Grist staff

Readers sound off on biodiesel, waterless urinals, jocks, and more

  Re: Put the Pedal to the Mettle Dear Editor: I am currently considering a new car, and was interested to read Jim Motavalli’s recent article in Grist. I was disappointed, however, that in his vehicle summaries, he failed to mention biodiesel as an option for environmentally conscious consumers. Why? Is there something about biodiesel I have not heard? Craig Christian Seattle, Wash.   Re: Put the Pedal to the Mettle Dear Editor: I was appalled to realize that the reporter didn’t think to include the fossil fuel-free contender that runs on biodiesel fuel. Not only are diesel vehicles that …

Readers sound off on solar houses, ethanol, LNG facilities, and more

  Re: Little Solar Houses for You and Me Dear Editor: As a Winchester, Tenn., resident and strong supporter of renewable energy and sustainable living, I just want to say thanks to Amanda and to Grist for the great article on the renewable-energy scene in Tennessee and the Southeast. It’s perfect that I stumbled onto your story (via a link from the DOE site). I recently bought an old house and want to retrofit it with as much eco-technology as feasible (and affordable). I’ve been eagerly researching green power options in recent weeks. I knew about the Green Power Switch …

The Weak in Review

Bush’s Mercury Plan Was Rejected by Clinton EPA as Too Weak The Bush administration’s new plan for regulating mercury emissions from power plants is virtually the same as one that the Clinton administration considered and dismissed because it appeared to violate the federal Clean Air Act, former U.S. EPA officials said yesterday. The Bush proposal caused an uproar among environmentalists and public-health advocates when it was leaked to the press last week. Yesterday, the administration formally introduced the plan, which would regulate mercury from power plants for the first time and mandate a nearly 70 percent drop in mercury emissions …

The Icky 500

New EPA Chief Calls for Cleaner Air in 500 Days Newly minted U.S. EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt gave his first major speech yesterday, promising to embark on the “most productive period of air-quality improvement in American history.” The former Utah governor spoke of a 500-day plan for cleaner air but offered no details on it. (Instead, a leaked document detailed plans to relax regulation of mercury pollution from power plants; for more on that, see today’s Muckraker, above.) Leavitt said the plan would be built around President Bush’s controversial Clear Skies initiative and would include strict controls on diesel engines …

The Kindest Cut

Companies Show that Cutting Emissions Can Improve Performance President Bush and many Republicans in Congress complain that restricting emissions of carbon dioxide would hobble the U.S. economy, but a growing number of companies are showing that cutting emissions can help the bottom line and they are pursuing reductions far greater than the voluntary ones proposed by Bush. Large aluminum producer Alcoa, for example, has cut its CO2 emission by more than 23.5 percent from 1990 levels, while at the same time increasing production. “We’ve had triple wins so far,” said Alcoa’s Randy Overbey. “It’s helped our labor productivity, the environment, …

The Few, the Proud, the Exempt

Defense Bill Will Exempt Military from Species-Protection Laws The U.S. military may be having trouble achieving its goals in Iraq, but at least it’s getting what it wants on Capitol Hill: exemptions from key environmental laws. President Bush today is scheduled to sign a $401 billion defense authorization bill that includes provisions exempting the military from components of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. After the bill becomes law, the Navy will be able to make broader use of low-frequency sonar, despite the fact that it is believed to cause serious harm to whales, dolphins, …

A breakdown of the Senate vote to end debate on the energy bill

A massive energy bill backed by the Bush administration stalled out in the Senate this morning, when its supporters failed to garner the necessary 60 votes to end debate on the legislation. Only 57 senators voted to halt debate; 40 voted to keep it going. Those in favor of the bill, which has already been passed by the House, say it would increase and diversify energy sources and help some farmers by encouraging the use of corn-based ethanol fuel. Opponents call it an expensive, environmentally unfriendly grab bag for special interests. Find out how your senators voted on the bill …

How many international environmental treaties can one administration sabotage?

From just about anywhere you are on the planet, the city of Punta Arenas, Chile, is very, very far away. Perched on the banks of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas is bounded on the north by the ice fields of Patagonia, a place that the combined forces of nature and the outdoor-gear industry have made synonymous with all things rugged and remote. To the south, on the other side of the strait, the Western Hemisphere peters off into the fractured islands of Tierra del Fuego; beyond that lies the Antarctic. And then there is another, newer landmark: For a …

Make your Thanksgiving and holiday meals go easy on the Earth

Sharpen your knives and hone your appetite — it’s that time of year again. Every fall, we stuff ourselves at Thanksgiving, take a quick break, then fill up again over the winter holidays, sometimes gorging at event after event to accommodate multiple sets of family and friends. But environmentalists, beware: The industry set up to sate this orgy of consumption is none too kind to animals or the environment. Eat, drink, and be green. Take that staple of Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey. We’ve bred turkeys for superior breast meat for so long that they now literally have trouble standing upright, …