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Bush administration plans to scrap roadless-rule forest protections

Many political observers thought President Bush would lay off the environment during the election season. After all, he faces an opponent with a well-burnished rep as an environmental good boy. Seems they've misunderestimated Dubya yet again. Ann Veneman. Photo: USDA. On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced a Bush administration plan to scrap the hard-won Clinton-era "roadless rule" -- a move that Phil Clapp, president of National Environmental Trust, ranks as "one of the top five biggest attacks on the environment since the Bush administration set foot in the White House, not to mention the single biggest giveaway to the …

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An interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., environmental advocate and Bush basher

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Photo: John Chrisitn. He has the distinguished mien, the political brio, and the eloquence of his ancestors, not to mention degrees from Harvard and the University of Virginia School of Law. Yet despite Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s sterling credentials, he's never run for public office, much less held one. That's fine with him, and with his many supporters, who contend that he's likely making more of a difference to American politics from outside the Beltway than he ever could from the inside. Lately Kennedy ranks with Michael Moore, Al Gore, and Al Franken as one of …

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EPA chief Mike Leavitt hits the swing states

Leavitt, alone. Photo: U.S. EPA. Have a look at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt's calendar over the last several months and you'll notice that it appears to be in lockstep with the Karl Rove playbook. "I'd hardly call it coincidence," said Beth Viola, a leading environmental strategist for the Kerry campaign, "that after the EPA spends nearly four years pandering to industry, all of a sudden Leavitt is waltzing around battleground states in a green mantle -- doling out grant money, announcing new initiatives, threatening industry with enforcement actions, making amends to swing voters like hunters and anglers …

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Frist sides with right-wingers to stymie widely supported sea treaty

How's this for a once-in-a-blue-moon scenario? Six major environmental groups endorse a sweeping international treaty strongly supported by the American Petroleum Institute and other industry groups. Do you sea what I sea? Photo: NOAA. On May 12, top dogs from the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Environmental Trust, Ocean Conservancy, and three other green organizations put their names on a political ad [PDF] published in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call appealing for ratification of the U.N.'s Law of the Sea treaty -- an international accord that the American Petroleum Institute hails as "important to our efforts to develop domestic …

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House to repass energy bill to vex Democrats

Our House is a very, very, very fine House. If at first you succeed, well, try again anyway. That's how GOP leaders in the House are reinterpreting the old elementary-school bromide as they attempt to create the illusion of hope for the doomed, pork-laden energy bill -- and to deflect the political heat over high gas prices away from the White House and onto the Democrats. For more than a month, the Republican House leadership has been planning a much-touted "energy week" centered on legislation [PDF] that mimics nearly verbatim the Energy Policy Act -- that same old bill that …

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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 …