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New coal plant approved in Virginia, may fuel mountaintop-removal mining

An embattled $1.8 billion coal plant slated for Wise County, Va., was granted pollution permits Wednesday by a state regulatory board, allowing construction to proceed. The company that will be building the 585-megawatt plant, Dominion Resources, promised local officials it would only source coal from within Virginia; that move is expected to fuel increased mountaintop-removal mining in the state. Air officials were quick to point out that they issued permits for air pollution at drastically lower levels than Dominion had requested -- some 80 percent lower for both sulfur dioxide and mercury. As part of the deal, Dominion agreed to …

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Auto industry loses suit to sink California vehicle emissions standards

A federal judge has struck down the auto industry's attempt to gut California's greenhouse-gas emissions standards for vehicles. California's law, which would cut vehicle emissions by some 30 percent by 2016, has been stalled due to the U.S. EPA's denial of a waiver the state needs to implement it. However, the industry lawsuit sought to stop the emissions-reduction law from taking effect even if a new federal administration eventually granted the waiver. The auto industry has complained that the California rules would be far too expensive and would essentially create different fuel-economy rules for California and the 15 other states …

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BP, Shell, Airbus, and other multinationals call for 50 percent emission cuts by 2050

The CEOs of 100 large multinational corporations -- including companies from carbon-intense industries -- have signed a World Economic Forum statement [PDF] that calls on the G8 to create a strategy to cut global greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050. The G8 will be meeting in Japan next month, and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will be pushing hard for an agreement on climate change. Notable signatories to the statement: Airbus, British Airways, BP, Duke Energy, DuPont, Electricite de France, Entergy, E.ON, Michelin, Petrobras, Renault, Rolls-Royce, and Shell. Are pigs flying? Not quite. The companies see money …

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Home Depot will collect CFLs for recycling

Home Depot announced Tuesday that it will collect compact fluorescent light bulbs and send them off to be recycled. The home-improvement behemoth hopes the new program will keep the bulbs, which contain a small amount of mercury, out of household trash and recycling bins. IKEA also collects CFLs for recycling but doesn't have the market saturation of Home Depot; more than three-quarters of U.S. households are estimated to be within 10 miles of a Home Depot store. The company's 1,973 U.S. stores will also switch to CFLs in light-fixture showrooms by the fall, a move expected to save it $16 …

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U.S. Supreme Court rejects asbestos company’s appeal, clearing way for trial

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from asbestos company W.R. Grace, clearing the way for a long-awaited criminal trial to begin. The company and six of its executives were indicted in 2005 on charges of violating the Clean Air Act by allegedly releasing asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from a mine in Libby, Mont., between 1963 and 1990, when the mine closed; the executives have also been charged with knowingly endangering the lives of mine workers and town residents. Some 300 of Libby's 2,600 residents have died from asbestos-related diseases and many hundreds more have been sickened. If convicted at …

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S&P cites automakers’ cashflow concerns

Originally posted at the NDN Blog. While news about high fuel prices this past week centered on disingenuous calls by President Bush and others to drill our way out of the crisis, perhaps the most significant -- and ominous event -- was the barely publicized action by S&P Friday to place the Big Three U.S. automakers on a credit watch. In taking the action, S&P cited "renewed concerns about the three car makers' future cash flows." Given Ford's preexisting troubles -- accentuated by its announcement last week as well that it is postponing relaunch of its star vehicle, the F150 …

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Lessons from Europe and Japan

The following article appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus, and was reposted at commondreams.org. When New York City wanted to make the biggest purchase of subway cars in U.S. history in the late 1990s -- more than $3 billion worth -- the only companies that were able to bid on the contract were foreign. The same problem applies to high-speed rail today: Only European or Japanese companies can build any of the proposed rail networks in the United States. The U.S. has also ceded the high ground to Europe and Japan in a broad range of other sustainable technologies. For …

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‘Dell of solar’ seeks to make it cheap and user-friendly to get rooftop PV

Today, a company called Sungevity announced the availability of what they're calling the cheapest solar system in the world: a rooftop solar panel system, fully installed, for $2,000. That's as much as I paid for my computer. For that price, the average home will save $21,000 in electricity over 25 years -- a 45 percent return on investment. From a simple web interface, customers can plug in their address and Sungevity will use satellite and aerial imagery to assess their rooftop solar potential and offer them a range of options within 24 hours. Ordering can be done online, as easily …

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NYT Magazine’s fawning piece on Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers

There's no doubt about it: Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers is the most adept figure in corporate America at making himself look better than he is. He's proven it again in an extremely flattering profile in The New York Times Sunday Magazine. The piece refers to Rogers as "one of the electricity industry's most vocal environmentalists." Indeed, the piece reports that many "prominent environmentalists" are his "friends" and quotes in particular Eileen Claussen, head of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, saying, "It's fair to say that we wouldn't be where we are in Congress if it weren't for …

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Carmaker knows most efficient freight system: trains

Interesting presser from Honda this week: HONDA LAUNCHES AUTO-MAX RAILCAR FLEET: MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY - RESPONSIBLE PRODUCT DISTRIBUTION WITH INDUSTRY-FIRST FLEET TORRANCE, CA, June 19, 2008 -- Honda has fully deployed its fleet of Auto-Max® railcars, achieving a significant reduction in the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions associated with its automobile distribution activities in the United States. The 400-car fleet of more space-efficient Auto-Max; railcars is the only such automaker-operated fleet in use in the United States. Including the Auto-Max fleet shipments, American Honda currently transports about 82 percent of its Honda and Acura automobiles across the country by rail, achieving …