April 28, 2005

Yet Another Study: Global Warming Real

Scientists say they've found the "smoking gun" on global warming; AP:

Climate scientists, with the aid of diving robots probing the world's warming seas, have found the heat exchange between Earth and space is seriously out of balance -- what the researchers called a "smoking gun" discovery that validates forecasts of global warming.

They said the findings confirm that computer models of climate change are on target and that global temperatures will rise 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.56 degree Celsius) this century, even if greenhouse gases are capped tomorrow.

If carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions instead continue to grow, as expected, things could spin "out of our control," especially as ocean levels rise from melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the NASA-led scientists said.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, is the latest to report growing certainty about global-warming projections.

But please, why listen to scientists when you have the guy who wrote Jurassic Park? Unfortunately, if history is any indication, science will make little difference to free market conservatives who'll insist that "more research is needed" on global warming.

Posted by Eric at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005

From the Department of Obvious

GAO: Government's climate data inadequate.

Previously: Bush administration accused of suppressing, distorting science.

Posted by Eric at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

900,000-year-old ice!

But would science make a difference (has it ever)? Guardian:

An Italian expedition to the Antarctic has taken a sample of ice which is more than 900,000 years old and could give scientists evidence of past climate changes which would discredit global warming doubters.

The ice core, which is double the age of previous samples, will show how much carbon dioxide there was in the atmosphere during previous warm and cold phases in the climate and whether the current concentrations caused by burning fossil fuels are likely the lead to catastrophic global warming later this century.

The new core could be enough to discredit the fast diminishing band of climate sceptics, who have the ear of the Bush administration and who say that the climate has always fluctuated and man's destruction of forests and use of oil has nothing to do with the current rising temperatures and increased storminess across the world.

Posted by Eric at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005

Earth Day

Two funny items from Think Progress:

One:

Now:

“It’s great to be back in the state of Tennessee. I’m proud to be traveling with…Lamar Alexander.” - President Bush on Earth Day, Promoting his “Clear Skies” Initiative

Then:

Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, told Senate colleagues Monday that he will not support the Bush administration’s air pollution plan - known as “Clear Skies” - because it does not “go far enough, fast enough” to solve his state’s air pollution problems. - ENS, 7/15/03

Two:
Bush’s Sustainable Energy Plan is “Bulls–t”

Hey, we didn’t say it. House Resources chair Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) did.

Yesterday, while Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) was talking up the new energy bill’s hydrogen fuel subsidies at a crowded Capitol Hill news conference, Rep. Pombo turned to House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and whispered, “This is bulls–t.” (A CNN journalist happened to be within earshot.)


Posted by Eric at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005

The Counter-Enviro Power List

Who's leading the fight against the environment, and why?

Outside magazine with the 'power' list.

Posted by Eric at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

ANWR Overseas?

ANWR oil, supposed to 'help' only the US supplies, might go somewhere else; Seattle Times:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens stood on the floor of the Senate a month ago and urged his colleagues to support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Do it to boost our domestic oil supplies, he said. Do it to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

What Stevens did not mention was this: Alaskan oil could wind up being sold overseas.

The Senate vote, which gave Stevens a 51-49 victory, makes no promise the oil pumped from the wildlife refuge (ANWR) has to be sold to domestic refineries.

Some pro-drilling forces say a final bill could ban refuge oil from going overseas, a restriction contained in an energy bill now before the House that would open ANWR to oil exploration. Such a ban, however, wouldn't apply to other Alaskan oil. And a similar pledge was reversed in the past.

Posted by Eric at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2005

Change to Clean Air Act in Works

Another day, another industry-written provision in a House bill that blatantly favors polluters at the expense of taxpayers.

Under the new provision, the "downwind" states would not be required to meet clean air standards until the "upwind" states that were contributing to the problem had done so. Currently, states can get more time but only if they agree to added cleanup measures.

Proponents of the measure in Congress, as well as a spectrum of industry groups, say that the change would give state and local governments the flexibility and discretion they urgently need to deal with air pollution from distant sources. Otherwise, they would have to impose much stricter limits on pollution from local sources, including power plants, factories and automobiles.

But House members who fought against the measure, and other opponents, say flexibility and discretion are just other words for delay, saving money for industry and posing risks for millions of people living where the air does not meet health-based standards.

Opponents also say that the new provision would undermine a muscular rule announced last month by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Interstate Rule, which sets new power-plant emissions for three major pollutants for the eastern half of the United States. One of those pollutants, nitrogen oxide, is cooked by sunlight into ozone, or smog.

Posted by Eric at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2005

More Warnings on Environment

Add another study to the long line of evidence; Knight Ridder:

We are using the Earth to improve our lives, but our children and grandchildren will live in a worsening environment that endangers their existence, more than 1,300 scientists warn.

In a report to be released today, a team of international experts concludes that the world is at risk on a variety of fronts, including a skyrocketing runoff of nutrient-rich farm waste that is killing swaths of the world's oceans, a massive wave of animal and plant extinctions, and a planet that is growing warmer.

But it's not hopeless, they say.

The five-year study, commissioned by the United Nations and a number of businesses and independent groups, arrived at a mixed prognosis for planet Earth: Its deteriorating environmental health is still treatable, but only with aggressive and expensive corrective measures.

The study can be found here. For example, did you know ...
Humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the last 50 years than in any other period. This was done largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel. More land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined. More than half of all the synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, first made in 1913, ever used on the planet has been used since 1985. Experts say that this resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in diversity of life on Earth, with some 10 to 30 percent of the mammal, bird and amphibian species currently threatened with extinction.
So let's turn to our trusted Chairman on the Committee on Environment and Public Works, James M. Inhofe, to tell us more about the environment:
Let me be very clear: alarmists are attempting to enact an agenda of energy suppression that is inconsistent with American values of freedom, prosperity, and environmental progress.

Over the past 2 hours, I have offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax.

oh boy.

Posted by Eric at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

Another Day ...

Another lawsuit against the EPA for not doing its job. From the NYTimes:

New Jersey and eight other states filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging a new federal rule that they claim does not do enough to control dangerous mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Once released into the air, the mercury - a byproduct of the burning of coal - drifts over lakes and rivers where it is absorbed by fish and shellfish that are consumed by people. It is considered a potent neurotoxin that can cause brain damage, especially in infants and small children who are exposed to even a small amount.

The suit is aimed at a new rule released by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month to exempt power plants from the most stringent controls for mercury emissions under Section 112 of the federal Clean Air Act.

Instead of having to apply cutting-edge technology to reduce mercury, power plants will be given the option of using a system called cap and trade. Under that system, operators can purchase pollution credits from other plants that have managed to lower their mercury emissions below targeted levels.

The Sierra Club with more on the state AGs decision:
"The Sierra Club applauds the nine state Attorneys General who filed lawsuits today against the EPA for taking steps to do something the Bush administration is not -- protecting children and babies in the womb from harmful exposure to mercury. They are right to object to a rule that allows three times more mercury pollution than strong enforcement of our current clean air laws and delays cleanup for more than a decade. We hope that other Attorneys General will join their voices to this fight for public health.

"The impact of the EPA's mercury rule will be felt by all of us, but most importantly it will jeopardize the health of hundreds of thousands of newborns in the U.S. each year."

For even more on the EPA's mercury rules, check out this useful guide from the Larry David-approved! Natural Resources Defense Council, with facts and history galore.

Posted by Eric at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2005

Making the Internal Combustion Engine Obsolete

How Toyota wants to revolutionize the way companies make cars. Wired Magazine.

Posted by Eric at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2005

Inouye, Akaka votes let Hawai'i down

Though both are usually reliable votes for liberal causes, they weren't this time, and haven't been when it comes to ANWR; Honolulu Advertiser:

Sens. Dan Inouye and Daniel Akaka joined Senate Republicans Wednesday in voting to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Sadly, the 51-49 vote, with our senators tipping the balance, not only reinforces a dismal environmental policy, it also pushes our energy policy in the wrong direction by increasing our dependence on oil, when we should be moving toward renewable sources of energy ... Inouye has said that because Hawai'i is dependent on oil, finding new sources is imperative.

Akaka said his position was based on what he believed the indigenous people most affected want.

Both those positions are wrong-headed and shortsighted.

There are some among the Inupiat who support drilling. But as reporter Dennis Camire noted in yesterday's Advertiser, representatives from the Inupiat, who live in the affected region, and the Gwich'in, who also are concerned about the effects on wildlife, have come to Hawai'i to lobby against the drilling and have developed coalitions with local environmental groups.

More than most, we here in Hawai'i would expect our senators to have a greater appreciation for the environment and the land. Auwe!

Auwe, fyi, is Hawaiian for ouch or oh no.

And because everyone loves self-promotion, heere's a LTE I wrote two years ago condemning the two.

Posted by Eric at 09:44 AM | Comments (2)

March 15, 2005

Mount Kilimanjaro: Global Warming Evidence?

From Reuters:

A photo of Mount Kilimanjaro stripped of its snowcap for the first time in 11,000 years will be used as dramatic testimony for action against global warming as ministers from the world's biggest polluters meet on Tuesday ... "We are breaking climate change out of the environment box. This crisis affects all of us. This is a global challenge and we need real leadership to address these major problems -- and these ministers can give that leadership," he told Reuters.

The pictures include one of Kilimanjaro almost bare of its icecap because of global warming, and coastal defences in the Marshall Islands threatened with swamping from rising sea levels.

Pictures in the article.

Posted by Eric at 09:35 AM | Comments (8)

March 14, 2005

America's 12 Most Threatened Wildlands

And hey - some have money written all over them. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" supported NRDC:

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) today announced its 2005 BioGems, the dozen most endangered natural places in the Americas. Over the coming year, the BioGems initiative, NRDC's international campaign to protect the Western Hemisphere's imperiled wilderness, will mobilize citizen action to defend these 12 extraordinary areas, ranging from the arctic to the southern reaches of South America.

