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Apocalypse Later

Pentagon Report Details Apocalyptic Climate Change Scenario Major European cities are submerged and become uninhabitable. Famine spreads across the globe. Countries race to develop nuclear capabilities to fend off invaders seeking food and resources. China and India devolve into chaos. The U.S. becomes a large fortress to prevent an onslaught of millions of refugees. "Once again, warfare would define human life." 1950s B movie? Wild-eyed leftist fantasy? No, this is a scenario described in a secret Pentagon report commissioned by legendary defense strategist and uber-hawk Andrew Marshall (dubbed "Yoda" by colleagues for his extensive experience and influence). The report on …

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Bush plan to overhaul CAFE standards is a mixed bag

Clean up the bus, gus. Photo: NREL. The Bush administration has taken to singing the clean-car gospel lately, but it's not quite hitting all the notes. Last month, U.S. EPA chief Mike Leavitt joined Detroit kingpins in a splashy D.C. conference to trumpet the arrival of new vehicles and fuels that reduce sulfur emissions -- a notable achievement, but what Leavitt was passing off as a Bush administration success was in fact an initiative launched under President Clinton. Days later, Leavitt announced additional funding for the Clean School Bus USA program -- some $60 million to replace pre-1991 school buses …

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A More Perfect Union

Sierra Club and Auto Workers Unite Against Bush Fuel-Economy Plan Bush's new fuel-economy plan is even ticking off the United Auto Workers union. The UAW has often been at odds with enviros over auto efficiency standards, but now it's teaming up with the Sierra Club to fight the administration's proposal. In a joint op-ed published in The New York Times this week, the heads of both groups make the case that the plan would threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Americans working in plants that manufacture small cars and would increase pollution and worsen the nation's dependence on foreign oil. …

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Barton Fink

Big Recipient of Industry Money to Head House Energy Committee With Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) retiring at the end of this year, the plum leadership spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is poised to go to Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), a true friend of the energy industry if ever there was one. Barton has received more campaign contributions from the energy sector than any other single House member -- $1.6 million since 1989, when the Center for Responsive Politics began keeping records, the group said in a report this week. His biggest contributor in the current election cycle …

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North Dakota “reduces” pollution by measuring it differently

From Badlands to worse. Photo: NPS. To Theodore Roosevelt, a man who battled chronic asthma, the remote Badlands of North Dakota were as beloved for their fresh air as for their dramatic views and big game. "Wildflowers and sagebrush spiced the clean, dry North Dakotan breeze. Roosevelt's asthmatic lungs rejoiced in this air, as did his soul in the sheer size and emptiness of the landscape," Edmund Morris wrote in The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Now ol' T.R. is probably spinning -- or wheezing -- in his grave. Just before Valentine's Day this year, the Bush administration gave the North …

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Science Friction

Top Scientists Accuse Bush Administration of Distorting Science The Bush administration, reeling from a series of unflattering stories and unfavorable poll numbers, took another kick in the pants yesterday when 60 of the world's most influential scientists -- including 20 Nobel laureates and 19 recipients of the National Medal of Science -- accused the administration in an open letter of systematically distorting scientific research and misleading the public about the likely results of its policies. In an accompanying report, the Union of Concerned Scientists detailed numerous instances in which the administration has suppressed scientific results, gagged its own science officials, …

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Ethanol and Mirrors

Bush Administration Extends Contentious "Dual-Fuel" Rules In a move that will make it easier for automakers to meet fuel-efficiency standards without actually improving the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, the Bush administration announced yesterday that it will extend for four years a system that gives auto manufacturers credits for producing "dual-fuel" vehicles that can run on either gasoline or an ethanol blend. Environmentalists criticized the move, pointing out that only 1 percent of dual-fuel vehicles actually do run on an ethanol blend, in part because fewer than 200 of the 176,000 gas stations in the country offer it. Enviros also …

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I’ve Got You Under My Skin

Study Finds MTBE Can Be Absorbed Through Skin A U.S. EPA study released yesterday concludes that the controversial fuel additive MTBE can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin, a finding likely to, ahem, fuel calls for further study and regulation. While the EPA was careful to say that the health effects of MTBE skin absorption are still unknown, enviros were quick to make hay from the study. "It's one more piece of evidence that MTBE is not something you want in your water," said Tom Curtis of the America Water Works Association. A provision to shield MTBE manufacturers …

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Put Down the Drills and Back Away Slowly

Enviro Groups Sue to Stop Alaska Drilling A coalition of seven environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop a plan to open 8.8 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska to oil and gas development. The groups -- including the National Audubon Society, Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alaska Wilderness League, and Sierra Club -- do not want to block all development. Rather, they want the plan reconsidered in light of federal protections for wildlife and habitats, and they want an adequate study of the likely environmental impact. Interior Secretary Gale Norton -- named in …

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A wide-ranging interview with environmental visionary Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken. It's hard to believe it was only a month ago that environmental hotshots Paul Hawken, Bruce Babbitt, Bill McKibben, and Terry Tempest Williams published a joint endorsement of Howard Dean in Grist. "We've concluded that the blast of clean air coming from the millions of Americans that constitute the Dean campaign is the best chance for [positive environmental] change," they wrote. "This democratic impulse seems to us an almost ecological imperative; something marvelous, and inevitable, blooming through the cracks in the concrete that the powers that be have poured over our political landscape." Shortly thereafter, Dean's campaign took …