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Where There’s a Shill, There’s a Way

USDA pays freelance writer to tout Farm Bill's green cred In an effort to manufacture some green credibility, an Agriculture Department agency hired a freelance "journalist" to produce five articles on the conservation benefits of its Farm Bill programs. Paid at least $7,500 for his work, freelancer Dave Smith was instructed to push his stories to hunting and fishing magazines. The contract between Smith and the Natural Resources Conservation Service -- a government agency that works with landowners on issues related to wildlife habitat, water conservation, and soil erosion -- was uncovered by The Washington Post via a Freedom of …

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If the Military Can’t Pollute Freely, the Terrorists Have Won

Pentagon asks Congress for exemptions from environmental laws, again For the fourth time in as many years, the Defense Department has appealed to Congress for exemptions from major environmental laws -- this time it's air and hazardous-waste laws, as part of the 2006 defense authorization bill. In congressional testimony last year, a senior Pentagon official could cite no actual problems reported by base commanders that had resulted from having to comply with environmental laws. But still! "The [Defense] department has experienced several close calls where the relocation of military readiness activities could have been stymied by the conformity requirements of …

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USDA caves to vegetarian pressure.

Several Gristmillians have advocated that going veg is good for the environment. Vegetarians were a little miffed when the USDA announced its new food pyramid, er, pyramids without providing dietary recommendations for a plant-based diet. Well, someone must have been listening, as "Vegetarian Diets" is now listed under MyPyramid.gov's "Tips & Resources." Interestingly, it seems like the USDA's definition of the term "vegetarian" leans more toward "vegan," as they specifically provide tips for "lacto-ovo vegetarians." I would have expected the opposite. However, the folks over at PCRM make the point that this information is only available on the website and …

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Thanks to an interview with the architect/designer in Newsweek.

I'm probably naive, or easily suckered, but sue me: Whenever I read what architect and designer William McDonough says, I get optimistic. Excited, even. His is the kind of environmentalism I want to be part of, the kind that will be easy to sell to the public. It promises growth and abundance instead of guilt, shrinkage, and doom. It conceives a future that has room for the unbridled expression of our bursting impulse to create and innovate. This interview with Newsweek is a case in point. For those unfamiliar with McDonough's ideas (most famously presented in Cradle to Cradle), it's …

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Listen to Your Mother

Since the thread on mothers and the environment is going so well, let me echo Japhet in pointing you all to Listen to Your Mother, an effort by the Rainforest Action Network to marshal maternal power in service of getting Ford to reduce the emissions of its carbon-heavy fleet.

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Infamous industry defender chosen as contest judge by science association.

Steven Milloy, proprietor of junkscience.com, commentator on Fox News, adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute, and dedicated industry whore defender, chosen as a contest judge by the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science? Say it ain't so. Paul Thacker from Environmental Science & Technology sorts it out, and along the way offers some interesting tidbits on "The Junkman" and the many ways that corporations fund pseudo-scientists and think tanks to do their PR dirty work.

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Private Eyes Are Watching Ewe

Remote sensors, cameras able to monitor earth's health Technological advances in the burgeoning field of environmental monitoring are allowing scientists to take frequent and accurate measurements of weather conditions, animal behavior, and even contaminant levels without leaving their workstations. By placing tiny wireless instruments -- no larger than a cell phone or a deck of cards -- in an environmentally sensitive area, researchers are able to remotely access data produced by the devices' cameras, robots, and sensors, providing them with a detailed account of the area's health. The devices, called motes, are often networked together, able to power down when …

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Lead and Circus

EPA lead regs quietly morph from mandatory rules to voluntary standards The U.S. EPA has fallen a bit -- and by "a bit" we mean nine years -- behind schedule on issuing lead regulations pertaining to building renovation. But better late than never, right? Maybe not. Turns out the EPA has quietly shifted its regulatory course from issuing mandatory rules for contractors to that old Bush administration chestnut: voluntary standards. The jettisoned approach would have allowed only certified contractors -- whose employees are educated on the safe handling of lead -- to renovate buildings built before 1978, the year when …

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‘Scientist’ debunks global warming based on a typo, itself based on a fabricated data set. Fun.

Oh lordy, this is hilarious. First, David Bellamy of The Conservation Foundation writes a letter to New Scientist denying global warming and claiming that "555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, have been growing since 1980." Subsequent letters debunked the claim, but it's a curious claim to begin with, yes? So writer/journalist George Monbiot decided to look into it, and after much valiant labor, tracked down the source. To quote from Tim Lambert's summary: He got it from a crackpot web site ("The next ice age could begin any day"), …

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Immelt goes green(ish)

Dave flagged GE's ecomagination initiative on Sunday, and here's the Dow Jones wire report on Immelt's speech: WASHINGTON -- The U.S. needs to be more like Europe and develop a clear environmental policy on issues such as climate change and use of renewable energy, said General Electric Co. (GE) Chief Executive Jeff Immelt Monday. He called Europe "the global regulatory superpower" when it comes to environmental policy, noting that Europe is using more wind power now because five years ago it set a clear goal to do just that. Similar actions need to be taken in the U.S., said Immelt. …

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