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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A decades-long effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, is showing signs of success. But scientists now say progress could be hindered by a hydroelectric dam, located on the Susquehanna River in northern Maryland.

The Conowingo Dam has been holding back pollution for nearly a century, but recent research shows it has filled up with sediment faster than expected.

"It's now at a point where it's essentially, effectively full," says Bill Ball, director of the Chesapeake Research Consortium. "The capacity's been reached."

The developer behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, which for months drew thousands of protesters, has sued Greenpeace and several other environmental groups for their role in delaying the pipeline's construction.

The push for renewable energy in the U.S. often focuses on well-established sources of electricity: solar, wind and hydropower. Off the coast of California, a team of researchers is working on what they hope will become an energy source of the future — macroalgae, otherwise known as kelp.

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California's record drought is officially over. But all over the states, trees are still dying. They've been badly weakened by years without water. From member station KPCC, Emily Guerin has a story of a community living in a dead forest.

Brent Deppe is taking me on a tour of the farm supply business, called Key Cooperative, that he helps to manage in Grinnell, Iowa. We step though the back door of one warehouse, and our view of the sky is blocked by a gigantic round storage tank, painted white.

"This is the liquid nitrogen tank," Deppe explains. "It's a million-and-a-half gallon tank."

Nitrogen is the essential ingredient for growing corn and most other crops. Farmers around here spread it on their fields by the truckload.

Before a solar project, Mark Holohan usually gives his customers plenty of time to mull over the cost. But lately, installers are scooping up panels so quickly that Holohan has trouble guaranteeing a price for too long.

"We have a sort of panic buying mode in the marketplace right now. Inventories have fallen. Availability has decreased. Prices have risen," Holohan, the solar division manager at Wilson Electric, said over the clatter of machines and workers in the company's warehouse outside Phoenix, Ariz.

The Environmental Defense Fund opened an office near Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., 10 years ago. It was part of a carefully plotted strategy to persuade the giant retailer that going green could be good for business. If it worked, it certainly could be good for the planet — Walmart's revenues are bigger than the entire economy of most countries.

"We really saw that working with companies could be transformative at a scale that was pretty unmatched," says Suzy Friedman, a senior director at EDF.

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On a recent weekday, Vamsi Komarala guides me up to the rooftop of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, where he teaches physics. Fields of solar panels adorn the buildings.

I swipe an index finger across one of the panels to see if weeks of monsoon rains have washed it clean. My finger comes back filthy with grit.

Vamsi tells me the panels are washed twice a week, then explains the grime: "That is because in New Delhi, we have a lot of dust."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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In 2011, the National Park Service put in place a policy to encourage national parks to end the sale of bottled water. The aim was to cut back on plastic litter.

It was not actually an outright ban — but 23 out of 417 national parks, including Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, implemented restrictions on bottled water sales. The parks encourage visitors to use tap water and refillable bottles instead.

Now, The Trump administration has reversed this Obama-era policy.

When was the last time you used the entire container of fresh herbs you bought at the store? Never? Me, too. Every time a recipe calls for 1-2 tablespoons of freshly chopped sprigs, I head to a supermarket and reach for a plastic container holding at least three times as much as I need. A few days later, I'm standing by the trash can observing a moment of silence before I discard a plastic coffin of wasted, withered basil.

Spectators around the country are gearing up, eclipse glasses at the ready, for the solar eclipse on Monday. But another group — perhaps more anxious than eager — is preparing as well: the people who run California's electric grid.

California is home to almost half of all the solar power in the country. So even a partial loss of the sun will mean a major dip in the energy supply.

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