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  • Polar-bear listing would hurt the poor, says industry

    If the U.S. Interior Department decides that polar bears are endangered, litigation will be immediate from a group arguing that bear protection will “result in higher energy prices across the board, which will disproportionately be borne by minorities.” So says Roy Innis, chair of the Congress for Racial Equality — a recipient of Exxon funding […]

  • Sierra Club will sue over new coal plants

    The Sierra Club is planning lawsuits to halt construction of coal plants in seven states, arguing that the mercury-spewing plants violate the Clean Air Act. Noting that a federal appeals court ruled in February that the Bush administration’s mercury regulations were too lax, the green group seeks to require the coal plants to get new […]

  • One of the West Coast’s most iconic species feeling the heat

    California's outdoors industry -- wildlife watching, hunting, and fishing -- is an $8.2 billion-a-year business. That's roughly equivalent to the GDP of Cambodia.

    So imagine the shock waves sent by the state's first salmon shutdown:

    Salmon fishing was banned along the West Coast for the first time in 160 years Thursday, a decision that is expected to have a devastating economic impact on fishermen, dozens of businesses, tourism and boating.

    Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez immediately declared a commercial fishery disaster, opening the door for Congress to appropriate money for anyone who will be economically harmed.

    Unfortunately, the forecast for salmon doesn't get much better from there, according to a new report released Thursday by the National Wildlife Federation and Planning and Conservation League Foundation. With salmon habitat already decimated by dams, climate change now threatens to warm their remaining cold water spawning grounds.

    What can be done to reverse the trend?

  • Polar-bear listing decision must be made by May 15, says judge

    The last time we checked in with the laggardly Interior Department, it was saying it needed until June 30 to decide whether to place polar bears on the endangered-species list. But the department had better find its Decider Pants soon, as a federal judge has sided with green groups to impose a new deadline of […]

  • Northwest sea lions granted stay of execution

    Sea lions all set to gobble their last salmon supper at a Northwest dam have been granted a stay of execution by a U.S. appeals court. Judges granted an injunction, requested by the Humane Society, that a lower court had denied last week. It’s only a partial victory for the Humane Society, however, as the […]

  • On the Bush administration’s deal for Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead


    Recently news broke in Grist of an agreement brokered by the Bush administration and several Northwest tribes affecting endangered salmon, litigation, and dam operations on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Now that the dust has settled, here is one view of this deal's details and implications.


    First, it is worth highlighting that this deal came during the same week that a government council decided on unprecedented closures for salmon fishing on the West Coast in response to another precipitous drop in salmon stocks, this time on the Sacramento River.

    Salmon populations and coastal communities have suffered under the current administration's science-free salmon policy. This year's declines on the Sacramento, like recent declines on the other big salmon rivers -- the Klamath and Columbia-Snake -- can be traced to harmful dams, habitat destruction, and politically driven management decisions and illegal plans by our federal government.

    So, what will this agreement mean for Columbia Basin populations and the decades-long courtroom battles?

  • Judge denies Humane Society injunction, OKs sea-lion trapping

    Denying an injunction sought by the Humane Society, a federal judge has given the go-ahead to Oregon and Washington state officials to trap and kill salmon-gobbling sea lions near the Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam. The animal-rights group sued after the National Marine Fisheries Service OK’d sea-lion culling last month. An official hearing on the Humane […]

  • Chevron runs ad attacking Goldman Prize winner

    I attended the Goldman Prize presentation last night, and it was, per usual, a spectacular celebration of uncommonly dedicated individuals working to make this world a better place. The stories of their struggles and triumphs wetted every eye in the house, and they serve as a beacon of inspiration to all who care about the future of planet Earth.

    Unless you are Chevron.

    This morning, Chevron ran a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle attacking one of the recipients, Pablo Fajarado. "Mr. Fajarado is a front man for a group of Ecuadorian and American trail lawyers pursuing a claim against Chevron."

    No! Not trial lawyers! Chevron would prefer that anyone bringing suit against them be represented by fishmongers, not trial laywers. Or something.

    I've met those trial lawyers -- and they are, as you might expect, incredibly overworked and underpaid individuals doing this work not for love of lucre but desire for justice. And, if I may project some of my own feelings at this very moment, righteous anger against asshole oil companies.

    The rest of the ad is unforgivable character assassination and innuendo.

  • Tribes and Bushies reach Northwest salmon settlement

    In exchange for four Native tribes dropping lawsuits, the Bush administration will spend $900 million over the next decade to help out Northwest salmon. The settlement reached Monday ends, for the time being, a decades-long legal battle over the best balance of tribal and commercial fishing rights, protection for salmon, and regional power demands in […]