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China to ban all coal use in Beijing by 2020

China coal useChina's smog-plagued capital has announced plans to ban the use of coal by the end of 2020 as the country fights deadly levels of pollution, especially in major cities.

Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau posted the plan on its website Monday, saying the city would instead prioritize electricity and natural gas for heating.

The official Xinhua News Agency said coal accounted for a quarter of Beijing's energy consumption in 2012 and 22 percent of the fine particles floating in the city's air. Motor vehicles, industrial production and general dust also contributed to pollution in the 21 million-person city.

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Fracking the Farm: Scientists Worry About Chemical Exposure to Livestock and Agriculture

fracking the farmThe fracking boom hadn't begun yet in Pennsylvania when J. Stephen Cleghorn and his wife purchased a rundown 50-acre farm in Jefferson County with the intention of building it up into a certified organic farm selling vegetables and goat dairy products.

Four years later, in 2009, when a big rig started horizontally drilling for gas nearby, Cleghorn began to see the effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on his farm. Those effects included health impacts on a neighbor's collies and a polluted spring - the kind of problems that now farmers in many states are experiencing and are indicative of a myriad of possible pathways for exposure to fracking.

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Once-frozen Arctic sea now gets 16-foot waves

Waves in arctic seaGood news for Arctic surfers? The Beaufort Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean, was long covered in a perpetual layer of ice; not so anymore.

Now, the area has seen waves 16 feet high thanks to warmer temperatures, scientists say in a new study, per National Geographic. The giant waves happened during a storm in 2012, the year the researchers collected their data. Such big waves could themselves contribute to a further reduction in ice. Waves break ice, and that gives the sun a chance to make the ocean even warmer.

Big waves can also result in quicker erosion on nearby shores, and could indirectly boost the release of greenhouse gases in the Arctic.

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Lake Erie's algae woes began building a decade ago

Lake Erie algaeThe toxins that contaminated the drinking water supply of 400,000 people in northwest Ohio didn't just suddenly appear.

Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup color in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets.

In fact, the problems on the shallowest of the five Great Lakes brought on by farm runoff and sludge from sewage treatment plants have been building for more than a decade.

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California governor declares emergency amid fires

California firesA fast-growing wildfire along the Oregon-California border spurred evacuation notices even as California's governor declared a state of emergency to help fight blazes raging in the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown's order Saturday night came as fires in other West Coast states burned through parched forests, brush and terrain, destroying some homes, threatening many others and forcing evacuations.

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Dangerous toxins found in Toledo water treatment plant; 400,000 Ohioans put on 'do not drink' order

Toledo water toxicDon't drink the water, Toledo.

About 400,000 Ohioans were told not to drink their tap water after dangerous toxins seeped into Toledo's water.

Scientists found the harmful organisms in Toledo's Collins Park water-treatment plant early Saturday. Consuming the water can lead to nausea, fever and skin irritation, officials said. Boiling the water will only make the toxins worse.

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Instead of DEQ fines, Halliburton plant sees tax breaks after explosion

chemical plant explosionMulti-Chem, a Halliburton-owned business that blends chemicals for oilfield production, including fracking, paid no state environmental fines when its New Iberia plant exploded in 2011.

Instead, the company received an expedited environmental permit to build a new plant in Vermilion Parish without public notice or a public hearing and was granted $1.8 million in state property tax exemptions over a 10-year period to build the new plant.

Now the company wants a permit to discharge water from its Vermilion Parish facility into area waterways and some residents aren't happy.

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