Clean Start: March 16, 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 National Weather Service’s outlook for spring, which arrived early with 577 warm temperature records broken Wednesday, predicts mostly warmer and drier-than-normal weather, except in the Northwest. The seemingly snowless winter — the third least amount of snow in the US in 46 years — means there is less snow melting and flooding rivers. [AP]

The fossil-fueled unseasonably warm weather has led plants to blossom early. What that means, on All Things Considered. [NPR]

NASA satellite maps show that snow coverage was bare in 2012, compared to the same time last year. [NASA]

Oil prices fell slightly Thursday following some early drama in the market when the White House was forced to deny a report that it is preparing to release crude from emergency reserves in coordination with Britain. [AP]

More than 100 homes were damaged when a tornado touched down in Michigan on Thursday, though there were no deaths. Forecasters at said that warm air was helping to fuel Thursday’s storms. [Reuters]

Mitt Romney’s newest dirty energy addition Harold Hamm, a Forbes-ranked billionaire in shale oil, not surprisingly came to the oil industry’s defense immediately after Obama’s speech yesterday. [CNBC]

Fred Upton’s finding out just how good it is to be a powerful committee chairman. Several of the country’s biggest energy firms, including Entergy Corp., Southern Co., Chesapeake Energy, and Koch Industries, have also already outdistanced their past contributions or are close to beating their most recent totals. [Politico]

The OECD released its “Environmental Outlook to 2050,” which contained a few spots of cheery news. But the number of deaths caused by air pollution — which includes ground-level ozone, particulate matter, and “indoor pollution” — are expected to skyrocket, killing more than 6 million people per year by mid-century. [Wonkblog]

Paul Krugman writes why Republicans are still rooting for “drill, baby, drill,” which doesn’t work environmentally or economically: “Part of the answer is that the party is rewarding its benefactors: the oil and gas industry doesn’t create many jobs, but it does spend a lot of money on lobbying and campaign contributions. The rest of the answer is simply the fact that conservatives have no other job-creation ideas to offer. [NYT]

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