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Secrecy shrouds decade-old oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Oil SpillA blanket of fog lifts, exposing a band of rainbow sheen that stretches for miles off the coast of Louisiana. From the vantage point of an airplane, it's easy to see gas bubbles in the slick that mark the spot where an oil platform toppled during a 2004 hurricane, triggering what might be the longest-running commercial oil spill ever to pollute the Gulf of Mexico.

Yet more than a decade after crude started leaking at the site formerly operated by Taylor Energy Company, few people even know of its existence. The company has downplayed the leak's extent and environmental impact, likening it to scores of minor spills and natural seeps the Gulf routinely absorbs.


Unlikely allies: Mexican miners and farmers unite over toxic spill

Mexico farmers and miners uniteThe pipes have gone silent. Gone is the hum of water flowing through them to the world’s second-largest copper mine, just south of the U.S. border. Instead, in the normally empty desert here, tents and buses line the highway. Dust and smoke from cooking fires fill the air while hundreds of people listen to speeches and discuss the day’s events.

This plantón, or occupation, which began on March 18, has shut down most operations at the Cananea mine, which consumes huge quantities of water pumped from 49 wells across the desert in order to extract copper concentrate from crushed ore.


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."


More than 1 million Californians don’t have reliable access to clean water

million californians no access to waterCalifornians who grumble about not being able to water their lawns everyday during the fourth year of a historic drought should swing by this small town in southern Kern County.

Drought or no drought, residents of this rural community can’t drink water from the tap and can’t even use it for cooking because high levels of arsenic — known to cause — become even more concentrated when water is boiled.

“They worry about little things,” said Salvador Partida, president of the Committee for a Better Arvin, of the rest of the state. “We’re worried about not being able to drink the water.”


US makes climate pledge to UN

US pledge on climate changeThe US has pledged to tackle climate change by cutting its carbon emissions 26-28% by 2025.

It made the formal offer to the UN as a step towards a global deal in Paris in December. The EU has already promised to cut its emissions by a roughly similar proportion.

Tuesday was the deadline for wealthy nations to make their offers – but some, such as Canada, have failed to submit in time.

The announcement was made on Twitter with the words: "America is taking steps to #ActOnClimate, and the world is joining us" - accompanied by a picture of the President in China.


U.S. to set fracking standards on federal land

Fracking on federal landThe Obama administration on Friday is due to unveil rules for oil companies that frack on federal land, included beefed-up safety measures, but won't likely require strict oversight as environmental groups want, according to sources.

The standards have been in the works for more than three years and gone through several drafts with environmentalists and the energy industry fighting over its scope.


Fukushima victims speak. Will anyone listen?

Fukushima victimsOn March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of northeastern Japan triggered a tsunami that led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

While immediate health consequences are yet to be determined, more than 159,000 people were evicted from areas deemed too radioactive for human habitation. The World Health Organization has warned about “increased risk of certain cancers” for people in the most contaminated areas.


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