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They’re Going to Pump You Up

Supreme Court to Review Two Important Environmental Cases In what court-watchers are calling an unusually in-depth review of environmental issues, the Supreme Court is set to hear two cases today with potentially nationwide implications for clean air and water regulations. The first is an appeal by oil companies and diesel manufacturers (supported by the Bush administration) who are challenging a Los Angeles-area requirement that diesel-fueled buses, trash trucks, and airport shuttles be replaced with cleaner-burning models. The second is a suit brought by the Florida Everglades-based Miccosukee tribe against a water-pumping station that for years has been piping polluted runoff …

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All-wheel Jive

Subaru Outback to Become "Light Truck" to Avoid Fuel Economy Rules As of next year, Subaru's Outback sedan will be classified as a "light truck," thanks to some technical modifications to its ground clearance and back bumper position. The revised classification will place the car ... er, truck in a category requiring (as of 2005) 21.2 miles per gallon; in contrast, each automaker's fleet of standard passenger cars must average 27.5 mpg. More than semantics are at stake: Since the regulatory categories were put in place in the 1970s, the automotive industry has developed the minivan and the SUV, both …

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We Love to Fly and It Shows

Britain Mulls Ways to Limit Impact of Aviation Industry With the holidays looming, the airports and skies are fuller than ever -- unfortunately for the environment. Air travel is the most environmentally damaging way to get around, with planes using vast quantities of fossil fuels and emitting toxic byproducts and greenhouse gases. The issue is looming large on the radar screen in Britain, where the government just released a white paper on the future of aviation. Environmentalists were disappointed by the contents of the paper, which they say failed to adequately address the problems of pollution, airport expansion, and greenhouse …

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The word on relatively green cars and positively green bicycles

Hy-wire act. Photo: DOE. My daughter Maya, who is 9, saw a picture of the General Motors Hy-wire, the company's super-sleek experimental fuel-cell car, and immediately decided we should have one. Unfortunately, I had to explain to her that the hydrogen-powered, zero-emission, fossil-fuel-free car would be perfect for us in all respects except one: It's not available. So it goes with U.S. manufacturers and innovative, efficient automotive technology -- all promise, no delivery. So what's an environmentally minded would-be car owner to do? First, make sure you really need a car. Motor vehicles take a heavy toll on the environment, …

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Deck the Hauls

U.S. High Court Will Hear Mexican Truck Pollution Case The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will wade into a dispute over whether tens of thousands of highly polluting Mexican trucks should be allowed to cross the border and deliver goods throughout the U.S. The Bush administration, arguing the free-trade point of view, welcomes the trucks, but enviros and union members say they would dramatically worsen pollution in cities such as Los Angeles and Houston, which are already struggling with dirty air. In January, a federal court ruled that the administration should have conducted a comprehensive environmental impact study …

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Bicycles Shanghaied

Shanghai Bans Bicycles from Major Streets Shanghai, China, whose streets once teemed with peddling people, will ban bicycles from most major thoroughfares beginning next year. It's a dramatic (and, many say, depressing) shift for a city that was home to some of the nation's earliest bicycle factories. Now, Shanghai has become a center of China's burgeoning auto industry. Though bicycles are still the main form of transportation for the country's masses, members of China's burgeoning affluent class are buying cars in ever-growing numbers and finding that bikes are getting in their way. "Bicycles put great pressure on the city's troubled …

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NRDC’s new Santa Monica building may be the most eco-friendly in the U.S.

Do you realize we are gathered in what must be the greenest building in the United States?" Natural Resources Defense Council Executive Director Frances Beinecke asked a crowd of well-scrubbed Californians gathered for the opening ceremony of the organization's new SoCal headquarters in Santa Monica. Swilling mimosas and nibbling croissants on the building's sunny, plant-strewn terrace, everyone cheered and grinned at the rhetorical question, well aware that they were standing at the newest altar of sustainability. I, for one, had sprung for a plane ticket to Santa Monica as though I were heading out on a pilgrimage to the Emerald …

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Next Thing You Know, They’ll Have a Better Human-Rights Record Than the U.S., Too

China to Adopt Fuel-Economy Standards Stricter Than Those in U.S. Intent on reducing its growing dependence on foreign oil, China is set to impose vehicle fuel-economy standards that will be markedly stricter than those in place in the U.S. The rules, expected to go into effect in 2005 and become more stringent in 2008, will require all small cars sold in China to get slightly better gas mileage than the average small car sold in the U.S.; meanwhile, minivans and SUVs will have to be significantly more efficient than models now in U.S. showrooms. The Chinese government hopes the standards …

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Ding Dong, the Plant Is Dead

Germany Shutters First N-Plant in Beginning of End of Atomic Industry Germany began its historic phaseout of all atomic energy by shutting down the first of 19 nuclear power plants today. The Stade plant, in a city of the same name, had been open since 1972, making it the nation's second-oldest atomic energy facility. Anti-nuclear activists celebrated its closure, but, as Suzanne Ochse of Greenpeace noted, "the real party will start when all the plants are closed." Shipments of nuclear waste into Germany from La Hague in northwest France and Sellafield in Britain will continue through 2010, and Germany's nuclear …

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