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The West Swing

Bush Visiting Western States to Push His Environmental Agenda During the next three weeks, President Bush will be making pit stops in a number of Western states both to tout his environmental agenda and to raise big bucks for his reelection campaign. Even though Bush's advisors consider the environment to be a "second-tier issue," they recognize that it's a point of vulnerability for the president, particularly among women voters in suburban areas, so they are aiming to improve his image. Bush kicked off his enviro tour with an appearance in Arizona yesterday, where he flew over a charred forest and …

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The 411 on 9/11

White House Pressed EPA to Say Air Was Safe After 9/11 In the days immediately following the 9/11 attacks, the White House pressured the U.S. EPA to issue unsupported statements reassuring the public that air quality around ground zero was safe, according to an investigation by the EPA's inspector general. Also, as a result of "influence" from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the EPA omitted from its press releases information about potential health threats from the World Trade Center debris, the inspector general's draft report found. EPA and White House officials dispute the report's conclusions, saying they are …

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Greens plan to field a presidential candidate in 2004 — consequences be damned

For the 2004 presidential race, the Green die is cast. "The Green Party emerged from a national meeting ... increasingly certain that it will run a presidential candidate in next year's election, all but settling a debate within the group over how it should approach the 2004 contest," the Washington Post reported on July 21. The Green Party promptly put out a news release declaring that Greens "affirmed the party's intention to run candidates for president and vice president of the United States in 2004." That release quoted a national party co-chair. "This meeting produced a clear mandate for a …

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Impaired Judgement

Judge Who Struck Down Roadless Rule May Have Ethics Conflict The federal judge who struck down the Clinton-era roadless rule last month may have violated ethics laws, according to two legal watchdog groups that filed a formal ethics complaint yesterday. The groups say the judge should have recused himself from hearing the case because he potentially stood to profit from its outcome. The roadless rule had blocked oil and gas development as well as logging and road-building on 58 million acres of national forest land. Judge Clarence Brimmer, according to his federal disclosure forms for 2000 and 2001, held stock …

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Connaughton in the Act

Bush Environmental Advisor Plays Powerful Behind-the-Scenes Role He might just be the most powerful environmental player you've never heard of. James Connaughton, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is credited with (or, in some circles, accused of) being the architect of the Bush administration's environmental policy. In large part, his role consists of mediating between competing government agencies and other stakeholders as he tries to press forward with Bush's stated goal of balancing environmental concerns with a desire for fewer regulations, increased energy production, and economic growth. A former corporate environmental lawyer and lobbyist, Connaughton sees himself …

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That’s Terror-bull

Rules Aimed at Curbing Funding for Terrorists Could Hurt Nonprofits Small environmental groups and other nonprofits around the globe could see important funding sources dry up as the U.S. government tries to stop the diversion of charitable funds to terrorist groups. The Treasury Department, which says crooked Islamic charities are major financiers of global terrorism, has issued voluntary guidelines on international giving designed to help ensure that money doesn't end up in the wrong hands. But those guidelines are so sweeping that they could have harsh impacts on groups that are not even remotely connected to terrorism. Some small nonprofits …

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Howard’s Beginning

Howard Dean Calls for Renewables, Fuel Efficiency, Global Cooperation Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean delivered the first major environmental speech of his campaign in San Francisco yesterday, calling for increased use of renewable resources, better fuel efficiency, and the elevation of the U.S. EPA to a cabinet-level agency. Specifically, Dean said that as president, he would mandate that 20 percent of the nation's electricity come from renewable power by 2020, and require the auto industry to improve fuel efficiency for all vehicles to 40 miles per gallon by 2015. In addition, he pledged that he would provide more money for …

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Their Own Private Park Service

Former Interior Secretaries Excoriate Plan to Privatize Park Service "Radical," "reckless," "hellbent" -- those were some of the words Bruce Babbitt and Stewart Udall used to describe the Bush administration's plan to privatize much of the National Park Service. Prior to this week, the two former secretaries of the Interior Department -- both of them Arizona Democrats -- chose to bite their tongues rather than criticize the White House, but the privatization plan was, they said, the last straw. Under the plan, 70 percent of full-time park service jobs, including rangers, scientists, and museum curators, could be replaced by private-sector …

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He Issa Dud

Environmentalists unleashed a barrage of criticism yesterday against Rep. Darrell Issa (R), who bankrolled much of the campaign to recall California Gov. Gray Davis (D) and is now running for the gubernatorial spot himself. "His voting record in Congress is absolutely abysmal," said Rico Mastrodonato, executive director of the California League of Conservation Voters. Mastrodonato's group, along with the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action, lambasted Issa for voting against safe drinking water standards, air-quality protections, and stricter fuel economy standards for SUVs, among other things. Issa's campaign defends his record. "Darrell Issa is pro-environment 100 percent," said Jonathan Wilcox, …

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