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EPA to impose permits on large polluters

WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) — Coal-fired power plants and other major U.S. emitters of greenhouse gases will need to seek pollution permits starting in 2011, federal regulators said.

The rule released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency covers new sources of at least 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year and existing plants that increase emissions by 75,000 tons.

In its first two years, the rule is expected to affect about 15,550 coal-fired plants, refineries, cement makers, solid waste landfills and other big polluters, EPA spokeswoman Gina McCarthy told The New York Times in a story published Friday.

The rule would affect about 70 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, she said.

The EPA set its sights on larger polluters after scrapping a plan to require emitters of 25,000 tons of gases a year to seek permits. That plan would have imposed permits on family farms and large apartment buildings.

“What we realized at the 25,000 level was that we were going to be actually reaching sources that we did not intend to reach,” McCarthy said.

More cars vulnerable to computer hackers

SAN DIEGO, May 14 (UPI) — Increasingly sophisticated cars need to be protected from hackers who could tamper with computerized systems, U.S. scientists said.

As more cars become connected to the Internet through wireless systems, hackers could remotely sabotage the vehicles, The New York Times reported Friday.

In tests, computer security experts at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, said they were able to remotely control braking, stop the engine and activate dozens of other functions, almost all of them while a car was in motion.

The researchers tested two versions of a late-model car in laboratory and field settings. The researchers did not publicly identify the manufacturer or model, but said they believed the cars were representative of the computer network systems found in many late-model cars today.

“You should expect that various entry points in the automotive environment are no more secure in the automotive environment than they are in your PC,” said Stefan Savage, a computer scientist in San Diego.

Dirty keyboards a health hazard

LONDON, May 14 (UPI) — Computer keyboards can be breeding grounds for E. coli and other hazardous organisms, scientists in Britain said.

Some keyboards in London offices showed traces of E. coli, coliforms and enterobacteria, which most likely were transmitted by mice and other vermin attracted to food morsels trapped between keys, the Royal Society of Chemistry said.

Office workers eat over their keyboards and drop crumbs by day and the vermin move in at night, leaving feces and disease, researchers said.

Workers can get sick by typing on a fouled keyboard and then picking up food or touching their faces with unwashed hands, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

Graphic designer Jean-Pierre Chery, 27, of New York, said he eats at his keyboard a lot and has never cleaned the crumbs that fall between the keys.

“I’ve got a whole ecosystem going on at the bottom of my keyboard right now,” Chery told the News.

Climate change killing lizards worldwide

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., May 14 (UPI) — Twenty percent of all lizard species could be extinct by 2080 because of rising temperatures involved in climate change, a California researcher said.

Lizards worldwide are far more susceptible to climate-warming extinction than previously thought because many species already live at the edge of their thermal limits, said Barry Sinervo of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Sinervo and colleagues from around the world said they reached their conclusions after comparing field studies of lizards in Mexico to lizard studies from other countries.

Rising temperatures already have driven an estimated 12 percent of Mexico’s Sceloporus lizard population to extinction, the scientists wrote in a recent issue of the journal Science.

“We are actually seeing lowland species moving upward in elevation, slowly driving upland species extinct, and if the upland species can’t evolve fast enough then they’re going to continue to go extinct,” Sinervo said in a release from the university Thursday.

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