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Medical experts warn against high levels of radon and radium from fracking

fradking dangersA group of health professionals opposed to hydraulic fracturing penned a letter Wednesday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, calling on him to take a closer look at radon levels in shale gas before allowing fracking in New York.

The letter, signed by nine people including a representative of the American Lung Association, urges Cuomo’s administration to first examine whether gas from the Marcellus Shale has elevated levels of radon before green-lighting fracking. The state should take a closer look at radiation issues related to shale-gas before proceeding, the letter signers content.


Sentinel satellite spies speed-up of ice cap melting

ice cap speedupMelting at one of the largest ice caps on Earth has produced a big jump in its flow speed, satellite imagery suggests.

Austfonna on Norway's Svalbard archipelago covers just over 8,000 sq km and had been relatively stable for many years.  But the latest space data reveals a marked acceleration of the ice in its main outlet glacier to the Barents Sea.

The research was presented in Brussels on Thursday to mark the launch of the EU's new Sentinel-1a radar spacecraft.


Duke Energy spends tiny percentage of revenue on coal ash cleanup

coal ash spillDuke Energy, the company responsible for a massive coal ash spill in North Carolina in January, raked in billions in revenue in the first quarter of 2014 but failed to spend more than a tiny fraction of its earnings on cleaning up its spill, according to its quarterly report released Wednesday.

The company, the largest electrical utility in the United States, has also seen what one Duke stock owner called a “shareholder revolt” over a reluctance to provide more detailed disclosure of its political contributions. Duke denies there’s a mutiny, saying that management’s preference for less disclosure is supported by a majority of shareholders.

Duke Energy, valued at about $51 billion, said it spent just $15 million cleaning up the results of the coal ash leak, a figure dwarfed by its $6.62 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2014.


Most cities fail air pollution guidelines, U.N. says

Air pollution Many cities are “enveloped in dirty air” that is dangerous to breathe, a director of the United Nations’ World Health Organization said Wednesday.

A database covering 1,600 cities in 91 countries, released Wednesday, indicates only 12 percent of people living in those cities breathe air that complies with WHO air pollution guidelines. About half of the urban populations in the cities in question are exposed to air pollution at least 2.5 times higher than the guidelines suggest.


White House turns to weather reporters for climate change news

meteorologistPresident Barack Obama is holding interviews on the White House lawn today with meteorologists from across the country to publicize a new administration report that says the effects of “human-induced” climate change are already being felt across the country -- with rising seas along the coastline and wildfires scarring the West.

Republicans attacked the report -- the third National Climate Assessment -- as a scare tactic, but the administration may not find as many skeptics among the weather reporters.


U.S. Orders Railroads to Alert States When Oil Is Shipped

Ooil trainsThe U.S. Transportation Department issued an emergency order designed to reduce the risks of transporting crude from North Dakota’s booming Bakken region by rail, a week after an oil train derailed and burned in Virginia.

The order requires railroads to notify state emergency agencies when they haul Bakken crude through communities. A separate advisory discourages carriers from using an older tank car known as the DOT-111 tied to some accidents, though the order doesn’t ban their use.


New report: Climate change has 'moved firmly into the present' and nation needs to adapt

Cllimate change is hereSaying that climate change has “moved firmly into the present,” a federal scientific panel Tuesday released a report cataloging the impacts of such changes, saying some would actually be beneficial “but many more are detrimental.”

The American Southeast and Caribbean regional is “exceptionally vulnerable” to rising sea levels, extreme heat events, hurricane and decreased water resources, the report said. Seven major ports in the region are vulnerable. And residents can expect a significant increase in the number of hot days – defined as 95 degrees or above – as well as decreases in freezing events.


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