This year, NRDC is adding two sites of critical importance for whales, porpoises and other marine mammals to its annual list. The new BioGems, in the Upper Gulf of California in Mexico and on the Patagonia Coast of Chile, join 10 other BioGems from 2004, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Cumberland Plateau in the Southeastern United States ... Even as NRDC fights in Congress to preserve the Arctic Refuge, it will take legal action to block drilling in its neighbor, the Western Arctic Reserve, home to polar bears, 3,500 beluga whales, several caribou herds, and tens of millions of nesting shorebirds and waterfowl. The organization also will counter the administration's attempt to open the untouched wildlands of the Yellowstone-Greater Rockies and Utah's Redrock Wilderness to 50,000-pound thumper trucks, roadbuilding, truck traffic, pipelines, and complexes of drill pads. (For more information about the Redrock Wilderness, click here.)

In southeast Alaska, NRDC will continue legal action against the Bush administration for excluding the Tongass National Forest from a national ban on logging in wild, roadless areas, and contest timber sales in the region's spectacular landscape of 800-year old hemlocks, salmon-filled rivers, and grizzly-dotted ridges. The group also will defend the maple, hickory, and oak forests of the Cumberland Plateau, stretching from West Virginia and Kentucky to Tennessee and Alabama, by pressuring major paper buyers to stop purchasing paper made with virgin timber from the plateau. (For more information on the Cumberland Plateau, click here.)

In the Everglades, NRDC is pursuing courtroom action to block a series of massive limestone mines, approved by the Bush administration, that threaten to destroy 30 square miles of critical wildlife habitat and contaminate the drinking water used by 1 million people.

Saucy nature pictures here. Not safe for work!

Posted by Eric at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2005

Politics Interfering with Science

From a report / survey issued back in February about "1,400 USFWS biologists, ecologists, botanists and other science professionals working in Ecological Services field offices across the country." The survey, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, found:

Nearly half of all respondents whose work is related to endangered species scientific findings (44 percent) reported that they "have been directed, for non-scientific reasons, to refrain from making jeopardy or other findings that are protective of species." One in five agency scientists revealed they have been instructed to compromise their scientific integrity—reporting that they have been "directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from a USFWS scientific document,"
such as a biological opinion;

More than half of all respondents (56 percent) knew of cases where "commercial interests have inappropriately induced the reversal or withdrawal of scientific conclusions or decisions through political intervention;" and

More than two out of three staff scientists (70 percent) and nearly nine out of 10 scientist managers (89 percent) knew of cases "where U.S. Department of Interior political appointees have injected themselves into Ecological Services determinations." A majority of respondents also cited interventions by members of Congress and local officeholders.

Posted by Eric at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005

Bush First Term Enviro Record

From the NRDC, Bush's environmental record during his first term, where he "took nearly 150 actions to undermine environmental protections over the past year, consistent with its historic assault on the nation's environmental safeguards."

Posted by Eric at 04:24 PM | Comments (18)

January 18, 2005

Bush Plan Bad for Environment

File it under 'no shit Sherlock.' WPost:

The Bush administration's bill to curb air pollution from power plants would reduce air pollution less than the current Clean Air Act rules, according to a preliminary report by the National Academy of Sciences released yesterday ... But the committee, which consists largely of academics, said in its 160-page report that it is "unlikely that Clear Skies would result in emission limits at individual sources that are tighter than those achieved when NSR is triggered at the same sources. . . . In general, NSR provides more stringent emission limits for new and modified major sources than" Clear Skies. The panel will issue a final report by the end of the year.

The NSR rule triggered dozens of state and federal suits against more than 50 power plants during the 1990s and forced some to install new pollution controls. The administration argues that this approach costs jobs and keeps plants from running at full capacity.

Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.), the ranking minority member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the report "provides further proof that the Bush administration has been recklessly tinkering with the Clean Air Act for several years and wants to go even further. They want to replace existing programs, like New Source Review, that have documented benefits, with a proposal that is weaker and slower when it comes to reducing emissions and protecting health and the environment."

More on the 'Clear Skies' initiative, via the Sierra Club.

Posted by Eric at 12:28 PM | Comments (4)

January 05, 2005

Whitman Book Criticizes Bush Strategy

From the UK Telegraph:

In a new book, It's My Party too: the battle for the heart of the GOP [Grand Old Party, the nickname for the Republican Party] and the Future of America, she describes regular battles with "extreme anti-government ideologues".

Her book is clearly designed to cast a shadow over Mr Bush's inauguration later this month.

But she says that while Mr Bush's campaign did energise his own political base, he failed to expand it. The results showed he "missed an opportunity to significantly broaden his support in the most populous areas of the country", she writes.

Ms Whitman argues that the strategy of Karl Rove, Mr Bush's chief political adviser, to focus rigorously on the narrow conservative base may have won the day, "but we must ask at what price to governing and at what risk to the future of the party".

Posted by Eric at 04:19 PM | Comments (9)

December 27, 2004

Warnings about Warming

From Jan TenBruggencate in the Honolulu Advertiser:

Some folks argue that the warming isn't that big a deal — that it might improve living conditions in colder areas and expand growing seasons in temperate regions. Residents of low-lying coastal and island environments challenge those assumptions, and argue that the results of rising seas are catastrophic to them.

The U.N. weather agency reported that 2004 has been the fourth-warmest year in recorded history. The 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1990, according to the agency's World Meteorological Organization.

Increasingly, nature seems to be backing up the temperature statistics.

The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network reported this month that vast coral reef areas around the globe are threatened by warming seas.

In the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, researchers in 2002 reported significant cases of coral weakness and death from bleaching associated with warm ocean conditions. Bleaching is a sign of severe stress for corals. During the mid-1990s, there were cases of bleaching on reefs in the main Hawaiian Islands.

This month, scientists at Cornell and the University of Wisconsin reported that lilacs planted four decades ago in various locations across the Northeast are now blooming nearly four days earlier in the year than they used to. The genetically identical lilacs had been planted in the 1960s and '70s to see if they could be used as a natural starting gun for spring, a bellwether to tell farmers when it was safe to plant crops.

Smithsonian Institution researchers reported that the cherry blossom trees in Washington, D.C., are blooming a week earlier than they once did.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment suggests that continued warming will deny polar bears the ice they need to get to feeding grounds. In Antarctica, the British Antarctic Survey is blaming warming for reduced populations of krill, crustaceans that are food for whales and fishes.

The Bush record.

Posted by Eric at 04:33 PM | Comments (14)

December 26, 2004

What Will Bush's New Forest Regulations Do?

From the Sierra Club:

The new forest planning rules are likely to:

  • eliminate analysis of forest plans under the National Environment
    Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal government agencies to assess potential environmental impacts of their actions, and examine alternatives;

  • scrap wildlife protections established under President Ronald Reagan;

  • severely limit opportunities for public input into forest management decisions; and;

  • scale back the role of independent scientists in forest management, in favor of administration scientists.

    "Today's new rules could roll back 20 years of forest protections -- even many put in place by Ronald Reagan," said Mike Anderson of The Wilderness Society. "Taken together with the Administration's plan to curtail roadless protection for national forests, these changes will threaten many of our last-remaining roadless areas and old-growth forests."

  • An editorial in today's WPost also condemned the Bush administration for the rule change.

    Posted by Eric at 06:06 PM | Comments (14)

    December 21, 2004

    Poll: Majority Oppose Arctic Refuge Drilling

    From Sierra Club:

    A new national poll released today finds that a solid majority of Americans from all walks of life oppose allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The poll, conducted by Zogby International, found that 55 percent of Americans oppose drilling, while only 38 percent want to allow drilling in the Refuge, a natural treasure which has been off limits to drilling and other industrial development since it was set aside by President Eisenhower in 1960.

    Q: Do you think oil companies should be allowed to drill for oil in America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

    Allow drilling 38%
    Do not allow drilling 55%
    Not sure 7%

    Drilling boosters in Congress have indicated that they may try again to overturn the Refuge’s legal protection early in the new year, attempting to circumvent the normal Senate process by attaching Arctic drilling to the federal budget resolution. Today’s poll found a strong majority of Americans (59 percent v. 25 percent) believe such plans are a "backdoor maneuver that has nothing to do with the budget."

    Posted by Eric at 06:01 PM | Comments (12)

    December 19, 2004

    "Aloha, Po'ouli: Farewell to a Hawaii Native We Will Never Meet Again"

    In Sunday's NY Times:

    The people who try to save endangered species in Hawaii are immune to despair. They have to be, to keep doing what they do. They dangle on ropes from 3,000-foot sea cliffs on Molokai to brush pollen on a flower whose only natural pollinator - some unknown bird or insect - has died out. They trudge into remote forests to play taped bird calls, hoping that a survivor of a vanished species will reply. Or they capture and tend one small bird, old for its kind and missing an eye, then spend fruitless months searching for another to be its mate.

    That bird, a po'ouli, the last known member of its genus and species, died in its cage on Maui on Nov. 26. The news, briefly noted in the papers, was another milestone in a long-running environmental catastrophe that is engulfing the islands.

    Hawaii does not look like an ecological disaster area. It's too lush and sunny, too green and blue. But the state's natural splendor masks a brutal, often desperate battle against extinction. The islands' native animals and plants, many found nowhere else in the world, evolved in splendid isolation for millenniums. But in the two centuries since Captain Cook, their numbers have plunged. Of the more than 1,200 animals and plants on the federal list of threatened and endangered species, one-fourth - 317 - are Hawaiian.

    Development, disease and predation have taken a ruinous toll. Aggressive invaders like rats, mongooses, pigs, mosquitoes and habitat-choking exotic plants now dominate the lowlands. Many endemic species have retreated up the mountains, clinging to patches of protected land - islands within islands ... The po'ouli's demise is a signal that Hawaii's imperiled species have received nowhere near the attention and money needed to match the immensity of the problem. Teams of biologists from federal and state agencies and private organizations manage species-protection programs with budgets totaling in the mere hundreds of thousands of dollars, cobbling together grants and annual allocations that are continually subject to being cut off, and begging for private donations of money and time.

    But does the government care?
    Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii proudly points to her budget request for $4 million to fight invasive species, noting that this unimpressive sum is larger than any the state has spent before. The state, in fact, has starved its Department of Land and Natural Resources, which operates on less than 1 percent of the state's $7.9 billion operating budget and, according to an analysis by Environment Hawaii, an advocacy group, recently had a grossly disproportionate share of staff positions eliminated in a cost-cutting drive ... The captive-breeding program that tried desperately to save the po'ouli, run by the San Diego Zoo, has had several other successes, hatching and rearing the 'alala, or Hawaiian crow, which is extinct in the wild, and the state bird, the nene goose. Dozens of puaiohi, small thrushes, have been returned to the Alakai swamp on Kauai.

