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SPOTLIGHT

1. REGULATION

EPA's historic GHG rules make natural gas the 'gold standard' for emissions

After more than a year of anticipation and two missed deadlines, U.S. EPA released the nation's first standards for greenhouse gas emissions for new power plants yesterday. EPA has set a rate of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per megawatt-hour -- roughly the level at which combined cycle natural gas plants expel carbon, but one that would ask the average coal plant today to lose about 800 pounds per megawatt-hour to fit into the New Source Performance Standards.

2. CITIES

Surrounded by Texas' fossil fuel boom, Austin bets on cleaner energy

AUSTIN, Texas -- This city's Mueller neighborhood, a newer development built atop the old airport, is quite different from what you're likely to see in the rest of Texas. Fairly close to downtown, Mueller has plenty of land to grow, but developers here are deliberately building houses that are spaced tightly together on small lots. Almost every third house, it seems, has solar panels filling the roof. Pickup trucks are rare, and the energy-efficient homes here will soon serve as a platform for a grand experiment in smart grid technologies.

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