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Green Cars

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The world's greenest car

Berkeley, Calif. news site Berkeleyside polled readers about what kind of car best embodies that famously granola town. The Volvo station wagon won out, but this shot by reader Ed probably better encompasses Berkeley's green leanings.

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Critical List: #realtalk from Clinton on climate; a DIY electric car

“We look like a joke, right?” — President Bill Clinton, on the ridiculousness that is America’s climate-denying Republican candidates. Obama is at least TRYING to cut coal, oil, and gas subsidies with his deficit reduction proposal. Your commute could give you a heart attack. Not in some stress-related indirect way. The fumes from the cars increase the risk of your heart bottoming out. These guys are DIYing an electric car. It’s awesome. A smart property tax system is letting businesses like Lockheed Martin make buildings green and pay off the costs over a number years, rather than up front. Here’s …

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Critical List: Protesting a Chinese solar plant’s pollution; Solyndra will never go away

Solar power isn’t all rainbows and puppies. In China, protesters have spent the past few days outside a solar panel plant, which they say polluted a nearby river. A U.S. wind turbine company is suing a Chinese company for paying an employee of American Superconducter more than $1 million to steal wind turbine technology. China's also put $15 billion into Alberta's tar sands in the past year and a half. We're going to keep hearing about Solyndra all next year. Remember how all those Brazilian rainforest activists kept getting murdered? Police say they've arrested two of the men responsible. Solving …

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Could ammonia be the zero-carbon fuel we've been waiting for?

Ammonia would make a pretty handy, potentially carbon-free liquid transportation fuel, say engineers, and it could be produced right at gas stations using electricity from the grid, water, and air.  Researchers at Texas Tech University have developed a new ammonia production system, which makes an end-run around the problems of the so-called "hydrogen economy" -- you remember, all those hydrogen-powered "freedom cars" that Bush Jr. said we'd be driving by now. Hydrogen is difficult to store, but this system combines the hydrogen with nitrogen from the atmosphere, turning it into ammonia, which is still a good fuel source but a …

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Bear steals Prius

Here's a cautionary tale for hybrid owners: A Prius-owning family in California lost its car to a joy-riding bear.  After wedging itself inside the car, the bear became stuck. Frustrated, hungry and mad, it kicked, scratched, bit and tore at the interior of the hybrid, trying to force a way out as easily as it found its way in. In its behind-the-wheel rampage, the bear ripped open the seats, bit a chunk out of the steering wheel and damaged the Prius' gear box, shifting the car into neutral. From the safety of the cabin, the awakened family watched helplessly as …

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Will the Camry Hybrid help Toyota get its groove back?

The 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid -- can it do magic?Photo: ToyotaThe last three years have been a nightmare for Toyota. A series of massive recalls involving 10 million vehicles, and the attendant bad press, undermined the Japanese automaker's defining trait: a reputation for reliability. Stiff competition from other automakers has eroded Toyota's American market share (from 14.3 percent in 2009 down to 12.8 percent in 2010). Then came the devastating March earthquake and tsunami that interrupted supply chains and slowed or halted much of Japan's manufacturing. Toyota production plummeted by 23 percent in the first half of 2011. Hemorrhaging from …

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Number of electrified vehicles to increase 4,500 percent in six years

By 2017, there will be 5.2 million plug in hybrid and all-electric vehicles on the road worldwide, says Pike Research. Add in 8.7 million hybrid vehicles, and the total population of electrified autos in the world is set to increase 46-fold from the measly 114,000 that currently ply our roads. Despite this explosive growth, that will represent only 3 percent of the total population of light-duty vehicles in the world in 2017. (We have a lot. Of. Cars.) But project that out to 2030, which is when some energy analysts project the world's oil exporting countries will stop shipping the …

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The trucks of the future will have skirts, tails, and fins

This month, the White House announced the first-ever fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks — heavy pick-ups, work vans and trucks (think the Frito-Lay delivery guy), and tractor-trailers. The people who make these behemoths have never had to think about fuel economy before, but now they do. And there's lots of room for improvement. As Fast Company writes: A rectangular metal box, it turns out, may be the worst possible shape to haul down the highway at high speeds. It's a fashion show of new forms on the road: trailer skirts, trailer tails, and "SuperSingles" all designed to reduce the …

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Critical List: Hurricane Irene headed for East Coast; EPA totally creates jobs

East Coasters may not know what do in an earthquake, but a hurricane's coming, too. That, we know about. The Obama administration is looking into "leasing" nuclear fuel from other countries, which would let American plants use the uranium, then return it for disposal once the fuel is spent. It’s like a bottle-return program, but with much higher stakes. Chinese consumers want cars, not those namby pamby EVs. Also, as a planet, we have 1 billion cars now. Didn't we tell you the EPA creates jobs? When we say the EPA creates jobs, believe it. Your laundry soap could come …

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Critical List: Climategate scientist cleared; Halliburton exec drinks fracking fluid

The National Science Foundation found Michael Mann, a scientist at the center of Climategate, did nothing wrong. You don’t say. Ford and Toyota are going to be working together on technology for hybrid trucks and SUVs. Apparently Michele Bachmann wants to the United States to become an Iran-like state where oil is government-subsidized. How else to explain her continued, irrational insistence that gas will be $2 per gallon during her presidency? If there are too few lobsters in Long Island, there may be too many in Maine. A Halliburton exec took a swig of a new fracking fluid, made by …