    But the federal portion of the program's $920,000 budget has been cut for the 2006 fiscal year, from $550,000 to zero. Where the money might come from to keep the program going is anybody's guess.

    Posted by Eric at 03:40 PM | Comments (3)

    December 16, 2004

    Opening Up Drilling

    From Wilderness Society:

    Although the oil and gas industry continues to plead for the Bureau of Land Management to speed up the processing and issuance of drilling permits, new information from the BLM shows a growing surplus of approved drilling permits. While drilling permit approvals on Western public lands increased by 62 percent in 2004, the number of new wells that were drilled declined by nearly 10 percent – despite high natural gas prices. In five Rocky Mountain state, 5,824 permits were approved by BLM in 2004 (compared to 3,580 in 2003) but only 2,489 were drilled by permittees (compared to 2,723 in 2003).

    “This information confirms that the oil and gas industry has plenty of access to our public lands, despite their complaints to the contrary,” said The Wilderness Society’s Dave Alberswerth, who obtained the not-yet-released information from the BLM. “It also raises the question of why BLM continues to issue leases in sensitive areas like Utah and Colorado’s wild canyon country.”

    BLM data also indicates that while more than 42,000,000 acres of public lands managed by the agency are currently under lease, less than 12,000,000 acres are actually in production. “With 30 million acres of leased land in the Rocky Mountain West not in production and the increasing surplus of drilling permits, there is no reason why the BLM must continue to include environmentally sensitive public lands in their regular oil and gas lease sales in Colorado Utah, and Wyoming,” said The Wilderness Society’s Pete Morton.

    In 2004, for example, the BLM has auctioned for oil and gas development more than 39,000 acres in Colorado and more than 109,000 acres in Utah that were Congressionally sponsored for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

    Posted by Eric at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

    December 13, 2004

    US vs. World on Climate Change

    From the LA Times:

    The United States is the big odd man out as diplomats, scientists and environmentalists from more than 190 countries gather here at the 10th meeting of the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change ... Among major industrial countries, only the U.S. and Australia have failed to ratify the accord, which commits signatory nations to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases to 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012.

    Observers here say the U.S. is increasingly being shut out as the rest of the world adopts global mechanisms by which each country will meet its targeted reductions, including one that allows companies to trade reductions in carbon emissions in a kind of global pollution market.

    Posted by Eric at 10:46 AM | Comments (7)

    December 09, 2004

    Tony Blair up to Good for a Change?

    From the UK Times:

    TONY BLAIR is seeking to secure George Bush’s backing for a new international treaty that would end America’s isolation on global warming, The Times has learnt.

    Downing Street last night confirmed that the Prime Minister had held “lengthy discussions” with Mr Bush about a fresh initiative that would bypass Washington’s steadfast opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.

    The deal, described by one source as “Kyoto-lite”, would involve scientific agreement on the scale and nature of the threat, as well as an international programme to develop the technology needed for renewable energy and the reduction of carbon emissions ... He believes that the refusal by the US Administration to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to come into force in February, has undermined the pledges of 39 other countries to reduce their output of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming.

    Posted by Eric at 05:56 AM | Comments (20)

    December 08, 2004

    Which Automakers Enviro-Friendly?

    Car companies can make a difference in helping the environment, and those who do deserve recognition; Union of Concerned Scientists on with their "greenest automaker" list.

    Honda increased its lead over its competitors in the biennial race for the title of greenest automaker, the Union of Concerned Scientists announced today at a Washington press conference as it presented leaders of Honda with the "2004 Greenest Automaker" award. In stark contrast, UCS dubbed General Motors "Public Polluter #1" when it comes to emissions generated by automakers. GM, which had the least polluting vehicles of the Big Three automakers just six model years ago, fell behind industry laggard DaimlerChrysler into last place in UCS's latest environmental ranking of car companies.

    "Honda is in a class of its own when it comes to producing clean cars and trucks," said David Friedman, Research Director of UCS's Clean Vehicles Program and lead author of the report. "General Motors, on the other hand, is stuck in reverse. GM has spent countless dollars in advertising trying to create a green image, but as the only automaker to move backwards on both smog and carbon dioxide, its rhetoric doesn't match reality." ... Honda increased its overall lead by building vehicles that produce less than half the smog-forming pollutants of the industry average and 18 percent less heat-trapping emissions. Nissan took over second place by reducing global warming emissions per vehicle more than any other automaker - by about six percent since model year 2001. Toyota's slip into third place is a reflection of Nissan's pollution progress as well a lackadaisical effort from Toyota on smog. Ford maintained a fourth place standing with a Jekyll and Hyde approach to the environment that led to cars that matched Toyota's smog-forming pollution performance for the first time in UCS's analysis and the worst heat-trapping gas performance of all the automakers.

    Ranking from the full report:
    Rank Model Year 1998 Model Year 20001 Model Year 2003
    1 Honda Honda Honda
    2 Toyota Toyota Nissan
    3 Nissan Nissan Toyota
    4 GM Ford Ford
    5 Ford GM DaimlerChrysler
    6 DaimlerChrysler DaimlerChrysler GM

    Posted by Eric at 05:22 AM | Comments (21)

    November 19, 2004

    ANWR Drilling Likely to Move Forward

    The Democrats' failure in the 2004 Senate elections is likely to mean the approval of ANWR drillilng, reports USA Today:

    When the new Congress meets in January, the Senate will have three more members than it does now who favor opening the refuge to energy exploration. The Senate has been the last significant obstacle to drilling approval.

    Environmentalists say drilling in the refuge would despoil one of the USA's last pristine wildernesses, a place where caribou and wolves roam. Industry groups and Alaskan politicians say the refuge holds enough oil — the source of gasoline — to lessen U.S. dependence on foreign supplies from places like Iraq.

    Both Democratic and Republican leaders say that as a result of the Nov. 2 elections, the Senate will almost certainly muster the votes to overturn the existing ban on ANWAR drilling. That vote could come as early as April. President Bush and the House of Representatives have long favored drilling.

    Posted by Eric at 02:56 PM | Comments (45)

    November 18, 2004

    Smog Kills

    According to those crazy environmental wackos in ... the Journal of the American Medical Association:

    A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that smog is directly linked to deaths from heart and lung ailments in major U.S. metropolitan areas. With this troubling new evidence, the Bush Administration and Congress must make it a priority to save thousands of lives by enforcing and strengthening the Clean Air Act and by providing Americans with better transportation choices.

    The November 17th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association includes an extensive study titled, "Ozone and Short-term Mortality in 95 US Urban Communities" which finds that even a relatively small increase in ozone (a main ingredient of smog) is directly linked to an increase in deaths from heart and lung ailments. This study in the nation's most prestigious medical journal shows our air is too polluted and our health is at risk. According to the study, ozone smog pollution causes a significant increase in the risk of death for those in the 95 largest communities, where up to 40% of Americans live. Ozone smog comes from factories--including power plants, cars and trucks.

    Posted by Eric at 06:34 AM | Comments (30)

    November 10, 2004

    Bush Looks to ANWR Drilling ... Again

    From the AP:

    Republican gains in the Senate could give President Bush his best chance yet to achieve his No. 1 energy priority - opening an oil-rich but environmentally sensitive Alaska wildlife refuge to drilling.

    If he is successful, it would be a stinging defeat for environmentalists and an energy triumph that eluded Bush his first four years in the White House. A broader agenda that includes reviving nuclear power, preventing blackouts and expanding oil and gas drilling in the Rockies will be more difficult to enact.

    Republicans in the House and Senate said this week they plan to push for Alaska refuge drilling legislation early next year, and they predict success, given the 55-44-1 GOP Senate majority in the next Congress. Democrats and some environmental activists say continued protection of the refuge has never been as much in doubt.

    What's at stake, and what's the fight? Sierra Club:
    Today, oil industry lobbyists persistently press lawmakers to open the coastal plain to oil and gas drilling -- despite indisputable proof that oil drilling irreparably damages the fragile tundra and its wildlife. At Prudhoe Bay, home to one of the world's largest industrial complexes, 43,000 tons of nitrogen oxides pollute the air each year. Hundreds of spills involving tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil and other petroleum products occur annually. Decades-old diesel spill sites still show little regrowth of vegetation. Gravel fill, excavation and waste disposal alone have destroyed 17,000 acres of wildlife and marine habitat.

    A similar fate awaits the coastal plain if the oil companies have their way. Drilling for oil and gas in the coastal plain would require 280 miles of roads, hundreds of miles of pipelines, 50 million cubic yards of gravel scoured from nearby ponds and rivers, and massive production facilities. There is little doubt that such activities would forever alter and irreparably harm the coastal plain.

    But despite nationwide opinion polls showing that an overwhelming 70 percent of Americans support protection of the Arctic Refuge and its coastal plain, the Alaska delegation continues to threaten the coastal plain with onshore and offshore drilling proposals, road-building schemes and powerful attacks on the Wilderness Act itself.

    The most optimistic estimates of commercially recoverable oil from the coastal plain would yield only about six months’ worth of oil for the U.S. -- not even a dent in our dependence on foreign oil. America could save far more oil simply by increasing the fuel efficiency of our cars and light trucks. We wouldn’t flood the Grand Canyon to build a hydroelectric dam. We wouldn’t plug Yellowstone’s Old Faithful to tap its geothermal energy. Why should we permanently destroy this unique wilderness for an unecessary and uncertain amount of oil?

    Posted by Eric at 10:57 PM | Comments (2)

    "Polluters to Face Even Less Resistance from EPA in Second Bush Term"

    The NRDC reports that the EPA is taking its job as the environmental protection agency seriously and going on longer lunch breaks:

    The reelection of President George Bush means that polluters will enjoy four more years of lax enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to experts from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC). The good news, the groups say, is that at least some state attorneys general and citizen enforcers will step in to tackle the worst cases when the EPA fails to act.

