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In this March 3, 2020, file photo, is the Iron Gate Dam, powerhouse and spillway are on the lower Klamath River near Hornbrook, Calif. A new agreement announced Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, promises to revive faltering plans to demolish four massive hydroelectric dams on a river along the Oregon-California border to save imperiled salmon by emptying giant reservoirs and reopening hundreds of miles of potential fish habitat that's been blocked for more than a century. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File)

Four western dams may be demolished

An agreement announced Tuesday paves the way for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a project that promises to reopen hundreds of miles of waterway along the Oregon-California border to salmon that are critical to tribes but have dwindled to almost nothing in recent years.

If approved, the deal would revive plans to remove four massive hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River, creating the foundation for the most ambitious salmon restoration effort in history. The project on California's second- largest river would be at the vanguard of a trend toward dam demolitions in the U.S. as the structures age and become less economically viable amid growing environmental concerns about the health of native fish.

Previous efforts to address problems in the Klamath Basin have fallen apart amid years of legal sparring that generated distrust among tribes, fishing groups, farmers and environmentalists. Opponents of dam removal worry about their property values and the loss of a water source for fighting wildfires. Lawsuits challenging the agreement are possible.

"This dam removal is more than just a concrete project coming down. It's a new day and a new era," Yurok Tribe chairman Joseph James said. "To me, this is who we are, to have a free-flowing river just as those who have come before us. ... Our way of life will thrive with these dams being out."

 

Amazon opens online pharmacy

The retail colossus Amazon opened an online pharmacy Tuesday that allows customers to order medication or prescription refills, and have them delivered to their front door in a couple of days.

The potential effect of Amazon's arrival in the pharmaceutical space rippled through that sector immediately. The stocks of CVS Health Corp., Walgreens and Rite Aid all tumbled Tuesday.

The big chains rely on their pharmacies for a steady flow of shoppers who may also grab a snack or shampoo or groceries on the way out. All have upped online services and touted their abilities to deliver prescriptions and other goods as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more consumers to stay home. But Amazon.com has mastered those things, and its online store is infinitely larger, with millions of loyal shoppers already buying books, TVs and just about anything else.

"The news represents a disruption to the system and competitive threat that will likely shift scripts away from the retail channel," analysts at Citi Research said in a note.

 

Best Buy offers same-day delivery

Best Buy Co. is partnering with Instacart, a nationwide grocery delivery company, to offer same-day delivery of products from nearly all its Best Buy stores.

Shoppers will be able to use Instacart to buy a wide range of items from Best Buy, including laptops, TVs and small appliances, Instacart said Tuesday.

Best Buy has previously been making deliveries with its own employees in some markets and recently began working with Shipt, the delivery unit of Target Corp., for similar services.

"As people settle into remote work and distance learning routines, we've seen increased demand for the same-day delivery of electronics on our marketplace," Chris Rogers, vice president of retail at Instacart, said in a statement.

"We're proud to partner with Best Buy — the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S. — to offer customers across the country a new way to get the technology products they need delivered same-day," he said.

 

New York nuclear plant approved for dismantling

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's staff approved the sale of the Indian Point nuclear power plant north of New York City to a New Jersey company for dismantling, despite petitions from state and local officials to hold public hearings before taking action.

The five-member NRC said Monday it expects to issue an order next Monday allowing the plant's owner, Entergy Corp. to transfer its license to Holtec Decommissioning International which plans to demolish the plant by the end of 2033 at a projected cost of $2.3 billion.

The staff also approved Holtec's request to use part of a $2.1 billion trust fund set aside for decommissioning to manage spent nuclear fuel stored in dozens of steel-and-concrete canisters that will remain on the site. New York Attorney General Letitia James has called the Holtec deal "very risky," questioning Holtec's financing and experience.

The Unit 2 reactor at the plant along the Hudson River was shut down permanently in April. The last operating reactor will shut down in April 2021 under a deal reached in January 2017 between Entergy, the state of New York and the environmental group Riverkeeper.

Holtec, which has already received NRC approval to purchase the Oyster Creek and Pilgrim nuclear power plants in New Jersey and Massachusetts, has said it has the financial and technical qualifications to complete each decommissioning.

 

Retail sales grows sluggish 0.3 percent

Retail sales in the U.S. grew a sluggish 0.3% in October, even as retailers offered early holiday discounts online and in stores.

A surge in coronavirus infections nationwide and the expiration of a $600 weekly boost to unemployment checks over the summer has slowed spending by Americans and contributed to the slowest retail sales growth since this spring, when the pandemic shuttered stores, theaters, restaurants and work places.

Economists had expected sales to rise 0.5%, already a significant tail off from September's gain of 1.6%.

The data "point to a consumer sector that is becoming more cautious in its spending habits," said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran, a financial advisory firm. "Weaker sales likely reflect several headwinds: the slowing recovery, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the countryand the reduction in fiscal support for sidelined workers."

Most of the gain occurred in just a few areas that reveal how the pandemic has altered spending trends in America. Sales rose at home and garden stores, electronics and appliance stores, and online retailers. Those increases likely reflect ongoing home renovations and perhaps more computer purchases by those working from home and those families with children learning online.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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