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U.S. Puts Bumblebee On The Endangered Species List For 1st Time

Bumble bee on endangered species listThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

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Northern California, Nevada brace for more storms

Western stormsNorthern California and Nevada braced for another powerful storm after getting lashed by downpours that flooded roads, homes and vineyards and toppled a storied giant sequoia.

Parts of Northern California were soaked by more than a foot of rain over a 72-hour period that ended early Monday, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate and leaving thousands without power. The heavy rains forced rivers out of their banks and toppled trees, among them the famed "Pioneer Cabin" in Calaveras Big Trees State Park that had a drive-thru tunnel carved into its base more than a century ago.

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Indian Point nuclear plant in New York will close after dozens of 'safety events'

Indian Point plant to closeThe Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York, which last year leaked radioactive material into groundwater near New York City, will close by April 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

“For 15 years, I have been deeply concerned by the continuing safety violations at Indian Point, especially given its location in the largest and most densely populated metropolitan region in the country,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to have secured this agreement with Entergy [the plant’s operator] to responsibly close the facility 14 years ahead of schedule, to protect the safety of all New Yorkers.”

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President Obama cancels dangerous testing in the Atlantic

Offshore oil rigThe Obama administration announced that it has denied all permits for seismic testing in the Atlantic, a move that helps solidify the president’s environmental legacy in his final weeks and comes as welcome news to environmentalists bracing for the new administration.

“We know that seismic airgun blasting is dangerous,” Oceana campaign director Claire Douglass said in a statement. “Today, we thank the Obama administration for finishing the job in protecting the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling activities.”

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Massive iceberg ready to break from Antarctic ice shelf

Massive iceberg ready to break awayScientists with the British Antarctic Survey believe a massive iceberg is preparing to calve from the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf. Recent satellite images revealed a growing fracture.

Researchers estimate the likely break will set free as much as 3,100 square miles of ice, or nearly 2 million acres.

"We use regular satellite images provided by the European Sentinel satellites to monitor cracks in the ice shelf," Andrew Fleming, remote sensing manager at the British Antarctic Survey, said in a news release. "These images are perfect for following these changes since they provide detailed information, day or night and regardless of cloud cover."

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U.S. Had Most Floods on Record in 2016

record floods in US in 10162016 really was the year of the flood in the U.S.: In total, 19 separate floods swamped the nation last year, the most in one single year since records began in 1980.

This is according to an analysis by Munich Re, a global reinsurance firm.

The worst flood was in August in Louisiana. At least 13 people were killed and roughly 60,000 buildings were destroyed. The disaster cost $10 billion, Munich Re reported, which noted it was the worst natural catastrophe in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

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Methane's On The Rise, But Regulations To Stop Gas Leaks Still Debated

methane on the riseThere's more methane gas in the atmosphere than there used to be, by every scientific measure. The Obama administration has been trying to stem the increase of this powerful greenhouse gas, but the incoming Trump administration appears bent on keeping the government's hands off methane.

The gas comes from agriculture, especially flooded agricultural lands like rice fields, as well as from the digestive tracts of livestock. But it's also the main component of natural gas; some methane escapes from leaky oil and gas operations.

Whatever the source, scientists have found that, after many years of very little change, concentrations of methane in the atmosphere have increased by 3 percent over the past eight years.

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