    Also today, EIP released a new analysis showing that civil penalties imposed by the EPA against polluters in 2004 hit a 15-year low. The $56.8 million in 2004 civil penalties is the lowest amount since 1990, the first year for which such "big picture" penalty information is readily available, EIP reported.

    Commenting on the implications of this month's elections for EPA enforcement, Environmental Integrity Project Director Eric Schaeffer said: "Watch out for efforts to break up the federal enforcement program at EPA through 'reorganizations,' or through continued budget cuts. If we want our environmental laws to survive, we had better be prepared to make creative use of the opportunities we have in a federal system. We'll need to put pressure on state agencies to enforce the law when EPA won't, and to hold both federal and state elected officials accountable when agencies fail to protect the public. We also anticipate an increase in the number of citizens' lawsuits -- such as the recent Hatsfield's Ferry case in Pennsylvania - that are brought when EPA drops the ball."

    Schaeffer, you may remember, quit the EPA in protest of Bush.

    Posted by Eric at 07:25 AM | Comments (1)

    November 08, 2004

    [Reuters] Arctic threatened by global

    [Reuters] Arctic threatened by global warming; eight-nation report says "global warming is heating the Arctic almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet in a thaw that threatens millions of livelihoods.

    The biggest survey to date of the Arctic climate, by 250 scientists, said the accelerating melt could be a foretaste of wider disruptions from a build-up of human emissions of heat-trapping gases in the earth's atmosphere. The "Arctic climate is now warming rapidly and much larger changes are projected," according to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
    Previously: U.S. Wants No Warming Proposal: Administration Aims to Prevent Arctic Council Suggestions

    Posted by Eric at 09:46 AM | Comments (164)

    November 07, 2004

    [WPost] U.S. Wants No Warming

    [WPost] U.S. Wants No Warming Proposal: Administration Aims to Prevent Arctic Council Suggestions

    The Bush administration has been working for months to keep an upcoming eight-nation report from endorsing broad policies aimed at curbing global warming, according to domestic and foreign participants, despite the group's conclusion that Arctic latitudes are facing historic increases in temperature, glacial melting and abrupt weather changes.

    Posted by Eric at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

    October 30, 2004

    America's Rising Dependence on Oil

    From a new NRDC analysis:

    America's dependence on oil is a threat to our national security and our economy. Growing demand and shrinking domestic production means America is importing more and more oil each year - much of it from the world's most unfriendly or unstable regions. We spend more than $200,000 per minute -- $13 million per hour -- on foreign oil, and more than $25 billion a year on Persian Gulf imports alone.1 So far in 2004, Americans have shelled out $249 per capita to foreign oil-interests.2

    With U.S. gasoline consumption accounting for 11 percent of world oil production, the U.S. has been hit hard this year by our dependence on oil, intensifying our economic and political vulnerability. Of the $54 billion trade deficit reported in August, more than a fifth or $12 billion is from imported crude oil.3 Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has called the higher value of imported oil a tax on U.S. citizens that has cost us three quarters of a percent of our economic output in 2004, and warned economic impacts for the U.S. will intensify if current trends in oil demand and prices continue.4

    Countries on U.S. oil purchases are spending heavily in Washington to make sure the party doesn't end: Since December 2003, OPEC has spent $13.3 million on federal lobbying, $6.6 million of which from Saudi Arabia alone.5 U.S. energy companies are jumping on the political bandwagon too, spending $59.4 million on lobbying in 2003 and $29 million on campaign contributions in the 2002 and 2004 election cycles.6

    The immediate result of these contributions is an energy bill currently before Congress that would leave the country more dependent on oil imports, not less. It would invite oil drillers into some of America's last pristine wilderness areas to eke out a relative trickle of oil, while severely shortchanging conservation and efficiency efforts. And this plan would rely even more on shaky overseas governments, exposing us to greater security risks in the name of unrestrained consumption.

    Also see this graph on consumption vs. production in the US

    Posted by Eric at 01:51 PM | Comments (16)

    October 28, 2004

    Hamster Numbers: Environment

    Bush's accomplishments on the environment in the past four years, according to a Knight Ridder analysis:

  • Superfund cleanups of toxic waste fell by 52 percent.

  • Fish-consumption warnings for rivers doubled.

  • Fish-consumption advisories for lakes increased 39 percent.

  • The number of beach closings rose 26 percent.

  • Civil citations issued to polluters fell 57 percent.

  • Criminal pollution prosecutions dropped 17 percent.

  • Asthma attacks increased by 6 percent.

  • There were small increases in global temperatures and unhealthy air days.
  • Also check out this handy-dandy graphic.

    Posted by Eric at 06:26 AM | Comments (9)

    Wilderness: Who Needs It?

    Certainly not the Interior Department and the Bush administration; from the LA Times:

    The sculpted buttes of Wild Horse Mesa, the vast escarpment of the Book Cliffs and the soaring ramparts of Upper Desolation Canyon near here have become a prime battleground in the Bush administration's campaign to curb wilderness protection throughout the country.

    In 1999, the federal government acknowledged the unique character of the area, where 150 million years of the earth's geologic history unfolds and the forces of nature continue to shape the rugged landscape. The Bureau of Land Management put more than 440,000 acres off-limits to industrial development.

    The protection was short-lived.

    Within four years, the area was opened to oil and gas exploration. Under the Bush administration, 2.6 million acres of Utah land that had been shielded from development were suddenly open for business.

    The actions were part of a sweeping policy shift by Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton with implications far beyond Utah. Not only does the new policy cancel protection of the Utah land, it withholds the interim safeguards traditionally applied to areas with wilderness potential until Congress decides whether to make them part of the national wilderness system.

    But what most distinguishes the administration's position is its claim that under applicable law the Interior Department is barred — forever — from identifying and protecting wild land the way it has for nearly 30 years.

    Posted by Eric at 06:06 AM | Comments (12)

    October 21, 2004

    Pollution Especially Problematic for Latinos

    In a new report from "Curb Your Enthusiasm"-supported NRDC:

    Some 91 percent of Hispanics in the United States live in metropolitan areas, where polluted air may increase the risk of illnesses including asthma and cancer.

    One and a half million U.S. Latinos live in colonias (unincorporated communities with substandard housing) along the U.S.-Mexico border, where a lack of potable water and sewage treatment contributes to waterborne diseases such as giardiasis, hepatitis, and cholera.

    More than one-third of U.S. Latinos live in Western states, where arsenic, industrial chemicals, and fertilizer residues often contaminate local drinking water supplies.

    The great majority -- 88 percent -- of farmworkers are Latinos; they and their families face regular pesticide exposure, which can lead to increased risks of lymphoma, prostate cancer, and childhood cancers.

    Twice as many Hispanic children as non-Hispanic white children are likely to have lead in their blood at levels higher than the action level established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for risk of lead poisoning.

    Insert Bush jab here.

    Posted by Eric at 10:44 AM | Comments (30)

    WWF: "We are spending nature's capital faster than it can regenerate"

    The same ol' on the environment, but will the people listen? AP:

    Consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil increased by almost 700 percent between 1961 and 2001, it said. But the planet is unable to move as fast to absorb the resulting carbon-dioxide emissions that degrade the earth's protective ozone layer.

    "We are spending nature's capital faster than it can regenerate," said WWF chief Claude Martin, launching the conservation body's 40-page study.

    "We are running up an ecological debt which we won't be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between our consumption of natural resources and the earth's ability to renew them."

    Populations of terrestrial, freshwater and marine species fell on average by 40 percent between 1970 and 2000, the study said. It cited destruction of natural habitats, pollution, overfishing and the introduction by humans of nonnative animals, such as cats and rats, which often drive out indigenous species.

    "The question is how the world's entire population live with the resources of one planet," said Jonathan Loh, one of the report's authors.

    Posted by Eric at 10:42 AM | Comments (42)

    October 10, 2004

    Vote the Environment

    Patagonia ad gallery.

    Time's Up:

    Consider that American babies born this election year will turn 46 in 2050. What will their world be like if we continue to roll back our modest gains of cleaner air and water? Or continue to tolerate ever-increasing waste and toxicity as ordinary by-products of human activity? Or fail to reach accord with other nations to reduce carbon emissions? Or maintain the same standard of living as most Europeans yet go on using twice the nonrenewable energy?

    Forecasting is an imprecise art, but here are a few basic strokes to the picture. Even Pentagon planners are concerned that global climate change may reach a “tipping point,” after which widespread drought would turn farmland into dust and forests to ash. Even without accelerated weather change, parts of the Great Plains and Midwest will become desert as the Ogallala aquifer further shrinks. In Appalachia, more mine waste will choke more rivers below more decapitated mountaintops. The soil of California’s San Joaquin Valley will be too polluted to grow food. There will be fewer wetlands and forests to sustain fewer species of birds, fish and mammals. By 2050, our children will pay dearly for scarce water as well as energy and food. Ditto for national security, because large parts of Africa and Asia will suffer great harm induced by global warming before we do. Cancer incidence will be higher; viruses are likely to be stronger.

    Our children will not miss the world we know now, as we do not miss the world our parents knew in 1950. Memories are short. The natural world we have, diminished from the one our parents knew, will slowly become irretrievable to the imagination. But the dread we now suffer, dread none of our parents could imagine in 1950, will play a central role in our children’s lives – face to face, as they may be, against the failure of the earth to sustain itself as an organism complex and resilient enough to support a species as extractive and destructive as ours.

    We can do better than that. And we do know how to do better: to conserve our dwindling fresh water supply, to switch to renewable energy. Three states alone have the wind power to provide electricity to the nation as a whole. We do not have to pay public subsidies to poison our fields. We have the capacity to develop a sophisticated, low-impact agriculture free of pesticides. We are beginning to understand how to make products from recycled materials that can be recycled again, which would bring to a close the era of junk. And we can save wildlands to give a diversity of species a rest from exploitation and some distance from the human hand.

    We can use our human ingenuity to steward rather than pillage our remaining inheritance. But the need is urgent. Many ecologists think that turnaround may not be possible much longer.

    Jobs and the economy, national security, health care, education: all are important. But this is the time to vote the environment first – locally, statewide, nationally – so that a civil human society and a survivable planet will be possible by the time this year’s babies reach early middle age.

