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Not Russian to Judgment

Russia Still Undecided on Kyoto Protocol Russia still has not decided whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, President Vladimir Putin said today. The nation has the power to make or break the climate-change treaty, which cannot go into effect until it is ratified by nations accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. The treaty would likely be a good deal for Russia because the nation's emissions are already below the required levels, thanks to the industrial collapse that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union; this means Russia could sell emissions credits to nations that have trouble meeting their …

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The Cost Is Clear

Benefits of U.S. Clean-Air Rules Far Outweigh Costs, Report Says The benefits of some major U.S. environmental laws appear to dramatically outweigh the costs, according to a new federal report that is giving environmentalists reason to cheer. The Office of Management and Budget found that tough clean-air regulations implemented over the past decade brought health and social benefits -- including fewer premature deaths, emergency room visits, and lost workdays -- that were five to seven times greater in economic terms than the costs of complying with the rules. "In this case, the data show that the [EPA]'s clean-air office has …

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Watching Their Waste

California Passes Cutting-Edge E-Waste Law Consistent with its habit of pushing the environmental envelope, California has adopted the nation's most comprehensive law governing the manufacture and disposal of electronics. The law has three main purposes: to speed the recycling of discarded computers and televisions (some 6 million of which await disposal across the state); to ensure that future tech trash will be less toxic by forcing manufacturers to stop using lead, mercury, and other harmful materials; and to establish safety standards for dismantling computers in foreign countries. To fund the law, new high-tech products will be subject to a $6 …

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MTBE Promises

Energy Bill Likely to Include Liability Protections for MTBE Makers The makers of a gasoline additive that can contaminate groundwater will almost certainly be protected from liability issues under the terms of the nation's energy bill, negotiators of the legislation announced yesterday. Methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, has been added to gasoline since the 1990s to reduce emissions, but it can leak from underground storage tanks, with undetermined consequences for human health. The liability protection is sought by key Republicans in the House of Representatives whose districts are home to manufacturers of MTBE. The House also wants the final …

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Knights Who Say “NEPA”

White House Task Force Proposes Alterations to NEPA One of the nation's most important environmental laws could be fundamentally altered, if suggestions from a White House task force are implemented. A panel of the Council on Environmental Quality yesterday proposed dozens of changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, a 1970 law that requires all major federal projects to be reviewed for their potential ecological impact. Industry groups have long complained that the environmental assessments and impact statements mandated by NEPA are too time-consuming, and the Bush administration has sought to change the law, for example by trying to eliminate …

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Wesley Clark has some good things to say about the environment — and some things to learn

The man of the hour. Photo: Clark for President. Days after entering the presidential race, Wesley Clark is dominating the public opinion polls -- surpassing not only fellow Democratic candidates but also President Bush in approval ratings. Forty-nine percent of registered voters in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday said they'd vote for Clark, compared with 46 percent for Bush. Indeed, there seems to be little doubt that if anyone can unscramble the dangerous muddle that is the Bush administration's foreign policy, Clark is the guy: former commander of NATO, West Point valedictorian, Rhodes scholar, decorated Vietnam vet, military mastermind …

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Judge Dread

After 15 Years, Judge Is Removed From Everglades Case A federal judge who presided over the legal ins and outs of the Florida Everglades restoration project was removed yesterday after 15 years on the case. U.S District Judge William Hoeveler was dismissed after he called Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's (R) Everglades bill "clearly defective" and suggested that the governor had been "misled by persons who did not have the best interests of the Everglades in mind." Those "persons" -- sugar industry leaders -- challenged the impartiality of the judge based on those remarks, and U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch …

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A Grist interview with Democratic presidential contender John Kerry

Kerry power. Photo: Kerry for President. He has the jaw and build of Paul Bunyan; he windsurfs, kite-boards, and snowboards; and he's married to Teresa Heinz, one of the most powerful environmental philanthropists in the country. He has his finger on every hot-button environmental issue in D.C., from helping to lead the Senate campaign against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to pushing for improved fuel-efficiency standards to advocating for an aggressive renewable energy development plan. With the exception of that Harley Davidson Wide Glide he likes to parade at campaign events, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) looks to be …

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West Side Story

West Coast Governors Step Up to Tackle Climate Change Accusing the Bush administration of "foot-dragging" in the fight against climate change, the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington teamed up yesterday to unveil a joint strategy for cutting emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Governors Gray Davis (Calif.), Ted Kulongoski (Ore.), and Gary Locke (Wash.), Democrats all, said they would coordinate efforts to develop renewable energy sources, reduce emissions from ships and trucks, buy fuel-efficient vehicles, develop uniform efficiency standards, and create standardized methods for tracking emissions. "My message today is if Washington, D.C., will not lead, then the West Coast …

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The Environmental Protection Agency just isn’t like it was in the good old (Nixon) days

Mike Leavitt -- how long will he be smiling? Photo: Utah governor's office. There has been considerable adverse comment from the environmental community about President Bush's nomination of Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt (R) to head the U.S. EPA. Most of that criticism has focused on the governor's environmental record in Utah, a record that appears to have both positive and negative elements. That he has been concerned about growth issues is certainly to his credit. I personally believe, however, that while Leavitt's record should receive careful scrutiny, the central issue today is not so much the environmental record of the …

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