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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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Haul Out the Folly

White House makes last-ditch effort to open Arctic Refuge to drilling The Bush administration is mounting a last-ditch effort to persuade Congress to approve drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before lawmakers break for the holidays. Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao are out furiously shopping talking points: It would supply New Hampshire's oil needs for 315 years! It would create thousands of jobs! Did we say "thousands"? We meant a million! The moderate House Republicans who blocked the drilling provision from being included in a big budget bill are fielding White House offers to fund …

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Why the Montreal climate summit was too painful to watch

I've been to climate meetings in locales that stretch from Kyoto to The Hague, Mexico City to the Maldives. It would have been awfully easy to get in the old hybrid and drive two hours north to Montreal for the big climate-change confab that wrapped up this weekend -- if nothing else, it's a city I love deeply. But I couldn't bring myself to do it in the end. I knew it was going to be too painful to watch. Do U.S. see what I see? Photo: iStockphoto. Too painful because, as it has since the issue first emerged, the …

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Painting the Town Red-Green

Red-green political party makes headway in Montreal city elections Not everything going on in Montreal is as depressing as the climate summit. In recent citywide elections, Projet Montreal -- a municipal political party devoted to dense urban development, public transit, and social justice -- picked up two city-council seats and took a big step toward becoming an established opposition party. In doing so, it brought to North America the red-green union of social democracy and environmentalism familiar in European cities like Paris and London. Payton Chung surveys the scene in Gristmill.

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Bush accentuates nuke positives, inspires malefactors everywhere

George W. Bush developed an interesting habit this year when he talked about energy. In his speeches, words like "oil," "coal," and "natural gas" shivered in the dark with no adjectives, while "nuclear power" consistently got two. Bush used this spiffy phrase in, among other places, his State of the Union address and a spring press conference. And who knows? At this very moment, he may well be spooning with Laura and seductively whispering the four words every First Lady or nuclear plant owner yearns to hear: "safe, clean nuclear power." Darth evader. Image: Peter Cook. I don't know about …

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There’s Nothing to Fear But Clear Itself

Bush administration gamed analysis of competing air-pollution plans Now, we know you're going to find this hard to believe, but ... it seems the Bush administration has been less than truthful about its industry-friendly air-pollution proposal. In late October, the U.S. EPA released a report purporting to demonstrate that its "Clear Skies" legislation delivered the most bang for the least cost, compared to competing proposals from Sens. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) and James Jeffords (I-Vt.). But the independent, nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has determined that the numbers were massaged in favor of the Bush plan -- exaggerating the costs of controlling …

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With a CAFE boost looking out of reach, enviros check out other options

Is CAFE kaput? Since 1975, CAFE -- or corporate average fuel economy -- standards have stood as America's defining energy-efficiency strategy. Yet, despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth by activists and a handful of politicians, the standards for passenger cars haven't been raised since 1985 -- they still call for automakers' car fleets to get an average of just 27.5 miles per gallon. And light trucks get off even easier; for the 2007 model year, they need only get an average of 22.2 mpg. CAFE is looking old and tired, some conservationists say. Photo: iStockphoto. The Bush administration this …

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Steamroll on Columbia

Idaho senator axes funding for agency that studies endangered salmon Well, that's one way to deal with scientific findings you don't like! Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has wiped out funding for the Fish Passage Center, a 12-person, $1.3 million agency widely respected by salmon-conservation experts. The center has documented shrinking fish numbers in the Columbia River system, and last summer a federal judge, citing the center's data and analysis, ordered water spilled over Snake River dams to help salmon survive. That didn't sit well with the region's electric utilities, which happen to be major donors to Craig's election campaigns. Soon …

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Against Montreal Odds

Pro-Kyoto Canadian gov't likely to fall as Montreal climate meet begins Some 10,000 officials, activists, and scientists from more than 180 countries are gathering in Montreal today for a U.N. climate-change summit. It was supposed to be Canada's moment to shine: Its influential and persuasive environment minister Stephane Dion, a strong Kyoto advocate, is chairing the summit and intends to lead negotiations on what should come after the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. But alas, distraction. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin will likely be felled by a no-confidence vote today in the House of Commons. That …

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