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DOJ reaches $2 billion settlement with fertilizer maker

DOZ reaches deal over gertilizer wasteOne of the world's largest fertilizer makers is settling a massive hazardous waste lawsuit for nearly $2 billion to help clean up pollution and upgrade leaky facilities in Florida and Louisiana, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were set to announce the agreement with Minnesota-based The Mosaic Co. on Thursday. The deal still needs to be finalized by the court.


Refineries must monitor air quality in nearby communities, EPA says

EPA: refineries must monitor airThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday released its first-ever rule requiring petroleum refineries to monitor air pollution in surrounding residential communities — a move that could lower the cancer risk from toxic emissions for more than one million Americans.

Levels of air pollutants including benzene, a known human carcinogen, are often higher in areas near oil refineries. They can cause respiratory problems and other serious health issues and are seen as a factor in the increased risk of cancer, according to an EPA statement announcing the new requirement.


Study: Climate change negatively affects birth weight

Climate change affects birth weightStronger storms, higher tides, longer droughts and lower birth weights -- global warming's rap sheet continues to get longer and longer.

According to a new study, expecting mothers in Africa who are exposed to higher temperatures and less precipitation tend to birth infants weighing less.

Researchers from the University of Utah analyzed the birth weights of 70,000 infants born in 19 African countries between 1986 and 2010. They cross-referenced birth weights with weather data from the estimated time of conception through birth.


Brazil pledges absolute carbon emissions reduction of 37 percent

Brazil pledgeds carbon emissions reductionBrazil has pledged a 37 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025, making the South American country the first major developing nation to pledge an absolute emissions reduction.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made the announcement on Sunday at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. She also announced an "intended reduction" of 43 percent by 2030.


Shell says it will cease Alaska offshore Arctic drilling

Duutch to leave Arctic drilllingRoyal Dutch Shell said it will cease exploration in Arctic waters off Alaska's coast following disappointing results from an exploratory well backed by billions in investment and years of work.

Shell will end exploration off Alaska “for the foreseeable future,” the company said, because of the well results and because of the “challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”


Giant Viruses Are Hiding in Permafrost, But Not for Long

Giant viruses in permafrostIf you’re a germophobe, you won’t find comfort even in bleak Siberian expanses. Scientists have made another massive discovery of ancient (and giant) viruses hidden dormant in the permafrost. As the planet warms, finding these things—and waking them—is going to become more commonplace.

That’s significant, especially when you understand the gravity of the findings for experts involved in the ongoing research.


Drinking water systems imperiled by failing infrastructure

Drinking water in dangerDeep inside a 70-year-old water-treatment plant, drinking water for Iowa's capital city is cleansed of harmful nitrates that come from the state's famously rich farmland.

Without Des Moines Water Works, the central Iowa region of 500,000 people that it serves wouldn't have a thriving economy. But after decades of ceaseless service, the utility is confronting an array of problems: Water mains are cracking open hundreds of times every year. Rivers that provide its source water are increasingly polluted. And the city doesn't know how it will afford a $150 million treatment plant at a time when revenues are down and maintenance costs are up.


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