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Russ Walker's Posts

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At prime time presser, Obama says an energy plan will pass

During his prime time press conference Tuesday evening, President Obama was put on the spot about Congress' apparent unwillingness to go along with some of his budget proposals. The questioner listed a number of areas where Democrats on Capitol Hill may part ways, including the White House's proposed cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If Obama is worried, he didn't let on. Here's the part of his response dealing with cap-and-trade and, more broadly, a comprehensive energy bill: When it comes to cap-and-trade, the broader principle is that we've got to move to a new energy era. And that …

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EPA issues clarification on mountaintop removal notice

One can only wonder whether the following EPA statement regarding its move on mountaintop removal was prompted by some angry phone calls to the agency from certain influential West Virginia lawmakers. In any event, here's what the EPA sent out late Tuesday: Following reports that mischaracterize actions taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agency press secretary Adora Andy today issued a statement regarding mining permit applications: The Environmental Protection Agency is not halting, holding or placing a moratorium on any of the mining permit applications. Plain and simple. EPA has issued comments on two pending permit applications to …

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Preparing for new site, Grist temporarily suspending comments

Begging your pardon, but we've turned comments off on Grist in advance of our upcoming site relaunch. Keep an eye out for the new Grist.org, which will include a customizable comments section (among other snazzy features). And if you're just burning to speak up before then, drop us a line: grist AT grist DOT org.

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Search giant plans to devote more IT expertise to energy issues

If you're a fan of Google's efforts to encourage energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy (i.e. RechargeIT, Clean Energy 2030, and PowerMeter), get ready for more. A post on the official Google blog says the company plans to "to put even more engineers and technical talent to work on these issues and problems." Larry Brilliant, the "chief philanthropy evangelist" at Google.org, offered up that bit of news in a post about a larger change at the Google philanthropy arm -- that Google exec Megan Smith will take over day-to-day management of Google.org, allowing Brilliant to "spend more time …

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Using stimulus funds to make mass transit free

Irwin Kellner, chief economist for MarketWatch, suggests a better use for the billions contained in the economic stimulus legislation: Right now federal money for states and local governments is aimed at big capital projects such as buying new trains or busses. But what is the point of buying new transit equipment if the local systems are mothballing their fleet because of service cuts? Better to use these funds to help eliminate fares and maintain or increase service. It also avoids the government giving people tax cuts with one hand while taking them away with the other.

Read more: Cities

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A very cool 'only in California' development … bike valets

Slate V posted a short video about the bicycle valet service provided at the farmers market in Santa Monica, Calif. Brilliant! But do the valets help repair flat tires?

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Denny's serves up a plate of petroleum

The millions of Americans (Grist included!) glued to their TVs Sunday for Super Bowl XLIII got a personal invite from fast food chain Denny's to swing by any of its 2,500 U.S. locations this morning for a free "Grand Slam" breakfast -- two eggs, two sausages, two slices of bacon, two pancakes (a whopping 800 calories). The Denny's stunt is, well, really a sad statement about the American way of food. Fast food chains are part of a vast system of agriculture and industrial processing that is made possible by one thing and one thing only -- cheap oil. It's …

Read more: Food

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Next president needs a constituency pressing for climate change action

If you listen real hard, you can hear Harry and Louise revving up their SUV, preparing to drive right over any effort to "kill economic growth" or "raise costs on the consumer" with "job-killing" carbon taxes. Green groups still have time to slit the SUV's tires ... but not much time. Barack Obama is poised win the presidential election in less than three weeks, but environmental organizations don't have time to celebrate the Democrat's expected victory. Instead, several leading climate change activists say, enviros need to start organizing now to build a constituency that will support an Obama administration's efforts …

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Marla Cone to lead expanded news operation

Award-winning environment reporter Marla Cone is leaving the Los Angeles Times to join the ranks of nonprofit journalism, becoming the top editor of Environmental Health News starting today. Cone, whose work at the L.A. Times includes a series of articles highlighting the environmental threat posed by brominated flame retardants and investigations into the health of ocean ecosystems, will spearhead an expanded news operation dedicated to producing original, investigative journalism on environmental health issues. For too long, environmental health issues have received little attention from major media organizations, Cone said. "It's a very complex, very nuanced beat requiring deep understanding of …

Read more: Living

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video

One farmer says ‘peak oil’ prompted energy-saving steps

Admit it, climate change is the kind of problem that leaves you wondering, "What the heck can any one person do about it?" That's exactly how Patrick Holden said he felt about it during the "Climate Change and Food" panel discussion last week at the Slow Food Nation conference in San Francisco. Holden has been an organic farmer for 30 years, and in his spare time runs Britain's Soil Association, which makes and enforces organic standards in the U.K. Holden's feeling about global warming changed, he said, when the concrete reality of high energy prices came crashing down on his …

Read more: Climate & Energy