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A federal judge has reinstated a moratorium on coal leasing from federal lands that was imposed under former President Barack Obama and then scuttled under former President Donald Trump. Friday’s ruling from U.S. District Judge Brian Morris requires government officials to complete a new environmental review of the leasing program before they can resume coal sales. Few leases were sold in recent years as coal demand shrank drastically, but coal from existing leases remains a major contributor of planet-warming emissions. The industry’s opponents had urged Morris to revive the Obama-era moratorium to ensure coal can’t make a comeback as wildfires, drought, rising sea levels and other effects of climate change worsen.

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The sprawling economic package passed by the U.S. Senate this week has a certain West Virginia flavor. There’s the focus on energy, including billions of dollars in incentives for clean energy but also renewed support for traditional fuel sources such as coal and natural gas. Those provisions were added as the price Democrats had to pay to win West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s all-important support. And the package includes big boosts for national parks, low-income people needing health care and coal miners with black lung disease, which are all measures likely to impact Manchin’s constituents back home. Manchin is a conservative Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He was a key vote needed to pass the package and send it to the House.

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Missouri’s health department has announced findings of a lengthy examination of the troubled Bridgeton Landfill in suburban St. Louis, determining that the odor emitting from the landfill created some health concerns but did not increase the risk of cancer. The landfill has been a source of concern for years. Uranium refined in St. Louis as part of the Manhattan Project was illegally dumped at the adjacent West Lake Landfill in 1973. Meanwhile, a smolder was discovered underground in 2010 at Bridgeton Landfill, just a few hundred yards away. The cause remains unknown, but the resulting odor was so pungent that many nearby residents complained of illness and were often forced to stay inside.

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Michigan environmental are accusing an auto trim maker of violating the law after releasing industrial chemicals into a river system northwest of Detroit. Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy says its Water Resources Division served Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom on Tuesday. A plating solution containing hexavalent chromium was discharged to a sanitary sewer system the weekend of July 29 and ended up at an area wastewater treatment facility. That facility sends wastewater to a creek that flows into the Huron River system. State health officials say hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen that can cause a number of health problems for people who ingest, inhale or touch it.

A federal appeals court has denied the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s request for a review of a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission decision to grant a license for a potential uranium mine in southwestern South Dakota. The tribe was not properly consulted on the potential impact to cultural resources. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission complied with federal law when it granted Powertech, Inc. a license to mine uranium at a 10,000-acre site near Edgemont, South Dakota. The Oglala Sioux Tribe has mounted a years-long effort to halt the project. It argues that the mine would endanger tribal cultural and environmental resources.

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Billions of dollars in investments are pouring into companies changing the recipe for plastic. Plastics are typically made with natural gas or crude oil as its basic carbon building block. Making these plastics out of hydrocarbons in petrochemical plants release millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually. Bioplastics plants using renewable materials such as corn, sugar and cooking oil have been built around the world to produce a more environmentally safe plastic. Some bioplastic can dissolve in water or soil under correct conditions while other types can be biodegraded in large industrial composters. Market share for bioplastics is expected to nearly triple by 2028.

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The birds no longer sing. The cows die. And if the people in this northern Myanmar forest complain, they too face the threat of death from militias. This forest is the source of key metallic elements known as rare earths, often called the vitamins of the modern world. Rare earths turn up in everything from hard drives to elevators, and are vital to the fast-growing field of green energy. But an AP investigation found their cost is environmental destruction, the theft of land and the funneling of money to brutal militias. The AP tied rare earths from Myanmar to the supply chains of 78 companies. Nearly all who responded said they took environmental protection and human rights seriously.

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Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of corn have left Ukrainian ports. The movement Friday is the latest sign that a negotiated deal to export grain trapped since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly six months ago is slowly moving forward. But major hurdles lie ahead to get food to the countries that need it most. While the shipments have raised hopes of easing a global food crisis, experts say much of the grain that Ukraine is trying to export is used for animal feed, not for people to eat. And the cargoes are not expected to have a significant impact on the global price of corn, wheat and soybeans.

