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Bad Vibrations

Seismic movement could assist in oil production Like so much else in this crazy world, earthquakes are bad for you but potentially good for oil companies. Seismic shaking appears to increase permeability of underground rocks, leading to easier oil flow. "[T]his has practical implications for oil extraction," says University of California scientist Emily Brodsky, who with two other researchers published findings in Nature. Artificially shaking the ground, the researchers believe, could help extractors obtain oil from natural reservoirs; scientists already use vibroseis trucks (trucks that shake the ground) to take a sort of X-ray of the earth, determining the structure …

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Port Reform

Two busiest California ports propose pollution regulations The peerlessly polluting ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., will propose far-reaching environmental policies today. "What we're doing right now is a no-growth, job-losing, cancer-causing plan, and we're just not going to do that anymore," said David Freeman, chair of the L.A. Harbor Commission. What they aim to do instead is require all ships calling at the two large ports to switch to low-sulfur fuel, use other emission-reducing technologies, and plug in to local electrical power at docks instead of idling. Trains and trucks at the ports would also have to …

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All About EV

Grist talks with the makers of Who Killed the Electric Car? In the 1990s, California required automakers to introduce zero-emission cars. GM put out the electric EV-1, a sporty coupe that inspired head-over-heels devotion among the few people who got their hands on one. Then California backed down, the car leases ran out, and GM took the EVs back and squashed them. Who's to blame? Today, Hannah Eaves interviews the makers of Who Killed the Electric Car?, a documentary film debuting this week that explores the question. In Gristmill, David Roberts continues that conversation, digging into questions of peak oil, …

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A conversation with the makers of Who Killed the Electric Car?

Chris Paine, the director of Who Killed the Electric Car?, looks a little embarrassed as he walks toward his waiting limo. "I should really have them drop us off a block away from the theater," he says, laughing uneasily. At least he's carpooling. Dean Devlin and Chris Paine at Sundance. Photo: Fred Hayes/WireImage. With him are Dean Devlin, one of the film's executive producers (whose other projects include Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot); former electric-vehicle sales rep Chelsea Sexton, who appears in the film; and Sexton's husband, Bob, who helped launch Saturn before becoming the go-to technician for EV …

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Just the Tax, Ma’am

A carbon tax is the answer to our energy woes, argues an economist Some recent news reports may have led you to believe that there is no "price elasticity" around gasoline -- that no matter how much gas prices rise, people just keep on drivin'. But it's not so: High prices are dampening demand. Why does it matter? Because price elasticity is the secret behind the effectiveness of a carbon tax, the one market-neutral, fast-acting strategy that could get us to clean energy as fast as we need to go. Economist Charles Komanoff preaches the carbon-tax gospel.

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New ad brings laundry to life

There's a wonderful new advertisement for an Italian washing machine that simulates deep sea life. A clever concept, brilliantly executed. If you've got 30 seconds to spare, check it out here.

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GM’s plug-in hybrid: rumor or … OK, it’s a rumor

Via Groovy Green, we hear that GM may be making a plug-in hybrid, possibly to debut at an auto show as early as January. I'll believe it when I see it, but damn I'd sure like to see it.

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Step One: Get a Job With Better Health-Care Coverage

Wal-Mart to educate employees on environment and health Retail leviathan Wal-Mart, anxious to be the eco-friendliest big-box chain around, is developing a program to teach employees how to care for themselves and the environment. Anonymous sources say the as-yet-unveiled plan, tentatively named the Environmental Health and Wellness Program, will give employees practical advice, like using energy-efficient light bulbs (which Wal-Mart carries!) and eating more fish for health benefits (mercury be damned!). The program is part of an effort to push down the company's health-care spending; Wal-Mart's 1.3 million U.S. employees -- the largest workforce in the nation -- have higher …

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Mackey v. Pollan

Foodie journalist Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (review here; interview with Pollan here) makes some disturbing points about the increasingly industrial character of organic agriculture. It uses as its exemplar of "industrial organic" the burgeoning Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey took quite a bit of umbrage at that, and responded with a long, passionate letter about the work his store has done to nurture the organic movement and local agriculture. On his blog (which is stupidly behind the NYT $elect wall), Pollan responds at some length. Both letters are interesting reading, but the dispute basically …

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What jobs are included in the environmental field?

As director of program development at The Environmental Careers Organization, Kevin Doyle knows a thing or two about job searching. In this recurring column for Grist, he explores the green job market and offers advice to eco-job-seekers looking to jumpstart their careers. I received an email the other day from a professor who wanted fresh, expert-certified information about the green job scene. (No snickering about the abysmally low standards for "expert" status, please.) His college planned to offer a new environmental studies degree, and the state legislators wanted to know whether graduates would become gainfully employed in exchange for their …