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Southwest Passage

New Mexico Passes Renewable-Energy Bills New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) yesterday celebrated the passage of a remarkable package of progressive energy bills, with the vocal support of a broad coalition including utilities, environmentalists, ranchers, and consumers. The centerpiece is a new law stating that all investor-owned electrical utilities in the state must generate 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2011. New Mexico is uniquely positioned to lead the country as the "Saudi Arabia of renewable energy," said Dan Reicher, a former U.S. Department of Energy official: "You've got great sun, great wind, you've got biomass, you've …

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Bush EPA dilutes meaning of environmental justice

The U.S. EPA has failed to integrate environmental justice research into the development of its policies, says a report [PDF] released on Monday by the EPA's inspector general (IG), who operates an independent office within the agency. Play at your own risk. Photo: Environmental Defense. More troubling still, the EPA under President Bush seems to have watered down the very definition of environmental justice to the point of emptiness. The IG's report -- neatly summed up by its title, "The EPA Needs to Consistently Implement the Intent of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice" -- was written in response to …

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Group Hug

Environmental Cooperation Bringing Hostile Nations Together Frustrated by the glacial pace and pestersome bureaucracy of major international treaties and conventions, a new generation of environmental activists is turning its focus to "environmental peacekeeping": local, grassroots efforts to forge cooperation on ecosystem preservation among neighboring nations with a history of conflict. Activists say that, rather than provoking further conflict, shared environmental challenges often serve as an opportunity for geopolitical opponents to reach rapprochement. Joint conservation projects are underway between rival nations such as Russia and Kazakhstan; Peru and Ecuador; and China and Vietnam. "There's not much in the way of political …

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Well, Excuuuse Us!

U.S. Seeks Exemptions from Ban on Ozone-Damaging Pesticide The U.S. will seek to make a large number of American farmers and industries exempt from an international ban on the highly toxic and ozone-depleting pesticide methyl bromide, set to take effect next year, Bush administration officials announced yesterday. (We thought they saved this kind of stuff for Fridays!) The ban is part of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty aimed at reducing the use of ozone-depleting chemicals; the treaty has yielded a 70 percent reduction in methyl bromide use in industrialized countries since 1999, when it was signed. Parties to the …

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There Are Other Fish in the Sea … for the Moment

Report on Ocean Management Likely Headed for Chilly Reception The sad state of our oceans is poised to make headlines again this month, but ocean advocates worry that the Bush administration won't take the problem seriously. The Commission on Ocean Policy -- a 16-member presidential advisory panel appointed to comprehensively revisit ocean management policy for the first time in 35 years -- is set to release its preliminary report in the next few weeks, after three years of meetings and presentations. The report is expected to recommend a shift from a harvesting approach to a stewardship approach that would protect …

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Missouri River management plan to be election-year hot potato

Basically, the Army Corps has flipped us the bird -- at a time when it's supposed to be saving the birds." Hello, Big Muddy. Photo: FWS. That's how Eric Eckl, spokesperson for American Rivers, sums up the Army Corps of Engineers' new plan to manage the Missouri River, released on Friday to blistering protest and threats of a new round of lawsuits from the environmental community. The plan disregards more than a decade of calls to restore the natural flows of the beloved "Big Muddy" -- calls from scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Academy …

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The Bush administration’s scientific distortions threaten the environment

In late February, after a star-studded, bipartisan lineup of Nobel laureates and leading American scientists accused the Bush administration of misusing and distorting science to serve political ends, the initial response from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. was flat-out denial. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy chief John Marburger dismissed the scientists' complaints as a ''conspiracy report'' that cobbled together ''disconnected issues that rubbed somebody the wrong way.'' Marburger told the press he had no intention of conducting an internal investigation or passing the report along to higher-ups. John Marburger. Perhaps he should have dropped them a memo. Last week, …

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Immigration controversy engulfs Sierra Club board election

If the Democratic primaries have proven a little prim and polite for your taste, there's another upcoming election that may pique your interest. This one is loaded with bitter controversy, nasty accusations, and emotional appeals to democracy and fairness. Its major players have even taken their grievances to court -- all before the nearly three-quarters of a million potential voters have gotten a peek at their ballots. Crowd and clear? What's at stake in this mudslinging contest? Five seats on the national board of the Sierra Club, the oldest, largest, and some might say most widely respected environmental organization in …

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Huge Tracts of Land

Bush Administration Accelerates Oil and Gas Leasing in Rockies The Bush administration, as part of its broader effort to accelerate oil and gas development on the Rocky Mountain front, is moving ahead with plans to lease large tracts of environmentally sensitive land in Utah and southwestern Wyoming. This has prompted protests from varied quarters, including a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed by 100 members of Congress. Enviro groups noted that many of the tracts being leased were eligible for federal wilderness status, and that the land, projected to be worth about $80 an acre in annual revenue, was …

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