EMISSIONARY POSITION: The EPA gave California permission on Tuesday to set its own limits on cars' and trucks' tailpipe emissions, a symbolic victory in the state's long-running battle for automobile autonomy. It's symbolic because, since the Obama administration in May pledged to impose national limits on tailpipe emissions, automakers are scrambling to meet those anyway — the 2009 fleet is already in compliance, and the class of 2010 is expected to be, as well. Both the California and federal regulations aim to cut emissions 30 percent by 2016, and the federal rules will mandate fuel efficiency of roughly 35.5 miles per gallon by the same year. While the United States adopts California's tougher limits, the state will agree not to tighten its own standards before 2017. Meanwhile, automakers agree to drop their lawsuits against California. (Sources: Washington PostNew York Times, MSNBC, Los Angeles Times)

PALOUSE EARTHWORM: The white, sweet-smelling earthworm that grows up to three feet long and spits at its predators has only been spotted three times in the past 110 years. Native to North America, unlike most earthworms in the U.S. Northwest, the Palouse earthworm is seemingly on the brink of extinction, if it's not already gone. Yet the Bush administration rejected petitions to classify the worm as an endangered species, arguing that evidence is lacking to prove it needs protection. Conservation groups filed another petition Tuesday with the Fish and Wildlife Service, hoping to have more luck with the Obama administration in saving the worm, which was last seen in 2005. (Source: Associated Press)

BLAME CANADA: Of the world's wealthiest eight countries, Canada is doing the worst job of fighting climate change, according to a report released today by the World Wildlife Foundation. The country's greenhouse gas emissions are still rising and it has an especially high per capita emissions rate, the WWF points out. Canada came in second-to-last in 2008 to the bottom-ranked United States, which improved its standing in this year's report thanks to climate initiatives planned by the Obama administration. (Source: Ottawa Citizen)

SUN RISES IN THE WEST: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has set aside 676,000 acres of federal land for studying the practicality and environmental impact of solar power in six Western states, more than half of which is in California's Mojave Desert. The Interior Department will spend $22 million reviewing the 24 tracts of land in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. "We hear a lot about doing something about the environment," said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who joined Salazar for the announcement. "That's what this is all about. We want to not be dependent on foreign oil. This will make America a more secure nation." (Sources: LA Times, AP)

CONCESSIONS STAND: "It is unprecedented, but at least it's transparent." That's Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, speaking wryly about the frenzy of concessions and compromises that flew around up until the last minute of the House climate bill's passage last week. Barton is rigidly opposed to the bill, which would, among other things, introduce a cap-and-trade regime on greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., was on the floor last Friday tossing out billions of dollars in vote lures, which has elicited cynicism among many environmentalists as well as Republicans. In an editorial today, the NY Times urges the Senate to avoid similar temptations to water down the bill, even suggesting it strip away some of the uglier additions made on the House floor. (Source: NY Times)

PLAYBOY BUNNIES: An endangered species of Florida marsh rabbit named after Playboy impresario Hugh Hefner — Sylvilagus palustris hefneri — is being pushed toward extinction. The small, brown-and-gray bunnies were named after Hef in 1994 following a donation from his organization to support rabbit research, but their habitat is crumbling under the weight of population growth and encroaching development. The problem is exacerbated by the rabbits' dependence on specific grasses and other plants for feeding, nesting and shelter, and with so few individuals left, their subspecies' survival may depend on relocating them to a safer habitat — or the 300 remaining could just take a few pages from Hef's playbook. (Source: Discovery News)

Russell McLendon

(Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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