Clean Air

Critical List: Seattle bans plastic bags; at least 100 million trees died in Texas this year

Seattle is banning retail stores from giving out single-use plastic bags. Paper bags will cost a nickel. Google is investing $94 million in solar projects. As many as 500 million trees died in the Texas drought this year. India could join the U.S. in officially complaining that China's been selling solar panels at too low a price. In the Chinese province of Guangdong, protestors are pinning air pollution on a coal-fired power plant and want it moved.

Clean Air

Finally: New air toxics rules for power plants

Cross-posted from the World Resources Institute. The post was written by Nicholas Bianco, senior associate for WRI’s climate and energy program. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prepares to release new mercury and air toxics standards, some people may be wondering about the history and timeline for these standards. One senator recently claimed that EPA is “charging ahead” with them. These standards, however, have been in development for over 20 years. These are standards that many plants are already meeting. Furthermore, 11 of the 15 largest coal utilities, roughly half of the nation’s coal fleet, have informed their shareholders …

Politics

GOP tries to force Big Coal’s poison pill on tax cut bill

Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green. GOP leadership in Congress has decided to use must-pass payroll tax cut legislation as a vehicle to push key polluter priorities, despite a veto threat from the White House. House Republicans have attached a rider to extend a Clean Air Act loophole for the coal industry, daring a White House veto. The coal-powered poison pill, inserted into Title I, Section B of H.R. 3630 as the “EPA Regulatory Relief Act,” would establish a five-year delay in Boiler Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) rules, striking down four Environmental Protection Agency rules. Section A is Rep. Lee Terry’s …

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 …

Coal

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 …

Pollution

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

Obama's proposed rules to reduce CO2 pollution should be applauded, given the hostile, anti-science political environment they're coming from.

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.

Natural Gas

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 …

Clean Air

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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