Clean Start: December 8, 2011

Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green’s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we’re reading. What are you?

The United States had a dozen weather disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damages in 2011, the greatest frequency of severe weather that caused costly losses in more than 30 years of federal government tracking. [LA Times]

Thousands of schools across western and central Scotland have been closed and motorists told not to drive after the Met Office warned that hurricane force winds could cause severe disruption and damage. [Guardian]

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) is currently being investigated by the House Ethics Committee, which is investigating a legal defense fund Young created to help pay his legal fees during a criminal probe into his behaviour by the Justice Department. [Price of Oil]

China is reporting discoveries of major shale gas reserves in its western Sichuan region, a development that could drastically boost its domestic supplies of natural gas, temper demand for imports, and further its deadly rise in fossil fuel consumption. [AP]

The agreement by investor Warren Buffett‘s MidAmerican Energy Holdings to buy a $2-billion photovoltaic farm in San Luis Obispo County could bring a ray of financial sunshine to the battered solar-energy industry. [LA Times]

A San Francisco judge has given the go-ahead to California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, ruling that state regulators adequately considered alternatives to a market-based cap-and-trade system. [San Francisco Chronicle]

House Republicans are set to take up legislation Thursday that blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from tightening farm dust regulations, a bill whose stated purpose is unnecessary and also contains language to weaken other clean-air protections. [The Hill]

The National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire Friday, December 18, if the House doesn’t approve an extension passed by the Senate. [WWLTV]

The damage to one woman’s life by Hurricane Irene was greatly compounded by the deliberate incompetence of insurance companies Wells Fargo, Travelers, and American Security. [The Morning Call]

Along the Missouri River, residents are returning to what is left of homes, family farms — and lives after the devastating floods have finally receded. [Kansas City Star]

November and the September-November autumn season were over a degree F warmer than average across the contiguous U.S. [NOAA]

A flood warning for urban areas and small streams has been issued through 8 p.m. for the greater Washington D.C. area due to extreme rainfall. [Washington Post]

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