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AEI blogger celebrates the success of the acid rain program, without acknowledging its existence

Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. For Earth Day, Steve Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute posted this shocker: "Energy Fact of the Week: Sulfur Dioxide Emissions from Coal Have Declined 54 Percent." He includes some nice government charts, which I'm sure he won't mind my reproducing below. But from Hayward's blog, you'd think this happened by itself! The chief causes of this decline are technology -- cost-effective "scrubbers" to remove sulfur dioxide from the waste stream -- and resource substitution: We started using much more low-sulfur coal from the western United States. No mention of the Clean Air Act's …

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Underground environmentalism in communist East Germany

When I had a free afternoon during my recent trip to Berlin, I headed down Unter den Linden (I love German street names -- my hotel was on the Albrechtstraße, which is a whole meal in a word) to the relatively new DDR Museum, which showcases ordinary life under socialist rule in East Germany. It's a fascinating place. It doesn't downplay the crushing conformity imposed on living quarters, cars, and work conditions under the German Democratic Republic (GDR), but it still shows the idiosyncrasies and spirit that no regime can ever entirely suppress. If you're in Berlin, I recommend it. …

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Will Richard Daley, Chicago’s outgoing ‘green’ mayor, help quash coal pollution?

Will Richard Daley's last month in office be marred by two old coal plants?Photo: Kate GardinerCross-posted from Midwest Energy News. A long-stalled Chicago ordinance that could force the city's two aging coal-burning power plants to greatly reduce emissions or shut down now has enough backing to pass at the city council's next meeting. But proponents aren't declaring victory yet. The ordinance must first pass a joint committee hearing Thursday. And if the full city council does vote it into law when it meets May 4, it would likely face a legal challenge which even its most important council backer says …

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Barton denies any ‘medical negative’ from mercury, smog, or soot pollution

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. At a congressional hearing on Friday designed to lay the groundwork for an effort to delay critical EPA toxic pollution standards, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) claimed that reducing emissions of toxic mercury, sulfur dioxide, and soot would not bring health benefits. Though conceding he is "not a medical doctor," Barton offered the "hypothesis" that EPA estimates of the benefits of its proposed air toxics rule are "pulled out of the thin air" because there is no "medical negative" to the pollution: To actually cause poisoning or a premature death you have to get a large concentration …

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One year after the BP oil spill, dangers remain

A year ago, the American public, government regulators, and Gulf of Mexico families had been lulled into a false sense of security over the safety of offshore drilling and the ability of the oil industry to respond in the event of a severe spill. After years of systemic complacency and mismanagement by the U.S. government and the oil companies, weeks of poor decision-making on the part of BP and its partners in the ill-fated Macondo oil well, and a few moments of deadly horror one year ago on the Deepwater Horizon, everything known about deepwater drilling changed utterly. On the …

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CFLs are not a significant source of mercury, says EPA

If you've heard that CFLs are lousy with mercury, you've heard wrong. In the past 10 years, "reductions in the most used types of fluorescent lighting have decreased [mercury] content over the last decade by 60 - 80 percent," says Melissa Klein of the EPA. Plus, Americans are recycling more of them than previously reported. A couple weeks ago we blogged a piece from the San Jose Mercury News declaring that CFL recycling rates in the U.S. were abysmal -- around 2 percent. Turns out that actually, no one knows how often these bulbs are recycled. Your neighbors could be …

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House Republicans attack life-saving mercury and air toxics standards

It would be irresponsible to deny clean air to the American people.Photo: BronxCross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. And so it begins. Long a rumored dirty secret, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) confirmed today that House Republicans plan to introduce legislation to delay mercury and air toxics standards that will save up to 26,000 lives every year. The chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Energy and Power subcommittee told PoliticoPro [$ubreq] today that such a bill would be introduced after the two-week congressional recess. Whitfield admitted bluntly, "[t]he objective is to delay the implementation of these regulations." The EPA regulations he …

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Should kids be exposed to more or less toxic pollution?

For some representatives, the health of schoolkids just doesn't seem to be the priority.Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Some questions should be easy to answer. But, with Congress, some things are never easy. Fresh off the House vote to let polluters dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air, a House subcommittee under the jurisdiction of chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will start to consider letting polluters dump unsafe amounts of toxic pollution into the air. You see, for years a lot of polluters have avoided having to reduce their emissions of toxic pollution -- this is the hard-core stuff that …

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Is this the natural gas industry’s fib-filled high pressure sales strategy?

As reported by Brian Merchant at Treehugger, a tipster has offered up an internal oil and natural gas company document called "Talking Points for Selling Oil and Gas Lease Rights." If this is genuine, it’s basically a “How To Lie To Get Drilling Rights For Fun and Profit” guide. One thing the document tells us is that apparently the best way to manipulate naive landowners into endangering the quality of their land and water is to appeal to their patriotism. (Hmmm, where have we seen that tactic before?) Most landowners will be patriotic Americans, and will desire to free our …

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Goldman Environmental Prize winners give the rest of us a kick in the pants

It’s like the Oscars for the Patagonia set. Every April, just before Earth Day, San Francisco’s environmental community comes together at the city’s Opera House to laud six grassroots activists from around the globe, whose stories enrage and inspire. The prize offers recipients $150,000 to use as they see fit and international recognition that confers respect on their endeavors, pressures their local governments to act, and even bolsters their personal safety. This year's ceremony was particularly poignant as it was the first without prize founder Richard Goldman, who died last fall at age 90. Goldman and his wife Rhoda founded …