Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15 News: Beijing Experiences Worst Air Pollution On Record

Skyscrapers are obscured by heavy haze in Beijing Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. (AP Photo)

On January 12, Beijing's air pollution reached unprecedented levels, even beyond the upper limits of the Air Quality Index, which reports daily air quality around the world, and it's taking a serious toll on Beijing's residents. [ThinkProgress]

According to one hospital official, the number of emergency room patients with heart attacks roughly doubled over the weekend. Hospitals are struggling to handle an influx of people suffering from respiratory and cardiac trouble....

China's pollution disaster should serve as a warning for American lawmakers who claim environmental regulation hurts business. While US pollution levels are nowhere near China's, cities like Los Angeles and Birmingham struggle to meet basic federal air quality standards. Despite Republican opposition, the Environmental Protection Agency recently issued more stringent soot standards projected to save roughly 15,000 lives a year, which was published in the Federal Register today. Still, Congressional Republicans have not given up on their long campaign to defund the EPA. As part of the impending "fiscal cliff," the agency's clean air program stands to lose more than $100 million in funding.

Several of Washington, DC's recent summers were unusually hot, and its most recent year was the warmest on record. According to the new federal climate report, that's likely to become business as usual in the future. [WaPo]

Global green energy investment fell to $269 billion in 2012 after hitting a record high of $302 billion in 2011, with the drop driven largely by reduced activity in the United States. The good news, however, is that 2012's investment level is still the second-highest ever recorded. [Grist]

A coalition of climate groups just sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking the Obama Administration to impose a moratorium on fossil fuel development in the Arctic region. The letter comes on the heels of an announcement that the Interior Department will conduct a 60-day assessment of the Arctic offshore drilling program. [Summit County Citizens]

According to leak European Union documents acquired by The Guardian, the British government is seeking to water down EU regulations that would prevent oil and gas drilling projects that could leave ecologically fragile areas vulnerable to oil spills and other accidents. [The Guardian]

The first leg of an undersea power transmission line that would ultimately connect offshore wind farms between New York City and southern Virginia is officially underway. The segment will be 189 miles long and run from Jersey City to an area south of Atlantic City. [NYT]


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