Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Weekly Grist: Huge coal-ash spill threatens water supplies, Greenpeace leader says good-bye, and more‏

Weekly Grist

TOP STORY

We've Got Stars in Our Pies
All-star sustainable chefs share their favorite holiday recipes

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Visions of sugar plums dancing. A partridge in a pear tree. The holiday season is rife with gastronomic traditions, as well as delectable memories of shared meals past. This year, we asked some all-star chefs for their favorite holiday recipes, from local-food guru Dan Barber to veggie master Deborah Madison.

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new in Grist: We've Got Stars in Our Pies


On the 12th day of Gristmas...

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NEWS

You Win Some, You Lose Some
Most of Obama's environmental nominees praised by greens

Barack Obama last week officially announced his major environment-related nominations. Most got positive reviews from the green community, but there were some notable exceptions.

Enviros have given thumbs-up to Carol Browner as chief climate and energy adviser and Nancy Sutley as chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. Lisa Jackson, tapped to lead the U.S. EPA, has gotten praise from many, but also some criticism. Hilda Solis, nominated as labor secretary, is a big booster of green jobs. Many in the conservation community are particularly excited that Obama will be filling key posts with top-notch scientists who understand the gravity of climate change, including Steven Chu as energy secretary, Jane Lubchenco as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and John Holdren as presidential science adviser.

Enviros have been less pleased with the choice of Tom Vilsack to head the Agriculture Department, noting that he's been a big booster of agribusiness and genetically modified crops. Many grassroots activists are also unhappy that Ken Salazar is headed to the Interior Department, though Salazar does have his environmental defenders. And greens don't quite know what to make of Ray LaHood, Obama's choice to head the Transportation Department.

Get more green scoop on Obama's nominees at the Grist transition tracker.

Power From the People
Power from stationary bikes to light up Times Square New Year's sign

As part of the effort to green New Year's festivities in Times Square, battery maker Duracell has set up a "power lodge" nearby where volunteers can take a turn on stationary bikes that will power the "2009" sign marking arrival of the new year after the infamous illuminated ball drops. So far, only about 95 pedal hours of power have been collected and stored in batteries for the occasion -- just 35 percent of the power needed to light the sign for 15 minutes.

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source: Reuters

Put That in Your Stocking and Stoke It
EPA says ignore CO2 when issuing permits for coal plants

Coal-fired power plants' greenhouse-gas emissions shouldn't be taken into consideration when determining whether to approve their construction, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson ruled last week. The ruling could clear the way for at least a handful of new coal plants to be approved in the final days of the Bush administration. "The current concerns over global climate change should not drive EPA into adopting an unworkable policy of requiring emission controls," Johnson wrote.

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sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post

Last Auction Hero
Eco-activist bids up oil and gas leases at auction

At a federal auction for oil and gas leases in Utah last week, environmental activist Tim DeChristopher posed as a buyer, successfully bidding up lease prices on BLM land by hundreds of thousands of dollars and winning 13 parcels that he admits he can't actually pay for. The BLM is giving the other (real) bidders 10 days to decide if they want to withdraw their bids on the parcels they won at inflated prices. Some bidders indicated they would likely hold on to their leases despite the increased price since the incoming Obama administration may not offer the same leases again.

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source: Associated Press

Give Me Your Knobby Tired
Rule change would allow more mountain biking in national parks

A proposed rule change at the U.S. Interior Department would make it easier for individual national parks to open existing trails to mountain biking, a move opposed by some conservationists and hikers who argue mountain biking can speed erosion and disturb the national-park experience for other visitors. For their part, mountain-biking advocates say that greater access to trails in national parks could, among other things, spur more young people to visit the parks.

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sources: The Washington Post, The New York Times
comment on the proposal: Vehicles and Traffic Safety

Birds on a Wire
U.S. proposes protections for seven penguin species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week proposed listing six species of penguins as threatened and another species as endangered, a move that will have little consequence within the U.S. as wild penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere. However, the proposed designations could aid negotiations for international species protections. Species advocates generally praised the decision but criticized the agency for failing to list emperor penguins.

