Water pollution

Michigan drops charges in Flint water probe, pledges new investigation

Flint, Michigan water plant
Photo: ehrlif/Getty Images

Michigan's attorney general announced the state is dropping cases against the 8 former and current officials accused of not alerting the public about the safety of drinking water in Flint, and will launch a new investigation from scratch, reports the New York Times.

The big picture: Prosecutors, who say the scope of the investigation expanded after they received millions of new documents this week, said "missteps" by the previous attorney general's office contributed to this decision, per the Times. Some Flint residents who have long sought justice told the Times that the dropping of all charges could reopen fresh wounds and signal that their crisis is being "forgotten."

'Dead zone' the size of Massachusetts predicted in Gulf of Mexico

A stormy day on Pensacola Beach.
Photo: Carolyn_Davies/Getty Images

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting this year's annual "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico to be unusually large, coming in at "approximately 7,829 square miles, or roughly the size of Massachusetts."

Context: A dead zone is a hypoxic area, meaning that little or no oxygen is present, killing most marine life. NOAA says the event is largely a result of nutrient pollution flowing into the Gulf from the Mississippi River watershed. The surplus of nutrients, such as phosphorous, results in excess algae growth. When decomposed in water, the algae causes oxygen levels to plummet in the ocean's depths.