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Stevens and the defense bill

Update [2005-12-19 14:47:12 by David Roberts]: Oops, I forgot the obvious: To try to stop this thing, please write your Senators. As forecast last week, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) managed to get Arctic Refuge drilling attached to the defense spending bill. He couldn't wrangle it into the budget reconciliation bill, so this is his last-ditch effort. He has said: Katrina will be on this [defense] bill. That's what makes the defense bill a little bit attractive because Katrina will be there. It is going to be awful hard to vote against Katrina. The levees will be paid for when we …

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Climate campaigners warm to “advanced coal” and sequestration, despite Bush backing

Bush administration officials tried their darnedest to derail the international climate-change negotiations that wrapped up in Montreal last week. But in the midst of their bombastic no-no-no-ing, they did offer up one constructive idea -- a $950 million partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and industry leaders to build FutureGen, a "prototype of the fossil-fueled power plant of the future" -- perhaps hoping it would help redeem their negative image. Could I interest you in this lump of coal? Photo: Siemens. It didn't work. "It was an inappropriate attempt at distraction," said Greenpeace energy-policy specialist John Coequyt, who attended …

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Drill Sergeant

Stevens moves to hook Arctic Refuge drilling to military spending Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is getting downright desperate; it seems he'll go to any lengths to get oil drills into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. His latest plan has him attaching an Arctic-drilling provision to a popular military spending bill, hoping that lawmakers won't risk the stigma of appearing to vote against the troops. Indeed, drilling opponents like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are expressing uncertainty about what they would do under such a scenario. "I think it's disgraceful I have to be put in that position," he said. Sen. Harry …

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An interview with Kathleen McGinty, Pennsylvania’s green go-getter

Kathleen McGinty, head of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, approaches the state's environmental challenges with an optimistic "let's-get-it-done" attitude. Early in her career, she made waves as chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and deputy assistant to then-President Bill Clinton. After creating and heading up the first-ever White House Office on Environmental Policy, McGinty left national politics for a yearlong fellowship at the Tata Energy Research Institute in India, returning in 2000 to act as a counselor to Al Gore during his presidential campaign. Now, with much of the nation's environmental progress happening at the state level, …

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Arctic Refuge drilling to be attached to defense appropriations bill

Oh crap. From Congressional Quarterly: Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ted Stevens said Thursday that House and Senate appropriators have agreed to attach drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to the Defense bill in conference, though it is unclear if he can muster the 60 votes needed to end a filbuster on the legislation that the move would provoke. "We've agreed to put ANWR on it so we'll just have to wait and see what's going to happen," said Stevens, R-Alaska. "The leaders of the subcommittee on both sides have agreed. They will support it so I think …

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Solar Survivor

California utility commission recharges Governator's solar energy plan California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) Million Solar Roofs initiative -- a casualty of partisan squabbling in the California legislature's last session -- has been partially resurrected. On Tuesday, the California Public Utilities Commission responded to a groundswell of public support with a $3.2 billion plan to increase the state's total solar output from about 100 megawatts now to 3,000 megawatts by 2017, eliminating the need for six natural-gas-fired power plants. State officials say it would be the largest solar initiative in the country, possibly the world. Residential energy bills would go up …

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Unjust Breathe

Blacks more likely than whites to be breathing polluted air Sadly, few will be shocked to hear that black Americans are more likely than whites to be breathing the nation's most unhealthy air. An Associated Press analysis of year-2000 data from two federal sources -- the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory and the Census Bureau's population count -- reveals that blacks nationwide are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where air pollution from nearby industrial plants probably poses the greatest health risk. Hispanics and Asians face elevated risks as well. AP also found that residents of these …

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Not Shafted Yet

Controversial mining-law revisions dropped from budget bill You might think we could take it for granted that millions of acres of national parks, forests, and other federal lands won't be sold off to developers, but these days, it's worthy of celebration: Late yesterday, struggling to pass a big budget bill before the holiday break, Republicans in Congress withdrew a provision to revamp federal mining law that conservationists feared could push prime public land into private hands. GOP leaders bowed to bipartisan opposition from key Western senators, who threatened to torpedo the entire budget package. The House was under pressure as …

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Bipartisan plan aims to revamp U.S. fisheries law

Congress is plotting its first revamp of fisheries law in nearly a decade -- and it's about time. Every boat counts. Photo: iStockphoto. Scores of fish stocks are dwindling in U.S. waters (as they are around the world), and only one of the eight federal fishing zones in the United States is widely considered to be managed sustainably. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration categorized nearly a third of the federally managed fisheries that have been assessed as "overfished" -- meaning their populations are depleted and won't rebound without deliberate action to limit fishing activity. The Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries …

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Great Expectations

Big Great Lakes cleanup plan gets an OK, but no federal funds U.S. EPA administrator Stephen Johnson and a bipartisan coalition of Midwestern lawmakers and officials approved a 15-year strategy to restore the Great Lakes on Monday. But the Bush administration says it won't fund the plan, which may cost up to $20 billion. The strategy to pull the lakes back from imminent ecological collapse involves revamping disintegrating municipal sewer systems, clearing out invasive species, decontaminating severely polluted toxic hotspots, and more. Conservationists say the effort is imperative to the region's ecology and economy -- the lakes supply 35 million …

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