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Wednesday Briefing

Nearly 4 million Americans live in coastal areas more prone to flooding from rising seas due to global warming, scientists say. If the pace of the rise accelerates as much as expected, researchers found, coastal flooding at levels that were once exceedingly rare could become an every-few-years occurrence by the middle of this century. By far the most vulnerable state is Florida, the new analysis found, but Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey are also particularly at risk. The findings come from two new scientific papers, published in Environmental Research Letters, thought to provide the best assessment of the U.S. population at risk from the rising sea. The New York Times, The Associated Press

Farm cooperative agrees to pay $812,000 in fines in the suffocation death of a South Dakota employee. The Wheat Growers cooperative reached the settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The case involved the December 2009 death of a 52-year-old employee who was buried under sunflower seeds in a McLaughlin, S.D., silo. OSHA found nearly two dozen violations of grain handling and confined space rules and initially proposed a $1.6 million fine, which was contested by the cooperative. A Wheat Growers spokesman said the group has instituted training programs, formed rescue teams and bought rescue equipment. The Associated Press, Aberdeen (S.D.) News

Sierra Club rejected $30 million gift from natural gas drilling company. The environmental group previously disclosed that it accepted $26 million from donors associated with Chesapeake Energy, the second-largest U.S. natural-gas supplier. But Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, said the group turned down an additional $30 million from Chesapeake after he took over in 2010. He explained that gas had been thought of as “a clean but flawed alternative” to coal, and the initial money was used to launch his group’s “Beyond Coal” campaign. Later, as evidence of drilling-related water contamination emerged, “the more we realized that there were more problems with gas than we thought.” Bloomberg

Economic adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron faulted for ties to tobacco industry. The adviser, Mark Littlewood, has been appointed as an independent adviser to the government’s Red Tape Challenge, an effort to cut unnecessary regulation. But anti-smoking activists, noting that an economic institute Littlewood heads has received tobacco industry funding, express concerns that he will try to block a proposal being drafted to require cigarettes to be sold in plain packs without any company logos. The Independent (London)

Federal judge upholds regulatory move to prevent two Florida CVS pharmacies from selling controlled substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration took the action because of the pharmacies’ alleged lax enforcement of restrictions on oxycodone, saying the Orlando, Fla.,-area stores were dispensing the powerful painkiller far beyond patients’ legitimate needs. CVS, which says the pharmacies already have taken steps to reduce oxycodone prescriptions, is expected to appeal Tuesday’s ruling. The DEA also has issued a suspension order against the pharmacies’ supplier, Cardinal Health, but that has been stayed while an appeals court reviews the case. The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal

Workplace safety regulators cite two employers. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking $49,200 in fines against a Loveland, Ohio, firm, G & J Enterprises, in connection with a trench cave-in that caused a back injury to an employee. Separately, OSHA ordered Metro-North Commuter Railroad Co. to pay $18,800 in punitive damages and attorney’s fees to a diesel shop employee in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. who suffered a finger injury. The agency says the injured employee was forced to go back to work against his doctor’s orders. MidHudsonNews.Com (Middletown, N.Y.)

Recalls and warnings: Inspira AIR balloon dilation systems

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein