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Former CEO indicted in 2010 mine disaster

west virginia coal disasterMore than four years after an underground explosion killed 29 mine workers, a federal grand jury Thursday indicted the top executive of the West Virginia coal company that ran the mine, charging him with fraud and conspiracy to violate safety laws.

Don Blankenship, who was CEO of Massey Energy, becomes the highest-ranking executive to face charges in the deadly blast at the Upper Big Branc Mine, the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years.


New federal protection for bird may limit oil and gas drilling

gunniuson grouseFederal officials granted protection as a threatened species to the Gunnison sage grouse on Wednesday, a move that could bring restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other activity to preserve the bird's habitat in parts of Colorado and Utah.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper immediately renewed the state's threat to sue to block the measures. He said the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignores 20 years of work by state and local officials to protect the bird.


Appalachia gathers dissent to gas pipeline bound for eastern N.C.

Appalachia pipeline oppositionThis quiet area is being roiled by plans announced in September to put it in the path of a 42-inch pipeline from West Virginia through North Carolina. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, primarily a project of Dominion Resources and Duke Energy, would ship natural gas 550 miles from the fracking fields of the Marcellus and Utica shales to economically struggling counties in eastern North Carolina, where there are hopes it will help to attract industry.

Powell, like others in Virginia’s Nelson and Augusta counties, is refusing to allow Dominion Resources to come through his farmland and survey for the pipeline right of way, saying they’ll do whatever they can to try to stop the $5 billion project.


Are Fracking Workers Being Poisoned on the Job?

fracking workersLast week’s Republican election victories will set the stage for more stagnation in Washington, but might also grease the skids for some of the most controversial energy ventures at ground zero in the climate change debate: the long-stalled Keystone XL Pipeline project, and the booming hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," industry. But one thing that might put the brakes on the dirty fuel rush is the mounting research evidence linking oil and gas extraction to massive health risks for workers and communities.

A new study published in Environmental Health reveals air pollution data on major, in some cases previously underestimated, health risks from toxic contamination at gas production sites related to fracking.


Climate change could cause expansion of ocean dead zones

Ocean dead zonesDead zones in the world's oceans are expected to warm and expand by the end of the century due to climate change, says a new study.

The dead zones, areas of water that are oxygen depleted and unable to sustain aquatic life, are going to grow. The study, published by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on Nov. 10 in Global Change Biology, said 94 percent of the ocean's dead zones will see a jump of two degrees Celsius.


Anadarko's $5.15 billion cleanup deal approved by U.S. court

anadarko Anadarko Petroleum Corp's agreement to pay $5.15 billion to clean up nuclear fuel and other pollution received approval from a federal judge on Monday, the final hurdle for the settlement touted by the U.S. Department of Justice as the largest-ever environmental cleanup recovery.

The agreement, reached in April, resolved a lawsuit against Anadarko and its Kerr-McGee unit from creditors of Tronox Inc, the paint materials maker that was once a unit of Kerr-McGee.


Texas Oil Regulator Says It Will Not Honor Town’s Vote To Ban Fracking

Denton fracking ban ignoredRailroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick came out strongly against a fracking ban passed this week in North Texas, pledging to continue giving permits to companies that seek to drill in Denton.

Craddick discussed the state’s oil and gas boom, the agency’s needs and pitfalls, and her political future at a Thursday event sponsored by the Texas Tribune. The Railroad Commission is the state agency that regulates oil and gas.


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