E2 Round-up: Inquiry examines 'blasting' as cause of mine disaster, Europe better than U.S. at turning waste to fuel, Kerry says SCOTUS pick no threat to climate bill

* The United States lags behind Europe in turning waste into fuel

From the New York Times: “Across Europe, there are about 400 [waste-to-energy plants], with Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands leading the pack in expanding them and building new ones.

"By contrast, no new waste-to-energy plants are being planned or built in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency says — even though the federal government and 24 states now classify waste that is burned this way for energy as a renewable fuel, in many cases eligible for subsidies. There are only 87 trash-burning power plants in the United States, a country of more than 300 million people, and almost all were built at least 15 years ago,” the Times reports.

Part of the explanation lies in the fact that incinerators still raise red flags for many environmental groups.

“Incinerators are really the devil,” Laura Haight, a senior environmental associate with the New York Public Interest Research Group, told the Times.

* Environmental advocates downgrade expectations for global climate agreement

The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin writes that, “leaders and environmental advocates have focused their efforts on reaching agreement on a few top priorities, including preserving tropical forests and helping developing countries cope with climate change,” as prospects for an overarching global climate accord evaporate.

“The U.N.-sponsored climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December are increasingly viewed as an interim step to a final deal,” according to the Post.

* Kerry doesn’t expect Supreme Court pick to slow climate change debate

From Bloomberg: “President Barack Obama’s plan to quickly replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens won’t prevent the U.S. Senate from taking up climate-change legislation before elections this year, Senator John Kerry said.”

Kerry claims Congress is capable of “doing more than one thing at the same time.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is working on climate legislation with Kerry and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), isn't so sure.