GOOD

If you're a climate activist—or you just care about clean air and water—today was a pretty darn good day. It wasn't the first day that President Obama took strong climate action, but it was perhaps the most significant. Over his first four years, Obama raised fuel efficiency standards to historic levels and made the single largest investment in clean energy ever, the Stimulus Plan, which contains over $90 billion for green projects. But Obama hadn't gone after the single largest source of carbon pollution, coal, which accounts for about 40 percent of U.S. emissions.

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The Poison We Never Talk About in School

Textbooks have made coal seem so old-fashioned, so last-century.


The most dangerous substance in the world is barely mentioned in the school curriculum. Coal.

According to the International Energy Agency, burning coal creates more greenhouse gases than any other source—including oil. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and arguably the world’s foremost climatologist, has called coal "the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on the planet."

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This Chart Shows When We (Mostly) Stopped Building Coal-Fired Power Plants

Most coal-fired power plants are at least as old as I am. But I never spew mercury into the air.

The Energy Information Administration published a couple of charts that have the energy/environment blogosphere talking. Above, see the amount and source of energy that came online in the United States by year. The ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s saw tons of coal plants built. Not a ton after that thanks, as Brad Plumer wrote, to cost, regulation, and advocacy.

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Activists Paint "Quit Coal" On Chicago Coal Plant Smokestack

Check out this remarkable time-lapse video of activists painting "Quit Coal" on a Chicago smokestack.

Public outcry against Chicago's two toxic coal plants continues to mount. Last month, we covered the "occupation" of the plants in the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods by environmental justice and public health advocates. And yesterday, activists flying the Greenpeace banner climbed the 450 foot smokestack at the Fisk plant and painted "Quit Coal" on it.

It's an impressive image, and one that made Bill McKibben's day.

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New Study Says Bad Air Makes for Bad Workers

CEOs take note: A compromised ability to breathe makes people less effective cogs in your profit machine.


We already know that the Clean Air Act and other pollution controls save money in averted health care costs. But all too often, polluters or the politicians in their pockets argue that implementing new pollution controls would hurt the economy.

On Think Progress, Matt Yglesias writes about a new report out of the National Bureau of Economic Research that adds a new twist to that debate. In “The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity" the authors find "robust evidence" that ozone levels—one of the most common local pollutants—have a "significant impact on productivity." In other words, bad air quality makes workers less productive, thereby hurting business.

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Top Twelve American Banks, Coal and Oil Companies Paid Less Taxes Than You

This great infographic shows how the dirtiest dozen American corporations are gaming the system and paying less than you in taxes.


Yesterday, along with hundreds of millions of Americans, you likely settled up your taxes formally with the IRS. Incredibly, most of the biggest and most profitable finance and energy companies in the country are paying far less than their fair share. Last, month, Alex wrote about the most startling—and highest profile—incident involving GE, the country's largest corporation.

The Rainforest Action Network reviewed the nation's top four banks, oil and coal companies, and "found that all of them are gaming the system." RAN put out a great infographic that shows just how egregiously the companies are ducking their tax responsibilities. The companies studied: Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Chevron, BP, Shell, Exxon, Massey Energy, Alpha Natural Resources, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. The graphic is pretty cluttered (click through to see the original, larger version), but it's worth examining to see how some of the biggest corporations in the country avoid paying taxes.

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