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As Romney mocks climate, Obama mocks Arctic

President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise...is to help you and your family. – Willard Mitt Romney, August 30, 2012

The moment Mitt Romney mocked the climate crisis will be cursed, rued, and lamented by future generations. It might even be cursed, rued, and lamented by Mitt Romney, if he looks back on that line as the beginning of the end of his flirtation with young voters and their planet. After all, America’s best and brightest youth are pouring themselves into innovation to create clean energy, to solve the climate crisis, and win the future…and Mitt Romney tonight sent the message that his America has no place for them.

But while Romney mocked the Earth with his words, President Obama is mocking the planet with his actions.

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King Coal’s Road to Nowhere: the Coalfields Expressway

A mountaintop removal coal mining site in Fork Ridge, Virginia. Photo courtesy of SouthWings and Appalachian Voices. In the tranquil, misty mountains of southwest Virginia, the coal industry is trying to build its very own road to nowhere. King Coal's latest scheme is to try and take $2 billion of federal funds -- our tax dollars -- to build the Coalfields Expressway through rural Southwest Virginia. Coal companies plan to use mountaintop removal mining to flatten the area to make way for the road, while they keep the profits from the coal they extract. While the coal companies call it …

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Albany Action a Big Boost to No-Fracking Movement

Upwards of 2,000 people attended the Don’t Frack New York demonstration yesterday, Monday, August 27 in Albany, N.Y. That’s a lot of people on a work day in the last week of August. But it wasn’t just the numbers that were impressive. It was the vision articulated by numerous speakers at the pre-march and post-march rallies that Cuomo should be rising to the challenge of history and connecting with the history of past NY state leaders like Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Instead of allowing fracking, he should embrace a green energy program to make NY a national leader in the absolutely …

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Viewer Trust Requires Forecasting the Facts

Why do people watch the local weather report, anyway? That was the question floating just below the surface of last week’s 40th annual broadcast meteorology conference in Boston. Just like their print counterparts, local news stations are being buffeted by the winds of online innovation, and weather is particularly vulnerable. Today, detailed forecasts are just a few clicks away. So why would anyone bother to tune in at 6 or 11? Nearly every meteorologist we heard from came back to the same answer: trust. As D.C.-area meteorologist Joe Witte noted, local TV news consistently remains the most trusted source of …

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In New Legal Initiative Against Cheese Maker, FDA Seeks Oversight Over Entirely Local Operation

At first glance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's two-year legal assault on Estrella Family Creamery in Washington state appears entirely vindictive. The FDA seems intent on using its enormous enforcement powers to cruelly stomp on and obliterate a tiny business that serves as the livelihood of the Estrella family, and a source of eating pleasure and important nutrition for a community of hundreds of devoted customers. As a prime example, the agency's latest legal action in federal district court in Washington state rejects efforts by the Estrellas to negotiate a compromise that would allow the agency to continue monitoring …

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Heroic weatherman talks climate in a red state — and viewers thank him for it

Jim Gandy connects climate and weather for WLTX.

Weathercaster Jim Gandy, one of the nation’s most effective climate change communicators, broadcasts in South Carolina, one of the most conservative states in the nation, providing a powerful example for weathercasters across the country.

Forecast the Facts staff caught up with Gandy at the American Meteorological Society’s 40th annual Broadcast Meteorology Conference, in Boston, Mass. With a black cowboy hat and light southern drawl, Gandy told us he started investigating climate science in 2005 after geology professors at a nearby university asked him, “What do you think about this climate change thing?” Gandy took the question seriously, familiarizing himself with the peer-reviewed literature, and learning about how human activities are changing the weather and climate.

In 2011, Gandy partnered with George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication and the nonprofit Climate Central to develop a program called Climate Matters, a segment that places his weathercasts in the context of climate change. Gandy also blogs regularly about climate. Broadcasting in South Carolina, Gandy was well aware of the risks. “I’m not from a red state, I’m from a dark red state,” he told us. Like his friend and peer Dan Satterfield, a weathercaster based until recently in Huntsville, Ala., Gandy began speaking out about climate change fully prepared to face backlash from his politically conservative audience.

But a funny thing happened: The backlash never came.

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Should Walmart Write America’s Energy Plan?

Recent campaign stops by Mitt Romney and President Obama could not provide a more stark contrast of energy policies. Romney promises coal miners that he’s in favor of energy from “below the ground”, albeit preferring domestic sources of all fossil fuels. The President has repeatedly focused on “above the ground” solutions, such as wind and solar power, along with a money-saving emphasis on energy efficiency, but both men fail to put their energy plans for America in the context of one key ingredient - - a goal. Is there any country that gets it right? Well, Walmart may not be …

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Hey, weather man: Where’s the climate coverage?

This week in Boston, Mass., the nation's broadcast meteorologists will meet in their yearly conference sponsored by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). You probably don't have it marked on your calendar, but from the point of view of the planet, it's the most important meeting of weather reporters in history. Because the burning question in Beantown is whether weathercasters will embrace their responsibility to communicate how climate change is creating a new normal of dangerous, extreme weather.

Given the climate change-fueled storms, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires that have dominated the past year, global warming will undoubtedly be a "hot" topic at this year's conference. But, amazingly, many broadcast meteorologists remain lukewarm to the subject: The majority of weathercasters, including many with AMS certification, don't believe that humans are causing climate change, let alone that it's dramatically shifting our weather patterns. These meteorologists are missing the opportunity to be journalistic heroes who can inform the nation about our increasingly poisoned weather.

For those weathercasters who want education on the subject, the conference will have plenty to provide, with panels like "Applying Climate Change to Google Earth," "Climate Change and Ocean Stories," and "Hot Topics for the Station Scientist." But the source of the climate communication deficit is mostly not educational, it's about politics. The ideological bent of some forecasters, and the pressures to avoid "controversial" subjects that might affect ratings, are leading some meteorologists to ignore science when airtime arrives. That's why the staff of Forecast the Facts will be attending the conference, carrying a message from thousands of our members: that reporting on global warming is a professional and moral responsibility.

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Life-Saving Cross-State Air Pollution Protections in Jeopardy After Court Ruling

Today, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution protection (PDF), which sought to protect Americans from dangerous air pollution from coal-fired power plants. The protection would have reduced life-threatening soot and smog pollution from power plants in 28 states and helped curb poor air quality days and respiratory illnesses that affect millions of Americans. We are all disappointed with the court's decision today. Americans have been waiting for the clean air they deserve for decades, and the court's ruling today further delays the Clean Air Act's promise of safe, breathable air for our children. …

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Phase-Out of the Federal Wind Tax Credit a Good Thing?

Energy and Environment News has a very long story on a new angle for the federal wind tax credit debate: a phaseout. This article raises several issues, apart from that policy strategy, that are worth a quick discussion. 1. Why Would Wind Compete with Natural Gas? The article waxes long about the trials of the wind industry in the face of low natural gas prices, implying that utilities choose new natural gas power plants over wind power on the basis of price. I’m a bit skeptical. Wind power is inflexible, meaning utilities have to take the power whenever the wind …

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