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White House to greens: We should totally do this again some time

Say anything. Uncle Sam wants you ... to cooperate on conservation. Not only that, he's willing to listen. At least that's what he says. Earlier this week, St. Louis hosted the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation. The invitation-only event was modeled after Teddy Roosevelt's 1908 Governors' Conference, which brought all the country's governors, Supreme Court justices, cabinet members, and other national leaders to the White House to make conservation a national priority. The purpose this time around was to celebrate what Interior Secretary Gale Norton called a new chapter, built on the four C's: "communication, consultation, and cooperation, in …

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That’s Why We Have to Assassinate Them

Foreign officials offer policy critiques -- and aid -- in Katrina's wake International politicians and pundits are pointing to possible links between global warming and Hurricane Katrina and criticizing the environmental policies of the Bush administration. German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin caught heat from colleagues for the Tuesday timing -- but not the substance -- of his slam in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper against President Bush, accusing him of willful blindness to the human and economic costs of climate disruption. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela admonished the U.S. for not signing the Kyoto treaty and being obsessed instead with "capitalist …

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On the Roadless Again

State leaders sue feds to bring back "roadless rule" Top officials from three Western states are suing the Bush administration in hopes of bringing back a rule banning road building on 58.5 million acres of national forests. The attorneys general of California and New Mexico, along with Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D), filed suit this week in federal court, contending that the administration illegally overturned the "roadless rule" -- enacted by President Clinton in 2001 -- in favor of its own supposedly state-friendly policy, which the plaintiffs say puts water quality and wildlife at risk. Under the Bush revision, states …

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Rays and Confused

Partisan divide stalls California's solar-roofs bill As its initial bipartisan support devolves into a partisan food fight, California's Million Solar Roofs legislation may die on the vine. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) withdrew his formerly enthusiastic backing for the bill -- which could put $2 billion toward solar-energy generation by 2019 -- after Assembly Democrats inserted labor-friendly amendments. They would require union-scale wages for workers on commercial and industrial installations, and stipulate that future solar installers be licensed electricians, a level of expertise some in the industry consider excessive. State Republicans -- including Sen. John Campbell, an original coauthor of the …

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A Hop and a Prayer

Eco-activists team with prayer network to save hapless toad This summer's It amphibian -- the endangered arroyo toad of California, famously dismissed as "hapless" by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts -- is in the news again. The Center for Biological Diversity has teamed up with Christians Caring for Creation to sue the Bush administration for allegedly nudging the toad toward extinction. In April 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drastically cut the amount of habitat set aside for the toad from 478,000 to 12,000 acres -- not enough to ensure its survival, the two groups claim. The move …

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To CAFE or not to CAFE?

Are fuel-efficiency standards a smart way to reduce oil consumption?

Fareed Zakaria has a nice rundown of the many ways our hunger for oil distorts our foreign policy and makes a mockery of our efforts to fight terrorism and spread democracy. At the end, he briefly mentions solutions: It's true that there is no silver bullet that will entirely solve America's energy problem, but there is one that goes a long way: more-efficient cars. If American cars averaged 40 miles per gallon, we would soon reduce consumption by 2 million to 3 million barrels of oil a day. That could translate into a sustained price drop of more than $20 …

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What the Tuck?

Governator appoints industry flacks as state eco-regulators California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) earned green esteem early in his tenure, but as important regulatory appointments take on an increasingly pro-industry tinge, his cred is starting to fade. The latest is Cindy Tuck, chosen to chair the state's Air Resources Board after working for more than 15 years with or on behalf of an oil and energy trade group that opposed legislation to curb greenhouse gases, railroad emissions, and acid rain. The Governator has recently filled several other key roles -- including those involving forestry, radioactive waste, and water quality -- with …

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Raider of the Last Parks

Proposal to change national-park rules stirring up controversy National parks are cool and all, but you know what they really need? More people on cell phones! That -- along with more snowmobiling and off-roading -- could happen under revisions to National Park Service policy proposed by Bush appointee Paul Hoffman, deputy assistant secretary of the interior. His plan, leaked to the press this week, would cut back on environmental protections on numerous fronts, from allowing cell-phone towers to reducing air quality standards to permitting more mining and grazing. While the Department of Interior is trying to cast the proposal as …

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And Miles to Go Before I NEPA

U.S. government sued over climate impacts of overseas energy projects U.S. efforts to find fossil-fuel supplies overseas will create significant climate disruption, harming not only people in those countries but folks at home, according to a lawsuit filed against the federal government by a coalition of green groups and U.S. cities. Ranging from Greenpeace to the city of Oakland, Calif., coalition members want fossil-fuel development projects in developing nations on five continents to be halted while their impacts are assessed under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Bush administration tried to have the suit dismissed, but U.S. District Judge Jeffrey …

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Power Play

Northeast states crafting plan to cut CO2 emissions from power plants The cantankerous Northeast -- last seen suing the U.S. EPA over mercury regulations -- is at it again. Fed up with the feds, nine states in the region have preliminarily agreed to reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. The coalition -- organized by New York Gov. George Pataki (R), whose presidential ambitions are no secret -- proposes to cap annual CO2 output from the region's power plants at 150 million tons beginning in 2009, then cut that figure 10 percent by 2020. Each state's legislature would have to …