<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Green News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/green http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usTue, 17 Oct 2017 20:59:42 -0700Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:59:42 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Polar Bears Get Snow Donations]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 11:13:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DIT+POLAR+BEARS+GET+SNOW+THUMB.jpg

High temperatures at a Finland Wildlife Center were making life uncomfortable for a family of polar bears. However, the child of an employee at a local ski resort had an idea on how to cool them off: the resort could donate excess snow they had saved up from last winter. After some initial hesitation, the bear family seemed much happier with the new addition to their pen.

<![CDATA[Last Orca Born in Captivity Dies]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 12:18:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DIT+SEAWORLD+DEATH+THUMB.jpg

The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld’s former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company’s San Antonio park. Veterinarians were treating the calf for an infection, possibly pneumonia, but her health continued to decline. The park discontinued its breeding program in March 2016.

<![CDATA[Macron Targets 'Make Our Planet Great Again' Site at US]]> Fri, 09 Jun 2017 17:18:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-683370816-Macron.jpg

In the wake of the United States' withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, French President Emmanuel Macron fired back on Thursday with the launch of a new website titled "Make Our Planet Great Again."

On the site’s homepage, Macron calls President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the agreement "unfortunate" but adds that the decision “only reinforced our determination.” He calls for those working on climate issues to do so in France. 

"To all the scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the President of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland," Macron said in a video address on the site’s homepage. "I call on them, come and work here with us to work on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment."

The site includes information for researchers, educators and students on applying for a four-year grant to study in France, according to Business Insider. Businesses and NGOs can also apply to receive funding from the French government.

"You will be able to stay in France at least for the duration of the grant, and longer if you are granted a permanent position," the site explains.

The site cost €22,000 (approximately $24,637) to build is produced and managed by Business France, according to Politico.eu.

By clicking on the "I Want to Make Our Planet Great Again" button on the homepage of the website, users can describe why they are fighting climate change. They can also detail current projects and "dreams" of carrying out the fight against climate change.

"The planet needs your innovative skills. So are you IN to change (literally!) our daily lives and make our planet great again?" the site reads.

The title, a play on President Trump's signature campaign slogan "Make America Great Again," reflects the increased efforts to combat climate change by France and other signatories of the Paris agreement. Macron first used the modified slogan in an address from the Elysée Palace on June 1, after Trump announced the withdrawal.

You can visit the Make Our Planet Great Again site by clicking here.

Photo Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Build It Green: TreeHouse to Open World's 1st Net-Zero Energy Store]]> Thu, 01 Jun 2017 07:52:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/treehouse-store.jpg

Home improvement has long been synonymous with Home Depot and Lowe's. But a Texas-based green conscience start-up is aiming to make sustainable home improvement appeal to more than just environmentalists.

TreeHouse will open the world's first energy-positive home improvement store in Dallas Friday. Through the use of 539 rooftop solar panels and two Tesla Powerwalls the store will actually generate energy well in excess of its needs.

“This store runs on 100 percent sunshine,” Treehouse's Ben Kusin said, adding that the excess renewable energy that the store generates will be put back onto the power grid and made available for others to use.

The company is the first retailer authorized to sell Tesla's home energy storage battery.

"A home battery could make energy bills an archaic relic of a past system," said TreeHouse co-founder and CEO Jason Ballard, speaking at Tesla’s energy storage event in California. "You can now own your own production and storage of the energy you need. This takes us one step closer to completely powering homes without fossil fuels."

The store will be the retailer’s second location. It's flagship store opened in Austin in 2011. An additional store, planned for the Plano area, is due to open this fall. Dubbed the Whole Foods of home improvement, TreeHouse's expansion highlights a demand for eco-friendly products and a desire to reduce carbon footprint. 


Yet, President Donald Trump is expected to announce Thursday whether the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. White House sources tell NBC News that the president is leaning toward an exit. 

The 2015 agreement, which is not a binding treaty, was spurred by the overwhelming global scientific consensus that rising global temperatures over the last several decades are caused by man-made activity. The accord's goal is aimed at preventing the planet from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which scientists warn could have damaging consequences.