    Vote the environment November 2nd.

    Posted by Eric at 03:53 PM | Comments (13)

    October 06, 2004

    Wildlife: Who Needs It?

    WPost:

    The Bush administration has set aside Reagan-era rules aimed at protecting wildlife in national forests, rules that environmentalists had used to block logging projects in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.

    Under a temporary regulation published last week, U.S. Forest Service managers reviewing road-building, logging or other proposals are allowed to waive the 22-year-old requirement that the forests maintain "viable populations" of fish and wildlife. Instead of having to conduct population counts of representative species, for example, officials now can rely on "best available science," a less specific standard, to guide their decisions.

    The change, which is not subject to public comment, is the latest move in an ongoing battle over how to protect vulnerable species in national forests. The forests cover 191 million acres, or roughly 8 percent of the national landscape, and are home to one-quarter of the U.S. species at risk of extinction.

    On this note, allow me to plug the WWF, the non-wrestling interest group and still one of the best environmental groups out there.

    Posted by Eric at 12:23 PM | Comments (18)

    Bush Fails on Florida Water Rules

    From the Sierra Club on a federal court ruling:

    A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the Bush administration did not meet its obligations to protect Florida waters from pollution. Specifically, the Bush administration failed to require the State of Florida to clean up the state's most heavily polluted rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

    "The health and safety of Florida communities depends on cleaning up these waters polluted with mercury, fecal coliform and other dangerous toxics," said John Swingle, Sierra Club Florida Conservation Chair. "We need our federal and state leaders to do their jobs." ... By failing to act, the administration allowed the state to omit from its pollution clean-up list more than 100 waterbodies with fish consumptionadvisories due to mercury. Mercury is a toxic pollutant known to causeserious health effects to people, including damage to developing brains and neurological systems in fetuses and children. Among the waters with fish consumption advisories that are not included for clean up are Tampa Bay, Lake Kissimmee, Peace River, Escambia River and the Ochlockonee River. All of Florida's coastal waters and more than 100 of its rivers, streams, and lakes are under fish consumption advisories for mercury.

    Posted by Eric at 11:47 AM | Comments (34)

    September 23, 2004

    Bush Admin's Nuclear Weapons Policies: Failing America

    From NRDC:

    The Bush administration has squandered a historic opportunity to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security strategy, according to a report released today by the nuclear program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Instead, the administration has pursued programs to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons, and committed billions of dollars to upgrade the arsenal and refine nuclear strike plans against countries that were not targets during the Cold War. The result: Progress in curbing nuclear weapons proliferation has slowed to a crawl, and the federal government is wasting resources that could be better used to address the more pressing threat of terrorism. (See the report, Nuclear Insecurity.)

    "The fervor with which this administration continues its commitment to nuclear weapons as a vital component of global U.S. military superiority confers unwarranted legitimacy on the role of nuclear weapons in international relations, and encourages other countries to value them as well," said Dr. Robert S. Norris of NRDC's nuclear program. "The double standard evident in the administration's nuclear policies -- 'Do what I say, not what I do' -- makes a mockery of U.S. efforts to lead a campaign to stop nuclear proliferation." Norris added that the report is especially timely because Congress now has the opportunity to cut funding for the administration's "misguided" policies and initiatives in the energy and water development appropriations bills.

    Posted by Eric at 05:14 PM | Comments (73)

    The Prius a Hit

    The environmentally friendly car has been a hit for Toyota, reports Newsweek, and could impact the car industry:

    Since October, Toyota has had to increase production of the Prius three times, most dramatically in August when it announced a 50 percent boost for next year to 15,000 vehicles a month worldwide. That's a fraction of its Corolla output, but enough to raise serious questions about whether Toyota innovations are once again leading a major revolution in the American market. While the automaker plans to send most of the new production run to the United States, there are still 22,000 customers on waiting lists for the car. "We didn't know how the consumers would react to this technology," says Don Esmond, a senior vice president and general manager at Toyota. "They've voted for it, they've voted with their dollars."

    To be sure, the hybrid phenomenon is still only a ripple in the pool of American gas guzzlers. The highest estimates for the United States predict annual sales of 500,000 hybrid cars by 2009—about 3 percent of the 16.7 million car market. Analysts think that the price of fuel would have to hit $3 a gallon to see bigger sales sooner. Yet already the Prius is the first significant departure from the combustion engine to make any major inroads in the auto industry since Henry Ford invented the Model T in 1908. And major carmakers have learned never to ignore the ambitions of Toyota, arguably the best-run big automobile company in the world, with a reported stock-market value of $107 billion, almost four times more than GM or Ford. "For Toyota," says prominent Japanese car critic and environmental-technology specialist Tadashi Tateuchi, the hybrid car "may well be the key to world domination."

    Posted by Eric at 09:57 AM | Comments (44)

    September 22, 2004

    Oceans in Dire Straits

    But who uses those things anyway? Contra Costa Times:

    A federal report issued Monday concludes that a series of actions is urgently needed to prevent irreversible declines in the health of the world's oceans, shorelines and wetlands.

    The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, appointed three years ago by President Bush, issued its final report after finding fisheries in severe decline, coasts that are polluted and coastal wetlands being lost at a worrisome rate.

    The commission's bleak report recommends creating a new National Ocean Council in the White House, doubling research funding, reforming the councils that regulate coastal fisheries and increasing education on oceans.

    "We have a very, very large range of problems," said Frank Muller-Karger, a professor of oceanography at the University of South Florida and one of 16 commissioners.

    This is the report.

    Among some of the ocean advocacy groups out there: The Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Conservancy, and Shifting Baselines.

    Posted by Eric at 02:31 PM | Comments (47)

    September 20, 2004

    US Blocking Global Warming Report

    Now why would the Bush administration try to do that, given they don't believe in global warming? Scripps Howard:

    Bush administration is trying to bury an international report that contains recommendations on the impact of global warming on the people of the Arctic, an Arctic leader told a Senate panel yesterday.

    State Department officials are blocking the release of one of two reports that were to be presented to government ministers from eight Arctic nations at a meeting on Nov. 9 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sheila Watt-Cloutier of northern Quebec in Canada told the Senate Commerce Committee. She is chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, representing native people.

    Four years ago, the United States and other nations launched the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. More than 300 scientists participated.

    The results are contained in two reports - a scientific analysis and a report outlining policy recommendations - that were to be presented at the November meeting, Watt-Cloutier said.

    The science report will still be presented, but the United States has succeeded in blocking the release of the policy report at the meeting and is attempting to bury its recommendations in a "bureaucratic" report that will be sent to the governments of the countries involved at a later date, Watt-Cloutier said.

    More of the Bush record on the environment can be found here.

    Posted by Eric at 04:32 AM | Comments (34)

    September 16, 2004

    Activism: Send Bush a Letter re: Environment

    From the League of Conservation Voters:

    The Bush administration recently announced a plan to overturn a policy protecting nearly 60 million acres of America's last wild forests. Over 2.5 million Americans submitted public comments to protect American's forests, yet the Bush Administration is doing everything it can to undermine the public's support from refusing to defend the policy in court to exempting our largest national forest. Tell the Bush Administration to stop! Please send a letter to the Chief of the Forest Service and tell him Americans want our national forests protected for future generations. Help us send 1 million comments!
    Sign on here.

    Posted by Eric at 06:05 PM | Comments (55)

    Port Messes

    A new report from NRDC on harbor pollution; description:

    U.S. seaports are the largest and most poorly regulated sources of urban pollution in the country. This August 2004 report provides practical strategies and policies for port operators, regulatory agencies, and community-based organizations to reduce health-endangering air and water pollution, noise and light pollution that disrupts communities near ports, and harm to marine habitats. The report also provides information on the health effects of pollution from ports, which may include asthma, other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and premature death; and a comprehensive overview of policies governing U.S. marine ports. An earlier report grades the activities of the ten largest U.S. ports in the areas of air and water quality, land use, and community relations.
    Among some of the report notes:

  • "The health effects of pollution from ports may include asthma, other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and premature death. In children, these pollutants have been linked with asthma and bronchitis, and high levels of the pollutants have been associated with increases in school absenteeism and emergency room visits. In fact, numerous studies have shown that children living near busy diesel trucking routes are more likely to suffer from decreased lung function, wheezing, bronchitis, and allergies."

  • "Many major ports operate virtually next door to residential neighborhoods, schools, and playgrounds. Due to close proximity to ports, nearby communities face extraordinarily high health risks from associated air pollution. Many of these areas are low income communities of color, a fact that raises environmental justice concerns."

  • "Port operations can cause significant damage to water quality-and subsequently to marine life and ecosystems, as well as human health. These effects may include bacterial and viral contamination of commercial fish and shellfish, depletion of oxygen in water, and bioaccumulation of certain toxins in fish.8 Major water quality concerns at ports include wastewater and leaking of toxic substances from ships, stormwater runoff, and dredging."

    Posted by Eric at 08:36 AM | Comments (43)

    September 12, 2004

    Bush Environment Record an Issue in Nev.

    Will Bush's corporate ways bite him in the ass? AP:

    But Nevada, where Bush wants to entomb a half-century's waste from atomic power plants, is the only state where an environmental issue can realistically swing the outcome, according to environmental leaders and political analysts.

    "Kerry is competitive because of it," said Ted Jelen, chair of political science at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. "He otherwise wouldn't have much of a chance." ... Jelen said there is a widespread perception Bush lied about basing his decision on science, and Democrats profited with heavy turnout at caucuses in February. Yet environmental causes remain "an unpopular symbol" in a state heavy with ranching and mining interests.

    "Kerry's position is simple: 'Bush lied to you, I will reverse it.' The Republicans and the Bush campaign have not come up with a good response to that," Jelen said.

    Posted by Eric at 02:32 PM | Comments (26)

    September 07, 2004

    Defender Bear

    A 'Comedy Monday' ps - Defender Bear - "A campaign of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund to defeat George Bush."

