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Putin Does Good (Sorta), Sisyphus with a Beak, Shut Your Trap, Chernobyl!
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Supreme Court slam dunk: The Environmental Protection Agency adopted a new rule in 2011 that allows it to regulate smokestack emissions on the grounds that the pollution crosses state lines. Industry and several of the states doing the polluting subsequently (and not all too surprisingly) challenged the rule. As of 2012, a federal appeals court in Washington blocked the rule, but I’m happy to report that the Supreme Court overruled that decision yesterday and upheld the EPA’s authority to do, well, its job. The decision is an enormous vote of confidence for the EPA and its fight to rein in pollution and its health effects from power plants across the Midwest and Appalachia. And East Coasters should be especially happy about the ruling, because guess where the wind blows? Associated Press

Fightin’ words: So yeah, the EPA has had to fight tooth and nail lately just to do its job. Congressional Republicans and industry groups have tried to thwart the agency by having several of its anti-air pollution health studies subpoenaed, and criticizing the methods of the its scientific review panels. And when it comes to climate change? Well, let's say EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has had enough and called out science deniers on Monday: "With the health of our families and our futures at stake, the American people expect us to act on the facts, not spend precious time and taxpayer money refuting manufactured uncertainties." National Journal

The shield: The Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened 28 years ago, but the threat of radiation remains. Back in the 1980s, crews contained what was left of the reactor by putting it inside a hastily built structure. But if this stop-gap structure were to collapse, it could send even more radioactive dust up into the atmosphere, where winds could take it elsewhere. To combat this threat, Ukraine is building a specially-designed arch that will shield the world from whatever should happen below. And once completed, the arch could last as long as 300 years. New York Times

Collateral benefits: Meanwhile, Russia's recent incursions into Ukrainian territory may be disrupting plans for Arctic drilling. (Aw, shucks!) ExxonMobil has an agreement with Russia’s state-controlled oil company OAO Rosneft that allows them to start drilling into the Kara Sea territory in the Arctic this August. Except one thing ... the United States recently imposed sanctions on a number of wealthy Russians, including Rosneft’s CEO. So in response, Russian President Vladimir Putin warns further sanctions could make it difficult for Western companies (such as ExxonMobil) to participate in key industries, namely energy. No word yet if Putin made the statement shirtless. Bloomberg

American air: A new report from the American Lung Association shows nearly half of America lives in areas suffering from unhealthy levels of air pollution. Smog has gotten worse from 2010 to 2012 in 22 of the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas. The report also warns that climate change is raising the risk of more high-ozone days. Some good news? Cutting emissions in coal-fired power plants allowed 13 of the cities measured—Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh among them—to register their lowest particulate pollution levels ever. Guardian

DAILY DISTRACTION

Well, this is awkward: The kakapo is a small, critically endangered parrot that lives in New Zealand. In its habitat, there are no predators to speak of, which has led the bird down an unusual evolutionary path toward flightless-ness. This is especially interesting because the kakapo still likes to eat fruit that sits high up in a tree. Put all of this together and you have video of a squat little parrot trying to climb a tree using only its beak. (This is how I feel every time I have to use Microsoft Excel.) The Dodo

OTHER HEADLINES

Miscarriage Risk Rises with BPA Exposure, Study Finds Environmental Health News

The Year Climate Change Closed Everest The Atlantic

No, Gourmet Dog Food Isn’t Necessarily Better—for Your Dog or for the Planet Washington Post

The Coffee Industry Is Worse Than Ever for the Environment Huffington Post

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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