BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Internal investigators have faulted the Environmental Protection Agency over years of delays in completing health studies needed to guide the cleanup of a Montana mining town where hundreds of people have died from asbestos exposure.
The EPA's Office of Inspector General says in a report Thursday that the studies are necessary to determine whether expensive, ongoing cleanup efforts are working in the town of Libby. The area near the northwest corner of the state, about 50 miles from the U.S.-Canada border, was declared a public health emergency in 2009, a decade after federal regulators first responded to concerns over asbestos dust that came from a W.R. Grace vermiculite mine. The vermiculite was used as insulation in millions of U.S. homes.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - ConocoPhillips Alaska says it will delay its 2014 plans for exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast. In a press release, the company announced that it will put its Chukchi Sea drilling plans on hold "because of uncertainties of evolving federal regulatory requirements and operational permitting standards."
It says it would not be prudent at this time to devote the financial resources needed to preserve the option to drill ConocoPhillips Alaska President Trond-Erik Johansen says the company is confident in its ability to safely drill but that more time is needed to ensure that all regulatory stakeholders are aligned. An environmental group opposed to drilling hailed the decision. Chris Krenz of Oceana says specific Arctic standards must be put in place before drilling is allowed.
WASHINGTON (AP) - New federal figures show the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees. Many governments set a 2-degree increase as the upper limit.
Scientists say the rise in CO2 reflects the global economy revving up and burning more fossil fuels, especially in China. U.S. government scientists report that carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million for a total of just under 395 parts per million compared to 2011. That's the second highest rise in carbon emissions since records started being kept in 1959. Only 1998 had a bigger increase. Scientists say hopes of limiting warming to 2 degrees are fading away to almost nothing.
SEFFNER, Fla. (AP) - A police spokesman in Florida says they are starting a recovery effort to find a man who was swallowed up by a sinkhole at his home. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesman Larry McKinnon said Friday they asked sinkhole and engineering experts to come to the home near Tampa. The experts are using equipment to see if the ground can support the weight of heavy machinery that is needed for the recovery effort.
Jeremy Bush, who was home at the time, says he fears his brother Jeff has died. He ran into his brother's bedroom when he disappeared into the sinkhole Thursday night, but he says he could not save him.
DURYEA, Pa. (AP) - It's moving day for a colony of troublesome honeybees in northeastern Pennsylvania. The queen and thousands of her loyal subjects had taken over an old tree along a back alley of Duryea , a small town outside Scranton. They were such a nuisance that neighbors say they couldn't stand to be outside in the summertime.
Years ago, an annoyed human might've eliminated the problem with a can of insecticide. But with a mysterious affliction called colony collapse disorder decimating hives, Duryea's streets supervisor got a bee in his bonnet to save the colony. So Friday, an electric utility, a bee expert and a tree-trimming crew carefully removed the 60-foot tree and loaded the section with the hive in it onto a truck, where it'll be taken to a more suitable location.
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