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Clean Air

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GOP's dirty air hit list sacrifices Americans' health

Photo: Thanh Mai Bui DuyCross-posted from Natural Resources Defense Council. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) recently announced his legislative priorities for the upcoming months, and they consist of the same old reckless attacks on health and environmental safeguards for all Americans. Creating an apocalyptically titled hit list of his "Top 10 Job-Destroying Regulations," Cantor takes aim at an astonishing 12 clean air safeguards, and five other labor, environmental, and health care standards. But problems with basic arithmetic are the least of the concerns with this "top 10" list. For every year that these 12 clean air safeguards are blocked …

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Up close and personal with blight fungus and bugs

2011 is the International Year of Forests, and as part of their efforts to promote the sustainable forestry, the National Association of State Foresters, which represents state forestry agencies, and the National Network of Forest Practitioners, granted a fellowship to photographer Josh Birnbaum to document the state of the nation's forests. Birnbaum's first stop was in West Virginia, where he hung out with young foresters (pictured above), visited with the wood industry, traveled with researchers to a post-mining reclamation area, and documented blight fungus. He's now in South Dakota, to cover insect infestations, but he'll also be making stops in …

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Critical List: Keystone XL protests begin; Fukushima area could be uninhabitable for decades

In DC, protests against the Keystone XL pipeline began this weekend. The first round of protesters that cops arrested sat in jail through the weekend, longer than police had said they'd be detained. The area around Fukushima has levels of radioactivity so high, it could be uninhabitable for decades. The U.K. cycling industry contributes more than $4.7 billion to the country's economy each year. Cutting carbon will create, not kill, jobs. Mitt Romney might believe in global warming, but it doesn't seem like he believes in doing much about it on a political or a personal level: He's building a …

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Mark Ruffalo wants you to fight the tar sands

Winsome actor and activist Mark Ruffalo does just about the best job possible explaining the proposed tar-sands pipeline and how you can help fight it in Washington, D.C., starting Aug. 20. Watch his quick video primer below. (Do it if only to watch a scruffily tousled Mark speak from the heart. Sigh ... ) Got a dial-up connection? Hate watching ruggedly handsome Sundance-darlings-cum-Earth-advocates? No matter. Here are four disturbing reasons why you should fight the tar sands: The proposed Keystone XL pipeline runs from Alberta, Canada to Texas.TransCanada's 1,700-mile-long Keystone XL pipeline will stretch across the continent, from Alberta to …

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PhillyTreeMap: Crowdsourcing the urban forest

PhillyTreeMap helps Philadelphia's urban forest grow.Photo: Danny FowlerTrees do a lot for cities. They soften hard, lifeless spaces with a bit of green, reduce the urban heat island, scrub pollutants, filter dust and dirt from the air, and more. They are, in other words, an incredibly valuable resource, and one we should be keeping a close eye on. But cataloguing the trees within a city -- tens or even hundreds of thousands of them -- can be a gargantuan and expensive undertaking. Enter PhillyTreeMap. PhillyTreeMap is a web mapping application that solicits citizen input, similar to the successful OpenStreetMap. Robert …

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Critical List: New fuel economy standards; flat screens use less energy

Both options currently on the table for raising the debt ceiling would cut environment and energy spending. The president will announce new fuel economy standards -- cars and light-duty trucks will need to be at 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The EPA is proposing the first air standards for fracking. Flat screen TV use less than half the energy they did in 2008. The secret is just using LEDs. Jon Huntsman believes "conservation is conservative." Maybe the next president will appoint him head of the EPA. Consumers are starting to wonder if it's such a good idea to clean …

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The EPA does not want you feeding arsenic to your baby

It's only 16 months until the next election, and you know what that means: We are in the thick of political ad season. Mostly that makes everybody want to crawl under a sofa, but sometimes you get arresting ads like this one from American Family Voices.

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A body of evidence for bodily harm from air pollution

You want bodies? We got 'em.This week, the Washington Times ran an op-ed by Steve Milloy in which he asks the EPA to "show him the bodies" of victims of polluted air. He questions whether the agency has "tangible evidence" that emissions from power plants are "causing actual harm to real people." It is tempting to go line by line through the piece debunking each point. But Milloy makes a specific request to see "bodies," and sadly, that is easy enough to show him.  The science showing the harmful effects of particulate matter, or soot, is very strong. The microscopic …

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Google science fair winner stands up for air quality

Naomi Shah, winner of the Google science fair in the 15-16 age group, isn't just a budding research scientist. She's also an environmentalist. And her project, which focuses on the effects of air quality triggers on asthma sufferers, highlights why other people should be environmentalists too. Shah noticed that medical practitioners immediately prescribe steroids and other inhalers, instead of addressing the quality of the air asthma sufferers are breathing. That's because nobody had quantified how much air pollution affects lung function. So she did. Turns out particulate matter and volatile organic compounds make lung function worse (but CO2 and carbon …

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Why closing NYC's only nuclear power plant would be a really bad idea

Rawwwrrr! It's a progressive cat-fight! On the one side is New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wants to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River, just 25 miles north of the Bronx. On the other side is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who thinks this would be a really crap idea, mostly because it would mean replacing fully a quarter of the power delivered to NYC with greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuel power plants. Also, it would probably lead to brownouts. Cuomo's reasoning is that the Indian Point plant happens to be right on top of an earthquake …