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Yurok Me Like a Hurricane

The Bush administration is to blame for last fall's die-off of 33,000 salmon along the Klamath River in Northern California, biologists from the state's Department of Fish and Game have determined. They say the fish kill -- the largest ever recorded in the West -- was the result of the administration's decision to divert water from the river to farming interests, a move that was heavily protested by environmentalists, tribes, and some in the fishing industry, who predicted that salmon would suffer as a result. At the time of the die-off, the Bush administration said not enough science was available …

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Flippering Out

In a lawsuit made public late last week, Earth Island Institute and other environmental organizations have sued the U.S. government for relaxing labeling standards for "dolphin-safe" tuna. The suit stems from a decision by the U.S. Commerce Department to classify as dolphin-safe a previously prohibited method of fishing -- in which dolphins are encircled with nets to trap tuna swimming below -- so long as an onboard observer certified that no dolphins were killed or injured in the process. The change in classification would primarily affect Mexico, which has been excluded from the U.S. market for more than a decade …

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Red Tape, Brown Results

The Bush administration released yesterday a list of more than 300 federal regulations that could be altered or scrapped in the coming year, including many pertaining to the environment. The list grew out of an announcement made by President Bush in March, when he urged companies to contact the administration "[if] there are nettlesome regulations which are costly for you to operate your business that you don't think make any sense." That was the second time the administration has put out such a call; last year, it received 71 proposals and took action on many of them, including lowering energy-efficiency …

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Mitt’s Catch

Here's a tidbit of holiday cheer: Massachusetts Gov.-elect Mitt Romney (R) has picked Douglas Foy to fill a key position in his administration, and environmentalists couldn't be more delighted with the choice. As president of the Conservation Law Foundation since 1977, Foy has been an outspoken advocate of environmentally friendly urban planning. (He's also made it a habit of riding his bike to work from his home 20 miles away.) At CLF, he helped force the cleanup of Boston Harbor, halted oil and gas drilling on Georges Bank, demanded cleaner power plants, and improved or halted dozens of major development …

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Things That Make You Go Hum-vee

Tax deductions granted by the federal government to small-business owners and the self-employed provide an incentive to purchase oversize, gas-guzzling vehicles like a General Motors Hummer, rather than small, more fuel-efficient cars like the hybrid Toyota Prius. An eligible buyer of a 2003 Hummer H2 could deduct $34,912 of the base price of the vehicle, for a tax savings of up to $13,500 for those in the highest tax bracket. Because part of the tax code governing the deductions was written in the 1980s, when deductions for car purchases were capped at no more than $7,660, buyers of cars get …

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Activists are split on a proposed wind project off Cape Cod

  Look there, friend Sancho Panza, where 30 or more monstrous giants rise up, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes. For this is righteous warfare, and it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of the earth." "Look, your worship,'' said Sancho. "What we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the vanes that turned by the wind make the millstone go." It has been four centuries since Cervantes …

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Morgue of Orca

Environmental organizations sued the U.S. government yesterday for failing to grant protections under the Endangered Species Act to orcas in Washington state's Puget Sound. The population of orcas in the region has declined almost 20 percent since 1996. Earlier this year, the National Marine Fisheries Service acknowledged that the region's orcas were at risk of becoming extinct, but said the population was not biologically distinct and that neighboring whales could potentially repopulate the waters if the current whales died off. The NMFS denied endangered status to the orca population, offering only limited protection under a less stringent law. In response, …

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We Got to Get Ourselves Back to the Garden

New Jersey may be the Garden State -- but can it be known as green in other ways as well? Gov. James McGreevey (D) thinks it can, and he's embarking on an ambitious plan to make the state a national leader in clean energy. Earlier this year, the state government agreed to purchase at least 12 percent of the electricity it consumes from renewable energy ventures. Last week, McGreevey convened a state energy summit, bringing together energy industry leaders, regulators, and local government officials to discuss ways to encourage clean energy consumption in New Jersey. The governor also appealed to …

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Is That USGS or USBS?

Here's some news to make you think twice about the reliability of government figures: The U.S. Geological Survey has announced that there is far more coal bed methane gas available in the Powder River Basin than previously thought -- while simultaneously acknowledging that the Rocky Mountain West contains far less oil than the agency had claimed in earlier estimates. In the Powder River Valley, which straddles Montana and Wyoming, the USGS says there is a whopping 14 times more coal bed methane than suggested in initial studies, for a total of some 14.3 trillion cubic feet. (That estimate reflects all …

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One Night in Bangkok

In a triumph for population-control efforts and another sign that the U.S. is out of step with international policy trends, Asia-Pacific countries yesterday rejected the Bush administration's stand against abortion and condom use among teens. The vote came during a U.N.-sponsored Asian and Pacific Population Conference, held this week in Bangkok, which concluded with the adoption of an action plan on population policies for the region. U.S. delegates objected to some of the wording of the plan, including references to "reproductive health services" and "reproductive rights," saying the phrases could be interpreted as advocating abortion and underage sex. Delegates from …

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