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With sights on settlement, BP oil spill trial delayed

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Set to begin today, the trial for the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history will have to wait until March 5, as the judge in the case delayed the trial a week to allow more time for a potential settlement.

Reports this afternoon suggest the that BP and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee – who represent more than 120,000 victims, from individuals to businesses – could be close to a $14 billion settlement, though nothing has been confirmed. Such a settlement would not include governmental fines and lawsuits.

We will update this post throughout the day as the story develops.

To the [eco] links: The Lorax, Santorum and a wondrous waterfall

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The weekend is near, and while the weather may be nice enough for the golf links in some areas, here's a schmorgesborg of links to a variety of environmental stories making the news in recent weeks. There’s climate change, recycling, politics, pro-life, movies, a miraculous waterfall and even the Girl Scouts. Certainly, there’s something for all. Enjoy. And enjoy the weekend.

The Lorax has finally returned … to theaters, at least. And he’s coming with plenty of friends - the EPA, Hilton Hotels, Whole Foods, Madza, Pottery Barn Kids and IHOP - in a new approach toward movie tie-ins – focusing on planet-saving activities rather than plastic toys in kid’s meals. [USAToday.com]

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum created a lot of buzz with his recent “man above earth” remarks. James Woods of the New Yorker decided to take a closer look at Santorum’s planet, and the theology – which he argues sounds more Protestant than Catholic – driving his viewpoint. [Newyorker.com]

Public Radio International examined the void of climate change talk among this year’s presidential candidates, a stark contrast to the last election when then-candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “It’s real. It’s a danger to our planet, it’s a danger to the future of these young people who are in front of me and their children. And it’s got to be stopped.” [Pri.org]

Winter farmers markets supports local products in the off-season

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Some of the tastiest whole grain bread I've ever eaten comes from the Worthington (Ohio) Winter Farmers Market. Every Saturday morning from November through April, the main hall at Griswold Senior Citizen Center turns into a bustling bazaar crammed with nutritious breads, cookies, pies, free-range chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, asparagus, potatoes, spinach, handmade soaps, herbs, maple syrup, honey and freshly ground almond butter. Shopping there has become a weekly ritual.

It feels so blessedly satisfying to support hardworking local farmers and to return home with healthy, unprocessed, whole food.

Just out of curiosity, I went online to find out how many winter farmers markets there are in the United States. A December 2011 press release from the USDA reports that they've increased 38 percent since 2010, going from 886 to 1,225. Winter farmers markets represent almost 17 percent of the nation's 7,222 operating farmers markets.

They flourish in New York, California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Florida Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Ash Wednesday Declaration: Repent for \"shrug-culture\" on climate change

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Religious leaders in the United Kingdom are using this Ash Wednesday as a call to all Christians to repent for the “shrug-culture” existing in many parts of the world toward climate change.

Operation Noah, a Christian climate change lobby, released today its Ash Wednesday Declaration – a seven-point call to action based around biblical themes about creation and humanity’s responsibility to care for it.

The power of interfaith partnership

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When Carl Lindquist was growing up in Wisconsin as a young Catholic, he felt a disconnect between his love of the church and his love of God's creation.

In the early 1990s, his prayer was answered when he was invited to head up a new organization in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that would improve a local watershed. That organization, Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust (SWP), has, since 1999, expanded to include protection of the entire Upper Peninsula.

Subsidiarity in practice

The most effective aspect of Superior Watershed has been its focus on local initiatives and coalition building.

As Carl said, "So many Great Lakes watershed initiatives are too large. ... We know how the UP works and how these communities can work together."

Former Beatle and family start campaign to target pollution, world hunger

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Here's something worth considering for Lenten reading.

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and his two daughters, Stella and Mary, have started the Meat Free Monday campaign, which addresses pollution, better health, the ethical treatment of animals and global hunger.

They have also contributed to a new cookbook, The Meat Free Monday Cookbook. It features more than 300 seasonal vegetarian recipes. One of them appears in the March 2012 issue of The Vegetarian Times.

Activists seek to counter Keystone revival in Senate

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The campaign to create the Keystone XL transnational pipeline continues, as Senators sought Monday to attach pro-pipeline legislation to a transportation bill.

An amendment (S.A. 1537) to the bill S. 1813, proposed by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and co-sponsored by five GOP senators, would authorize the pipeline’s construction by TransCanada Corporation “to construct, connect, operate and maintain pipeline facilities,” while negating the need for a presidential permit.

Seeking scarce water in Peru's desert capital

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In Lima's poor neighborhoods, life revolves around water

By Catholic News Service

LIMA, Peru (CNS) -- Of all the parts of her tiny, wooden house on a parched hillside at the city's edge, Emilia Lazo Campos is proudest of the bathroom. The tiles gleam despite the dust. There's even a shower -- in case Lazo and her family ever get water service.

But the most important part, to her, is the dry latrine -- an "ecological bathroom," as she calls it -- which requires no water for flushing, has no odor, attracts no flies like her old latrine did, and will eventually produce compost that she can use for a small garden.

House receives failing marks from environmental group

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In its 2011 National Environmental Scorecard, the League of Conservation Voters labeled the first session of the 112th Congress in the House of Representatives as “the most anti-environmental session in [its] history.”

The League rates every member of Congress on how they voted on environmental bills and legislation over the past Congressional session, basing this year’s rankings on 11 Senate votes and 35 votes in the House, a sample from the more than 200 votes on environmental-related issues put before its 435 members.

[Full report for the LCV National Environmental 2011 Scorecard]

For states, the highest marks went to Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, all ranking among the top House and Senate scores. At the other end of the spectrum, Kansas ranked among the least environmentally-active legislators in both the Senate and the House.

Sisters' polyhouse guarantees fresh produce, no matter the season

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It's winter coat weather in northwest Ohio, but Sr. Jeremias Stinson's tomatoes are doing just fine. So are her broccoli, dill, beets, cabbage, lettuce, spinach and carrots.

Stinson's veggies are thriving because they live inside a warm snug plastic greenhouse -- a polyhouse. The polyhouse makes it possible for Stinson and her food-growing colleague, Sr. Grace Ellen Urban, to maintain a year-round garden.

For the last three years, their all-seasons bounty has gone to the Helping Hands of St. Louis Parish soup kitchen to provide nutritious soups, stews and salads for hungry people living on Toledo's northeast side. Since 1992, Stinson and Urban, Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, have maintained a 4,500-square-foot garden and an apple orchard to help support St. Louis' daily meal ministry.

The dream of adding on a year-round operation began germinating in their hearts a little more than four years ago.

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