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Tuesday, Apr 21st

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Peru moves to end Amazon protests

Peru has declared a state of emergency in jungle areas where indigenous groups are blocking oil and gas installations in protest at a new land sale law.

The measure allows the authorities to send in troops and bans public gatherings for 30 days.

Some 65 Amazon tribes say the law will make it easier for big energy companies to buy up their land, parts of which are known to be rich in oil and gas. 

They are angry at a law which they say makes it easier for investors to buy their land because it lowers the bar for consent from two-thirds of a community assembly to a simple majority.

The legislation is one of a number of laws being passed as part of Peru's free trade agreement with the US.

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Court says EPA air pollution rule is illegal

A Bush administration rule barring states and local governments from requiring more air pollution monitoring is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh, a former attorney in the Bush White House, wrote the sole dissenting opinion.

He said that while EPA and state and local governments may disagree about whether monitoring requirements will adequately measure compliance, he found "nothing in the statute that prohibits EPA's approach."

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Cheney's crony leaves grim Interior legacy

Paul Hoffman, high-ranking Interior official, resigns - Hoffman, who got his post thanks to Vice President Dick Cheney, regularly helped the veep undercut environmental regulations, according to a Washington Post investigation published last year. From keeping the Yellowstone cutthroat trout off the Endangered Species List to helping lift the Clinton-era ban on snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park, Hoffman, former director of the Cody, Wyo., Chamber of Commerce, made sure that commerce in his and Cheney's home state wasn't unduly burdened. Hoffman also overrode the decision of the Grand Canyon's park superintendent to remove biblical plaques from the park, and forced its bookstores to stock a creationist text claiming the canyon was created in six days a few thousand years ago. More recently, he tried to rewrite national park management rules to give snowmobiles and off-road vehicles free rein and allow commercial activities, like mining and rock concerts. Perhaps Interior will bleed a bit more green now.

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Rapid Growth Found in Oxygen-Starved Ocean ‘Dead Zones’

Many coastal areas of the world’s oceans are being starved of oxygen at an alarming rate, with vast stretches along the seafloor depleted of it to the point that they can barely sustain marine life, researchers are reporting.

The main culprit, scientists say, is nitrogen-rich nutrients from crop fertilizers that spill into coastal waters by way of rivers and streams.

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"Dead Zones" Multiplying Fast, Coastal Water Study Says

There are now more than 400 known dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, compared to 305 in the 1990s, according to study author Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Dead zones occur when excess nutrients—usually nitrogen and phosphorus—from agriculture or the burning of fossil fuels seep into the water system and fertilize blooms of algae along the coast.

As the microscopic plants die and sink to the ocean floor, they feed bacteria, which consume dissolved oxygen from surrounding waters. This limits oxygen availability for bottom-dwelling organisms and the fish that eat them. 

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Navy says sub leaked radiation since 2006

Officials also have told the governments of Malaysia and Singapore that the sub made port calls to those countries while leaking the radioactive water, Navy officials said. The Houston also made stops in Guam and Hawaii.

Officials with knowledge of the incident could not quantify the radiation level but insisted it was "negligible" and an "extremely low level." The total amount of radioactivity that leaked while the sub was in port in Guam, Japan and Hawaii was less than a half of a microcurie (0.0000005 curies), or less than what is found in a 50-pound bag of lawn and garden fertilizer, the officials said.

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Convincing the climate-change skeptics

THE FEW climate-change "skeptics" with any sort of scientific credentials continue to receive attention in the media out of all proportion to their numbers, their qualifications, or the merit of their arguments. And this muddying of the waters of public discourse is being magnified by the parroting of these arguments by a larger population of amateur skeptics with no scientific credentials at all.

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