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Critical List: Melting Arctic ice pollutes; wind farm could kill bald eagles

Melting Arctic ice is releasing banned chemicals like DDT, which were trapped there back when they were legal. Post-tornado clean-up in Joplin, Mo. is going slowly. Can water heaters store energy captured by wind turbines and solar panels? A startup called GridMobility thinks so. We all know that wind turbines can kill birds, but what if there's a high risk that those birds could be bald eagles? Then you've got a problem. First of all, you could get in big trouble with the feds if an eagle falls prey to your turbine, but second of all the symbolism is terrible. …

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Critical List: Operators say the grid can handle the heat; green tech investment down

Grid operators say they're ready to handle the extra load that air conditioners and other cooling devices will put on electricity supplies during the heat wave. Venture capitalists invested less money on green tech projects last quarter; they're hot on "internet-specific" companies. (Think businesses like Twitter or Spotify.) So if you’ve got an internet-specific green startup idea burning a hole in your laptop cover, now may be the time. Apparently it's cool with Republicans if the government interferes with private businesses' decisions, if those decisions would mean being involved in the E.U.'s airline carbon trading program. Headaches blamed on wind …

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Dudefest no more? Women are infiltrating cleantech

Check out our list of the top 12 women in cleantech.Clean energy is one of the most dynamic sectors in the world -- hot start-ups, technological whizbangery, cutthroat competition, billions in venture-capital investments, a race against the climate clock.  But there's one aspect of the clean-energy field that's just as sclerotic as the world of fossil fuels: patriarchy. Men invented, engineered, invested in, and presided over the technologies and companies that made oil, coal, and natural gas the dominant fuels of our time. And now men are running the show at most of the firms pushing renewables, efficiency, clean cars, …

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Nuclear power's new marketing strategy: hide behind some windmills

The tagline on this advertisement for German Atomic Forum ("founded in 1959 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy in Germany") is "CO2 Emissions = Zero." See how they did that? They put the nuclear power plant behind some windmills and farmland, and it's a beautiful, clear day! In your mind, you're like "nuclear power, that's as German as female prime ministers and sound fiscal planning." First, it's worth noting that wind farms are now the de-facto symbol of all that is good and right in the world of energy. Score. And second, it's worth noting that new nuclear …

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Koch brothers declare war on offshore wind

The Koch brothers have now turned their firepower against offshore wind.The war over America’s coastal-energy future has officially begun, and the result could determine whether we see wind turbines or catastrophic oil spills along our coastlines in coming years. The opening salvo came in early July, when everyone’s favorite climate-hating, fossil-fuel-loving industrialist villains, the Koch brothers, released a so-called “cost-benefit analysis” of New Jersey offshore wind development plans through their front group Americans for Prosperity. The focus on New Jersey is no big surprise. Fresh off their recent success in manipulating the state’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie into backing out …

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Critical List: Keystone XL could spill millions of gallons of oil; snails that like being eaten

The current Yellowstone spill involved 42,000 gallons of oil. That’s bad enough. But the Keystone XL pipeline could dump 6.9 million gallons of oil into the river. Republicans want to repeal the incandescent light bulb "ban," but since it's NOT SUCH A BRIGHT IDEA (har har), their bill probably won't pass. Trees can suck up carbon from the atmosphere, delaying disaster for a little while. But so can cities, it turns out. Parks, gardens, abandoned lots, golf courses, sports fields, and river banks suck up more carbon than anyone imagined. Using profits to drive future profits, natural gas company Chesapeake …

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Critical List: Australia will tax carbon; U.S. cars kill 32.5 trillion insects each year

This is a carbon tax: Australia is going to put a tax of $23 per metric ton on carbon emissions from 500 companies. Hybrids and electric vehicles may no longer be legally allowed to slink quietly down the street, surprising pedestrians and dogs everywhere. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing a rule requiring that the near-silent cars emit some sort of sound at low speeds. The EPA is not happy with ExxonMobil and the company's plan to clean up the Yellowstone River. I mean, it’s in favor of cleaning up, it just thinks this particular plan stinks. France …

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The race to build the world’s most improbably gigantic — and efficient — wind turbine

Modern wind turbines already have blades as big as the wings of jumbo jets, and the tips of them can move at up to 200 mph. Now Britain's Energy Technologies Institute wants to nearly double the generating capacity of the world's largest wind turbines by making the blades EVEN MORE PHENOMENALLY HUGE. Bigger turbines mean more power. On the drawing board is a monster of a windmill, with blades 295 feet in length, a third longer than the largest currently in  use, which top out at around 197 feet. Big turbines potentially mean cheaper electricity: “This project is based on …

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The wind money windfall in Sherman County, Oregon

Residents of Oregon's Sherman County used to hate on the strong winds endemic to the area. But now they pull in $590 per year, per household, just for tolerating the wind and the many wind turbines marring their viewshed. It’s like the oil payout for living in Alaska, only it’s not blood money from cannibalizing Nature! Individual farmers are profiting off of turbines on their property (one family earns about $5,550 per turbine per year), as are individual business owners. The local government is also pulling in more tax dollars and is using that windfall both to improve services (like …