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A breakdown of the Senate vote to end debate on the energy bill

A massive energy bill backed by the Bush administration stalled out in the Senate this morning, when its supporters failed to garner the necessary 60 votes to end debate on the legislation. Only 57 senators voted to halt debate; 40 voted to keep it going. Those in favor of the bill, which has already been passed by the House, say it would increase and diversify energy sources and help some farmers by encouraging the use of corn-based ethanol fuel. Opponents call it an expensive, environmentally unfriendly grab bag for special interests. Find out how your senators voted on the bill …

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Stall’s Well That Ends Well

Opponents Block Vote on Energy Bill in Senate A massive and highly controversial energy bill stalled out in the Senate this morning, when its supporters fell two short of the necessary 60 votes to end debate on the legislation. Those in favor of the bill, which has already been passed by the House, argue that it would increase and diversify energy sources and help some farmers by encouraging the use of corn-based ethanol fuel. Opponents, including six Republicans, most Democrats, and virtually all environmentalists, say it is environmentally unfriendly, too expensive (an estimated $33 billion over the next decade), and …

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How many international environmental treaties can one administration sabotage?

From just about anywhere you are on the planet, the city of Punta Arenas, Chile, is very, very far away. Perched on the banks of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas is bounded on the north by the ice fields of Patagonia, a place that the combined forces of nature and the outdoor-gear industry have made synonymous with all things rugged and remote. To the south, on the other side of the strait, the Western Hemisphere peters off into the fractured islands of Tierra del Fuego; beyond that lies the Antarctic. And then there is another, newer landmark: For a …

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Do I Smell Bacon?

Congress Refuses to Interfere with California Clean-Air Regulations One trouble with pork-barrel politics: Sometimes your colleagues decide you're acting like a pig. That may be what happened yesterday, when congressional negotiators tossed out Sen. Kit Bond's (R-Mo.) spending-bill amendment, which would have prevented California from requiring catalytic converters on small engines, such as those found in lawn equipment. Bond's amendment, which was approved by the Senate before being axed by joint House-Senate negotiators, was basically a favor to one company, the small-engine manufacturer Briggs and Stratton, whose largest factories are located in the senator's home state. Apparently, the negotiators decided …

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Bush administration floats new plan that would gut wetland protections

It's close to a nightmare scenario and at the very least it's a very bad dream." That's how Jim Murphy, wetlands and water resources counsel at the National Wildlife Federation*, characterized a draft-stage rewrite of a Clean Water Act rule, which was leaked to The Los Angeles Times by a top government official earlier this month. The rewrite has been in the works since January 2003, when then-EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced the administration's intention to change the way the act is implemented, potentially removing protections from some 20 million acres, or 20 percent of areas now classified as wetlands …

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Warm Planet, Cold Shoulder

Bush Met in London by Environmental Protestors Protesting the U.S. government's refusal to address the problem of global warming, environmental demonstrators gave President Bush a less-than-warm welcome yesterday as he arrived in London for a state visit. Up to 600 people noisily marched to the U.S. embassy to criticize Bush's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, carrying banners with such messages as, "Wanted for crimes against the planet" and "Bush go home." Tony Juniper, head of Friends of the Earth, told the crowd that Bush was "one of the world's arch environmental villains." And that's just the tip …

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Hasta La Vista, Regulations

Schwarzenegger Puts a Hold on Pending Environmental Regulations California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was in office only a few hours before throwing a wrench into a number of environmental-protection efforts by placing a hold on all pending state regulations in order to review their potential impact on the state's business climate. Affected rules include building standards aimed at increasing the energy-efficiency of air conditioners; water-use and efficiency standards for washing machines; and restrictions on carcinogenic industrial chemicals. Schwarzenegger's move could also stymie rules related to disposal of old computers, pollutant levels in drinking water, the use of diesel engines, and …

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Fishing for Answers

Bush Administration Admits Role in Klamath Fish Die-Off The Bush administration has finally admitted to its role in last year's die-off of more than 34,000 chinook and coho salmon in the Klamath River basin, which straddles the Oregon-California border: The massive fish kill was caused at least in part by the government's diversion of water for agriculture, which led to unusually low water levels in the river, according to an analysis released yesterday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal scientists reached this conclusion six months ago (and California state scientists found much the same thing even earlier), but …

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The Wrath of Grapes

Ban on Biotech Crops Makes the Ballot in a California County Voters in Northern California's Mendocino County will be the first in the nation with a chance to rebuff growers of genetically modified (GM) crops. Local anti-biotechnology activists gathered enough signatures to secure a spot on the March ballot for an initiative that would ban the raising of GM crops in the county. The campaign was started by the owners of an all-organic brewpub and framed as a way to protect the county's organic wine-grape industry from genetic contamination. The initiative is largely symbolic at this point, as there are …

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A Low-level Blow

Bush Plans to Loosen Rules for Radwaste Disposal Radioactive waste may be coming soon to a dump near you, brought to you by -- you guessed it -- the Bush administration. The U.S. EPA is proposing a significant rule change that would let the nuclear industry dispose of low-level radwaste at commonplace dumps and hazardous waste sites that weren't designed to handle it. The change would affect such radioactive materials as cesium, strontium, cobalt, and plutonium, which now must be stored at nuclear waste sites closely monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the EPA, and state governments. Enviros, of course, …

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