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In Kansas Coal Plant Battle, Greens See Foul Play

Governor boots KDHE director Bremby as agency weighs coal plant permit before EPA's Tailoring Rule kicks in

By Kevin Murphy

Nov 4, 2010

Environmentalists' hopes that a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Kansas would never get built suffered a possible setback this week with the controversial departure of a state official who gained national attention three years ago when he denied the plant's permit based on its possible effect on climate change.

Rod Bremby, secretary of the (KDHE), was replaced after declining Gov. Mark Parkinson's request he leave to direct the transition team that will see Governor-elect Sam Brownback into office in two months.

Opponents of the proposed plant near Holcomb, Kan., believe he was forced out so that a permit for the plant would stand a better chance of being approved by the KDHE before take effect Jan. 2.

“There isn't anyone in the state who doesn't know what this was about,” said Scott Allegrucci, executive director of the , based in Topeka, Kan.

As Host of Climate Talks, Mexico Faces Domestic Energy Paradox

Mexico champions climate solutions but is also expanding its oil industry and car ownership

By Maria Gallucci

Nov 4, 2010

MEXICO CITY – In the run up to this month’s , Mexico has poised itself as an eager champion of climate change initiatives by rallying its Latin American counterparts to bring environmental policies to the top of their political agendas.
Rather than bolster its role as liaison, however, the country should first remedy its own domestic policy dilemma, local environment and energy experts argue. Even while Mexico outlines ambitious goals for climate change, the government is boosting the struggling economy by expanding the state-run oil industry and promoting car ownership.
“If Mexico wants to be a leader in the fight against climate change, it has to profoundly rectify its current policies for the energy sector instead of taking the country down the same road of fossil fuel consumption,” said Gustavo Ampugnani of .

California Defends Climate Law, Remains National Bastion of Clean Energy Economy

61 percent of voters say no to referendum that would have suspended the state's landmark climate legislation

By Jennifer Pinkowski

Nov 3, 2010

California voters defended their landmark climate law by yesterday, ending questions over whether the state's 2006 legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions would be suspended until the state unemployment rate fell by more than half.

While election results in the rest of the nation make the outlook for federal climate legislation dim, yesterday's vote in California solidifies the position of the state as the country's bastion of the clean energy economy, whose outsized GDP will unavoidably influence policy and commerce across the nation as its climate law gets implemented.

Some 61 percent of voters rejected Prop. 23. While pre-election polls indicated they were likely to turn down the controversial ballot measure, which was largely funded by out-of-state oil interests, the overwhelming defeat has advocates thrilled.

“It’s clearly a strong victory for clean energy in the face of scare tactics in a weak economy,” said Steven Maviglio, a spokesperson for , the coalition that campaigned heavily against the referendum. The defeat, Maviglio told SolveClimate News, indicates voters believe California can have both “a strong economy and a clean environment.”

As GOP Takes House, VA Clean Energy Champion Perriello Loses Seat

The first-termer is one of many clean energy promoters to fall as Republicans make big gains in Washington

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 3, 2010

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia—Rep. Tom Perriello looked so buoyant and sounded so effervescent during his concession speech Tuesday night that backers not yet aware of the final election numbers might have thought the clean energy champion was headed back to a second term in Congress.

But in this third straight, independent-instigated “wave election,” voters booted Perriello and at least 60 other House Democrats out of office.

Though Democrats retained a slimmer Senate majority, the House turnabout erased significant pickups that Democrats made in 2006 and 2008. With the lower chamber flipping to the GOP, Ohio Republican John Boehner is in line to replace California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.

Living Planet Report Says Rich Nations Inhabit a "False Paradise"

Populations of tropical species are plummeting and humanity’s demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing to 50% more than the earth can sustain


Nov 3, 2010
Map Showing Global Ecological Footprint

Populations of tropical species are plummeting and humanity’s demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing to 50% more than the earth can sustain, according to the 2010 edition of WWF’s – the leading survey of the health of the earth.

The study -- produced in collaboration with the and the -- uses what it terms “a series of indicators to monitor biodiversity, human demand on renewable resources and ecosystem services”.

This “Living Planet Index” reflects changes in ecosystems by tracking trends in nearly 8,000 populations of vertebrate species -- more than 2,500 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. The global index, says the report, shows a 30% decrease from 1970 to 2007; the tropics have been hardest hit, with a 60% decline in less than 40 years.