    Posted by Eric at 06:26 PM | Comments (6)

    August 27, 2004

    EPA and Bush Admin at Odds Again

    From the Sierra Club, here's the EPA:

    Sewage overflows are bad for people's health, the economy, and the environment. The EPA's new report estimates that up to 75,000 discharges of raw sewage occur each year from sanitary sewer systems, releasing between 3 billion and 10 billion gallons of untreated wastewater. That sewage ends up in our drinking water sources, streams and homes. The threat to people's health is serious and widespread. Raw sewage typically contains bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that can cause a variety of illnesses, from mild gastroenteritis (stomach cramps and diarrhea) to life-threatening illnesses such as cholera, dysentery and infectious hepatitis.
    Now the Bush admin:
    The Bush administration put the brakes on a plan that would warn communities about overflows. In January 2001, the EPA proposed new requirements for fixing outdated sewer systems. The proposed rule would have protected the public from raw sewage by requiring improvements in the capacity, maintenance and operation of municipal sewage treatment systems. In addition, it would have required public reporting and notification of sewer overflows. The total cost would have amounted to less than two dollars-$1.92- per household per year. But the Bush administration, concerned about the costs of the proposal, blocked the proposal and refused to take any action, leaving people's health at risk and protections against sewage overflows on permanent hold.

    Further, the Bush administration has proposed massive cuts in funding to help municipal sewage treatment systems do a better job. In Fiscal Year 2005, for example, the administration proposed cutting $500 million for sewage treatment, a reduction of almost one-third - costs that financially strapped states and municipalities cannot afford.

    Posted by Eric at 02:42 AM | Comments (53)

    August 25, 2004

    Asian Pollution Reaches New England

    Another reason why countries need to work together on the environment. Another reason why you need a president who works with other countries. From E Magazine:

    An international group comprised of the world’s leading atmospheric scientists has found that airborne industrial pollution from Asia is lingering high over New England and the Atlantic Ocean this summer, raising concerns that improved American air quality in recent years may be jeopardized by the effects of increasing industrialization and weak regulation abroad.

    "We have to be concerned whether the cost of continuing to ratchet up emission controls is not going to be offset by growing pollution coming to us from Asia," says Daniel Jacob, deputy mission scientist for the study, dubbed the International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation. "At some point, it may be cheaper to sell pollution control equipment to China."

    According to University of New Hampshire atmospheric scientist and study team leader Robert Talbot, the new findings should lead to international treaties capping pollution outputs. "I don't think we had the knowledge that it was quite so extensive and quite so long-range,” he says. “Papers are starting to appear saying it may be difficult for several Pacific cities to meet pollution standards because of Asia."

    Posted by Eric at 01:01 PM | Comments (25)

    August 20, 2004

    EEA Report: Adapt Now

    In regards to the environment and climate change, Europe must "learn how to live with a changing climate as well as seeking to limit its effects by cutting emissions," a report from the European Environment Agency says:

    Europeans must learn how to live with a changing climate as well as seeking to limit its effects by cutting emissions, the European Environment Agency says.
    An EEA report, Impacts of Europe's changing climate, says fewer than 50 years remain to act against the threat.

    It says melting meant Europe's glaciers lost a tenth of their mass last year, and harvests fell by almost a third.

    The EEA says the climate change under way now probably exceeds all natural climate variation for a thousand years.

    Posted by Eric at 02:23 AM | Comments (32)

    EEA Report: Adapt Now

    In regards to the environment and climate change, Europe must "learn how to live with a changing climate as well as seeking to limit its effects by cutting emissions," a report from the European Environment Agency says:

    Europeans must learn how to live with a changing climate as well as seeking to limit its effects by cutting emissions, the European Environment Agency says.
    An EEA report, Impacts of Europe's changing climate, says fewer than 50 years remain to act against the threat.

    It says melting meant Europe's glaciers lost a tenth of their mass last year, and harvests fell by almost a third.

    The EEA says the climate change under way now probably exceeds all natural climate variation for a thousand years.

    Posted by Eric at 02:23 AM | Comments (2)

    August 19, 2004

    Sierra Club: Bush Admin Failed on 9/11 Cleanup

    From a just released report:

    Many are so debilitated by their physical conditions that they no longer can do their jobs, and most of them can no longer enjoy life as they used to. It is possible that many more will become ill in the coming years. People worry about cancer, weakened immunity, and reproductive effects, and many experts fear that some of these worries may well be justified. No one knows what tomorrow will bring for this exposed population.

    Much of the exposure that caused these illnesses, sadly, could have been avoided if our federal government had responded to the crisis of the terrorist attack with proper concern for the people exposed. On August 21, 2003, the Inspector General for the federal Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") released a disturbing165-page report documenting the fact that the White House Council on Environmental Quality blocked health risk information that EPA wanted to release to the public following the September 11, 2001 attack. That, however, is only part of the story.

    This report picks up where the EPA Inspector General's report left off. It identifies how not only EPA but also the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") failed the Ground Zero community, misinforming them about hazards and failing to take proper action to prevent exposures.

    Posted by Eric at 12:42 PM | Comments (21)

    Sierra Club: Bush Admin Failed on 9/11 Cleanup

    From a just released report:

    Many are so debilitated by their physical conditions that they no longer can do their jobs, and most of them can no longer enjoy life as they used to. It is possible that many more will become ill in the coming years. People worry about cancer, weakened immunity, and reproductive effects, and many experts fear that some of these worries may well be justified. No one knows what tomorrow will bring for this exposed population.

    Much of the exposure that caused these illnesses, sadly, could have been avoided if our federal government had responded to the crisis of the terrorist attack with proper concern for the people exposed. On August 21, 2003, the Inspector General for the federal Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") released a disturbing165-page report documenting the fact that the White House Council on Environmental Quality blocked health risk information that EPA wanted to release to the public following the September 11, 2001 attack. That, however, is only part of the story.

    This report picks up where the EPA Inspector General's report left off. It identifies how not only EPA but also the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") failed the Ground Zero community, misinforming them about hazards and failing to take proper action to prevent exposures.

    Posted by Eric at 12:42 PM | Comments (5)

    August 13, 2004

    More Smog = More Summer

    NRDC report: "Hot summer days are getting hotter because of global warming, but that's not all. This 2004 NRDC report shows that higher temperatures would also mean more summertime smog. The report presents a comprehensive new analysis by medical experts at the Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, University at Albany-SUNY, Yale University and University of Wisconsin-Madison. The analysis finds that people living in the eastern United States could see the average number of unhealthy air days during summer increase from 12 days to 20 days by the middle of the century. Pollen levels could also increase. Higher levels of smog and allergens would mean more asthma attacks, more hospitalizations, and more children told they can't play outdoors."

    Posted by Eric at 04:15 AM | Comments (13)

    More Smog = More Summer

    NRDC report: "Hot summer days are getting hotter because of global warming, but that's not all. This 2004 NRDC report shows that higher temperatures would also mean more summertime smog. The report presents a comprehensive new analysis by medical experts at the Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, University at Albany-SUNY, Yale University and University of Wisconsin-Madison. The analysis finds that people living in the eastern United States could see the average number of unhealthy air days during summer increase from 12 days to 20 days by the middle of the century. Pollen levels could also increase. Higher levels of smog and allergens would mean more asthma attacks, more hospitalizations, and more children told they can't play outdoors."

    Posted by Eric at 04:15 AM | Comments (3)

    August 11, 2004

    Bush and the "Roadless Area" Rule

    Guess what he's doing with that? NRDC:

    7. What is the Bush administration's position on the roadless rule?

    Using a range of tactics, the Bush administration has attempted to dismantle the roadless rule since taking office. For example, the administration has repeatedly refused to defend the rule in court, and in December 2003, Bush officials "temporarily" exempted Alaska's Tongass rainforest -- our largest national forest -- from roadless protections. They are now moving forward with approximately 50 timber sales in Tongass that would violate the rule.

    In its most aggressive assault yet on America's last wild forestlands, the administration announced in July 2004 its plan to eliminate the roadless rule completely. If successful, this move would allow unbridled development on millions of acres in pristine forests across the country, including the Tongass National Forest. In the past, though, heavy support for the roadless rule among Americans has helped derail the administration's damaging plans; continued public support of the rule will be critical to the effort to defend it.

    8. Without the roadless rule, who would decide the fate of our national forests?

    To draw attention away from its controversial plan to abandon the roadless rule, the Bush administration has said it will create a process whereby governors can petition the Forest Service to protect roadless areas in their states. This proposal, however, does nothing to bolster local input: governors, like any other individuals, already have the right to petition the Forest Service to make changes in the management plans of their local forests -- both for or against protections. The new petitioning process would impose deadlines on governors and would require them to conduct cumbersome analyses and reviews. Also, the federal government would still have the authority to accept or reject a governor's request.

    Posted by Eric at 05:03 AM | Comments (14)

    Bush and the "Roadless Area" Rule

    Guess what he's doing with that? NRDC:

    7. What is the Bush administration's position on the roadless rule?

    Using a range of tactics, the Bush administration has attempted to dismantle the roadless rule since taking office. For example, the administration has repeatedly refused to defend the rule in court, and in December 2003, Bush officials "temporarily" exempted Alaska's Tongass rainforest -- our largest national forest -- from roadless protections. They are now moving forward with approximately 50 timber sales in Tongass that would violate the rule.

    In its most aggressive assault yet on America's last wild forestlands, the administration announced in July 2004 its plan to eliminate the roadless rule completely. If successful, this move would allow unbridled development on millions of acres in pristine forests across the country, including the Tongass National Forest. In the past, though, heavy support for the roadless rule among Americans has helped derail the administration's damaging plans; continued public support of the rule will be critical to the effort to defend it.

    8. Without the roadless rule, who would decide the fate of our national forests?

    To draw attention away from its controversial plan to abandon the roadless rule, the Bush administration has said it will create a process whereby governors can petition the Forest Service to protect roadless areas in their states. This proposal, however, does nothing to bolster local input: governors, like any other individuals, already have the right to petition the Forest Service to make changes in the management plans of their local forests -- both for or against protections. The new petitioning process would impose deadlines on governors and would require them to conduct cumbersome analyses and reviews. Also, the federal government would still have the authority to accept or reject a governor's request.

    Posted by Eric at 05:03 AM | Comments (7)

    August 06, 2004

    NRDC: More Dirty Beaches

    Whohoo!

