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Pollution

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Eliminating soot would save 2.5 million lives a year, slow climate change

“Black carbon," the product of incomplete combustion of everything from wood to diesel fuel, isn’t just something you put on Mary Poppins chimney sweeps to make them look picturesque. It also contributes to climate change, and it will turn your lungs into something from an anti-smoking PSA faster than you can ask for just one more spoonful of sugar. The flip side is that we could save a lot of lives with just a little cleanup. A new study by the Stockholm Environment Institute finds that reducing black carbon could save two and a half million lives a year. And …

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Defending EPA: Sen. Ben Cardin, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, and me at Netroots Nation

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), defender of the EPA.Photo: Edward KimmelThe EPA is under full-scale assault. Republicans are working furiously to defund the agency and block or weaken its upcoming regulations on greenhouse gases, toxic hazardous emissions, sulfur dioxide, coal ash, and mountaintop-removal mining. (For more on those rules, see my series "Power Struggle.") And they are getting help from midwestern Democrats in both houses. In the face of this coordinated offensive, pushback from the left has been ... fitful. Environmental groups are fired up, but enviros don't have that many friends (or, alternatively, legislators who are scared of them) in …

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Mark Ruffalo wants you to stand up to hydrofracking

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who lives in a rural New York town on the Delaware River with his family, is not one of those celebrities who parachutes into a random political cause and starts ignorantly pontificating about solutions. He has been actively involved with efforts to keep potentially disastrous hydrofracking practices out of New York State for three years, and he knows his stuff. He's even co-founded his own initiative on water quality, Water Defense. Now Ruffalo has banded together with some other famous friends, including Ethan Hawke and Zoe Saldana, to make a new video, "I Love My New York …

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What Dow Chemical doesn’t want you to know about your water

Dow's plant in Midland, Mich., is polluting the water with dioxin.Photo: erika dot netThis post originally appeared on Civil Eats. Earlier this year, I was contacted by a PR firm working for Dow Chemical to contribute a 60-second video for the Future We Create virtual conference on water sustainability the company launched yesterday. As a vocal advocate for strict regulation of toxic chemicals -- especially for food and farming -- I was surprised the company would approach me. Dow is the country's largest chemical maker, and profits handsomely from developing some of the world's most polluting products, many of which …

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Critical List: Arizona wildfire spreads; Roundup causes birth defects

The wildfire in Arizona is now the second-largest in the state's history and is growing. Enviros are turning on Obama. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said yesterday the president hadn't parried Republican attacks and lacked vision on the conservation. And this was in advance of a speech he's giving today that fleshes out this argument. Plus, Obama's own EPA joined green groups in questioning the State Department analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline's environmental impacts. Government versus government -- we don’t even know who to mistrust anymore! Guess New Jersey won’t be a leader in solar for much longer: Governor …

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California could ban Styrofoam

Takeout in California will never be the same. The state's legislature is halfway to forbidding restaurants and vendors from packing their products in Styrofoam containers: the California Senate's on board, and the House is supposed to vote on the measure by the end of the summer. The problem (besides that Styrofoam is an evil, atmosphere-killing substance that takes forever to biodegrade) is that people feel entitled to toss the containers in the streets, from whence they travel through storm drains into the ocean. Local governments in the state -- 50 of them — already have ditched foam take-out containers. It's …

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Perilous pipeline: Will Hillary Clinton give the OK to a massive tar-sands pipeline?

Oil refineries outside Channelview. Do we really need to add a tar-sands pipeline to the mix?Photo: KM&G-MorrisWill Hillary Clinton put the desires of a giant oil corporation ahead of the needs and health of low-income communities and communities of color? Will anyone else in the Obama administration stand up and stop her? With the State Department's comment period on a proposed tar-sands oil pipeline set to end Monday, these questions are about to be answered. The State Department is considering whether to grant approval to oil giant TransCanada to construct a pipeline -- the Keystone XL -- to carry the …

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Haley Barbour pins the BP oil spill on a sad bird

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour thinks the disastrous economic effects of the Gulf oil spill were the fault of BP, where “BP” stands for “brown pelican”: So people saw on TV the same brown pelican coated with looked like 3 inches of oil, I mean, looked like a chocolate pelican. And they showed it every hour, every day, 24 hours a day for weeks and weeks and weeks. And the news media, particularly 24-hour cable TV, gave citizens the impression the whole Gulf Coast was coated in oil. People deduced from that that it was unsafe, unpleasant, don’t want to go …

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Let’s point and laugh at the United States’ weeny little pollution taxes

Awwwwww, look at the teeny little bar graph representing U.S. pollution taxes! I bet everybody tells the U.S. it's "average," but it's clearly not. Don't worry, America; it's not how big it is, it's what you do with it! And we ... use it to fund wars, I guess? 

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Critical List: EPA gives chemical industry a pass; Rolls-Royce owners snubs EVs

The EPA could ask chemical companies to report on Americans' exposure to their products, but it's not. "Where's there's coal, there's opportunity": The energy industry funds brainwashing -- sorry, "education" -- for students. The Grand Calumet river ferries about 200,000 cubic yards of toxic crap into Lake Michigan each year. The federal government is cleaning it up. Slowly. Bill McKibben lays out the strategy for pushing back on Obama's energy choices. Rolls-Royce owners poo-poo electric cars. The company's CEO thinks it's because his customers live in sprawly suburbs where 100 miles, the range of most EVs, just won't cut it.