Grist staff

It's a Jungle Out There

  Re: Un-Happy Meal Dear Editor: Eric Schlosser deserves a medal for this book, which everyone, especially fast food addicts, should read. I read the book, but must admit that I skipped the chapters on the slaughterhouse industry. I feared that things at the stockyards hadn’t changed very much since Upton Sinclair published The Jungle in 1906. Helen Real Dolores, Colo.   Re: Patricia Ross, city councilmember, Abbotsford, B.C. Dear Editor: Thanks for profiling our struggle here in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and Whatcom County, Wash. Multinational corporations with big investments in fossil fuels are lobbying power brokers …

Hard of Huron

Michigan natural resources officials voted on Friday to lift a four-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling beneath Lakes Huron and Michigan. Supporters said the lake-bottom deposits would boost energy supplies in the U.S. while bringing the state royalty money that could be used to purchase public land. Critics said the risks of the drilling were too great, even though it would be prohibited in “environmentally sensitive” areas. Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm (D), a candidate for governor next fall, hasn’t ruled out suing the state Department of Natural Resources to block the drilling. Other top state politicians, such as …

At the Head of the Class

Lawyers from top environmental groups in the U.S. are considering such new legal strategies as broad-based class-action lawsuits to force the U.S. and corporations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Whether in federal courts or international tribunals, the lawyers would sue on behalf of people or whole countries suffering from the effects of global warming. For example, the lawyers might represent the nine-island nation of Tuvalu, which is home to 10,000 people. Scientists say that Tuvalu could disappear within 50 years because of rising sea levels caused by warmer temperatures. Overall, the U.N. estimates the cost of global warming at more …

The Ohio Player

Drawing unfavorable attention to President Bush’s choice to head the U.S. EPA’s enforcement program, a preliminary report released yesterday by the agency found that Ohio has done a poor job enforcing air-pollution rules. Bush’s nominee, Donald Schregardus, led the Ohio EPA during most the 1990s. The report said that air inspections, investigations of complaints, and amounts of penalties collected have all declined in Ohio in recent years. In addition, the Ohio EPA employed fewer people than it had said would be necessary to enforce clean-air standards. The federal agency said it would move to take control of Ohio’s environmental enforcement …

Jakarta Four: The Hearse

In a big victory for the Indonesian environmental group Walhi, an Indonesian court this week found that mining giant Freeport Indonesia had given false information to the country’s parliament about a fatal mining accident last year and ordered the company to improve its toxic waste management. Four workers died in a landslide at the mine last year, but Freeport told legislators that no fatalities had occurred. Freeport yesterday denied that it didn’t care about worker safety and that it was harming the environment; the company said it would appeal the ruling.

In the Drink

The gasoline additive MTBE, a known carcinogen, has already leaked into 48 public wells that provide water to hundreds of thousands of Californians, according to a San Francisco Chronicle analysis of state data. The additive is leaking from 1,189 underground storage tanks within 1,000 feet of public wells or drinking water aquifers, threatening the water supplies of millions in the state. That’s not the full extent of the problem: No data exist on private wells, which may be more prone to contamination because they often draw water from shallow aquifers. MTBE is added to gasoline to make it burn more …