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One Meeellion Years

Feds create million-year health standard for Yucca Mountain dump The U.S. government has no plan for getting out of Iraq, balancing the budget, or repairing a hemorrhaging health-care system, but nuclear waste? It's got that covered for the next million years. Yes, responding to a 2004 federal court ruling that the previous standard of 10 millennia was insufficient, the U.S. EPA has revised its plan for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste dump in Nevada to account for earthquakes, climate change, and other potential upsets for an additional 990,000 years. The new standard has provoked outrage from Nevada politicians, including Sen. …

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Environmentalism as a religion

What does the accusation mean and how should greens respond?

James Schlesinger had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal the other day called "The Theology of Global Warming" (paid subscription required, but really, don't bother). It's full of the usual skeptical blather -- if you're interested in the specifics, and in finding out why Schlesigner in particular is an unreliable source, I refer you to Chris Mooney. I'm more interested in this general idea that global warming, and environmentalism generally, has become a "secular religion." You hear it a lot. It's become a favorite talking point on the right. (And let's be honest: When you hear anti-environmentalist talking points, …

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Fiddleheads and potatoes and blueberries ... oh my!

Eating locally — part three.

For those of you who read the hundred-mile diet post and are hungry for more, The Tyee published the latest from J.B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith about two weeks ago and I'm now getting around to linking to it. In the third installment, J.B. provides a little more detail about what exactly they have been eating and offers up a few recipes for Breakfast Fritters, Hundred-Mile Pesto, and Fanny Bay Pie in the hopes to challenge you to try a Hundred-Mile Meal. For the appetizer lovers, here's a little morsel to whet your appetite: ... There are a lot of …

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Legalize it, don’t criticize it

The U.S. is the only developed nation that does not cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act could change that -- if it's passed. Given the Bush administration's retrograde attitude toward pot (which yes, yes, I know, has nothing to do with hemp), I highly doubt this bill has a chance. But I could be wrong. Joel Makower has the details.

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Janice Rogers Brown living up to her surname

Controversial judge sides against enviros on mercury regs

Janice Rogers Brown is already proving her worth on the federal bench. Last week, she and her colleague David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia blocked an effort by environmental groups to halt implementation of the Bush administration's much-maligned mercury rules.A legal challenge to the rules brought by enviros, health-advocacy groups, and 14 states will still be heard by the court, but Brown and Sentelle's move means the EPA can proceed in enacting the rules in the meantime. If you'll recall, Brown was one of Bush's most controversial judicial appointments; he had to twist …

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Specter and Roberts

Judiciary committee chair to question SCOTUS nominee about commerce clause

Those who read our piece on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts know that one of greens' principle concerns about him is his interpretation of the commerce clause. In short, the commerce clause, which gives Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce, has been broadly interpreted and used as the foundation for a great deal of important environmental legislation. If SCOTUS chooses to interpret it more narrowly, much of that legislation could be challenged. (This is what was at stake in the case of the "hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California" -- i.e., …

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Rich guys and their nature preserves

Philanthropic landowner in Chile needs to get Chileans involved

A New York Times article documents the difficulty Douglas Tompkins is having protecting the thousands of square miles of pristine ecosystems he has purchased in Chile. From a historical perspective, what he has done is old hat. Wealthy individuals from Chinese emperors to British Lords have owned nature preserves. The problem is that things begin to unravel once the originator goes to heaven. One example is a private preserve in 1600s Europe that sheltered the last herd of Auroch. Cave paintings of these now-extinct wild cattle can be found in Southern France. Similarly, the last wild European Bison was killed …

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Hydrogen from sunlight and water?

It could happen

Fusion too far in the future? Moving to the moon (or Mars) not an option? Nuclear a big fat no? Skeptical about the hydrogen hype? Enter chemist Daniel Nocera. His goal: create a renewable energy source by using sunlight to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen. From the AP (via Wired): There is a beautiful model for this: photosynthesis. Sunlight kickstarts a reaction in which leaves break down water and carbon dioxide and turn them into oxygen and sugar, which plants use for fuel. But plants developed this process over billions of years, and even so, it's technically not that …

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Swag the Dog

Cool new loot offered as inducement to donate to Grist You really want to support fresh, funny environmental journalism. And you really like swag. Donate to Grist (it's tax-deductible!) and you could kill two pollutocrats with one stone. For each $50 you give, you'll get a chance to win one of 10 Global Warming Survival Kits. The latest goodie added to the kits: a case of Fizzy Lizzy, the refreshing sparkling-juice "it" drink of the season. And that's on top of the solar backpack, sunhat, ice cream, tree seedlings, solar hat fan, and, oh, let's not forget the multi-purpose tool, …

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The other kind of hybrid

China’s hybrid economy leads to inefficiency

This morning's Washington Post proclaims "Electrical Inefficiency A Dark Spot for China." It seems that lighting up the beautiful Bund comes at the expense of blackouts and brownouts in the less glitzy, more industrial parts of the country. But there's a simple solution: "A lot of China's energy security problem could be solved if you improved our domestic efficiency," said Yan Maosong, an industrial engineering expert at Shanghai University who advises the central government. "From generation to transmission to power usage, in every link of the chain, our energy industry is not very efficient. Top government leaders have not paid …

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