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Yosemite in Ashes, the Rise of Urban Oil, Justice in the Amazon
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Ashen aftermath: Looks like firefighters won't be able to fully contain the Yosemite Rim Fire until October, but scientists have already turned their attention to the desolate, ash-covered hillsides the wildfire has left behind (see "Hell on Earth"). Ash tends to repel water, which means the whole area could be under threat for severe erosion when the winter rains come, bringing washed out roads and trails and ash-clouded rivers with them. San Jose Mercury News

House of chemicals: The European Union’s Environment Directorate-General is drawing up a proposal that recommends a “precautionary approach” for regulating endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as BPA and flame retardants, in household products. Seems reasonable, right? Well, a group of toxicologists recently pledged their names to a controversial editorial condemning the effort of being “scientifically unfounded” and “defying common sense.” Now it's time for the House of Cards-worthy twist: Of those scientists, 17 out of 18 have ties with chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, tobacco, pesticide, or biotechnology companies—all industries with a big ol’ stake in EU chemical policy. Environmental Health News

Urban oil rush: As a general rule, if your neighborhood gives you headaches, dizziness, and nosebleeds, something ain’t right. This is exactly what residents of University Park in South Los Angeles have been trying to explain to authorities, attributing their illnesses to a property leased by Allenco Energy Inc that’s been pumping up oil and pumping out fumes for the last three years. The district claims the odors are harmless, but one toxicologist says, “If you can smell it, it’s not safe.” Unfortunately, people are smelling it in urban oil fields across Southern California. Los Angeles Times

Prairie home abandoned: You’ve probably heard about North Dakota’s oil boom, the one that’s made the area “recession-proof,” but also more susceptible to societal woes like health problems, drunk driving, and sexual harassment (see “This Is Your Town on Fracking"). Well, the area is also undergoing a dramatic farming boom worthy of a Pauly Shore tribute. Even though the Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers $40 an acre to not develop their land for 15 years, it's no match for the $65 per acre being offered to rent their property for crops—much to the detriment of waterfowl, deer, bees, and the ecosystem at large. Washington Post

Survival of the cleanest: Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy announced yesterday that next year’s rules on existing power plants will not mandate the use of carbon capture and storage technology, saying, “It is not seen, at least at this stage, as an add-on that can be used on an existing facility.” Even so, given the agency’s strict proposal for new coal-fired power plants, the industry still faces an ultimatum: adapt or die. Huffington Post

Enviro murder for hire: Dorothy Stang, an American nun and defender of the Amazon, was murdered in Brazil in 2005. It didn’t take long for authorities to deduce that several local ranchers had ordered the killing. In fact, “more than 1,200 activists, small farmers, judges, priests and others have been killed over attempts to preserve the rainforest in the last two decades” (see "The Hidden Epidemic of Murder"). Finally last week, after three previous trials for Stang's murder, Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for homicide. The other ranchers under suspicion, however, are either out of prison awaiting bail, under house arrest, or at large. Associated Press

DAILY DISTRACTION

When worlds collide: Bats and toads don’t usually run in the same circles. One is short and squat and customarily found hopping through the undergrowth, the other flits through the sky like a warrior poet. But sometimes a bat will target low-flying insects, bringing it near the ground and, apparently, within reach of a toad’s big, gaping mouth. You’ve got to see it to believe it. Rainforest Expeditions

OTHER HEADLINES

Doctors Link Toxic Chemicals and Reproductive Health Problems Huffington Post

Cleaner Air from Tackling Climate Change Would Save Millions of Lives, Says Study Grist

Brain-Eating Amoeba Rattles Nerves in La. Parish San Francisco Gate

Fracking Fluids Spill Caused Kentucky Fish Kill Environmental Working Group

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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