WIND SOME, LOSE SOME: The New York Times' Green Inc. blog has good news and bad news today about the wind-power industry. First the good: The Cape Wind project, a proposed 130-turbine wind farm that would be built off Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound, received a positive environmental-impact report from the agency that oversees it. Next comes a 30-day review and comment period, after which the Obama administration's Interior Department will decide whether to approve the project. In less encouraging news, Green Inc. also reports that "green jobs" are drying up in wind power, with major turbine manufacturers laying off big chunks of their workforce. Many wind-farm projects are being scaled back as bank lending recoils around the country. (Source: NY Times)

INSIGHT FOR SORE EYES: The Los Angeles Times offers this incisive review of the new Honda Insight hybrid, unveiled this week at the Detroit auto show. While Honda may have misjudged its competition in trying to take on the Prius — whose 2010 incarnation beats the Insight in nearly every category — it does have a slight advantage in aesthetics and handling, the LA Times reports. The only remaining question is price. (Sources: LA Times, The Detroit Free Press)

DASHBOARD OBSESSIONAL: New Scientist reviews Ford's new ecocentric dashboard concept, which frames fuel efficiency as a challenge for drivers to tackle, almost like a Tamagotchi. Getting the most mileage per gallon helps a virtual vine flourish on a dashboard display, but drive impetuously and it'll wither before your eyes. (Source: New Scientist)

POACH TRAP: South African police and park rangers announced today they busted an international rhino-poaching ring, following days of tracking the poachers. Authorities said the poachers had sawed off some rhinos' horns — which many in Asia believe have aphrodisiac qualities — while the animals were still alive. Rhinos have been nearly poached out of existence, with most now living only in game reserves; the West African black rhino is probably already extinct. (Sources: The Associated Press, National Geographic)

CONCRETE SOLUTION: The EPA will propose new mercury-emissions standards for the cement industry by March, environmental activists announced today. Several environmental groups and nine states sued the EPA in 2007 to force regulation of the cement plants' mercury emissions, were are nearly 23,000 pounds a year, according to Earthjustice. (Sources: AP, Earthjustice)  

SUBSURFACE TENSION: The Michigan Messenger reports today on that state's overlooked "ticking time bomb" of underground coal-ash dumps. While much of the nation's coal ash is stored in ponds like the ones that recently leaked in Tennessee and Alabama, Michigan's ash is kept in subterranean dumps that can leak into groundwater. Lithium, manganese, potassium, selenium and strontium have been detected in groundwater beneath the North Lansing Landfill, one of 24 coal-ash dumps the EPA has cited for "proven damage" to groundwater. (Sources: The Michigan Messenger, NY Times)

Russell McLendon

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