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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 …

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A Glowing Reception

Bush travels to nuke plant to tout nuke subsidies, is well-received Yesterday, President Bush became the first commander in chief in 26 years to visit a nuclear power plant in the U.S. (The last time, you may recall, was when President Carter visited Three Mile Island after the accident there. Good times, good times ...) Bush used the occasion to state unequivocally, "It is time for this country to start building nuclear power plants again." It's been more than a quarter-century since the last nuke plant was approved and built. What's the impediment? "The last effort at building reactors was …

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Stickin’ It to the Mandatory

Senate passes weak climate amendment Greens were struck with a severe case of mixed feelings yesterday, as the Senate passed an energy-bill amendment to address global warming (yay!) but passed over a different, tougher amendment (boo!). The latter, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), would have imposed mandatory controls on industrial greenhouse-gas emissions (though it was less ambitious than the McCain-Lieberman plan). Despite the oh-so-scary term "mandatory," Bingaman at one point thought he had the 60 votes to get it through, particularly after powerful Energy Committee Chair Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) expressed support. But a last-minute flurry of lobbying from the …

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An interview with activists at the Prison Moratorium Project

Khaleaph Luis (left) and Prince Serna. Say "criminal justice" and very few people think of the environment. But in reality, there's a complicated relationship between the work of environmentalists, who are trying to encourage a more responsible attitude toward our planet and everything on it, and those moving in and out of the prison-industrial complex, who are fighting for a little space in this world and struggling to survive in severely under-resourced communities. These days, rural prisons provide the only experience many urban youth have with a non-urban environment. The Brooklyn-based Prison Moratorium Project is one organization starting to think …

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Cool Aid

Groups say foreign aid to Africa should be joined with climate action U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's top two agenda items for the upcoming G8 meeting of industrialized countries -- aid to Africa and climate change -- are intimately linked, say a pair of new reports. Britain's leading scientific body, the Royal Society, argues that Africans are uniquely vulnerable to climate change, as more extreme temperatures and changes in rainfall are likely to be particularly ruinous on a continent where 70 percent of people rely on small-scale, rain-fed agriculture. Meanwhile, the Working Group on Climate Change and Development, a coalition …

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Can’t? Well …

Senate adds eco-friendly provisions to energy bill The Senate put a surprisingly green cast on the energy bill yesterday, approving an amendment that would require power companies to generate 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and another that would direct $14 billion in tax incentives to alternative fuels and energy efficiency. Another green-friendly amendment, from Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), would have established a goal to reduce imports of foreign oil by 40 percent in 20 years, but it lost in a 53 to 47 vote amidst Republican objections that it was just too dang ambitious. Eco-related fights …

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It’s Not Your Overall Coughing, It’s How Many Times You Cough Per Hour

Court hands coal-fired power plants huge victory on pollution regs The long-running legal battle launched by the Clinton administration against aging coal-fired power plants -- the nation's largest industrial source of smog-, asthma-, and global-warming-causing emissions -- was dealt a decisive blow yesterday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that Duke Energy did not need U.S. EPA permits to modify eight power plants in the Carolinas between 1988 and 2000. The permits would have triggered new-source review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act, requiring Duke to install more effective pollution controls. Why no permits …

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One Step Forward, Two Scoots Back

Updates from yesterday's Senate energy-bill debate Highlights of yesterday's energy-bill proceedings: The Senate voted to double the amount of ethanol to be added to the nation's gasoline supply by 2012, from 4 billion to 8 billion gallons. Florida Sens. Mel Martinez (R) and Bill Nelson (D) successfully blocked attempts to end the congressional moratorium on oil and gas drilling near Florida's tourist-friendly coastline. When Senate Democrats proposed cutting U.S. oil imports by 40 percent within 20 years, Republicans cast them as crazy dreamers who would disrupt the nation's transportation system. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) "envisioned everybody this summer …