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1 in 10 U.S. beaches are polluted, researchers say

US beaches pollutedA day at the beach can be hazardous to your health, researchers say. About 10% of America's beaches failed a new federal benchmark for what constitutes safe swimming water in the past year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council's 24th annual beach report.

Nearly 3,500 water quality samples were collected from beaches along the East and West Coast as well as the Great Lakes, and only one in 10 passed the new Environmental Protection Agency water safety standard, which the NRDC used to evaluate beaches for the first time in 2013. Even with the new standard, the portion of polluted U.S. beaches is about the same as in 2012 when the old standard was in place.

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UN rebukes Australia over concerns about Tasmanian World Heritage Areas and Great Barrier Reef

UN shuts down AustraliaA UNITED Nations body has delivered two stinging rebukes to the Abbott Government in the space of a week over the way Australia is treating some of its environmental landmarks.

In a decision that lasted just 10 minutes, the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Qatar last night denied the government’s request to open up Tasmania’s World Heritage Area to logging.

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Tsunami warning for Aleutians after 8.0 quake

Aleutians earthquakeA magnitude-8.0 earthquake was widely felt in communities along Alaska's sparsely populated Aleutian Islands on Monday, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

Natasha Ruppert, a seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center, said the communities that would have suffered damage are also under tsunami warnings, so people may not have been able to get out and check for damage yet.

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Supreme Court limits greenhouse gas regulations

Supreme Court limits greenhouse regulationsA divided Supreme Court blocked the Obama administration Monday from requiring permits for some industries that spew greenhouse gases, but the ruling won't prohibit other means of regulating the pollutant that causes global warming.

The court's conservative wing ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority by changing the emissions threshold for greenhouse gases in the Clean Air Act. That action can only be taken by Congress, Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion said.

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Earth 'on brink of mass extinction event'

earth extinction comingEarth is on the brink of a "mass extinction event" which could be equivalent in scale to the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a landmark study by an international group of scientists has concluded.

Researchers warned that deforestation, climate change, and overfishing have driven extinction rates to 1,000 times their normal level, Reuters reports.

Duke University biologist and conversation expert Stuart Pimm says that "time is running out" to avert the threat of mass extinction.

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Thousands of fracking wells in Pennsylvania 'may be leaking methane'

fracking well leaksA study of abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania finds that the hundreds of thousands of such wells in the state may be leaking methane, suggesting that abandoned wells across the country could be a bigger source of climate changing greenhouse gases than previously thought.

The study by Mary Kang, a Princeton University scientist, looked at 19 wells and found that these oft-forgotten wells are leaking various amounts of methane. There are hundreds of thousands of such oil and gas wells, long abandoned and plugged, in Pennsylvania alone, and countless more in oil and gas fields across the country. These wells go mostly unmonitored, and rarely, if ever, checked for such leaks.

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US sets up honey bee loss task force

honey bee taskforcehoney bee taskforceThe White House has set up a taskforce to tackle the decline of honey bees.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the agriculture department will lead the effort, which includes $8m (£4.7m) for new honey bee habitats.

Bee populations saw a 23% decline last winter, a trend blamed on the loss of genetic diversity, exposure to certain pesticides and other factors. A quarter of the food Americans eat, including apples, carrots and avocados, relies on pollination.

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