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Diamond Is Forever

Diamond chronicles how a small southern town made environmental history

When Margie Eugene-Richard won the Goldman Prize last year, it was a stunning public recognition of decades of struggle. Richard -- the first African-American to win the award, which some refer to as environmentalism's Nobel Prize -- had waged a 30-year campaign against Shell Chemicals with fellow residents of Diamond, La. Like the proverbial David, the African-American, working-class neighborhood took on a Goliath -- and won. Diamond by Steve Lerner, MIT Press, 344 pgs., 2005. But the fight against Shell was not just the singular achievement of an individual activist, as Richard would be the first to admit. It was …

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CNOOC-ered

Bush security adviser helped firm land lobbying gig for Chinese oil co. The bid by state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation to purchase U.S. oil and gas producer Unocal has raised hackles among some national-security types. So it may seem odd that James C. Langdon Jr., the chair of President Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board -- a group with security clearance greater than even members of Congress -- would meet with CNOOC to drum up lobbying business for his law firm. Odd but true: Langdon, a major Bush fund-raiser, met last winter with reps from CNOOC seeking lobbying work for …

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How a Bill Becomes a Flaw

Senate passes energy bill Late last month, after seemingly endless go-rounds, the Senate passed an energy bill that contains big boosts for nuclear power, "clean coal," and corn-blended ethanol, and would require 10 percent of electrical utilities' power to come from renewables by 2020. "With oil prices recently topping $60 a barrel, this legislation can come none too soon," said Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), though the bill's allegedly propitious timing was cast in doubt by Energy Secretary Sam Bodman's forthright acknowledgment that it wouldn't actually affect oil prices at all. The Senate's version of the bill bypasses several contentious …

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Gutting, No Glory

House Republicans trying to tweak cornerstone environmental laws Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) and allies on the House Resources Committee have laid siege to two key environmental laws. They've inserted language into the House version of the energy bill to remove numerous drilling projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, which mandates environmental impact assessments and citizen involvement for projects on public lands. Industry and developers have long groused that NEPA stalls progress with long, costly environmental reviews and lawsuits. Pombo and pals have also drafted a rewrite of the Endangered Species Act that would fundamentally reorient federal agencies …

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G8 Expectations

Bush gets the watered-down G8 climate statement he wanted President Bush got exactly what he wanted on climate change during last week's G8 meeting of industrialized nations: The appearance of compromise without any shift in his administration's position. Just when it seemed that U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair -- buoyed by London's winning bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games -- was succeeding in putting real international pressure on Bush to budge on the issue, a series of terror attacks struck Britain's capital city, distracting the world's attention, muting protests, and casting a pall over the G8 agenda. One day …

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Politics & science, oil & water, cats & dogs

GAO to investigate whether Cooney’s editing was illegal

Chris Mooney has a good catch today: Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have asked the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, to determine whether recently-resigned Bush administration official Philip Cooney violated federal statutes against obstruction of Congress and false statements. Cooney, as you may recall, is the former oil industry lobbyist, turned chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality who edited research reports to play up uncertainties about global warming. Turned, uh, oil industry lobbyist. (To everything turn, turn, turn, eh?) Lautenberg and Reid are also asking the Climate Change Science Program to …

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My Own Private Saudi Arabia

Energy execs beg Congress to let them dig up the West for oil shale "We can safely say of our future with regard to oil and gas, it has yet to see its brightest days," said Rep. James Gibbons (R-Nev.) in a House subcommittee meeting yesterday. We know what you're thinking: What the ... ? Well, apparently Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming are sitting on top of lots and lots of oil shale, a porous rock soaked through with petroleum. In fact, the Green River Basin is estimated to contain over a trillion barrels of oil, enough to eliminate trans-Atlantic oil …

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Craig’s %$#! List

Idaho senator tries to axe center that analyzes endangered salmon Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has inserted a rider into the federal energy bill that would eliminate funding for the Fish Passage Center, which has tracked salmon in the Columbia and Snake River systems in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years. Craig is peeved that the center's fish survival data was used to support a recent federal court order mandating summer spills over Snake River dams, impacting electricity rates and barge travel along the rivers. The senator took umbrage at the center's support for what he calls a "controversial and …

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Schwarzenegger’s solar-roof plan could get sidelined by partisan squabbling

Fiddling on the roof. Photo: AstroPower/NREL. The Golden State could soon enact the most ambitious solar-energy initiative ever proposed in the U.S. -- legislation intended to put photovoltaic panels on a million California rooftops. Unless, that is, the bill gets derailed by a behind-the-scenes political pissing match between Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has thrown his prodigious weight behind the initiative, and the Democrats who control the state legislature. The Governator unveiled the initiative last August under the name "Million Solar Homes," proposing a 10-year subsidy plan to stimulate solar purchases on residential buildings. It picked up bipartisan backing from …

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Terminal Billness

Senate quashes emissions caps and state authority over LNG terminals The Senate voted yesterday to reject a measure that would have given governors more power over the siting of terminals for tankers carrying liquefied natural gas. The Bush administration has pushed for total federal control over LNG terminal sites, while many state officials -- including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) -- and coast-state senators contend that the terminals could be targets for terrorist attacks or pose safety risks. The Senate also rejected by 60-38 the McCain-Lieberman proposal for mandatory caps on greenhouse-gas emissions, with opponents making the usual arguments that …