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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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Patriot Bankruptcy Puts Retired Miners in Life and Death Struggle

In my many years in Appalachia, I've worked, traveled, prayed, broken bread, and raised a glass with a good many retired coal miners. I know that, in retirement, they are still paying heavily for their decades of work in the mines - you can hear it in their shortness of breath, you can see it as they struggle with painful backs and knees and other legacies of long-ago injuries, and you can feel it when they tell you how grateful they are for this time in the fresh air with their families, homes and the simple pleasures of a well-deserved …

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The coming solar electricity transformation

Solar cells are unusual in that they were cost-competitive from the get-go. From the Apollo space program to highway signs to lighting for buoys, solar could replace highly expensive power from batteries or other sources and eliminate the need for the construction of electric distribution lines. When the Institute for Local Self-Reliance was founded in 1974, the first factory producing solar cells for terrestrial applications had just opened in Gaithersburg, Md. The cost of solar power was over $3.00 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), com- pared to $0.03 per kWh for grid electricity. The output from that factory the first year was …

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United Airline’s Top Customers Call Company Out Over Climate Pollution Misdeeds

Some of United Airline's most valuable and loyal customers are calling out the company today over its prolonged fight to stop new regulations aimed at reducing global climate pollution emissions from the airline industry. And these aren't your everyday frequent fliers we're talking about, twenty are members of United's Global Services flyer program - a privilege bestowed by invite to only the most elite of the elite frequent flyers. Billionaire investor and United Global Services member, Tom Steyer, clean technology expert and six-million miler, Michael Walsh, and million + miler Frank Loy, joined together on a press call today with the Flying Clean Alliance, a coalition …

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China’s Growing Hunger for Meat Shown by Move to Buy Smithfield, World’s Leading Pork Producer

By Janet Larsen Half the world’s pigs—more than 470 million of them—live in China, but even that may not be enough to satisfy the growing Chinese appetite for meat. While meat consumption in the United States has fallen more than 5 percent since peaking in 2007, Chinese meat consumption has leapt 18 percent, from 64 million to 78 million (metric) tons—twice as much as in the United States. Pork is by far China’s favorite protein, which helps to explain the late-May announced acquisition of U.S. meat giant Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s leading pork producer, by the Chinese company Shuanghui …

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Why Master Limited Partnerships are a Lousy Policy for Solar, Wind, and Taxpayers

If you follow the renewable energy industry and haven’t been sleeping, then you’ve probably heard about one of the few pieces of federal legislation purported to help clean energy that’s actually moving: expanding Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) to cover wind and solar energy. (H.R.1696) This is not a good thing. MLPs originated in 1986, when Congress decided that to allow certain businesses (oil and gas pipelines) to avoid paying corporate income tax.  These partnerships function a lot like publicly traded corporations, with publicly traded stock, but don’t pay income taxes. Most folks who’ve touted expanding MLPs to include renewable energy …

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Big Win in Nevada on Clean Energy, Retiring Dirty Coal Power

There is big news out of Nevada that will echo around the nation. Late Monday night the Nevada Assembly passed a bill clearing the path to retire the polluting Reid Gardner coal plant. The bipartisan bill is now headed for an expected signature from Governor Brian Sandoval. For the Moapa Band of Paiutes and so many others in Nevada, today is a time for major celebration. Under Senate Bill 123, which is called the "NVision" plan, the Reid Gardner coal plant will retire earlier than planned – closing units 1-3 in 2014 instead of 2020, and unit 4 in 2017 …

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