PATH OF LEASE RESISTANCE: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has canceled 77 leases the Bush administration sold to oil and gas companies last year, taking back drilling rights on the Utah lands that have stirred controversy since the sale was announced on Election Day 2008. The Bureau of Land Management leased more than 100,000 acres of federal lands in December, many of them adjacent to national parks, and undoing the sales has been a top priority of environmental groups ever since. Energy industry groups decried the move, but Salazar also left intact 39 other leases in areas deemed less environmentally sensitive. (Sources: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times)

POLITICAL CLIMATE CHANGE: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will include China on her momentous first trip abroad, and she tells Dot Earth's Andy Revkin that "climate and energy will be high on the agenda." Climate control seems to be a theme running through many Obama administration departments; Clinton discussed the topic at her confirmation hearing and also recently named former Clinton administration adviser Todd Stern as special climate-change envoy. (Sources: New York Times, Agence France-Presse, TIME)

GONE FISSION: Nearly thirty years after Sweden decided to phase out nuclear power, 10 of its 12 reactors remain, and today the Swedish government agreed to scrap a 1980 referendum banning new nuclear projects. Nuclear energy, which supplies about half of Sweden's power, has grown in popularity there lately, presumably because its reactors come in flat, efficiently packed pieces. (Source: AP)

DOWN UNDER THE WEATHER: Heavy flooding in Australia has washed crocodiles into the streets, and one was hit by a car Tuesday (it lost a few teeth but survived). More than 60 percent of the northern state of Queensland has been declared a disaster area after the floods and two recent cyclones affected nearly 3,000 homes. Heavy rains are typical for the South Pacific this time of year, but could be more common due to a lingering La Niña effect. Click here for more on this year's La Niña. (Source: TerraDaily)

FOLLOW THE CEDAR: Lebanon's iconic cedar trees, some of which are 2,000 years old, face an imminent threat from global warming, scientists in Beirut warn. Deforestation, lack of snow and an infestation of wood wasps brought on by drought could "transform Lebanon into a desert," an expert on Mediterranean forests tells AFP. The cedar trees have been used by human civilizations for thousands of years — the Phoenicians used them to build ships, houses and temples; ancient Egyptians used their resin in mummification; and it's believed King Solomon used them to build his temple in Jerusalem. The cedar tree is also featured prominently on Lebanon's flag. (Source: AFP)

Russell McLendon

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