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City City Ban Ban

And in related news from the Big Apple: The city's post-Sep. 11 restrictions on single-occupant vehicles entering Manhattan has led to 190,000 fewer people coming into the city by car every day, according to a study commissioned by business and labor leaders opposed to the ban. The study claims the restrictions could cost the city $1.5 billion in lost spending, tolls, and taxes over the course of the year; it further claims that the goals of the restrictions -- to encourage people to enter the city by carpool or mass transit -- are not being met, and that people are …

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If It Weren’t for Those Medal-ing Kids

The 2002 Winter Olympics open tomorrow in Salt Lake City, and not everybody's thrilled about it. Environmentalists say developers took advantage of the games to permanently damage the pristine Rocky Mountain environment, even though protecting the natural world is now the third precept -- after sports and culture -- of the Olympics. The Salt Lake Olympic Committee set goals of zero waste, zero emissions, and the planting of 18 million trees, but Tom Price, chair of the Olympics environmental advisory committee, thinks the SLOC fell short: Forests have been clear-cut to make way for ski runs, and when it came …

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Bada Bing!

In a potentially significant breakthrough for the environmental justice movement, New Jersey has become the first state to propose environmental-equity regulations for companies looking to move into minority or low-income communities. The rules, which were drafted by the state Department of Environmental Protection, would feed companies' plans into a computer model comparing census information and pollution data. If the modeling predicted an environmental justice problem, the move could only proceed if the DEP concluded that the company had made a "good faith effort" to include community members in the planning process. Opponents fear a chilling effect on economic development, while …

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Danube Blues

The Danube River in Europe may be blue, but it's not very green -- and its environmental problems are slated to get even worse, the World Wildlife Fund warns in a report being released today. More than 80 percent of the river's wetlands and flood plains have already been destroyed in the name of flood protection, agriculture, power production, and shipping, the report says. Now, plans to deepen parts of the channel for new shipping routes and construct additional canals and dams could endanger what remains. WWF says the changes would alter or destroy almost a million acres of protected …

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Weeping and Railing

Convinced that "potentially significant" environmental problems could be avoided, federal regulators yesterday approved the largest railroad construction project in recent history. The project, a $1.4 billion, 900-mile line linking Wyoming coal fields to the Mississippi River, was okayed after the Surface Transportation Board, a branch of the Department of Transportation, imposed 147 conditions to protect water, wildlife, and air quality. The impetus for the project comes from an anticipated boom in coal mining in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, which could produce more than 500 million tons of coal by 2010. If the project is completed, dozens of trains per day, …

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Low-carbon Riders

In a move that could have radical implications for the automobile industry, the California Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would make it the first state to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles as a step toward curbing global warming. Because about 10 percent of the nation's new cars are sold in California, legislation affecting emissions in the state would force significant changes from automakers -- changes that neither industry nor the federal government have been inclined to initiate. The bill will now go to the Democrat-controlled Senate, which is likely to amend it significantly.

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Italian Nice

The president of northern Italy's Lombardy region, Roberto Formigoni, proposed on Sunday that only eco-friendly vehicles be sold in the region by as early as 2005. He hopes gas-electric hybrid vehicles and, later, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles can help eliminate the region's pollution woes. Smog levels in Lombardy have recently surged to five times the legally permitted amounts; the region's capital, Milan, has been covered in haze for much of the winter. Vehicles have been banned across Lombardy on three Sundays since December, and last week, authorities ordered cars, motorcycles, and trucks off the roads on alternate days -- but pollution …

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Mess Transit

As perhaps the most famous national park in the United States, the Grand Canyon occupies an equally vast space in our national psyche as in our national landscape. Unfortunately, it is also our national bottleneck. Each year, 5 million people flock to the park, leaving 6,000 cars to battle for 2,400 parking spaces every day during the summer. Park officials have recognized the problem for decades, and for a while, a proposed solution -- a Grand Canyon light rail system -- was steaming ahead. But that was before the White House changed hands and a coterie of Republicans froze the …

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Shanty Shanty Shanty

Despite its terrible environmental rap, Mexico City remains one of the greenest cities in the world, with more than half the city's acreage designated as open space and fully 25 percent blanketed with forest. Unfortunately, all that is being threatened by the city's uncontrolled urban sprawl, most of it in the form of creeping shantytowns forged of poverty and desperation on the city's edges. As many as 260,000 people live in an estimated 65,000 illegal homes built inside conservation areas on the city's south side. As conservation areas disappear, so do the trees that mitigate air pollution and erosion, and …

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