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New EPA air pollution standard protects public health

Good news! Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a safeguard that will improve the lives of millions of Americans. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will protect families and communities from the dangerous air pollution spewed out by coal-fired power plants. If you have a child with asthma or a loved one at risk of a heart attack, you can breathe easier today, because these new protections will decrease the chances that they will end up in the emergency room. Specifically, the new protections will reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, dangerous pollutants that form soot …

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How China accidentally geoengineered the climate

Between 2003 and 2007, China burned so much coal that it increased global consumption of the stuff 25 percent. That put so much sulfur into the air that it more or less literally (temporarily) blotted out the sun, masking some of the global warming that otherwise would have occurred during the first decade of the 21st century. Deliberately putting sulfur into the atmosphere has been proposed as a means of “geoengineering” Earth’s climate, in order to cool the planet temporarily while we figure out a way to get off all these carbon-rich fossil fuels. So, in a way, China’s gigantic …

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PG&E green program helps preserve forests, but so did taxpayers

For every bit of energy a PG&E ratepayer uses -- turning on a vacuum cleaner, powering up a computer, or heating up an oven -- a little part of a tree or forest is saved to erase the carbon sins of the customer. The voluntary program costs ratepayers an average of $60 a year. But the company isn't telling its customers one crucial fact: Those forests were purchased years ago by a Virginia-based conservation group that used nearly $50 million in loans and grants from California taxpayers. That group, The Conservation Fund, then sold PG&E carbon credits on the land …

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This clean air ad was deemed too hot for Boston public transit

Man, is this ad from 350.org ever edgy! First, it has a big picture of Scott Brown -- granted, just his face, not even his pecs or anything, but you know what's implied by a picture of a congressman. Rowr! And just look at those naked facts, parading themselves around so shamelessly. No wonder the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority refuses to post it on trains. The company that handles advertising for MBTA told 350.org that the agency "did not approve of this creative due to its political stance," and therefore would not be running it. Which is a funny thing …

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Warren Buffett's utility, MidAmerican, wants to keep polluting

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. This post was coauthored by Valeri Vasquez, special assistant for energy policy at the Center for American Progress, and Christina C. DiPasquale, an associate drector for press relations at the Center for American Progress. Today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works convenes a hearing on "The Clean Air Act and Public Health" to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to reduce mercury, lead, and other toxic air pollution from power plants. One of the witnesses will be Cathy S. Woollums, senior vice president of MidAmerican Energy. She will reiterate recent statements by other big …

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Eliminating soot would save 2.5 million lives a year, slow climate change

“Black carbon," the product of incomplete combustion of everything from wood to diesel fuel, isn’t just something you put on Mary Poppins chimney sweeps to make them look picturesque. It also contributes to climate change, and it will turn your lungs into something from an anti-smoking PSA faster than you can ask for just one more spoonful of sugar. The flip side is that we could save a lot of lives with just a little cleanup. A new study by the Stockholm Environment Institute finds that reducing black carbon could save two and a half million lives a year. And …

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Defending EPA: Sen. Ben Cardin, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, and me at Netroots Nation

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), defender of the EPA.Photo: Edward KimmelThe EPA is under full-scale assault. Republicans are working furiously to defund the agency and block or weaken its upcoming regulations on greenhouse gases, toxic hazardous emissions, sulfur dioxide, coal ash, and mountaintop-removal mining. (For more on those rules, see my series "Power Struggle.") And they are getting help from midwestern Democrats in both houses. In the face of this coordinated offensive, pushback from the left has been ... fitful. Environmental groups are fired up, but enviros don't have that many friends (or, alternatively, legislators who are scared of them) in …

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Why does American Electric Power hate your children?

.bbpBox80268799235993601 {background:url(http://a0.twimg.com/images/themes/theme1/bg.png) #C0DEED;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block} AEP really is coordinating their PR today. WV, OK and IN media all have stories about costs of EPA compliance. http://t.co/Zgvsgkrless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplySean Casten SeanCasten This morning American Electric Power is waging a not-so-secret -- and not terribly subtle -- campaign to build sentiment against EPA regulations that would force it to shut down or clean up its oldest, filthiest coal-fired power plants. One of the …

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Mercury? Arsenic? We’ll deal with those problems later, says EPA

Does this story sound familiar? A court orders the EPA to take action under the Clean Air Act. The EPA comes out with a set of rules. Business interests complain. The EPA relents, delaying and then relaxing rules that have compliance deadlines years down the line. That's about the tack the EPA has taken on carbon regulation. But apparently the agency liked it so much, it’s decided to apply the same approach to other environmental threats. This week, the EPA decided to delay indefinitely rules that would limit the amount of mercury, lead and other toxins that boilers in power …

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This Sunday, get Mother Earth a big bouquet of youth activism

Okay, normally it makes me throw up in my mouth a little to say "Mother Earth," but 16-year-old environmental activist Alec Loorz is just too cute, and he's helping to organize worldwide youth marches for the environment on Mother's Day. So the joke is inevitable. Your fault, adorable activist teen! Anyway, if you're looking for something green to do with your mom, there's probably a march in your town, and if there's not, you can start one! (Some of the marches aren't actually this Sunday, because of scheduling conflicts.) Here's the marches' raison d'etre, and if this doesn't make you pump your …