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Tuesday, Sep 02nd

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Google's latest project: mapping small gas leaks in US cities

Gas leakGoogle Street View cars outfitted with special sensors have identified hundreds of small but steady methane leaks lying beneath the streets in three US cities.

The specially equipped cars drove the streets of Boston, Staten Island, and Indianapolis sniffing out minor gas leaks for a pilot mapping project in conjunction with the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund and local utility companies. EDF released the findings online Wednesday, along with a set of interactive maps.

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Australia votes to repeal carbon tax

carbon tax repealed in AustraliaAustralia's Senate has voted to repeal the carbon tax, a levy on the biggest polluters passed by the previous Labor government.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose Liberal-National coalition beat Labor in an election last year, had made the repeal a central aim of his government.

Politicians have been locked in a fierce row about the tax for years.  Labor says it helps to combat climate change, but the Liberals claim it penalises legitimate businesses.

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New wildfire in Washington State prompts evacuation

Washington State wildfires-A new wildfire in Washington State prompted hundreds of evacuations and closed a highway as the Oregon governor declared a state of emergency.

The Chiwaukum Creek fire east of Stevens Pass grew from 500 acres to 2,000 on Wednesday. Smoke from the blaze could be seen in Seattle, 100 miles away.

Fire officials ordered about 800 people to leave the fire area, including campers. A section of Highway 2, which runs through Stevens Pass, connecting it to Leavenworth and Wenatchee, was closed.

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Arctic Warming and Increased Weather Extremes: The National Research Council Speaks

Arctic warmingArctic warming is happening at twice the average level of global warming in a process called arctic amplification, where more warming occurs as ice is lost because less of the sun’s energy is reflected back into space.

A new report from the National Research Council (NRC) details the findings of recent Arctic research: Arctic sea ice in all seasons is declining and the rate of loss is increasing. Multiple lines of study show this is impacting weather outside of the Arctic. Increased energy (heat) in the Arctic is slowing the progress of the jet stream around globe, allowing weather systems to linger, increasing the risk of severe weather happening more often in any one place. Increased warmth also means increased moisture in the Arctic - which increases the amount of snow, which in turn causes the jet stream to concentrate winter weather in North America and Eurasia.

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States With Fracking See Surge In Earthquake Activity

frackingStates where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be to blame, especially the wells where the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Fracking generates vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground. No one knows for certain exactly what happens to the liquids after that. Scientists wonder whether they could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults.

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7 Earthquakes Shake Central Oklahoma in 14 Hours

frackingThe U.S. Geological Survey has recorded seven small earthquakes shaking central Oklahoma in a span of just about 14 hours.

They ranged from magnitude 2.6 to 2.9 and were centered in the Guthrie, Jones and Langston areas, 15 miles to 30 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The USGS said the quakes were recorded between 7:57 p.m. Saturday and 9:51 a.m. Sunday. No injuries or damage were reported.

Those follow four other quakes, including a 4.3-magnitude temblor near Langston recorded shortly after noon Saturday. The other Saturday morning quakes ranged in magnitude from 2.9 to 3.2.

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Former Health Secretary: Pennsylvania Didn't Seriously Study Fracking Health Impacts

Eli AvilaPennsylvania's former health secretary says the state has failed to seriously study the potential health impacts of one of the nation's biggest natural gas drilling booms.

Dr. Eli Avila also says the state's current strategy is a disservice to people and even to the industry itself because health officials need to be proactive in protecting the public.

"The lack of any action speaks volumes," said Avila, who is now the public health commissioner for Orange County, New York. "Don't BS the public. Their health comes first."

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