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Paul, Returned From Damascus

Duke Energy CEO has climate-change conversion, proposes carbon tax In a letter to shareholders last week, Duke Energy Corp. CEO Paul Anderson announced his company's decision to lobby for a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions -- a move that shocked shareholders and has some greens scratching their heads. Anderson said in a speech yesterday that he realized the tax would mean bigger bills and higher gas prices, but argued that it's important for industry to take the lead on reducing fossil-fuel consumption. "By helping shape public policy, we can advance the interests of our investors and customers," he wrote in a …

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Coast Busters

Oil and gas drillers set their sights on U.S. coastal areas A federal moratorium on oil and gas drilling off U.S. coasts has been in place for 24 years, but there are signs -- the debate over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge being just one -- that it may be in danger. The oil and gas industry has been heavily lobbying state governments, where they believe the decisions on coastal drilling will ultimately be made. Virginia's general assembly passed a bill last month urging the state's congressional delegation to seek an exemption from the federal ban. And Sen. …

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Giuliani joins law firm renowned for defending energy interests

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani -- whose name is often bandied about as a possible 2008 GOP presidential contender -- added a splash of deep red to his moderate-Republican profile when he announced last week his decision to join a Texas-based law firm known for representing heavy-hitting energy companies. Rudy Giuliani. Photo: NYC.gov. Enron, ChevronTexaco, Pacific Gas & Electric, Dynegy, and Southern Company are among the many powerhouses on the client roster of Bracewell & Giuliani -- formerly Bracewell & Patterson. Having negotiated billions of dollars in transactions for fossil-fuel and power-generation facilities, and having defended some of …

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The Full Altamonty

Pombo questioned on wind-power conflict of interest Ah, they grow up so fast! You can tell that wind energy has joined the ranks of mature industries -- it's now got its very own scandal over accusations of improper influence peddling. Aides to Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), it seems, sent a letter to Interior Department officials pressuring them to suspend environmental regulations that govern the wind industry and threaten to reduce income from the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, in which Pombo's parents have a significant financial stake. What a coinkydink! The regulations seek to reduce the number of birds sliced …

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Umbra on nuclear energy

Dear Umbra, What are your thoughts on the reconsidering of nuclear power as a viable solution for helping with energy shortages and improving environmental conditions? I was shocked to hear a "scientist" say (in a "no duh," matter-of-fact type of way) that nuclear power is far cheaper and cleaner than our current coal- and oil-based energy system. He even talked about how much radiation is leaked when burning coal. MarkSan Francisco, Calif. Dearest Mark, My thoughts on the reconsidering of nuclear power: Well, like you, my head is awhirl from a recent conversation. This fascinating chat was with -- real …

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Announcing: Business as Usual

Plan for Colorado River to aid wildlife, preserve intensive water use Federal water managers this week joined the states of California, Arizona, and Nevada in trumpeting a new 50-year plan to aid native wildlife along parts of a 400-mile stretch of the Colorado River from Lake Mead to the Mexican border. Prompted by a 1997 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruling that the Bureau of Reclamation's dams and other water diversions along the Colorado imperiled endangered species of birds and fish, federal and state managers dreamed up the new plan to stay in compliance. But instead of removing dams, using …

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The Shipping Spews

Shipping line agrees to pay $25 million for illegal oil dumping Evergreen International, one of the world's largest shipping lines, agreed Monday to pay a $25 million fine after pleading guilty to 24 felony charges and one misdemeanor involving secretly dumping oil off the coasts of five U.S. states and purposefully lying to U.S. Coast Guard officials about the practice. The plea agreement follows a four-year criminal probe, which found that at least seven of the company's 140 ships were using what investigators call a "magic pipe" to bypass required oil-water separators. Officials said Evergreen employees were told to deny …

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An interview with New York Times columnist and “geo-green” advocate Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman.Photo: Greg MartinAs the green movement fends off accusations of impotence, Thomas Friedman has hatched an idea that could make a man out of environmentalism. In January, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times debuted his "geo-green" strategy, a powerful proposal for reframing America's quest for energy independence to appeal to hawkish neocons and lily-livered tree-huggers alike. By aggressively curbing America's energy consumption, Friedman argues, the Bush administration could reduce the global price of oil to the point where it would force regimes in the Middle East to diversify their economies, thereby priming them for democratic …

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Diamonds Are Forever

Swiss glacier to be wrapped up, saved for later A Swiss ski resort worried about global warming's ill effects on its future is taking matters into its own mittened hands. At the ski season's end in May, the Andermatt resort will cover some 32,200 square feet of the Gurschen glacier with an insulating PVC foam in hopes of keeping its black diamonds from melting into bunny slopes. The foam, which costs some $84,000 and can be stored during winter for reuse, was constructed by Swiss technicians to protect the snow layer from heat, ultraviolet rays, and rain. The country's glaciers …

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Busy Bee

Environmental series on Hetch Hetchy Valley wins Pulitzer Prize The best opinion writing takes the unthinkable and makes it a live possibility. That's what Sacramento Bee Associate Editor Tom Philp did with "Hetch Hetchy Reclaimed," his editorial series on breaching the dam that has held Yosemite National Park's famed valley under water since 1923. The Pulitzer board, which yesterday awarded Philp the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, hailed the "deeply researched editorials on reclaiming California's flooded Hetch Hetchy Valley that stirred action." Indeed, Philp's pieces have contributed to growing momentum behind the idea of breaching the dam, which only a …

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