BIG ASH IN A SMALL POND: As if in response to the ad nauseam buzzing about "clean coal" in 2008, the problem of coal ash has roared into the national spotlight in '09. And, right on cue, there was another leak today in a TVA coal-plant containment pond. Ten thousand gallons of gypsum slurry spilled out of a pond in Stevenson, Ala., and while most of it was caught by a second pond, "some materials flowed into Widows Creek," a TVA official told The Nashville Tennessean. One local resident claims the leak was actually ash, not gypsum. (Sources: The Huffington Post, The Nashville Tennessean)

BLAME IT ON (MORE THAN) THE RAIN: The floods plaguing the Pacific Northwest in recent days — and years — may have been worsened by human activities, according to a report today in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Logging on higher land has depleted forests that could have intercepted and slowed the rainfall before it became a flood; human development has paved and built over marshes that once would have gladly soaked up floodwaters; and climate change is making unusually heavy thunderstorms more usual, as a University of Washington climatologist recently tried to explain. (Source: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

BLUE LEGACY UNDER FIRE: President Bush, hailed recently for his sweeping ocean-conservation efforts, has failed to protect 14 kinds of whales and dolphins at risk from commercial fishing, according to congressional investigators. To Bush's credit, it may be because he heard dolphins have developed WMDs. (Sources: The Associated Press, The Times of London)

DOUBLE OR NOTHING: Obama's promise Thursday to double U.S. alternative energy production has since been described both as "very challenging" and "not very ambitious." The former was from Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who said biofuels can't be doubled that quickly and that manufacturing capacity for wind turbines is too low. The Washington Post agrees to a point, reporting today that government incentives will likely be needed. But one industry expert tells Reuters today that Obama's goal assumes no change in annual growth, since U.S. wind-power capacity already more than doubled the past three years. And a member of the German Parliament says Obama's targets "will be very easily over-fulfilled." (Sources: The New York Times, Reuters, The Washington Post, Reuters)

OBAMOBILE: The London Daily Mail has an infographic today depicting Obama's new presidential Cadillac, which MNN's Benyamin Cohen reported yesterday isn't as green as some had hoped. What it lacks in eco-friendliness, though, it makes up for in deadliness. Among other features, it's equipped with night-vision cameras, pump-action shotguns, tear-gas cannons, and shred- and puncture-resistant tires. (Source: The Daily Mail)

Russell McLendon

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