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Inside the Latest Fracking Controversy Brewing in Texas

Ts frackomgIn Austin, legislators have filed several bills that would undermine the ban and strip local decisions from the hands of voters. Legislators argue that the authority to regulate oil and gas activity lies with the state state, not municipalities.

A significant portion of the Barnett Shale, a geologic formation rich with natural gas, lies under the populated middle-class communities of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. These communities neither want nor need gas drilling’s economic benefits, as evidenced by their protests against gas development. These residents don’t work for the industry; they were doing just fine economically before the rigs showed up.

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PG&E Hit With $1.6 Billion Penalty For 2010 Calif. Pipeline Explosion

PG&E finedPacific Gas & Electric Co.has been ordered to pay a $1.6 billion penalty – the largest ever levied against a public utility – for a 2010 explosion in a gas pipeline it operated that killed eight people and destroyed dozens of homes in a San Francisco suburb.

The five-member California Public Utilities Commission voted 4-0 Thursday, with the commission president, Michael Picker, abstaining, to impose the penalty. Picker, however, called for a larger review of problems at PG&E, a move that The Associated Press says "suggests the energy behemoth could be broken up."

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Rising radon readings linked to fracking

radon and frackingThe odorless radioactive gas known as radon is on the rise in Pennsylvania, and researchers suggest fracking is to blame. Since 2004, the year hydraulic fracturing activity kicked into high gear, radon readings in homes have been spiking.

A new study, conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that 42 percent of radon readings in the state registered above what the federal government defines as safe. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

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Greenpeace Activists Have Barnacled Themselves to Shell Oil Drilling Rig Bound for Seattle

GreenpeaceGreenpeace reports that this morning, six activists from the Esperanza—the Greenpeace vessel tracking a Shell oil drilling platform called the Polar Pioneer as it travels across the Pacific Ocean—managed to scale the rig and affix themselves to the underside of the main deck.

The six are now tweeting from the rig, located 750 miles northwest of Hawaii.

In 2012, Shell won an injunction that kept Greenpeace activists away from its rigs. This drilling season, Seattle-based activists are also planning to greet the rigs with a flotilla of kayaks in Elliott Bay. The Polar Pioneer is due to arrive in Port Angeles on April 12, according to Marinetraffic.com, and activists expect it to pull into Seattle a few days later.

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Activists fear dangers of oil trains remain unaddressed by new rule

oil trainsAfter almost two years of deliberation, Barack Obama’s administration is expected to enact regulations next month that will attempt to protect trackside communities from exploding oil trains.

However, the new rule won’t take the one step that could decrease the risk almost immediately — requiring North Dakota oil producers to either reduce their product’s explosiveness or ship it in pressurized cars.

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Study: W. Canada to lose 70% of glaciers

Canada glaciers The glaciers of western Canada are expected to drastically reduce in size in just three generations, according to a study that scientists warn underscores the real consequences of climate change.

The glaciers of Alberta and British Columbia — deemed by many to be among the world’s most picturesque mountain ranges — are set to shrink by 75 percent in area by 2100, when compared to 2005 levels, and by 70 percent in volume, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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Fukushima disaster radiation detected off Canada's coast

Vancouver IslandRadiation from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has for the first time been detected along a North American shoreline, though at levels too low to pose a significant threat to human or marine life, scientists said.

Trace amounts of Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 were detected in samples collected on 19 February off the coast of Ucluelet, a small town on Vancouver Island in Canada’s British Columbia, said Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist Ken Buesseler.

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