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March 25 News: State Dept. Won’t Make Keystone Public Comments Public

It will be very difficult for the public to access the public comments filed for and against the final decision on the Keystone pipeline. [InsideClimate News]

When the State Department hired a contractor to produce the latest environmental impact statement for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, it asked for a Web-based electronic docket to record public comments as they flowed in each day. Thousands of comments are expected to be filed by people and businesses eager to influence the outcome of the intense international debate over the project.

But the public will not find it easy to examine these documents.

A summary of the comments will be included in the final version of the environmental impact statement when it is released, said Imani J. Esparza of the Office of Policy and Public Outreach in State’s bureau of oceans, environment and science.

But the only way to see the comments themselves is by filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, a process that can take so long that the Keystone debate could be over before the documents are made available. The public will not be able to access the full electronic docket on line.

President Obama said last month that “This is the most transparent administration in history.”

NASA is cutting back on education and outreach efforts due to sequestration. [NBC News]

Life after oil and gas is not only possible, but economical. [New York Times Sunday Review]

The AP on what President Obama is likely to do about climate change: take some steps but not nearly enough. [AP]

By 2030, half the world could face water scarcity, according to the UN Secretary-General. [Washington Post]

Chinese solar panel producers will face some restructuring after the sector’s massive expansion that could result in a much stronger global solar industry. [Washington Post]

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A new regulatory agreement between natural gas drillers and green groups could be a “breakthrough” on fracking. [Washington Post]

As the Republican-controlled North Carolina state legislature considers eliminating a tax credit that would threaten the strong solar power industry in the state. [News & Observer]

The Senate voted down an amendment that would ensure any revenue from pricing carbon would go to reducing the deficit and reducing rates. [The Hill]

What happens when natural gas isn’t as cheap as it is now? [Washington Post]

The coastal United States keeps rebuilding after extreme weather event, but is not facing up to the “march of global warming’s angry waters.” [Newsweek]

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Britain’s outgoing chief scientific officer said that global warming will bring much more variable weather extremes and will make other global problems much worse. [The Independent]

China plans to resume electric car subsidies next month following the previous subsidy’s expiration at the end of 2012. [Economic Times]

The assumed limit of solar cell efficiency appears to have been broken by researchers at the Nils Bohr Institute. [CleanTechnica]