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Energy Bill

Clinton says clean-energy backers should quit whining and get to work Former President Bill Clinton yesterday said that energy issues, with their links to national security and environmental decline, "may have a bigger impact on America and the world than virtually all the things that were debated" in the run-up to the recent election. At a symposium at New York University, Clinton chided supporters of renewable energy for "bellyaching and whining" about political barriers, arguing that "it's time to stop worrying about whether the current administration will change its mind" on renewable energy and get to work building a movement …

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Grousal Abuse

Sage grouse unlikely to receive protection under ESA A panel of biologists and managers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended against listing the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. FWS Director Steve Williams will make a final decision by Dec. 29, but observers say he's likely to follow the panel's advice. The recommendation is seen as a victory for oil and gas companies, ranchers, and farmers in the U.S. West, whose activities would be curtailed by habitat protections if the grouse were listed. Enviros who have pushed for the listing will not be pleased to …

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States Hafta NAFTA

International trade treaties hamper states on environmental protection When the U.S. signed on to international trade treaties like NAFTA, enviros warned that it could hamper efforts to pass and enforce eco-friendly laws and regulations, and there's mounting evidence to support those dark predictions. After a period of caution and reticence, U.S. trading partners are more often using international enforcement mechanisms to scuttle state-level environmental (and labor, and social) laws. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in September vetoed a bill calling for use of the state's massive piles of spare tires as material for asphalt, fearing that Canadian and Mexican rubber …

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The LNG and Short of It

States express outrage at LNG provision hidden in omnibus spending bill Deep in the 3,016-page, $388-billion omnibus spending bill recently approved by Congress, tucked away in a section on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission salaries and expenses, is a provision stating that the feds -- not individual states -- get to decide where liquid natural gas facilities will be sited. Not surprisingly, many congressfolk say they had no idea it was there, since few, if any, read the gargantuan bill before it came up for a vote. State regulators, who would prefer to decide for themselves whether proposed LNG sites are …

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Bush admin isn’t putting money where its mouth is on “clean coal”

When pressed on climate change, the Bush administration is fond of citing "clean coal" technology as the wave of the energy future. Even some enviros are starting to grudgingly acknowledge the technology's potential for good. Coal: Can you dig it? Photo: NREL. But all Bush's talk doesn't appear to be translating into the funding needed to really get clean coal rolling. Given that coal accounts for a whopping 50 percent of U.S. electricity production, it can't realistically be phased out overnight -- or even in the next half-century -- which means that transition technologies are critical. Such technologies are in …

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Señor Ahab

Japan accused of buying pro-whaling votes Last year, Nicaragua became yet another unlikely nation to join the International Whaling Commission, just in time to attend the group's annual meeting and support the lifting of an 18-year moratorium on commercial whale hunting -- a policy change aggressively pushed by Japan, but not yet achieved. Japanese officials deny allegations that they have used foreign aid to buy pro-whaling votes and say that the new IWC members are being influenced by emerging scientific evidence about population recovery in some species. But some enviros believe poor nations such as Nicaragua, land-locked Mongolia, and a …

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Put Up Your Nukes

Judge may override Washington state voters on Hanford initiative An initiative on the Washington state ballot last month, which would prevent more waste from being dumped at the federal Hanford nuclear site in the state, will go before a federal judge today. Were there Diebold machines involved? A flurry of recounts? No. In fact, voters approved the measure by a greater than 2-to-1 ratio. So why the court time for what seems to be an open-and-shut case? The federal government was unhappy with the outcome of the election. The Justice Department argues that the measure is unconstitutional, and "efforts to …

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Calling Africa to action on climate

Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and George W. Bush agree on one thing: developing nations need to do more to curb the threat of climate change. (Of course, they don't agree on the much more vexing question of whether overdeveloped nations -- one highly overdeveloped nation in particular -- should do anything to address the ballooning problem ...)Speaking last week at a UNEP climate workshop, Maathai, who presently serves as Kenya's deputy environment minister, told journalists, "There's no reason why our African governments can't control greenhouse emissions, but quite often we make excuses. ... "We say, for example, we're …

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Wise Guys

An excerpt from The War Against the Greens takes a hard look at the Wise Use movement

The War Against the Greens, by David Helvarg, Johnson Books, 384 pgs., 2004 revised edition. In 1988, the Wise Use movement was founded out of fear that George Bush Sr. was going to live up to his campaign pledge to be "the environmental president." This cabal of anti-environmental activists, organized by federally subsidized industries dependent on public lands, issued a natal document, the Wise Use Agenda. It called for, among other things: drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, logging Alaska's Tongass National Forest, opening wilderness to energy development, gutting the Endangered Species Act, and privatizing national parks. Today, the reactionary …

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GMOy Vey

Battle over GM crops rages on in Europe Europe's ambivalence over genetically modified crops continues to lead to outbreaks of conflict and recrimination. The latest flurry involves a European Union vote on whether to approve a breed of GM corn made by biotech giant Monsanto. Eight countries voted to approve, 12 voted to deny, and five abstained, meaning the corn is a no-go for now. Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth Europe accused the European Food Safety Authority, Europe's top food safety agency, of pervasive bias in favor of GM crops, after it issued a stream of reports favorable to the …

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