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Sulfuring Succotash

Refiners should have no problem producing nearly sulfur-free diesel by 2006, according to a report released yesterday by an advisory panel to the U.S. EPA. The panel was convened last year by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman to assess possible technological barriers to complying with a clean diesel rule issued in the final weeks of the Clinton administration. That rule requires refineries to reduce sulfur emissions from 500 parts per million to 15 ppm by 2006, a move that will go a long way toward cleaning up tailpipe exhaust from trucks and buses. Such exhaust causes and accelerates respiratory ailments such …

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Delhi Pickle

India, the nation that is hosting the eighth in a series of U.N. meetings on climate change, is using the occasion to chastise industrialized nations for pressuring poor countries to cut greenhouse emissions. Speaking at the meeting in Delhi, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee argued that emissions-reduction programs would undermine efforts by India and other developing nations to strengthen their economies and lift their populations out of poverty. "Climate change mitigation will bring additional strain to the already fragile economies of the developing countries," he said, adding that India's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are a sliver of the world …

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Not With a Bang but a Whimper

The Bush administration's plan to open federal lands in the western U.S. to oil and gas drilling would produce a measly amount of energy and a massive amount of environmental destruction, according to a Wilderness Society report released yesterday. The proposed drilling areas, which are scattered throughout millions of acres in six Rocky Mountain states and include some currently protected lands, would produce enough natural gas to meet the total U.S. demand for about 11 weeks and enough oil for about three weeks, according to the 31-page report. The report says the feds have not accurately assessed whether it would …

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Half-baked Alaska

Anti-environmentalism in Alaska is at a fever pitch, and it's affecting the shape of nearly every political campaign in the final weeks before voters go to the polls. Incumbent state Rep. Harry Crawford (D), for example, has gone out of his way to try to convince his constituency that he's pro-development, not eco-friendly. "I believe I've had to explain it 100 times at the door," said the first-term Democrat, who insists that he's pushed hard to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. Crawford is one of many Alaskan Dems -- gubernatorial candidate Fran Ulmer among them -- …

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Yukon Take Your SUV and Shove It

Despite increasing awareness of alternative-fuel technologies and growing concern over U.S. dependence on foreign oil, the fuel economy of American cars is only getting worse. Statistics released today by the U.S. EPA show that the average fuel economy of the new fleet of cars for 2003 is 6 percent lower than it was 15 years ago. In 1987 and 1988, back before the SUV craze set in, new cars averaged 22.1 miles per gallon, compared to 20.8 for the 2003 model cars. Only 4 percent of the new crop of cars get more than 30 miles per gallon, compared with …

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On a Roll Back

Turning up the heat on Republicans in the final weeks before the U.S. elections, Democrats and environmentalists are requesting documents from the U.S. EPA detailing the Bush administration's effort to roll back clean-air regulations on older coal-fired power plants and refineries. But EPA officials have refused to pony up the evidence, and Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has threatened to subpoena the agency if it doesn't comply with the request -- his third such threat this year. Says the senator, "This action is another example in an unprecedented and disturbing pattern of …

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Hot Pea Soup

Fog and rain are as much a part of London as bobbies and Buckingham Palace -- but global warming will change all that over the next half-century, according to a newly released report on the anticipated impacts of climate change on the U.K. capital. The London of the future will likely be sunnier, but don't book your vacation just yet: It could be subject to serious regular flooding, worsening air pollution, and blistering temperatures, according to the report, which was commissioned by the Greater London Authority. As the weather heats up, demand for water will probably soar, parks and gardens …

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The Personal Is Political

Never mind corporate responsibility, or government responsibility; let's talk about personal responsibility. That's the gist of Canada's new plan for fighting global warming. The proposal, which is being released today, entails convincing every last Canuck to reduce her or his own contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by one metric ton annually (or about 20 percent). Translation: cooler showers, lower thermostat settings, less private automobile use, and other lifestyle changes for Canadians. If successful, the effort would yield a total annual emissions reduction of 31 million metric tons. The government says the plan is sensible because a significant amount of Canada's …

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A Dehli-cate Balance

Delegates from around the world are meeting in New Delhi, India, today for the latest round of international talks on climate change. In part because the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions -- the United States -- has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the meeting is focusing on ways to adapt to climate change rather than on ways to curb it. Delegates will discuss "minimizing vulnerabilities and preparing for worsening droughts, floods, storms, health emergencies, and other expected impacts," especially in developing countries, according to a statement issued by the U.N., which is sponsoring the meeting. Attendees will also address …

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Trade Wins

The market for carbon dioxide emissions credits across the world could more than triple this year as companies prepare for the enactment of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Under Kyoto, companies that reduce CO2 emissions beyond the caps set by their countries can sell credits to firms that do not meet the reduction requirements. So far, about $500 million worth of carbon credits have been traded worldwide since 1996. In recent weeks, prices have been as high as $16 per ton of CO2, and the market is expected to become a multi-billion dollar one in the next seven years, …