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Too Many Cooks Oil the Broth

ChevronTexaco Heavily Influenced California Restructuring California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) recently announced plan to comprehensively reorganize state government brought grumbles from some enviros, who were piqued by the proposed consolidation of various boards and commissions from which many of the state's groundbreaking environmental initiatives have emerged. This latest news isn't going to mollify them. The proposed reorganization contains several provisions that would directly benefit oil and gas behemoth ChevronTexaco by revising the process for permitting and siting refineries and streamlining the activities of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which oversees many of the company's interests in the …

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Omission Accomplished

Environment Invisible at GOP Convention Attendees at the Republican National Convention, which wrapped up last night, would have been hard-pressed to discern the party's positions on environmental issues. Other than a video touting the Bush administration's efforts to avert wildfires in national forests (by, um, logging), green themes were markedly absent from the gathering. "I have not heard that word -- environment -- emitted from the podium," said Sierra Club President Larry Fahn. Bush-Cheney campaign policy director Tim Adams said the environment "remains an important policy area for us," but many GOP delegates didn't seem to mind silence on the …

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24 Hour Party People

Energy Industry Funnels Millions into Unregulated Convention Parties The energy industry is treating Republicans to a gay old time in New York City this week, hosting a plethora of parties for favored politicians and others attending the GOP convention: a ball, a concert, a trap shoot, a honky-tonk salute, even a soiree with scantily clad acrobats swinging from the rafters. The American Gas Association, the Edison Electric Institute, the National Mining Association, and the Nuclear Energy Institute are among the most generous sponsors. Martin E. Edwards of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America says there's no lobbying at these …

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Bush admin move may keep Kerry and other candidates from stumping on federal property

John Kerry at the Grand Canyon. Photo: Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc. from Sharon Farmer. The Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, NASA headquarters, and the Washington Monument are among the many federal properties that may be off-limits to presidential and congressional candidates for campaign photo ops this election season, thanks to a guidance recently released by the Bush administration's U.S. Office of Special Counsel. The OSC is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes issues ranging from whistleblower complaints to concerns that federal employees are participating in campaign activities prohibited by the Hatch Act, which defines election-related political no-no's for people …

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Malign Neglect

Republican Leaders at Odds Over Nuclear Worker Compensation Program The Bush administration is clashing with Republicans in Congress over a compensation program for workers at nuclear facilities sickened by exposure to radiation, asbestos, and other toxic substances. As of July, the Energy Department had paid out only $700,000 of the $95 million it has received since the program was created, to only 31 of the roughly 25,000 claims filed. The sick workers are, naturally, upset. Senate Republicans have ushered through an amendment to a defense bill that would overhaul the program, putting responsibility for compensation directly with the Labor Department …

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Sultans of Swing

Environmental Issues May Matter After All, Via Swing States Conventional wisdom has it that environmental issues are low priorities for most voters, and thus for most presidential campaigns. However, this year's squeaker of a presidential election will be decided by voters in a small handful of swing states -- and in many of those states, top local issues are environmental. In Nevada, Kerry trumpets his opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository. In Oregon, Bush touts his support for Columbia River dredging. In Michigan, Bush bashes Kerry for supporting higher fuel-economy standards. In New Mexico, Kerry blasts Bush for opening …

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By Any Greens Necessary

Enviro Justice Center Works to Link Green and Civil-Rights Movements Environmental degradation often falls hardest on poor and minority communities, but these communities can have difficulty organizing to fight for environmental justice, and they've received too little help from a mainstream environmental movement perceived as a white, middle- and upper-class affair. Sociology professor Robert Bullard started the Environmental Justice Resource Center in Atlanta to connect the groups. It started with a battle against MARTA, Atlanta's public transit agency, to replace the polluting diesel buses serving poor and black communities with cleaner models. In the decade since, the center has served …

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Good Times, Good Times

Federal Report on Global Warming Produces Beltway Drama When The New York Times reported yesterday on a new Bush administration report to Congress which acknowledged the human causes of global warming, characterizing it as an abrupt shift in policy, some Beltway wags speculated that the newspaper was trying to box the administration in and embarrass it. Today brought evidence in support of such speculation. The Times ran an editorial calling the report "tardy acceptance of what mainstream scientists have been saying for years." Meanwhile, in an interview with the paper, when asked why the administration had changed its position, Bush …

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Classified Adds

As Feds Classify More Info, Environment Could Be Affected Since 9/11, the Bush administration has upped secrecy at a growing number of agencies, all in the name of fighting terrorism. Much of the information newly deemed sensitive has direct implications for the environment and public health. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will no longer make safety scorecards for nuclear facilities public. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said he is considering removing hazardous-waste signs from trucks and trains, lest they tip off shadowy evildoers. A highway bill now in congressional committee would allow the government to withhold information "detrimental to the …

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Smears of a Clown

Auto Industry-Backed PR Firm Claims California Emissions Regs Will Kill A new ad campaign by the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America uses "Squeezy the Clown" to warn that proposed carbon-dioxide emissions regulations in California would force automakers to (gasp!) build smaller cars, which in turn will lead to increased traffic fatalities. (You see, they argue, the regs would force people to squeeze into smaller cars. Like clowns. Funny!) Though the group's name implies a grassroots citizens' effort, in fact SUVOA was bought two years ago by Strat@comm, a Washington, D.C., PR firm with extensive ties to big automakers. Critics …

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