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a tough way to make money

Disprove global warming, score $10,000

no money
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Hey, unwelcome anti-science trolls visiting this site, you could make yourselves $10,000 richer -- if only your climate denialism had any actual grounding in science.

Physicist Christopher Keating, who has in the past accurately compared climate deniers to tobacco advocates, announced on his blog early this month that he would make a $10,000 payment "to anyone that can prove, via the scientific method, that man-made global climate change is not occurring."

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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What you don't know can hurt you

Pennsylvania ordered its health workers to never discuss fracking

Pennsylvania won't discuss fracking
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In the heavily fracked Keystone State, the economic interests of frackers trump the health concerns of residents.

That much is abundantly clear in the wake of an extraordinary story by StateImpact Pennsylvania, which interviewed two retired state health department workers. The former workers say they were ordered to not return the phone calls of residents who complained that nearby fracking was harming their health. Instead, they were told to pass messages on to their superiors, who apparently never returned the calls either. The health workers were also given a list of fracking-related "buzzwords" to watch out for:

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say what?

NATO chief accuses fracking opponents of being Russian puppets

Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Chatham House
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is suspicious of anti-fracking activists.

Russia doesn't want Europe fracking for natural gas because Russia wants to keep exporting natural gas there itself. And environmental groups don't want Europe fracking for natural gas because, well, because fracking is an environmentally heinous method of getting a climatically heinous fuel out of the ground. But Russia and environmentalists are not friends. Russia locked up green activists on trumped-up charges for criticizing the environmental impacts of the recent Winter Olympics. And Russia locked up members of Greenpeace for three months late last year after they attempted to scale an oil rig to protest Arctic drilling.

But if NATO's secretary general is to believed, opposition by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations to fracking is the result of infiltration or collusion involving Russian agents.

"I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engages actively with so-called non-governmental organizations, environmental organizations working against shale gas -- obviously to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas," said NATO's Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark, during a talk at the Chatham House international affairs think tank in London on Thursday.

Well, obviously. But who are these allies? Has Russia sent undercover operatives to sneak into green groups? Or is there some sort of collaboration between the should-be foes?

Rasmussen didn't elaborate. “That’s my interpretation," he said.

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Tell the EPA what you think of its climate rules

woman with megaphone
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You know those proposed EPA power-plant rules that we've been going on and on and on about? Now you can go on and on and on about them yourself.

The Obama administration has opened up the official 120-day public comment period, after the proposal was published in the Federal Register. The EPA will accept feedback through Oct. 16, so now's the time to speak your mind.

Here's how to comment.

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out damn spot

Federal bill would wash away plastic microbead problem

products containing microbeads
Eric T. Schneiderman Facebook page

Could America's bathroom cabinets finally be cleansed of tiny ecosystem-disrupting plastic beads?

Ecologists, activists, and lawmakers in a number of states have grown increasingly alarmed at exfoliating plastic microbeads in products such as face wash, toothpaste, and shampoo, which wash down drains and end up in lakes, rivers, and oceans. Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state to outlaw the manufacture and sale of grooming products containing the microbeads, starting in 2017.

Now microbead worries have simmered up to Congress. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) on Wednesday introduced a bead-banning bill. From his press release:

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Turns out there are a few Republicans who want to do something about climate change

Republicans
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Here's a helpful reminder that not all Republicans oppose climate action. Former EPA administrators who served under Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush I and II spoke out on Wednesday in support of federal efforts to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants. They appeared at a Senate hearing organized by Democrats to discuss EPA's recently proposed power-plant rules. From USA Today:

"We have a scientific consensus around this issue. We also need a political consensus," said Christine Todd Whitman, the former New Jersey Governor and first EPA administrator under President George W. Bush, who resigned her post after disagreeing with the White House's direction on pollution rules.

Whitman was joined by William Ruckelshaus, the nation's first EPA administrator under President Richard Nixon, William Reilly, who led the EPA under President George H.W. Bush, and Lee Thomas, who was administrator under Reagan. ...

