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Red and Blue Make … Green?

New York announces historic power-plant agreement Yesterday, New York Gov. George Pataki (R) and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D), whose ambition to replace Pataki is no secret, stood amicably side by side to make a joint announcement. If that news wasn't shocking enough in itself, what the Dynamic Bipartisan Duo announced was pretty impressive too: Six New York power plants have agreed to substantially cut emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, which cause acid rain and smog. The cuts will amount to removing 2.5 million cars from New York roads, said state officials. New York-based power plants (many of …

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The Fabulous Baker Boy

President to bake up crisp decisions, answer environmental issue In an interview with The Wall Street Journal -- his first newspaper interview since winning re-election -- President Bush pledged to, among other things, renew the push for his long-stalled energy bill and aggressively promote nuclear power, saying he looked forward to "making good, crisp, sound decisions." Bush spoke of nuclear energy in near-mystical terms, saying it "answers a lot of our issues," including the "environmental issue" and the "dependency issue." "It's a renewable source of energy," he said, which may come as news to many enviros. On the subject of …

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Embargoing, Going …

Discovery of Cuban oil deposits raises hopes for eased restrictions With the recent hardening of U.S. trade policy toward Cuba, analysts are now speculating that one thing could help ease the restrictions: Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. Two Canadian companies have discovered oil in Cuba's waters off the Gulf of Mexico, announced President Fidel Castro in a Dec. 25 speech to parliament deputies (Merry Christmas!). The deposit, estimated to contain some 100 million barrels of higher-grade oil than has historically been produced in Cuba, is raising the hopes of some Cubans for greater energy and economic independence: fewer …

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Right-wingers exploit tsunami by accusing enviros of exploiting tsunami

Was global warming behind the recent catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean? Of course not. Nor did it cause the Iraqi insurgency, the national debt, or Ashley Simpson's lip-synching episode. A devastated village in India. Photo: USAID. Global warming is an atmospheric phenomenon caused by a buildup of airborne greenhouse gases, and though it's expected to increase the frequency and severity of any number of natural disasters, earthquakes -- which are triggered by shifting tectonic plates -- are not among them. In fact, Muckraker could not find one creditable (or, hell, even non-creditable) scientist or environmentalist claiming a causal relationship …

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Harmer’s Market

Energy execs vacation with Bush admin officials -- innocently, of course High-level Bush administration environmental officials and members of Congress are canoodling with energy execs at a posh resort in Arizona this week, discussing policy over golf, wine, and canapes. They are, of course, shocked -- shocked! -- at the implication that anything untoward, like, say, purchasing of influence, might be going on. After all, says an Interior Department spokesflack, "it is not uncommon for these business sectors to be linked to the issues that the Department of the Interior handles on a regular basis." Um, exactly. According to the …

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An interview with Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists

The Bush administration is gearing up to push for second-term priorities -- including an energy bill, power-plant emissions legislation, and amendments to the Endangered Species Act -- under a cloud of accusations that it has manipulated federal scientific research on these and other issues to support its agenda. These arguments have been voiced most prominently by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonpartisan advocacy organization that issued a statement in 2004 charging the White House with "[m]isrepresenting and suppressing scientific knowledge for political purposes." Kevin Knobloch. Photo: Richard Howard. To date, the UCS statement has been signed by more than …

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Darling Nikki

EPA inspector general making enemies on Capitol Hill Nikki Tinsley, the inspector general of the U.S. EPA, is ruffling feathers in Washington, D.C., these days. A registered independent appointed by President Clinton in 1999, she has developed a reputation for integrity, professionalism, and steely resolve. She views her job not simply as monitoring for fraud and waste, but ensuring that the EPA is doing its work effectively. Several reports critical of the agency's work -- its lagging clean-air litigation, its lack of progress on reducing smog in major cities, etc. -- were released by her office last year, some at …

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“And Now!” Grinned the Grinch, “I Will Stuff Up the Tree!”

Bush admin overhauls forest management policy The Bush administration unveiled sweeping changes to federal forest-management policy on Dec. 22, while Americans milled through malls and airports, minds dancing with visions of, well, everything but forest management. The changes will "streamline" approval of forest-management plans by eliminating a key provision, long despised by timber companies, that requires forest managers to maintain "viable populations" of fish and wildlife in the forests. The new policies also instruct managers to give economic activity and ecological health equal priority in management decisions, and remove the requirement for environmental impact statements -- effectively eliminating the public-comment …

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Bushies gut national forest rules

Three days before Christmas, the Bush administration announced that it's making the biggest overhaul to forest-management rules in some three decades. The news made the front page of today's New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, etc. -- but ya gotta know it'll slip by unnoticed by a great many folks stuck in whited-out airports in the Midwest and teeming malls everywhere else.   It's been a while since the Bushies pulled one of these announce-an-environmental-abomination-when-no-one's-looking stunts, but they returned to the tactic with a real doozy this time.   "A key wildlife protection that has governed federal forest …

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