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Why 28 years have passed since the EPA’s last chemical risk review

epaThis week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hit a major milestone that some people, including leaders at the agency itself, think shouldn’t be celebrated.

On Wednesday, the agency released a final risk assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent used by artists, car mechanics, dry cleaners and others. The EPA’s in-depth report, released after a two-year analysis, shows that long-term exposure to TCE can cause cancer and other health issues, and recommends that workers take serious precautions if they must use TCE.

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Rain Storms Pummel Upper Midwest, Drowning Resources

Rain storms in upper midwestHeavy rains over the past couple of weeks have rivers rising all across the Upper Midwest, flooding homes, swamping fields and washing out roads.

Fans hum 24/7 as Laura Westra tries to dry out her sopping-wet basement in the small town of Rock Valley, Iowa.  The nearby Rock River, in the northwest corner of the state, swelled last week wider and deeper than anyone can remember.

"We've lived here 45 years, and this is the first time we had water in the basement," Westra says.

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Oklahoma residents seek answers on quakes

Oklahoma eaarthquakesOklahoma residents whose homes and nerves have been shaken by an upsurge in earthquakes want to know what's causing the temblors — and what can be done to stop them.

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out in Edmond, Oklahoma, on Thursday night for a town hall meeting on the issue.

Earthquakes used to be almost unheard of on the vast stretches of prairie that unfold across Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, but they've become common in recent years.

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1 in 10 U.S. beaches are polluted, researchers say

US beaches pollutedA day at the beach can be hazardous to your health, researchers say. About 10% of America's beaches failed a new federal benchmark for what constitutes safe swimming water in the past year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council's 24th annual beach report.

Nearly 3,500 water quality samples were collected from beaches along the East and West Coast as well as the Great Lakes, and only one in 10 passed the new Environmental Protection Agency water safety standard, which the NRDC used to evaluate beaches for the first time in 2013. Even with the new standard, the portion of polluted U.S. beaches is about the same as in 2012 when the old standard was in place.

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UN rebukes Australia over concerns about Tasmanian World Heritage Areas and Great Barrier Reef

UN shuts down AustraliaA UNITED Nations body has delivered two stinging rebukes to the Abbott Government in the space of a week over the way Australia is treating some of its environmental landmarks.

In a decision that lasted just 10 minutes, the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Qatar last night denied the government’s request to open up Tasmania’s World Heritage Area to logging.

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Tsunami warning for Aleutians after 8.0 quake

Aleutians earthquakeA magnitude-8.0 earthquake was widely felt in communities along Alaska's sparsely populated Aleutian Islands on Monday, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

Natasha Ruppert, a seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center, said the communities that would have suffered damage are also under tsunami warnings, so people may not have been able to get out and check for damage yet.

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Supreme Court limits greenhouse gas regulations

Supreme Court limits greenhouse regulationsA divided Supreme Court blocked the Obama administration Monday from requiring permits for some industries that spew greenhouse gases, but the ruling won't prohibit other means of regulating the pollutant that causes global warming.

The court's conservative wing ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority by changing the emissions threshold for greenhouse gases in the Clean Air Act. That action can only be taken by Congress, Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion said.

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