The agreement calls on countries to make voluntary national pledges to reduce emissions. Despite Trump's decision, businesses like TreeHouse will forge ahead with eco-friendly alternatives.

"The home consumes the highest amount of our natural resources, such as water and energy, produces the largest amount of landfill waste, and is where we will be exposed to the greatest number of toxins in our lifetime," the company said. "By working to solve these problems, TreeHouse finds new routes to dramatically change the quality of our lives. We can build better shelters for ourselves, our communities, and our planet."

TreeHouse offers a carefully curated selection of products and services that promote healthful and sustainable living spaces, with an emphasis on performance and design. Every product is scored based on health, performance, corporate responsibility and sustainability.

“TreeHouse is reinventing home improvement with the twin goals of ecological and human health,” the company explains on its web site. “Our core principles are applied to everything in the store. From thoughtful and innovative products to comprehensive, high-quality services -- every element is designed to build a better home.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Green Initiatives of Top Companies ]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 18:00:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DIT+Earth+Week+Companies+THUMB.jpg

In honor of Earth Week, NBC looked at 5 of the most valuable companies to see what kind of green initiatives they are engaged in.

<![CDATA[From Your Recycle Bin to China: 360 Recycling Plant Tour]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:26:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/360+Recycling+THUMB.jpg

What really happens to your recycling? Take a 360 video tour of the Burbank Recycle Center to see what happens to your recyclable waste and learn how you can be a more eco-friendly consumer.

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<![CDATA[Badlands National Park's Climate Change Tweets Deleted]]> Tue, 24 Jan 2017 19:04:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Badlands+park.jpg

The Twitter account for the Badlands National Park in South Dakota published a series of tweets Tuesday on climate change. A few hours later, the tweets were deleted.

The first tweet, posted an hour after President Donald Trump signed executive orders advancing the construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, said: “The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm.”

Just moments later, the account posted another tweet: “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years” — with the hashtag “#climate” added for good measure.

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The next tweet said: “Flipside of the atmosphere; ocean acidity has increased 30% since the Industrial Revolution. ‘Ocean Acidification’ #climate #carboncycle” 

The last tweet said: "Burning one gallon of gasoline puts nearly 20lbs of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere." 

According to a National Park Service spokesman, the tweets were posted by a former employee who is not authorized to use the park's account. Tom Crosson, NPS's chief of public affairs, told NBC the park was not told to remove the tweets but "chose to do so when they realized that their account had been compromised."

"At this time, National Park Service social media managers are encouraged to continue the use of Twitter to post information relating to public safety and park information, with the exception of content related to national policy issues," Crosson added.

Tweeting about climate change isn't out of character for Badlands. The park's Twitter account feed addresses the national security implications of climate change, rising water temperatures and the decline of species driven by global warming. But it does contradict President Trump's stance on the issue. He has repeatedly claimed climate change is a hoax.

In response to the tweets being deleted, DNC national press secretary Adrienne Watson released the following statement: “Vladimir Putin would be proud.”

Tuesday's tweets followed a brief suspension Friday of the National Park Service’s Twitter account, as well as those of all its bureaus, over retweets the Department of the Interior deemed "inconsistent with the agency’s mission."

The prohibition came after the National Park Service’s official Twitter account, a bureau of the department, retweeted a pair of posts to its 315,000 followers. One of the tweets was a photo that compared the crowd gathered on the National Mall for Trump to the much-larger gathering that stood in the same spot eight years earlier for President Barack Obama's first swearing-in. The tweets were later removed from the feed, and the National Park Service apologized for sharing them.

A day later, Crosson said the agencies could resume tweeting “Now that social media guidance has been clarified.” It was not immediately clear what information was in the guidance. 

Photo Credit: Badlands National Park
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<![CDATA[Dash Cam Video Captures Gas Line Blast]]> Thu, 19 Jan 2017 13:45:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dash_Cam_Video_Captures_Gas_Line_Blast_1200x675_858441795962.jpg A Texas police officer's dash cam was rolling when a natural gas line ruptured and exploded Monday night in Spearman.

Photo Credit: Spearman Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Lines Grow Amid Mexico Crisis]]> Sun, 08 Jan 2017 00:27:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/san+ysidro+poe+protest+closure.PNG

Southbound traffic on Interstate 5 and Interstate 805 has reopened at the San Ysidro port of entry after closing for several hours Saturday evening. 

