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Sen. Wellstone Killed in Plane Crash

U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) was killed today along with seven others in a plane crash in northern Minnesota. Wellstone, 58, was one of the most outspoken liberals in Congress; he opposed the use of force in Iraq and was a longtime ally to environmentalists, earning a near-perfect 96 percent lifetime score from the Washington, D.C.-based League of Conservation Voters. Wellstone's wife and daughter were also killed in the crash, along with several of his aides. At the time of his death, the senator was facing a tough reelection battle against Republican challenger Norm Coleman, who was handpicked to run …

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No Respect

In a report released yesterday, the Governmental Affairs Committee of the U.S. Senate accused the Bush administration of "a predetermined hostility" toward environmental regulations initiated by former President Clinton. The withering 90-page assessment of President Bush's actions questioned the legality of a 60-day freeze, issued hours after Bush took office, affecting all pending federal environmental regulations. Among the initiatives halted by the directive were strict Interior Department rules for hard-rock mining on public lands, a U.S. EPA effort to lower the allowable levels of arsenic in drinking water, and an Agriculture Department rule barring most new logging and road construction …

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Michigan residents fight for control of the state’s water

Until two years ago, the 40,550 generally well-behaved Midwesterners of Mecosta County, Mich., regularly attended church, sent their children off to school on yellow buses, and never for a moment worried that their clean, freshwater supply would ever run dry. Mecosta County, after all, sits near the center of Michigan's lower peninsula, which itself sits at the center of the largest supply of freshwater on Earth. A Mecosta County battleground. Photo: Jeff Sapp, MCWC. Then came the water war. On Dec. 6, 2000, the Perrier Group of America, a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestle, the world's largest food company, applied to …

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The Eagle Has Landed — With a Thump

The U.S. Department of Defense would be permanently exempted from an international law protecting more than 850 species of migratory birds, under a tentative agreement reached between negotiators from the House and Senate and disclosed by environmental groups yesterday. The negotiations began after the Bush administration complained that the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act interfered with military training exercises. The agreement would effectively allow the incidental bombing of the habitat of hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, including endangered species, on 25 million acres of military-controlled land. However, the DOD would have to examine ways to minimize the impact of …

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A Dehli-cate Balance

Delegates from around the world are meeting in New Delhi, India, today for the latest round of international talks on climate change. In part because the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions -- the United States -- has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, the meeting is focusing on ways to adapt to climate change rather than on ways to curb it. Delegates will discuss "minimizing vulnerabilities and preparing for worsening droughts, floods, storms, health emergencies, and other expected impacts," especially in developing countries, according to a statement issued by the U.N., which is sponsoring the meeting. Attendees will also address …

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Staircase Closed

Former President Clinton acted within his authority when he created new national monuments during his final year in office, a federal court ruled Friday. The ruling was a victory for environmentalists and a blow for property-rights advocates and others who had challenged seven of the 15 monument designations in court. The Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., heard two separate cases alleging that Clinton's creation of the monuments violated both the U.S. Constitution and the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to create monuments by proclamation. The plaintiffs argued that the act only allows for the protection of artificial …

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Security: Blank It

In the name of keeping sensitive information out of the hands of terrorists, the Bush administration has restricted access to a broad range of scientific research -- removing Internet links, deleting information from websites, and even requiring federal librarians to destroy a CD-ROM about public water supplies. The information lockdown is making it tough for scientists to get their work done and for the public to keep an eye on government goings-on; for example, researchers at the University of Michigan lost access to a U.S. EPA database that was crucial to their three-year study of hazardous-waste facilities. Environmental organizations are …

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Great Lakes Minds Think Alike

The U.S. government has pledged to spend billions of dollars to restore the Florida Everglades -- and now the Great Lakes states are trying to figure out how they can get a piece of the federal pie, too. For more than a year, the governors of the eight states have been meeting to formulate a plan for restoring the lakes. Slated to be released next month, the plan is likely to emphasize cleaning up toxic sediment; controlling non-native species; regulating the removal of lake water for use outside the region; keeping sewage and untreated waste out of the water; restoring …

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Boston Z-E-V Party

Massachusetts is preparing to adopt California's ambitious zero-emission vehicle legislation, which would require 10 percent of cars and trucks sold within the state to produce no pollution. For the moment, though, the U.S. government is still bickering internally over whether California's legislation is legal. Earlier this month, the Bush administration said California had overstepped its authority by trying to regulate not only emissions but also fuel efficiency, and as a result the Justice Department put the new standards on hold until 2005. The U.S. EPA, however, has proposed supporting a similar program in Massachusetts that calls for low (rather than …

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Bed Head

An Interior Department appeals board has upheld its earlier ruling that three of the leases for a coal bed methane (CBM) drilling project in Wyoming's Powder River Basin were issued without adequate environmental review. Environmentalists hope the decision will help block pending leases for such drilling on millions of acres throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Controversy over the Powder River Basin project -- the largest natural-gas proposal ever approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management -- began in 2000, when the Wyoming Outdoors Council contested leases that gave the company Pennaco the right to apply for drilling permits. In …

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