KCET Airs Special Lineup of EARTH FOCUS Beginning May 14

New Episode about the Health Risks of Coal Ash Also Premieres on Link TV


BURBANK, Calif. - May 8, 2014 - KCET, the nation's largest independent television station serving Southern and Central California, presents a special lineup of the EARTH FOCUS series beginning on Wednesday, May 14 at 8:30 p.m. The environmental news magazine and longest-running environmental series on American television, features investigative reports about how changes to the Earth's resources and climate are affecting our planet.


The premiere episode, "America's Dirty Secret: Coal Ash," takes a penetrating look at the health issues raised by residents in communities close to coal ash dumps in Georgia and Pennsylvania. It also casts a light on ordinary Americans who say their health and lives have been ruined due to the reckless dumping of coal ash by inadequately regulated coal plants. The episode airs Wednesday, May 14 at 8:30 p.m. PT on KCET (Southern California); it will also debut on Link TV (DirecTV 375, DISH Network 9410) on Thursday, May 22 at 9 p.m. PT.


EARTH FOCUS is an original broadcast and web series that reports on urgent environmental issues in the U.S. and around the world. In production for eight years, the series includes investigative reports, interviews and material from independent documentary filmmakers. EARTH FOCUS is funded by the Wallace Genetic Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Park Foundation, Farvue Foundation, Shared Earth Foundation, Cornell Douglas Foundation, Rachel's Network, National Science Foundation, and individual donors.


EARTH FOCUS airs every Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on Link TV. Episodes are also available to watch online at kcet.org/earthfocus or linktv.org/earthfocus.



EARTH FOCUS Episode Descriptions


Wednesday, May 14 on KCET & Thursday, May 22 on Link TV

"America's Dirty Secret: Coal Ash"

American power plants generate more than 100 million tons of coal ash every year, the nation's largest industrial pollutant, after municipal waste. People in three adjacent Pennsylvania communities suffer from a rare blood cancer. In Juliette, Georgia, where radioactive water flows from the tap, people are also getting sick. What else do these communities have in common? Coal ash. It contains toxins like lead, arsenic and mercury and it gets into ground water from unlined ponds and pit storage sites. The federal government says it's non-hazardous and regulation is left to state governments where the coal industry has great influence. And it's always people who suffer the consequences.


Wednesday, May 21

"Exposed: Killing Dolphins - Dying for Lobsters"

Thousands of dolphins are killed solely for shark bait each year off the coast of Peru. An upsurge in shark meat consumption in Peru and the rise in the cost of fish bait has helped drive the hunt to as many as 10,000 dolphins killed each year according to some estimates. Jim Wickens documents this illegal practice in an original undercover investigation for EARTH FOCUS. Brad Allgood and Josh Wolff document the epidemic of decompression disease or bends suffered by Miskito Indians involved in commercial lobster diving off Nicaragua's coast in their film My Village My Lobster. Commercial lobster diving in Nicaragua brings in over $20 million a year annually and 90% of the lobsters caught are sold to premium US restaurants and supermarkets. The casualties among the divers continue to mount but the problem remains ignored by the Nicaraguan government and the international community.



Wednesday, May 28

"Asian Elephants in Peril"

Asian elephants, already endangered in Indonesia and Thailand, are threatened further by human encroachment and illegal trade. In Indonesia, just 2,500 Sumatran elephants remain. As their last great forest habitat is being logged to make way for palm oil plantations, elephants are pushed into conflict with local people. In Thailand and Myanmar, an illegal and brutal trade in wild baby elephants is contributing to declining elephant populations. On the Thai-Myanmar border, at least 50-100 elephant calves and young females are removed from their forest homes every year and are traded illegally to supply tourist camps. Countless elephants die in the process, threatening the remaining populations of this endangered species.


Wednesday, June 4

"Toxic Futures: Untold Stories of Chemical Pollution"

Exposure to toxic chemicals affects people in both the industrialized and developing world. In a program based on the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning book by Dan Fagin, Tom's River: A Story of Science and Salvation, EARTH FOCUS travels to Tom's River New Jersey to document how this small town - once site of a recognized children's cancer cluster - waged a battle to save its drinking water from toxic waste dumping by dye manufacturer Ciba Geigy and by Union Carbide. Illegal gold mining in Peru extracts a high and tragic cost on health and the environment. A look at the film Amazon Gold.



