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July 18 News: Court Throws Out Oil Industry Challenge To New Nitogen Dioxide Pollution Standards

The first new U.S. standard for nitrogen dioxide in at least 35 years was upheld by a federal appeals court, which said the Environmental Protection Agency had the authority to attempt to improve air quality around the nation’s busiest roadways. [Businessweek]

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today threw out a challenge by the American Petroleum Institute to regulations restricting the peak amount of nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, from tailpipes and smokestacks that can be present in the air during a one-hour period. Levels of the toxic gas are limited to a one-hour standard of 100 parts per billion.

“Because the record adequately supports the EPA’s conclusion that material negative effects result from ambient air concentrations as low as the 100 ppb level, we cannot conclude that the agency was arbitrary and capricious” in adopting that standard, U.S. Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote for the court.

In the second phase of its ambitious SolarStrong project — the country’s single largest effort to cover roofs with solar panels — installation company SolarCity will put more than 18,000 panels on military homes in California and Colorado. [Los Angeles Times]

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Crops are wilting, soils are cracked, and some dried-out forests are catching fire. U.S. corn production in particular is dwindling. So is this a glimpse at our hotter, drier future? It appears so. [Washington Post]

Last year, crop insurers paid record claims of about $11 billion for weather-related losses, including major losses in corn and soybeans, said David Graves of the Washington-based American Assn. of Crop Insurers. This year’s losses could surpass that “easily, given that the drought is developing in corn-growing regions” including Illinois and Indiana, he said. [Los Angeles Times]

More than 1,100 farmers in Nebraska have been ordered by the state’s Department of Natural Resources to halt irrigation of their crops because the rivers from which they draw water have dropped due to a worsening drought. [Reuters]

Some younger conservatives have grown increasingly uneasy with the presumption that they hew to the skeptical line of the Republican Party, and some evangelicals in particular are looking for ways to embrace the science and steward the planet. [Greenville Online]

Visiting New York City for an urban parks conference, Ken Salazar, the secretary of the interior, stopped by The New York Times on Tuesday to discuss the partnership his department has forged with the city on revitalizing parkland around Jamaica Bay. [New York Times]

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Nepal’s elusive snow leopards, thought to number just 500 in the wild, are under threat from warmer and wetter weather in the Himalayas that is reducing their habitat, a new study says. [NY Daily News]