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In brief: California investigating extent of offshore fracking

LOS ANGELES – California regulators have launched an investigation into offshore hydraulic fracturing after revelations that the practice had quietly occurred off the coast for the past two decades.

The California Coastal Commission promised to look into the extent of so-called fracking in federal and state waters and any potential risks.

“We take our obligation to protect the marine environment very seriously, and we’re going to be looking at this very carefully,” executive director Charles Lester said Thursday during the commission meeting.

A recent report by the Associated Press documented at least a dozen instances of fracking since the late 1990s in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a disastrous 1969 oil platform blowout that spurred the modern environmental movement. Earlier this year, federal regulators approved a new project, but work has not yet begun.

The Coastal Commission, which is charged with protecting the shoreline and marine resources, was not aware until recently that fracking was occurring, mainly because of the complicated web of agencies involved, said Alison Dettmer, a deputy director.

The meeting comes after a band of state lawmakers last week called on the Coastal Commission and federal government to investigate. The oil industry has maintained that fracking is safe and not harmful to the environment.

EPA cutting C-Max mileage

DETROIT – The U.S. government may change the rules for the gas mileage estimates that car buyers see on window stickers after finding that fuel economy figures for Ford’s C-Max gas-electric hybrid were inflated.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which monitors mileage testing, said Thursday that it will cut the C-Max’s combined city-highway mileage estimate by nearly 9 percent to 43 mpg, from 47. Ford Motor Co. will change its window stickers to reflect the correct estimate and said it will compensate drivers for the difference.

C-Max buyers will get a $550 check, while those who leased will receive $325. The checks will be sent soon, the company said.

GM halting Egypt operations

DETROIT – General Motors Co. has closed its operations in Egypt indefinitely because of violence in the country.

The company said Thursday it closed its plant in the Cairo suburb of 6th October City, where it makes cars, light trucks and minibuses. It also closed its offices in Cairo.

GM has around 1,400 workers in Egypt. In 1983, it became the first private automaker to establish operations in the country.

GM said in a statement that its chief concern is for the safety and security of its employees.

At least 638 people have been killed and nearly 4,000 wounded in violence after riot police razed two Cairo encampments of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Islamists torched government buildings, churches and police stations in retaliation for the crackdown.


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