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It’s Not a Gas, Gas, Gas

In a rare disagreement with his oil and gas buddies, President Bush is resisting pressure to institute a tax break that would pave the way for a 3,600-mile pipeline to carry natural gas from Alaska to the lower 48 states. The administration supports construction of a "commercially viable" pipeline, according to a position paper sent to Congress by the White House budget office, but believes "market forces should select the route and timing of the project." Many senators on both sides of the aisle disagree, and as early as this week the Senate could approve tax breaks worth an estimated …

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Brown Study

The Bush administration will announce today the details of its 10-year plan to study climate change and determine whether human activity or natural occurrences are causing the Earth's atmosphere to heat up. The Climate Change Science Program will compile expertise from 13 federal agencies that collectively spend $4.5 billion on climate-change related programs; it will also redirect $103 million for satellite technologies to gather global climate data. The plan is being criticized harshly by environmentalists, who say the study will waste time and money by rehashing questions that have already been answered by the scientific community. "Most climate scientists around …

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Parks Stuck in Neutral

The Bush administration defended itself yesterday against charges of neglecting the national park system, saying it has spent billions to maintain and repair parks around the country. According to U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton, $2.9 billion has been spent on a maintenance and repair backlog and 900 related projects have been completed; in addition, she said, the department is conducting an inventory of the needs of 7,500 facilities at the nation's 388 parks. Those and other indicators demonstrate "the extent to which we are doing an excellent job in taking care of the parks," her report to the president claimed. …

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Clear and Present Danger?

For months, the U.S. EPA has withheld findings indicating that President Bush's proposed "Clear Skies" legislation would lead to more pollution-related deaths than a bipartisan Senate bill to fight air pollution, and that the bipartisan bill would not be much more costly than Clear Skies. A leaked copy of the EPA's data showed, among other things, that a bill sponsored by Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) would result in 17,800 fewer premature deaths from power plant emissions by 2020 than would the Clear Skies bill. Withholding of the findings is "a real outrage," said …

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New clean-energy coalitions talk up national security and the economy

Two ambitious clean-energy coalitions made headlines this month, sweeping out from under the rug vital and far-reaching environmental issues that the Bush administration has steadfastly ignored. The Energy Future Coalition, boasting endorsements from heavies on both sides of the party line as well as from high-profile industry and environmental interests, called for a one-third reduction in U.S. oil consumption and a one-third reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years. At the same time (though in a completely unrelated effort), the Apollo Alliance, a labor-environmental coalition endorsed by a dozen influential unions, called for a 10-year, $300 billion …

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Clear Skies Looking Dirty

One of President Bush's most ambitious environmental proposals is in jeopardy -- the goal of cutting mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants 46 percent by 2010. Many in the utility industry are complaining that such a requirement, which is part of Bush's "Clear Skies" legislation, would cost far more than expected and could force some coal-fired plants to switch to cleaner-burning natural gas. Republicans from the Midwest, home to many of the nation's dirtiest coal-burning power plants, are insisting that the mercury provision in the bill be rewritten -- and the administration seems content to go with the flow rather …

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Read U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher’s letter of resignation.

Linda Fisher, second in command at the U.S. EPA, resigned from her post as deputy administrator on June 26, 2003, just one day before her boss, Christie Whitman, stepped down. Like Whitman, Fisher cited her family as her reason for leaving, but Beltway scuttlebutt suggested that she was upset at being passed over to head the EPA. (Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) is currently rumored to be the top candidate for that position.) Below is the communication Fisher sent to all U.S. EPA employees about her decision. It includes her letter of resignation to President Bush. To All EPA Employees: …

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Fisher Cuts Bait

U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman officially stepped down today -- and she wasn't alone. The agency's second-in-command, Linda Fisher, unexpectedly resigned as well, leaving the EPA without an obvious leader until a permanent successor is nominated and approved, a process that is expected to take many months. Like Whitman, Fisher expressed pride in the work done by the EPA during her tenure and said it was a "rare privilege" to be a part of the Bush administration. Also like Whitman, she cited her family as the reason behind her decision to leave. However, Beltway scuttlebutt has it that Fisher resigned …

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Donkey Kick

The Bush administration received a serious dressing-down in absentia last night over its misbegotten environmental policies, as five of the nine Democratic hopefuls aired their own green views during a League of Conservation Voters forum held in Los Angeles. Rather than detailing the differences in their own positions, most of the candidates who were present -- former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.), and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- attacked the current administration and expressed shared views on how to better protect the environment. These included calling for …

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Back to the Yellowstone Age

The Bush administration has asked the United Nations to remove Yellowstone National Park from a list of endangered World Heritage sites. "Yellowstone is no longer in danger," wrote the Interior Department's Paul Hoffman in a letter to the World Heritage Committee. There's just one snag: The park staff disagree with Hoffman, saying Yellowstone still faces the kinds of problems -- threats to water quality, bison, and trout populations, among others -- that put it on the endangered list in the first place, back in 1995. But in its recent report to the U.N. committee, the Bush administration diluted or deleted …

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