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Pollution

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Critical List: Reid, enviro groups talk air quality; DDT in Africa

Harry Reid met with Big Environment last night to strategize a defense of the Clean Air Act. Politico says a key point of debate was whether enviros should go after errant, but potentially vulnerable Dems on green issues during the next election cycle. Senators rejected a bill that would have sped up oil drilling, then patted themselves on the back for being awesome about the environment. Meanwhile, 53 new shallow-water drilling permits have been issued under post-spill laws. Flooding in the Mississippi basin: bad for humans who live there, good for humans who like to eat crawfish and shrimp. Expected …

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Critical List: Senate wimps out on oil subsidies bill; solar storms loom

The Senate voted down a bill that would have ended tax subsidies for the five biggest oil companies. The bill had little to no chance of passing the House and becoming law, but the Senate wussed out on taking a stand even on a bill crafted only to score political points. In Maryland, "renewable energy" will come from the sun, the wind, and incinerated trash. We told you last week that the Fish and Wildlife Service was set to move forward on evaluating and listing 251 potentially endangered species, after a court settlement. Psych! The Center for Biological Diversity objected …

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Mercury? Arsenic? We’ll deal with those problems later, says EPA

Does this story sound familiar? A court orders the EPA to take action under the Clean Air Act. The EPA comes out with a set of rules. Business interests complain. The EPA relents, delaying and then relaxing rules that have compliance deadlines years down the line. That's about the tack the EPA has taken on carbon regulation. But apparently the agency liked it so much, it’s decided to apply the same approach to other environmental threats. This week, the EPA decided to delay indefinitely rules that would limit the amount of mercury, lead and other toxins that boilers in power …

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Should we label cars the way we label cigarettes?

Photos: New York City Department of TransportationMaybe the flashing skeleton will get their attention. That's what the New York City Department of Transportation is hoping, anyway. The city announced yesterday that it will start using electronic message boards saying "Speed Limit 30" and "Slow Down" with a skeleton figure in an attempt to get drivers to stop speeding. The city has also unveiled a billboard with a half-skull, half-child's face image to bring home the message that when someone is hit at 40 mph, there is a 70 percent chance they'll be killed; at 30 mph, there's an 80 percent …

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We spend $76.6 billion a year on health care for kids made sick by toxic chemicals and air pollution

America spends a staggering $76.6 billion every year to cover the health expenses of our children who get sick because of exposure to toxic chemicals and air pollution, according to a recent study by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. That figure includes the cost of medical care and the lost workdays of parents caring for their kids. The inestimable costs of exposure to things like lead in homes and soot in the air include children with severe learning impairment and chronic asthma, among many others. Enforcing pollution laws would reduce illness in kids and …

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Keystone pipeline spilled tar-sands oil 11 times in past year. Do we really want to supersize it?

The routes of the existing and proposed Keystone pipelines. Image: RL MillerThe State Department is currently weighing whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar-sands oil some 2,000 miles southward, from Alberta, Canada, to Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. It would be an expansion of the now-operational Keystone pipeline that goes as far as Cushing, Okla. The original Keystone pipeline has been in operation less than one year, and its owner TransCanada predicts no more than one spill every seven years. Instead of one spill every seven years, oil has spilled 11 times in the last year. …

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Nixing pollutants could save $76.6 billion in health care costs

Between medical costs and lost productivity for parents, environmental illnesses in children cost $76.6 billion annually, says a new study in Health Affairs. That’s the cost of all illnesses that are correlated with exposure to pollutants and toxins. (Some of the associations are better-documented than others, but many -- like lead poisoning, which costs $50.9 billion annually -- are well-established.) What could we get if we weren’t spending that money? Well, you could buy a private island in the Florida keys ($18 million) and sit on it in your diamond-encrusted bra ($3 million), reading your Gutenberg Bible ($35 million) and …

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For half the nation’s population, it’s dangerous to breathe the air

Close your eyes and stick your finger into a map of the United States. (A map. A big piece of paper with a picture of the country? Okay, look it up on Google Images, we'll wait.) Chances are you just poked a county with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution in the air. Nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties that the American Lung Association gives an "F" for air quality. California is a major offender, boasting eight of the 10 most ozone-polluted cities and half of the cities with the worst short-term and long-term particle …

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Royal wedding will be slightly greener wretched pile of excess than usual

I've noticed that I have zero posts in my Twitter feed about how awesomesauce the royal wedding is, and 2930820385 about how nobody else will shut up re: the royal wedding and its awesomeness. But clearly somebody somewhere is into this, so okay, this one's for you: Looks like Prince Harry and Princess Hermione, or whoever, are taking steps to turn their wedding from a completely over-the-top exercise in overconsumption to an eco-completely-over-the-top exercise in overconsumption. Here's how the royals are going to avoid doing to the environment what they did to their colonies: Printing documents -- which undoubtedly include …

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No, ozone regulations were not easy

There's a certain story you hear from the Breakthrough crowd these days. It goes like this: climate change is not like previous environmental problems. When it came to ozone depletion or acid rain, there were economically viable technologies available. That made it easier for policymakers to impose regulatory limits. Alternatives to fossil fuel energy are not yet economically viable, which explains the difficulty American politicians have had regulating climate pollution.. As Matthew Nisbet put it in the introduction of his recent report, "technological alternatives were already available and the economic benefits of action more certain -- both conditions that allowed …