Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Politics

Comments

New Source, Same Old Crap

In the most far-reaching move to relax air pollution rules in years, the Bush administration on Friday gave refineries new flexibility to upgrade their facilities without having to reduce emissions. The U.S. EPA also outlined proposals that would give aging coal-fired power plants a similar advantage -- allowing them to upgrade and increase energy output -- without having to install new anti-pollution equipment. The plans represent giant reforms to the Clean Air Act's New Source Review rule, which till now required antiquated plants undergoing modernization to meet up-to-date air standards. The EPA said the changes would lead to cleaner air, …

Comments

Like Padre, Like Son

With no public announcement, the Bush administration has given the go-ahead to two new natural gas wells in the Padre Island National Seashore, which boasts the nation's longest stretch of undeveloped beach and 11 endangered species. Oil and gas drilling have occurred in the Texas park before, but the rate of drilling dropped sharply in the last 20 years. Environmentalists say the new wells will further threaten the world's smallest and most endangered sea turtle, the Kemp's ridley, which uses Padre Island as its principal nesting ground in the U.S. To build the new well, heavy trucks will now drive …

Comments

I’m on the Hunt, I’m After You

Halliburton and Hunt Oil, two Texas energy companies with strong ties to the Bush White House, are requesting hundreds of millions of dollars in public financing for a natural gas project in Peru that will tear through pristine rainforests. The Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and the Inter-American Development Bank are forbidden from funding projects that fail to pass rigorous environmental reviews. But the pipeline project in Peru is proceeding despite concerns about environmental destruction, according to anonymous officials reviewing it. Environmental groups and some members of Congress say the project will devastate the rainforest and the lifestyle of its …

Comments

It’s time to end the race to the bottom

Here's a simple game that makes a not-so-simple point. Stand in a line, with several friends. Each of you hold your right index finger out in front of your body. Now place a long stick across all of your fingers, balanced upon them. Your collective goal is to lower the stick to the ground. There is only one rule. Each finger must remain in contact with the stick at all times. If anyone's finger loses contact with the stick, you must raise the stick back to the starting level and begin again. According to Dennis Meadows and Linda Booth Sweeney, …

Read more: Food, Politics

Comments

Life in the Fast Lane

Since early this month, environmental educator John Quigley has spent most of his time perched high in the leafy boughs of a 400-year-old oak tree that developers want removed to expand a local road in Santa Clarita, Calif. The proposed throughway would enable traffic to flow to a suburban community where more than 21,000 new homes are planned in Los Angeles County. Meanwhile, Susan Moloney has been fasting for six weeks outside the state capitol, growing increasingly gaunt and weak as she pressures Gov. Gray Davis (D) to put an end to old-growth logging in the state. She says Davis …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Point. Click. Ignore.

One-click activism has been a one-click failure with the Bush administration thus far. The Interior Department, for example, received 360,000 public comments (the huge majority of them sent by email) about the future of snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks; 80 percent of the writers asked that the government ban the snowmobiles. Last week, however, the administration said it would let the machines continue to rumble through the parks. What gives? Public comments have carried increasingly less weight since a 1987 court ruling that gave officials permission to ignore mass mailings, such as the one generated when green …

Read more: Politics

Comments

The Pardners’ Tale

Cowboys and environmentalists unite! The unlikely amigos are banding together to try to keep natural gas drillers away from ranches on public land in the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado. Yesterday morning, they blocked drilling crews from entering four ranches, arguing that drilling leads to erosion, water contamination, and livestock deaths, but the ranchers say they've been unsuccessful in their efforts to attract the attention of Congress and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. "This is a David-and-Goliath issue, and as long as Washington is not behind getting the problem fixed, it will not be …

Comments

The Bush administration embraces hybrid technology

Note: You'll need Flash Player to watch the movie. If you don't have it, download it now.

Read more: Politics

Comments

Air Enforce Won

After years of court battles, the U.S. EPA agreed yesterday to begin enforcing a stricter standard for ozone pollution that was developed by the Clinton administration in 1997. Industry groups such as the American Truckers Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to block the standard, but eventually lost their case on most grounds. With the Bush administration in power, it was left to environmental groups to coax the feds (in court) to establish a schedule to enforce the standard and thereby reduce smog levels around the country. The …

Read more: Cities, Politics

Comments

Detroit Rock City

Detroit automakers sure aren't complaining about the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. They anticipate having a close ally in the incoming chair of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who is known for his criticism of clean air regulations and the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. He once referred to federal environmental agencies as "Gestapo bureaucracies." On the other hand, automakers don't quite know what to expect from Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), who will assume the reins of the Commerce Committee. McCain has been an outspoken proponent of increasing fuel-efficiency standards for cars, SUVs, and …