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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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With Leavitt on the way out, who’ll be next to head up the EPA?

Leavitt, left, accepts Bush's nomination to head HHS and leave EPA behind. Photo: WhiteHouse.gov. There were plenty of "Leavitt or leave it" jokes when former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) took the helm at the U.S. EPA just over a year ago. Many insiders didn't expect him to stay long at the agency, figuring he would get promoted after doing the dirty work on the heels of Christie Whitman's prickly departure from the post. But few expected Leavitt to leave it quite so soon. His nomination on Monday to head up the Health and Human Services Department landed as quite …

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Year …

2004 sets records for heat and natural disasters 2004 may be the fourth warmest year on record and the most expensive to date for insurance companies stuck with the tab for cleaning up after natural disasters, according to new data released this week. Extreme weather conditions in many parts of the world, including a record 10 typhoons in Japan and the first-ever hurricane in South America, are being blamed on global warming. Flooding, drought, hurricanes, and other weather events cost insurance companies $35 billion in the first 10 months of the year -- $26 billion of that in the U.S. …

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Hagelian Dialectic

Kyoto opponent Hagel may ally with Blair for new climate agreement U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's efforts to cajole the U.S. into doing something about climate change -- and shake off his rep as a Bush "poodle" -- may have found an ally in Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). Hagel met with Blair this week in London at the PM's request to discuss the kinds of initiatives the countries could agree on. The senator, a prominent opponent of the Kyoto Protocol, said he wanted the U.S. to be seen as helping, not just hindering, efforts to combat climate change, adding, "At …