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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 …

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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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