“There is an alarming rate of biodiversity loss in low-income, often tropical, countries while the developed world is living in a false paradise, fuelled by excessive consumption and high carbon emissions,” according to Jim Leape, director general of WWF International.

Two Companies Seek Trade Secret Status for Fracking Fluids in Wyoming

Disclosure is the rule, anything else is a rare exception, state official says

by Marie C. Baca,

Nov 2, 2010

Two chemical manufacturers are seeking an exemption from new rules in Wyoming that require public disclosure of the chemicals used in , a controversial natural gas drilling process suspected of polluting groundwater.

ChemEOR, based in Covina, Calif., and CESI Chemical Inc., based in Marlow, Okla., have asked the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to grant their fracturing fluids trade secret status, according to state oil and gas supervisor Tom Doll. The designation would still require the companies to share their formulas with the state but would exempt them from making the information available to the public.

"Disclosure is the rule," Doll said. "Anything else is a rare exception, and one we will look at very, very closely."

Study: Only 47% of Republicans Think Global Warming Is Happening

Researchers say the results are "not a surprise" and reflect a growing divide first noticed in 1997

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 2, 2010

WASHINGTON—Democrats are not only more prone to think that global warming is happening but they are also much more apt to worry about it than independents and Republicans.
That partisan split emerged loud and clear when Yale University researchers crunched a separate set of numbers from an in-depth climate change study they released in mid-October. The prospect of a looming Election Day prompted the survey collaborators to in attitudes toward global warming.
“We always go into our research with an open mind,” Anthony Leiserowitz, with the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, told SolveClimate News. “These results are not a surprise because it’s a phenomenon we’ve been witnessing for many years now.”

BP Oil Spill Costs to Hit $40 Billion

BP's pre-tax profits for the third quarter of 2010 down to $1.8bn, compared with $4.98bn a year ago.

Nov 2, 2010

BP said today it expects the cost of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to be $7.7bn (£4.8bn) bigger than previously thought, pushing the total bill to nearly $40bn.

The oil giant announced the new charge to cover the cost of the Gulf of Mexico spill alongside its financial results for the third quarter of the year. It blamed the delays that dogged its attempts to seal the leak, along with higher clean-up costs and legal fees.

The new charge knocked BP's pre-tax profits for the third quarter of 2010 down to $1.8bn, compared with $4.98bn a year ago.

To Get Elected, Florida's Rubio Leaving Climate Action Past Behind

Crist gets flak for political opportunism. But it's Tea Party favorite Rubio who's shifted from climate promoter to climate denier

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 1, 2010

 WASHINGTON—Republicans delight in skewering Florida Gov. , the GOP-turned-independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, as a political opportunist.
But what about his Republican opponent, ? Before becoming a climate change denier and darling of the Tea Party movement, the up-and-coming state legislator was intent on blazing a Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger–like green trail in the Sunshine State. That’s why the environmentally informed say Rubio is the candidate who changed his stripes to be elected to Florida’s open Senate seat.
“It’s purely politics,” California environmental adviser  Terry Tamminen told SolveClimate News. “Rubio recognizes that if he wants to run as a Republican in a statewide race, he has to tack to the right. He is doing exactly what he feels he has to do and, frankly, probably holding his nose about it.”

Wind or Oil? New Mexico Voters Face Sharp Choice on Nov. 2

Teague's clean energy agenda draws some, but others say Pearce will defend the state's oil industry

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 1, 2010

Editor's Note: SolveClimate News political reporter Elizabeth McGowan traveled to New Mexico to cover the 2010 midterm elections race in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. It pits an incumbent against a former legislator, both with long careers in the oil and gas industry. This is the final installment in a three-part series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M.—Mention cap-and-trade systems, renewable electricity standards or low-carbon economies to Hatty Smith, and her snappy blue eyes quickly telegraph that such Washington gibberish gives her a headache.

But turn the conversation toward harnessing her home state’s ferocious winds to create electricity and the 83-year-old’s ears perk up.

“I think it’s the best thing they could ever think of,” says Smith, a retired restaurant owner. “It’s natural. We have plenty of wind, and it’s free. I don’t understand why we’re not using more of it.”

Boosting wind power is one of the reasons Smith is backing renewable-energy champion Democrat who’s in a down-to-the-wire match with a climate-change denying Republican to hang on to his House seat in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.