Today’s Climate: August 13, 2009

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U.S. Court Blocks Plan to Curb Mountaintop Mining (Reuters)

A federal court in Washington has blocked an attempt by the Obama administration to overturn a Bush-era rule that made it easier for coal mining companies to dump mountaintop debris into valley streams.

Australian Parliament Rejects Carbon Trade Scheme (Reuters)

Australia’s parliament has rejected a plan for the world’s most ambitious emissions trade regime as expected, bringing the nation closer to a snap election and prolonging financial uncertainty for major emitters.

Drive for Atomic Energy Adds to Nuclear Challenge: US (AFP)

The growing demand for atomic energy in response to climate change is adding to the challenges of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, a senior U.S. official has acknowledged.

Efficiency Can Help Northwest Meet 85% of New Electricity Demand (The Oregonian)

The Northwest can meet 85 percent of its new electricity needs over the next 20 years solely through conservation, and do so at half the cost of building power plants, according to the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Council.

Food Firms Fret Over Potential Impact of Climate Bill (Wall Street Journal)

Some of the nation’s biggest food and agriculture companies are planning to release a flurry of studies in coming weeks that scrutinize the potential impact of climate legislation, warning that it could lead to higher food prices.

World Solar Industry Appears Headed for a Shakeout (ClimateWire)

Prices for polysilicon, PV and thin-film solar panels have plummeted, and many experts say the industry is now in the midst of an upheaval as weaker firms close or sell off major chunks of their operations to stay alive.

Airlines Will Be First U.S. Industry to Confront Cap and Trade (Greenwire)

The first U.S. industry to face a cap on its greenhouse gas emissions is not, as may be expected, the coal-burning power utilities. It’s the airline industry, courtesy of EU regulations.

Lobbyists Elbow For Influence on U.S. Climate Bill (Reuters)

Manufacturers and energy companies sent squads of lobbyists to the U.S. Congress earlier this year to influence the climate bill, an indication the Senate may be forced to adjust the legislation ahead of its vote, the Center for Public Integrity said.

US sees UN as Key after Bush Era Difficulties (AP)

In a not-so-subtle dig at the Bush administration, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said America has paid the price for "stiff-arming the U.N." and spurning international partners and is now embarking on a new era of global engagement.

China Signals Long-Term Plans to Curb Greenhouse Gases (Reuters)

China will make "controlling greenhouse gas emissions" an important part of its development plans, the government said in a new report, as pressure on the world’s top emitter grows ahead of global climate talks.

Report: Policy Changes, $500B Investment Needed for Home Retrofits (Earth2Tech)

The U.S. can spur 50 million energy retrofits (40 percent of homes) from the current level of hundreds of thousands per year with a $500 billion investment, according to a new report.

Carbon Capture Plan in W. Virginia Illustrates Obstacles to ‘Clean’ Coal (Los Angeles Times)

A contraption attached to a 30-year-old power plant in West Virginia will capture emissions from only about 15% of output. The device, set to go on line next month, is also hugely expensive and uses a lot of energy.

Shell Joins UK Carbon Capture Plant Race (Financial Times)

Royal Dutch Shell will today enter the government-sponsored race to build a carbon capture and storage plant in the UK — becoming the only major oil company to do so.

Ozone Depletion Reduces CO2 Uptake of Southern Ocean (New Kerala)

In new research, scientists have determined that depletion in the ozone layer is reducing the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake of the Southern Ocean, contrary to scientific models.

French Wine at Risk without Climate Pact: Greenpeace (AFP)

French wines are looking at a grim future if the upcoming UN summit in Denmark fails to produce an ambitious deal on climate change, 50 top chefs, winemakers and Greenpeace have warned.