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Stating the Obvious

More States Make Strides to Address Global Warming In the absence of any meaningful action on climate change by the Bush administration, more than half of U.S. states are stepping up to address the problem through legislation, programs launched by governors, or lawsuits. In the last three years, state legislatures have approved at least 29 bills that deal with some aspect of global warming or carbon dioxide emissions, often with bipartisan support. At least 15 states, including Nevada and Texas, are requiring utilities to add renewable sources like wind and solar to their energy mix. "We hope to see the …

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It’s My Party, I Can Write If I Want to

Former EPA Chief to Call for Moderation in New Book Christie Whitman, who seemed none too happy during her conflict-laden stint as head of the U.S. EPA, has found a new vocation: author. Whitman has struck a deal with the Penguin Group to publish a book that will call for political moderation instead of hard-line stands. Presumably, she knows whereof she writes: Whitman ran into plenty of hard-liners while serving in the Bush administration, where she clashed with officials on a number of environmental issues, most notably climate change. "The leaders must recognize the gap they are creating between themselves …

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Fighting Fire With Hot Air

California Wildfires Put Pressure on Senate to Pass Bush's Forest Plan The wildfires raging through Southern California are turning up the heat on senators to pass President Bush's "Healthy Forests" plan, which would limit environmental and judicial reviews of many logging projects in national forests with the stated aim of reducing the risk of fire. But enviros say the legislation would open up remote old-growth areas to logging while doing far too little to eliminate fire risks near communities; they argue the bill would do little or nothing to stymie fires like the ones now burning in Southern California, which …

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Brown Out

Two Enviros Named to San Francisco Power Commission in Political Coup A political coup in San Francisco last week led to two environmentalists being named to the city's Public Utilities Commission: former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach and Robin Chiang, an architect specializing in eco-friendly design and construction. San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly was serving as acting mayor for a day while Mayor Willie Brown traveled abroad, and Daly took the opportunity to quietly appoint and swear in Werbach and Chiang. Brown was livid, but he'll have to live with the appointments unless he can convince eight of 11 city …

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Under African Sighs

Zimbabwe's Wildlife Suffer Under Political Turmoil Zimbabwe's corrupt and troubled government is not only making life miserable for many of the country's people but also for its once famous populations of elephants, rhinoceroses, and other wild animals. By some estimates, up to two-thirds of animals on Zimbabwe's game farms and wildlife preserves have been killed, including endangered species like painted wild dogs and rhinos. Tourism and limited big-game hunting once brought millions of dollars into the country each year, but the government has confiscated many lands where these activities took place and encouraged squatters and political allies to move in. …

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Airing Out the Dirty Laundry

EPA Official Knew Rule Change Could Hurt Enforcement, GAO Says The top air-quality official at the U.S. EPA was warned repeatedly by agency staffers that changes to the New Source Review rules of the Clean Air Act could undermine enforcement actions against polluting industrial plants, a General Accounting Office report found last week. But still the official, Assistant EPA Administrator Jeffrey Holmstead, told Congress last year that the change would not get in the way of pending court cases against polluters. Now a number of Democratic senators, including presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), are asking the EPA's inspector general to …

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Chemical Reaction

E.U. Waters Down Chemical Safety Testing Plan In a blow to advocates of environmental and human health, the European Union dramatically narrowed the scope of its plan to require safety testing for tens of thousands of chemicals. The move was motivated primarily by financial concerns, and the narrower plan is expected to save billions of dollars. But the timing -- in the middle of a barrage of criticism of the measure by the Bush administration and the chemical industry -- suggests that other factors were at work as well. Even the watered-down version of the plan is receiving a chilly …

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Poor Judgment

Company Warns Poor and Minorities They Will Suffer if N-Plant Is Closed The power company Entergy Nuclear Northeast is warning low-income and minority citizens in New York that more power plants will be built in their neighborhoods if the state's highly controversial Indian Point nuclear power plant is closed. Critics say the move is an inappropriate bid to use race and class in Entergy's ongoing battle to keep Indian Point open, and they excoriated the company for assuming that officials in New York City and Westchester County would approve the construction of more power plants in poor neighborhoods, which are …

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In the Hot Seat

States Sue Federal Government Over Climate Change Responding to a U.S. EPA decision earlier this summer that the agency does not have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide from vehicles and power plants, 12 states filed suit against the federal government yesterday to force the Bush administration to do something about global climate change. The suit alleges that the EPA is ignoring federal studies that demonstrate that climate change is causing "disease, extreme weather, destruction of shoreline, and loss of critical wetlands and estuaries," according to Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of Connecticut, one of the plaintiffs in the case. The …

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Okinawan sea life likely to suffer under Navy sonar deal

Every year, scuba divers make tens of thousands of excursions into the waters off Okinawa, Japan, drawn by the spectacular array of sea life on display. Soon, though, that sea life may be blasted out of the water by an unwelcome sonic barrage. The Okinawan coast is not clear. Photo: Jeff Shaw. Almost everywhere in the world except in this patch of ocean, denizens of the deep won a reprieve this month, when a court agreement between environmental organizations and the U.S. Navy limited the military's use of low-frequency active sonar (LFAS). Experts contend that the sonar, which uses high-intensity …

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