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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 …

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Task force takes aim at NEPA, freaks out environmentalists

Rep. Richard Pombo meets the press in April. Photo: U.S. House of Representatives. You have to want to get to Nacogdoches, a Texas town that's not on the way to anywhere. This eastern outpost, nearly 150 miles from Houston, is the oldest town in the state, with enough lore to fill volumes. It's the site where, in the 1700s, the legendary Father Margil struck a rock twice during a drought and water flowed. In 2003, the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated overhead. And in late July, the town served as the perfect out-of-the-way location to host a congressional hearing on the …

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Two Chevrons Don’t Make a Right

Chevron may have paid agents of Nigerian military to attack villagers On Jan. 3, 1999, a number of residents of Opia, Nigeria, visited a Chevron oil rig to demand compensation for fishing gear destroyed by the oil company's operations. On Jan. 4, Nigerian military personnel attacked and burned the villages of Opia and Ikenyan, leaving four villagers dead and at least 70 more missing and presumed dead. Now, in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims in U.S. federal court, lawyers have produced a Chevron receipt for the equivalent of $165, paid to a Nigerian navy captain within days …

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Umbra on oil subsidies

Dear Umbra, Grist keeps mentioning that the U.S. government gives large subsidies to oil companies, but doesn't go further into what these subsidies are. I can't make a good argument against the government's subsidizing Big Oil if I don't know more about it: Are the subsidies tax breaks, and if so, for what? Are the tax breaks larger than for most other large companies? How biased is our treatment of Big Oil? ChristineHillsboro, Ore. Dearest Christine, Just as an aside, I'm not sure such a being as Wee Oil exists. Can we get you anything? The word subsidy finds its …

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EPA says race, income shouldn’t be environmental-justice factors

It may surprise some people to hear that the Bush administration's EPA just drafted a strategic plan on environmental justice. Insidiously, and perhaps less surprisingly, advocates say, the move threatens to redefine that term into irrelevance. The agency's new plan defines environmental justice as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies." That sounds uncontroversial enough on the surface, but the trouble lies in the word regardless. The field of environmental justice is based on the idea that …

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New nominees for top spots at EPA worry enviros

While the green community and the press fixate on the energy bill that's finally wending its way to President Bush's desk, a changing of the guard under way at the U.S. EPA is sliding by virtually unnoticed. Who are these three jokers? When Stephen Johnson assumed his post at the head of the agency in May, he vacated the No. 2 spot of deputy administrator, which the White House has finally gotten around to filling. Bush has also nominated a new candidate for chief of law enforcement at EPA, a post that he's had trouble keeping filled since taking office. …

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Beach Blanket Politico

Green activist Donna Frye leading in race for mayor of San Diego San Diego may soon get a jolt of green in City Hall. Veteran surfer chick and longtime environmental activist Donna Frye (D) took 43 percent of the vote in the city's mayoral election on Tuesday, far ahead of the 27 percent earned by her closest contender, but short of the majority needed to win without a runoff. Frye, who's served on the San Diego City Council since 2001, will now face former Police Chief Jerry Sanders (R) in a November runoff election. Last November, Frye ran as a …

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