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Torpedo the Dams — Full Speed Ahead!

The Edwards Dam in Augusta, Maine, will be breached on Thursday in an effort to restore fish populations in the Kennebec River, as debates rage across the U.S. over proposals to knock down dams for the sake of fish. About 75,000 large dams block American rivers, and small dams block thousands more. Proposals to breach dams on the Columbia River in the Northwest to help endangered salmon are particularly controversial.

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Giving Sprawl the Business

A number of business leaders are joining the fight against sprawl, worried that traffic jams, air pollution, and a lack of open space will drive away the best workers. A study released today by the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals highlights 19 "smart growth" initiatives undertaken by businesses. For example, DaimlerChrysler is building a $1.6 billion plant near downtown Detroit rather than in the far-flung suburbs; two Florida developers are trying to direct growth away from the sensitive Everglades; and 45 businesses in York County, Pa., are investing in old urban areas.

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Water Over the Dam

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, in a speech yesterday in Colorado to Western water officials, proposed setting minimum water levels for rivers and signaled his intention to redirect water toward environmental uses rather than agricultural irrigation or residential growth. Babbitt said that in coming years, more dams will be breached or modified to help restore rivers, wetlands, and fisheries. He asserted that Western water woes be alleviated through conservation measures, water marketing, and recharging of aquifers. He also predicted a truce in a skirmish that has prevented large-scale water sales between California's Imperial Valley and San Diego; officials are scrambling to …

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A review of 'From the Redwood Forest' and 'Forest Blood'

The recent high-profile deal to keep chainsaws out of the Headwaters grove of ancient redwood trees near Eureka, Calif., is unlikely to bring about a truce in the raging war over old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest and northern California. Environmentalists continue to dig in their heels and repudiate all compromise (more than 90 percent of U.S. old-growth has already been lost, they say; no more can be sacrificed). Meanwhile, the timber industry flexes its mighty political muscle and logs on. Two new books explore the volatile climate in Northwest logging country -- a factual first-person narrative and a fictional …

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The Reel Deal

A sweeping agreement between the U.S. and Canada to manage and conserve West Coast salmon runs is expected to be announced today. The 10-year deal, which would end a prolonged dispute over salmon between the two nations, would revolve around a jointly managed conservation trust fund of about $150 million. Millions from the fund would be used to buy out commercial fishing licenses in the U.S. in order to reduce the American catch of sockeye salmon from British Columbia's Frasier River. The agreement would also require deep cutbacks in the Canadians' catch of U.S.-bound chinook.

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We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us

For the first time, more Japanese companies favor a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions than oppose it, according to a poll released by the nation's Environment Agency yesterday. "The poll indicates there is a growing perception among Japanese firms that voluntary corporate efforts alone cannot curb carbon-dioxide emissions," an agency official said.

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We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Not Us

Mobil CEO Lucio A. Noto got testy yesterday when enviros suggested that the company's planned merger with Exxon, approved overwhelmingly by stockholders yesterday, would create an environmentally irresponsible monster. Noto lit into the Kyoto climate change treaty, saying Exxon and Mobil oppose it and that it's "not worth the paper that it's written on." He continued, "Forgive me for getting emotional, but I don't like to see Mobil characterized as raping the environment or only being concerned with the bottom line." At the stockholders' meetings of both Exxon and Mobil, motions to have the companies create committees to report publicly …

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Look for the Onion Label

As controversy over genetically modified crops mounts, a federal task force will report by the end of July on whether genetically engineered foods should be labeled so consumers know what they're getting. The biotech industry complains that such labeling would be expensive and unnecessary. Meanwhile, a National Academy of Sciences panel is conducting a review of the risks and benefits of genetically modified crops and will make recommendations for government regulation this fall. At a public NAS hearing on Monday, a number of scientists warned that unless the government gets its act together and better regulates biotechnology, more and more …

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Enviros Mobil-ize to Put the Nix on Exxon

Enviro groups plan to oppose the proposed merger of Mobil and Exxon at the companies' annual meetings this week out of fears that Mobil's more conciliatory stance on climate change will be x-ed out if Exxon gets regulatory clearance to buy Mobil for $75 billion. Mobil was initially critical of the Kyoto climate change treaty, but last year the company appeared to start changing its tune, saying it would conduct an inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions. Exxon continues to deny that climate change is underway.

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A review of 'Women Pioneers for the Environment' by Mary Jo Breton

Women Pioneers for the Environment by Mary Joy Breton Northeastern University Press, 1998, 336 pages Want to buy it? In 1993, Emma Must, irate over the British Department of Transport's plans to plow through yet another grassy hillside for yet another highway extension, chained herself by the neck to the axle of a bulldozer for five hours. Her bold antics and those of a band of like-minded peaceful protestors stalled construction of the highway for six months, but ultimately their campaign failed. Out of the ashes of Must's effort, however, rose a tide of public anger that swelled Britain's anti-road …

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