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EPA announces new lead standards for renovation of older buildings

Contractors will have to train workers to follow "lead-safe work practice standards" when renovating or repairing older dwellings that house children or pregnant women, according to new standards introduced Monday by the U.S. EPA. The new requirements are an attempt to keep lead out of the bloodstreams of babes, as structures built before 1978 are likely to contain lead-based paint. The standards will go into effect in 2010. By the by, the EPA was supposed to adopt lead-safe regulations for renovations in October of 1996. My, how the time flies.

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Peak Oil? Bring it on!

Solving the climate problem will solve the peak oil problem, too

I have a new article in Salon on perhaps the most misunderstood subject in energy: peak oil. Here is the short version: We are at or near the peak of cheap conventional oil production. There is no realistic prospect that the conventional oil supply can keep up with current projected demand for much longer, if the industrialized countries don't take strong action to sharply reduce consumption, and if China and India don't take strong action to sharply reduce consumption growth. Many people are expecting unconventional oil -- such as the tar sands and liquid coal -- to make up the …

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Washington Nationals will play in first U.S. green-built stadium

The Washington Nationals will play their baseball season opener Sunday in the first green-built professional stadium in the U.S. The LEED Silver certified ballpark was built on a restored brownfield, and many building materials were produced locally. The stadium boasts efficient lighting and plumbing, drought-resistant plants, a concession area with a green roof, filters to keep stormwater runoff out of the nearby Anacostia River, and proximity to public transit (as well as a shortage of parking). Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch as the Nats take on the Atlanta Braves: President George W. Bush. He's sure to be hit. Er, …

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Think globally by thinking locally

A new study bolsters the importance-of-place arguments made by people like Wendell Berry: the strongest way to get people to engage with the problems and to act responsibly for the global environment is to focus on the threats to their own place). This doesn't really surprise me -- but it does prompt me to change my signature line to "Save your community -- cut greenhouse gas emissions 5% per year." Appeal To Americans By Making Global Warming A Local Issue - Study Results from a recent survey conducted by a University of Missouri professor reveal that the U.S. public prefers …

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Boston looks to generate electricity from indoor composting

The city of Boston is looking to build an urban, indoor composting facility. Most cities, if they compost at all, transport food and yard waste in gas-guzzling trucks to dumps outside the city limits, where energy and methane from decomposing biomass get lost to the atmosphere. The first-of-its-kind proposed Boston facility would generate electricity from rotting leaves and fruit, enough to potentially power 1,500 homes. The project would create green jobs, make fertilizer available to sell, and, of course, put all of those colorful New England leaves to good use. The facility is still in planning stages, but Mayor Tom …

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Rev. Billy at the auto show

This protest/happening at Saturday's N.Y. Auto Show was most amusing: See StreetFilms.org for background.

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Plans for Indiana BioTown face obstacles, but sputter on

In 2005, Reynolds, Ind., was deemed the world's first "BioTown," as agricultural officials unveiled a plan to power the 550-person burg entirely with corn, hog waste, sewage, and other energy sources in ready local supply. Three years and many obstacles later, the ambitious proposal is far off track. A significant private investor dropped out; construction on a planned ethanol plant was suspended; work has not yet begun on a planned anaerobic digester. Officials have downgraded their ambition, but say the project will sputter on.

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New York’s new governor supports congestion pricing

Brand-spankin'-new New York Gov. David Paterson has announced his support for a controversial congestion pricing plan. The proposal, put forward by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and supported by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, would charge $8 to drivers entering Manhattan during peak hours. Said Paterson in a written statement, "Congestion pricing addresses two urgent concerns of the residents of New York City and its suburbs: the need to reduce congestion on our streets and roads, and thereby reduce pollution and global warming; and the need to raise significant revenue for mass transit improvements." Hear, hear.

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As Corps series ends, big questions remain about the future of the Mississippi

There are 8 million stories in the Mississippi Basin, and this week we've told only a few. As lead editor of this Army Corps series, I've been immersed for the last few months in all things Mississippi River. Coming out the other side, I have a few answers, yes, but even more questions to explore. Below is my personal working list of issues that -- while perhaps less acknowledged nationally than the spectacular disaster that is New Orleans and the Louisiana coast -- rank high in determining a bright or dim future for the Mississippi Basin's communities, both human and …

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A post-Katrina homebuilding project gives hope for weathering severe storms

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Mississippi on August 29, 2005, the storm's 125-mile-an-hour winds and 25-foot wall of seawater ground homes, boats, and businesses into matchsticks across the state's three coastal counties: Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison. The cities of Waveland and Bay St. Louis, roughly 20 miles east of the Mississippi-Louisiana state line, were practically flattened; whole neighborhoods were destroyed in larger cities like Biloxi and Gulfport. In the end, Katrina damaged over 94,000 homes across the three counties, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with those in moderate- and low-income communities the hardest hit. …

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