Thursday, Nov 30th

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IG says refineries emitted excess benzene amid insufficient EPA action

IG calls for EPA regulaotion of benzeneOil refineries have been releasing unsafe levels of cancer-causing benzene, says a new report calling for more action from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA’s office of the inspector general said this week that out of 25 refineries that had an instance of excess benzene levels, 18 later emitted the chemical at unsafe levels.

The report looked at a period from January 2018 to September 2021.

It particularly pointed to refineries in Pennsylvania and Texas that emitted unsafe levels of benzene during 23 separate two-week sampling periods and 11 separate two-week sampling periods, respectively.

Eric Schaeffer, former director of the EPA’s Office of Civil Enforcement, described benzene emissions at this level as “posing a significant risk to people downwind.”


Lee is a hurricane now and will be a 'major' storm soon — with 150 mph winds or more

Lee developing into major storm

Lee has strengthened into a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean and forecasters say it's expected to grow rapidly into a major hurricane by this weekend.

In its last advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Lee has winds of 75 mph and is moving toward the Leeward Islands. Forecasters are already using stark language about the storm and its prospects.

"It is becoming a question of when and not if rapid intensification occurs with Lee," the advisory noted. Winds are forecast to reach 150 mph which is a powerful Category 4 'major hurricane' with the possibility of "explosive intensification."


Utah officials sued over failure to save Great Salt Lake: ‘Trying to avert disaster’

Utah officials sued over Great Salt lakeEnvironmental and community groups have sued Utah officials over failures to save its iconic Great Salt Lake from irreversible collapse.

The largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere has been steadily shrinking, as more and more water has been diverted away from the lake to irrigate farmland, feed industry and water lawns. A megadrought across the US south-west, accelerated by global heating, has hastened the lake’s demise.


Las Vegas residents dry out after heavy rainfall and floods

Las Vegas residents dry out

Las Vegas residents on Sunday were drying out after two days of heavy rainfall that flooded streets, prompted various water rescues, shut down a portion of Interstate 15 south of the city and possibly resulted in at least one death.

The National Weather Service in Las Vegas issued a severe weather outlook for the region, warning of strong winds and hail as the storm activity leaves eastern Clark county.

The heavy rainfall over the past couple of days resulted in 24 water rescues, including more than 30 vehicles stranded in water and about a dozen people rescued from standing or moving water, according to Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.


Stormy conditions leave thousands stranded at Burning Man Festival

Burning Man rain leaves many stranded

Brimmed hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are generally a must at the annual Burning Man Festival to combat the scorching sun and blinding dust.

But this year, some attendees probably wished umbrellas and galoshes were on their packing lists, after thousands were left stranded Saturday following heavy overnight rains.

The close-to-an-inch of precipitation created mud-bath-like conditions in Nevada's Black Rock Desert where the annual event takes place.

In an update on X (formerly Twitter), the Burning Man Organization said access into and out of the site is closed for the remainder of the event. Only emergency vehicles are being allowed to pass, the organization said in a statement.


After America’s summer of extreme weather, ‘next year may well be worse’

 Extreme US weather can get worseIt’s been a strange, cruel summer in the United States. From the dystopian orange skies above New York to the deadly immolation of a historic coastal town in Hawaii, the waning summer has been a stark demonstration of the escalating climate crisis – with experts warning that worse is to come.

A relentless barrage of extreme weather events, fueled by human-caused global heating, has swept the North American continent this summer, routinely placing a third of the US population under warnings of severe heat and unleashing floods, fire and smoke upon communities, with a record 15 separate disasters causing at least $1bn in damages so far this year.

The heat has been particularly withering in places like Phoenix, Arizona, which had a record 31 consecutive days at temperatures above 110F (43C), while an enormous heatwave across the central swath of the US this week caused schools to be closed in states such as Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa and food banks to be shut in Nebraska.


Record heat boosting wildfire risk in Pacific Northwest

Record heat boosting NW wiod fires

A record heat wave in the Pacific Northwest has prompted fire managers to bump the national preparedness level up a notch, from three to four on a five point scale. More than two dozen large fires are now burning in the region, many sparked by dry thunderstorms.

At the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, federal fire managers monitor giant screens in a NASA like control room, as they deploy air tankers, hot shot crews and other resources around the West right now.

Meagan Conry, the federal Bureau of Land Management's assistant deputy director for fire and aviation, tracks fires on live cameras in the Northwest. She says the area has become vulnerable to increased fire activity because of, "above average temperatures, dry conditions, and some expectations for gusty winds over the next few days."


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