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EPA sued over failure to protect bees from pesticides

A federal courtroom will bee-come a hive of activity, with lawyers attempting to sting the government into action over buzz-killing insecticides.
A federal courtroom will bee-come a hive of activity, with lawyers attempting to sting the government into action over buzz-killing insecticides.

The battle for the bees is headed to court.

Beekeepers and activist groups, fed up with the wanton use of insecticides that kill bees and other pollinators, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday. They are suing to try to force the EPA to ban or better regulate neonicotinoids and other pesticides that kill bees and butterflies and lead to colony collapse disorder.

From a press release put out by the Center for Food Safety, one of the plaintiffs in the case:


Ohio fracking boom has not brought jobs

Jason Shenk

Did you hear the joke about how fracking creates jobs?

We heard it, too. We heard it from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We heard it from the fracking industry. We heard it from the press.

Well here comes a punchline that's darker than a fracker's heart: In northeastern Ohio, where a fracking boom kicked off 2011, there was no more jobs growth last year than there was in the state's unfracked western and southern regions.

That's the conclusion of a new report [PDF] published by Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. The report was not peer-reviewed.


Environmentalists and gas companies sing Kumbaya, create voluntary fracking standards

Energy companies and environmentalists are totally holding hands and singing around a campfire in Pennsylvania.
Shutterstock / Alexander Ishchenko
Energy companies and enviros are totally holding hands and singing around a campfire in Pennsylvania.

Environmentalists struck a rare accord with oil and gas companies this week, agreeing on fracking standards that aim to protect air and water quality and the climate as the Marcellus Shale formation in the northeastern U.S. is mined.

The new and oxymoronically named Center for Sustainable Shale Development was created through an agreement struck by energy companies, the Environmental Defense Fund and other green groups, and Pennsylvania philanthropies. The center will provide certification for oil and gas companies that follow the new standards while fracking the expansive shale formation, which is centered in Pennsylvania and stretches from New York to Kentucky.

Oil and gas companies have no binding requirement to achieve certification from the new center, and environmentalists say it is no substitute for regulations. That said, both camps think its neat.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Read more: Climate & Energy


Here are a couple of weather experts who actually believe in climate change

newspaper-clippings-nightmare-weather.jpgThings are weird at the Weather Company, you guys. While a lot of other TV meteorologists are really screwing up the climate change conversation, the Weather Company folks, who run the Weather Channel and Weather Underground, "insert climate into every weather story," says CEO David Kenny. "We’re scientific journalists. We start with science and try to tell scientifically based stories. It’s not a political point of view," Kenny told Fast Co.Exist.


More from Fast Co.Exist:

Plenty of people get their weather reports from the Weather Company’s TV shows, apps, and websites. But what about everyone else? TV meterologists have become infamous in recent years for their reticence to discuss climate change -- and in some cases, for their lack of belief in climate change at all. One TV storm tracker in San Diego (who also happens to be a co-founder of the Weather Channel) went so far recently as to say that global warming is a "fictional, manufactured crisis."

In fact, the Weather Company provides weather data to many TV meteorologists. These days, the company is also trying to provide climate change facts. "Most meteorologists, if you actually give them the science, they come around," says Kenny. "Most now believe it, but are afraid to talk about it."

Read more: Climate & Energy


Can San Jose’s green vision live up to its hype?

Clean technology is being developed in Silicon Valley, but we aren't exactly looking to that low-rise beigey sprawl for leadership when it comes to green urban innovation. But maybe we should? And I don't mean in a let's-build-a-dense-tech-worker-utopia kind of way.

Image (5) san_josesmaller.jpg for post 31443Sprawling San Jose, Calif.

San Jose, Calif., the valley's largest city and the 10th biggest in the country, launched its 15-year green plan in 2007, and so far it's coming along swimmingly. This past October, the first Clean Tech Index named the city No. 1 in the country for its clean green (mean?) innovations. From LED street lights to the soon-to-open CleanTech Demonstration Center to a goal of running entirely on renewable energy (it's at 20 percent now), San Jose is thinking big when it's thinking green, KQED reports.

“[The renewables goal is] going to mean radical changes, but this is a valley that does things in radical ways,” says Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), which represents hundreds of local businesses.