[T]he four EPA administrators ... said the Obama administration had worked hard to make the proposal flexible and workable, using authority provided by Congress.

More from McClatchy:

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get out!

Oakland votes to keep coal and oil trains away

Freight train in Oakland
Paul Sullivan

The working-class city of Oakland, Calif., wants to stop trains carrying crude, coal, and petroleum coke from reaching local refineries and export terminals.

The city council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to "oppose" the "transportation of hazardous fossil fuel materials" along existing rail lines and through “densely populated” and waterfront areas -- which includes much of the city.

The city will now formally urge California and regional governments to take action on oil-train safety, and will consider formally opposing projects that threaten to bring fossil fuel–bearing trains into Oakland.

Lawmakers in the Californian cities of Davis and Berkeley have passed similar resolutions that attempt to block oil trains. San Francisco is considering something similar too. Tuesday's vote was particularly significant, given that Oakland operates a large port, which has recently been rejecting coal industry efforts to use its terminals for exports. Like Berkeley and San Francisco, Oakland, which is also in the Bay Area, is located close to major oil refineries, some of which are being expanded.

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another bright idea

Now Elon Musk wants to revolutionize solar panel production

SolarCity
Steve & Michelle Gerdes

Thanks in part to Elon Musk, the world's biggest and most advanced solar panel factory could be built in the U.S. in the coming years.

The Silicon Valley entrepreneur, fresh off announcing an effort to spur growth in the electric auto industry by opening up access to hundreds of Tesla Motors patents, on Tuesday pushed the cleantech envelope even further, announcing a bid to massively expand the solar panel industry.

Musk, chair of the solar panel installation giant SolarCity, told reporters that in the coming years the company plans to build a solar panel factory in the U.S. that's "an order of magnitude bigger than any of the plants that exist" anywhere in the world today.

SolarCity is responsible for about a quarter of America's residential solar panel installations every month -- three times as much as its closest competitor. Its market dominance has been earned in part through its "zero-down" financing model. But that's not enough. Musk says he worries that the company's ongoing growth will be so rapid that it will start to encounter solar panel shortages, despite what now is an international glut of mostly Chinese-made panels.

So SolarCity is jumping into the development and manufacture of advanced solar panels through the acquisition for $200 million or more of Silicon Valley-based solar panel company Silevo, which has developed highly efficient rooftop photovoltaic cells. Using more efficient cells means fewer panels are needed for each rooftop, helping to push down the price of residential solar systems.

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Berkeley could mandate climate warnings on gas pumps

pumping gas
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Motorists in the famously lefty city of Berkeley, Calif., could one day be confronted with a "CO2 ALERT" when they fill up their tanks.

Berkeley's Community Environmental Advisory Commission has approved a proposal to mandate climate warning labels on gas pumps. It would require the approval of the city council before it could take affect; a council vote is expected in the coming months.

Proposed Berkeley gasoline warning label
City of Berkeley

The idea is to mimic warning labels on cigarettes. It’s being pushed by Beyond The Pump, a group of San Francisco Bay Area activists associated with 350 Bay Area. If approved by the council, Berkeley would become the first American city to impose such a requirement. (Similar, but more specific, labeling proposals have been floating around Europe for years.) The tentative label design is shown on the right.

"I'd like to see this become a statewide policy for transportation emissions," campaign manager Jamie Brooks told Grist. "We’d like to see it as a systematic point-of-sale ordinance, like the cigarette packs. We want to connect cause and effect for consumers."

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Obama to create largest marine protected area ever, because bigger is better

ocean
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Say what you will about the U.S., when we do something, we do it supersized.

So when Obama decides to make a marine reserve, he doesn't just put your average patch of ocean off-limits to commercial fishing, energy exploration, and other shenanigans. No. It's a massive portion of the Pacific that more than doubles the total amount of protected ocean. In the world. From The Washington Post:

[T]he Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument would be expanded from almost 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles — all of it adjacent to seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States. The designation would include waters up to 200 nautical miles offshore from the territories.

“It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to the pristine ocean,” said Enric Sala, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence who has researched the area’s reefs and atolls since 2005.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food