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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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Worries over federal deficit could dim prospects for energy bill

Oh, the irony. The same week Fortune magazine released a special "Climate Collapse" issue warning its double-starched readers of "growing evidence" that "abrupt climate change may well occur in the not-too-distant future," Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have been attempting yet again to push through a controversial energy bill that would only intensify the threat. In late January, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) announced that he would be "working closely with House leadership to see what steps we can take to get the last few votes we need for final passage." Soaring gasoline and home-heating costs as well as threats …

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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 …

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Greensylvania

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) unveiled a $22 billion state budget yesterday with numerous eco-friendly provisions that promise to protect green space, return abandoned mine sites to productive use, improve state parks, and revitalize aging city centers, asserting that such measures would spur economic development. Enviros hailed the budget, saying it would make Pennsylvania the top state in energy and environmental policy, but Republicans in the state legislature grumbled that it sent the wrong message to business. "He's a tax-and-spend liberal," said Rep. Jerry Birmelin (R). Despite the complaint, Rendell's "Growing Greener II" initiative would be paid for not with …

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Token enforcement of Clean Air Act provision smacks of political opportunism

This election year, U.S. EPA chief Mike Leavitt is playing the part of a Clean Air Act tough guy. Leavitt, left, with Bush, is acting tough. Photo: White House. For three years, the Bush administration and the power industry have been happily entangled in a session of mutual back-scratching -- utilities have been generous contributors to Bush and his Republican cohorts, and the administration has conspicuously refrained from filing a single lawsuit against an over-polluting power plant. But last month, Leavitt stirred things up by taking a no-more-Mr.-Nice-Guy stance with utilities; he called on them to clean up their facilities …

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Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

A coalition of more than 60 environmental, civil-rights, and Native American groups have sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing the confirmation of William G. Myers III to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Before serving as the Interior Department's chief legal officer, Bush nominee Myers was a lobbyist for the cattle and mining industries. He submitted briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing (unsuccessfully) that Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act safeguards were unconstitutional. He has also been vocal in his opposition to laws that protect sacred tribal lands, and has stated that ranchers' property …

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Morose Code

In a move that should mean cleaner air for Washington, D.C., a federal appeals court yesterday rejected the U.S. EPA's decision to accept a D.C.-area proposal to delay enforcement of Clean Air Act-mandated pollution levels for several years past the act's 1999 deadline. The area was classified as being in "severe" violation of federal ozone standards in January 2003, and it had nine "Code Red" ozone violation days in summer 2002. The ruling was a victory for the Sierra Club, which filed the suit challenging the EPA's provisional acceptance of the proposal in 2002. A three-judge appeals court panel chastised …

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Let’s Get Fiscal

President Bush's $2.4 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2005, released today, gives the environment the shaft. The budget does propose funding increases for a handful of high-profile enviro projects (mostly in electoral swing states), including Superfund cleanups, conservation grants to private landowners, maintenance and construction in national parks, and salmon restoration. In many cases, however, those increases come at the expense of other environmental programs; funding for the U.S. EPA as a whole is cut by more than 7 percent, and funding for the U.S. Forest Service is cut by 7.6 percent. Two details particularly nettlesome to enviros: Money …

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And Now for Something Completely Different

In sharp contrast to the recently released Bush administration budget, Canada's Liberal Party government on Monday promised to double spending on contaminated-site cleanups, promote green technologies to increase energy efficiency, and go beyond the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol in curtailing emissions. Over 10 years, $4 billion will be devoted to cleaning up polluted military bases, abandoned mines, nuclear research labs, and other sites for which the federal government is responsible; an additional $500 million will go to partnerships with provincial governments for local cleanups. The speech surprised and pleased Canadian enviros, who had worried that the Liberal Party's new …