Judge blocks US fracking rules after petroleum groups and states object

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 10:16pm

Wyoming court suspends regulations that were due to take effect on Wednesday governing hydraulic fracturing for gas exploration on public lands

A US district judge in Wyoming has granted a request by four states and several energy industry groups to temporarily block new federal rules governing fracking on public lands.

The interior department rules due to come into force on Wednesday would require companies to provide data on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, and to take steps to prevent leakage from oil and gas wells on federally owned land.

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Categories: Environment

Late early purple orchid joins the colony

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 9:29pm
Wenlock Edge, Shropshire: Spotted and pyramidal orchids created a hazy mood, a spirited innocence, a pinkishness of hope

I was drawn across the field to a flash of pink: common spotted orchids. They were common for that moment around the summer solstice and I’d spotted them in the place where I’d seen a large colony last year, the soggy bottom of a field of limestone quarry spoil.

The size and shape of the patch had changed. The most dense group of orchid flowers of last June was now almost gone. The stems were withered and twisted, and some flowers looked singed and were tiny; they appeared to have been in contact with herbicide or killed off by toxins.

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Categories: Environment

Package with 13 live snakes arrives at Melbourne international mail facility

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 8:12pm

Scans of package labelled ‘mixed powder’ arouse suspicion and biosecurity officers find the snakes, which are then euthanised

A package that arrived at Melbourne’s international mail facility labelled “mixed powder” has been found to contain 13 live snakes.

Scans of the package aroused suspicion and when biosecurity officers opened it, they found the animals.

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Notorious flatworm poses 'serious threat' to US after discovery in Florida

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 7:38pm

The New Guinea flatworm, which eats snails and earthworms, has already made its way to France, Puerto Rico, Tahiti and other nations

One of the most notorious invasive species in the world has turned up in the mainland United States, raising new concerns about a flatworm that devours snails and earthworms, researchers said Tuesday.

Known as the New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari), the slimy creature has already made its way to France, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Tahiti and other nations, according to the study in the journal PeerJ.

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Renewable energy target: Senate sits late to pass bill without amendment

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 5:03pm

Chamber of commerce says deal surmounts ‘major hurdle’ as Greens and environmentalists attack Coalition pledge to create a windfarm commissioner

Legislation to reduce the renewable energy target from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000gWh has passed both houses of parliament. The Senate sat late on Tuesday to pass the bill.

Labor and the Coalition struck a deal on the target in May after a months-long standoff that the renewables industry said undermined investment.

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Categories: Environment

Insecticide lindane found to cause cancer

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 4:36pm

Use of chemical in UK restricted, but consumers may still be exposed through foods imported from other countries

A common insecticide has been found to cause cancer in humans, according to a World Health Organization review. The product, lindane, was once widely used in agriculture and continues to be found in some treatments for head lice and scabies. The WHO concluded today that the substance is carcinogenic and specifically said that exposure to the chemical could increase the risk of the rare immune cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, by 60%.

Although agricultural use of the chemical is heavily restricted in Britain, consumers may still be exposed through foods imported from some developing countries, where it continues to be used in agriculture.

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Adani halts engineering work on controversial Carmichael mine – sources

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 1:22pm

Exclusive: Speculation over future of what would be Australia’s largest coal project amid claims four contractors told to halt work

Indian coal giant Adani has halted engineering work related to Australia’s largest proposed mine, say industry sources, raising speculation that the company is set to abandon the contentious project.

Adani last week advised four major engineering contractors to stop work on projects around the Carmichael mine in Queensland including a joint venture rail line and the expansion of Abbot Point port, Guardian Australia has been told.

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Categories: Environment

My assertion on the toxicity of arsenic released by mining is far from ‘fantastical’ | Letter

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 11:49am

James Crossland of Kinross Gold Corporation (Letter, 27 May) correctly recognises me as one of Kinross’s opponents, which gives me some hope that he may watch more carefully what I have to say. It is true, and not “fantastical” as he claims, that around 1 million tonnes of inorganic arsenic released by Kinross from the hard rocks in Paracatu can potentially impact some 7 trillion people, as 1 gram of inorganic arsenic equals a total lethal dose for 7 adult people. This is not the whole truth on my assertion, though, since I take factors such as arsenic bioaccessibility, terminal half-life, bioaccumulation and osteoresorptive arsenic intoxication into account in my health risk estimations, and in diagnosing arsenicosis in my patients. In his capacity as Kinross’s executive vice-president on duty of corporate responsibility, Crossland – an experienced professional of communications and public relations – must know that taking the part for the whole can be imprecise, controversial or even offensive.
Sergio Dani
Bern, Switzerland

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Weak sun could offset some global warming in Europe and US – study

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 8:00am

Regional impact of a weaker solar cycle likely to be larger than global effect, with only minimal impact on worldwide temperature rises caused by climate change

Global warming in northern Europe and the eastern US could be partially offset in future winters because of the sun entering a weaker cycle similar to the one which enabled frost fairs to take place on the river Thames in the 17th and 18th century, according to new research.

However, the study said any potential weakening in solar activity would have only a small effect on temperature rises at a worldwide level, delaying the warming caused by emissions from cars, factories and power plants by around two years.

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Anti-fracking protests in Lancashire – in pictures

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 7:42am

Anti-fracking protestors held a day of resistance in Preston today, as Lancashire county council began hearings to decide whether to approve Cuadrilla’s plans to drill for shale gas at Little Plumpton and Rosacre Wood sites

• Read more: Hundreds protest against proposed fracking site in Lancashire

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Categories: Environment

Hundreds protest against proposed fracking site in Lancashire

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 7:35am

Campaigners protest outside Preston county hall as Lancashire county council meet to decide whether to approve Cuadrilla’s bid to frack at Preston New Road in Little Plumpton

Hundreds of people protested against a proposed fracking site in Lancashire on Tuesday, as the county council considered whether to approve the project.

