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Interior Design

Interior's Lynn Scarlett Defends Bush's "New Environmentalism" When it comes to the environment, Lynn Scarlett may be the most influential Bush administration member you've never heard of. As an assistant secretary in the Interior Department, charged with analyzing rules and determining budgets throughout the agency, she has significant say over everything from mining to wildlife refuges. And as former head of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, she is one of the architects of the "new environmentalism" that the Bush team enthusiastically espouses. In an interview, Scarlett discusses the invisible hand's "green thumb," the role of public comments in …

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Terror Error

Top British Scientist Calls Global Warming Bigger Threat Than Terrorism Which menacing global problem should be keeping you up at night: terrorism or climate change? Britain's top government scientist is creating a bit of a stir by arguing that it's the latter, and lambasting President Bush for having his priorities all out of whack. In an article in today's issue of the U.S. journal Science, David King, chief scientific advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, castigates the U.S. for refusing to take action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, noting that although the country is home to only 4 percent …

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Down, Down, and Away — It’s Superfund

Superfund Sites to Remain Toxic Due to Lack of Funding According to the U.S. EPA's inspector general, the Superfund program faces a $175 million shortfall this year; as a result, cleanup will not begin on 11 of the nation's worst toxic waste sites. Superfund was established in 1980 as an attempt to force polluting industries to pay to clean up their messes. Cleanup of toxic sites directly attributable to a company are paid for by that company, while others are paid for from a fund maintained through a special tax on polluting industries. However, in 1995 a Republican Congress refused …

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To Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

Energy Execs Pay to Create Environmental "To-Do" List with GOP Reps Business execs from power, coal, and mining companies are powwowing with more than a dozen GOP lawmakers from Western states this week in Phoenix, Ariz., at a conference focused on energy and environmental issues that boasts, among other activities, a session during which attendees can draw up a "Top Ten To-Do List" for Congress for 2004. What has some enviros and ethics watchdogs particularly perturbed is that the conference was immediately preceded by "Mulligans and Margaritas" fundraiser that invited industry representatives to pay $1,500 a piece for a round …

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Mine Every Mountain, Fill Every Stream

Bush Admin. Rule Change Would Give a Boost to Mountaintop Mining Mountaintop-removal mining is poised to get even easier thanks to a rule change proposed by the Bush administration yesterday. Significant chunks of Appalachia have already been devastated by this mining technique, which involves blasting off the tops of mountains to get at coal beneath and dumping the resulting dirt and rock into nearby valleys and streambeds. An existing (though spottily enforced) rule restricts mining activity within 100 feet of a stream unless a company can prove that it won't affect water quality or quantity. The Interior Department wants to …

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Environmental enforcers get out while the getting’s good (and everything else is bad)

When John Suarez, the U.S. EPA's top enforcement official, resigned on Monday to take a job at a Wal-Mart division, he assured his colleagues and President Bush that the EPA has "been able to provide more compliance assistance to industry than ever before." The operative wording here, of course, is "assistance to industry," seeing as Suarez played a key role in the notorious decision by the Bush administration to scrap lawsuits against dozens of coal-burning utilities for past dirty-air infringements under the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act -- one of the biggest and most controversial enforcement …

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The Grinch Who Stole Tongass

Bush Reverses Logging Ban in Alaska's Tongass Forest Doing their part for holiday spirit, the Bush administration announced just two days before Christmas that it is exempting Alaska's Tongass National Forest -- America's largest, and a longtime environmental battleground -- from a controversial Clinton-era ban on development in roadless areas of national forests. The administration says the change opens only 300,000 acres of the nearly 17 million-acre forest to logging, but environmentalists retort that the roads that will be built to carry loggers to their loot will disrupt up to four times that much land, by the U.S. Forest Service's …

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Hey, Where Is Everybody?

Deafening Silence Greets Bush's Call for Voluntary Pollution Cuts Two years in, President Bush's "Climate Leaders" program -- a call for commitments from companies to voluntarily cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent or more within a decade -- has seen only 50 of the thousands of polluting companies in the U.S. sign up, and of those only 14 have set concrete goals. Many of the nation's most egregious polluters have shown no interest in the program because, well, it would actually oblige them to spend money on cleaning up. And most of the "leaders" are companies that have …

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On climate change, other nations get cracking while the U.S. is slacking

The recent Milan conference on the Kyoto Protocol started out with a bang -- a commotion of rumors about Russia's ratification of the treaty -- and went out with a whimper, offering no clear signal that the landmark accord on climate change would ever become international law. But one important development became clear amidst the flimflam: Kyoto-supporting countries, including Japan, Canada, and those of the European Union, are not going to stand around and wait for the rogue elephants Russia and the United States to join the pack. Instead of idling while the treaty negotiations make slow progress, these countries …