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Conquered in Concord

New Hampshire Senate approves stricter mercury rules than feds At risk of getting stuck with a number of toxic mercury hotspots under the Bush administration's new mercury cap-and-trade rule, New Hampshire's Senate approved a bill yesterday to adopt rules more stringent than the feds' and to ban the state's two coal-fired power plants from trading pollution allowances with cleaner facilities. If the bill, which now goes to the state House, becomes law, power plants in the state would be required to cut mercury emissions to 50 pounds annually by 2009 and 24 pounds by 2013, down from current annual emissions …

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Critics question World Bank’s role as carbon trader, fossil-fuel funder

For as long as it's been around, the World Bank has been prone to mission creep. Established 60 years ago to rebuild war-torn Europe, it morphed into an institution whose raison d'etre was to help developing countries advance, then refined its focus on poverty alleviation and sustainable development in the 1980s and '90s. During that time, it took on the role of effectively creating international environmental and social rules for development finance. Now the bank has recast itself to pursue a mission some call its creepiest yet. Nearly a decade ago, the institution began making plans to enter a new …

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Not Just Another Pretty Space

An interview with risk-taking park ranger Jordan Fisher Smith, author of Nature Noir

Jordan Fisher Smith. If you had to guess which federal agents in the U.S. face the greater danger, who would you put your money on: the officers who wage the endless War on Drugs, or the rangers who patrol the green acres of the national parks? Well, it's the rangers. According to a 2001 study by the Bureau of Justice, nature's security guards are twice as likely to be assaulted on the job as agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Being a ranger entails more risk than you might imagine. Routine maintenance and rescues can require skiing in avalanche-prone terrain, …

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Waste

On Energy Priorities, a short but interesting piece on France's struggles with nuclear waste. The good bit: Every day, about ten shipping containers arrive on trucks at the Soulaines-Dhuys storage facility outside Troyes, in the province of Ardennes, 180 kilometers east of Paris. On board are barrels of waste that isn't radioactive enough to be stored at Marcoule. Every year, 15,000 cubic meters of waste contaminated with uranium, plutonium and tritium arrive here. The 350-acre site is like an above-ground Yucca Mountain. Construction cranes hover above a hundred bunker-like cement blocks already filled with barrels encased in concrete. In 60 …

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An open letter to Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska

Dear Sen. Stevens, This week you got your wish: a 51 to 49 vote against the Cantwell amendment and in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Caribou in the Arctic Refuge. Photo: Ken Whitten, Wilderness Society. The crude minds have spoken. Finally. You told your colleagues and anyone else who would listen that you have been clinically depressed for 24 years -- the same 24 years it has taken you to convince the Senate to vote in support of opening up the coastal plain for oil and gas exploration. ANWR dreams. Finally. No doubt, you are celebrating …

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Scrubs

Debate over mercury-reduction technology rages on The Bush administration's release of its Clean Air Mercury Rule this week has reignited debate over how well existing technology can remove mercury from emissions at coal-fired power plants. The rule mandates a 70 percent reduction in emissions by 2018, a number many enviros contend current mercury-removal technology can achieve within three to five years. Utilities argue that current technology is too new and under-tested to justify the millions in investment. Recent tests at one West Virginia power plant indicate that the scrubbers already installed to remove sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can also …

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SUV-Loving Public Deems Itself Unpatriotic

Americans think fuel efficiency is patriotic, poll finds According to a new poll released yesterday, fuel efficiency ranks up there with apple pie, baseball, and hating liberals as emblematic of American patriotism. Some 66 percent of Americans believe it's "patriotic" to purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle, as it would aid the U.S. in kicking its addiction to Middle East oil. Even a majority of self-described conservatives agreed, as did two-thirds of NASCAR fans. (One wonders, then, why these folks aren't actually buying fuel-efficient cars. But who are we to niggle?) Also, the poll found, 89 percent of Americans concur that government …

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Gotta Run for Shelter, Gotta Run for Shade

Even without new emissions, planet would still see global warming Even if all the factories and power plants and cars on earth were to suddenly stop clogging the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the atmosphere would still continue to warm over the next 100 years, two new studies in the journal Science suggest. And, says researcher Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, even in this imaginary world of significantly reduced or eliminated emissions, sea levels would also continue to rise -- as much as four inches a century. If various ice sheets melt entirely, sea levels could rise …

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Senate votes to open Arctic Refuge to drilling

Stickin' it to the porcupine caribou in the Arctic Refuge. Photo: Ken Whitten, Wilderness Society. Oil companies are closing in on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In a crushing blow to those who have fought for some 25 years to preserve the unspoiled Alaskan wildland, the Senate voted today to clear the way for oil and gas drilling within the Arctic Refuge. By a 51-49 vote, they rejected an amendment by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) that would have stripped from a budget bill a provision that assumes the government will raise revenue from drilling in the refuge's coastal plain. Opening …

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Author and oil-spill expert Riki Ott answers questions

Riki Ott. What work do you do? What's your job title? For the past seven years -- 1998 to 2004 -- I researched and wrote a book, Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Now I'm an author/activist/scientist on book tour. Titles: Well, I have been bestowed numerous titles by others. For example, "pain in the ass" by Alyeska, the consortium that operates and (supposedly) maintains the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. "Thorn in our side" by Arctic Power, the main lobbying group trying to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "Propagandist" just recently by …