The nationwide protests in Mexico over rising gas prices have spread to Tijuana and other parts of Baja California after prices went up 20 percent in one day.

Protesters, angry about the hike in gas prices, blocked off the port of entry on the Mexico side, causing southbound I-5 and I-805 to close, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

The freeways closed around 6 p.m., and traffic was being rerouted to Interstate 905. 

A protester slammed his pickup truck into dozens of police in tactical gear during a protest Saturday at the PEMEX refinery in Rosarito. At least 15 people were injured. 

“Right now the prices went up and this whole crisis going on is like, crazy,” said Irving Garcia. He rides a motorcycle to save money and still, he’s facing spending more for gas.

Dozens of gas stations closed this week in Tijuana and Rosarito, after demonstrators blocked trucks from transporting gas out of a fuel depot in Baja California.

Some Mexican drivers are now filling up their gas tanks in San Diego to avoid the long lines at gas stations south of the border.

Overnight, police were able to break the human blockade, and escort fuel trucks out of the distribution facility in Rosarito.

Gas stations throughout Baja California were rushing to re-supply their reserves and re-open their businesses on Friday. Customers were still reporting long lines.

Protests over rising gas prices have also taken place in Tecate, and several cities throughout Mexico. The demonstrations started after the Mexican government announced on January 1 that fuel prices would be rise by 20 percent. The government says the increase is needed to cover shortfalls in the federal budget.

Demonstrators have remained peaceful in Baja California, but in other parts of Mexico, there have been violence and looting. Protesters have also blocked highways and gas stations to show their anger.

On Saturday, a protest at the PEMEX refinery in Rosarito, Baja California, turned violent when a pickup truck slammed into dozens of Mexican police officers in tactical gear.

Tijuana-based photo journalist Eligio Hernandez captured the terrifying moment on video obtained by NBC 7.

At this point, details of the incident are unknown, including how many officers were injured.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Greenhouse Gases Biggest Threat to Polar Bears: Study]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:55:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-77960094polarbears71151.jpg Greenhouse gas emissions remain the "primary threat" to polar bears, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Geological Survey. Polar bear populations will decline even if emissions are stabilized by the end of the century, the study said. Polar bears have been categorized as a "globally threatened species" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 2008. The two main threats to polar bears are melting sea ice and disappearing prey. The study concluded that polar bears would suffer whether carbon emissions grew at their current pace or peaked in 2040 and then declined. The only optimistic scenario would involve "immediate and aggressive" cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said.
Get More at NBC News

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Want to Save Coral Reefs? First, Save the Fish: Study]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 17:04:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP080816183919.jpg A new study has found that more fish may be the answer to saving coral reefs, NBC News reported. Overfishing on reefs and other threats like pollution can lead to a collapse of underwater ecosystems, so keeping fish on the reefs is crucial to their health, according to the study of 832 reefs. "The methods used to estimate reef health in this study are simple enough that most fishers and managers can take the weight and pulse of their reef and keep it in the healthy range," Tim McClanahan, WCS senior conservationist and study co-author, said in a release. "Fishers and managers now have the ability to map out a plan for recovery of reef health that will give them the best chance to adapt to climate change."
Get More at NBC News

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Stunning Historic Photos of Air Pollution ]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:36:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/air-pollution-AP7004221649_7.jpg Click to see some fascinating images of air pollution throughout the US from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[California Drivers Use Fuel Made From Trash]]> Tue, 14 Jan 2014 12:07:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/toppix-23.jpg

An innovative new fuel is now available here in Southern California.  It’s clean, cheap, and made from an unlikely source -- trash.

Trash that is thrown away generates pollution as it decomposes, releasing tons of methane gas into the atmosphere.  Cars also spew out soot and smog that pollute the air.

Now, a Southern California company has figured out a way of capturing methane that escapes from landfills and farms, and turning it into clean fuel. 

Harrison Clay, President and CEO of Clean Energy Renewable Fuels, explained how the science-fiction-turned-reality is done.

