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A look back at Reagan’s environmental record

Where's the white hat? Photo: Eisenhower Library. The news of President Reagan's passing has sent waves of emotion and rapturous eulogizing through the Republican Party and beyond. Amidst all the heartfelt tributes, it's clear that the 40th president of the United States is regarded as the true political father figure of George W. Bush -- more so than the president's own dad. Given the ideological ties between these two administrations -- not to mention the election-year timing of Reagan's death -- some measure of political spin on the GOP elegies is all but inevitable. But some critics are concerned that …

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Umbra on strategic voting and writing to legislators

Dear Umbra, I'm a dislocated Texas resident living in Georgia, and I frequently send action emails to congressional leaders on environmental issues. Which leaders should I be sending my emails to: those I vote for in Texas or the Georgia ones? I'm afraid that when I email the Texas leaders they'll see my present Georgia address and ignore my concern, but I also wonder if the Georgia leaders know that I'm a legal resident of Texas (and if they knew, would also ignore my concerns). Maybe it's best to send to both states' leaders? Or is any effort on my …

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Film plot rings true as NOAA runs up against White House

The brewing storm. Image: NOAA. Even after grapefruit-sized hail and monster tornadoes assault major cities in the Northern Hemisphere in the film The Day After Tomorrow, Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, still can't get the ballooning crisis of global warming through the thick skull of the vice president. "I think we're on the verge of a major climate shift! You need to start thinking about large-scale evacuations! If we don't act now it's going to be too late!" implores Hall. To which the veep responds coolly, "That is not amusing, professor. Have you lost …

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A rabble-rousing conservationist answers questions

With what environmental organization are you affiliated? I currently spend 30 hours a week directing the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign (NPLGC), 5 hours a week advising Alternatives to Growth Oregon (AGO), and 15 hours as senior counselor for the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC). I fill the remaining 10 hours of my 60-hour workweek (I'm a well-adjusted workaholic) with freelance environmental agitation through The Larch Company (TLC). The Larch Company has two profit centers: an electrical power division and a political power division. What does your organization do? What, in a perfect world, would constitute "mission accomplished"? The NPLGC …

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A gas tax might make good sense, but Dems don’t want to touch it

Who would have thought the day would come when environmentalists would want to high-five Gregg Easterbrook? Yes, the same Gregg Easterbrook who memorably dismissed widespread criticisms of the Bush administration's environmental record as "baloney -- baloney being rolled and deep-fried with cheese for purposes of partisan political bashing and fund-raising" in a Los Angeles Times op-ed in October 2003. [Read a past Muckraker column on this.] Easterbrook has finally made a cogent -- and possibly pivotal -- environmental argument. On Tuesday, he published an op-ed in The New York Times entitled "The 50-Cent-a-Gallon Solution" arguing that despite the current American …

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Pryor Restraint

Their plights gave new meaning to the phrase "appointed to the bench": Miguel Estrada, William Myers III, and Janice Rogers Brown were among half a dozen right-wing judicial nominees that President Bush tried -- and failed -- to install as federal court judges. Stonewalling and filibusters by Senate Democrats consigned them to the dugout bench. William Pryor. Photo: Alabama Attorney General. Now the Sierra Club is working to relegate Bush's most recent federal judicial appointee to the dugout as well, albeit after he's had a few at bats. William Pryor, former Alabama attorney general, has already made it onto the …

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Factory farms get off easy on air pollution

What do the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, United Egg Producers, and Tyson Foods have in common? Crying fowl. Photo: USDA. Well, first there's the obvious fowl connection. Then there's the foul connection: Their facilities, known as "concentrated animal feeding operations" (CAFOs), have growing air-pollution problems thanks to the mountains of gas-emitting excrement deposited daily by their tens of thousands of cooped-up feathery charges. These industry groups also share another connection: membership in the Ag Air Group, a coalition of special interests that includes the National Pork Producers Council and the National Milk Producers Federation (whose hogs and …

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Organics program weakened under Bush administration changes, activists say

The Bush administration is giving Americans new reason to watch what they eat -- and it's got nothing to do with carbs. Sealed with a hiss? Over the course of 10 days in mid-April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued three "guidances" and one directive -- all legally binding interpretations of law -- that threaten to seriously dilute the meaning of the word organic and discredit the department's National Organic Program. And the changes -- which would allow the use of antibiotics on organic dairy cows, synthetic pesticides on organic farms, and more -- were made with zero input from …

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A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Bush’s much-praised new diesel rules

Yes, dear skeptics, you heard correctly: The Bush administration done good this week. Digging these new rules. Landmark controls on diesel emissions, finalized Tuesday by the U.S. EPA, are expected to prevent 12,000 premature deaths and 15,000 heart attacks each year. And these were no warmed-over regs from the Clinton era, passed off as the Bushies' own, as was the case with the Highway Diesel Rule, a tough new standard that will dramatically reduce diesel pollution from trucks and buses starting in 2007. The Bush EPA can claim all the credit for this initiative, which regulates "non-road" diesel-powered equipment such …

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National Park Service employees muzzled on budget shortfalls and other problems

Bush addresses NPS employees in Sequoia National Park. Photo: NPS. It's the reverse of the Midas touch -- instead of turning to gold, everything they touch turns to shit." That's how Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, explained the recent activities of the Bush administration's National Park Service to Muckraker. "Parks were supposed to be a feel-good story for the Bush administration," he said. "It was one of their leading green campaign issues in 2000. He was going to get the parks into tip-top shape. But now it's all Bad News Bears." Yet you aren't likely …

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