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EPA knew of 'blowout' risk for tainted water at gold mine

gold mine wasteInternal documents released late Friday show managers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were aware of the potential for a catastrophic "blowout" at an abandoned mine that could release "large volumes" of wastewater laced with toxic heavy metals.

EPA released the documents following weeks of prodding from The Associated Press and other media organizations. EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado.

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Fracking Fight Heats Up in Ohio

Students in Ohio fight frackingWith the oil and gas industry already reveling in a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision stripping local control on fracking and other extraction activities away from communities, the Secretary of State has now handed the industry another victory, opening the door for fracking infrastructure projects to spread even faster across Ohio.

In a decision issued August 13, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted blocked citizens from voting on Home Rule Charter initiatives which include provisions on fracking infrastructure development.

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Northwest wildfires rage unchecked

northwest firesU.S. crews battling wildfires raging unchecked across the Pacific Northwest contended with high winds late into Thursday, a day after three firefighters were killed and four others were injured in Washington state.

Authorities late Thursday ordered the immediate evacuation of the small community of Tonasket, nestled along the bank of the Okanogan River in north-central Washington, impacting about 1,000 people.

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Feeling the heat: Earth in July was hottest month on record

GLobal warming record July 2015Federal officials say July was Earth’s hottest month on record, smashing old marks.

July’s average temperature was 61.86 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the previous global mark set in 1998 and 2010 by about one-seventh of a degree. That’s a large margin for weather records.

Records go back to 1880, but nine of the 10 hottest months on record have happened since 2005.  The first seven months of 2015 are the hottest January-to-July span on record.

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California drought is up to 25 percent worse because of climate change

california droughtIf there were any doubts that global warming has exacerbated California’s four-year drought, a new study puts them to rest by quantifying the impact for the first time: Rising temperatures are worsening the drought by up to 25 percent.

While natural weather cycles are largely responsible for the historic drought, man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are intensifying the severity of the drought by raising air temperatures, according to a report by the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

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Volcano warning near nuclear plant raising concerns in Japan

Volcano warning near FukushimaJust under a week after the first nuclear power plant re-opened in Japan, critics are voicing conerns about safety. Oh, and there's a volcano.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, all of Japan's nuclear reactors were shut down. To reopen, plants must pass new safety requirement. Plants must have an upgrade plan, an engineering work plan and receive pre-service inspections. These upgrade plans must include disaster preparedness — one plant in Hamaoka built a 70-foot-high, mile-long tsunami seawall in December in order to comply with the new regulations.

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A decade after Katrina, are America's flood estimates dangerously wrong?

Ten years after KatrinaIn the Mississippi River town of Hannibal, Missouri, time apparently flies.

In 2013, Hannibal had a 50-year flood, a high-water event only expected once every 50 years. In 2014, it had another 50-year flood. Somehow, the river has reached its 10-year flood stage in Hannibal—which should happen about once a decade—in seven of the last eight years. And if the years seem to be passing with unusual speed, so do the centuries. Hannibal had a 200-year flood in 2008, considerably less than 200 years after an even larger deluge in 1993.

Evidence is mounting that Hannibal’s statistical anomalies have been caused not by glitches in the space-time continuum, but by a combination of floods getting worse and government estimates of flood risks being wrong.

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