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Join a people’s campaign to ratify the Kyoto Protocol

The much-discussed Kyoto Protocol takes effect today, Feb. 16. In the face of the United States' continuing refusal to ratify the international agreement, a group of progressive activists is launching a drive to gather millions of signatures from U.S. citizens for a "People's Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty." Ross Gelbspan, a Grist contributor and author of two books on climate change -- The Heat Is On and Boiling Point -- explains why you should put your coffee mug down and sign the petition today. What on earth is a person supposed to do? History and nature are on …

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Green’s Labor Lost

Enviros, labor unions clash over Clear Skies legislation With the Senate Environment Committee set to vote tomorrow on the Clear Skies Act, both supporters and critics of the legislation are in high gear. Enviros, who have fought Clear Skies since it was first unveiled by the Bush administration three years ago, have been running ads in various Capitol Hill publications, and yesterday sent senators heart-shaped candy boxes with a message about the bill: "Clearly a sweetheart deal for polluters." Over the weekend, labor-union members -- who support the bill based on predicted economic and employment-related benefits -- papered Illinois with …

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Dropping the Hybrids Off at the Pool

Hybrid incentive bills introduced in Congress Fuel-efficient hybrids, the cars of choice for greens of means, are a hot topic in Congress, with two bills introduced this month that could further fuel their popularity. One bill, unveiled in the House last Tuesday by California Reps. Darrell Issa (R) and Brad Sherman (D), would let states decide whether or not to allow hybrid vehicles to use highway carpool lanes when they're occupied by just one person. Right now, since some funding for carpool lanes comes from the federal government, the feds make the rules about which cars are allowed -- so …

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Complicating, Circulating, New Life, New Life

GOP congressfolk announce plan to revamp Endangered Species Act House Resources Committee Chair Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) has expressed open hostility toward the Endangered Species Act numerous times, so some conservationists are questioning the sincerity of his recently announced effort to "breathe new life" into the law. Along with Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), as well as, to the dismay of ESA's backers, moderate Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), Pombo announced plans to introduce a single ESA reauthorization bill that would include a number of changes long sought by critics of the act, including increased incentives for private …

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A Granholm Don’t Come for Free

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm shows D.C. Dems how to do it With Beltway Democrats in a tizzy trying to figure out how to appeal to the working class, and Beltway environmentalists in a tizzy trying to figure out how to appeal to Beltway Democrats, both groups might want to check out the State of the State speech delivered this week by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D). In the face of Michigan's 7.3 percent unemployment rate, worst in the nation, Granholm focused almost exclusively on massive public investment in jobs and education. Such investment, said Granholm, would help "transform the state …

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Enviros join chorus against class-action bill, but measure still likely to pass

Will class-action plaintiffs still get their day in court? The Erin Brockoviches of America could have a much tougher time going after polluters if the Class Action Fairness Act -- which the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve last week -- is signed into law. The bill, which will be put to a full Senate vote today, would move most major class-action lawsuits from state courts to federal courts, purportedly in an attempt to bring order and fairness to a system in which, currently, plaintiffs' attorneys seek out local courts with agreeable track records on rulings and negotiate settlement awards …

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Cuts Like a Knife, but It Feels So Wrong

Details of environmental cuts in Bush's budget emerge Now that the nation's water is all cleaned up, the Bush administration has proposed sharply cutting a federal assistance program designed to help modernize aging sewer systems and prevent toxic runoff into streams and rivers -- from $1.35 billion in 2004 to $730 million. And now that the nation is no longer dependent on foreign oil, the Bush budget proposes a roughly 4 percent cut in Department of Energy funding for efficiency and renewable energy. With the oceans spic and span, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration faces proposed cuts of around …

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Don't Do as the Romans Do

Jared Diamond’s Collapse traces the fates of societies to their treatment of the environment

Jared Diamond. I will always think of Jared Diamond as the man who, for the better part of the late 1990s, somehow made the phrase "east-west axis of orientation" the most talked-about kind of orientation there was -- freshman, sexual, or otherwise. His 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies began with a simple question -- "Why did Pizarro conquer the Incas and not the other way around?" -- and then managed to tell, over the course of only 400-odd pages, the history of why humanity has turned out the way it has. For …

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Imaginary Numbers

Bush's new budget relies on imaginary Arctic Refuge revenue You're the president, you've promised to cut the country's enormous deficit in half by the end of your term, and you're required to produce a budget showing how you're going to do it. You've got a Congress that hasn't consented to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, enormously expensive wars going in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a plan to privatize Social Security set to cost over a trillion dollars. What to do? Pretend! In Bush's budget plan unveiled yesterday, no expenditures for the wars or Social Security privatization are accounted …

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Greenpeace shifts tactics as it looks ahead to four more years of Bush

At a time when environmental groups are facing questions about their own mortality and rethinking strategies for surviving Dubya's second term, Greenpeace USA -- the environmental group best known for in-your-face, laws-be-damned direct action -- is getting in touch with its inner Gandhi. Greenpeace rabble-rousing in days of yore. Greenpeace/John Cunningham. In the last few years, the group has trained activists for such harrowing and gymnastic acts as scaling the 700-foot smokestack of a dirty Pennsylvania coal plant, ambushing a cargo boat carrying mahogany from Brazil, and battling logging operations in Oregon and the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. This …

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