"At landfills we drill holes and wells into the landfill, we drop in slotted pipes and we vacuum and we pull the gas that’s being produced within that landfill," Clay said. "We pull that gas out and then we process it until it’s pipeline quality, which means it’s the same as what comes out of your stovetop and what you cook your food with probably every night."

This renewable gas -- called Redeem -- is heavy-duty.  It can power 18-wheelers and any natural gas vehicle.

Hugo Gonzalez fills up his trucks with Redeem near the Port of Long Beach. He is a manager for Lily Transportation.  His company invested in eight trucks that can run on natural gas.

"Fuel is one of the main costs, one of the biggest costs that we have, and switching over to CNG has saved us probably $40,000 a year," Gonzalez said.

That saving comes because Redeem is about a dollar less per gallon than diesel, thanks to state and federal clean air incentives.

California has imposed strict regulations to help reduce carbon emissions by the year 2020. Redeem burns 90 percent cleaner than conventional gasoline when used to power cars and trucks.

"You could see the difference. When you turn the truck on, you don’t see anything, you don’t smell anything.  You smell a very light scent of gas, but other than that you don’t see black smoke, you don’t see anything.  Not even when you start, when you take off from the truck," Gonzalez said.

Redeem is now being sold at some 35 clean energy stations in California – thousands of cars, shuttles and commercial  fleets are running on the fuel now.  Last year, 15 million gallons were sold, which in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, is equivalent to taking 30,000 passenger cars off the road, according to Clay.

"The largest biomethane fueling operation in the world -- and something that we expect to double, triple, quadruple in terms of volume in the coming years," Clay said.

<![CDATA[Green Car Wash Sanitizes Without Soap]]> Mon, 05 Aug 2013 10:37:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/128401773.jpg A car wash in Arizona installed a water filtration tank allowing high levels of oxygen to sanitize the water they use to clean customers' cars — all without soap. An environmental engineer at Arizona State University is skeptical about the car wash's filtration system.]]> <![CDATA[Energy for Sale: Is It Worth It?]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 10:58:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000003170932_722x406_37270083593.jpg Door-to-door salesmen, telephone calls and direct mail, all trying to sell you electricity or natural gas. The pitches promise to save you money. They are called alternative energy suppliers. There have been more than 1,000 consumer complaints about them to Maryland and D.C. authorities so far this year, and we've been receiving emails asking whether these companies are real and are the deals worth it. CLICK HERE for a list of legitimate suppliers.]]> <![CDATA[State-of-the-Art Green Workplace Provides Lunch, Games and Slides]]> Wed, 01 May 2013 12:13:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Slide_aweber.jpg AWeber Communications headquarters in Chalfont, Bucks County, Pa. isn't your average workplace as it features video games, a pool table and even slides. NBC10's Jesse Gary reports ahead of the ribbon cutting.
Click here for information on jobs

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Junkyard Trash Turns to Art]]> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 10:42:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/ben+in+trash.JPG With his castoff treasures rattling in the cart, Ben Cowden wheeled back toward his art studio in San Francisco's Recology Recycling Plant to continue work. Joe Rosato Jr. reports on a man who turns others trash into treasure. Read the full story here.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Cemetery for Green-Friendly Burials]]> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 08:17:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/meadow.jpg A cemetery in Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, has become environmentally friendly for burials.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baxter Brewing Company Goes Green]]> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 11:49:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/baxter-brewing.jpg Luke Livingston, president and founder of Baxter Brewing Company, talks about ways in which he is expanding his business sustainably, with the help of John Rooks, president of The SOAP Group.]]> <![CDATA[San Juan Capistrano Courts Cliff Swallows]]> Tue, 19 Mar 2013 21:08:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/missioncliffswallow.jpg

As they do each year on March 19, hordes of people have flocked to San Juan Capistrano, necks craned hopefully to the sky.

They're eager to witness the annual return of the cliff swallows to the seaside city's historic mission after the birds' migration from South America.

But the swallows – the subject of a yearly celebration and a huge tourist attraction for the south Orange County city – haven't come around in recent years.

The mission is trying to change that, saying it's taken on a goal matching the title of a 1940 classic song associated with the city: "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano."

