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Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho champions East Timor’s environment

De Carvalho. Photo: Goldman Environmental Prize. East Timor is the world's newest country. Once a Portuguese colony, the tiny Southeast Asian nation covers half of a 300-mile-long coral island. When Portugal withdrew from the island in the mid-1970s, East Timor became a disputed territory, and for decades it was devastated by civil war and Indonesian military occupation. When the East Timorese people voted for independence in 1999, Indonesian-backed militias looted and burned throughout the island, killing residents and forcing an estimated 500,000 people from their homes. In late 1999, Portugal and Indonesia both agreed to the United Nations' assumption of …

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Study finds mandatory caps work better than voluntary programs to limit pollution

Smokestacking the deck? Photo: USGS. This just in, from the Department of Near-Tautologies: Mandatory emissions caps rein in power-plant pollution more effectively than voluntary programs. That's the conclusion being drawn from a report on the environmental records of the 100 largest electricity companies in the U.S., released last week by an alliance of bottom-liners and tree-huggers, including the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc., New Jersey's largest utility. Some folks might regard that conclusion as a no-brainer, but those folks don't work for the Bush administration -- it's …

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The Hydrogenator

California Governor Gives a Boost to Hydrogen Infrastructure California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is trying to kick-start the so-called hydrogen revolution. Yesterday, he signed an executive order establishing a public-private partnership aimed at building a network of some 200 hydrogen fueling stations in the state by 2010, at an estimated cost of $100 million. (California is in dire financial straits, so the money is expected to come from private investment and federal funds.) If successful, the plan could mark a metamorphosis in transportation, but there's no shortage of skeptics. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences predicted it …

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New “quiet” snowmobiles in Yellowstone are anything but

A vroom with a view. Photo: Greater Yellowstone Coalition. You might think a winter job in the snowy recesses of Yellowstone National Park would guarantee perks along the lines of, say, peace and quiet. Au contraire. In light of a recent study conducted for the National Park Service, many Yellowstone employees are being advised to don hearing protection fit for a rock-and-roll roadie -- all thanks to the relentless drone of snowmobiles in the park. "The Bush administration tried to assure us that in the snowmobile issue, like so many others, technology is the answer -- that simply upgrading engine …

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An interview with Bush’s point person on species and parks

Craig Manson. Craig Manson is the man President Bush selected to protect America's critters. And like many top dogs in this administration, he's not exactly considered a good friend of the environmental community. As assistant interior secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks, Manson implements the Endangered Species Act, determines the direction of the National Park System and the Fish and Wildlife Service, and oversees some 30,000 employees. Manson took a roundabout path to his post within the Bush administration, via the Air Force, a law practice, the California Department of Fish and Game, and a judgeship in the Superior Court …

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Jeffords’ bid to block EPA appointments could have welcome side effects

Jeffords speaking his mind. Photo: U.S. Senate. Asserting that he was confronting "truly life-and-death matters," Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) announced last week that as ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works he would exercise his powers to put a hold on four high-level appointments to the U.S. EPA. "I'm sorry it has come to this sad state, but I believe I am left with no other recourse," he proclaimed dramatically in a statement to the committee. It wasn't the appointments he believed posed mortal dangers -- in fact, Jeffords had just voted in favor of …

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Taxpayers could get stuck with tab for new diesel rules

When the Bush administration wants to gin up some environmental cred, it cites efforts underway to slash diesel emissions by requiring trucking companies to switch to cleaner engines. But the untold story is that it may be the taxpayers -- not the polluters -- who end up footing much of the bill. Big Mac attack. Photo: U.S. House. The trucking industry has long been a leading opponent of federal clean-air regulations, and since 1993 it has had a relentless advocate in Rep. Mac Collins (R-Ga.), former owner of Collins Trucking Co. -- a business that is now run by the …

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Bipartisan House bill may signal growing consensus on climate change

Gilchrest (left) and Olver, the new climate warriors. Photo: U.S. House. The nascent congressional effort to fight global warming has spread to the House -- but supporters acknowledge that it's not likely to receive an especially warm welcome from the chamber's leadership. Last week, a motley bipartisan crew of representatives including Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) and John Olver (D-Mass.) stood beside Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) to introduce companion legislation to the senators' Climate Stewardship Act. The House version, like the Senate's, proposes to set a mandatory cap for greenhouse-gas emissions and create a market-based carbon-dioxide trading system …

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USDA’s Mark Rey drags feet on releasing info about forest policymaking

Mark Rey. Photo: USFS. According to lawyers from Defenders of Wildlife, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, seems to be pulling some moves out of the Dick Cheney playbook -- the very same tricks of evasion and secrecy that have jeopardized the vice president's reputation in the fiasco surrounding his energy task force. Rey and his department have been dragging their feet in response to requests for public release of documents regarding the Bush administration's proposed overhaul of forest-management practices. Critics suspect the documents might confirm that logging-industry executives wielded undue influence over the process. The …

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The U.S. has outsourced environmental leadership

On the money. California unveiled the design on its state quarter last week: a picture of John Muir, an image of Half Dome. It's an apt representation of American environmentalism at the moment -- rich in history, but not worth much at present. Modern environmentalism can fairly be described as an American invention. It got its rhetoric from John Muir, its fighting savvy from David Brower, its sense of the world from Rachel Carson, and its institutional framework from the Congress of the Nixon years, which bowed before the loud will of the American people in the years after Earth …

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