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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 …

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Go Truck Yourself

Bush admin unveils weak new fuel-economy rules for light trucks The Bush administration surveyed the landscape -- gas prices rising, fears of oil dependence spreading -- and concluded that bold leadership was required. So it invaded an oil-rich country. Heh, well ... on to Plan B! Yesterday, the administration proposed a new set of auto fuel-economy rules. Tightening the standard for passenger cars? Uh, no, that would stay at an average of 27.5 miles per gallon. Finally imposing some requirements on mega-SUVs like the Hummer H2? Wrong again. Instead, most SUVs, pickups, and minivans would be divided into six categories …

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Will hard-won environmental and social gains survive China’s economic rise?

The way China has catapulted itself onto the Monopoly board of global capitalism has caught most Western leaders on the hop. Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid looking back at their pursuers, top U.S. and European Union businesspeople are wondering, "Who are those guys?" Yuan-a make a deal? After all, how much do we know about the China National Petroleum Corp., which yesterday bid $4.18 billion for PetroKazakhstan, a Canadian oil company with big reserves in Central Asia? Or Haier, which earlier this year tried to nab U.S. white-goods company Maytag? Or Lenovo, which bought IBM's PC business? How …

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I Fjord Your Pain

McCain, Clinton, other senators take global-warming tour in Alaska Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), and two other Lower-48 colleagues are touring Alaska this week to see for themselves the destructive impacts of climate change. They've flown over Yukon forests devastated by spruce bark beetles -- believed to be thriving thanks to unusually high temperatures -- and eyeballed receding glaciers at Kenai Fjords National Park. In Barrow, America's northernmost city, the senators spoke with scientists and met Inupiat native Alaskans who described how severe environmental changes are disrupting their hunts, homes, and lives. Coastal erosion and thawing permafrost are …

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For This Relief Much Tanks

Big SUVs likely to keep guzzling gas under forthcoming fuel-economy plan The Bush administration is said to be abandoning efforts to set fuel-economy standards for huge SUVs like the Hummer H2 and Ford Excursion, which fall outside the weight classes covered by current standards. Those concerned about the warming globe, skyrocketing gas prices, and foreign-oil dependence have long chafed at the loophole, but, well, Big Auto has more lobbyists than they do. American automakers say such standards would damage their shaky bottom lines. The administration is poised to release its new plan for auto fuel-economy standards later this month; it …

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Balked Alaska

House GOPers oppose legislative maneuver to open Arctic Refuge Two dozen House Republicans have publicly criticized the GOP leadership's plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling by attaching language to a filibuster-proof budget measure. In a letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and other House leaders, the rebel GOPers -- including three committee chairs -- wrote that the budget process "is an inappropriate venue to be debating this important environmental issue." While the House has repeatedly approved plans to drill in the Arctic Refuge in recent years, the threat of a filibuster in the Senate has always …

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Why aren’t conservationists fighting poverty?

It's a shame. Conservationists are sitting on the sidelines while the Big Game unfolds before our eyes. A major campaign is under way to change the terms of development, alleviate crushing debt, and help poor people around the world live better lives. Successes are being racked up. And conservation and environmental groups are nowhere to be seen. There are 39 groups listed as partners in the Campaign to Make Poverty History. Not one of them is a conservation or environmental organization. It's a shame, not just for the leaders of the conservation and environmental movements, but also for conservation and …

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Passage of energy bill highlights lack of united Democratic opposition

Four years, two failed conference attempts, and one filibuster after the Republican leadership first introduced the Bush-backed energy bill into Congress, the controversial legislation is being signed into law today by the president, yielding a major victory for the White House -- and exposing Democrats' continued inability to rally around a unified vision and stay on message. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid voted against the energy bill, but failed to sway many of his Democratic colleagues. When House and Senate negotiators met to hammer out a compromise version of the bill in conference committee last month, it was predictably stripped …

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New Asia-Pacific climate pact is long on PR, short on substance

Staunch U.S. allies, enviro activists, and just about everyone else was caught flat-footed last week when the U.S., Australia, and four Asian countries unveiled a new pact intended to help curb greenhouse-gas emissions. In the days since, some details about the surprise alliance have trickled out, but its mission and intended impact remain murky. Known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, the six-nation agreement was developed via clandestine negotiations orchestrated by the Bush administration over recent months with China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia -- nations that together produce nearly 50 percent of the world's greenhouse-gas …