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Shell Oil told investors this week that—after an embarrassing set of failures last year—it plans to go back into the icy Arctic waters in 2014. The announcement comes as a surprise given that CEOs of other Big Oil companies have been urging caution for month about returning to the area. And in fact, Shell has abandoned efforts to drill in the Beaufort Sea next summer.

A coal-fired power plant.

This op-ed originally ran on October 11, 2013, on LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cements the urgency for U.S. leaders to move boldly and quickly on climate change, and the most logical place to start is the nation's fleet of power plants.

We are sorry to hear that the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining lost 18,000 Earthjustice supporter letters. Our supporters wrote these letters during the Bush administration to urge OSM not to eliminate critical stream protections, especially the “stream buffer zone rule,” from mountaintop removal mining—which it did anyway.

A coal export ship.

The use of coal in the U.S. has declined over the past few years, and orders for new plants are being cancelled at an increasing rate, owing to pressure from Earthjustice and others and competition from cheaper natural gas. Meanwhile, President Obama has made increasingly stern pronouncements about moving toward a renewable energy regime.

The Republican Party has a number of outspoken climate change deniers; so, it was a relief to open today's New York Times and read this headline: "A Republican Case for Climate Action."

I couldn't read the accompanying op-ed fast enough. Written by four former EPA administrators under Republican presidents, the article immediately said this:

The fight to protect communities from the increasingly disturbing effects of ozone pollution rages on. Just last week a federal appeals court gave us a partial victory when it ruled Bush’s 2008 ozone secondary, public welfare standard did not demonstrate how it would protect forests, crops and vegetation from ozone pollution.

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