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US-ENVIRONMENT Summary

Canada to step up oil sands monitoring

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will boost monitoring of pollution from its oil sands projects, hoping to speed up U.S. approval of a pipeline to transport crude to the Gulf Coast, Environment Minister Peter Kent said on Thursday. Green groups have long campaigned against developing the oil sands of northern Alberta -- the world's third largest petroleum reserve -- on the grounds that development produces unacceptable amounts of greenhouse gases and other toxins.

Small fish said vital to seas; lower catches urged

OSLO (Reuters) - Small fish play a big role in the oceans and catches should be cut sharply to safeguard marine food chains from plankton to blue whales, an international team of experts said on Thursday. Rising human exploitation of little fish -- including anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel and capelin -- had had far less attention in marine research compared to big commercial species such as cod, tuna, swordfish or salmon, they said.

Japan utilities push to extend life of nuclear plants

TOKYO (Reuters) - Two Japanese utilities moved on Friday to extend the life of reactors at a pair of central coastal nuclear plants, fuelling already fierce debate over energy policy after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Kansai Electric Power Co said it had filed a petition with Japan's nuclear regulatory agency to keep the No. 2 reactor at its Mihama nuclear plant running beyond 2012, 40 years after it first went into operation.

Defying climate deal like appeasing Hitler: UK minister

LONDON (Reuters) - World leaders who oppose a global agreement to tackle climate change are making a similar mistake to the one made by politicians who tried to appease Adolf Hitler before World War Two, a British government minister said on Thursday. Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Huhne said governments must redouble efforts to find a successor to the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on emissions, although it was unlikely that a breakthrough would be made at a conference later this year in Durban in South Africa.

Bloomberg, Sierra Club make $50 million anti-coal move

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined with the Sierra Club on Thursday in a $50 million, four-year plan to campaign for replacing one-third of aging U.S. coal-fired power plants with clean energy. "If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal," Bloomberg, founder of the news service that bears his name, said in a statement.

Midwest turns dry as drought worsens in Plains

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A historic drought in the southern Plains intensified in the last week and contributed to dry conditions emerging in the heart of the Midwest crop belt, a weekly climatologists' report said Thursday. The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor, produced by a consortium of national climate experts, showed abnormally dry conditions affecting a significant area of the Midwest -- about 10 percent -- for the first time this summer.

Family group sues New York City schools over light fixtures

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