Clean Start: December 15, 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 U.S. solar industry is on a roll, with unprecedented growth in 2011,” said Rhone Resch, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Assn, with more domestic solar installations completed in the third quarter of this year than during all of 2009. [LA Times]

On Wednesday, BP was awarded $27 million in new leases in the western Gulf of Mexico, the first since the company’s Deepwater Horizon exploded and unleashed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the water. [Blue Marble]

The petroleum industry and federal regulators focused more on exploration and production than safety in the years leading up to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, helping to set the stage for the worst offshore environmental disaster in U.S. history, according to a new independent report by The National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council. [LA Times]

Exxon Mobil spent $3.21 million in the third quarter to lobby the federal government on offshore oil drilling and other issues, according to a disclosure report. [Washington Post]

China has further revised up its solar power development target for 2015 by 50 percent to 15 gigawatts from its previous plan, state media reported on Thursday. [Reuters]

The Environmental Protection Agency still has little authority to regulate the storage of toxic coal ash produced as a byproduct of coal power, and a new report shows coal ash’s harmful environmental effects are more widespread than previously understood. [Huffington Post]

For Haiti, climate change is more a present fear than horrible imagining. [Guardian]

A wintry storm brought a second consecutive day of driving downpours and mountain snowfall to the San Diego area Tuesday, causing 130 car crashes including one fatality. [Rancho Bernardo Patch]

Rain-induced floods in several parts of Kenya have affected at least 105,000 people and weakened the country’s food security situation — already affected by severe drought. [IRIN]

Eighteen people are missing after a landslide triggered by heavy rain in southwest Colombia. [IANS]

Sudden, intense rainfall in Hawaii triggered a landslide on the H1 freeway, just before early morning traffic. [Hawaii News]

Frequent landslides in West Bengal, India, have blocked national highways and rail tracks, disrupting daily life in the state. [ANI]

The USGS says they’re now forced to shut down 580 stream gauges nationally, 30 in New York that monitor water levels along the Lake Champlain Basin, the Hudson River and the flood-prone Susquehanna River basin. [YNN]

Insurers are being forced to re-think their models after tornadoes killed more than 550 people in the U.S. this year. [Bloomberg]