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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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Maine Town Tells Coal Plant to Clean Up Its Act

Every week it seems like yet another small town gets fed up with the coal industry and demands action. This week's fantastic example comes from Eliot, Maine, where Tuesday night residents voted 906 to 560 to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate dangerous sulfur dioxide pollution coming from the Schiller Station coal plant just across the border in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I recently blogged about the dangers of sulfur dioxide pollution:  Exposure to sulfur dioxide for even five minutes can trigger asthma attacks and respiratory distress - a serious problem for the more than 3,500 kids in York County, …

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Farmed Fish Production Overtakes Beef

By Janet Larsen and J. Matthew Roney The world quietly reached a milestone in the evolution of the human diet in 2011. For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012, with output from fish farming—also called aquaculture—reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with production of beef at 63 million tons. And 2013 may well be the first year that people eat more fish raised on farms than caught in the wild. More than just a crossing of lines, these trends illustrate the latest stage in a historic shift …

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Need for coal leasing moratorium reinforced by Department of Interior Inspector General report

A new report from the Department of Interior's Inspector General highlights several problems with the way DOI gives taxpayer-owned coal to companies like Peabody, Arch, and Cloud Peak Energy, including flaws in the way DOI calculates fair market value (FMV) and a failure to consider increasing coal exports. The report reinforces the need for a moratorium on federal coal leasing, as outlined in a letter to Secretary Jewell on her first day in office which noted these and other concerns. The New York Times reports: The report, the product of one of a series of investigations under way of federal …

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Nuclear Power is So 20th Century

When I was born in the 1950s, nuclear power was said to be “too cheap to meter.” Although few and far between, disasters at Fukushima and Chernobyl have laid waste to that claim and, for that matter, entire cities. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself a nuclear physicist, led the charge to eliminate her nation’s nuclear power plants in the next few years based on a rational risk analysis. With the decision by Southern California Edison to decommission its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), we may now see enough data points to reasonably conclude that the nuclear power era is …

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