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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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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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The climate bill lost out, but the environment may yet prove the winner

"We were nervous as hell," said Kevin Curtis, vice president of National Environmental Trust, describing the sentiment leading up to last Thursday's Senate vote that defeated the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, 43 to 55. "But it's a great start. This may seem to be a defeat now, but in the end, it's a victory." Lieberman stumps for his bill. Photo: U.S. Senate. The victory lies in the gamesmanship surrounding the landmark bill, which was the first serious congressional attempt to rein in global warming. Three weeks ago, the bill reportedly had only 32 votes firmly in support of it; more …

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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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I’m on the Hunt, I’m After You

Bush Angers Hunters and Anglers by Promoting Resource Extraction The Bush administration is ticking off many traditionally Republican hunters and anglers with its plans to encourage logging and oil and gas drilling in natural areas throughout the Western U.S. Last week, 450 U.S. gun clubs sent a petition to the U.S. Forest Service objecting to plans to remove protections from the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska, which contains prime habitat for big game and salmon. And many hunters in Montana are irate about administration plans to encourage gas drilling in the Rocky Mountain Front, which is home to bears, …

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It’s Chemical (Let’s Do It)

Europe Pushes for Chemical Testing, But U.S. Backs Voluntary Approach While the European Commission voted last week to require new safety testing of chemicals (though not nearly as strict of testing as environmentalists would have liked), the U.S. is making no such strides. Rather, an average of two new chemicals are approved for use in the U.S. every day, most of which have undergone little or no lab testing to determine safety. A number of potentially dangerous chemicals are increasingly showing up in human blood and breast milk. "We're treating [people] worse than lab rats," said Karen Florini, a lawyer …

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Hollow Weenies

EPA Won't Restrict Use of Potentially Harmful Weed Killer Talk about scary stuff: On Oct. 31, as people across the U.S. were getting ready to don costumes and pass out Halloween candy, the Bush administration announced that it would not impose new restrictions on the commonly used herbicide atrazine, which has been associated with low sperm counts and prostate cancer in men and sex-organ deformities in frogs. The European Union recently decided to ban atrazine, but the U.S. EPA said on Friday that it saw no grounds for restricting the chemical's use. The agency did announce a new plan for …

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Every Which Way but Loose

Bush Administration Plans to Ease Sewage-Treatment Rules More disease-carrying microbes from doo-doo could contaminate U.S. waterways, lakes, and coastlines if the Bush administration proceeds with plans to loosen sewage-treatment requirements. This week, the U.S. EPA intends to unveil a proposed rule change that would let many communities skip a sewage-treatment step after storms cause an increased flow of wastewater; the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal. Many local sewage-treatment plants don't have the capacity to handle storm-water surges and it would cost billions to make upgrades at these facilities. But the looser rules would lead to …

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