Today’s Climate: January 6, 2010

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Salazar to Toughen US Drilling Rules (Wall Street Journal)

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to announce today that the government will require oil and natural gas companies to clear more regulatory hurdles before they can drill on federal land.

Energy Bills Likely, But Cap-and-Trade Doubtful This Year (AP)

New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, says there’s still no consensus on a cap-and-trade system but strong desire in both houses to pass other energy-related bills that would help curb global warming.

US Carbon Market Growth Seen Even Without Climate Bill (Reuters)

Voluntary carbon markets in the United States will grow, especially at the regional level, even if a stalled federal climate bill fails to impose "cap and trade" on American industry, the chairman of the Chicago Climate Exchange says.

EPA Softens Stance on Mountaintop Coal Mining (Wall Street Journal)

The Environmental Protection Agency came out in support of a permit for one West Virginia mountaintop coal-mining operation and suggested it might endorse another permit for the largest such operation in Appalachia.

Mexico Plans New Efficiency Rules for Autos (Reuters)

Mexico will limit imports of inefficient used cars and encourage low-carbon technology to reduce its overall volume of tailpipe exhaust, the energy ministry says.

GM to Power Up Michigan Volt Battery Plant (Business Green)

General Motors will tomorrow move a major step closer to delivering its Chevy Volt plug-in electric hybrid as it begins production of the vehicles battery packs at a plant in Michigan.

Think Picks Indiana, Pushes North America Production to 2011 (Cleantech)

Norway’s Think Global said today it had picked Elkhart County, Indiana, as the site for its first U.S. production facility for highway-speed electric vehicles. It pushed the start date for production, originally planned for this year, to early 2011.

EPA Could Force Pollution Cuts in Texas (Dallas Morning News)

Two federal notices arriving soon will deliver powerful environmental messages for Texas. One will say that nearly every Texan breathes dirty air, far more of the population than previously believed. That will force Texas officials to find more ways to cut pollution.

Study Says Michigan Climate Plan Would Boost Economy (AP)

Michigan could get a significant economic boost and create 129,000 new jobs reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to an analysis from the Center for Climate Strategies.

Massachusetts: The Next Hot Solar Market? (Greentech Media)

Following in the footsteps of states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, Massachusetts is about to implement a Renewable Portfolio Standard solar requirement. A set of auction rules for solar credits could ameliorate the boom-bust cycles familiar elsewhere.

Sarkozy Wants New French Carbon Tax to Start in July (AFP)

The French government says a new carbon tax to fight global warming will go into force in July. It rewrote the tax rules after the constitutional court struck down a previous version.

Carbon Startup Brings Condoleezza Rice and $26M on Board (Business Green)

C3, a startup specializing in energy and emissions management, revealed it has raised $26 million and put together a board of influential political and business figures, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Mount Rainier Glacier Gravel Filling Rivers (AP)

The impact of Mount Rainier’s shrinking glaciers is beginning to roll down hill — literally. Vast amounts of sediment and gravel are being swept down rivers, creative debris flows like those that repeatedly slam the park’s Westside Road.

Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion Turns to Wind Power (Oklahoman)

A wind turbine was installed this week at the Oklahoma governor’s mansion as part of the state’s focus on energy efficiency. "The wind turbine will pay dividends for many years to come in terms of cost savings and environmental efficiencies,” Gov. Brad Henry said.