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Fracking: Could Philly be the next Houston? The oil industry hopes so

Philly the next Houston?Philadelphia’s City Council will hold hearings this month to explore opportunities to help establish the city as an energy hub — a boon for an increasingly influential coalition of public and private players who want to transform it into the Houston of the Northeast.

“Philly has the best ports, the best workforce, the best transportation and roads, great educational institutions and two very healthy refineries,” said Michael Krancer, a former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, now a lawyer working with some of the energy companies involved in pushing for the city to become an energy center.

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Climate Change to Cause More Lightning

lightning to increaseBy now we're familiar with some of the scarier potential impacts of climate change: Floods, fires, stronger hurricanes, violent conflicts. Well, here's a new one to add to your nightmares.

Lightning strikes in the continental United States will increase roughly 12 percent for every degree Celsius of global warming, a study published today in Science finds. If warming continues unchecked, that could translate into a 50 percent increase in lightning by the end of the century—three strikes then for every two strikes now. (On average, there are currently about 25 million strikes per year.)

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Trace amounts of Fukushima radiation detected along U.S. West Coast

radiation from FukushimaAs scientists have been predicting for months, trace amounts of radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have finally arrived on the shores of the United States.

"Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean," the research organization confirmed in a press release.

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As controversial EPA water rule looms, GOP prepares an assault

Clean Water ActWhile the politics of climate change were at the top of the president’s agenda this week, a different environmental proposal is heading to a showdown between Republicans and the White House, in part due to strong pressure from Kentucky farm interests and lawmakers.

The issue is the proposed “ Waters of the United States” rule, which was announced earlier this year in an attempt to simplify and clarify which waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act and which ones aren’t.

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Former CEO indicted in 2010 mine disaster

west virginia coal disasterMore than four years after an underground explosion killed 29 mine workers, a federal grand jury Thursday indicted the top executive of the West Virginia coal company that ran the mine, charging him with fraud and conspiracy to violate safety laws.

Don Blankenship, who was CEO of Massey Energy, becomes the highest-ranking executive to face charges in the deadly blast at the Upper Big Branchttp://tvnewslies.org/tvnl/administrator/index.php?option=com_content&task=addh Mine, the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years.

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New federal protection for bird may limit oil and gas drilling

gunniuson grouseFederal officials granted protection as a threatened species to the Gunnison sage grouse on Wednesday, a move that could bring restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other activity to preserve the bird's habitat in parts of Colorado and Utah.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper immediately renewed the state's threat to sue to block the measures. He said the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignores 20 years of work by state and local officials to protect the bird.

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Appalachia gathers dissent to gas pipeline bound for eastern N.C.

Appalachia pipeline oppositionThis quiet area is being roiled by plans announced in September to put it in the path of a 42-inch pipeline from West Virginia through North Carolina. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, primarily a project of Dominion Resources and Duke Energy, would ship natural gas 550 miles from the fracking fields of the Marcellus and Utica shales to economically struggling counties in eastern North Carolina, where there are hopes it will help to attract industry.

Powell, like others in Virginia’s Nelson and Augusta counties, is refusing to allow Dominion Resources to come through his farmland and survey for the pipeline right of way, saying they’ll do whatever they can to try to stop the $5 billion project.

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