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Clean Air

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Efficiency standards are the SINGLE BIGGEST CLIMATE DEAL EVER

The U.S. federal government teamed up with all of the major auto manufacturers and hammered out a deal to double the average fuel efficiency of all vehicles on the road by 2025 -- to 54.5 miles per gallon. New vehicles sold under the program will save "a total of four billion barrels of oil and prevent two billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution," reports Tom Friedman, whose most recent stab at being a cleantech advocate almost redeems all that time he spent misdirecting us on foreign policy.  According to Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign of the …

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Once more, from the top: Shutting down dirty coal plants won’t cause blackouts

Don't believe the scaremongers.Photo: The League of Moveable TypeCould Americans soon be forced to suffer through rolling blackouts and power shortages because of a heartless, hapless, tyrannical EPA, as conservatives and dirty utilities are suggesting? The short answer is, no. The long answer is, no. But the long one requires a bit of explanation. A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conference on electrical-system reliability, along with the release of a couple new reports, has revived a simmering dispute over the effects of upcoming EPA regulations. (Did you nod off just now? Nothing to be ashamed of, it's a perfectly human …

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Obama proposes new emissions standards on eve of U.N. meeting

New vehicle emissions standards: Good call, Obama.Photo: The White HouseCross-posted from Climate Progress. This is a revision of an earlier article to reflect the evolving international climate negotiations. This post was coauthored by Andrew Light and Jackie Weidman. The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) begins today in Durban, South Africa. In advance of the meeting, some nations have legitimately criticized the United States for its lack of leadership in the development of a climate agreement that puts the world on the path to reducing the carbon and other pollution responsible for …

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Lisa Jackson, Rachel Maddow, and Richard Nixon discuss the environment

EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson was on Rachel Maddow's show last night, talking about how clean air and water should not be partisan issues. In what is perhaps a show first, Maddow opened the segment with a non-ironic quoting of Richard Nixon, who established the EPA back before Republicans made it into some kind of regulatory boogeyman.

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Fracky Friday: Delay means victory for fracktivists in Delaware — for now

Residents of New York, Philadelphia, and neighboring areas can turn on their taps without worrying about the flammability of their water for at least a little while longer. The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) made anti-fracking supporters happy this week when they announced the cancellation of a crucial Monday vote to approve fracking in Trenton, N.J.  Thanks to the move, the drinking water of 15.6 million people in the Delaware River Basin has been temporarily spared from the potential damage caused by hydraulic fracturing. On the fracktivist website Save the Delaware River, Gasland director Josh Fox wrote, "They cancel the …

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A case study in how media bias works against clean-air rules

Political reporter John Broder had a long piece in The New York Times yesterday chronicling Obama's decision to delay a tighter national smog standard. I have no desire to relitigate that fight, but I do want to pluck out one particular bit of Broder's piece to illustrate a point. In a recent piece kvetching about media coverage of Solyndra, I said: "Republican talking points are delivered as first-order news. Liberal talking points are wrapped in meta-news about liberals and their talking points." Let's look at an example -- not the biggest deal in the world, but quite illustrative. Here's the …

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Grassroots pesticide fighter takes on the big polluters

Grist is proud to present the Change Gang -- profiles of people who are leading change on the ground toward a more sustainable society and a greener planet. Some we've written about before; some are new to our pages. Some you'll have heard of; most you probably won't. Know someone we should add to the Change Gang? Tell us why. If you spend a little time Googling Mari Rose Taruc, the staff director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, you'll find that the adjective most likely to be applied to her is "fierce." Taruc laughs delightedly when told this. "I'm …

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Beijing denies air pollution while party elites get home air purifiers

While China's citizenry are dying in record numbers owing to catastrophic levels of urban air pollution, the country's leaders are breathing Perri-Air. That is, their offices and homes use elaborate, expensive air filters to prevent the country's elites from having to breathe the same toxic shit as the plebes in the street. Meanwhile, the government reports negligible levels of pollution that don’t come close to requiring personal air supplies. But the U.S. embassy in Beijing is reporting air pollution levels that don't exactly toe the party line, leading China's official environment ministry to accuse the Americans of "hype." The embassy's readings, published …

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Pollution is not the secret to job creation

Pollution is not the solution.Cross-posted from Real Climate Economics. Paul Krugman's column in The New York Times Thursday laments one of the many ironies of our time: Politicians in Washington are finally talking about job creation, but Republicans (and some Democrats, I'm sure) pin their hopes for employment on environmental deregulation. As Krugman points out, "Serious economic analysis actually says that we need more protection, not less." By serious economic analysis, Krugman means peer-reviewed articles published in academic journals over the last few decades that have probed the relationship between environmental regulations, employment, and economic growth. He doesn't mean the …

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Get the lead out: Clean air tied to decline in violent crime

Leaded gasoline: The gift that kept on givingDon't believe the evening news: Violent crime and murder have been declining steadily for two decades in this country. Last year was statistically the safest year in almost four decades for Americans who weren't Corey Haim, Ronnie James Dio, or Captain Beefheart, and everyone's got a theory as to why. Some claim the decline of crack cocaine is the answer, or credit the rise of cell phones, while others point to improved policing techniques and the use of statistical crime modeling. I personally like the theory that the "three strikes and you're out" …