Clean Start: February 1, 2012

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 EPA concluded Tuesday that Houston has failed to meet 30-year-old limits on smog-forming pollution, a decision that could lead to hefty fines for as many as 300 oil refineries, chemical plants and other large industrial facilities. [Houston Chronicle]

A new anti-Obama ad from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS goes after Solyndra, includes the president talking up green energy, an apparently unemployed man a park bench with his head in his hands, and closes with the female narrator saying, “Laid off worker: forgotten. Typical Washington. Tell President Obama we need jobs not more inside deals.” [CNN]

In the latest salvo over Marcellus Shale gas drilling in the embattled town of Dimock, a natural gas company on Tuesday alleged that federal regulators had cherry-picked old test data to distort the amount of contamination in drinking-water wells. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, shut its fifth most productive well after detecting a leak of 160 barrels in deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. [Bloomberg]

France, which last year banned oil and natural-gas extraction from shale rock, should keep experimenting with fracking if it wants to curb reliance on imports, the nation’s oil industry lobby said. [Bloomberg]

Turkish Coast Guard boats, tug boats and a helicopter were searching for eight crew members after a Cambodia-flagged freighter ship sank in stormy waters off Turkey’s Black Sea coast on Tuesday, officials said. [USA Today]

Small and medium-sized businesses that serve the Louisiana energy industry are cutting employee salaries, dipping into their cash reserves and moving business out of the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to stay afloat, according to a study released Monday by economic development agency Greater New Orleans Inc. about the fallout of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. []

Community-owned green energy projects present the best chance of converting the UK to a low-carbon economy and should receive more government support, civil society groups representing 12 million people said on Wednesday. [Guardian]

There is a bright side to the plunge in solar panel prices that has brought down some U.S. and German manufacturers which relied too heavily on subsidies for green energy – solar power costs have fallen faster than anyone thought possible. [Reuters]

Tucson Electric Power said Tuesday that it plans to add solar power to a coal- and natural-gas-fired plant in Tucson, Ariz. [Forbes]

Oil prices hovered below $99 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as investors eyed a jump in U.S. crude inventories and signs of sluggish economic growth. [CBS News]

The number of proposed solar projects in California last year was 4-1/2 times the level the state needs to meet its 33 percent renewable power target by 2020, a state regulator said on Tuesday. [Reuters]

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