With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/1/2011, 1:29pm PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The unreasonableness of Glenn Beck; Snowmageddon --- AGAIN --- across the U.S.; Natural disasters are expensive; Happy Birthday to the car!; ExxonMobil's latest profits...to die for; PLUS: Progressives expose the 'Kochtopus' ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Polar bear swims 9 days searching for ice; US farmers get approval to plant GMO alfalfa; Chamber calls Obama's clean energy plans "ridiculously premature"; WV among worst for mercury pollution in US; Pipeline company denies responsbility for MI oil spill; Interior Dept.'s new "Scientific Integrity Officer"; Senators vow to strip Obama climate power; San Bruno pipeline explosion called "tip of the iceberg"; Controversial nuclear reactor design moves forward in U.S.; EPA moves to curb pesticide testing on human subjects ... PLUS: The ethical dilemma at the heart of climate economics ....

STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

  • Polar bear's long swim illustrates ice melt (LA Times) [emphasis added]:
    Searching for food, one female bear was tracked as she swam for 9 days across the Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe. Litigation continues over protection of bear habitat.

    In one of the most dramatic signs ever documented of how shrinking Arctic sea ice impacts polar bears, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska have tracked a female bear that swam nine days across the deep, frigid Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe 426 miles offshore.

    The marathon swim came at a cost: With little food likely available once she arrived, the bear lost 22% of her body weight and her year-old female cub, who set off on the journey but did not survive, the researchers said.

  • U.S. Farmers Get Approval to Plant GMO Alfalfa: (Reuters):
    The United States said on Thursday farmers could proceed with planting genetically altered alfalfa without any of the restrictions that opponents say are crucial to protect organic and conventional farm fields from contamination.
  • Chamber Calls Obama's Clean Energy Plan "Ridiculously Premature" (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones) [emphasis added]:
    A week after President Obama called for setting a goal of drawing 80 percent of electricity from "clean" energy sources by 2035, the US Chamber of Commerce sent a message back in his direction: fat chance.
    ...
    The Chamber has been a major opponent of efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but the group signaled Tuesday that it is also going to fight Obama's much scaled-back version of an energy plan as well.

    "It's ridiculously premature to even have a CES [Clean Energy Standard] conversation," said Christopher Guith, vice president for policy at the Institute.

  • EPA Moves to Curb Pesticide Tests on HUMAN Subjects: (FairWarning.org);
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed tight restrictions on using people as test subjects - or, as critics have put it, guinea pigs - in pesticide research.
  • Salazar Announces New Scientific Integrity Policy and Designation of Departmental Science Integrity Officer (U.S. Dept. of Interior):
    “Because robust, high quality science and scholarship play such an important role in advancing the Department’s mission, it is vital that we have a strong and clear scientific integrity policy,” said Secretary Salazar. “This policy sets forth clear expectations for all employees - political and career - to uphold the principles of scientific integrity, and establishes a process for impartial review of alleged breaches of those principles.”
  • Enbridge denies responsibility for oil spill: Refuses to pay some claims of property damage, business loss, health problems (Michigan Messenger) [emphasis added]:
    Last July a pipeline rupture on Enbridge’s 6B pipeline spilled an estimated million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River system. The oil traveled 30 miles down the rain-swollen river, coating the floodplain.
    ...
    In the days after the spill Enbridge representatives went door to door promising that they would pay for spill damages, Mayhall said. “Now they want us to prove that they are responsible for the spill.”

    Enbridge argues that it cannot be held liable for the oil spill because it has followed all relevant laws, regulations and industry standards and the damage was not foreseeable.

    The company also argues that the charges against it are improper “because federal, state and/or local authorities and agencies have mandated, directed, approved and/or ratified the alleged actions or omissions.”

  • W.Va. among worst for mercury pollution (Charleston Daily Mail) [emphasis added]:
    According to the findings in the report, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are responsible for more than 35 percent of all power plant- based mercury pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose stricter standards for various air pollutants by March and finalize them by November.

    "Powering our homes should not poison our kids," said Shelley Vinyard, toxics advocate for Environment America." "Mercury pollution from power plants puts our kids and our environment at risk, and we need the Environmental Protection Agency to force these facilities to clean up."

    The news comes as many politicians, especially in the West Virginia delegation, have been calling for increased scrutiny of the EPA.

  • Senators vow to strip Obama climate power (Raw Story):
    Conservative senators vowed Monday to strip President Barack Obama of his power to regulate greenhouse gases, in a move that would cripple US efforts on climate change if successful.

    Eleven Republican senators introduced a bill that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases, which scientists blame for global warming, without explicit approval by Congress.

  • San Bruno Pipeline Called "Tip of the Iceberg" (SF Chronicle) [emphasis added]:
    Federal investigators' findings in the San Bruno pipeline explosion probe suggest that thousands of miles of long-buried and untested natural gas pipelines across the United States are at far greater risk of failure than the industry and government regulators have long maintained, experts say.
  • Disputed Nuclear Reactor Design Moves Forward (NY Times):
    Westinghouse appears to have won an important first round in a battle with critics over the radical design of the containment system for its new AP1000 reactor. A panel of senior safety advisers has told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that with a few additional procedures and analyses, the design should be approved.
  • Ethical dilemma profoundly sways climate economics (Daily Climate):
    What's our compact with our great-great-great-grandchildren? What do we owe to future generations? - Frank Ackerman, Stockholm Environmental Institute

    Of the many moral conundrums presented by climate change, the issue's intergenerational nature is perhaps trickiest to sort out.

    It boils down to this: We benefit mightily from burning cheap coal and will shoulder most of the expense associated with switching the global economy to low-carbon fuel sources.

    But our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will pay the price for our profligate energy ways and will reap the majority of the benefit of our shift to cleaner-burning fuels.

    So do we pay now, or let our kids deal?