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Southern California wildfire forces evacuation of 200 homes

So. California wildfiresAuthorities say a wildfire in southern California has been 20% contained but more than 200 homes near the Cleveland National Forest remain evacuated.

Captain Steve Concialdi of the Orange County fire authority said on Sunday that more than 1,000 firefighters and fire personnel are battling the two-and-a-half square mile blaze.

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Developer defends Walmart in rare forest

walmartThe developer behind a controversial Walmart shopping center, facing angry neighbors and environmentalists for the first time in public, vowed to make the project a paragon for building on environmentally sensitive land.

Peter Cummings, chairman of Palm Beach County-based Ram Realty Services, said that four preserves planned for about a third of the 137-acre development near Zoo Miami on endangered pine rockland may even help scientists understand the disappearing habitat.

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The Fracking Battle in Colorado Becomes a Fight for Democracy

Colorado frackingThe battle between citizens concerned about health, safety and the environment and corporate fossil fuel interests  continues to escalate in Colorado. Increasingly the battle is also about how much control citizens can exercise through the  democratic process over what goes on in their own communities.

In the latest skirmish in what’s looking like a long war, a group of organizations filed an appeal today to uphold a fracking ban passed by voters in Longmont, Colorado in 2012. It’s one of several such ballots measures passed in the state, including in Boulder, Lafayette and Fort Collins, despite  millions spent by the fossil fuel industry to defeat them.

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Environmental groups sue govt for transporting oil in old train cars

oil trainsEnvironmental groups are suing the U.S. Department of Transportation over the shipment of crude oil in old railroad tank cars they say are too easily punctured or ruptured when derailed, leading to dangerous spills.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by the Sierra Club, EarthJustice and ForestEthics says the agency failed to respond to a legal petition the groups filed in July. That petition sought an emergency order to prohibit crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana and elsewhere from being carried in older tank cars, known as DOT-111s.

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Ozone layer showing 'signs of recovery', UN says

ozone layerThe ozone layer that shields the earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays is showing early signs of thickening after years of depletion, a UN study says.

The ozone hole that appears annually over Antarctica has also stopped growing bigger every year.  The report says it will take a decade before the hole starts to shrink.

Scientists say the recovery is entirely due to political determination to phase out the man-made CFC gases destroying ozone.

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Texas case highlights clash between fracking and free speech

fracking caseWhat started as a short YouTube video and a couple of local news interviews about a Texas landowner being able to light his water on fire has ballooned into a free speech fight that’s being closely watched by anti-fracking activists across the country.

Steve Lipsky has complained for years that fracking company Range Resources polluted his drinking water and streams that run through his property. The company sued him in 2011 for defaming its reputation for environmental stewardship.

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House votes to block EPA water rules

EPAThe Republican-controlled House on Tuesday approved a bill to block the Obama administration from implementing a rule that asserts regulatory authority over many of the nation's streams and wetlands — an action that critics call a classic Washington overreach.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule that it says will clarify which streams and waterways are shielded from development under the Clean Water Act, an issue that remains in dispute even after two U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

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