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Clean Air

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Even Republicans favor the EPA rules that Republicans are trying to block

The debate over upcoming EPA regulations is a perfect microcosm of contemporary U.S. politics, in all its unreality and venality. Two rules in particular are in the hot seat at the moment, both of which would crack down on pollution from power plants (yes, I'm about to serve up some alphabet soup, but it'll be delicious): the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which would address smog and particulate pollution across state lines (also known as the Clean Air Transport Rule, or CATR), and Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (also known as utility MACT, for maximum achievable control technology), which would …

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Republican anti-EPA jihad, explained

Come and get your EPA-hater T-shirt.Photo: ZazzleNational Journal's Ronald Brownstein, one of the sharpest political observers out there, has an excellent column examining the unusual party discipline House Republicans have displayed in recent votes against EPA regulations. There has been an unceasing march of such efforts, and they are not only garnering near-unanimous support from Republicans in districts Obama carried in 2008, they are getting lots of votes from Democrats in Obama districts. This is not typical. Historically, Republicans in blue suburban areas have tread lightly around air and water issues, which consistently poll well in their districts. Brownstein reviews …

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Critical List: Energy Dept. picks more winners; natural gas boom comes to Ohio

The Department of Energy, always picking winners, you know? The first Quadrennial Technology Review, to be released today, favors technologies that could come into commercial use in 10 years — i.e. consumer goods you can spend money for. This could mean DOE favors EVs over new clean energy technologies. This company, Renmatix, will probably make it under the wire, though. It says it has the right technology to make commercially viable biofuels from biomass and just opened a plant to forward development of the technique. The natural gas boom comes to Ohio. Although Beijing usually gets a bad rap on …

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How is Obama's overall record on the environment?

Obama's cave on smog regulations has lots of people mulling his administration's overall record on climate change and air pollution. A friend wrote recently to ask how I'd rate that record "relative to Bush, relative to the ideal, and relative to what seems realistic politically." And that's just it -- relative to what? Turns out I have no simple answer. But of course that won't stop me from blabbing on for a while. Like much in American politics, Obama's green record has become a collective Rorschach blot. Depending on what frame of reference is imposed, he could end up with …

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Switching from coal to natural gas would accelerate climate change, say scientists

Here is a terrifying, crazy-making truth: Getting off coal will accelerate climate change, at least in the short term. This isn't an argument for maintaining our coal addiction -- because if we stick with coal, we are, frankly, dead as a species, plus more immediately dead or at least very wheezy as individuals. (And there's no chance we’ll run out of coal before completely screwing everything up -- there’s enough coal in the U.S. and Russia alone to put us past any reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.) But according to a new analysis from the National Center for …

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Memo to EPA chief Lisa Jackson: Defy Obama or resign

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.Photo: Chesapeake Bay ProgramCross-posted from the Center for Progressive Reform. Last Friday, President Obama ordered EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw EPA's new ambient air quality standard for ground level ozone (smog). The order came in a letter [PDF] from Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget.  The order does not pretend to be based on science. Indeed, it flies in the face of the available science on the human health effects of ozone as determined on at least two occasions by EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory …

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Critical List: Oil industry says it has jobs to offer; Senate could cut clean energy funding

Need a job? Alberta's tar-sands industry wants YOU. But if you want to stay in this country, never fear, the oil and gas industry wants to create jobs here. On the one hand: Yay jobs! On the other hand: Boo oil and gas industry! A European court put the kibosh on honey that contains even a tiny bit of pollen from GMO crops. If we know Monsanto, they’re now working on a genetically modified bee that neutralizes evidence of genetic modification from the genetically modified pollen it collects. London ranks "below average" on air pollution. (That means its air quality …

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Obama pulls a Bush on clean air

Obama is the new Bush when it comes to clean air.Photo: Hrag VartanianCross-posted from Natural Resources Defense Council. In the most outrageous environmental offense of the Obama administration, the president himself has intervened politically to block the Environmental Protection Agency from correcting an unprotective smog standard that the head of EPA recognizes to be scientifically and legally indefensible [PDF]. The president's own rationale for interference defies the Clean Air Act and a unanimous Supreme Court decision, elevating unlawful considerations above public health, science, and the law. The president's intervention is compounded by grievous legal and factual errors. The president sided with Big Oil and other polluters based …

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By giving in to Big Oil, Obama seals his political fate

Smog, schmog -- that's what gas masks are for.Photo: Alex CarmichalIn his latest attack on the environment, President Barack Obama today announced that he is directing the EPA to withdraw standards that would have cut smog pollution from automobiles, power plants, and refineries. Obama might want to consider that wheezing kids, no jobs, and caving to Big Oil do not a reelection make. The standards Obama blocked could have saved up to 12,000 lives by 2020, according to the EPA, and slashed tens of thousands of children's asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. The environmental justice organization Green for All …

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Obama blows smog in everyone's face

President Obama has yanked back the EPA's proposed new restrictions on ground-level ozone (i.e. smog). That's a huge win for Big Business, which had claimed it couldn't weather an economic downturn AND keep from suffocating people at the same time. But it's an equally huge loss for everyone else -- especially since the reason the EPA was revising the smog standards in the first place was because the allowable limit was well above safe levels, according to the agency's science advisors. The revised smog standard would have put federal dollars on the line for states that couldn't keep their ozone …