  • " "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches" reports there were more than 18,000 days of closings and advisories at ocean and Great Lakes beaches last year -- an increase of 51 percent from 2002."

  • "The report found that the number of beach closing and advisory days jumped from 12,078 days in 2002 to 18,284 days in 2003, an increase of 6,206 days. Florida alone accounted for more than a third of the increase partly due to the fact that the state increased monitoring frequency and adopted the Environmental Protection Agency's health standards for the first full year. The states with the largest percentage jump in closing and advisory days between 2002 and 2003 were Delaware (+82 percent), Florida (+128 percent), Mississippi (+337 percent), New Jersey (+318 percent), New York (+138 percent), Rhode Island (+196 percent) and South Carolina (+162 percent). North Carolina, meanwhile, went from no closing and advisory days in 2002 to 567 in 2003."

  • "One of the report's most disturbing findings is that local authorities did not know the sources of pollution causing or contributing to 68 percent of the closing and advisory days last year -- the highest rate of "unknown sources" in the 14 years NRDC has been issuing the survey."

  • "This year's White House budget proposal includes dramatic cuts in Clean Water Act funding. Specifically, the White House's budget reduced the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by more than a third (about $500 million) below last year's funding level, the largest cutback of any environmental program. On average, that amounts to more than a $1 million cut for every congressional district. Congress should restore the funding and the president should approve it. Thirty years ago the federal government funded 20 percent of the costs of maintaining a clean water infrastructure across the country. Today the federal government funds a mere 5 percent of these costs."

    Posted by Eric at 06:13 AM | Comments (48)

    NRDC: More Dirty Beaches

    Whohoo!

  • " "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches" reports there were more than 18,000 days of closings and advisories at ocean and Great Lakes beaches last year -- an increase of 51 percent from 2002."

  • "The report found that the number of beach closing and advisory days jumped from 12,078 days in 2002 to 18,284 days in 2003, an increase of 6,206 days. Florida alone accounted for more than a third of the increase partly due to the fact that the state increased monitoring frequency and adopted the Environmental Protection Agency's health standards for the first full year. The states with the largest percentage jump in closing and advisory days between 2002 and 2003 were Delaware (+82 percent), Florida (+128 percent), Mississippi (+337 percent), New Jersey (+318 percent), New York (+138 percent), Rhode Island (+196 percent) and South Carolina (+162 percent). North Carolina, meanwhile, went from no closing and advisory days in 2002 to 567 in 2003."

  • "One of the report's most disturbing findings is that local authorities did not know the sources of pollution causing or contributing to 68 percent of the closing and advisory days last year -- the highest rate of "unknown sources" in the 14 years NRDC has been issuing the survey."

  • "This year's White House budget proposal includes dramatic cuts in Clean Water Act funding. Specifically, the White House's budget reduced the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by more than a third (about $500 million) below last year's funding level, the largest cutback of any environmental program. On average, that amounts to more than a $1 million cut for every congressional district. Congress should restore the funding and the president should approve it. Thirty years ago the federal government funded 20 percent of the costs of maintaining a clean water infrastructure across the country. Today the federal government funds a mere 5 percent of these costs."

    Posted by Eric at 06:13 AM | Comments (0)

    July 31, 2004

    More Inaction from the Ironic Name Agency

    EPA "will no longer have to consult with wildlife agencies before deciding whether pesticides are likely to harm threatened or endangered species." WP:

    Under current regulations, the EPA must get written approval from the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service before ruling that a new pesticide would not "adversely affect" imperiled plants and animals. Bush officials said the new rules would streamline the process by entrusting EPA scientists with the job of deciding how pest controls affect endangered species.

    ... The change will allow agency officials to "focus on those ingredients that are of most concern" rather than scrutinizing how hundreds of compounds could affect about 1,200 threatened and endangered species across the nation, said Adam Sharp, the associate assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.

    Environmentalists, of course, criticized the decision:
    Grant Cope, an associate attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice, said the new rule "is a drastic weakening of protections for all endangered species across the country."

    "If you take the experts out of the room because you don't like what they're saying, that's one way to streamline the registration of dangerous pesticides," he said.

    Posted by Eric at 07:36 AM | Comments (36)

    More Inaction from the Ironic Name Agency

    EPA "will no longer have to consult with wildlife agencies before deciding whether pesticides are likely to harm threatened or endangered species." WP:

    Under current regulations, the EPA must get written approval from the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service before ruling that a new pesticide would not "adversely affect" imperiled plants and animals. Bush officials said the new rules would streamline the process by entrusting EPA scientists with the job of deciding how pest controls affect endangered species.

    ... The change will allow agency officials to "focus on those ingredients that are of most concern" rather than scrutinizing how hundreds of compounds could affect about 1,200 threatened and endangered species across the nation, said Adam Sharp, the associate assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.

    Environmentalists, of course, criticized the decision:
    Grant Cope, an associate attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice, said the new rule "is a drastic weakening of protections for all endangered species across the country."

    "If you take the experts out of the room because you don't like what they're saying, that's one way to streamline the registration of dangerous pesticides," he said.

    Posted by Eric at 07:36 AM | Comments (3)

    July 27, 2004

    Wildlands at Risk

    A new report from The Sierra Club, available online, contends that "America's wildlands are facing an unprecedented threat from Bush administration policies that are threatening to destroy these special places and reverse decades of progress on public lands protection."

    An example of a wildland place at risk: Sierra Nevada

    In January 2001, the Forest Service released a new comprehensive plan for managing all 11 national forests in Californias Sierra Nevada. Known as the Sierra Framework, the plan would affect 11 million acres.

    It was the culmination of 14 years of extensive planning, research and public input, and virtually all stakeholders except logging companies lauded the Framework for its ancient forest reserves, habitat protections for the spotted owl and Southern Fisher, and fuels-reduction program that removed small trees and brush near communities. In fact, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has made protection of Sierra Nevada forests and support for the Framework one of his environmental priorities.

    Under the Bush administration, however, the Forest Service disregarded years of scientific research and drastically altered the Sierra Framework, replacing ecologically sound recommendations with plans to eliminate old growth forest protection and intensify logging of larger, fire-resistant trees.

    In January 2004, the administration announced a plan to triple logging in the Sierra Nevada. The new plan would not only allow large numbers of trees to be cut but also allows timber companies to log trees up to 30-inches in diameter across the entire range.

    Also see Stewart L. Udall's Bush's Dark Pages in Conservation History in the LA Times.

    Sign a petition here.

    Posted by Eric at 06:00 AM | Comments (19)

    Wildlands at Risk

    A new report from The Sierra Club, available online, contends that "America's wildlands are facing an unprecedented threat from Bush administration policies that are threatening to destroy these special places and reverse decades of progress on public lands protection."

    An example of a wildland place at risk: Sierra Nevada

    In January 2001, the Forest Service released a new comprehensive plan for managing all 11 national forests in Californias Sierra Nevada. Known as the Sierra Framework, the plan would affect 11 million acres.

    It was the culmination of 14 years of extensive planning, research and public input, and virtually all stakeholders except logging companies lauded the Framework for its ancient forest reserves, habitat protections for the spotted owl and Southern Fisher, and fuels-reduction program that removed small trees and brush near communities. In fact, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has made protection of Sierra Nevada forests and support for the Framework one of his environmental priorities.

    Under the Bush administration, however, the Forest Service disregarded years of scientific research and drastically altered the Sierra Framework, replacing ecologically sound recommendations with plans to eliminate old growth forest protection and intensify logging of larger, fire-resistant trees.

    In January 2004, the administration announced a plan to triple logging in the Sierra Nevada. The new plan would not only allow large numbers of trees to be cut but also allows timber companies to log trees up to 30-inches in diameter across the entire range.

    Also see Stewart L. Udall's Bush's Dark Pages in Conservation History in the LA Times.

    Sign a petition here.

    Posted by Eric at 06:00 AM | Comments (0)

    July 23, 2004

    White House Environmental Accomplishments?

    The NRDC does a rather good job refuting White House talking points on the environment. Por ejemplo:

    WH Claim: Of the $4.9 billion maintenance backlog plaguing national parks, $2.8 billion has been allocated and another $1.1 billion proposed.

    Reality: The White House's numbers don't add up. The General Accounting Office estimates the current maintenance backlog is between $4 billion and $6.8 billion. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the administration has so far provided only $662 million to address that backlog. The FY 2005 budget proposes only $350 million in new money to address the maintenance backlog. (To the consternation of conservationists, the administration also has shifted money away from other essential park programs.) On average, national parks are operating with only two thirds of the necessary funding, a system-wide shortfall that translates to more than $600 million annually ...

    WH Claim: Committed to cutting greenhouse gas "intensity" (ratio of emissions to economic output) by 18 percent by 2012.

    Reality: Total emissions will still increase under this plan by as much as 19 percent because of expected economic growth. That is about the same rate of reduction in carbon intensity that has occurred over the past 12 years, according to an Energy Department analysis. In other words, this is a do-nothing approach.

    Posted by Eric at 07:00 AM | Comments (37)

    White House Environmental Accomplishments?

    The NRDC does a rather good job refuting White House talking points on the environment. Por ejemplo:

    WH Claim: Of the $4.9 billion maintenance backlog plaguing national parks, $2.8 billion has been allocated and another $1.1 billion proposed.

    Reality: The White House's numbers don't add up. The General Accounting Office estimates the current maintenance backlog is between $4 billion and $6.8 billion. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the administration has so far provided only $662 million to address that backlog. The FY 2005 budget proposes only $350 million in new money to address the maintenance backlog. (To the consternation of conservationists, the administration also has shifted money away from other essential park programs.) On average, national parks are operating with only two thirds of the necessary funding, a system-wide shortfall that translates to more than $600 million annually ...

    WH Claim: Committed to cutting greenhouse gas "intensity" (ratio of emissions to economic output) by 18 percent by 2012.

    Reality: Total emissions will still increase under this plan by as much as 19 percent because of expected economic growth. That is about the same rate of reduction in carbon intensity that has occurred over the past 12 years, according to an Energy Department analysis. In other words, this is a do-nothing approach.

