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Thursday, Apr 17th

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Report: Keystone XL pipeline 'won't boost oil sands use'

xl keystone reportThe US state department has raised no major environmental objections to the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, according to a new report.

Crucially, it found the proposed pipeline was unlikely to accelerate the pace of Canadian oil sands development. But environmentalists say the pipeline would lead to increased carbon emissions, contribute to global warming, and risk spills on its route.  President Barack Obama has yet to decide whether he will permit it.

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Australia approves Barrier Reef dumping plan

barrier reefAustralia has approved a plan to dump millions of tons of sediment near the Great Barrier Reef as part of a major coal port expansion — a decision that environmentalists say will endanger one of the world's most fragile ecosystems.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority rubber-stamped the federal government's approval of the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port in northern Queensland, which requires a massive dredging operation to expanded access.

Almost 3 million cubic meters of dredged mud will be dumped within the marine park under the plan.

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New study links fracking to birth defects in heavily drilled Colorado

Fracking cuases birth defectsLiving near hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — sites may increase the risk of some birth defects by as much as 30 percent, a new study suggests. In the U.S., more than 15 million people now live within a mile of a well.

The use of fracking, a gas-extraction process through which sand, water and chemicals are pumped into the ground to release trapped fuel deposits, has increased significantly in the U.S. over the past decade. Five years ago, the U.S. produced 5 million barrels of oil per day; today, it's 7.4 million, thanks largely to fracking.

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Is Fracking About to Arrive on Your Doorstep?

frackingFor the past several years, I’ve been writing about what happens when big oil and gas corporations drill where people live. “Fracking”—high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which extracts oil and methane from deep shale—has become my beat.

My interviewees live in Pennsylvania’s shale-gas fields; among Wisconsin’s hills, where corporations have been mining silica, an essential fracking ingredient; and in New York, where one of the most powerful grassroots movements in the state’s long history of dissent has become ground zero for anti-fracking activism across the country. Some of the people I’ve met have become friends. We e-mail, talk by phone and visit. But until recently I’d always felt at a remove from the dangers they face: contaminated water wells, poisoned air, sick and dying animals, industry-related illnesses. Under Massachusetts, where I live, lie no methane- or oil-rich shale deposits, so there’s no drilling.

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Much Of North Dakota's Natural Gas Is Going Up In Flames

North Dakota natural gasNorth Dakota's oil boom isn't just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there's a problem with that: The state doesn't have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There's also no place to store it.  In many cases, drillers are simply burning it.

"People are estimating it's about $1 million a day just being thrown into the air," says Marcus Stewart, an energy analyst with Bentek Energy. Stewart tracks the amount of gas burned off — or flared — in the state, and his latest figures show that drillers are burning about 27 percent of the gas they produce.

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Greenpeace welcomes freeze in Shell's Alaska campaign

greenpeaceGreenpeace said Thursday a decision from Shell to suspend Alaskan drilling efforts is evidence the arctic campaign was "an albatross around Shell's neck."

James Turner, a spokesman for Greenpeace International, said Shell's efforts in arctic waters off the coast of Alaska have been a curse for the company.

"The arctic has become an albatross around Shell's neck," he said in a statement. "Years of failure have made a major dent in the company's reputation."

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The anti-fracking activist barred from 312.5 sq miles of Pennsylvania

anti fracking activistVera Scroggins, an outspoken opponent of fracking, is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, are the Chinese restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, bowling alley, recycling centre, golf club, and lake shore.

In total, 312.5 sq miles are no-go areas for Scroggins under a sweeping court order granted by a local judge that bars her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennsylvania natural gas rush, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.

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