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February 12 News: Green Groups Hope For Climate Push In State Of The Union

With the State of the Union speech coming tonight, environmental groups are hoping President Obama will call for a big push to tackle climate change by bringing the powers of the executive office to bear on the problem. [The Hill]

“We are hoping to see some more substance on exactly what the president’s plan will be like, be it on the clean-energy side or on the side of cleaning up the largest sources of pollution,” said Nathan Willcox, the global warming program director with Environment America.

“The problem is very pressing, and so the sooner we have policy proposals in front of us, the better.”

Obama has already signaled his willingness to use his executive powers forcefully, laying out a series of executive orders on gun control in addition to calling for legislation. On climate, the White House took some steps with executive powers in the first term, and that’s expected to be the primary second-term focus.

Gasoline prices have climbed past $3.60 a gallon nationally for the first time since October, according to the government’s weekly price survey. Gas prices have steadily climbed since they hit a low of $3.254 for the week of December 17. They haven’t hit $3.60 a gallon since October 22. [USA Today]

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Last year, the world pumped more oil out of the ground than ever before in history, and nearly half of that increase came from new drilling in the United States. Yet Brent crude is still trading for around $120 per barrel, higher than it was two years ago. [WaPo]

Researchers using a computer model of the atmosphere found that activities from urban areas can warm the air as far as 1,000 miles away. In some areas, that increase was as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). [NYTimes]

The weekend blizzard that hit the Northeast boasted precipitation that was more than 200 percent of normal for the region at this time of year, due to a rich tropical moisture feed that the storm tapped into. [Climate Central]

Climate change poses a disproportionate threat to African-Americans, due to where they live, their higher social vulnerability, and the job and energy disparities that effect them. [Ebony]

A railroad proposed for coal shipping by a coal giant and two of the world’s wealthiest men is threatening to bisect an Amish community in Montana. [USA Today]

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Turkey will spend $5 billion on smart power grids by 2015 to boost network efficiency, providing chances for both North American companies to expand and for more international cooperation, the U.S. government said. [Bloomberg]

An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal lays out the medical case for tackling climate change; namely increased mortality due to heat waves, rising incidence of allergies, the spread of infectious diseases into new areas, and more. [Climate Central]