“Silicon Valley and San Jose Mayor [Chuck] Reed sets audacious goals,” adds Guardino. “If we fall a little short, just think of how far we would have come.”

San Jose has helped change national standards for LED street lights and is now saving thousands of dollars using efficient, dimmable street lights. Yet it’s only replaced 4% of its 62,000 lights.

Read more: Cities


Construction begins on new nuclear reactors in Georgia

Where now there are two nuclear reactors, soon there will be four.
Georgia Power Company
Where now there are two nuclear reactors, soon there will be four.

Advocates of building a low-carbon economy with nuclear power can rejoice: Construction is underway to build America's first new nuclear reactors in 30 years.

But any residents of Waynsboro, Ga., who are concerned about the threat of radiation leaks or meltdown at the nearby nuclear plant will soon have twice as much reason to worry.

Plant Vogtle, where two nuclear reactors have operated since the late 1980s, is expanding. Two new reactors are scheduled to be up and running by 2018 -- assuming there are no more delays, which would be an unwise assumption. The project is backed by an $8.3 billion loan guarantee from the Obama administration.


Major grocers on frankenfish: ‘Hell no, we won’t sell that!’

Blended Atlantic salmon / Chinook salmon / ocean pout, anybody?
Shutterstock / Luiz Rocha
Blended Atlantic salmon / Chinook salmon / ocean pout, anybody?

What do you call a farmed Atlantic salmon with a Chinook salmon growth-hormone gene and a DNA splice from a cold-loving eel-like fish?

Tough to market.

Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and other grocery chains that together run more than 2,000 stores across the U.S. announced this week that they would not sell AquaBounty Technologies' AquAdvantage® Salmon, aka frankenfish, even if the Food and Drug Administration issues expected approvals.


Maryland pushing ahead on offshore wind farm

Here comes the offshore wind power
Shutterstock / F.Schmidt
Here comes the offshore wind power ...

Maryland is one big step closer to getting the offshore wind power that its residents want and its governor has fought for.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has spent the past three years trying to convince lawmakers to approve his plans for a wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean to help power the state's homes. On Monday, the General Assembly finally granted his wish with an 88-48 vote, following state Senate approval earlier this month.

Under legislation that O'Malley will soon sign (and that the state's residents supported), residential electricity customers will see their bills rise slightly to help fund construction of wind turbines 10 to 20 miles off the coast of Ocean City.

From The Baltimore Sun:


Abu Dhabi mega solar plant will free up oil to export

Using a combination of 258,048 parabolic mirrors and the one powerful Arabian desert sun, Shams 1, the new 100-megawatt concentrated solar power plant just southwest of Abu Dhabi, is now cranking out power.


More Shams 1 by the numbers: It's the biggest plant of its kind in the world, it cost an estimated $750 million to build, it should power 20,000 homes, and it's expected to save 175,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The project is a joint venture of state-owned renewable energy company Masdar, French energy company Total, and Spanish company Abengoa Solar.

“From precious hydrocarbon exports to sophisticated renewable energy systems, we are balancing the energy mix and diversifying our economy -- moving toward a more sustainable future,” Sultan and Masdar CEO Ahmed Al Jaber said in a statement.


Los Angeles to ditch coal by 2025

Coal currently powers almost 40 percent of sprawling and thirsty Los Angeles, Calif. But the "era of coal" is sunsetting.

Image (13) los-angelessmaller.jpg for post 31443

By 2025, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will phase out all coal-fired power, putting it slightly ahead of the 2027 deadline imposed by the state. The LADWP is the country's biggest municipal utility.

"By divesting from coal and investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, we reduce our carbon footprint and set a precedent for the national power market," L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) said in a press release.

The mayor's office said the switch will reduce Los Angeles' greenhouse gas emissions to 60 percent of 1990 levels. The fashion's back, but the epic smog might be gone forever. Dumping coal: Even hotter than flannel.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

On Tuesday, commissioners at the Department of Water and Power moved forward with plans to dump the utility's interest in a coal-burning plant in Arizona and convert another one in Utah to natural gas. ...

Villaraigosa declared victory Tuesday, calling the coal divestment plan "game-changing" even though it won't meet the timeline he set. "I believe the only way to get the goal is to set aggressive timetables," he said. "Climbing mountains that have never been climbed before [isn't] easy." ...