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Sally Jewell doesn’t want any climate deniers at Interior

Sally Jewell.
BLM Oregon
Sally Jewell.

Obama has staffed his second-term team with a couple of kickass women ready to take the lead on climate action. Two days after EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy called bullshit on the notion that environmental regulations kill jobs, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, in an address to her employees, made clear that she won’t tolerate any debunked theories, either. “I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior,” she said.

E&E News reports:

If there are any [deniers], she invited them to visit public lands managed by the agency — be it the melting permafrost in Alaska or shrinking snowpacks in the Sierra Mountains — as proof. “If you don’t believe in it, come out into the resources,” she said.

Interior will be following through on President Obama’s climate change plan, including achieving 20 gigawatts of renewable power on public lands by 2020, she said.

“You and I can actually do something about it,” she said several times. “That’s a privilege, and I would argue it’s a moral imperative.”

Moreover, the former head of REI said the federal government is able to take action on climate change on a scale “orders of magnitude” larger than any individual business, even one as huge as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Right-wingers flipped out over Jewell’s comments about employees who might not be conversant in basic scientific facts.

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Should we turn deserts into carbon-sucking tree plantations?

Jatropha curcas
ACICAFOC
A Barbados nut plantation.

To fight climate change, some scientists think we should vegetate the hell out of deserts. The latest such idea calls for large plantations of a hardy species of Central American tree to be planted in near-coastal desert areas and irrigated with desalinated water.

While forests soak up carbon dioxide, deserts do comparatively little to help with climate change. So should these seas of sand be planted and watered out of existence in a bid to reduce CO2 levels?

Some say yes. The approach would be like geoengineering, but rooted in a more natural system. Scientists call it bioengineering or carbon farming.

The idea of replacing deserts with forests to help the climate is not brand new. A few years ago, for example, scientists proposed planting eucalyptus trees through the Saharan and Australian deserts to help absorb carbon dioxide.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Koch brothers hire lobbyists to fight carbon tax, save poor and old people

Charles and David Koch
Charles and David Koch really, really don't want a carbon tax.

Carbon-tax proposals are going nowhere in Congress, but the Koch brothers aren't taking any chances.

A few non-office-holding Republicans and a few actual-office-holding Democrats are calling for a carbon tax, but the current Congress would never pass one, and even the Obama administration has said it doesn't want one.

Still, a grandstanding Republican representative, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, is pushing a House resolution declaring that "a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy" and "to American families and businesses," and that it would "fall hardest on the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes." (Never mind that many carbon-tax proposals are designed specifically to ease burdens on low-income Americans. Facts are not of interest here.)

The billionaire oil-mogul Koch brothers -- who've convinced many politicians to sign a "No Climate Tax Pledge" -- have now hired a gang of lobbyists to push Scalise's pointless resolution, The Hill reports.

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Alaska’s heat wave breaking records, killing salmon

A grizzly bear lapping up Alaska's warm summer.
Douglas Brown
A grizzly bear basks in the Alaskan sun.

Something smells fishy about a record-breaking heat wave in Alaska.

It might be the piles of dead salmon.

The Land of the Midnight Sun has been sweating, relatively speaking, through a hot and sun-soaked summer. From the AP:

Anchorage has set a record for the most consecutive days over 70 degrees during this unusually warm summer, while Fairbanks is closing in on its own seasonal heat record.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Offshore auction signals start of wind bonanza

Offshore wind turbines
Shutterstock
Coming soon, to a coastline near you ...

Wind developers have accepted invitations to the government’s New England offshore wind energy party.

There are currently no offshore wind farms in U.S. waters, but the Obama administration intends to change that. On Wednesday, the government auctioned off the right to construct turbines in nearly 165,000 acres of federal waters south of Massachusetts and Rhode Island -- the first of many offshore auctions the Interior Department has planned.

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BMW’s i3 electric car earns gushing praise

The BMW i3 electric sedan, officially unveiled this week, is getting rave reviews.

