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Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
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UP TO SPEED | Two Months, One Page

The EPA sets limits on the amounts of toxic mercury, arsenic, and other pollutants emitted by power plants and other industrial sources. At present, 4 out of 10 power plants have no advanced emissions controls. The new rules will make plants capture 90 percent of their mercury emissions.

Canada, once an environmental leader, pulls out of the Kyoto Protocol to protect its burgeoning tar sands oil developments.

The Texas Forest Service reports that the ongoing drought in that state killed as many as half a billion trees in 2011, or up to 10 percent of the state's total.

Bark beetles have killed billions of trees in British Columbia, including half the province's commerical forests.

Russian government documents reveal that the country spills 5 million tons of oil a year-equivalent to seven Deepwater Horizon disasters annual.

Shell oil spills 13,400 gallons of gasoline and drilling fluid into the Gulf of Mexico and more than 100 times as much oil off the coast of Nigeria.

The Obama administration approves Shell's plan to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Republicans in Congress force a delay in enforcement of new efficiency standards that require lightbulbs to use at least 25 percent less energy. Most bulb makers stop producing the wasteful bulbs anyway.

The Obama administration raises fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Fracking is implicated in a series of 11 earthquakes in Ohio.

Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide rose by 5.9 percent in 2010, announces the Global Carbon Project, the largest jump in any yearsince the Industrial Revolution.

In 2011, reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States suffered a record dozen climate disasters causing damages of $1 billion or more each.

Eleven-hitherto overlooked species of bee are discovered in the eastern United States, including four new varieties in New York City.

Shades of The Simpsons: In Argentina, a three-eyed fish is caught in a lake next to a nuclear power plant.

Yellowstone grizzly bears deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act, rules the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A major threat facing Ursus arctos horribilis, notes the court, is climate change.

A $209 million settlement is reached in a lawsuit involving the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which killed 29 coal miners in West Virginia in April 2010. The agreement leaves the door open for criminal prosecutions of individuals connected to the explosion. The final report by the Mine Safety and Health Administration says that the disaster was entirely preventable and lays the blame squarely on mine owner Massey Energy.

Gray wolf OR-7 wanders into California, the first wild Canis lupus in the state since 1924. —Paul Rauber


 

Left column, from top: iStockphoto/ados, iStockphoto/RonTech2000, iStockphoto/Pleasureofart, iStockphoto/LukaszPanek; Right column: Matthias Breiter/Minden Pictures


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