E2 Round-up: Salazar talks jobs, NASA on a hot decade, debating coal, and resurgent oil sands

And as the fight over global warming continues in Congress and elsewhere, new NASA data shows that the last decade was the warmest on record, reports Bloomberg and other outlets. The NASA finding backs up recent data from the World Meteorological Organization.

Two prominent voices in the climate debate squared of in West Virginia last night.

Stories by the Associated Press, Charleston Gazette and others recount the debate between Don Blankenship – CEO of coal giant Massey Energy – and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

"The mission statement for coal is prosperity for this country," Blankenship said, according to this Gazette account. "This industry is what made this country great and if we forget that, we're going to have to learn to speak Chinese."

Kennedy stressed the damage from mountaintop mining, and said companies are shedding jobs as the practice continues. "This is the worst environmental crime that has ever happened in our history," Kennedy said. "These companies are liquidating this state for cash with these gigantic machines."

The recession and attendant collapse in oil prices slowed investment in Canada’s massive oil sands deposits, which are also in environmentalists’ crosshairs due to greenhouse gas emissions.

But spending on new and expanded projects is picking up again, reports Dow Jones, which looks at plans by ConocoPhillips and other companies. One factor is lower project costs, as well as oil prices that have rebounded (although they’re still far below the 2008 highs).

“There's a general sense among the operators that the timing is looking favorable to get these projects back into construction phase,” said Chris Feltin, an analyst with Macquarie Securities in Calgary, in this Globe and Mail story. “It's a combination of being able to get access to labor and lock in lower material prices.”