Water pollution

Flint residents can sue federal government, judge rules

In this image, a man and a woman hold a connected chain of four rows of plastic water bottles while walking outside.
Protests during then-candidate Donald Trump's visit to the Flint Water Treatment Plant on September 14, 2016. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Flint, Michigan residents can proceed with more than a dozen lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal government in connection with increased levels of lead in the city's water supply, CNN reports.

By the numbers: Fetal death rates jumped by 58% in Flint after the city's water was found to be contaminated with high levels of lead in 2014 and 2015, and fertility rates for women dropped by 12%, per a 2017 study. Fifteen state and local officials have been criminally indicted in connection with the Flint water crisis, 4 of whom were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Expert Voices

Lower graphite production in China could mean higher battery prices

A graphite worker walks across the Jin Yang graphite factory in the town of Mashan, China on May 28, 2016.
A graphite worker walks across the Jin Yang graphite factory in the town of Mashan, China, on May 28, 2016. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images

China has steadily been forcing producers of graphite — a material commonly used in smartphone and laptop batteries — to close in response to rising pollution, as mining companies fail to improve the conditions of local land and water resources. 

Why it matters: Batteries account for roughly 30% of the global demand for graphite, and China produces 70% of the world's graphite supply. As demand for the material continues to grow, battery prices may rise, which would impede progress toward the $100 per kilowatt hour lithium-ion target that many companies, including Tesla and BMW, are looking to achieve.