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Crazy talk: Rick Santorum out-denies the climate deniers and spins eco-conspiracy theories

Rick SantorumRick Santorum, even nuttier than you think. (Photo by Dave Maass.)

Rick Santorum is way crazy when it comes to environmental issues. How crazy? He makes Newt Gingrich's moon-colony plans sound plausible and Mitt Romney's climate flip-floppery look presidential.

On climate change

While Mitt and Newt have both felt compelled to repudiate their former concern for climate change, Santorum can boast that he's a denier of long standing.

“There is no such thing as global warming,” he told Glenn Beck on Fox News in June 2011.

“It’s just an excuse for more government control of your life and I’ve never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative,” he told Rush Limbaugh that some month.

He went further at an event in Colorado on Feb. 6:

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How the Sierra Club and the natural gas industry broke up

Yesterday, TIME published the news that the Sierra Club had taken more than $25 million dollars from the natural gas industry -- specifically, from employees and subsidiaries of Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas companies around. The donations came at a time when the environmental movement was rallying behind natural gas as a "bridge fuel" -- an energy source cleaner than coal that could lead to a renewable energy future.

But in 2010, the Sierra Club's new executive director, Michael Brune, decided to end the financial relationship, forgoing an additional $30 million in funding — an amount equal to a quarter year's budget for the club.

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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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Obama makes strong call for clean energy — oh, and drilling and fracking too

(Photo by Alex Howard.)

Clean energy rocks. Nice, deserving people get jobs at wind-turbine plants. Solyndra-style investments are critical. Oil-industry subsidies suck. Energy efficiency is an economic engine. We need to drill, baby, drill. And we need to frack, baby, frack.

Those weren't the words, but those were the sentiments in the energy portion of President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday night. He dedicated a significant chunk of the speech to energy issues, making an unexpectedly vigorous appeal for renewable power, cleantech investment, and efficiency -- as well as for natural-gas fracking and oil drilling.

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Natural gas: A bridge to nowhere

Photo by Walter Disney.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

President of American Gas Association (AGA), 1981:

In fact, gas energy -- currently America’s largest domestically produced fuel -- could prove to be the keystone to solving the nation’s energy crisis by serving as the ‘bridge fuel’ to the next century’s renewable energy technologies.

Vice president of AGA, 1988, according to the Washington Post:

... refers to natural gas as a bridge fuel -- the least harmful alternative while the world looks for other, longer-lasting solutions to the ‘greenhouse’ effect.

Chair of AGA, 2008 [PDF]:

Natural gas will be the bridge fuel to the future ... The electric industry is expected to turn to natural gas as a bridge until clean coal and nuclear generation are available.

It’s the longest bridge in history! Heck, the Golden Gate Bridge only took four years to build!

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Critical List: Sumatran elephants critically endangered; Al Gore goes on a cruise

Sumatran elephants are critically endangered.

Watch out for the solar flare that's supposed to hit Earth today! It's the strongest since 2005.

President Obama might pump increased domestic oil and gas production in his State of the Union.

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Government energy geeks: Fracking might not get us as far as we thought

Government energy geeks from the Energy Information Administration this morning released the abridged version of their Annual Energy Outlook. One of the most dramatic bits of the outlook for 2012 is that the EIA cut their estimate of "technically recoverable" shale gas almost in half, from 827 trillion cubic feet to 482 trillion cubic feet.

According to the EIA, the decline comes mostly from a lower estimate of resources in the Marcellus shale, the formation that underlies New York and Pennsylvania. The EIA cut its Marcellus estimate from 410 trillion cubic feet in 2011 to 141 trillion cubic feet this year.

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Critical List: Vermont can’t shutter nuke plant; microbes turn seaweed into biofuel

The EPA will test water in Dimock, PA, and is delivering drinking water to four homes there.

Silly Vermont. You wanted to shut down a nuclear plant? Only the federal government can regulate nuclear power!

For biofuels, seaweed could be the new corn.

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Critical List: Republicans still want Keystone XL; Obama ad focuses on energy

The State Department denied TransCanada's permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama agreed, saying that he was rejecting the permit because Republicans wouldn’t stop trying to force the pipeline forward.

Republicans are responding to this by looking into legislation that would force the pipeline forward. They’re also asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come testify on yesterday’s decision next week.

House Republicans ALSO want to promote ethanol derived from … natural gas and coal. And they want to classify it as renewable fuel. What? It’s ethanol!

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Situation normal, all fracked up: Obama embraces fracking

Last week, the Obama administration gave what may be its first formal statement favoring hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of natural gas, in a report called Investing in America: Building an Economy That Last [PDF]. Until now, the Environmental Protection Agency has, generally, been moving slowly on the issue, with initial study results due out this year and a final report due in 2014. However, the Investing in America report endorses the "safe and environmentally responsible" extraction of natural gas. Key paragraphs: Since the mid‐2000s ... the discovery of new natural gas reserves, such as the Marcellus Shale, and the development …