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Rob Hainer / IStock

In Alabama, a Cleanup Unearths Toxins—and Scandal

By Matt Smith

Lot by lot, backhoes and dump trucks are scraping and hauling away yards on the north side of Birmingham to remove soil laced with heavy metals and other industrial wastes—the legacy of this city's years as a steelmaking power.

Federal prosecutors say that effort also uncovered something else: a scheme to save polluters millions by putting the neighborhood's representative in Montgomery on their payroll.

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Health

New Film Deftly Indicts Public Health Regulators

By Katie O'Reilly

It started with a text from Mom. In January 2014, documentarian Cullen Hoback received word from his mother that a chemical spill had left 300,000 West Virginians living in a swath of coal country known as "Chemical Valley"—so dubbed because it houses the nation's largest concentration of chemical plants—with foul-smelling drinking water. The source was a rusting tank owned by a chemical company with the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up name of Freedom Industries, and the substance leaking into Chemical Valley's waterways was MCHM, a detergent from coal.

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Is Your State Bicycle-Friendly?

By Davis Harper

Do you live in the safest or the most dangerous state for riding a bike? The 2017 Bicycle Friendly State Report Card has the answer.

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Animals
Jim Yuskavitch

Is This How We Save Wild Salmon?

By Jim Yuskavitch

Frank Moore is a fly-fishing legend—at least along Oregon's North Umpqua River, which has been renowned for its summer steelhead since the 1930s, when Western fiction author Zane Grey fished its waters. Moore is a D-Day veteran; he returned after the war to live beside the river with his wife, Jeanne. Together, they became among the North Umpqua's most vocal and effective advocates. In 1966 they founded the Steamboaters, a group of local angler-conservationists who still zealously guard the welfare of the river and its population of wild and wily steelheads.

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Adventure

Best Astronomical Highlights of 2018

By Kelly Kizer Whitt

Astronomical observers will find lots of reasons to mark their calendar in 2018. Two supermoons, two blue moons, five planets at opposition, three meteor showers that could produce more than 100 falling stars an hour, and at least one comet all occur in the year ahead, guaranteeing that you'll have something up above to get excited about each month this year.

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50 Ways 100% Clean Energy Won In 2017

By Jodie Van Horn

We'd never argue that 2017 was a great year, but some really great things did happen!

Here are 50 ways (yes, 50!) that clean energy kept winning in 2017 despite Trump's attempts to roll back the country's progress.

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Energy
iStock

What Can Be Done to Make Computers More Efficient?

By Bob Schildgen

Hey Mr. Green,

Q: I've read that we waste a lot of energy with computers. How much do we waste, and what can be done to make things more efficient?

—Samuel, Denver, CO

A: The EPA has updated computer standards on a regular basis for the past 25 years, and each revision has marked a reduction in power consumption. The increasing use of laptops and other smaller devices, which need a lot less power than desktop models, has helped limit total energy consumption. Nevertheless, the EPA says we still waste at least a billion dollars worth of electrical power a year simply by running less-efficient computer equipment. This waste reaches the equivalent of around 15 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions, or as much as 1.4 million motor vehicles. But the total waste may be actually much greater.

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Adventure
Camilla Cerea / National Audubon Society

Prime Places to Partake in Audubon’s Annual Christmas Bird Count

By Ariel Gans

Looking for something to tweet about? Spend part of the holiday season helping the National Audubon Society complete its 118th annual Christmas Bird Count. From Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, join tens of thousands of bird-lovers across the Western Hemisphere as they help add to the longest-running wildlife census in the world. Your tallies contribute to a large pool of information that helps ornithologists and conservationists protect native birds and their environments. It's a tradition that welcomes all to participate, and we've found five places where you can find your fowl.

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Holiday Cheer: Drinking Wine Can Be Good for the Environment!

By Stuart Butler

Christmas is just around the corner and with it flying reindeer and over-sized turkeys, carol singing and tinsel covered trees. The holiday season also means wine-drinking (and the younger and more excited your children, the more bottles of wine you'll likely require). For those of us who imbibe, it's almost impossible to imagine a Christmas without wine. It would be like a Christmas without a fat man in a red suit trying to squeeze down the chimney.

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