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Thursday, Jul 31st

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N. C. GOP Pushes Unprecedented Bill to Jail Anyone Who Discloses Fracking Chemicals

NC fracking lawAs hydraulic fracturing ramps up around the country, so do concerns about its health impacts. These concerns have led 20 states to require the disclosure of industrial chemicals used in the fracking process.

North Carolina isn't on that list of states yet—and it may be hurtling in the opposite direction.

On Thursday, three Republican state senators introduced a bill that would slap a felony charge on individuals who disclosed confidential information about fracking chemicals. The bill, whose sponsors include a member of Republican party leadership, establishes procedures for fire chiefs and health care providers to obtain chemical information during emergencies. But as the trade publication Energywire noted Friday, individuals who leak information outside of emergency settings could be penalized with fines and several months in prison.

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California wildfire increase linked to climate change

California wildfiresDrought-stricken California is preparing for its worst wildfire season ever, the state's governor said on Sunday.

Governor Jerry Brown told ABC's This Week that the nearly dozen wildfires that this week caused more than $20m in damage mark only the beginning. The state has 5,000 firefighters and has appropriated $600m to battling blazes, but that may not be enough.

"We're getting ready for the worst," Brown said. "Now, we don't want to anticipate before we know, but we need a full complement of firefighting capacity."

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The people of Miami know about climate change. We're living it

Miami climate changeClear skies above but water below, a woman on a moped navigates a flooded street corner on Miami Beach, an all-too-familiar sign for residents of this iconic peninsula where the ocean seems more likely than ever to swamp Ocean Drive one day.

If there's an image that starkly illustrates the threats of climate change, it's this photograph, which was included in the recent National Climate Assessment released by the White House. It is noteworthy because the flood is from exceptionally high spring tides – not heavy rains. Tidal flooding like that is relatively new. And scary. "People in Miami Beach are living climate change," said David Nolan, a meteorology and physical oceanography professor at the University of Miami. "They're on the frontline."

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President Obama’s big carbon crackdown readies for launch

Carbon crackdown

The EPA will launch the most dramatic anti-pollution regulation in a generation early next month, a sweeping crackdown on carbon that offers President Barack Obama his last real shot at a legacy on climate change — while causing significant political peril for red-state Democrats.

The move could produce a dramatic makeover of the power industry, shifting it away from coal-burning plants toward natural gas, solar and wind. While this is the big move environmentalists have been yearning for, it also has major political implications in November for a president already under fire for what the GOP is branding a job-killing “War on Coal,” and promises to be an election issue in energy-producing states such as West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana.

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Toxic fumes, health concerns remain after L.A. pipeline rupture

los angeles oil spillToxic fumes continued to hang in the air at an industrial area of Los Angeles Friday, a day after a pipeline run by a company with a checkered history of accidents ruptured and spilled at least 18,000 gallons of crude oil onto city streets.

“We can smell fumes, but we’re all in today for work,” said an employee at Plumbing and Industrial Supply, a business next door to The Gentleman’s Club, a strip joint that served as the epicenter to the spill and was showered in crude during the rupture in the early hours of Thursday morning.

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Stranded ship near Galapagos 'could unleash a disaster'

galapagos stranded shipA new threat to the Galapagos Islands "could unleash a disaster," say officials: a cargo ship.

At Galapagos officials' urging, Ecuador (which owns the islands) on Thursday declared an environmental emergency there after a ship ran aground last Friday.

The 19,000 gallons of cargo fuel the Galapaface 1 had been transporting have been removed from it, but dangers persist in the form of nasty pollutants like motor oil and cleaning products still aboard the ship; the Wall Street Journal puts the amount of pollutants aboard at about 1,100 tons.

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Big mammals vs. big oil: New pipeline puts humpback whales at risk

humpback whaleIn a deep fjord in British Columbia called the Douglas Channel, where the Kitimat River pours runs of Chinook salmon into the Pacific Ocean, fishermen see singing humpback whales fling themselves into the air.

These barnacled, 40-ton whales with long, ridged flippers were harpooned to the brink of extinction in the 1900s. Only through intense conservation efforts have they found safety in ancient migration routes. Mothers birth a single calf in tropical seas and fast for months as it nurses, before migrating thousands of miles up to the North Pacific. There, in enclaves like the Douglas Channel — a critical feeding ground — the whales nourish themselves on krill.

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