Environment

Earthquake shakes parts of Kansas, Oklahoma

CONWAY SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 shook parts of Kansas and Oklahoma on Wednesday, the largest since a series of temblors began rattling Kansas a little more than a year ago.

The quake's epicenter was near the town of Conway Springs, about 25 miles southwest of Wichita, according to the U.S. Geological Survey said. It came at 3:40 p.m., less than a day after a magnitude 2.6 earthquake was recorded near the southern Kansas town of Anthony.

Gunnison sage grouse gets federal protection

DENVER (AP) — Federal officials granted protection 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.

US-China climate deal aims to prod others to act

BEIJING (AP) — A groundbreaking agreement struck Wednesday by the United States and China puts the world's two worst polluters on a faster track to curbing the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. With the clock ticking on a worldwide climate treaty, the two countries sought to move beyond their troubled history as environmental adversaries and spur other nations.

The U.S., a chief proponent of the prospective treaty, is setting an ambitious new goal to stop pumping as much carbon dioxide into the air through the burning of coal, oil and gas. China, whose appetite for cheap energy has grown along with its burgeoning economy, agreed for the first time to a self-imposed deadline of 2030 for when its emissions will top out.

What US, China are pledging to limit emissions

The United States and China are pledging to move faster to reduce or limit emissions of heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. China and the U.S. are the world's two largest polluters, and by taking action together, leaders from both countries hope to spur other nations to be equally aggressive as they work to finalize a worldwide climate treaty next year.

What both countries are announcing, according to the White House:

Nation's last big icebreaker endures despite age

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The last U.S. icebreaker capable of crushing through the thickest ice of the Antarctic and Arctic resumed its mission after the latest repairs to postpone its already past-due retirement.

Climate change makes the 38-year-old Polar Star Icebreaker's science and security missions ever more vital, according to scientists and other backers of rebuilding the country's dwindling ice fleet.

Colorado officials make late push for delay on sage grouse ruling

Source: 
The Denver Post

Worried that new protections for the Gunnison sage-grouse would hurt energy development, Colorado leaders proposed a number of voluntary protection measures in an effort to push the Fish and Wildlife Service to extend its impending deadline on listing the bird as endangered or threatened, The Denver Post reports.

Water theft on the rise in California as drought persists

Source: 
National Journal

California's ongoing drought has led to a dramatic rise in the number of reported water thefts and a black market for water sales, leading law enforcement to boost efforts to crack down on the practice, National Journal reports.

US pollution data on Beijing blocked on mobile app

BEIJING (AP) — All the sky-clearing measures plus cooperation from the weather kept Beijing relatively free of air pollution for most of a seven-day Asia-Pacific conference. Then, toward the end as top leaders met, the smog crept back.

So, China went to Plan B: Censor the pollution monitors.

Oil

Groups sue to protect walrus from drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Six environmental groups sued Monday to throw out a federal agency rule that concludes oil exploration off Alaska's northwest coast has a negligible effect on walrus.

The groups claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has understated the effects of booming seismic airguns, ship traffic and other industrial activity as it promulgated a five-year walrus harassment rule.

Study: Global warming worsening watery dead zones

WASHINGTON (AP) — Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it's only going to get worse, according to a new study.

Dead zones occur when fertilizer runoff clogs waterways with nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. That leads to an explosion of microbes that consumes oxygen and leaves the water depleted of oxygen, harming marine life.

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