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Huge helium gas find in east Africa averts medical shortage

The natural store of helium found in the Rift valley in Tanzania contains an estimated 54bn cubic feet of the noble gas

The discovery of a vast reserve of helium in east Africa has allayed fears of a global shortage of the precious gas crucial for the running of brain scanners, major scientific facilities, and parties that require floating balloons and squeaky voices.

According to independent analysts, the natural store of helium found in the Rift valley in Tanzania contains an estimated 54bn cubic feet of the noble gas, enough to inflate a similar number of party balloons, or to fill 1,200,000 hospital MRI scanners, researchers said.

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Source: Guardian Environment

What will fill the hole left by coal?

When mines close in Victoria, local people fear for their future and predict whole towns will die. But if the Coalition and Labor are serious about their climate change targets, are they also ready to replace the lost Australian jobs?

Greg Dunn, coffee in hand, has just finished a 12-hour night shift at the Hazelwood power station. He is tired, but in his low-key way, he is resigned, too. He rattles off the members of his family who have worked in the electricity industry in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, a list that almost certainly will end with him.

Dunn’s father worked as a boilermaker in the valley. His grandfather worked here too, back in gentler days when electricity was thought an essential service for governments to run. In the valley, it was the state electricity commission (SEC).

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Source: Guardian Environment

Aboriginal landowners criticise Northern Land Council over drill permit

Residents from region around Alawa and Mangarrayi lands say they weren’t properly consulted about work by Gina Rinehart-linked company

An Aboriginal community is calling for a halt to exploratory drilling preparations on their traditional lands by a Gina Rinehart-linked company, claiming they weren’t properly consulted by the peak body representing them.

However, the chief executive of the Northern Land Council (NLC), has defended his organisation, and blames the “confusion” on a two-year delay between traditional owners giving permission and the permits being granted, as well as “intervention by third-party groups”.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Millions exposed to dangerous lead levels in US drinking water, report finds

New report says Flint water crisis is not an anomaly, as analysis reveals 5,363 water systems – providing drinking water to 18 million – breached federal laws

More than 18 million Americans are served drinking water by providers that have violated federal laws concerning lead in water, with only a tiny proportion of offenses resulting in any penalty, a new report has found.

The toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is “not anomalous”, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report states, with widespread violations of national rules designed to protect people from lead, a known neurotoxin that is harmful even in small doses.

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Source: Guardian Environment

UK ministers to approve world-leading carbon emissions target

Fears had been raised that EU referendum would result in deadline being missed but sources say carbon budget will be agreed

Ministers will this week approve a world-leading carbon emissions reduction target for the early 2030s, the Guardian understands.

Fears had been raised by green groups and industry that the EU referendum would cause the UK government to miss a deadline on Thursday for accepting carbon targets from its statutory climate advisers.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Atkins Ciwem environmental photographer of the year 2016 – the winners in pictures

The overall awards winners have been announced in the 2016 Atkins Ciwem environmental photographer of the year competition, an annual international showcase for thought-provoking photography and video that tackles a wide range of environmental themes. A shortlist of 60 images has also been chosen from more than 10,000 entries for an exhibition that will run at the Royal Geographical Society, London, from 29 June to 22 August 2016.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Here comes the sun: US solar power market hits all-time high

After a rocky start, the American solar market is taking off. What will it take to make it go truly mainstream?

Solar energy in the US has had a rocky existence. Ever since Ronald Reagan symbolically removed Jimmy Carter’s solar panels from the White House roof in 1986, federal policy has been unpredictable, such that manufacturers and consumers could never depend on reliable incentives to produce and install solar energy systems.

Remarkably, the US solar energy industry is now entering what may be its most prosperous decade ever, thanks to a new wave of federal and state policies and positive economics in the industry, both at home and abroad.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Volkswagen to pay $14.7bn settlement and buy back cars from consumers

Department of Justice says carmaker will pay billions to settle claims generated by emissions rigging scandal and buy cars from consumers at pre-scandal prices

Volkswagen has agreed to pay $14.7bn to settle claims generated by its emissions rigging scandal and to buy back cars from consumers at pre-scandal prices, the Department of Justice announced on Tuesday.

Related: Volkswagen’s handling of emissions scandal a shambles, say investors

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Source: Guardian Environment

UN climate chief urges Britain to remain a global warming leader

Christiana Figueres tells business leaders that Brexit vote is not an obstacle to continued cooperation between Britain and the EU on global warming

Britain must continue to be a world leader when it comes to acting on global warming despite the EU referendum result last week, the UN’s climate chief has urged.

Christiana Figueres warned that should article 50 be triggered it would bring uncertainty for two years but cooperation on climate change could be one area of continuity between the UK and EU.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Brexit is not a vote against climate change says UN’s climate chief

Christiana Figueres says the UK can still be a leader on climate change and emphasises the need for the country to ‘stay calm and transform on’

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was not a vote against climate change, nor was it a vote against the innovation key to fighting climate change, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres told an audience of business and policymakers at the annual Business & Climate summit in London today.

Related: EU out vote puts UK commitment to Paris climate agreement in doubt

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Source: Guardian Environment