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Top Eco Stories Week of 3/28/12

April 12, 2012
MARCH 28, 2012

by Lindsay E. Brown

Michelle Obama Joins Kids for White House Garden Spring Planting
Michelle Obama got her hands dirty on Monday planting vegetables and various other plants with schoolchildren at the fourth annual White House Kitchen Garden spring planting. The effort is part of her broader initiative to promote healthy eating.

Passing on Gas: Driving Rates Falling Across the Board
This is good news for the environment and the wallets of those who forgo cars, but not-so-great news for carmakers and big oil companies. (I have far less sympathy for the latter.) Recent figures show that driving is continuing to decline, not just among the youth, but across the board.

EPA Imposes First Greenhouse Gas Limits on New Power Plants
The EPA issued the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on new power plants, in a move that could presage the end of conventional coal-fired facilities. “Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in a statement.

The Continent Where Climate Went Haywire
“From floods to cyclones to fires of unimaginable ferocity, climate change has unleashed a host of plagues on Australia,” writes Linda Marsa in her report from the land down under.

Toward a Drug-Free Burger: Ruling May Curb Antibiotics in Meat
The FDA must act to address the growing human health threats resulting from the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed, according to a New York federal court ruling issued last week. The court ordered the Obama Administration to tell pharmaceutical companies that the government might be moving to ban some popular antibiotics for use in meat production. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the NRDC, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) last year.

“This victory will help protect American families against superbugs and other drug-resistant bacteria,” wrote Peter Lehner, the executive director of the NRDC, in a post (worthy of a read) after the ruling.

Both Coasts Watch Closely as San Francisco Faces Erosion
U.S. coastlines are taking a beating, with waves and rising seas from climate change and strong storms chipping away at locations like San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. Now, everyone is waiting to see how San Francisco will respond: spend millions trying to rescue the beach, or retreat, and let the ocean fall where it may.

The Brilliant Economics of Green Buildings
Green buildings have gone mainstream! There’s been explosive growth in green building, with a third of all commercial construction being green in 2010. This amounted to a $54 billion market for commercial green buildings, and by 2015, green buildings in the commercial sector are expected to triple. Find out what’s driving the change.

McDonald’s to Replace Styrofoam Cups with Paper
The fast food chain announced plans to swap out styrofoam cups for paper cups at 2,000 of its stores. If customers respond well, they’ll do everyone the favor of using paper cups at all of their 13,000 plus stores. Not only is styrofoam no friend of the environment, but it can also release potentially toxic breakdown products, particularly when heated.

McDonald’s is doing this because 29.3 percent of their investors indicated they wanted stronger environmental policies for the restaurant chain’s beverage containers.

Now, we’ll cross our fingers that investors and customers of other fast food companies, like Dunkin Donuts (ahem), demand that styrofoam be phased out as well.

Have a tip you’d like included in our next roundup? Tweet @LauraSeydel and @LindsEBrown using #EcoRoundup

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