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February 09, 2010

Global Warming & Clean Energy News Round-Up

I thought I'd take a moment to dig out from under the three feet of snow here on the East Coast and share some recent news of note from around the web.

First, as if we didn't get enough with astro-turfing last year from the coal industry, now it's the Alaska legislature's turn. They're putting together a $1.5 million campaign to protect the oil industry and cast doubt on putting the polar bear on the endangered species list. You know, because the oil industry sure needs help - it's not like they didn't spend $154 million lobbying Congress in 2009.

Next up, and related to advertising "fake it until you make it," the coal industry is gearing up another multi-million dollar ad campaign to convince you that coal is green! The spots, launched this week, focus "on jobs and low-cost power, the latest offering in a three-year, nearly $120 million effort to sell Congress and the White House on coal's future."

Coal's future - hmm. The same coal that destroys communities and landscapes in Appalachia? Read this sad article from Virginia this week to learn more about that. I don't want that kind of future - no matter how much the coal industry wants to convince us that flattening the mountains is a great way to make room for shopping complexes (seriously, check out this article from the same news outlet as the other VA one, and from the day after that one ran!)

That's pretty sad, but there are communities that are seeing the clean energy alternatives to coal - including Portland, Oregon. Last week Portland Mayor Sam Adams gave his State of the City address and specifically talked about the need to move away from coal and toward clean energy. Check out this excerpt from Mayor Adams' speech:
The third and final revelation from this brutal economic storm is that we remain overly reliant on yesterday's energy production models.

Unsustainable fossil fuels power too much of our quality of life. In Portland, that also means coal: 43% of all the energy we consume in Portland comes from the bowels of Wyoming - railroaded to Boardman (an Oregon coal plant) and beyond and burned into the blue skies of Eastern Oregon and the Rocky Mountains, and outside the reach of the Clean Air Act.

Folks, we do such a good job at home — from bicycling to recycling and more. But we need to kick our coal habit. Portland General Electric, Portland's principal energy provider and owner of the Boardman plant, is headed in that direction. I applaud their plans to phase out the Boardman coal plant.

But remember it's about a lot more than just the right thing to do. The so-called 'right thing to do' tends to resonate more with those who have the luxury of alternatives that are often more expensive. Mike, who's concerned about his next tamale sale, shouldn't be expected to think about clean energy power. Mike needs a living-wage job.

So, here's the best part about our approach: Because we have growing wind and solar industries right here; kicking our coal habit means growing jobs right here at home. There's no way I'm going to let us miss this opportunity.
It's nice to see cities taking a stand on clean energy and global warming.

Meanwhile, the federal government is taking some administrative strides on global warming. This week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration unveiled a new Climate Service "dedicated to bringing together the agency's strong climate science and service delivery capabilities." We, of course, strongly approve!

Finally, let's end this update by tooting our own horn a bit. USA Today reported on our new Activist Network (are you a part of it yet?) and gave it great praise.

And we've posted some more great photos and updates on last week's Environmental Protection Agency public hearings on its proposed ozone rule. You can see the photos in our Big Picture Group Gallery, and read the post on the Big Picture Group Blog.

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