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Share of aging temporarily sealed oil and gas wells grows

Sealed oil and gas wellsFive years after the Obama administration promised to move swiftly to permanently plug unused oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, even more shafts are lingering for longer periods with only temporary sealing, an Associated Press investigation shows.

It is not clear how many incompletely sealed wells may have leaked — they generally are not monitored as carefully as active wells — but they contain fewer barriers to pent-up petroleum and rupture more easily. The threat to the environment increases with time.

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Pipeline Spill In The Heart Of Canada’s Tar Sands Industry Leaks 1.3 Million Gallons Of Oily Emulsion

Canada pipeline spillAn pipeline spill in Alberta, Canada has leaked some 1,320,000 gallons, or 31,000 barrels, of emulsion — a mixture of bitumen, produced water, and sand — south of Fort McMurray, a hub for Canada’s tar sands mining and refining industry.

The leak, which was discovered Wednesday afternoon, is the largest pipeline spill in the province in 35 years, when a 54,000 barrel oil spill became Canada’s worst-ever pipeline incident.

Nexen Energy, the pipeline operator, and the Alberta Energy Regulator, have not yet identified the cause of the leak, which has been contained. At this point there are no reports of injuries to wildlife or contamination of nearby bodies of water. The spill covered some 170,000 square feet, of four acres, mostly along the path of the pipeline.

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U.S. Crude Oil Train Derails in Rural Northeastern Montana

Montana oil train derailsAn oil train derailed Thursday in rural northeastern Montana, prompting the evacuation of some homes and leaving at least two of the cars leaking crude, authorities said.

There were no immediate reports of injury or fire, but of the 21 cars that derailed only two remained upright, Roosevelt County Sheriff Jason Frederick said.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Michael Trevino said the train was pulling 106 loaded crude oil cars when it derailed near Culbertson near the North Dakota border just after 6 p.m. MDT.  Police, fire and other emergency responders were at the site of the derailment, which forced the closure of federal Highway 2, the region's main artery.

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Can Simply Living Near a Fracking Site Send You to the Hospital?

Frackign dangersPeople living near "unconventional gas and oil drilling" operations were more likely to be hospitalized for heart, nervous system, and other medical conditions than those who were not in proximity to those sites, a new study published Wednesday has found.

It's the latest—and most comprehensive—indication that hydraulic fracturing, the controversial shale gas drilling method also known as fracking, and all the "noise, the trucks, the drilling, the flaring, the anxiety" it brings may have impact on residents in nearby areas, the study, titled Unconventional Gas and Oil Drilling Is Associated with Increased Hospital Utilization Rates, found—and the consequences hit more than their health.

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Watchdog: EPA should do more on fracking chemicals

EPA fracking chemicalsThe EPA’s internal watchdog recommended Thursday that it improve oversight of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

Specifically, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said the agency needs to crack down on the unlicensed use of diesel fuel in fracking and figure out whether to mandate public disclosure of fracking chemicals.

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Obama unveils new coal mining rules

new coal mining regulationsThe Obama administration Thursday unveiled new standards meant to better protect streams in Appalachia from the controversial mountaintop removal coal mining process.

The proposed rule, from the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM), would update three-decade-old standards that create a buffer zone around streams, prohibiting mining activities and waste from getting near them and harming the ecosystem.

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Warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists

waring of oceans irreversibleThe warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists said on Thursday.

The annual State of the Climate in 2014 report, based on research from 413 scientists from 58 countries, found record warming on the surface and upper levels of the oceans, especially in the North Pacific, in line with earlier findings of 2014 as the hottest year on record.

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