food and Drug Administration has never defined the term, though it says it doesn't object to its use to describe foods without added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. Now the FDA is being asked to broaden the term "natural" into meaninglessness by allowing genetically engineered food to be labeled natural. A letter sent to the FDA by the Grocery Manufacturers Assn.
January 5, 2014 |
My brother John called me last summer to tell me that he had finally figured out our family secret. I was his mother, he said. I am not, of course. My brother is 38 years old, but I will always think of him as he was in his early 20s, when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His good looks landed him work as a model, and he was a math whiz. Today, he is still attractive and wickedly smart at times, but his skin is weathered from years of homelessness and he is missing half of a finger on his right hand from one of his "stays" in a county jail.
January 2, 2014 |
Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens thinks his long bet on natural gas is finally paying off. The legendary oilman has long declared it his mission to wean America off its addiction to foreign oil. He co-founded an Orange County company that builds natural gas stations around the country and sank billions into wind turbines. Pickens' gambles have not always paid off. He lost an estimated $150 million of his personal fortune in wind farming, and admits that he was a couple of decades early into natural gas. But he thinks the time has come for natural gas to shake up the energy industry.