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Policy Points: Three Signs of Hope from 2014

For a year that didn’t exactly inspire confidence in policy-making generally, 2014 was actually a better year for sustainable policy than one might think.

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Young v. UPS and the Rights of Pregnant Women in the Workforce

Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Young v. UPS, a case that could change the way pregnant women are treated by their employers. The case will force conservative justices to choose between two core right-wing constituencies: anti-choice activists and pro-business groups.

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Smart Cities and the New Industrial Revolution

By 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. The re-urbanization movement puts stress on the infrastructure that supports cities and citizens. Advances with smart technologies will transform society, just as advances during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries did.

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Groups Sue Feds Over Climate Effects of Coal Leasing

FOE and WORC are seeking the first comprehensive review of the federal coal-leasing program since 1979. “Since that time, scientific evidence has established that greenhouse gases produced by coal mining and combustion endanger the public health and welfare,” they said. “The BLM, however, has never analyzed the coal leasing program’s impact on climate change.”

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Forced Labor Occuring Now in Uzbekistan’s Cotton Fields

In addition to offending all notions of civil liberties, the Uzbek forced labor system is just plain bizarre. For example, one’s work boss is also one’s boss in the cotton fields and, incredibly, cotton-picking skills may “become a component of annual job evaluations, skewing decisions on promotions.”

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Which City Ranks as Most Connected?

A recent survey by communication technology provider Ericsson evaluates 40 leading cities around the world for their level of information and communication technology (ICT) maturity.

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EPA Proposes to Tighten Ozone Emissions Standard

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced new, more stringent ozone emissions standards in a bid to reduce smog and improve human and environmental health. EPA is proposing to tighten the national ozone emissions standard to between 65-70 parts per billion from 75 ppb, which was set in 2008 in the wake of EPA’s previous five-year review.

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Boulder County Proposes Cannabis Carbon “Tax”

Cannabis carbon emissions? That’s what one county in Colorado says is the new carbon epidemic. Growing pot has become popular enough that experts predict carbon footprints the size of small cities from this burgeoning commercial enterprise. Boulder County, however, is out to change that.

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Chevrolet Invests in Grasslands Conservation Carbon Credits

The first-of-its-kind grasslands conservation project brought the USDA together with ranchers, Ducks Unlimited and others in a public-private partnership that will avoid carbon dioxide emissions the equivalent of taking more than 5,000 cars off the road.

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State Mandates for Clean Energy Improving But Not Fast Enough

Want to know how your state is doing when it comes to clean energy mandates? Many states have set laudable goals for renewable energy. A surprising number haven’t. It begs the question why some states step up to the plate and others aren’t even concerned. And no, it doesn’t seem to be simply a matter of partisan politics.