To feed China's insatiable demand for coal, U.S. companies are trying to sell and ship the lucrative commodity to the Asian market from new West Coast ports. Above, the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant are seen on the outskirts of Beijing.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Bellingham, Wash., a progressive college town of 81,000, could soon be home to a new coal terminal. Developers want to ship the lucrative commodity to China, but some locals are worried about the potential environmental impacts.

Brett Beadle for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Brett Beadle for NPR

A giant dioon, seen at the United States Botanic Garden, is part of the cycad family and can be found growing in Mexico and Central America.

Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Maggie Starbard/NPR

Daniel Shechtman (left) discusses the quasicrystal's structure with collaborators in 1985, just months after shaking the foundations of materials science. Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for chemistry.

H. Mark Helfer/NIST hide caption

toggle caption H. Mark Helfer/NIST

A neutrino detector like this one, seen at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1995, was used to collect data claiming that neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light. Fred Rick/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image hide caption

toggle caption Fred Rick/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Ice on the Arctic Ocean has melted to its second-lowest level on record. Above, ice in a fjord in Greenland. Slim Allagui/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Slim Allagui/AFP/Getty Images

Carbon Engineering's machine, currently under construction, will draw carbon dioxide out of the air and turn it into a usable product. Carbon Engineering hide caption

toggle caption Carbon Engineering

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered a planet that circles two stars instead of one. The planet, shown as the black dot in this artist's illustration, is similar to Saturn, though it is more dense and travels in a 229-day circular orbit around its two stars. R. Hurt/NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

toggle caption R. Hurt/NASA/JPL-Caltech

U.S. Park Police officers arrest demonstrators in front of the While House on Thursday. They were protesting against a proposed 1,700-mile-long pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Maggie Starbard/NPR

A polar bear makes its way across the ice in Canada's Northwest Passage. Melting ice in the Arctic will make survival increasingly difficult for wildlife in the region. Jackie Northam/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jackie Northam/NPR

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor