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Factory farms get off easy on air pollution

What do the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, United Egg Producers, and Tyson Foods have in common? Crying fowl. Photo: USDA. Well, first there's the obvious fowl connection. Then there's the foul connection: Their facilities, known as "concentrated animal feeding operations" (CAFOs), have growing air-pollution problems thanks to the mountains of gas-emitting excrement deposited daily by their tens of thousands of cooped-up feathery charges. These industry groups also share another connection: membership in the Ag Air Group, a coalition of special interests that includes the National Pork Producers Council and the National Milk Producers Federation (whose hogs and …

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Organics program weakened under Bush administration changes, activists say

The Bush administration is giving Americans new reason to watch what they eat -- and it's got nothing to do with carbs. Sealed with a hiss? Over the course of 10 days in mid-April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued three "guidances" and one directive -- all legally binding interpretations of law -- that threaten to seriously dilute the meaning of the word organic and discredit the department's National Organic Program. And the changes -- which would allow the use of antibiotics on organic dairy cows, synthetic pesticides on organic farms, and more -- were made with zero input from …

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A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Bush’s much-praised new diesel rules

Yes, dear skeptics, you heard correctly: The Bush administration done good this week. Digging these new rules. Landmark controls on diesel emissions, finalized Tuesday by the U.S. EPA, are expected to prevent 12,000 premature deaths and 15,000 heart attacks each year. And these were no warmed-over regs from the Clinton era, passed off as the Bushies' own, as was the case with the Highway Diesel Rule, a tough new standard that will dramatically reduce diesel pollution from trucks and buses starting in 2007. The Bush EPA can claim all the credit for this initiative, which regulates "non-road" diesel-powered equipment such …

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National Park Service employees muzzled on budget shortfalls and other problems

Bush addresses NPS employees in Sequoia National Park. Photo: NPS. It's the reverse of the Midas touch -- instead of turning to gold, everything they touch turns to shit." That's how Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, explained the recent activities of the Bush administration's National Park Service to Muckraker. "Parks were supposed to be a feel-good story for the Bush administration," he said. "It was one of their leading green campaign issues in 2000. He was going to get the parks into tip-top shape. But now it's all Bad News Bears." Yet you aren't likely …

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Jim Jeffords gets riled up about the environment in a Grist interview

Jim Jeffords. Photo: U.S. Senate. If an environmental action-hero figure is ever made of Jim Jeffords -- and if the Independent Vermont senator is willing to be immortalized not only in plastic but also in drag -- it will have to be called "Cassandra." Like Cassandra, Jeffords has a gift for prophecy. Only four months into President Bush's term, he saw the signs of unfolding environmental disaster and jumped ship from the GOP, briefly tipping the scales in a narrowly divided Senate away from a Republican majority. And, like Cassandra, it has been his fate to have his environmental predictions …

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Superfund could be weakened by recommendations from EPA subcommittee

Arsenic in water, mercury emissions, new-source review, Dick Cheney's energy task force -- these are the issues that have elicited the loudest howls of protest about the Bush administration's environmental record during the past three years. By comparison, the grumbling over Superfund has been remarkably muted. Mountains of toxic waste dot the horizon around Tar Creek. Photo: U.S. EPA. But lately the grumble has risen to a growl. In mid-April, Time ran a feature by Margot Roosevelt entitled "The Tragedy of Tar Creek," which exposed what it called "eco-assault on an epic scale." The article looked at a neglected Superfund …

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Climate change too slow for Hollywood, too fast for the rest of us

It's always been hard to get people to take global warming seriously because it happens too slowly. Not slowly in geological terms -- by century's end, according to the consensus scientific prediction, we'll have made the planet warmer than it's been in tens of millions of years. But slowly in NBC Nightly News terms. From day to day, it's hard to discern the catastrophe, so we don't get around to really worrying. Something else -- the battle for Fallujah, the presidential election, the spread of SARS, the Jacksonian mammary -- is always more immediate, and evolution seems to have engineered …

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Schwarzenegger’s “Green Hummer” plan sparks cultish following

Does this look green to you? The Hummer has come to be associated with a number of things -- steroid-addled egomaniacs, over-compensating suburban dads, the highway to global-warming hell, even Monica Lewinsky's antics in the Oval Office ... But eco-friendly driving isn't one of them. Unless, of course, you travel in the "Green Hummer" underground, quietly developing in California thanks to the former steroid-addled egomaniac himself, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). The Governator claims to have traded in his Hollywood-powered ego for an eco-empowered worldview. Early in his gubernatorial campaign last year, Schwarzenegger presented a convincing motive for cleaning up California's …

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Christian leaders challenge Bush’s environmental policy

Almighty God, your word of creation caused the water to be filled with many kinds of living beings and the air to be filled with birds ... Thank you for seeds and soil, green stem and air. For fruit on the vine, then falling fruit rotting on the moist ground, then new seed again ... We pray for your wisdom for all who live on this earth that we may wisely manage and not destroy what you have made for us. Goin' to the chapel. Photo: Cumberland Presbyterian Church. So spake a reverend at Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn., …

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