For marine life, Mt. Hope Bay might be the most inappropriately named place on Earth. In the 13-square-mile stretch of water straddling Rhode Island and Massachusetts, 15 fish species have all but disappeared over the last decade, leading some fishers to describe the area as a dead zone. Some scientists blame the deaths on Brayton Point, New England’s largest fossil fuel plant, which uses nearly 1 billion gallons of bay water in its cooling system every day and pumps much of it back in, at temperature up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result some parts of the bay have heated up by as many as five degrees. Brayton Point owner PG&E denies responsibility, but after the plant increased its water use by 45 percent in 1985, the fish population in the bay dropped by 86 percent. The U.S. EPA is amassing evidence in the case against PG&E, but in the meantime, the plant continues to operate.

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