Related: Anti-fracking protests in Lancashire – in pictures

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Categories: Environment

10 things we learned about tackling plastic ocean waste

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 5:57am

Earlier this year an NGO warned we could end up with ‘as much plastic in our oceans as fish’. Here is what the experts said in an online debate on plastic pollution

Related: Could a circular economy save oceans from plastic waste? - live chat

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Categories: Environment

The Kenyan elephant reserve that's fighting back against poachers

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 4:12am

Conservation efforts in Amboseli national park offer hope in the battle to protect Africa’s big beasts from ivory poachers – but tackling demand for ivory is still crucial to long-term success

I was lucky to find Cynthia Moss at home. Though she has studied elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli national park for over 40 years in the longest-running elephant research project in Africa, she is now not able to spend us as much time in the field as she would like, given other commitments in Nairobi and elsewhere.

“I have that horrible déjà vu feeling,” she told me as we sat together outside her tent at her camp in the park’s heart. She compared elephant deaths from poaching today to the 15 years before the international ivory ban in 1989, when Kenya lost almost 90% of its elephants.

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Lamb with jellyfish gene 'may have been deliberately sent to abattoir'

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 4:04am

Lamb genetically modified with jellyfish protein may have been sent from Paris lab to abattoir after dispute between researchers – and ended up on someone’s plate

A lamb born with a jellyfish gene was mistakenly sold for human consumption and probably ended up on someone’s plate, French authorities have said. A dispute between researchers at a highly respected national institute may have been the cause of the animal being deliberately sent to the abattoir last year. Police have now been called in and an inquiry launched into how the lamb could have been passed as fit for human consumption.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that the animal’s mother was a sheep called Emeraude whose DNA had been modified to include a jellyfish gene called Green Fluorescent Protein by researchers at the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) in Paris. Her lamb, Rubis, was born with the gene in the spring of 2014. Although produced for research purposes, Rubis was allegedly deliberately mixed with several other lambs that had not been genetically modified and sent to an abattoir.

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Renewables will supply majority of Australia's electricity by 2040 – study

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 4:00am

Even without subsidies, it will be cheaper to replace retiring coal-fuelled power stations with renewables, Bloomberg predicts

Renewable energy will supply the majority of Australia’s electricity by 2040, even without any additional government policy, according to predictions by energy analysts.

It will account for 59% of Australian electricity generation by 2040, as retiring coal and gas plants are replaced by wind and solar, according to New Energy Outlook 2015, which was published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance on Tuesday.

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Categories: Environment

Is science policy a theological matter?

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 3:34am

With his latest statement on science, technology and the environment, Pope Francis has sought to change the debate on climate change. But his statement has broader significance for the way we think about the future

The Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ released by Pope Francis last week has generated a wide range of reactions ranging from enthusiastic praise to uneasy criticism. For some, the Pope’s key message was about climate change, for others about the downsides of economic growth, and some saw in it a reconciliation of science and religion. But the Encyclical also lays bare a debate much larger than each of these perspectives, one that is fundamentally about what kind of world we want to inhabit. The Pope’s message is just the latest intervention in a debate over technologies that has been going on for centuries.

Pope Francis writes of the “human roots of the ecological crisis” defined in terms of deference to a “technocratic paradigm” which contains “the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth.”

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Categories: Environment

How Fracking Is Fueling A Power Shift From Coal To Gas

NPR News - Environment - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 1:49am

Driven by new regulations and fracking, more coal power plants are retiring for cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas. But scientists have yet to work out the fossil fuel's imperfect climate footprint.

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Categories: Environment

Lion among 23,000 species threatened with extinction, say conservationists

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 1:45am

IUCN Red List says that while Iberian lynx and Guadalupe fur seal are recovering, cave crabs and the world’s rarest sea lion are at risk of dying out

The mighty lion, reclusive cave crabs and the world’s rarest sea lion are among nearly 23,000 species at risk of dying out, a top conservation body warned on Tuesday.

In an update to its “Red List” of threatened species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hailed some clear advances in saving endangered species such as the Iberian lynx.

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Gift of rare basking shark to Victorian scientists 'fantastic' for research

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 12:01am

The 3,500kg, 6.5-metre ‘gentle giant’ accidentally netted by trawler in Bass Strait and donated to Museum Victoria

A basking shark, rarely seen in Australian waters, will be donated to scientists after it was caught by the Castella Rosa fishing trawler off Victoria’s south-west coast.

The 3,500kg, 6.5-metre shark was being dissected by staff from Museum Victoria on Tuesday after being pulled in by the trawler on Sunday afternoon at Portland.

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‘Cows have their own personalities’: tales from the Devon farmers

Guardian Environment News - Tue, 2015/06/23 - 12:00am

How three family-run farms are responding to supermarket price wars and changing technology

In any season, but especially in spring and summer, an English country cowshed is a haven of harmless contentment whose inhabitants – happily ruminating, farting, chewing and pissing – contribute to an unmistakable atmosphere of wellbeing.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that “Cowshed” should also be a trendy beauty brand. But for how much longer? Lately, the world of the cow has been in crisis, with dairy farming in trouble, and a timeless way of life threatened by relentless supermarket price wars and the march of technology.

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