Today’s Climate: February 20, 2009

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Reid Plans Climate Change Legislation by End of Summer (AP)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the energy legislation expected to be taken up in the coming weeks will be limited largely to promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Transportation Secretary Eyes Taxing Miles Driven (AP)

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he is considering taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn. A few governors are also floating the idea.

Scientists Map CO2 Emissions with Google Earth (AFP)

A team of U.S. scientists unveils an interactive Google Earth map showing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels across the United States.

Cost of Solar Fell 27% in Past Decade (San Francisco Chronicle)

The cost of installing solar panels on homes and businesses fell 27.6 percent from 1998 to 2008, according to a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that questions some of the conventional wisdom about solar’s price.

California Budget Hang Up: A Dumb Diesel Deal (Los Angeles Times)

GOP lawmakers who held up California’s state budget for weeks were able to attach a "trailer bill" that delays key retrofitting requirements for off-road diesel vehicles, particular heavy construction equipment. The move now drops the expected emissions savings by 17 percent.

Stimulus: No Blank Check for States (Stateline)

Of the $200 billion states stand to get from the economic stimulus package, governors will have leeway in how to spend about $135 billion. How to use it will be a hot topic as governors arrive in Washington, D.C., this weekend for their annual winter meeting.

US Has Dual Task on Climate Change (Washington Post)

Secretary of State Clinton’s decision to make her first overseas trip to China, where she arrives today, highlights the daunting tasks the new administration faces in forging a new climate-change treaty this year: trying to persuade emerging economies to make deep cuts in greenhouse gases while coaxing Congress to adopt U.S. limits.

China Adds Environment, Land-Use Indices to Foreign Investment Criteria (Xinhua)

China will add an environmental protection index and a land-use intensity index to the evaluation of foreign-funded enterprises so foreign capital can be used more effectively, the nation’s Foreign Investment Office of the Ministry of Commerce says.

Carbon Farming: Australia’s Next Big Thing? (TVNZ)

Australian farmers struggling to make a dollar from planting wheat or canola could soon try a new crop: carbon. Up to 40 million hectares of land could be converted to forest under the Emissions Trading Scheme due to start next year.

Texas Refinery Pollution Costs BP $180M (Houston Chronicle)

BP has agreed to settle serious pollution violations by spending $180 million on new equipment to reduce harmful emissions at its Texas City refinery and to clean the surrounding the air.

Coastal Wetlands In Eastern US Disappearing (Science Daily)

While the nation as a whole gained freshwater wetlands from 1998 to 2004, a new report by NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documents a continuing loss of coastal wetlands in the eastern United States.

EPA Revises Green Power Partnership Program Requirement (Environmental Leader)

The EPA has revised the membership requirements for its Green Power Partnership program so members must now make their initial green power purchase within six months rather than a year.