Last year, cliff swallows expert Charles Brown, a biology professor at University of Tulsa, helped the Mission San Juan Capistrano install speakers that play a recording of the birds' courtship calls. The speakers are placed behind the statue of Father Junipero Serra, who founded the mission in 1776.

The mission began playing the sharp, squeaky vocalizations this year on March 1.

Listen: Recording of cliff swallows being played at Mission San Juan Capistrano

"I think that eventually we'll get them back," Brown told NBC News, speaking about the project. "It may not be this year; it may not even be next year. But if we keep trying long enough, some individuals will come by, they'll see the mission and they will realize that it's a good place to nest, as they did in the past."

Last year, a number of swallows flew in to investigate the sounds, and the birds were spotted feeding overhead. Still, they nested on nearby freeway overpasses – and as far away as a high school in Palm Desert. The birds also made a home at Xavier College Preparatory High School, nearly 100 miles east of San Juan Capistrano, in 2011.

In 2010, the birds flocked inland as well, to the Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills.

Yet each year, the birds are still expected to darken San Juan Capistrano skies on March 19, or St. Joseph's Day. The mission rings its historical bells, and hundreds of schoolchildren and tourists learn about the history of the grounds and, of course, the swallows.

This year, the city's 55th Annual Swallows' Day Parade, which attracts thousands of tourists, is on Saturday.

A number of changes have prompted the swallows to alter their centuries-long destination for spring and summer months, according to Brown.

The birds are attracted to grasslands and prairies – the kind of landscape that once surrounded the mission, he said.

The mission's Great Stone Church, itself likely appeared to swallows as a huge cliff – perfect for making mud nests, as shown above.

But now the mission is just one of many big structures in the urbanized area, and the birds have been known to nest elsewhere nearby – under freeway overpasses and the like – or go much farther away.

Surprisingly, the planting and growth of trees in the area has also contributed to the swallows' failure to return to the mission, Brown said. Swallows tend to avoid trees, preferring open spaces.

They birds have been seen in increasing numbers in Great Plains states, while coming in lower populations to Southern California, Brown said.

He said it's possible urbanization and the changing features of the region may affect the birds' possible return.

"Eventually, the Southern California landscape may be just inappropriate for this particular species," Brown said.

Related: Swallow study suggests link between shorter wingspan and reduced roadkill

At the same time, preservation work done in recent years to stabilize the church's crumbling walls required old swallows' nests to be removed. Bird sightings have been rare since.

Nonetheless, St. Joseph's Day and the idea of the swallows remain a big draw for tourists coming to Mission San Juan Capistrano, considered the "jewel" of the state's 21 Spanish colonial-era missions.

Rafael Gutierrez, the mission's bellringer and an employee for 47 years, said the day is about history, not just about hoping the swallows return.

"Siempre viene, no muchos, pero viene," he said, meaning "they always come, not many, but they come."

When they've come in past, the swallows are said to take flight again for their return to the Southern Hemisphere on the Day of San Juan, Oct. 23.












NBC4's Vikki Vargas contributed to this story. 

Photo Credit: Photograph courtesy of Mission San Juan Capistrano]]>
<![CDATA[LA High School Students Win $100K for River Project]]> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 15:38:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SAM_04421.JPG

A group of Los Angeles high school students and their project on improving LA River water quality bested thousands of other schools nationwide, winning more than $100,000 in prizes.

Franklin High School teacher Jomel Villamil and his advanced placement environmental science students entered Samsung’s Solve For Tomorrow contest with a video about urban runoff and its contamination of the LA River.

“This project is to promote awareness for everyone that water is essential,” student Grace Punzalas, 17, said. “It could be an inspiration for everyone to conserve water and take care of our natural resources.”

The video ultimately received more than 80,000 online votes, making it the Community Choice Award winner.

“It’s a great feeling to have that support in your community, and whether it’s for a video or anything, you know they are there for you,” student Arnoldas Geidreitis, 16, said.

Villamil saw the contest while he was browsing online and said it was a “no-brainer” to get two of his classes -- about 60 students -- involved.

”I thought it was great we were going to participate in something like this, because the LA River’s water is not the best quality,” Geidreitis said. “It’s good we could put out this message to people to let them know what’s going on and how to change.”

