GREENBACKS: The New York Times presents a summary this morning of how the new federal budget unveiled by President Obama yesterday divvies out funding to environmental agencies such as the EPA, DOE and DOI, as well as how it aims to use revenue from a cap-and-trade program to finance renewable-energy loan guarantees and middle-class tax credits. The Washington Post has a more thorough agency-by-agency breakdown, and also reports on the policy shifts and political ambition Obama's budget reflects. Also today, Vice President Joe Biden is in Philadelphia promoting green jobs as a way to boost the standing of middle-class Americans. (Sources: NY Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer)

NO COUNTRY FOR COAL MEN: The Los Angeles Times reports today on the new ad directed by the Coen brothers that mocks "clean coal" marketing, also mentioned in yesterday's Noon Digg. The Oscar-winning directors of Fargo and No Country for Old Men agreed to film the 30-second spot for This Is Reality, the ad campaign against coal greenwashing featuring the iconic yellow canary. "We were excited to be part of this important project and tell another side of the 'clean' coal story," the Coens said in a statement. (Source: LA Times)

CAPITOL IDEA: The U.S. Capitol Power Plant's carbon emissions have been a frequent target of congressional Democrats since they took control of the House and Senate in 2006. They've successfully pushed it to use more natural gas, but in a letter today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called for the plant — which provides steam and chilled water to heat and cool many federal buildings — to switch entirely from coal to gas. (Source: Washington Post)

SHOCK OF THE BAY: The recent sewage spills into San Francisco Bay — dumping more than a million gallons in the last two weeks — are part of a chronic human-waste problem in the bay, the AP reports. Raw or partially treated sewage enters bay waters more than five times a day on average; last year there were more than 2,000 spills totaling about 15 million gallons. Aging infrastructure and stormy seas contribute to the spills, which have been blamed for both fish deaths and disease in swimmers. A regional regulatory agency ordered the  Sausalito-Marin City Sanitary District on Tuesday to immediately clean up the 720,000 gallons that spilled into the bay last week. (Sources: Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle)

EXTREMOPHILES: Deep pits the in the bottom of the Great Lakes are the unexpected home to exotic microorganisms, scientists have found, some of which are related to deep-sea "extremophiles" and others to bacteria that live in lakes beneath glaciers in Antarctica. The sinkholes were discovered in 2001, but only recently did researchers find out about the bright-purple cyanobacteria, which photosynthesize using sulphur instead of oxygen, or the even deeper communities of pale, floating "ponytails" that can metabolize sulphur compounds without sunlight, a rare feat in biology. Scientists are now trying to figure out how these microbes ended up in the Great Lakes, so far from their obscure relatives. (Source: New Scientist)

NEON GREEN: Researchers are hoping a network of ecological "satellites" that monitor environmental changes will do for ecology what the Hubble Space Telescope did for astronomy — namely, engage the public by offering easily accessible data to anyone. The National Ecological Network Observatory, or NEON, will link existing field stations across the United States that use planes, orbiters, ground-level sensors and human-run labs to keep track of nature, providing a patchwork picture of ecological health. NEON will cost about $300 million to set up, and should be operational by 2016. (Source: National Geographic)

Russell McLendon

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