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Politics
Coal-fired power plant in West Virginia. Harrison Shull / Aurora / Getty Images

EPA Bows to Coal Industry, Moves to Weaken Mercury & Air Toxics Standards

In its latest attack on clean air protections, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its new proposal to weaken the Obama-era Mercury & Air Toxics Standards (MATS), putting public health at risk from more than 80 dangerous pollutants, some of which are known to cause brain damage in children.

"This is an unconscionable rollback to serve the coal industry at the expense of all Americans, especially our children," said John Walke, director of NRDC's Clean Air program. "And it says EPA's just fine with allowing brain poisons mercury and lead and toxic carcinogens to fill our skies."

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The illegal La Pampa gold mine, seen here in 2017, has devastated the Peruvian Amazon and spread poisonous mercury. Planet Labs

Unprecedented New Map Unveils Illegal Mining Destroying Amazon

A first-of-its-kind map has unveiled widespread environmental damage and contamination of the Amazon rainforest caused by the rise illegal mining.

The survey, released Monday by the Amazon Socio-Environmental Geo-Referenced Information Project (RAISG), identifies at least 2,312 sites and 245 areas of prospecting or extraction of minerals such as gold, diamonds and coltan in six Amazonian countries—Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. It also identified 30 rivers affected by mining and related activities.

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Animals

Brutal Hunt That Has Already Killed Thousands of Porpoises in Japan Resumes Again Today

Otsuchi, in northern Japan, is the focal point of the hand harpoon hunt which has claimed up to 15,000 Dall's porpoises in previous years.

In the most recent hunting seasons for which information is available, Japan allocated itself a quota of 13,493 Dall's porpoises in 2013/14, 12,928 in 2014/15 and 12,364 in 2015/16. The catch, however, has been significantly less than the quota for many years. In 2016, just over a thousand porpoises were killed.

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Energy
Coal-fired power plant in Wyoming. Greg Goebel / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

EPA Wants Coal Plants to Emit More Toxic Mercury

The Trump administration is proposing to significantly weaken a rule that limits the amount of mercury and other toxic emissions from coal plants, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist and acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has drafted a plan that would undermine the 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and has sent the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget, according to the Washington Post.

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Food
Baby son in high chair feeding father. Getty Images

Baby Food Tests Find 68 Percent Contain 'Worrisome' Levels of Heavy Metals

Testing published by Consumer Reports (CR) Thursday found "concerning levels" of toxic metals in popular U.S. baby and toddler food.

The consumer advocacy group tested 50 nationally-distributed, packaged foods designed for toddlers and babies for mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead.

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Climate
Lance Koudele / Columbia Riverkeeper

Why Does Climate Change Matter to the Columbia River?

By Miles Johnson

Why does a river organization like Columbia Riverkeeper dedicate so much energy to fighting fossil fuel projects?

First, fossil fuels threaten clean water. Think oil spills, pipelines that degrade salmon streams, coal dust in the river, and aerial deposition of mercury from coal-burning power plants. But we have additional motivation to fight fossil fuel infrastructure: climate change is harming the Columbia River and our communities right now. And giant fossil fuel corporations want to build more infrastructure—pipelines, fracked gas refineries, shipping terminals—to lock our region into continued reliance on dirty energy. Together, we are taking a stand to protect clean water and our climate.

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Health
Coal CEO Bob Murray pushed for looser coal ash rules similar to those put in place last week by the EPA. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Green Groups Worry New Coal Ash Rule Could Harm Human Health

Environmental groups expressed concerns over the health impacts of a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to relax regulations on coal ash, CNN reported Saturday.

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Animals
Tucuxi Amazon river dolphins (Sotalia fluviatilis). Projeto Boto

Hunting, Fishing Cause Dramatic Decline in Amazon River Dolphins

By Claire Asher

Populations of two species of river dolphin in the Amazon are halving every decade, according to the results of a twenty-two year survey.

The Amazon rainforest is home to the Amazon river dolphin, or Boto (Inia geoffrensis) and the Tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis). But the results of a long-term study published in PLoS ONE show that both of these once abundant aquatic mammals are now in rapid decline in the Brazilian Amazon, likely due to hunting and fishing.

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The Green Case for Celebrating Screen-Free Week

This week, from April 30 to May 6, communities around the world are celebrating Screen-Free Week. Screen-Free Week is an annual event in which "children, families, entire schools and communities will rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen," according to the website. The week encourages participants to step away from digital sources of entertainment like video games, TVs, smartphones, tablets and computers and focus on other activities like reading, playing and enjoying meals with family and friends.

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