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The coal industry’s desperate PR efforts: old, lame, and ineffective

Among the highlights of President Obama’s climate change speech was an explicit recognition that polluting industries and the members of Congress who do their bidding will oppose climate action with the same talking points they have used for decades to try and block clean air standards. Now, what you will hear from the special interests and their allies in Congress is that this will kill jobs and crush the economy and basically end free enterprise as we know it. And the reason I know you'll hear those things is because that's what they've said every time America sets clear rules and …

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Full Planet, Empty Plates: Chapter 5. Eroding Soils Darkening Our Future

By Lester R. Brown In 1938 Walter Lowdermilk, a senior official in the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, traveled abroad to look at lands that had been cultivated for thousands of years, seeking to learn how these older civilizations had coped with soil erosion. He found that some had managed their land well, maintaining its fertility over long stretches of history, and were thriving. Others had failed to do so and left only remnants of their illustrious pasts. In a section of his report entitled “The Hundred Dead Cities,” he describes a site in northern Syria, …

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President Unveils “Obama Climate Pollution Test” for Future Energy Projects

Today, in his speech at Georgetown University, President Obama challenged us to answer the essential question for every future energy policy decision we face - what will the net climate impact be if this project goes forward? It was a bold, monumental speech, the best by not only this president, but any president to date on the climate crisis. Greenpeace supporters have told Obama for years that the longer he waited to take sides, the worse climate change would get. Today's speech showed that the time has clearly gotten late enough for him to publicly side with the people, not …

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What Obama’s Climate Announcement Means for Coal and Clean Energy

If you're reading this post, then you are part of the last generation of people who will have the chance to stop runaway climate disruption. Coal-fired power plants are the nation's single biggest source of the carbon pollution that threatens our kids' future, and today President Obama made an announcement that puts us a big step closer to turning the corner on climate change - and has big implications for coal and clean energy. Today, as the centerpiece of his roadmap for tackling the climate crisis, President Obama announced that the Environmental Protection Agency will issue carbon pollution standards for …

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For Our Future, Today Can’t Be Obama’s Final #ActOnClimate

This afternoon at Georgetown University, President Obama plans to announce a series of "steady, responsible steps" to tackle climate change. It appears that the president will finally begin to make good on his climate promises, but to truly meet his obligation to future generations, this must be the foundation - not the final act - of his climate legacy. The current Congress has made it clear that it will be on the wrong side of history, so it is absolutely vital for the president to use his authority to reduce power plant pollution, move forward with renewable energy projects on …

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Celebrating Solar Power in North Carolina

With all the controversial climate and clean energy legislation in North Carolina in the past year, one might be surprised to hear that the state ranks fifth in the U.S. in the amount of solar power installed in the first quarter of 2013. North Carolina is truly leading the way in the South when it comes to solar power, and so we were thrilled when the North Carolina Sierra Club was invited to celebrate with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory earlier this month when he declared June "Solar Energy Month" (that's our crew with Gov. McCrory in the above photo). …

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The One Thing Obama’s Climate Policy Can’t Leave Out

When President Obama unveils his climate policy proposal in the coming days, he should focus on the one key element of successful climate and energy policy.  It’s not about utilities or incentives or numbers, it’s about ownership. Climate-protecting energy policy succeeds when communities can keep their energy dollars local by directly owning and profiting from investments in renewable energy. Look at Denmark, with wind power capacity sufficient for 28% of its electricity use.  When the world’s nations descended on Copenhagen in 2009 for the climate conference, attendees could have gleaned their most important lesson by gazing across the water at the …

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[Infographic] Debunking the Economic and National Security Myths Around Keystone XL Pipeline

Today, billionaire clean energy philanthropist Tom Steyer held a press conference to debunk the myths that the Keystone XL pipeline will lead to major economic growth and national security. Keystone is an "export pipeline" that would transport toxic tar sands from Alberta down to a tax-free zone in Texas and out to foreign markets. In other words, the EU, China and Latin America get the oil, the foreign-owned oil companies get the profits and North Americans are left cleaning up oil spills and shouldering the pollution burden from extracting and refining the dirty tar sands. It's a complicated issue for sure, so I've tried …

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Three key features of Los Angeles’ new local solar program

Officially launched in January after years of development, a new CLEAN (feed-in tariff) program from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (the city’s municipal electric utility) promises 100 MW of new local renewable energy by 2016.  In absolute size, the program will be among the largest CLEAN programs in the U.S., but compared to the size of the population it serves, the new L.A. program ranks behind national leaders like Gainesville, FL, or Vermont (the city’s peak demand tops 6,000 MW).  Even so, the Los Angeles program is a good example of a community increasing the capture of local …

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How Shell is trying to send a chill through activist groups across the country

One of our most important rights as Americans is the freedom to express ourselves. This takes the form of voting, it takes the form of activism, and it takes the form of our First Amendment right to free speech.

This summer, the 9th Circuit Court in California is weighing the question of whether companies have the right to take preemptive legal action against peaceful protesters for hypothetical future protests. This will be an extraordinary decision that could have a significant impact on every American’s First Amendment rights.

The case, Shell Offshore Inc. vs. Greenpeace, was filed by Shell Oil Company. Last summer, Shell assumed --based on conjecture -- that Greenpeace USA would protest the company’s drilling in the Alaskan Arctic.  Shell asked the 9th Circuit court for a preemptive injunction and restraining order against Greenpeace USA [Full disclosure: Philip Radford is the executive director of Greenpeace USA].

Despite Greenpeace’s appeal, the court granted the injunction for the entire duration of the drilling period, a decision which effectively gave a federal blessing to the company’s wish to do its controversial work in secret.

Greenpeace has asked the court for a full review, and this summer, the court will decide the ultimate fate of the case.

If the court rules in Shell’s favor, it would have a profound chilling effect on First Amendment rights across the country. Nothing would stop other corporations from taking similar preemptive legal action against anyone they deem to be likely protesters. That could be an environmental group, it could be a civil rights group, or it could be a Tea Party group -- or anyone in between.

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