Environment

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is vowing to speed the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites, part of a shift away from climate change and toward what he calls the "basics" of clean air and water. The EPA's Superfund program manages the cleanup of some of the most toxic waste sites. Pruitt says the EPA will soon name a top 10 list of sites to focus on.

One potential site for that list is the Tar Creek Superfund site in far northeast Oklahoma, where a team of agency officials recently visited.

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More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, the island's power grid remains in shambles, and authorities say it will take months to fully restore electricity.

Nearly 90 percent of the island is still without power, which means millions of people remain without electricity weeks after the storm, says José H. Román Morales, president of Puerto Rico's Energy Commission, which regulates the island's electric power authority.

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South Korea faces a chronic dirty air problem that makes it one of the most polluted countries in the world. It's common to hear that neighboring China is to blame, but a joint study by NASA and the Korean government has found there's a lot South Korea can do on its own to cut the smog.

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Picture this - more than a dozen wildfires clustered together all whipped up by this hot, dry wind.

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Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

The Trump administration will scuttle an Obama-era clean power plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, made the announcement in Hazard, Ky., on Monday, saying the rule hurt coal-fired plants.

"The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy," Pruitt said, speaking at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

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When Hurricane Irma hit Florida, it blasted an estimated 3 to 10 feet of storm surge into the Everglades. Combined with the drenching rain, the storm may change the vegetation patterns of the enormous wetland and perhaps prod the people of South Florida to rethink how it lives with its water.

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There is one small field on Michael Sullivan's farm, near the town of Burdette, Ark., that he wishes he could hide from public view.

The field is a disaster. There are soybeans in there, but you could easily overlook them. The field has been overrun by monsters: ferocious-looking plants called pigweeds, as tall as people and bursting with seeds that will come back to haunt any crops that Sullivan tries to grow here for years to come.

"I'm embarrassed to say that we farm that field," Sullivan says. "We sprayed it numerous times, and it didn't kill it."

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt is vowing to speed the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites, part of a shift away from climate change and toward what he calls the "basics" of clean air and water. He says EPA will soon name a Top 10 list of sites to focus on. One place hoping to get on that list is Tar Creek Superfund site, in far northeast Oklahoma, where a team of agency officials recently visited.

Most people have had some exposure to mercury. Fish is one source. So are mercury vapors from workplaces and factories. That's what the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.

At very low levels, the mercury isn't likely a problem (although it's hard to say exactly how low is "safe.")

Sam Chereskin and Whit Rigali want to redefine what it means to get trashed. The pair discovered that the sugars in almost-stale bread, bagels and cakes destined for the landfill could be distilled into premium vodka, turning imbibing into an act of social responsibility.

The recent string of Hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — has sparked calls for more flood protection. In fact, after Hurricane Katrina twelve years ago, federal officials did tighten standards, but it turns out many flood-prone communities are still struggling to meet them.

Neighborhoods like fast-growing Natomas, in northwestern Sacramento.

"In the past month, I've probably helped six families move up from the Bay Area,"says realtor Cynthia Hextell. She's standing outside a recent sale: a tidy two-story near a good school that sold for well over asking price.

A laborer named Angel Ramos used to gather mangos and avocados that grew wild in the hills above the city of Cayey, in Puerto Rico's east. The woods were verdant, they smelled of fecundity — and made him feel part of creation.

Then the hurricane came.

"I climbed up to see what the mountain looks like. Oh, the sadness," Ramos says. "I see the uprooted trees. The naked limbs. It makes you want to cry when you to see it. How it's destroyed. It is torturous to look at."

More than a week after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, most of the island remains without electricity, food and drinkable water. On Sunday, President Trump criticized the U.S. territory's pleas for help and tweeted that Puerto Ricans "want everything to be done for them."

But before that, one famous New York break dancer took it upon himself to do something for his people on the island.

When Boyd Coble heard the sheriff's deputy pounding on his door in Houston in the middle of the night, he rolled over and went back to sleep. Coble, who lives alone, except for his Australian sheepdog, Wally, knew all about Hurricane Harvey. He just didn't think his own home would flood. It never had before, and even if a little water did trickle in, Coble was pretty sure he and Wally could ride it out.

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Hurricane Harvey flooded more than a dozen Superfund toxic waste sites when it devastated the Texas coast in late August. An EPA report predicted the possibility of climate-related problems at toxic waste sites like those in Texas, but the page detailing the report on the agency's website was made inactive months before the storm.

The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota has been voted out of office, just about one year after the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

Unofficial results show Dave Archambault received about 37 percent of the 1,710 votes cast. His challenger, current tribal councilman Mike Faith, received 63 percent.

Sure, it's been known to rain cats and dogs during some heavy thunderstorms. And if we're to believe The Weather Girls — and who wouldn't? — it was even raining men that one time in 1982.

But fish? That feels like a new one.

Bhu Srinivasan came to this country as a wide-eyed eight-year-old, his head filled with all the possibilities America evoked. His educated parents had found upward mobility to be unachievable in India.

Now an entrepreneur who remains fascinated by American innovation and industry, Srinivasan has written a narrative history of the U.S. economy.

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Bhu Srinivasan, Entrepreneur and author of “Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism”

About two weeks ago, I went to the Silver Dollar — a bar and restaurant in Louisville, Ky. Without even looking at the menu, I asked for my usual — a basket of rolled oysters — only to find they'd been taken off the menu.

This discovery led me into the murky blue depths of the national oyster economy — and how it impacts the survival of an unlikely Louisville favorite.

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Residents, tourists and climbers are being told to stay far away from Mount Agung, a large volcano in Bali where hundreds of shallow volcanic earthquakes have been recorded in recent days. The volcano's last eruption, in 1963, killed more than 1,000 people.

The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation raised the alarm on Friday.

On the side of a busy expressway in northern Puerto Rico, dozens of cars stand in a line, parked at careless angles off the shoulder. Drivers hold their phones out of car windows; couples walk along the grass raising their arm skyward.

This is not a picturesque stretch of road. It's about 90 degrees out, and the sun is beating down relentlessly. All you can hear is the rumble of cars and trucks passing by, sometimes dangerously close. Then, inside a Ford Escape near the edge of the highway, Casandra Caba exclaims, "Look!"

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