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All Quiet on the Rocky Mountain Front

Bush administration cancels plans to drill in Rocky Mountain Front The Bush administration announced yesterday that it will suspend plans to drill for oil and gas in Montana's beloved Rocky Mountain Front pending a comprehensive study of the area -- a study that will not begin until 2007 and will last at least two years, taking the ultimate decision out of Bush's hands, even if he's reelected. For months, the administration has been under fire from the hook and bullet crowd, traditionally conservative members of hunting, fishing, and wildlife-conservation groups, many of whom -- tres coincident! -- live in Western …

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It’s Worse Than You Think

Energy bill a prime example of legislative process run amok The Boston Globe is running a three-part series on how the Republicans now in control of Congress are reshaping the legislative process. It ain't pretty. Part two follows the path of the massive (and currently stalled) energy bill, which began with closed-door meetings of the Cheney energy task force, thought to be influenced largely by energy-industry folks, without significant input from environmental or consumer advocates, and then wound its way to congressional conference committee meetings, from which Democrats were almost completely excluded. In the process, parties with vested interests in …

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Terry Tempest Williams sends dispatches from an election-season tour

Acclaimed author Terry Tempest Williams is currently on the road for a cross-country "Open Space of Democracy Tour" sponsored by Orion Magazine and Orion Books, publisher of her most recent book, The Open Space of Democracy. Photo: Mark Babushkin. Wednesday, 6 Oct 2004 SALT LAKE CITY, Utah When two young Canadians embarked on an extraordinary journey to follow the caribou migration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Being Caribou, a film by the National Film Board of Canada), they first sought the counsel of a Gwich'in elder in the village of Old Crow. He said, "Plan for the unexpected and …

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Who You Gonna Believe, Us or Some “Inspector”?

EPA inspector general blasts Bush admin's power-plant rules The U.S. EPA came under harsh criticism yesterday from environmental fringe extremists ... oh, wait, no ... actually, from its own top investigative official. The agency's inspector general issued a scathing report saying that enforcement of clean-air laws has been crippled by the Bush administration's decision to substantially revise the new-source review rule, which requires that power plants upgrading their equipment install the latest pollution-control technologies. The Bush EPA proposed changing the rule to say that the new upgrades must cost at least 20 percent of the value of the generating unit …

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Please Hold for the Next Available Wildlife Protection

Bush administration puts Forest Service wildlife protections on hold The Bush administration issued a temporary rule yesterday suspending strict wildlife protections used by national forest managers since 1982. That year, the Reagan administration instructed forest managers in the U.S. Forest Service to maintain "viable populations" of fish and wildlife. Since then, the viability rule has been the basis of several lawsuits forcing the agency to cut back on logging; it is, said Andy Stahl of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, the agency's "only rule protecting wildlife." The new temporary rule instructs forest managers that the old rule is "not …

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Fish Wrap

Kerry's struggle with fishery policy illustrates his strengths and weaknesses The Seattle Times wraps up its excellent week-long series on the presidential candidates' environmental stances with a story on John Kerry's long struggle with fishery policy in the senator's home state, Massachusetts. It's a revealing case study of the candidate's strengths and weaknesses. On the positive side, Kerry has worked for years, often outside the spotlight, to balance the needs of the state's struggling fisherfolk with the needs of the region's cod, haddock, and other groundfish stocks, which scientific studies have shown to be devastated by overfishing. In the process, …

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Parky Pig

National park funding determined by political clout rather than need At a time when three-quarters of national parks are having their base budgets cut and park advocates are crying out about the desperate need for more funding, it may gall many enviros to find out how capricious and politically motivated park funding really is. Consider the little-known Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio: Its base budget is $9.5 million this year, more than the budgets of many parks that are much larger and more famous, including Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park and Utah's Zion National Park. What gives? Former Ohio …

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Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love Ya, Tomorrow

Bush administration postpones action on enviro issues until after election The Bush administration is pushing off a number of controversial environment-related moves until after the election. For example: Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham had requested a report from the National Petroleum Council on how to boost U.S. oil-refining capacity, to be released tomorrow. The U.S. EPA was expected to strongly object to the council's recommendations, which were to include the easing of several environmental regulations. Funny story: Turns out Abraham now has "a scheduling issue," according to an Energy Department spokesflack, and the report will be delayed until late November -- …

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When Geeks Attack

Another group of scientists to campaign against Bush Scientists and Engineers for Change, a 527 advocacy group unveiled yesterday, plans to send scientists on speaking gigs in swing states to argue that the Bush administration disregards and distorts science -- in many cases, science relating to serious environmental problems. "We must begin to address climate change now. To do so, we must have an administration that listens to the scientific community, not one that manipulates and minimizes scientific input," said Nobel Prize winner Douglas D. Osheroff. Osheroff is one of 10 Nobel winners who will join others in giving talks …

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Credit Where Credit is Overdue

Congress renews wind-energy tax credit for a year A popular tax credit for companies generating wind energy will likely live on through 2005. Renewal of the wind-energy production tax credit was included in the monstrous Bush administration energy bill, but that bill is, to enviros' great relief, currently stuck in legislative limbo. However, lawmakers inserted the tax credit in a family tax-cut bill that passed last week, which Bush is expected to sign. According to Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association, this means that "about $3 billion in wind-energy investments forecast over the next several years are now …