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Baca to the Future

Ending 40 years of negotiations, President Clinton signed a bill yesterday that will have the federal government pay $101 million to acquire the Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico, a 95,000-acre site rich in wildlife. The area, which some call "the Yellowstone of the Southwest," contains the 14-mile-wide collapsed crater of an ancient volcano and provides habitat for one of the country's largest wild elk herds, as well as 17 threatened or endangered species. The land will now become the Valles Caldera National Preserve, with bipartisan backing from the state's congressional delegation. Cattle grazing and hunting will still be allowed …

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Welcome to the Club

The Sierra Club gave its formal endorsement to Al Gore today, with the group's president, Robert Cox, saying that if Gore were elected, he would be "the most pro-environment president in our history." Gore accepted the endorsement by saying, "It is an honor that I will seek to live up to every day." The Gore campaign is working hard to draw attention to the announcement, which it hopes will help shore up support among enviros considering a vote for Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate. Twelve of the Sierra Club's 15 board members voted to endorse Gore on Saturday, with …

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The Dark Side of Pak Moon

Poor citizens of Thailand have begun teaming up with non-governmental organizations and academics to protest environmentally destructive development projects being undertaken without their input. Over the past year and a half, thousands of people have demonstrated in the village of Pak Moon against a hydroelectric dam, funded in part by the World Bank, which is blocking the migration of fish that locals depend on. Last month, protestors halted operations at the dam's hydroelectric plant and got the authorities to agree to open the dam's floodgates for four months of the year to allow fish migration. "Poor people have been losers …

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And other words from readers

Grist readers are mighty opinionated when it comes to Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader. You've been flooding our mailbox with letters responding to Donella Meadows's column on why she plans to vote for Nader, as well as a follow-up column she wrote on the topic, an item on Nader in our Muckraker column, and our last batch of letters.   Dear Editor: Believing Ralph Nader can get elected this year is idealistic dreaming. Believing Nader can reach the 5 percent vote necessary to get campaign financing for the Green Party for the next election is more realistic and one …

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Ospar the Grouch

Forty of the 60 main fish species caught commercially in the northeast Atlantic are being scooped up faster than they can replenish themselves, according to a report to be released later this week at a meeting of the international Ospar Commission, which is charged with protecting the marine environment around Europe. The report also found that as quotas are imposed on traditional catches like cod and haddock, the fishing fleets of developed nations are increasingly chasing deep-water species and pushing their numbers down as well. In addition to concerns about overfishing, delegates to the Ospar meeting will discuss chemical pollution …

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The Smog Days of Summer

About 117 million Americans live in areas with smoggy air, according to a report released yesterday by the Clean Air Network, a coalition of environmental and public health groups. The report found that more than half of the nearly 600 counties in the U.S. that fully monitor air quality are above the legal limit for ozone pollution. The Clean Air Network is urging federal and state governments to crack down on pollution from coal-fired power plants and diesel trucks and buses. Meanwhile, the House voted last night to block the EPA from identifying regions with high smog levels, aiming to …

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Get on the Bus

The Los Angeles metro area made a national first on Friday by adopting sweeping rules that will require new transit buses and garbage trucks to be powered by electricity, fuel cells, or relatively low-polluting fuels such as natural gas. The new rules, intended to cut down on diesel emissions that foul the air and are believed to cause cancer, could spur similar action in other U.S. cities plagued by air pollution. The rules are a victory for enviros, public health advocates, and community leaders who have been fighting to curb diesel pollution in L.A.

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And other words from readers

Re: Won't You Be My Nader? Dear Editor: I am disappointed to hear that Donella Meadows plans to vote for Ralph Nader and is encouraging her readers to do the same. While I agree that he is more committed to environmental issues than Al Gore, voting for Gore is, in Meadows's own words, "the undeniably rational argument." I fear what will happen if George W. Bush holds office for even one term, during which he'll be able to appoint several Supreme Court justices, cater to the NRA, and undo every pro-environmental executive order that Clinton has implemented. A Republican president, …

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In the Pipeline of Fire

The U.S. federal agency that oversees the safety of oil and gas pipelines is too closely tied to industry and has failed to implement safety measures mandated by Congress, according to a harsh report by the General Accounting Office. Between 1990 and 1998, the proportion of enforcement actions brought by the Office of Pipeline Safety that resulted in fines fell from 49 percent to 4 percent, and over the same period the number of major pipeline accidents increased by 4 percent per year. The report comes a year after a gasoline pipeline spill and explosion in Bellingham, Wash., killed three …

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