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In NC hamlet, residents worry over coal ash ponds

coal ashThe sweet tea served in the tidy kitchen of Joanne Thomas' antebellum home comes with an ominous warning.

"It's made with bottled water," says Thomas, a spry 71-year-old. "But the ice comes from our well."

For more than 80 years, the Thomas family has lived on a farm that abuts three pits containing 6.1 million tons of ash from the coal-fired boilers of Duke Energy's Buck Steam Station. Built in 1926, the plant towers over the Yadkin River an hour's drive from the Charlotte headquarters of the nation's largest electricity company.

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Obama to order ocean protections with executive powers, Kerry says

Obama to protect oceansThe US secretary of state, John Kerry, says saving the world's oceans was a vital security issue, and has urged leaders at an international summit to take immediate action on overfishing and pollution.

Kerry, speaking at the start of the summit, said humans had caused “enormous damage” to the oceans, jeopardising the food security of three billion people on the planet.

The two-day conference includes officials from 80 countries, and is the most visible effort to date by the Obama administration to lead a global conservation effort for the oceans. To that end, the State Department on Monday announced that actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who recently donated $3m to Oceana, will attend the summit on Tuesday.

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Feds don't inspect 4 in 10 higher-risk wells

feds don't inspect wellsFour in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher-pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom, according to an Associated Press review that shows wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.

Roughly half or more of wells on federal and Indian lands weren't checked in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, despite potential harm that has led to efforts in some communities to ban new drilling.

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Testing Underway After Water Leak At Site Of West Virginia Chemical Spill

W. Virginia  cheical spillA stormwater collection trench overflowed Thursday evening at the site of a Charleston company that spilled chemicals into West Virginia's largest water supply.

The spill sent a "small but undetermined" amount of water into the Elk River, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. West Virginia American Water detected no traces of the chemical that spilled in January in treated and untreated water at its treatment plant Thursday night.

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Conservation group: Over 20,000 elephants poached in Africa in 2013

elephants poachedThe Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a major wildlife conservation group, reported poaching of African elephants remains high, with over 20,000 illegally killed in 2013.

The group's report shows an increase in seizures of ivory, particularly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and Secretary-General John Scanlon said organized crimes and African insurgent militias are heavily involved in the illegal ivory trade.

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Ohio rebels against Obama climate change agenda with energy bill

Ohio energy billThe coal-heavy state of Ohio rebelled against Barack Obama's climate change agenda on Friday, becoming the first state to roll back measures promoting wind and solar power and energy efficiency.

The bill signed into law by Ohio's governor, John Kasich, puts a two-year freeze on measures requiring power companies to obtain some of their electricity from wind and solar power, and reduce demand for electricity.

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Seminary divests from fossil fuels, calling oil ‘profoundly sinful’

Union Theological seminary

New York's Union Theological Seminary voted unanimously to become the world’s first seminary to divest from fossil fuels, taking with it the school’s $108.4 million endowment and calling the globe's addiction to oil "profoundly sinful."

The move follows the divestments of dozens of churches around the world and a call from Pope Francis for Christians to become better stewards of the earth in an effort to slow the "catastrophic threat" of climate change.

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