Clean Start: March 22, 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?

An early spring storm dropped more than half a foot of snow on Oregon’s southern Willamette Valley on Wednesday while slides and snow in the southern Cascades halted an Amtrak train and briefly trapped several vehicles. [AP]

A torrential storm dumped nearly 16 inches of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday in Central Louisiana, causing widespread flooding and knocking down trees with high winds. [The Town Talk]

The weather system that moved slowly over the Mississippi Coast on Wednesday night damaged buildings and caused roads to flood in Gulfport and Biloxi. [Gulfport-Biloxi Sun-Herald]

Warm weather records continue to mount at a feverish pace over the Eastern half of the U.S. [Washington Post]

Detroit‘s ninth day in a row for 70-plus degrees will break the April record as well as the March record. [Detroit Free Press]

Although warmer weather is being embraced by many snow-accustomed residents in the Plains and Upper Midwest, the unseasonably dry conditions have turned the region’s vast grasslands into a tinderbox. [AP]

President Obama, on a four-state energy swing, defended investments in clean and alternative energy amid questions about his administration’s handling of loan guarantees for the solar company Solyndra — calling the company’s bankruptcy “heartbreaking” for the workers and noting that Congress shared some responsibily in the loan program. [Politico]

No matter who is responsible for high gas prices, almost everyone seems to want the government to do something, even if people aren’t sure what, exactly, it should or can do. [AP]

About 81 percent of Republicans believe the government should give the green light on the Keystone XL pipeline. [Politico]

Obama is expected to publicly embrace part of the Keystone XL pipeline on Thursday by visiting a TransCanada facility and issuing an executive order on federal permitting of infrastructure projects that “will require agencies to make faster permitting and review decisions for vital infrastructure projects while protecting the health and vitality of local communities and the environment,” the White House said. [Politico]

New Mexico’s biggest utility welcomed President Barack Obama to New Mexico Wednesday evening with full-page newspaper ads protesting an Environmental Protection Agency order to curb smog pollution. [WSJ]

Even though the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline is relatively “shovel ready,” the impact on unemployment will be minimal. [CNN]

Scientist, inventor and human genome pioneer J. Craig Venter says he has developed microbial technology that can desalinate water while generating electricity at the same time. [WSJ]

China, the world’s biggest producer of carbon emissions, will strengthen control of air pollution, set a limit on coal demand, and take an “active part” in international cooperation to tackle climate change, the National Development and Reform Commission said on March 5. [Bloomberg]

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power says the final support pole has been placed on a 10 megawatt solar array in the Mojave Desert, and the plant is expected to begin delivering energy to the city by summer. [Mercury News]

The idea of cap-and-trade may be dead, but levying a carbon tax of some type should still be on the table, a panel of innovators and inventors said Wednesday. [MarketWatch]

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