Today’s Climate: January 31 – February 1, 2009

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U.S. Senate Braces for Stimulus Package Debate (AFP)

The U.S. Senate begins debate Monday on President Obama’s massive economic stimulus package, with opponents vowing to stand firm against the $819 billion plan that passed in the House of Representatives with no Republican backing.

Analysis Finds Toxins High in Contained Ash Spill (MSNBC)

High levels of arsenic and elevated levels of radioactive radium have been found in the sludge released in a massive coal ash spill at a Tennessee power plant, Duke University scientists have reported.

Clean Energy Spending Needs to More than Triple (Reuters)

Clean energy investment needs to more than triple to $515 billion a year to stop planet-warming emissions from reaching levels deemed unsustainable by scientists, the World Economic Forum has said in a new report.

Automakers, Calif. Regulators Meet on Emissions (Automotive News)

Four automakers have met with environmentalists and the California Air Resources Board to see whether the parties can agree on nationwide standards for CO2 emissions.

Ausra Lowers Sights on Solar Plants, Cuts Staff (VentureBeat)

Solar energy company Ausra has announced that it no longer plans to build massive solar thermal plants across the southwest and California desert due to poor economic conditions, shifting its focus to smaller-scale power generation plants.

Scientists Aboard High Tech Jet Sample CO2 Pole-to-Pole (Environment News Service)

A team of scientists flew from the Arctic to the Antarctic this month aboard an advanced research aircraft, the first phase of a three-year project to take extensive airborne measurements of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Snow Study Shows California Faces Historic Drought (Reuters)

A new survey has revealed that the snowpack on California’s mountains is carrying only 61% of the water of normal years, and that the state is facing one of the worst droughts in its history.

Rare White Possum May Be First Local Climate Change Victim (Courier Mail)

Scientists fear the world’s first localized climate change extinction of a major mammal species — the white lemuroid ringtail possum — might have already occurred in Queensland, Australia.

China Blames Pollution as Birth Defects Rise: State Media (AFP)

Every 30 seconds a baby is born with physical defects in China — about 7% of all births in the nation — partly due to the country’s deteriorating environment, state media has said.