Senate rejects measure to stop EPA on climate

The Senate rejected a measure on Wednesday to kill the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, handing President Barack Obama a victory in his effort to quicken the move to clean energy. The EPA's rules, which it began rolling out on polluters such as power plants and oil refineries early this year, are one of Obama's top strategies to show the world the United States is fighting climate change. Republicans, who were able to block a climate and energy bill last year, hoped to pick up support from Democrats in energy-dependent states facing tight elections next year on the measure sponsored by Republican leader Mitch McConnell. But it got only 50 votes in the Democratic-led 100-member chamber, short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

UPS, Verizon, PepsiCo Among Charter Members of Obama’s Clean Fleets Partnership

April 4, 2011 - UPS, Verizon, PepsiCo, AT&T and FedEx, are the charter members of the National Clean Fleets Partnership announced by President Obama on Friday. The public-private partnership aims to assist large companies in reducing diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures into their daily operations.

Apple and Intel Cease Use of Conflict Minerals

With global demand for electronics surging – especially for tablet computers like Apple's iPad – these gadgets' sophistication and long battery life have created a huge market for rare earth minerals, often associated with global conflicts. Elements like copper and even rarer tungsten, neodymium, dysprosium, coltan, and terbium are tagged with the "conflict" label because of their concentration in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Coffee Production and Climate Change

As if there were a need for even more evidence that global warming is a real, verifiable and evidenced threat, new research is showing Central and South American coffee production is drastically dropping because of higher global temperatures. Add extreme rainfall totals to the mix and the result is rampant insects and damaged plants. If economics won't convince people the earth is warming, perhaps interrupting their coffee supply will.

Star Jets

Astronomers have discovered that two symmetrical jets shooting away from opposite sides of a blossoming star are experiencing a time delay: knots of gas and dust from one jet blast off four-and-a-half years later than identical knots from the other jet. The finding, which required the infrared vision of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, is helping astronomers understand how jets are produced around forming stars, including those resembling our sun when it was young.

Idaho House declares wolves a “disaster emergency”

The Idaho House on Tuesday approved a measure that declares the state's wolves a "disaster emergency" -- akin to a flood or wildfire -- and gives the governor broad powers to eliminate them. The bill, approved by a 64-5 vote, now heads to the Senate, where a dozen members have signed on as sponsors. The legislation says the state's estimated 800 wolves are compromising public safety, destroying herds of big-game animals like elk and damaging hunting and agricultural industries. Under existing Idaho law, a state of emergency allows the governor to marshal his police powers to lessen the impact of a declared threat. "Folks, there is an emergency," House Speaker Lawerence Denney said during debate on the bill. Federally protected wolves have been at the center of a bitter debate in the Northern Rockies since they were reintroduced to central Idaho and Yellowstone in the mid-1990s over the objections of ranchers and hunters who feared for livestock and wildlife.

Billion Dollar Bats in Danger

Bats mean big money for American farmers. Their nightly bug-munching saves U.S. agriculture between $3.7 to $53 billion a year on pesticides and crop losses. A U.S. Geological Survey study, published in Science, put a dollar sign on the services bats offer free of charge. The study found that bats are high rollers in the game of insect control. But the researchers are worried.

Mangroves Among the Most Carbon-Rich Forests in the Tropics; Coastal Trees Key to Lowering Greenhouse Gases

ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2011) — Coastal mangrove forests store more carbon than almost any other forest on Earth, according to a study conducted by a team of U.S. Forest Service and university scientists.

World Bank proposes to limit funding to coal plants

Following years of criticism from environmentalists and some governments the World Bank has proposed new rules regarding carbon-intensive coal plants, reports the Guardian. The new rules would allow lending for coal-fired plants only to the world's poorest nations and would only lend after other alternatives, such as renewable energy, had been ruled out.

Kilauea Volcano

The Kilauea volcano that recently erupted on the Big Island of Hawaii will be the target for a NASA study to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth's surface. Kīlauea is an active volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five shield volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaii. It is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian archipelago, as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaii hotspot. Kīlauea is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and an invaluable resource for volcanologists who are able to study it up close due to its exclusively non-violent effusive activity. Since 2008, rising emissions of sulfur dioxide from the Halemaʻumaʻu crater at Kīlauea's summit have led to increased levels of volcanic smog and local air quality concerns.