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Don’t let the Democrats frighten you away from voting your conscience

It's that time of year again. Fall is in the air, kids are back in school, and frightened Democrats are warning the Green Party not to run a candidate for president next year. "The issues are too serious," we're told, "and the incumbent too awful. Just for this election, forget your progressive values, hold your nose, and vote for whichever conservative white male the Dems decide to run. After all, anyone's better than Bush." We've heard this before. The arguments Dems are making now are the same ones they made in 2000. "Rally around Al Gore," they said. In 1996, …

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Advice on channeling your eco-political anger

Dear Umbra, Now that this country has been lost to the Earth-ravaging Republicans, tell me: Which other country should I run to seeking environmentally aware salvation? MelAlbany, N.Y. Dearest Mel, America. Love it or leave it, pal. Are Republicans inherently Earth-ravaging? Do all Republicans believe the Clear Skies initiative is progress? Do they all buy the "without logging, forests are dangerous" bunkum? Well, no -- but in such a hyper-organized, well-oiled machine as today's Republican Party, dissenters might not make much of a difference. The party has made success -- their man on the marquee -- priority No. 1. All …

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Don’t gamble with your vote in 2004

Is Ralph ready to run? Photo: Nader 2000. Activists have plenty of good reasons to challenge the Democratic Party operatives who focus on election strategy while routinely betraying progressive ideals. Unfortunately, the national Green Party now shows appreciable signs of the reverse problem -- focusing on admirable ideals without plausible strategy. If Ralph Nader runs for president next year, as now appears quite likely, this recurring exercise would amount to a Green Party crutch that, ironically, could do more to hobble the party than help it. It's impossible to know whether the vote margin between Bush and his Democratic challenger …

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Fun facts on voters’ environmental values and more

73 -- percentage of Americans who think political candidates' positions on the environment are "very important" or "somewhat important"1 61 -- percentage who say they are either active participants in or sympathizers with the environmental movement2 30 -- percentage who list the environment as an "extremely important" factor in deciding for whom to vote3 49 -- percentage who list both the economy and terrorism as "extremely important" factors in deciding for whom to vote3 51 -- percentage who say the U.S. government is doing too little to protect the environment2 35 -- percentage who believe that the Bush administration is …

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A special edition on elections and the environment

"Information is the currency of democracy," said Thomas Jefferson, who, as the oft-cited father of democracy, presumably knew whereof he spoke. Alas, a couple of hundred years later, it seems more accurate to say that currency is the currency of democracy. Here at the height of the Information Age, information about the workings of our democracy is increasingly tough to come by (think of the Bush administration stonewalling about Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force) and increasingly hard to trust (think of the staggering consolidation and centralization of media control). To counter those trends and conduct a little Jefferson-style …

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Dump Struck

Bush Lets Mining Companies Dump on More Public Land The Bush administration announced yet another environmental rollback on Friday, following a pattern of releasing such news right before a holiday weekend, presumably in hopes that it will slip past the public's notice. This time the beneficiaries are mining companies, which, thanks to a reinterpretation of the 1872 Mining Law, will now be able to use as much public land as they want to develop operations for mining gold, silver, and other minerals. The 131-year-old mining act, long criticized as outdated by the environmental community, already allows mining companies to extract …

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Creature Discomforts

Endangered Species May Soon Be Imported to U.S., Under Bush Proposal The Bush administration wants to radically alter conservation policies to allow hunters, circuses, the pet industry, and leather importers to bring endangered animals into the U.S. from other nations -- dead or alive. Since its adoption in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has been interpreted as effectively prohibiting trade in endangered species between the U.S. and other countries, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now argues that other nations should be permitted to sell a limited number of endangered animals to American buyers, so the funds generated can …

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No Heir Apparent Until Air’s Apparent

Documents Show Sharp Dispute Took Place Over 9/11 Air Quality Information Newly released government documents are finally providing Congressional Democrats with what they've been looking for: information about who was responsible for censoring data about Manhattan's air quality following the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Those documents reveal "screaming telephone calls" between the U.S. EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, as the council advocated for reassuring the public with calming language -- and incomplete information. The White House council objected to the posting of raw air-quality data on the Internet and said …

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Holmstead Act

EPA Official Gave Misleading Testimony on Clean Air, Say Whistleblowers Meanwhile, all isn't well inside the U.S. EPA, either. Last year, Assistant Administrator for Air Policy Jeffrey Holmstead testified before Congress that Bush administration efforts to ease clean air enforcement rules wouldn't interfere with pending lawsuits against dirty power plants -- but two former agency officials say key aides had repeatedly told Holmstead otherwise. The two whistleblowers are Sylvia Lowrance, former acting chief of the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, and Eric Schaeffer, the former enforcement official who resigned last year to protest Bush administration environmental policies. Holmstead …

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Will a softer McCain-Lieberman bill prove to be harder-hitting?

Even though Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) decided to soften the terms of their climate bill last week, the document may go down in history as one of the hardest-hitting gambits in the U.S. fight against global warming. In fact, easing the demands of the bill -- which proposes a mandatory cap on greenhouse-gas emissions from the energy, industrial, commercial, and transportation sectors -- may mean it will pack more of a punch in the long run. Why? Because all of the senators who vote against it (likely to be a majority, unfortunately) will seem that much …