The students installed basin catch screens in the river to collect trash and filter stormwater before it entered the aquifers. Their water tests showed high bacteria, nitrate and phosphate levels.

The students then pitched a three-step solution: to install and maintain catch basin screens to reduce trash and prevent entry of pollutants; contain, filter and reintroduce stormwater to recharge aquifers; and to educate their community on environmental sustainability.

“We’ve been doing water testing for years, so it’s already in the curriculum,” Villamil said. “We’ve been focusing on water quality, so why not submit our project for consideration?”

He was continuously surprised as the project soared to the top.

“Words can’t express how much gratitude I want to extend to the community,” Villamil said. “This honor belongs not just to Franklin but to every person who made us their favorite video.”

More than 1,600 schools entered the contest that kicked off in September, and 75 classrooms -- 25 each from the three categories of rural, suburban and urban -- were selected as semifinalists.

Those 75 semifinalists received Adobe editing software, a laptop and a Samsung camcorder to create videos to be voted on by a Samsung panel. The group was narrowed down to 15 finalists, who were guaranteed $40,000. The public then voted on the final 15 videos.

Franklin High School's victory was announced March 11.

The Solve For Tomorrow contest has awarded 150 schools a total of more than $3 million in technology since its creation in 2010 for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

“We’re really trying to make STEM fun for students by making it relatable in their community,” Solve for Tomorrow’s program manager Bree Falato said. “We hope we raise the enthusiasm level by bringing in the latest technology, and we hope it sparks an interest in learning.”

Samsung has been working on education outreach since 2004 and launched the Solve For Tomorrow contest in a partnership with DirecTV and Adobe in 2010.

The company asked the students, “How can STEM help improve the environment in your community?” Their response was award-winning.

The school will receive $100,000 worth of technology from Samsung, Adobe and DirecTV; a cash grant of $7,000 from DirecTV; and licensing for Adobe Premiere software.

Once awarded, the school has full discretion of how the prizes are used. The total package’s retail value is $110,000.

Villamil and two students will join four other winning schools at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 17.

“We would need political backing,” Villamil said of continuing the water filtering of the LA River. “This trip includes a trip to Capitol Hill, so maybe the two students who will go with me on the trip will push to get support for this.”

Geidreitis and Punzalas were set to accompany Villamil on the trip, but Punzalas will be competing in another science competition during that time. Villamil will select another student to bring in her place.

Photo Credit: Jomel Villamil]]>
<![CDATA[D.C. Has The Worst Traffic]]> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 08:49:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/traffic-4.jpg Washington, D.C. has the worst traffic congestion in the nation, according to a new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.]]> <![CDATA[Helium Shortage Threatens More Than Balloons]]> Fri, 25 May 2012 19:29:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/9752940_N5PPKGHELIUMSHORTAGE_722x406_20714285.jpg

It's peak season for balloon shops, but with a helium shortage, business is deflating.

Shawn Agheassi, owner of Elegant Balloon in Studio City, says he is losing customers daily, and that business is down 50 percent.

"I’m surviving right now, but struggling," Agheassi said.

Agheassi is struggling with a dwindling supply of helium globally -- a problem that's affecting medical suppliers, television manufacturers -- and party businesses.

"Years ago it was like $30 to $40 a bottle. Now it’s $168. Yes, a tank.  And I’m lucky if I get one or two,”  Agheassi said.

He says his helium suppliers are even getting out of the business.

"I was talking to the supplier and he was crying. He said, I have a million dollar business and I don’t know what to do. I don’t have helium to sell it," Agheassi said.

Helium is a natural byproduct of the decay of radioactive elements.

In 1996 Congress mandated that the federal government to sell off the gas from its underground reserve by the end of 2014. That's caused all sorts of problems

The problem is, now we are running out, possibly in eight years, and this ballooning crisis is affecting more than birthday parties and other celebrations. Helium is used in hospital MRI scanners and in flat-screen TVs.

And once it’s out—it’s out.

"Helium, like oil, is created by natural processes, but it’s a very slow process," physicist Gregg Harry said. "So whatever is in the ground now is pretty much all that's available."

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