The car sells for as little as $41,350 -- not bad for a Bimmer, and that's before the $7,500 federal EV rebate. Those with range anxiety can drop a few grand more for a small backup gas-burning engine (or just take advantage of BMW's nifty SUV-sharing offer).

BMW i3
BMW
BMW i3

Here's some of what Wired has to say about the car, which weighs in at 2,700 pounds:

The reason the i3 is so svelte compared to other EVs is two-fold. First, it was designed to be an electric car from the beginning. Unlike BMW’s previous EV efforts — the Mini E (3,300 pounds, the same as a Nissan Leaf) and the BMW ActiveE (4,000 pounds) — they shaped the chassis and body around the motor and batteries to create a compact package with a low center of gravity. And then they got serious about weight savings.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Company to start slaughtering horses next week, despite arson and lawsuit

Horse
Shutterstock
Hey, horse, did you try to burn down that New Mexico slaughterhouse?

A New Mexico slaughterhouse plans to begin killing horses for meat on Monday -- despite a looming lawsuit and an apparent arson attack.

Refrigeration units at the Valley Meat Co. in Roswell., N.M., lit up in flames on Tuesday. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, but not before five compressors were damaged beyond repair. The company pledged to replace them in time to begin slaughtering horses and chilling their meat on Monday. From Albuquerque's KOB Eyewitness News 4:

Chaves County Sheriff’s Department said substances that could have been used to start the fire were found on the units and there is reason to believe it was arson. The owners are sure of it.

We're not endorsing arson. But this was the same meatpacking company whose worker shot a horse in the head on camera and said, “All you animal activists, fuck you.”

Perhaps an animal activist out there reciprocated the "fuck you" sentiment.

Read more: Food

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You get my drift? Pesticides cause big problems when they go where they’re not wanted

Crop duster
Shutterstock
Please be careful where you dump that toxic load.

Too many crop dusters are accidentally missing their targets and spraying poisonous pesticides where they're not supposed to go, killing crops and sickening farmers' neighbors.

Indiana Public Media reports that three-quarters of farm pesticide violations in the state involve what is euphemistically called "drift." That is, the chemicals don't land where they're intended to. From the report, which is the first in a three-part series on the problem:

[Farmer Brett] Middlesworth grows about 300 acres of tomatoes each year, but last summer he saw about a tenth of his yield damaged by a single instance of pesticide drift.

It happened halfway through the growing season. His neighbor was spraying a soybean field with Roundup herbicide. The wind picked up and carried the spray across the property line and onto Middlesworth’s tomatoes.

As Roundup targets broadleaf weeds, and tomatoes are broadleaf plants, the area closest to his neighbor was a total loss. ...

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$100 million worth of natural gas goes up in flames every month in North Dakota

Gas flaring.
Tim Evanson
Gas flaring in North Dakota.

Amidst an oil and gas drilling boom in North Dakota, a new report suggests that nearly a third of the natural gas that's being sucked out of the ground is being wasted -- burned on site and flared away.

The practice of flaring -- burning off natural gas instead of capturing and selling it -- is so rampant in the state that it is clearly visible from space. Reuters reports:

Remote well locations, combined with historically low natural gas prices and the extensive time needed to develop pipeline networks, have fueled the controversial practice, commonly known as flaring. While oil can be stored in tanks indefinitely after drilling, natural gas must be immediately piped to a processing facility.

Flaring has tripled in the past three years, according to the report from Ceres, a nonprofit group that tracks environmental records of public companies.

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EPA chief: Stop saying environmental regs kill jobs

Gina McCarthy being sworn in
U.S. EPA
Gina McCarthy takes the oath of office, with Carol Browner and Bob Perciasepe.

Tuesday, in her first speech as EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy got real with a crowd at Harvard Law School, the AP reports:

"Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs? Please, at least for today,” said McCarthy, referring to one of the favorite talking points of Republicans and industry groups.

"Let's talk about this as an opportunity of a lifetime, because there are too many lifetimes at stake," she said of efforts to address global warming.

The GOP has resorted to calling pretty much every Obama plan, especially those related to the climate, “job-killing.” McCarthy hammered home the emptiness of that claim. The Hill relays what she said: