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Coal and Calculating

Bush Admin. Decision Could Boost Pollution in National Parks In a move that could lead to more pollution in national parks, the Bush administration on Friday said it will permit North Dakota to change the way it estimates air pollution in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Seems like a small thing, but the new estimation formula is likely to produce lower emissions predictions, paving the way for a new coal-fired power plant to be built near the park. Enviros fear that the U.S. EPA will cut similar deals with other states -- for example, Utah, where there's a proposal to build …

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The Minnow Would Be Lost

Senator's Plan Would Move Endangered Fish to Wetter Habitat The New Mexico habitat of the silvery minnow, an endangered fish, too often goes dry, so Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) has come up with an unusual plan: relocate the fish to wetter territory. The minnow, which lives primarily in the Rio Grande River south of Albuquerque, has been the subject of substantial controversy because when the river gets low, water is diverted from towns and farmers to sustain the species' habitat. Domenici wants to turn that equation on its head and move the fish upstream where there are more consistent flows. …

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Shape Up or Ship Out

Texas Ship-Inspection Company Implicated in Prestige Tanker Disaster Negligence on the part of the Texas-based American Bureau of Shipping -- a company that conducts safety inspections of ships -- could be to blame for the notorious Prestige tanker disaster, which spilled millions of gallons of oil off the coast of Spain 15 months ago and affected or destroyed the livelihoods of some 100,000 fishers and other Spaniards. So say two lawsuits pending against ABS, which seek a combined total of $1 billion in damages from the company. Though numerous problems had been found with the ship over the years and …

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With feds slow to tackle mercury pollution, state leaders step up

The Mercury Mutiny is gaining force on the state level, galvanizing some unlikely rebels. Eastern states including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York were the first to jump into the fray, launching local efforts to reduce mercury pollution in response to the Bush administration's widely criticized plan for dealing with mercury. Then last week, a new regional effort was announced by a coalition of state legislators from six Midwestern states -- Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin -- many of which have economies reliant on King Coal, a major culprit in mercury emissions. Coal it like you …

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An improbable plan would use Arctic Refuge drilling proceeds to fund transportation projects

Beltway insiders waited with bated breath yesterday to see if Sen. Peter Domenici (R-N.M.) would succeed in tacking his stalled-out energy bill onto the huge highway transportation bill now wending its way through Congress. The consensus from his Senate Republican colleagues? No deal. In need of refuge. Photo: FWS. But another cockamamie plan that would mingle energy policy and transportation funding is in the works. In an open letter prominently featured on the website of the House Resources Committee earlier this week, Committee Chair Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) proposed opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and …

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Snowmobefuddlement

Judge Issues Yet Another Reversal of Yellowstone Snowmobile Ban An already-confusing winter for tourists and tour operators in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks got more muddled yesterday, when a federal judge overturned severe restrictions on snowmobiling in the parks. For those of you keeping score at home, a quick rundown of the story so far: Just before leaving office in January 2001, President Clinton imposed restrictions on snowmobile use in the parks, aiming for a complete ban by 2003-04. Later in 2001, President Bush gave the National Park Service a chance to "further study" the issue. NPS released much …

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Natural Gas, Unnatural Allies

Unlikely Coalition Opposes Bush's Plan to Drill in New Mexico New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) is leading an improbable coalition of enviros, ranchers, hunters, and property-rights activists in a fight against the Bush administration's plans to drill for natural gas in the Otero Mesa area of New Mexico, a vast and largely untouched expanse of desert grasslands that Richardson has called "the West's ANWR." A recent Department of Interior proposal would open 90 percent of the area to drilling. Richardson's strong stance is a signal that Bush's energy policy could become a hot election-year issue in the Rocky Mountain …

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When Irresistible Cuts Meet Immovable Pork

Senate Republicans Flailing as They Try to Push Through Energy Bill Senate Republicans are having a bad week. A proposal to push the energy bill through Congress by attaching it to the more popular and pressing transportation bill was roundly rejected yesterday. President Bush told Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on Monday that he wants costs cut substantially on both the energy bill and the transportation bill, a move many observers say is a response to election-year concerns over the budget deficit. Congressional leaders managed to pare down the energy bill's costs by more than half (from $31 billion …

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Bush nominates eco-hostile lobbyist to federal appeals court

My, oh, Myers. Photo: DOI. Environmental advocates are bristling over President Bush's nomination of William G. Myers III to the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, calling Myers the most anti-environment judicial candidate the president has ever put forward. With rhetoric like that being thrown about, don't be surprised if Myers becomes the latest in a string of right-wing jurists stymied by Democratic filibusters in the Senate. Myers, a spitfire critic of environmentalists, hails from Boise, Idaho. A longtime lawyer and lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries, he recently served as a Bush-appointed senior solicitor at the …

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