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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Climate change danger: Arsenic in the water supply

Droughts, climate change, and resource-intensive dairy farming have joined forces to make Mexico's Laguna Region, once well-stocked with ponds, into a semi-arid semi-wasteland. Oh, and the drinking water is full of arsenic and it's giving everyone cancer. Is this the most cheerful post we've ever written? Maybe!

Read more: Climate & Energy

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How two guys turned recycled coffee grounds into a gourmet mushroom empire

Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez were recent grads who were supposed to go into investment banking, but they became obsessed with the idea that mushrooms could be grown in old coffee grounds, reports Sarah Stankorb at GOOD. Faster than you can say "triple bottom line" they'd interested their local Whole Foods in their first batch of mushrooms -- grown in a bucket in the basement of Velez's fraternity.

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What did Obama say about energy last night?

We at Grist List know more or less how your State of the Union experience went last night: You intended to watch it, but oooooh, you forgot there was a new Downton Abbey episode you hadn't watched yet. You started watching the speech, but booooooring! You changed the channel/zoned out/got distracted by YouTube. Or you watched the speech but your drinking game involved a word that no one thought would come up. But then it did! Like a million times! Ugh, now you are hungover.

To help y'all out, we have condensed here the most important energy-related bits of the speech:

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Critical List: Obama boosts clean energy; Bingaman energy standard coming soon

"I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy," President Obama said in his State of the Union.

He didn't talk about fighting climate change, though. The state of the union is: unsurprised.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman says he'll release his proposal for a clean energy standard in the next few weeks.

Durban could actually turn out to be the most successful climate conference yet.

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Boehner invites pipeline pals to State o’ Union

As the camera pans around the Capitol chamber for President Obama's State of the Union address, see if you can spot the representatives from the state of Oil: four avid supporters of the Keystone XL Pipeline who will attend the speech as the guests of House Speaker John Boehner.

Read more: Climate Change, Politics

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Use of wood for home heating explodes as oil prices climb

Good news for biomass-based energy enthusiasts: Heating with wood is making a comeback. If tree carcasses are good enough to power the trucks of energy-starved North Korea, they're good enough for homesteaders in Maine! And more to the point, heating oil has gotten super expensive.

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Chinese firms selling solar panels for less than cost

Here comes that trade war over solar panels we've been hearing about -- the one that will have unfortunate consequences for the domestic rollout of solar power.

A forthcoming study by the federal government could finally set this snowball in motion. The study reveals that Chinese solar panel makers are selling their wares at a loss, either because they have the cash reserves to take the hit or because their government is propping them up, reports Kevin Bullis at Technology Review.

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Giant companies get real about climate adaptation

Who’s got billions of dollars and isn't going to wait for the GOP to arrive in the 21st century before they drop a significant portion of it on preparing for our climate-changed future? These guys, according to Marc Gunther at GreenBiz:

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McDonald’s discovers social media can backfire when people hate you

When McDonald's tried to launch the #McDStories Twitter campaign, it clearly envisioned a bunch of fond memories from Big Mac lovers, interspersed with behind-the-scenes glimpses into the McDonald's "food"-making process. (It kicked things off with a link to "some of the hard-working people dedicated to providing McDs with quality food every day.") Unfortunately, the marketing folks there really, really misunderstood social media. Result: #McDStories was quickly overrun with the grossest, weirdest McDonald's non-appreciation its non-fans could come up with.

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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Earth Liberation Front documentary gets Oscar nomination

The list of Oscar nominees was released this morning, and among the five films up for best documentary feature is If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front. The doc follows the story of so-called “eco-terrorists” who torched timber operations, meat packing plants, and other environmental horror shows in the 1990s.

The film focuses on one mild-mannered ELF member, Daniel McGowan, as he hangs out under house arrest, after the federal government went after his ELF cell in 2005. Here's the trailer, which features lines like "You don't have to be al-Qaeda to be a terrorist" and "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter":

Read more: Living, Politics