CAP AND TRADE-OFFS: The House narrowly passed a historic climate and energy bill Friday night, the first time either chamber of Congress has approved limits on the greenhouse gas emissions that feed climate change. On Sunday, President Obama praised the groundbreaking achievement — which was a victory for him and for leading House Democrats — but criticized a provision in the bill that would punish other countries for not enacting their own emissions limits by restricting trade with them. "I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there," Obama said, citing the ongoing global recession as a reason not to restrict international trade. That tariff measure is one of many add-ons aimed at satisfying moderate Democrats, many from coal-heavy states, who were concerned about jobs being sent overseas as a result of the bill. Still, Obama was mainly complimentary of the landmark legislation, saying it would spark innovation and jobs, and wasted no time after the House vote in pushing for approval from the Senate. (Sources: Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press)
ANTI-CLIMATIC: Critics of greenhouse gas regulation have been abuzz over the weekend about an anti-regulation report from an EPA economist that the agency apparently censored. Alan Carlin, the lead author of the suppressed report, is not a climate scientist, nor is co-author John Davidson, yet they weigh in on a variety of heady scientific themes related to the gradual transformation of the planet's climate. Their arguments that climate science is evolving too quickly, or that Earth is actually cooling, ran contrary to an EPA endangerment finding that set the groundwork for the House's recently passed climate bill. Carlin and Davidson appear to have collaborated with a prominent climate-change skeptic, RealClimate points out, and cited bloggers and astrologers in lieu of peer-reviewed scientific studies. (Sources: CBS News, RealClimate)
BACK TO PETROLEUM? British Petroleum has been going by the name "Beyond Petroleum" for several years, but its commitment to alternative fuels has been called into question following the resignation of its clean-energy chief and looming budget cuts. Vivienne Cox managed a staff of about 80 people focused on wind and solar power, but she's stepping down Tuesday to spend more time with her children, according to BP. "I know you would love to make a story out of all this," BP CEO Tony Hayward told the Guardian, "but it's quite hard work." Some industry insiders reportedly believe Cox was frustrated over cutbacks — BP's alternative energy budget is being slashed from $1.4 billion to between $500 million and $1 billion — although she may have really just wanted to spend more time with her kids. (Source: Guardian)
DAMMED IF YOU DO: Levees south of New Orleans have long blocked sediment carried toward the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi River, a problem that prevents Louisiana's coastal marshes and bayous from developing the way they did for thousands of years. Officials have been increasingly open to the idea of tearing down these levees recently, but a new study suggests it may be too late. Inland dams farther up the Big River already collect too much sediment for the downstream levees to make much difference, the researchers report, and even if all that sediment were released, much of it is contaminated with agricultural runoff that could exacerbate pollution in the Mississippi Delta. (Source: NY Times)
"CHARISMATIC MEGAFAUNA": After decades of focusing on wolves, eagles, bears and other cute or iconic animals, is the United States ready to start saving the ugly plants and animals? The Washington Post examines the country's beauty-contest method of conservation — while just nine of America's 1,318 threatened or endangered have gone extinct since 1973, only 15 have actually been "recovered," which was the goal all along. Those select few are what's sometimes referred to as "charismatic megafauna," or large, well-known birds and mammals. While it's easy to motivate people to save animals that produce fuzzy cubs, pups and chicks, it's much harder to drum up support for things like condors, salmon and beetles, even if they're no less ecologically important. (Source: Washington Post)
HYPER LYNX: Speaking of fuzzy cubs, though, their adorability is still hard to ignore. Colorado biologists are heartened to have discovered 10 lynx kittens this year, the first newborns found in that state since 2006. Lynx are native to Colorado but disappeared by the early '70s thanks to trapping, poisoning and habitat encroachment for logging and development. Biologists have released more than 200 lynx from Canada and Alaska since 1999 in an effort to repopulate Colorado with the tuft-eared wild cats, but no cubs had been spotted the last couple years, possibly due to a drop in showshoe hares, their main prey. (Source: AP)
(Photos: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP; Colorado Division of Wildlife/AP)
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