Wednesday, June 11

"Shades of Gray: Living with Wolves"

Gray wolves once ranged across North America. But by the 1930s, they were nearly extinct - trapped, poisoned and hunted by ranchers, farmers, and government agents. With protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the wolf population rebounded. But wolves lost federal protection in 2011. Now, with hunting permitted in many Western states, the future of this once endangered species may again be in question. Can we live with wolves? EARTH FOCUS travels to Montana and Wyoming to find out.



Wednesday, June 18

 "UNSAFE: The Truth Behind Everyday Chemicals"

There are tens of thousands of chemicals in our air, water, and in the everyday products we use. They are largely unregulated and few are adequately tested for safety. They contribute to disease and are linked to conditions such as asthma, autism, ADHD, diabetes, cancers, infertility, cognitive disorders, obesity, reproductive disorders and birth defects. EARTH FOCUS looks at endocrine disruptors, ubiquitous chemicals that affect development, metabolism, fertility and intelligence at extremely low doses and at what measures could be taken to better ensure public safety.



Wednesday, June 25

 "Saving the Rivers of the American West"

EARTH FOCUS speaks with Jeremy Monroe about his film Willamette Futures, which documents the effort to restore the watersheds of Oregon's largest river system. Satirical writer George Wolfe's controversial act of civil disobedience, leading a kayaking expedition down the cemented Los Angeles River, is the focus of Thea Mercouffer's film Rock the Boat. The expedition sought to have EPA declare the river navigable so that it could gain protection under the Clean Water Act. The boating trip down the LA River became a political movement which led to changes in federal policy and opened up public access to a long-neglected waterway. The Colorado River is the most dammed, and diverted river in the world. It struggles to support thirty million people across the western United States and Mexico and is reaching its limits. James Redford and Mark Decena talk about their film Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West, which looks at how we balance the competing interests of cities, agriculture, recreation, wildlife and indigenous communities with rights to the water.


Wednesday, July 2

 "Restoring the Earth"

It is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems, to improve the lives of people trapped in poverty and to sequester carbon naturally? John D. Liu presents "Hope in a Changing Climate" which showcases approaches that have worked on the Loess Plateau in China, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Produced in collaboration with the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP).



Wednesday, July 9

"Fracking Goes Global"

US domestic gas production is on the rise because of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale rock by pumping millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals underground at high pressure. Environmentalists say this gas boon threatens water supplies and pollutes air. Now, as fracking expands around the world, so does growing resistance. EARTH FOCUS looks at three countries on the new fracking frontline: South Africa, Poland, and the UK. Reported from South Africa by Jeff Barbee and Andrew Wasley from Poland and the UK.



Wednesday, July 16

"Killing Bees: Are Government and Industry Responsible?"

Honey bees, the essential pollinators of many major US crops, have been dying off in massive numbers since 2006. This threatens the American agricultural system and the one in twelve American jobs that depends on it. There is growing evidence that a new class of pesticides - nerve toxins called neonicotinoids, which are used on many US crops including almost all corn - may be toxic to bees. The Environmental Protection Agency allowed neonicotinoids on the market without adequate tests to determine their toxicity to bees. Environmentalists want neonicotinoids banned until needed safety tests are done. While the US government is slow to act and neonicotinoid sales reap billions for the chemical industry, bees continue to die. An original EARTH FOCUS investigation.



Wednesday, July 23

"Climate Science in Action"

From researching the pace of Alaskan glacier melt to how changes in Arctic sea ice affect our weather, climate scientists go to some of the most remote areas on Earth to help us understand our environment. The Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP) brings scientists and students together annually to study glaciers. Jeff Barbee reports on the 2013 JIRP expedition. Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center looks at the impact changes in Arctic sea ice may have on weather patterns. And Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann on what we might expect to see happen to sea levels, if we continue burning fossil fuels at current levels.




KCETLink, formed by the merger between KCET and Link Media, is a national independent, nonprofit, digital and broadcast network that provides high-quality, culturally diverse programming designed to engage the public in innovative, entertaining and transformative ways. With a commitment to independent perspectives, smart global entertainment, local communities, and opportunities for engagement and social action, KCETLink depicts people and the world through a lens unavailable elsewhere in U.S. media. A viewer-supported 501(c)(3) organization, KCETLink content is distributed nationally via satellite on Link TV - DIRECTV channel 375 and DISH Network channel 9410 - and on KCET in Southern and Central California via broadcast and cable, as well as through various digital delivery systems. For additional information about KCET and Link TV productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org or linktv.org.



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