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Tuesday, Sep 02nd

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Supreme Court limits greenhouse gas regulations

Supreme Court limits greenhouse regulationsA divided Supreme Court blocked the Obama administration Monday from requiring permits for some industries that spew greenhouse gases, but the ruling won't prohibit other means of regulating the pollutant that causes global warming.

The court's conservative wing ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority by changing the emissions threshold for greenhouse gases in the Clean Air Act. That action can only be taken by Congress, Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion said.

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Earth 'on brink of mass extinction event'

earth extinction comingEarth is on the brink of a "mass extinction event" which could be equivalent in scale to the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a landmark study by an international group of scientists has concluded.

Researchers warned that deforestation, climate change, and overfishing have driven extinction rates to 1,000 times their normal level, Reuters reports.

Duke University biologist and conversation expert Stuart Pimm says that "time is running out" to avert the threat of mass extinction.

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Thousands of fracking wells in Pennsylvania 'may be leaking methane'

fracking well leaksA study of abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania finds that the hundreds of thousands of such wells in the state may be leaking methane, suggesting that abandoned wells across the country could be a bigger source of climate changing greenhouse gases than previously thought.

The study by Mary Kang, a Princeton University scientist, looked at 19 wells and found that these oft-forgotten wells are leaking various amounts of methane. There are hundreds of thousands of such oil and gas wells, long abandoned and plugged, in Pennsylvania alone, and countless more in oil and gas fields across the country. These wells go mostly unmonitored, and rarely, if ever, checked for such leaks.

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US sets up honey bee loss task force

honey bee taskforcehoney bee taskforceThe White House has set up a taskforce to tackle the decline of honey bees.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the agriculture department will lead the effort, which includes $8m (£4.7m) for new honey bee habitats.

Bee populations saw a 23% decline last winter, a trend blamed on the loss of genetic diversity, exposure to certain pesticides and other factors. A quarter of the food Americans eat, including apples, carrots and avocados, relies on pollination.

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Fukushima ‘ice wall’ looking more like a dirt Slurpee

Fukushima ice wall failureSkeptics of the plan to build a massive ice wall around Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility didn’t have to wait particularly long for their first “I told you so.”

TEPCO, the nominal operator of the battered plant, announced Tuesday that while construction on the network of pipes, pumps, and compressors has begun on what is intended to be a huge ice barrier to prevent mountain runoff from mixing with radioactive water inside the facility, attempts to form a smaller ice wall around already-contaminated water are failing.

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The new oil crisis: Exploding trains

New oil crisisCommunities throughout the U.S. and Canada are waking up to the dark side of North America’s energy boom: Trains hauling crude oil are crashing, exploding and spilling in record numbers as a fast-growing industry outpaces the federal government’s oversight.

In the 11 months since a runaway oil train derailed in the middle of a small town in Quebec, incinerating 47 people, the rolling virtual pipelines have unleashed crude oil into an Alabama swamp, forced more than 1,000 North Dakota residents to evacuate, dangled from a bridge in Philadelphia and smashed into an industrial building near Pittsburgh. The latest serious accident was April’s fiery crash in Lynchburg, Virginia, where even the mayor had been unaware oil was rolling through his city.

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Alex Baer: Freedom's Just Another Word

FreedomSituation Report:  I steamed my eyelids open again with real coffee, a nice treat for a weekday.  This idle, schedule-less time is a gift from my era.  It is a gift from the same chunk of time that decided a long while ago that I was not only economically redundant, but execrably so, and so, I was added to the Shoals of the Doomed & Adrift -- and then expertly excreted from the highly-lauded realm of competitive, cutthroat capitalism and into the murky lagoons and mired holding ponds of Excess Capacity.

In economics, as in most other areas of America life since, oh, 1960, it's best to fog and cloud the real issues, and all-too-human effects, with cold, distancing euphemisms.  So, the Shoals of the Shredded & Damned are magically converted -- presto! -- to Excess Capacity.  Language is very much like statistics:  What is revealed is routine; what is concealed is essential.

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