BEST-LAID PLANS: The Christian Science Monitor's Eoin O'Carroll examines Obama's energy plan — not just its economic feasibility or sufficiency, which has been debated for days now — but whether it can actually help the climate. (Sources: CS Monitor, The New York Times)

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MINE: Yes, the dollar's down, but do we need gold this badly? A lawyer for a proposed Alaska gold mine told the U.S. Supreme Court today that mine operators should be allowed to dump metal waste into a nearby lake, even though that would kill all aquatic life in it. The lawyer argued it's "fill," not "waste," and that the lake could be restocked — with even more fish! Score! — after mining ends. A lawyer for environmentalist group Earthjustice told the AP such a precedent in the Supreme Court could allow such waste fill to be dumped into waterways across the country. (Source: The Associated Press)

SLURRIED SPEECH: The TVA sought to calm fears in Northern Alabama today, following last week's 10,000-gallon spill of gypsum slurry from a coal-plant's containment pond. The public utility — which also manages the pond that spilled more than a billion gallons of coal ash onto East Tennessee last month — says it did find slightly elevated levels of contaminants in the Tennessee River south of the Alabama spill, but assured the public those samples still met federal standards for safe drinking water. Still, California Sen. Barbara Boxer says she's going to push for federal regulation of the nation's hundreds of unregulated coal-ash ponds, adding "I'm going to be all over this." (Sources: The Nashville TennesseanAPThe Knoxville News SentinelNY Times)

NEW CAR SWELL: Following the introduction of Honda's new Insight hybrid Sunday, Toyota today unveiled its 2010 Prius at the Detroit auto show. Facing both raised competition and drooping demand, Toyota's top-selling hybrid boasts an average 50 miles per gallon, highest among EPA-ranked cars, and optional features such as a moonroof with solar panels to power the ventilation system. That would've been great in July '08, of course, but the question remains whether hybrids, however innovative, will sell in '09. (Sources: CNET News, AP, The Washington Post)

CAT OUT OF THE BAG: In a case of blunderous invasive-species meddling that spans more than a century, the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island now faces "ecosystem meltdown," scientists warned today. The mess began soon after the island was discovered in the early 1800s. It's a bit long and complicated, so here's the short version: Seal hunters showed up, rats jumped off their ship and started eating their food stocks, so they brought cats. Later hunters then brought rabbits, which mated like rabbits, flourished, and devastated native plants. So people then threw the rabbit-killing Myxoma virus into the mix. But the cats were eating those rabbits, so they then started eating native birds. So people killed all the cats, and now the rabbits are back, and devastating native plants even more. Experts say a restoration will cost more than $16 million. (Sources: Agence France-PresseThe Guardian)

Russell McLendon

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