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Offshore ban stays as U.S. issues new drilling rules

Ken SalazarInterior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday unveiled new regulations aimed at reshaping the nation's offshore drilling industry in the wake of the BP oil spill.
"These new rules and the aggressive reform agenda we have undertaken are raising the bar for the oil and gas industry's safety and environmental practices on the Outer Continental Shelf," Salazar said.

He also defended his department's deepwater drilling ban. Salazar said he would lift the ban when he is "comfortable" that risks associated with drilling have been significantly reduced.

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Water map shows billions at risk of 'water insecurity'

Water map shows billions at risk of 'water insecurity'About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis.
Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution.

The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people. Writing in the journal Nature, they say that in western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature.

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One-fifth of world's plants at risk of extinction

One-fifth of world's plants at risk of extinctionOne-fifth of the world's plants - the foundation of life on Earth - are at risk of extinction, a study concludes. Researchers have sampled almost 4,000 species, and conclude that 22% should be classified as "threatened" - the same alarming rate as for mammals.

A further 33% of species were too poorly understood to be assessed. The analysis comes from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Natural History Museum and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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GM maize 'has polluted rivers across the United States'

maizeAn insecticide used in genetically modified (GM) crops grown extensively in the United States and other parts of the world has leached into the water of the surrounding environment.

The insecticide is the product of a bacterial gene inserted into GM maize and other cereal crops to protect them against insects such as the European corn borer beetle. Scientists have detected the insecticide in a significant number of streams draining the great corn belt of the American mid-West.

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Natural Gas From Ruptured Gulf Well Remained Trapped in Deep Waters

Natural Gas From Ruptured Gulf Well Remained Trapped in Deep WatersA vast majority of the natural gas that billowed out of BP PLC's failed well in the Gulf this summer did not escape to the surface and atmosphere. Instead, the gas -- including its main component, methane -- remained trapped deep underwater, priming the bacterial response to the spill, according to research published online yesterday in Science.

Oil has long been the most visible component of the hydrocarbon rush that gripped the Gulf this summer, even when invisible, in the form of underwater mists of oiled water. Natural gas, billowing out from the Macondo well alongside oil at double the amount, often received scant attention from the public, press and government.

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Scientist Watches Glacier Melt Beneath His Feet

Scientist Watches Glacier Melt Beneath His FeetEarlier this summer, a group of scientists spent two weeks in Indonesia atop a glacier called Puncak Jaya, one of the few remaining tropical glaciers in the world. They were taking samples of ice cores to study the impacts of climate change on the glacier.

Lonnie Thompson, a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, led the team and what he witnessed shocked him: The glacier was literally melting under their feet.

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Bid to suspend California global-warming law gets $1 million from Koch brothers' firm

Koch Brothers The fight over a November ballot initiative to suspend California's global warming law has escalated sharply with the Koch brothers, oil billionaires and "tea party" backers, making a million-dollar entry into the fray.

The contribution to the campaign for Proposition 23 came Thursday from a subsidiary of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries, the nation's second-largest private company (after the agribusiness giant Cargill). A spokeswoman for the subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, said the company "may consider additional support." The Kochs' company has estimated annual revenues of $100 billion, owns refineries in Alaska, Texas and Minnesota, and controls about 4,000 miles of oil pipelines.

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