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Ford: Tight Turning Radius

Henry Ford might be proud, but enviros are disappointed: William Clay Ford, Jr., great-grandson of the automobile pioneer, used to be known as the greenest person in the auto industry. But since taking the reins of Ford Motor Company last October, Ford has muted -- and sometimes changed -- his tune. The man who once jokingly called his company's 19-foot-long Excursion the "Ford Valdez" has promoted sport utility vehicles and lobbied against increased fuel-efficiency standards. Still, the company says it will stand by pledges to improve SUV fuel economy, sell hybrid versions of the oversized vehicles, and redesign one of …

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London Smog

A smoggy day in London town? Mayor Ken Livingstone plans to change that: Beginning next year, motorists entering central London between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. will have to pony up five pounds ($7) per day. About 40,000 vehicles per hour enter central London, a figure officials hope will drop by 15 percent thanks to the "congestion tax." Critics say that before the tax is imposed, the city's beleaguered public transportation system should be overhauled to accommodate the expected rise in users. Livingstone, meanwhile, said the program was necessary because some areas of the city had become "unlivable" due to …

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Going Whole Hog for Conservation

In welcome news for environmentalists, the U.S. Senate approved a farm bill yesterday that would double spending for conservation programs to $22 billion over the next decade. If it becomes law, the farm bill -- which also includes provisions to clean up urban drinking water, protect forests from urban sprawl, and conserve wildlife habitat -- would be the most sweeping environmental legislation since the Clean Air Act of 1990. The five-year, $44.9 billion bill also strictly limits subsidies to individual farmers and doubles the administration's request for food stamps, which would make the Agriculture Department's nutrition program the second-largest anti-poverty …

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Sting Operation

Okay, everyone knows you can't take so much as a nail clipper on an airplane these days -- but how about a scorpion? Last month, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service inspectors in Miami impounded a shipment of 600 of the critters, plus 2,000 reptiles and other invertebrates. That's a lot of crawly things, but the shipment was just one of untold others that are, well, fishy -- or downright illegal. The economy might be sluggish, but the exotic pet trade is booming, and the commodities include chimps, tigers, wolves, bears, tarantulas, and just about every other creature you can't imagine …

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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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