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Life in the shadow of an oil refinery

shreveport oil refineryOn the blocks surrounding Calumet Specialty Products’ Shreveport Refinery the stench of rotten eggs is nearly constant. It’s a sign that hydrogen sulfide is in the air, and residents say the chemicals they’ve come to associate with that smell are responsible for a host of health issues — from cancers to lung disease to nerve damage — that plague families in the area.

Still, hundreds of little wooden houses on small plots of grass dot the blocks surrounding the plant, in the Ingleside neighborhood of Louisiana’s third largest city.

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IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable

Climate change affordableCatastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards according to a UN report, which concludes that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable.
“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) team.

The cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades, the report found. Gas – including that from the global fracking boom – could be important during the transition, Edenhofer said, but only if it replaced coal burning.

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Magnitude 7.5 quake strikes off Solomons, sparks tsunami warning

7.5 earthquake solomon islandsA powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake triggered large waves in the Solomon Islands on Sunday, and authorities were trying to determine if there was any serious damage or injuries.

Government spokesman George Herming said people throughout the Pacific island chain awoke to the strong quake at 7:14am. He said that people on Makira and nearby islands southeast of the capital, Honiara, reported seeing three large waves after the quake.  He said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

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Climate panel warns emissions rising, blurs reason

emissions rising: climate panelThe U.N.'s expert panel on climate change on Sunday highlighted the disconnect between international goals to fight global warming and what is being done to attain them.

Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases must drop by 40-70 percent by 2050 to keep the global temperature rise below the 2-degree C (3.6-degree F) cap set in U.N. climate talks, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said.

The opposite is happening now. On average global emissions rose by 2.2 percent — or 1 gigaton — a year between 2000 and 2010, outpacing growth in previous decades to reach "unprecedented levels" despite some efforts to contain them, the IPCC said.

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Bill banning fracking in Calif. passes first committee

fracking ban californiaA bill that would temporarily ban fracking in California was approved at its first state legislative committee hearing on Tuesday.

Fracking, which is known more formally as hydraulic fracturing, uses pressured water, and in some cases chemicals, to break up rock deep under ground so that oil and natural gas can be pumped out.

The bill, SB 1132, was introduced by Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Democrat from South Los Angeles.

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Responding to Investor Pressure, ExxonMobil Agrees to Disclose Fracking Risks

Fracking report from EXXONExxonMobil, the nation's largest oil and gas company, will begin disclosing risks associated with shale drilling and fracking to investors, in response to a long-running campaign by a coalition of shareholders.

In February, the groups of investors in a handful of major oil and gas companies including Exxon, Chevron and EOG Resources,  demandedfor the fifth year in a row more information from companies about the risks associated with fracking. The motion won the support of over 30 percent of Exxon shareholders — an unusually strong showing for a shareholder resolution.

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Four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, wildlife still struggling

deepwater horizon spillRoughly four years after BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, spilling 200 million gallons of oil -- the biggest oil spill in U.S. history -- wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico continue to struggle.

According to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation, bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and other animals continue to die at heightened rates, and many Gulf Coast ecosystems remain slow to recover.

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