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Obama and a bipartisan crew of colleagues unveil eco-friendly bills on energy

Caterwauling over the Iraq War last week brought Congress to a rancorous new low, drowning out calls from both sides of the aisle for a clean and sane energy future. A handful of senators and reps unveiled proposals pressing for the Bush administration and automakers to shrink America's outsized energy demands and tackle the climate crisis. They got little to no attention at the time, but their innovative thinking could help set U.S. energy policy on a new, more progressive course. Last Thursday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) introduced a "Health Care for Hybrids" bill outlining …

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Mining-law revamp could put millions of public acres up for sale

Greens beamed and GOP leaders bristled last week after language paving the way for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and on the Outer Continental Shelf was stricken from the House budget reconciliation bill. But many Democrats and enviros are now sounding the alarm over another provision in the bill, one that's stirred up far less of a public ruckus but is "every bit as bad as drilling in the Arctic," said Dusty Horwitt, senior policy analyst for the Environmental Working Group. Things could get prickly for cacti in Joshua Tree National Park if Pombo has his way. …

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Just Joshin’

Electric-car driver was not an eco-terrorist, FBI admits The FBI will issue a rare "letter of regret" and pay environmentalist Josh Connole $100,000 after mistakenly arresting him for domestic terrorism. Agents followed Connole for several days in 2003, after arson-vandalism attacks at four Southern California car dealerships in which gas-guzzlers were spray-painted with phrases like "Fat, Lazy Americans." His suspicious activities included living communally with fellow vegans, installing solar panels, protesting the Iraq war, and (horrors!) driving an electric car. When Connole caught on to the surveillance and approached local law enforcement for help, FBI agents arrested him, held him …

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Don’t Just Lie There

Oil industry execs caught fibbing; may lose tax break; still filthy rich Last week, while testifying at a Senate hearing, oil industry executives were asked point blank: "Did your company or any representatives of your companies participate in Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001?" The answers? Three No's, an "I don't know," and a "not to my knowledge." Turns out these were ... what's the word? ... lies. A document released to The Washington Post shows that officials from at least four of the companies did in fact participate. The execs weren't under oath, but by law, making …

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A roundup of green plans and brown bills proposed post-Katrina

Resourceful environmental leaders have unearthed opportunity amidst the wreckage left behind by this year's record hurricane season and the battering of the Gulf Coast. They've crafted plans for everything from the building of new, green, affordable housing to the tightening of auto fuel-economy standards. Of course, powerful people with less eco-friendly agendas have seen opportunity too. In their eyes, the devastating storms were not-so-green lights to fast-track brown legislation. Such efforts to exploit the hurricanes for different political ends will no doubt continue as the process of rebuilding New Orleans and other devastated communities stretches over years or decades. Here …

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Leave Us in Our Time of Greed

Oil execs defend profits, drink all the beer, leave the place trashed The nation was treated to an exquisite piece of Kabuki theater yesterday, as Big Oil executives trudged to Congress to justify their record profits at a time when pricey gasoline and the looming threat of sky-high home-heating costs have Americans up in arms. The Republican leadership decided to give the oil chieftains a stern talking-to. But not too stern, mind you: Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who chaired the hearing, refused to have them testify under oath. Despite the deference, the execs didn't do much to provide anxious senators …

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The Mod Squad

GOP moderates derail drilling plans for Arctic Refuge and offshore areas Opponents of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge got some shocking good news last night: 25 moderate House Republicans, led by Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), defied pressure from the GOP leadership and vowed to oppose a $54 billion, filibuster-proof budget bill unless provisions allowing drilling in the refuge and in offshore areas around the country were eliminated -- and promises made they would not return. And lo, in late-night negotiations, House GOP leaders blinked; the provisions are gone. This unexpected development of moderate GOP spine is a blow …

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Nuke Rest for the Wary

Lawmakers slash funding for Yucca Mountain nuke dump In a season of setbacks for President Bush, Congress delivered yet another this week, cutting funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste dump well below the amount requested by the White House. House and Senate negotiators working on a funding bill for energy and water projects allotted $450 million for Yucca Mountain in 2006, not only below Bush's requested $650 million but far less than the project's $577 million budget for each of the past two fiscal years. Apparently ongoing delays at the Yucca site in Nevada have chilled estimations of the project's …

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Hillary Clinton joins the pack in calling for greener energy policy

Hillary Clinton has joined a growing claque of both Democrats and Republicans swigging from the cup of clean-energy Kool-Aid as they gear up for the 2006 congressional elections. In the past two months, the New York senator has popped up at a major Arctic Refuge rally, a high-profile global-warming conference, and a clean-technology investor symposium to make fervent calls for cleaner, greener energy policy. In a speech delivered two weeks ago to a group of investors gathered at the Cleantech Venture Forum in Washington, D.C., Clinton staked out her ground, outlining a plan "to get America on track for a …

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Unlikely allies send a dispatch from an enviro-justice tour in MichiganLynn:

Lynn Henning (left) is a farmer whose family grows corn and soy on 300 acres in Hudson, Mich. She is an organizer with the Sierra Club's Water Sentinels program, testing local rivers and creeks for contamination from factory farms. Rhonda Anderson (right) is a single mother and longtime community activist in Detroit. She is an environmental-justice organizer for the Sierra Club. Saturday, 5 Nov 2005 Detroit and Hudson, Mich. What could a white farmer from rural Michigan possibly have in common with a black inner-city resident of Detroit? We think the answer begins with two words: environmental justice. For years, …

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