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He’s Crafty, He Gets Around

Anti-Environmental Riders Popping Up on Spending Bills With a raft of must-pass spending bills making their way through Congress this month, a handful of crafty lawmakers are tacking on unrelated anti-environmental provisions, or "riders," in hopes of circumventing the usual legislative process. Perhaps the craftiest of all is Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), head of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, who has authored one amendment that would prevent the feds from spending any money to study and protect fish habitat in the North Pacific and another that would limit legal challenges to timber sales in Alaska's Tongass National Forest. Meanwhile, a …

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Drop and Give Me 50

States Fight Back Against EPA Decision to Drop Power Plant Cases It didn't take long for the backlash to set in against the U.S. EPA's decision, announced Wednesday, to abandon its investigations into 50 polluting power plants in the face of the Bush administration's rollback of the Clean Air Act's New Source Review rules. One day later, Democratic senators and attorneys general from Northeastern states decried that decision and called for an inquiry into the policy change. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) demanded hearings to determine the reason for the change, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) questioned whether the agency had …

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Leavitt to Busy Beaver

Leavitt Sworn in as New EPA Chief Former Republican Gov. Mike Leavitt zipped from his home state of Utah to the nation's capital this week, but he didn't get to go for a leisurely stroll along the Mall or take advantage of the free museum access. Instead, after a hasty swearing-in as the 10th administrator of the U.S. EPA yesterday morning, he turned his attention to business: dashing off a memo to all agency employees asking for their input on how best to do his job, and fielding demands from Democratic senators that he make good on the promises he …

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Promises, Promises, You Knew You’d Never Keep

Breaking Promise, EPA Will Drop Cases Against Polluting Power Plants The U.S. EPA announced yesterday that it will drop investigations into 50 power plants accused of violating the federal Clean Air Act. Enviros and agency watchdogs warned about the possibility of such a shift when the Bush administration rolled back the act's New Source Review rules -- but agency officials promised it would never happen. So much for that; now, lawyers for the EPA say, the cases will be reviewed under the less stringent rules that take effect next month, rather than those that were in place at the time …

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Baby, We Use Corn to Run

House and Senate Reach Agreement Over Ethanol in Energy Bill Clearing one of the last major hurdles on the way to a final energy bill, negotiators from the House and Senate agreed yesterday on most parts of a plan to almost double the use of ethanol by 2012 and provide a new tax credit for diesel fuels that are blended with soybeans or other farm products. Under the plan, the U.S. gasoline industry must mix at least 5 billion gallons of ethanol into other fuels by 2012, compared to 2.7 billion gallons today. That's good news for farmers in the …

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Missouri Compromised

Bush Administration Boots Scientists Studying Missouri River Just weeks before producing its final report on the ecosystem of the Missouri River, a team of government scientists was yanked off the job by the Bush administration. The scientists had been at work for years and had recommended, among other things, changes to the river's flow to better mimic natural fluctuations and support more bird and fish species. That recommendation was echoed by the National Academy of Sciences but opposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Now, a new team of scientists has a month to decide whether the corps can …

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A breakdown of the Senate vote on the Climate Stewardship Act

On Thursday, Oct. 30, the Senate voted on Senate Bill 139, better known as the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, which aimed to cap industrial greenhouse gas emissions and establish a system for swapping emissions credits. The legislation represented the first serious congressional attempt to rein in global warming. It lost by a vote of 55 to 43, but environmentalists and backers of the bill still found cause to rejoice in the unexpectedly narrow defeat, a sure sign that the battle has only begun. Below you can find out how your senators voted on this landmark legislation -- and then you …

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Sprawl in a Day’s Work

Slow Growth Sees Rapid Setback in Virginia County The vote took place yesterday in Loudoun County, Va., but the outcome was a blow to smart-growth advocates around the nation. Four years ago, voters propelled slow-growth advocates into eight out of nine county board positions, turning Loudoun into a national model of environmentally friendly urban planning. But yesterday's elections reshuffled the board dramatically, with Republicans winning six out of eight seats, thanks in large part to heavy backing and hundreds of thousands of dollars from real-estate and construction interests. The new board members have vowed to relax or reverse many restrictions …

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Board of Miseducation

Environmental Textbook Author Sues Texas Over Alleged Censorship When it comes to textbook publishing, Texas calls the shots across the nation, by virtue of being big enough to need a whole heck of a lot of books. In the past, the Lone Star State has grabbed headlines for refusing to use science texts that teach evolutionary theory and not creationism; now, a major case is brewing over the teaching of environmental studies. At issue is "Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future," a textbook that has been used in high schools and colleges across the country for two decades. Although the …

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Terry Good News

Schwarzenegger Names Conservationist to Head Cal/EPA To the delight of environmentalists, California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger has chosen Terry Tamminen to head the state's Environmental Protection Agency. Tamminen helped start the Santa Monica environmental organization BayKeeper, then went to work for another green group, Environment Now. He was one of the drafters of Schwarzenegger's environmental platform, which included measures to protect California's national forests, cut air pollution by 50 percent, and invest in hydrogen vehicles. Environmentalists welcomed the plan but saw it as so ambitious -- even for a liberal Democrat, which Schwarzenegger is not -- that they feared it would …

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