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A judge has rejected a federal agency's plans for managing some public lands in the West, including a major coal mining area of Wyoming and Montana. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris says the Bureau of Land Management failed to comply with an earlier court order requiring the agency to consider the environmental impact of mining and burning coal produced in the Powder River Basin. Morris says the management plans also failed to consider an option of limiting the expansion of coal mines or eliminating some coal deposits from leasing eligibility. Morris gave the land bureau up to a year to produce new resource management plans.

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Stocks were mixed in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday as investors continued to review the latest updates on the economy and corporate earnings. The S&P 500 fell less than 0.1%. The Dow Jones industrials fell and the Nasdaq rose. Energy companies fell, while retailers and industrial firms gained ground. Bond yields slipped. Earnings remain in focus for Wall Street. Twinkie maker Hostess and bleach maker Clorox fell after giving investors disappointing profit forecasts. New data from the Labor Department showed more Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the number of unemployed continues to rise modestly.

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The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a Black Sea wartime deal has passed inspection in Istanbul and is heading on to Lebanon. Ukraine says 17 other vessels at its ports are loaded with grain and waiting permission to leave. There was no word yet, however, on when they could depart. Authorities said a joint civilian inspection team spent three hours Wednesday checking the cargo and crew on the ship Razoni. The wartime deal aimed to ease food security around the globe by creating a safe corridor across the Black Sea.

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A federal oversight board is ordering the United Mine Workers of America to pay more than $13 million in compensation to an Alabama coal company where members have been on strike for more than a year. The National Labor Relations Board says Warrior Met Coal Mining is due some $13.3 million for costs including increased security, damage repair and lost revenues from unmined coal. It says individuals are due almost $30,000, mostly for damage to vehicles. The union calls the NLRB assessment an “outrageous” decision that it plans to fight. Roughly 1,100 members went on strike against the Alabama-based company on April 1, 2021.

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The Environmental Protection Agency is warning residents who live near medical sterilizing plants in 13 states and Puerto Rico about potential health risks from emissions of ethylene oxide, a chemical widely used in their operations. The EPA says 23 communities, including Laredo, Texas; Ardmore, Oklahoma; and Lakewood Colorado, are at highest risk from ethylene oxide emissions. The EPA warning follows a recent survey of emissions data from almost 100 commercial sterilizers nationwide. Ethylene oxide is used to clean everything from catheters to syringes, pacemakers and plastic surgical gowns. A proposed rule to update control of air toxic emissions from commercial sterilizers is expected by the end of the year.

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Local officials in southwest France say an explosion at a plant that produces a component of ammunition injured eight people, one of them seriously. The factory in the town of Bergerac specializes in making nitrocellulose, a highly flammable chemical compound. The local deputy prefect said the cause of Wednesday's was “obviously internal” to the plant but that there would be an investigation to pinpoint it. Officials say the explosion caused a fire, and about 60 firefighters were deployed to the site and extinguished the blaze by Wednesday afternoon.

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Russia’s Supreme Court has declared Ukraine’s Azov Regiment a terrorist organization. That designation could lead to terror charges against some of the captured fighters who made their last stand inside Mariupol’s shattered steel plant. Russian forces and their allies are holding an estimated 1,000 Azov fighters prisoner, many since their surrender in mid-May. Russian authorities have opened criminal cases against them, accusing them of killing civilians. The addition of terrorism charges could mean even longer prison sentences and fewer rights. The Azov Regiment dismissed the high court ruling, accusing Russia of “looking for new excuses and explanations for its war crimes.” It urged the U.S. and others to declare Russia a terrorist state.

Leasing for new oil and gas drilling on federal land in California's Central Valley is temporarily blocked under a settlement announced Monday by the state attorney general. The deal with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management centers on about 2,500 square miles of land owned by the federal government. The bureau has agreed to halt the sale of oil and gas leases while it conducts a fresh review on the environmental effects of fracking, a process for extracting oil and gas from rock. Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to ban fracking in the state by 2024.

