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Shape Up or Ship Out

Texas Ship-Inspection Company Implicated in Prestige Tanker Disaster Negligence on the part of the Texas-based American Bureau of Shipping -- a company that conducts safety inspections of ships -- could be to blame for the notorious Prestige tanker disaster, which spilled millions of gallons of oil off the coast of Spain 15 months ago and affected or destroyed the livelihoods of some 100,000 fishers and other Spaniards. So say two lawsuits pending against ABS, which seek a combined total of $1 billion in damages from the company. Though numerous problems had been found with the ship over the years and …

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With feds slow to tackle mercury pollution, state leaders step up

The Mercury Mutiny is gaining force on the state level, galvanizing some unlikely rebels. Eastern states including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York were the first to jump into the fray, launching local efforts to reduce mercury pollution in response to the Bush administration's widely criticized plan for dealing with mercury. Then last week, a new regional effort was announced by a coalition of state legislators from six Midwestern states -- Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin -- many of which have economies reliant on King Coal, a major culprit in mercury emissions. Coal it like you …

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An improbable plan would use Arctic Refuge drilling proceeds to fund transportation projects

Beltway insiders waited with bated breath yesterday to see if Sen. Peter Domenici (R-N.M.) would succeed in tacking his stalled-out energy bill onto the huge highway transportation bill now wending its way through Congress. The consensus from his Senate Republican colleagues? No deal. In need of refuge. Photo: FWS. But another cockamamie plan that would mingle energy policy and transportation funding is in the works. In an open letter prominently featured on the website of the House Resources Committee earlier this week, Committee Chair Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) proposed opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and …

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Snowmobefuddlement

Judge Issues Yet Another Reversal of Yellowstone Snowmobile Ban An already-confusing winter for tourists and tour operators in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks got more muddled yesterday, when a federal judge overturned severe restrictions on snowmobiling in the parks. For those of you keeping score at home, a quick rundown of the story so far: Just before leaving office in January 2001, President Clinton imposed restrictions on snowmobile use in the parks, aiming for a complete ban by 2003-04. Later in 2001, President Bush gave the National Park Service a chance to "further study" the issue. NPS released much …

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Natural Gas, Unnatural Allies

Unlikely Coalition Opposes Bush's Plan to Drill in New Mexico New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) is leading an improbable coalition of enviros, ranchers, hunters, and property-rights activists in a fight against the Bush administration's plans to drill for natural gas in the Otero Mesa area of New Mexico, a vast and largely untouched expanse of desert grasslands that Richardson has called "the West's ANWR." A recent Department of Interior proposal would open 90 percent of the area to drilling. Richardson's strong stance is a signal that Bush's energy policy could become a hot election-year issue in the Rocky Mountain …

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When Irresistible Cuts Meet Immovable Pork

Senate Republicans Flailing as They Try to Push Through Energy Bill Senate Republicans are having a bad week. A proposal to push the energy bill through Congress by attaching it to the more popular and pressing transportation bill was roundly rejected yesterday. President Bush told Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on Monday that he wants costs cut substantially on both the energy bill and the transportation bill, a move many observers say is a response to election-year concerns over the budget deficit. Congressional leaders managed to pare down the energy bill's costs by more than half (from $31 billion …

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Bush nominates eco-hostile lobbyist to federal appeals court

My, oh, Myers. Photo: DOI. Environmental advocates are bristling over President Bush's nomination of William G. Myers III to the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, calling Myers the most anti-environment judicial candidate the president has ever put forward. With rhetoric like that being thrown about, don't be surprised if Myers becomes the latest in a string of right-wing jurists stymied by Democratic filibusters in the Senate. Myers, a spitfire critic of environmentalists, hails from Boise, Idaho. A longtime lawyer and lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries, he recently served as a Bush-appointed senior solicitor at the …

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Not By the Air of My Chinny-chin-chin

States Expect Clean Air Act Changes Will Increase Pollution Most state environmental officials expect that changes to Clean Air Act rules proposed by the Bush administration would lead to higher air pollution, according to a survey conducted by the General Accounting Office upon the request of Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.). The survey gathered responses from 44 states; officials in 27 states expected higher pollution, officials in five expected a decrease, and officials in 12 expected no change. The U.S. EPA, which claims that the changes (primarily related to New Source Review provisions) would have minimal effect …

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Linkin’ Mercury

New Study Reveals More Babies at Risk From Mercury Roughly 630,000 of the 4 million children born annually in the U.S. are at risk of impaired motor function, learning capacity, memory, and vision due to high levels of mercury in their bloodstreams, revealed a U.S. EPA analysis released yesterday, which doubles the previously estimated number. While researchers once assumed that maternal and fetal blood contained equal levels of mercury, new studies of umbilical blood show that babies' levels are approximately 70 percent higher than their mothers'. Much mercury pollution comes from coal-fired power plants; it contaminates water sources, works its …

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Do the Domenici

Senate Republicans, led by Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), are trying one more time to get the Bush administration's energy bill passed, but growing worries over the massive federal budget deficit are making it difficult. You see, Domenici and crew larded the bill up with billions of dollars worth of tax incentives and subsidies (on top of Bush's already-larded $18 billion original) in order to buy the votes needed ... oops, did we say "buy"? We meant "persuade"! With deficit worries reaching an election-year fever pitch, Domenici has promised to trim the fat, but doing so may cost him the votes of …