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U.S. to open more drilling sites in Gulf of Mexico

Oil drillingOpening up more acreage in the Gulf of Mexico to potential oil and gas drillers could bring in more revenue to federal and state coffers, a regulator said.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it would offer up roughly 45 million acres for exploration development in the Gulf of Mexico through two lease sales in March. The sales mark the ninth and tenth such auctions covered in a five-year lease plan ending next year.

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So. California oil spill tied to pipeline corrosion

Oilspill in CaliforniaThe federal government said its preliminary report of the May 2015 oil spill at Refugio Beach in southern California found pipeline corrosion to be the culprit.

A pipeline system operated by Plains All American, which has headquarters in Houston, leaked up to 3,400 barrels of oil in Santa Barbara County in mid-May. The company in November indicated the spill volume was around 2,960 barrels and was still working to reconcile the difference. About 30 percent was recovered during remediation efforts.

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Global Water Shortage Risk Is Worse Than Scientists Thought

water shortage worse than thoughtThe growing risk of worldwide water shortages is worse than scientists previously thought, according to a new study.

More than 70 percent, which is 4 billion people, of the world's population lives without sufficient access to fresh water for at least one month of the year, according to a new paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

Previous studies calculated a lower number, estimating that between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people lived with moderate to severe water scarcity for at least a month out of the year.

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Magnitude 5.1 quake hits Oklahoma amid dramatic spike

Oklahoma earthquakeThe small town of Fairview is quickly gaining a big reputation for large quakes. It was the epicenter of Saturday's five point one. And just last month, a 4.8 quake.

"It just kind of rattled, rattled, rattled, and got stronger and got stronger," said Susie Kidd Marten.

Geologist Todd Halihan teaches at Oklahoma State and believes water disposal wells used after hydraulic fracturing is linked to the quake increase.

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Study: Air pollution kills 5.5 million people annually

Air pollution Every year, dirty air sends some 5.5 million people to an early grave.

That's according to researchers at the University of British Columbia, who on Friday presented new data on air pollution at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"Air pollution is the fourth-highest risk factor for death, globally, and by far the leading environmental risk factor for disease," Michael Brauer, a professor at UBC's School of Population and Public Health, said in a press release. "Reducing air pollution is an incredibly efficient way to improve the health of a population."

The main culprit is particulate matter -- aerosols, smoke, soot, dust and other toxins and fumes suspended in air.

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Japan: Fukushima clean-up may take up to 40 years, plant's operator says

Fukushima clean-up may take forty yearsCleaning up Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered catastrophic meltdowns after an earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011, may take up to 40 years.

The crippled nuclear reactor is now stable but the decommissioning process is making slow progress, says the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, better known as TEPCO.

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Indian Point tritium leak 80% worse than originally reported

Indian Point worse than thoughtNew measurements at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in upstate New York show levels of radioactive tritium 80 percent higher than reported last week. Plant operator insists the spill is not dangerous, as state officials call for a safety probe.

Entergy, which operates the facility 25 miles (40 km) north of New York City, says the increased levels of tritium represent “fluctuations that can be expected as the material migrates.”

“Even with the new readings, there is no impact to public health or safety, and although these values remain less than one-tenth of one percent of federal reporting guidelines,” Entergy said in a statement.

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