The U.S. has sanctioned a United Arab Emirates-based firm and several Asian companies for facilitating the illicit sale of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil for shipment to East Asia. The latest round of sanctions targeting Iranian oil sales follows a July round against other firms and comes as the U.S. attempts to reenter the Iran nuclear agreement that President Donald Trump exited in May 2018. The sanctions also come ahead of OPEC+ meetings that begin this week, where the U.S. will press for increased oil production by oil cartel members, in hopes of reducing gas prices for American consumers.

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Recovery of some vulnerable species through restoration efforts has made comebacks more difficult for others in peril. Once-endangered animals, including the iconic bald eagle, sometimes jeopardize rarer species such as the great cormorant by eating them or outcompeting them for food and living space. Similar circumstances have turned up elsewhere, challenging wildlife experts who want all creatures to thrive in balanced, healthy environments. Conflicts have involved revived U.S. species such as gray seals, birds of prey and even turkeys. Wildlife managers around the country are working on creative solutions to the unanticipated consequences of species salvation.

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Recovery of some vulnerable species through restoration efforts has made comebacks more difficult for others in peril. Once-endangered animals, including the iconic bald eagle, sometimes jeopardize rarer species such as the great cormorant by eating them or outcompeting them for food and living space. Similar circumstances have turned up elsewhere, challenging wildlife experts who want all creatures to thrive in balanced, healthy environments. Conflicts have involved revived U.S. species such as gray seals, birds of prey and even turkeys. Wildlife managers around the country are working on creative solutions to the unanticipated consequences of species salvation.

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Some people lost everything in the floods that devastated eastern Kentucky, and many didn't have much to begin with. The rains brought another blow to a region that is among the poorest in America. In a state where coal production has plunged by some 90% since 1990, good jobs have long been hard to come by. Experts say support networks that extended families have built will be important as the region recovers from massive flooding that wiped out homes and businesses and engulfed small towns. But they also say the road to recovery will be long and hard. The death toll stood at 26 on Sunday, and Gov. Andy Beshear says it is expected to rise.

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The Nez Perce Tribe and two conservation groups say Idaho officials violated the Clean Air Act as well as the state's regulations by issuing an air quality permit for a proposed gold mine in west-central Idaho. The groups last week filed a petition with the Idaho Board of Environmental Quality seeking to have the permit withdrawn and sent back to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for additional work. The department in June issued the permit to Perpetua Resources Idaho for its Stibnite Gold Project about 40 miles east of McCall. The company says the three-year permit process found the project meets strict state and federal clean air requirements.

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Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling a prison in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine. Separatist authorities in the Donetsk region said the attack on Friday killed at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were captured after the fall of the city of Mariupol in May. They also said 75 others were wounded. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Ukraine’s military used U.S.-supplied multiple rocket launchers to strike the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed separatists. Ukraine accused the Russians of shelling the prison to cover up the alleged torture and execution of Ukrainian POWs there. Neither claim could be independently verified.

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The monarch butterfly was categorized by scientists last week as endangered. Populations of the iconic orange-and-black butterfly have plummeted over recent decades because of habitat loss, pesticides and herbicides, and climate change. What can home gardeners do to help the monarch? The first thing is planting milkweed. It's the only plant on which monarchs lay eggs and which monarch caterpillars eat. Choose the right milkweed for your region. The National Wildlife Federation has an online database to help select plants native to your region. Adult monarchs need other kinds of plants too, specifically ones with nectar-bearing flowers. Avoid pesticides and herbicides, even ones labeled natural or organic. And consider setting up a butterfly puddling station with water and a warm rock.

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A new report by says many of the world's biggest banks are falling far short of aligning their practices with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the Earth's warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The evaluation of 27 giant banks, obtained by The Associated Press, was carried out by a group of institutional investors that manage assets worth more than $50 trillion. It finds most banks are failing to set adequate targets for cutting the carbon emissions released by companies they lend to. Not one bank has vowed to end backing for new oil and gas exploration.

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