Clean Start: March 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?

A powerful storm system tore through parts of the Midwest and South on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people, leaving pockets of devastation across several states and marking the acceleration of another deadly tornado season. [New York Times]

President Barack Obama intends to press lawmakers today to quickly strip billions of dollars in oil industry tax breaks, remarks that will come during his second energy-themed speech in two weeks aimed at blunting GOP attacks over gasoline prices. [The Hill]

The Environmental Protection Agency is acknowledging it will not complete first-time greenhouse gas standards for oil refineries in 2012. [The Hill]

Heavy rain and major flooding is continuing to cause misery for people in Australia, as floodwaters covering an area the size of France sweep across the state of New South Wales. [Sky News]

A late season storm is bringing heavy snows to California’s high country, and snow storms are also creating avalanche conditions in Colorado and forcing some schools to close in New York. [AP]

Denmark, followed by Israel, Sweden, Finland and the United States are the nations worldwide that provide the best conditions for clean technology startup companies, a recent ranking by the CleanTech Group stated. [YNetNews]

Royal Dutch Shell launched an extraordinary preemptive legal strike Wednesday against opponents of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, filing suit against more than a dozen environmental organizations likely to challenge its plan for drilling exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea this summer. [LA Times]

A second wildfire in under a week has broken out in a western North Carolina national forest, but firefighters say both blazes are under control. [AP]

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) was nationally recognized today with the Organizational Leadership Award at the inaugural Climate Leadership Awards. [Sacramento Bee]

Transocean Ltd. may be hit with a $473 million bill for back taxes in the U.S. for 2008 and 2009, the offshore drilling giant said in a regulatory filing on Monday. [Law 360]

Settlement talks between BP and lawyers representing business owners and individuals affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill hit an impasse on Wednesday. [Houston Chronicle]

Rising gasoline prices already are causing consumers to buy more small cars, Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle said Wednesday. [Detroit Free Press]

TransCanada’s Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project backers including Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum say will create cheaper U.S. gasoline, instead risks raising prices as much as 20 cents a gallon in the Midwest, Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. [Bloomberg]

Al Gore discusses sustainable capitalism. [Huffington Post]

After a two-day hearing, a federal appeals court appeared inclined to uphold key parts of the Obama administration’s first-ever rules for reducing greenhouse gases, but it wasn’t clear whether the court would endorse the government’s entire approach. [WSJ]

Rick Santorum is touting the support of Sen. James Inhofe (R) even though the Oklahoma senator has not endorsed him. [The Hill]

A new NASA study revealed that the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a faster rate than the younger and thinner ice at the edges of the Arctic Ocean’s floating ice cap. [Science Daily]

A federal judge sentenced a former Massey Energy Co. security chief to three years in prison Wednesday for obstructing a criminal probe into the 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners in the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster in four decades. [WSJ]

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