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A Granholm Don’t Come for Free

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm shows D.C. Dems how to do it With Beltway Democrats in a tizzy trying to figure out how to appeal to the working class, and Beltway environmentalists in a tizzy trying to figure out how to appeal to Beltway Democrats, both groups might want to check out the State of the State speech delivered this week by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D). In the face of Michigan's 7.3 percent unemployment rate, worst in the nation, Granholm focused almost exclusively on massive public investment in jobs and education. Such investment, said Granholm, would help "transform the state …

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Enviros join chorus against class-action bill, but measure still likely to pass

Will class-action plaintiffs still get their day in court? The Erin Brockoviches of America could have a much tougher time going after polluters if the Class Action Fairness Act -- which the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve last week -- is signed into law. The bill, which will be put to a full Senate vote today, would move most major class-action lawsuits from state courts to federal courts, purportedly in an attempt to bring order and fairness to a system in which, currently, plaintiffs' attorneys seek out local courts with agreeable track records on rulings and negotiate settlement awards …

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Cuts Like a Knife, but It Feels So Wrong

Details of environmental cuts in Bush's budget emerge Now that the nation's water is all cleaned up, the Bush administration has proposed sharply cutting a federal assistance program designed to help modernize aging sewer systems and prevent toxic runoff into streams and rivers -- from $1.35 billion in 2004 to $730 million. And now that the nation is no longer dependent on foreign oil, the Bush budget proposes a roughly 4 percent cut in Department of Energy funding for efficiency and renewable energy. With the oceans spic and span, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration faces proposed cuts of around …

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Jared Diamond’s Collapse traces the fates of societies to their treatment of the environment

Jared Diamond. I will always think of Jared Diamond as the man who, for the better part of the late 1990s, somehow made the phrase "east-west axis of orientation" the most talked-about kind of orientation there was -- freshman, sexual, or otherwise. His 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies began with a simple question -- "Why did Pizarro conquer the Incas and not the other way around?" -- and then managed to tell, over the course of only 400-odd pages, the history of why humanity has turned out the way it has. For …

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Imaginary Numbers

Bush's new budget relies on imaginary Arctic Refuge revenue You're the president, you've promised to cut the country's enormous deficit in half by the end of your term, and you're required to produce a budget showing how you're going to do it. You've got a Congress that hasn't consented to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, enormously expensive wars going in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a plan to privatize Social Security set to cost over a trillion dollars. What to do? Pretend! In Bush's budget plan unveiled yesterday, no expenditures for the wars or Social Security privatization are accounted …

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Greenpeace shifts tactics as it looks ahead to four more years of Bush

At a time when environmental groups are facing questions about their own mortality and rethinking strategies for surviving Dubya's second term, Greenpeace USA -- the environmental group best known for in-your-face, laws-be-damned direct action -- is getting in touch with its inner Gandhi. Greenpeace rabble-rousing in days of yore. Greenpeace/John Cunningham. In the last few years, the group has trained activists for such harrowing and gymnastic acts as scaling the 700-foot smokestack of a dirty Pennsylvania coal plant, ambushing a cargo boat carrying mahogany from Brazil, and battling logging operations in Oregon and the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. This …

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Faith-Based Initiative

Religious leaders make the environment a "values issue" More than 1,000 Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish religious leaders from some 35 states have signed and begun circulating a statement opposing President Bush's environmental policies. And evangelicals aren't far behind, having drawn up an "Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" that emphasizes Christians' duty to care for the environment, potentially putting signatories -- including heavy-hitters like James Dobson of Focus on the Family -- at odds with the candidate many of them supported. "The environment is a values issue," said Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals. …

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Old MacDonald Had a Conniption

Proposed Bush budget cuts environment spending and ag subsidies Turns out tax cuts for the wealthy aren't cheap. President Bush's fiscal 2006 budget, sent to Congress today, would cut the U.S. EPA budget by about 6 percent and the National Park Service budget by nearly 3 percent, part of a broad range of cuts that will also affect Medicaid, home-heating aid for the poor, American Indian schools, and a number of other social programs. Though critics deplored the cuts, saying they would hit society's most vulnerable the hardest, many had guarded praise for another proposal in the budget: cutting federal …

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Shocked, Shocked to Find Politicization in This Establishment

EPA inspector general finds proposed mercury rule biased for industry Brace yourself -- your entire worldview is about to be shaken. Turns out, in coming up with its new rules on power-plant mercury emissions, the U.S. EPA violated agency protocol and ignored scientific evidence in order to stay in line with a predetermined goal that favors industry. Such is the conclusion of a new report from EPA Inspector General Nikki Tinsley. Said one EPA staff member present at meetings between administrators and staff, "Everything about this rule was decided at a political level. ... The political level made the decisions, …

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New Republican leaders emerging in battle against climate change

Last week, an international task force co-chaired by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) predicted a fast-approaching "point of no return" for climate change -- possibly in as few as 10 years -- after which the crisis and its symptoms will be irreversible. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). You probably didn't read about it in the U.S. papers, which largely ignored the findings -- just as you probably haven't been reading much about the Kyoto Protocol, though the treaty will go into effect in less than two weeks, with the conspicuous noncooperation of the world's most heavily polluting nation. But, even as …