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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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Route Scootin’ Boogie

Shell alters pipeline route to spare whale feeding grounds It's one small step for environmentalists, one giant leap for endangered gray whales: Energy giant Royal Dutch/Shell has agreed to alter the planned route of a massive oil and gas pipeline off of Russia's Sakhalin island by 12 miles to preserve the charismatic mammal's feeding grounds. Shell and its partners bowed to pressure from enviros concerned that the project could harm the roughly 100 gray whales remaining off the island with noise, ship traffic, and possible oil spillage. The project has been delayed since last April after Shell's own research revealed …

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Oil Together Now

Bipartisan coalition presses Bush to get behind oil-use reduction Lambasting U.S. oil addiction: It's not just for America-hating radical homosexual vegetarian Schiavo-killing eco-terrorists anymore! A growing bipartisan coalition is arguing that U.S. dependence on foreign oil is a serious national security threat. Today, a letter signed by 26 former national-security officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations is winging its way to the White House, bearing a plea for President Bush to kick off "a major new initiative to curtail U.S. consumption." "I don't often find myself in agreement with those at the Natural Resources Defense Council, but ... I …

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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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