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Next They’ll Get Rid of All the Stop Signs

Bush Admin. to Eliminate Pesticide Regulations It Doesn't Obey The provision of the Endangered Species Act that requires the U.S. EPA to consult with two other federal agencies when licensing new pesticides will be formally abandoned, if the Bush administration has its way. Government officials concede that the provision -- meant to involve the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service in every pesticide review to ensure that endangered species won't be harmed by new chemicals -- has been informally ignored for years. Proposed new regulations would officially let the government off the hook for what …

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Tempest in a Teapot

Government to Bury CO2 in Teapot Dome Oil Field The U.S. Department of Energy is planning to bury some 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide a year underneath the Teapot Dome oil field in central Wyoming, in the largest carbon-sequestration test project ever undertaken. The process, which involves compressing CO2 into liquid form and injecting it into depleted oil reservoirs, is being touted by the Bush administration as one of the most effective ways to combat global warming. One goal of the test is to stimulate growth of the private CO2 sequestration industry; another is to calm worries of environmental …

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A Dam Sham

Bush Officials Stand Atop Dam to Trumpet Salmon Funding Bush administration officials announced a $10 million increase in funding for restoration of endangered Northwest salmon on Monday, drawing election-year attention to recent increases in salmon numbers. Enviros expressed measured support for the rise in funding, but pointed out that higher salmon numbers were mostly attributable to changing ocean conditions. They also pointed out that $10 million is a fraction of the $110 million funding increase the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission says is needed to pay for ongoing restoration projects. They also pointed out that a federal blueprint for Columbia …

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The League’s Extraordinary Gentleman

League of Conservation Voters Endorses Kerry The League of Conservation Voters has officially endorsed John Kerry for president, marking the first time in the organization's history that it has backed a candidate prior to the first primaries. Kerry, four-term Democratic senator from Massachusetts, has the best environmental voting record of the Democratic candidates, with an LCV score of 96 percent (Lieberman, whose supporters are reportedly frustrated with the decision, comes in second at 93 percent). LCV's board of directors has made unseating Bush a priority, and expressed hope that their early endorsement would raise the profile of environmental issues in …

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Rivers and Tithes

Judge Rules Government Must Pay for Withheld Water In a case that could have substantial implications for enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, a federal judge ruled recently that the U.S. government must pay California irrigators some $14 million for water it withheld from them during an early 1990s drought in the state. The water was held back in order to maintain river and stream flows sufficient to protect two endangered fish species. The ruling builds on an earlier decision by the same judge that the withholding amounted to a property taking under the U.S. Constitution, which means the property …

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Streaming Media

Judge Bans Pesticide Use Near Northwest Salmon Runs A federal judge Thursday banned the use of a wide range of pesticides in and around thousands of miles of waterways in the Northwest frequented by endangered salmon, and required stores selling seven of the most dangerous banned pesticides to display signs reading "salmon hazard." U.S. District Judge John Coughenour's sweeping ruling, which will apply to everything from farms to orchards to golf courses, establishes a 100-yard buffer around streams when aerial spraying and a 20-yard buffer when ground spraying -- protective measures that the ruling calls "common, simple, and effective." Although …

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You Know the Drill

Bush Admin. Opens Nearly 9 Million Alaskan Acres to Oil Exploration Interior Secretary Gale Norton approved a plan on Thursday that will open nearly 9 million acres of pristine land on Alaska's North Slope to oil exploration and drilling. She pledged that the exploration and production in the area, a section of the huge National Petroleum Reserve, would be done in an "environmentally responsible manner with the best available technology." Enviros weren't convinced. "It makes no sense to industrialize this incomparable wilderness area when there's only about six months' worth of economically recoverable oil ... and it would take at …

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The Thinners Have Much More Fun

Forest Service to Triple Sierra Nevada Logging Citing the need to prevent catastrophic forest fires like the ones that plagued Southern California last year, on Thursday the U.S. Forest Service announced a plan to spend $50 million a year to thin forests in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. The plan would allow logging of 330 million board-feet of green timber a year, roughly triple the amount allowed under the Clinton administration. "You have to thin the forest to protect the forest," said Regional Forester Jack Blackwell. "If we don't take those actions, we're going to burn 'em up. It's as simple …

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Veteran environmental leader gives Kerry the green light

Ted gets Kerry-ed away. Photo: Lou Dematteis, Kerry for President. A mischievous grin spread across John Kerry's face last week as he was introducing Ted Kennedy, his fellow Massachusetts senator, to an Iowa crowd. It caught my eye because I hadn't seen Kerry smile for quite a while. "I'm now pleased to introduce," he said, "the real leader of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party -- Ted Kennedy." Without rancor, Kerry had popped the empty little balloon that had long been Howard Dean's biggest applause line. And I thought to myself, He's back. As it turns out, Kerry had …

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Zinc Positive

Supreme Court Sides With EPA in Clean Air Case A narrowly divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the U.S. EPA has the authority to override state government decisions on what constitutes the "best available" anti-pollution technology. Enviros hailed the decision as a victory for clean air, while libertarian think tanks, a coalition of Western states, and four justices decried it as a violation of states' rights. The case focused on a zinc and lead mine in Alaska whose expansion proposal had been accepted by state regulators; EPA officials subsequently ruled that the mine's air-quality technology was not the …

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