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source: Associated Press

You're Fired!
Swedish crematorium plans to partially heat nearby town

A crematorium in the Swedish town of Halmstad, which has been criticized for its heavy pollution, has announced plans to use the waste heat from its body-burning operations to heat its own facilities and eventually also heat other buildings in town. Cemetery director Lennart Andersson said of the plan, "Of course it's possible that there will be some discussion about the ethics of this, but from our side, this is a purely environmental idea. There will be no difference in the ashes."

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source: The Telegraph

In Brief
Snippets from the week's news

Protests heat up over Australia's climate plan.

• More than 2 trillion tons of land ice melted in Arctic since 2003.

• California unveils comprehensive 'green chemistry' plan.

• Report finds widespread meddling with species decisions.

• Money woes plague electric car maker Think.

• Hundreds of Brazilian eco-activists at risk of assassination, report says.

• EPA requires cruise ships to get discharge permits for graywater.

Feds reject toll road that would have cut through state park, ruined surfing.


GRIST COLUMNS AND FEATURES

Have They Been Naughty or Nice?
Vote for the eco-heroes and eco-villains of 2008

It was a big year for the environment (and for anti-environmentalism), so there was no shortage of nominees for our lists of eco-do-gooders and eco-do-badders. Who was the greenest of them all? Obama or Oprah or Van or Paris or ...? And who should win the battle for the most villainous villain? Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin or a dark horse? Vote for your picks.

new in Grist: Vote for the top eco-hero of 2008
new in Grist: Vote for the top eco-villain of 2008

Hail to the Chiefs
A look at EPA administrators, past to present

As Lisa Jackson, Barack Obama's pick to head the U.S. EPA, gears up for a new job, Grist takes a look back at the folks whose footsteps she'll be following in. Check out our review of EPA administrators past to find out what the nation's top environmental officials have managed to do (and undo).

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new in Grist: Hail to the Chiefs

Cookie Chronicles
Sweet bites for the holiday season

As holiday mania heats up, many folks can be found scouring the malls for bargains. Not April McGreger. She turns into a cookie monster around Christmas time, turning her kitchen into a little confection factory. To get us in the holiday spirit, she offers a few of her favorite recipes.

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new in Grist: Cookie Chronicles

Not Under My Hoof
Umbra on homegrown meat

Q. Dear Umbra,

I try to eat as many vegetarian meals as possible, but I haven't "gone all the way" yet, mostly because my in-laws (who my husband and I live with at the moment) raise beef, chickens, and hunt deer; and my husband and I end up with a lot of free, locally produced meat. How does this fit in with eco-friendliness? ... Does it really make an environmental impact if I said "no thanks," or am I still reducing my eco-footprint even though I'm the only one at the table not eating it?

Chickened Out
Fayette, Mo.


A. Dearest Chickened Out,

Two questions here: is homegrown meat just as bad as all other meat, and if meat's going to be eaten anyway, can't we just join in? Maybe the first question will help us answer the second. I freely admit, I want the answer to the first question to be no ...

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Read the rest of Umbra's answer.

Say (Artisanal) Cheese!
Not all fermented dairy products are created equal

Local, artisan-made food is all the rage. But some such items -- cheese , for example -- tend to be way more expensive than their supermarket counterparts. Is handmade cheese any better for you than the industrial stuff? A cheese-eating reader put the question to our food sleuth, Lou Bendrick. Her answer has fewer holes than a chunk of Swiss.

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new in Grist: Say (Artisanal) Cheese!

The Needle and the Damage Done
Images of oil addiction in Canada's tar sands

Pop quiz: After Saudi Arabia, which country has the most proven oil reserves? Wrong. Not only wrong, but wrong part of the world. Unless you guessed Canada -- in which case, congratulations! Big old Canada is screwing up the planet big time with massive operations to extract oil from tar sands. Forest Ethics head Todd Paglia describes a recent visit, and explains how to fight back.

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new in Grist: The Needle and the Damage Done


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1 comment:

burkhart1 said...

Time will tell if Vilsack is the right person for Secretary of Agriculture. Policies? Transparency? Ethical?

Dixie Burkhart
Facts Don't Matter
www.eloquentbooks.com/FactsDontMatter.htm