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Monday, Dec 22nd

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Obama blocks Bristol Bay oil, gas development

Bristol Bay protectedPresident Barack Obama moved to permanently bar oil and gas drilling in a sensitive area off the Alaskan coast on Tuesday, the latest action in an environmental push that appears to be gaining steam as he enters his last two years in office.

The area that includes offshore Bristol Bay is “too precious for us to be putting out to the highest bidder,” Obama said in a video message announcing his decision, which drew cheers from greens.

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California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons of Water

California needs 11Trillion gallons of waterIt will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) -- around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir -- to recover from California's continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data.

The finding was part of a sobering update on the state's drought made possible by space and airborne measurements and presented by NASA scientists Dec. 16 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Such data are giving scientists an unprecedented ability to identify key features of droughts, data that can be used to inform water management decisions.

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Fracking is poisoning the air we breathe

fracking poisoning the airToxic air pollution from fracking causes a wide spectrum of health problems for Americans across the country, an environmental group charged in a report released Tuesday.

"The health risks from fracking are not limited to what's in our drinking water -— oil and gas operations are also poisoning the air we breathe," said senior scientist Miriam Rotkin-Ellman of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which produced the report.

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Remote Alaskan Town Experiences Climate Change First Hand

Alaska town shows climate change unpreparednessI t's a Wednesday morning in late August, the first day of classes at the Shishmaref School. The doors of the pale blue building haven't opened yet, and the new principal is hurriedly buttering toast in the kitchen for the students’ breakfasts. Teachers are scrambling to make last-minute adjustments to their classrooms, while anxious kids, ranging from pre-K students through high schoolers, wait on the porch, their jackets zipped against the chill of the early-morning air.

It's all so incredibly normal, you might not know that, just a few years ago, no one thought Shishmaref would be here anymore.

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North Texas Fracking Zone Sees Growing Health Worries

barnett shale drillPropped up on a hospital bed, Taylor Ishee listened as his mother shared a conviction that choked her up. His rare cancer had a cause, she believes, and it wasn’t genetics.

Others in Texas have drawn the same conclusions about their confounding illnesses. Jana DeGrand, who suffered a heart attack and needed both her gallbladder and her appendix removed. Rebecca Williams, fighting off unexplained rashes, sharp headaches and repeated bouts of pneumonia. Maile Bush, who needed surgery for a sinus infection four rounds of antibiotics couldn’t heal. Annette Wilkes, whose own severe sinus infections were followed by two autoimmune diseases.

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Critics say last-minute Lima climate deal is watered-down

Lima climate dealWorld delegates at the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru, finally reached a deal for tackling climate change, after negotiations dragged on for an extra two days.

Environmental groups have been quick to label the agreement weak and watered-down.

The deal is essentially an agreement to come to a more significant agreement next year. It lays out a framework for each nation to outline domestic plans in the new year for reducing their carbon emissions, paving the way for a more comprehensive global pact at the 2015 climate summit in Paris.

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Study: 5 trillion-plus pieces of plastic floating in ocean. What can be done?

5 trillion pieces of ocean plasticMore than 5 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing nearly 269,000 tons, are littering the world's oceans, according to a study published Wednesday by the scientific journal PLOS One. The study is the first of its kind to gather data from around the world on floating plastic.

For the study, researchers traveled the world's seas on 24 expeditions between 2007 and 2013, collecting small pieces of plastic from all five subtropical gyres, or spots in the ocean where currents converge. From there, using computer models, they extrapolated to estimate global numbers.

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