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Clean Air

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No, ozone regulations were not easy

There's a certain story you hear from the Breakthrough crowd these days. It goes like this: climate change is not like previous environmental problems. When it came to ozone depletion or acid rain, there were economically viable technologies available. That made it easier for policymakers to impose regulatory limits. Alternatives to fossil fuel energy are not yet economically viable, which explains the difficulty American politicians have had regulating climate pollution.. As Matthew Nisbet put it in the introduction of his recent report, "technological alternatives were already available and the economic benefits of action more certain -- both conditions that allowed …

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Why the Supreme Court should let states sue the country’s biggest carbon polluters

This post was coauthored by Matt Pawa. He and I represent the land conservation trusts in American Electric Power vs. Connecticut. Today, the Supreme Court hears oral argument in American Electric Power vs. Connecticut -- a case in which six states and other plaintiffs are trying to put emissions limits on America's five largest greenhouse-gas polluters. The states are invoking their right, recognized by the Supreme Court more than a century ago, to seek relief in federal court when polluters in other jurisdictions send dangerous air or water pollution across state lines. The suit charges five gigantic electric power companies …

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This is what a Power Shift looks like [SLIDESHOW]

Thousands of young climate activists descended on Washington, D.C., over the weekend for the third biennial Power Shift conference. Then on Monday they took their message to the streets and the president's doorstep. Check out these photos by Jay Mallin to get a sense of what went down. Photo: Jay Mallin The Power Shift crowd protests outside the White House on Monday. On Friday, a few of the activists got to take their message inside the White House and meet with President Obama.

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Surprise! Times Square air cleaner now that cars are gone

Refreshing, isn't it?Photo: Ed Yourdon Despite positive reviews from local business owners, area workers, tourists, and other human beings, New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo won't stop frothing at the mouth about the pedestrian plazas in New York's Times Square, lamenting that the once car-clogged streets have become "asphalt loitering grounds," and that the redesign has "extinguished the strangely beautiful confluence of auto lights between 47th and 42nd streets, an archetypal image of elegant, urban dynamism." His latest screed was prompted by the proposed addition of food service to the plazas, which have been in place since spring 2009. So …

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Climate hawks fight GOP efforts to shut down the clean energy economy

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. During yesterday's debate on the Upton-Inhofe bill (H.R. 910) to block climate pollution rules, Democrats who support clean energy manufacturing debunked conservative myths about the green economy. Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) discussed their amendment to study the economic impact to American competitiveness of abolishing climate standards while the rest of the world wins the future. With the help of Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), they debunked the myths of a hapless Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). Inslee decried the eagerness of the GOP to "shut down the government": It is deeply disappointing that …

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350.org and 1Sky merge into one mass climate movement

Let's get together -- yeah, yeah, yeah.We environmentalists hear this periodically from friends and family and other concerned citizens: "I wish there weren't so many groups. It's confusing. I don't know who to volunteer for. Wouldn't it work better if you all got together?" This isn't quite as obvious as it sounds. Different groups have sprung up at different times to fill different niches. You wouldn't look out at a marsh and say, "It would be much nicer if there were just one kind of frog to keep track of." Diversity has some very real purposes. But there are moments …

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Do environmental justice groups have a legitimate beef with California’s cap-and-trade program?

Photo: ItzaFineDayAn environmental justice coalition called the Association of Irritated Residents (not making that up) has sued to stop implementation of California's AB 32 climate program, and it looks like they've won the first round. A judge has ruled that the state's Air Resources Board didn't fully consider alternatives to the cap-and-trade portion of the program. The launch, slated for January 1, 2012, is in limbo. Environmental justice groups' beef with emission trading in California goes way back, and I don't pretend to know the entire history in detail. But as I understand it, the core of the objection is …

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Environmentalists stand up to Obama, win big

Under intense pressure from green groups and their members, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) announced Friday that Republican proposals to gut the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act were off the table in budget negotiations. "Neither the White House nor Senate Leaders is going to accept any EPA riders," Reid said. Reid's pledge follows 48 hours of intense pressure on the White House from major green groups, marking the first time many large environmental organizations have so openly and loudly targeted Obama and Reid -- and it produced extraordinarily rapid results. Indeed, as recently as Wednesday, the Associated …

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Sen. Stabenow jumps on climate denial train

Debbie Stabenow says no to M!ch!gan!Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has joined the pro-polluter frenzy sweeping the U.S. Senate, introducing legislation to permanently cripple Clean Air Act rules on global warming pollution. The small business legislation, the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 493), introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), is being used as a vehicle for senators who wish to prevent regulation of greenhouse pollution from oil refineries, coal-fired power plants, heavy industry, and other major emitters. Stabenow has added her amendment to three others intended to hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of …

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Breaking: The Republican attack on clean air isn’t popular

Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Make no mistake about it: The Clean Air Act is under attack from Congress. Indeed, in the U.S. Senate voting is imminent on several amendments to a non-related small business bill that would ditch, delay, or dilute the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ability to update and enforce air pollution standards. The good news is that those who pick polluters over the health of Americans are continuing to get pummeled on America's newspaper opinion pages. These pieces say it best: "An Assault on the Environment," Albany Times Union editorial The new House Republican majority likes to say that …