Grist staff

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.

Parris in the Summertime

As a last hurrah, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening (D) says he will push for new restrictions on development along Maryland’s coastal bays. He says he will introduce a bill to preserve the wetlands and protect water quality in the next legislative session –which will be his final one in office — and he expects the fight over the restrictions to be one of his toughest yet. Driving the southern Maryland coast this weekend, Glendening pointed out a house under construction on what was once a wetland: “People look at that and say, isn’t that progress? It’s a million-dollar home. I …

Glow With the Flow

Artificial lakes containing 50 years of radioactive waste could leak into the rivers of the Ural Mountains within a few years, according to a letter sent by the governor of Russia’s Chelyabinsk region to Russia’s prime minister last month. The area near the Mayak nuclear reprocessing plant is known as one of the most radioactive places on the planet. Chelyabinsk’s vice governor, Gennady Podtyosov, said on Friday that contaminated water might burst the lakes’ dam in three to four years, sending waste flowing into the Arctic Ocean.

Rice-a-Roni, the Global Warming Treat

U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made sure yesterday that the rest of the world maintained its low expectation of the U.S. on climate change. On CNN’s “Late Edition,” Rice contradicted a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and said the U.S. would probably not have a comprehensive plan to combat climate change ready by October, in time for the next international meeting on this issue. Ten days ago in Europe, Powell promised foreign nations that a plan would be prepared by then. Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund says the climate deal struck last week in Bonn is …

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