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Simushir, fuel-laden Russian cargo ship, adrift off Canadian coast after tow lines part

Russian container ship driftingA Russian cargo ship carrying hundreds of tons of fuel is once again adrift off the west coast of Haida Gwaii after a Canadian Coast Guard vessel lost three tow lines.

A spokesman with the Canadian Forces' Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria told CBC News at 11:30 a.m. PT that the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Gordon Reid had tried three times to attach lines to the incapacitated ship, but that all three lines had "parted."

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Pacific islanders on canoes blockade Australia coal export terminal

Pacific islanders bar coalEnvironmental activists teamed up with Pacific islanders in eastern Australia on Friday in an attempt to block the world's largest coal export terminal by forming a blockade of canoes, surfboards and kayaks.

The burning of coal and other fossil fuels has contributed to climate change, they said, which causes sea level rise. That, environmentalists added, poses an existential threat to residents of low-lying areas around the world, especially in the Pacific, where entire island countries could disappear.

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Colombian farmers sue BP for $29M over alleged land degredation

BPColombian farmers took on oil giant BP in the British High Court on Wednesday, in a lawsuit that alleges that the company negligently managed the construction of a pipeline in the mid-1990s, resulting in severe damage to their land.

The four-month trial marks the first time the U.K. firm has faced a domestic court over its actions overseas in what is being billed as one of the largest environmental case of its kind.

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Former workers, whistleblowers shed light on nuclear site safety setbacks

hanfordOn the banks of the Columbia River, miles of open land sit undeveloped behind barbed wire fences. A handful of mysterious structures dot the landscape, remnants from the early days of the Cold War. Passing by the old Hanford nuclear production complex can feel like a journey into the past.

Known simply as Hanford, workers here produced plutonium for the world’s first atomic bomb and for many of the nation’s current nuclear warheads. The site was first developed in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project and ceased plutonium production nearly 50 years later, leaving behind 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste. Spanning 586 square miles, it is now ground zero for the largest cleanup project in America.

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Natural gas's green image could be hot air, say scientists

natural gasNatural gas may not be of much use as a “bridge” fuel en route to achieving significant cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions unless its use is accompanied by rigorous policies aimed at curbing emissions – policies that some analysts say should be designed to harness gas as an ally of renewable-energy sources, rather that as a competitor.

That is the implication of a new study analyzing the effect of globally abundant natural gas on competing energy sources and on greenhouse-gas emissions. The global abundance would result from the use of techniques such as hydraulic fracturing to tap so-called “unconventional” sources of natural gas worldwide.

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Fracking drives growth in sand mining, raises new health-risk questions

FrackingDemand is exploding for the massive amounts of sand used in fracking, creating a windfall for mines from Texas to Wisconsin but leading to worries about the health impacts of breathing silica dust.

Drillers are expected to use nearly 95 billion pounds of “frac sand” this year. That’s up 30 percent from last year, according to energy specialists at PacWest Consulting Partners, who expect the market to keep growing as drillers increasingly accept that using more sand increases the oil and gas production from each well.

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Cuomo administration edited and delayed key fracking study

CuomoNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration edited and delayed a fracking study commissioned by the state, according to a review by Capital New York.

The New York news outlet reported Monday that the Cuomo administration had altered a report on the natural gas extraction technique commonly referred to as fracking. The report was commissioned in 2011 and was “going to result in a number of politically inconvenient conclusions” for the governor. A comparison of the original draft of the report, which was put together by the U.S. Geological Survey, and the final version, showed that some of the original descriptions and mentions of fracking-related health and environmental risks were “played down or removed.”

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