OBAMANIA, CONT'D: Most major papers and news services lead this morning with ongoing reactions to Obama's inauguration. Environmentalists and energy experts have been weighing in on the speech, widely seen as a serious pledge to fight climate change and oil dependence. Analysts in general have hailed this as a new era of rational, "subtle" leadership in America. Folks in the fossil-fuel business were less enthusiastic, but largely unwilling to speak ill of a president whose popularity is soaring. "Let's just wait and see what they propose," says Greg Schnacke, president of Americans for American Energy. "We want to give the new president a chance to learn more about energy." Of course, Obama's recourse is limited, given the state of America's economy, but his cup seemed to runneth over with political capital Tuesday night as he and Michelle ran a seven-hour gauntlet of forced dances. (Sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post, Agence France-Presse, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Grand Junction Sentinel)
TRAINING DAY: The D.C. Metro mass transit system withstood its biggest test ever Tuesday, carrying more than a million inauguration celebrators in and out of Washington without major incident, aside from hours of waiting. (Source: The Baltimore Sun)
OLIVE RANCH: The Christian Science Monitor reports this morning on the benefits of sustainable ranching, which uses grazing livestock to mimic the patterns of natural grazers — huddling together for safety, devouring a patch of grass en masse and then moving on — to restore vitality to desertifying Western lands. The feature exemplifies a point often made by MNN's Chuck Leavell in regard to sustainable tree farming: Smart, controlled agricultural practices can often be more beneficial to undeveloped lands than leaving them to humanity at large. (Source: CS Monitor)
A RIVER RUNS PUTRID: More than half of the 981-mile Ohio River is contaminated with unsafe levels of fecal coliform bacteria, aka E. coli, according to a landmark study by six states and the U.S. EPA, the largest study of its kind. Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — all touching the Ohio River — are working with the federal agency to determine how much bacteria can be discharged into the river by sewage treatment plants, factories and farms without exceeding safety standards. (Source: NY Times)
TROUBLE COMES IN FREEZE: California has enjoyed summery weather while much of the country suffered through blistering subzero temperatures, but now another kind of cold snap is wreaking havoc in the state — a funding freeze. California's crippling budget deficit has led state officials to halt all projects that rely on borrowed money, derailing more than 750 environmental projects in Los Angeles County alone, totaling $420 million. (Sources: The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press)
EARLY BLOOMERS: Australia's Sydney University is under fire for a proposal to fight global warming by spawning huge algae blooms in the Tasman Sea. The school's idea is to scatter nitrate fertilizer over 1,600 square kilometers of the sea, creating a bloom they hope would sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide at the bottom of the ocean for up to a century. Aside from what happens after that century is up, critics warn of the unknown risks posed by such an experiment. Algae blooms spurred by agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River are blamed for creating the Gulf of Mexico's infamous fish-free "dead zone." (Source: The Sydney Morning Herald)
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