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Friday in the Park With George

Bush Calls For More National Parks Funding; Critics Remain Skeptical Speaking at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on Friday, President Bush asked Congress to commit billions more dollars to the national park system, a move his supporters saw as evidence of his environmental commitment and critics called a pointless PR op. The president boasted that he'd already dedicated almost $2.9 billion to improving national parks and requested an addition $5 billion over the next five years. The National Parks Conservation Association contested those numbers, saying the $2.9 billion includes existing spending, not the new money that Bush pledged …

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Browner-nosing

EPA Nominee Asks Former Agency Chief for Support Mike Leavitt, President Bush's choice to become the next head of the U.S. EPA, knows that environmentally minded Democrats are going to make his confirmation hearings tough, so he's getting his ducks in a row. Within a day of his nomination by Bush, Leavitt had called Carol Browner, the EPA administrator under President Clinton, to ask if he could use her as a reference during the hearings. Her reply: Sure, at your own risk. Browner said she'd speak out about both the strengths and weaknesses of the current Utah governor. In the …

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Can the new PAC on the block unseat Bush in ’04?

With a substantial chunk of money but a minimum of fanfare, environmentalists, labor leaders, feminist organizations, and other left-leaning groups convened last week to launch Americans Coming Together, a new PAC dedicated to defeating President Bush in 2004. The name of the alliance is terrible going on tawdry, but the acronym is apt: If we want ACT's dream to become reality, then precisely what we must do is act -- or, more bluntly, get our acts together. It goes without saying that any environmentalist worth the name should support the ouster of Bush, whose record with respect to Planet Earth …

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Love It or Leavitt

Bush Taps Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to Head EPA In a move that immediately (and predictably) generated strenuous objections from enviros, President Bush yesterday nominated three-term Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) to take the helm at the U.S. EPA. Bush praised Leavitt as a consensus-builder and pointed to his bipartisan work with 13 governors and 13 tribal leaders to improve air quality in the Grand Canyon. Like Bush, Leavitt wants to shift pollution control from the feds to the states, and he favors voluntary environmental protections rather than mandatory ones. Industry leaders are pleased as punch with Bush's pick; environmental …

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The West Swing

Bush Visiting Western States to Push His Environmental Agenda During the next three weeks, President Bush will be making pit stops in a number of Western states both to tout his environmental agenda and to raise big bucks for his reelection campaign. Even though Bush's advisors consider the environment to be a "second-tier issue," they recognize that it's a point of vulnerability for the president, particularly among women voters in suburban areas, so they are aiming to improve his image. Bush kicked off his enviro tour with an appearance in Arizona yesterday, where he flew over a charred forest and …

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The 411 on 9/11

White House Pressed EPA to Say Air Was Safe After 9/11 In the days immediately following the 9/11 attacks, the White House pressured the U.S. EPA to issue unsupported statements reassuring the public that air quality around ground zero was safe, according to an investigation by the EPA's inspector general. Also, as a result of "influence" from the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the EPA omitted from its press releases information about potential health threats from the World Trade Center debris, the inspector general's draft report found. EPA and White House officials dispute the report's conclusions, saying they are …

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Greens plan to field a presidential candidate in 2004 — consequences be damned

For the 2004 presidential race, the Green die is cast. "The Green Party emerged from a national meeting ... increasingly certain that it will run a presidential candidate in next year's election, all but settling a debate within the group over how it should approach the 2004 contest," the Washington Post reported on July 21. The Green Party promptly put out a news release declaring that Greens "affirmed the party's intention to run candidates for president and vice president of the United States in 2004." That release quoted a national party co-chair. "This meeting produced a clear mandate for a …

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Impaired Judgement

Judge Who Struck Down Roadless Rule May Have Ethics Conflict The federal judge who struck down the Clinton-era roadless rule last month may have violated ethics laws, according to two legal watchdog groups that filed a formal ethics complaint yesterday. The groups say the judge should have recused himself from hearing the case because he potentially stood to profit from its outcome. The roadless rule had blocked oil and gas development as well as logging and road-building on 58 million acres of national forest land. Judge Clarence Brimmer, according to his federal disclosure forms for 2000 and 2001, held stock …

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Connaughton in the Act

Bush Environmental Advisor Plays Powerful Behind-the-Scenes Role He might just be the most powerful environmental player you've never heard of. James Connaughton, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is credited with (or, in some circles, accused of) being the architect of the Bush administration's environmental policy. In large part, his role consists of mediating between competing government agencies and other stakeholders as he tries to press forward with Bush's stated goal of balancing environmental concerns with a desire for fewer regulations, increased energy production, and economic growth. A former corporate environmental lawyer and lobbyist, Connaughton sees himself …

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That’s Terror-bull

Rules Aimed at Curbing Funding for Terrorists Could Hurt Nonprofits Small environmental groups and other nonprofits around the globe could see important funding sources dry up as the U.S. government tries to stop the diversion of charitable funds to terrorist groups. The Treasury Department, which says crooked Islamic charities are major financiers of global terrorism, has issued voluntary guidelines on international giving designed to help ensure that money doesn't end up in the wrong hands. But those guidelines are so sweeping that they could have harsh impacts on groups that are not even remotely connected to terrorism. Some small nonprofits …

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