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This week's top environment news stories: September 30th 2011

By Laura Brown - 30 Sep 2011 16:46:52 GMT
This week's top environment news stories: September 30th 2011

President Obama has put himself on a collision course with environmental campaigners as he promises infrastructure programmes will be the key to getting Americans back to work.

One of the largest programmes is TransCanada's Keystone XL project, which this week has seen protestors stake out the latest round of public hearings by the State Department. The pipeline would stretch from eastern Montana to the Texas Gulf Coast, would cost $7 billion and create 20,000 jobs.

Environmentalists, like Bill McKibben, spent the summer campaigning outside the White House to voice fears over damage to the environment and disruption to ecology. The pipeline would stretch from the tar sands of Alberta to Texas, but campaigners are concerned that the oil sands being transported thousands of miles is corrosive and could have a devastating effect if it leaked. It will also speed up climate change pumping more carbon into the air.

Those is favour of the project, however, attended the public hearings in Montana to talk about the need for jobs and that the opportunity that the pipeline offers for a resurgence in the economy is one that cannot be missed.

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Across Canada a row has broken out amongst politicians in Toronto over whether to save "environment days". Costing around $500,000 the programme allows councillors to hold a special environment day in their ward. But in a cost-cutting measure it was proposed they should be scrapped.

Politicians who voted against the cancellation of the programme have been accused of saving "a great PR tool" suggesting the vote to save "environment days comes at the cost of dental programmes or hardship funds.

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On the other side of the world, researchers from New Zealand have told a marine biology conference that Hector's dolphins are sliding towards extinction.

Their numbers ravaged by nylon fishing nets, there are now only 7,000 left off the New Zealand coast. Their numbers have dropped from 30,000 in the 1970s.

Marine biologists have studied the netting used by the country's fisherman which it believes drown 23 of the dolphins each year of the east coast of South Island.

The world's most endangered sea dolphin species, researchers believe numbers will reduce by 62% by 2050 is fishing methods are not altered.

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In China, the government has called for more safety checks on harmful chemicals after wide scale protests.

Factories have been accused of releasing harmful toxic products which damage the environment and can cause health problems. A pollution scare in Dalian over the use of a carcinogenic called paraxylene led to a protest by thousands of residents.

The National Development and Reform Commission is calling for manufacturers to start safety and environmental checks to minimise the risk of pollution.

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Back in the UK and there are fears fracking could damage the famous and historic Bath springs.

Bath and North East Somerset Council have warned the government that planning permission given to two companies to retrieve shale gas could weaken the foundations of the Roman springs.

The controversial technique is seen by some as a solution to the world's energy crisis and reliance on fossil fuels, while other blame it for earthquakes and potential contamination of water supplies.

Top Image Credit: Oil Pipeline Bridge © Romko

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