    Posted by Eric at 07:00 AM | Comments (1)

    July 22, 2004

    Where Bush Gets His "Science"

    Environmental Defense on the oil industry's so called environmental experts. Surprise! They're also extremely well paid:

    Posted by Eric at 07:59 PM | Comments (7)

    Where Bush Gets His "Science"

    Environmental Defense on the oil industry's so called environmental experts. Surprise! They're also extremely well paid:

    Posted by Eric at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

    July 20, 2004

    Republican EPA Head Criticizes Bush

    And it's no wonder why. From the AP:

    The head of the Environmental Protection Agency for two Republican presidents criticized President Bush's record on Monday, calling it a "polluter protection" policy.

    Russell E. Train, who headed the EPA from September 1973 to January 1977 - part of the Nixon and Ford administrations - said Bush's record on the environment was so dismal that he would cast his vote for Democrat John Kerry.

    ... In 1988, Train was co-chairman of Conservationists for Bush, an organization that backed the candidacy of George W. Bush's father.

    And here's the snap:
    "It's almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection," Train said.
    Ohh snap.

    Posted by Eric at 06:52 AM | Comments (13)

    Republican EPA Head Criticizes Bush

    And it's no wonder why. From the AP:

    The head of the Environmental Protection Agency for two Republican presidents criticized President Bush's record on Monday, calling it a "polluter protection" policy.

    Russell E. Train, who headed the EPA from September 1973 to January 1977 - part of the Nixon and Ford administrations - said Bush's record on the environment was so dismal that he would cast his vote for Democrat John Kerry.

    ... In 1988, Train was co-chairman of Conservationists for Bush, an organization that backed the candidacy of George W. Bush's father.

    And here's the snap:
    "It's almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection," Train said.
    Ohh snap.

    Posted by Eric at 06:52 AM | Comments (6)

    July 19, 2004

    Human Carbon Dioxide Releases Screwing Oceans Too

    So it's a good thing we have a president who believes in science. From the SJ Mercury News:

    Nearly half of the carbon dioxide released by human activity since the start of the Industrial Revolution has wound up in the oceans, changing the chemistry of the water on a vast scale and possibly endangering sea life.

    That's the conclusion of two studies, released Thursday, that attempt to document this change for the first time. They are based on more than 72,000 measurements of carbon in the oceans taken during two international surveys from 1989-1998.

    If the trend continues -- and scientists have every reason to think it will, with fossil-fuel emissions growing exponentially -- ocean waters will become ever more acidic, compromising the ability of organisms to make the protective shells they need to survive, researchers say.

    Although the impacts on ecosystems are unknown, they could be enormous, given the huge numbers of shelled creatures that live in the seas. They range from floating one-celled plants and animals that are the basis of the food chain to coral reefs and bottom-dwelling clams.

    Posted by Eric at 06:42 AM | Comments (21)

    Human Carbon Dioxide Releases Screwing Oceans Too

    So it's a good thing we have a president who believes in science. From the SJ Mercury News:

    Nearly half of the carbon dioxide released by human activity since the start of the Industrial Revolution has wound up in the oceans, changing the chemistry of the water on a vast scale and possibly endangering sea life.

    That's the conclusion of two studies, released Thursday, that attempt to document this change for the first time. They are based on more than 72,000 measurements of carbon in the oceans taken during two international surveys from 1989-1998.

    If the trend continues -- and scientists have every reason to think it will, with fossil-fuel emissions growing exponentially -- ocean waters will become ever more acidic, compromising the ability of organisms to make the protective shells they need to survive, researchers say.

    Although the impacts on ecosystems are unknown, they could be enormous, given the huge numbers of shelled creatures that live in the seas. They range from floating one-celled plants and animals that are the basis of the food chain to coral reefs and bottom-dwelling clams.

    Posted by Eric at 06:42 AM | Comments (2)

    June 30, 2004

    Report: Latinos Suffering from Environmental Impacts

    The Siera Club has "released its first-ever Latino Communities at Risk Report and a companion Spanish-language television ad to detail the cumulative impact of harmful Bush administration environmental policies on Hispanic communities." Among some of the findings:

  • "The Hispanic community is disproportionately at risk. Study after study has shown that Hispanic communities are located in the most polluted areas of cities. Three out of every five Latinos live in communities near uncontrolled toxic waste sites. Eighty percent of Latinos live in the 437 counties with the country's worst air, compared to 57 percent of Anglos and 65 percent of African Americans. And 90 percent of farm workers are Hispanic and are still exposed to extremely dangerous pesticides."
  • "Changes to the Clean Air Act proposed by the Bush administration will allow more air pollution that is linked to asthma. The EPA warned us not to eat certain kinds of fish because of mercury contamination the same week it proposed allowing polluters to emit more mercury for at least a decade longer. These and other stories are detailed in the following pages."

    Most of the report, however, centers on "looks behind the policy and the numbers to tell the stories of 12 individuals and families whose health and livelihoods have been directly affected by the Bush administration's devastating environmental policies."

    Posted by Eric at 05:50 AM | Comments (4)

    Report: Latinos Suffering from Environmental Impacts

    The Siera Club has "released its first-ever Latino Communities at Risk Report and a companion Spanish-language television ad to detail the cumulative impact of harmful Bush administration environmental policies on Hispanic communities." Among some of the findings:

  • "The Hispanic community is disproportionately at risk. Study after study has shown that Hispanic communities are located in the most polluted areas of cities. Three out of every five Latinos live in communities near uncontrolled toxic waste sites. Eighty percent of Latinos live in the 437 counties with the country's worst air, compared to 57 percent of Anglos and 65 percent of African Americans. And 90 percent of farm workers are Hispanic and are still exposed to extremely dangerous pesticides."
  • "Changes to the Clean Air Act proposed by the Bush administration will allow more air pollution that is linked to asthma. The EPA warned us not to eat certain kinds of fish because of mercury contamination the same week it proposed allowing polluters to emit more mercury for at least a decade longer. These and other stories are detailed in the following pages."

    Most of the report, however, centers on "looks behind the policy and the numbers to tell the stories of 12 individuals and families whose health and livelihoods have been directly affected by the Bush administration's devastating environmental policies."

    Posted by Eric at 05:50 AM | Comments (1)

    June 24, 2004

    Next Oil Stop: Great Barrier Reef

    Australia "has increased tax concessions to encourage oil exploration in the far reaches of the Great Barrier Reef," reports Reuters:

    The world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,000km north to south along Australia's northeast coast and attracts nearly 2 million tourists a year.

    Environmental groups warn an oil spill on the reef, unlike the Exxon Valdez leak in Alaska in 1989, could not be cleaned up or washed away because the oil would permeate the living coral.

    "It's not like rocks. You can't walk around on it and sponge it up and soak it up. Once it's into that porous structure, that reef will be contaminated for decades," said James McLellan, coordinator for the Northern Queensland Conservation Council.

    Prime Minister John Howard last week released a major energy policy, "Securing Australia's Energy Future," which identified four oil basins on the outer edge of the reef for exploration.

    "Encouraging further exploration in these areas is in Australia's interest and is a high priority for government," the report said.

    Posted by Eric at 01:10 AM | Comments (13)

    Next Oil Stop: Great Barrier Reef

    Australia "has increased tax concessions to encourage oil exploration in the far reaches of the Great Barrier Reef," reports Reuters:

    The world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,000km north to south along Australia's northeast coast and attracts nearly 2 million tourists a year.

    Environmental groups warn an oil spill on the reef, unlike the Exxon Valdez leak in Alaska in 1989, could not be cleaned up or washed away because the oil would permeate the living coral.

    "It's not like rocks. You can't walk around on it and sponge it up and soak it up. Once it's into that porous structure, that reef will be contaminated for decades," said James McLellan, coordinator for the Northern Queensland Conservation Council.

    Prime Minister John Howard last week released a major energy policy, "Securing Australia's Energy Future," which identified four oil basins on the outer edge of the reef for exploration.

    "Encouraging further exploration in these areas is in Australia's interest and is a high priority for government," the report said.

    Posted by Eric at 01:10 AM | Comments (3)

    June 23, 2004

    11 States and 14 Environmental Groups File Brief Against Bush re: Global Warming

    Earthjustice on the legal action:

    A coalition including 11 states and 14 environmental groups today filed a brief in a case challenging the Bush administration's continued failure to confront global warming. The plaintiffs are targeting the Environmental Protection Agency's unprecedented ruling that summarily disavowed the agency's long-standing Clean Air Act authority to regulate global warming emissions. The states, cities, and groups challenged EPA's decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

    "EPA's policy reversal is a crude attempt by the Bush administration to tie its own hands, and then claim that it is powerless to address the critical issue of global warming," said David Bookbinder, Washington Legal Director for the Sierra Club.

    On August 28, 2003, EPA officials reversed long-standing policy with an administrative ruling that denied authority to control heat-trapping emissions like carbon dioxide, claiming they do not meet the Clean Air Act definition of a "pollutant." The ruling came in response to a 1999 petition by the International Center for Technology Assessment, Greenpeace, and other environmental organizations asking the EPA to comply with the law, which requires the agency to protect Americans against all harmful pollutants, including emissions that damage the climate.

    "The Bush administration tried to say yet again that it's not their job to fight global warming. In fact they have both the legal and moral responsibility to tackle global warming pollution," said Bookbinder.

    Posted by Eric at 02:05 AM | Comments (40)

    11 States and 14 Environmental Groups File Brief Against Bush re: Global Warming

    Earthjustice on the legal action:

    A coalition including 11 states and 14 environmental groups today filed a brief in a case challenging the Bush administration's continued failure to confront global warming. The plaintiffs are targeting the Environmental Protection Agency's unprecedented ruling that summarily disavowed the agency's long-standing Clean Air Act authority to regulate global warming emissions. The states, cities, and groups challenged EPA's decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

    "EPA's policy reversal is a crude attempt by the Bush administration to tie its own hands, and then claim that it is powerless to address the critical issue of global warming," said David Bookbinder, Washington Legal Director for the Sierra Club.

    On August 28, 2003, EPA officials reversed long-standing policy with an administrative ruling that denied authority to control heat-trapping emissions like carbon dioxide, claiming they do not meet the Clean Air Act definition of a "pollutant." The ruling came in response to a 1999 petition by the International Center for Technology Assessment, Greenpeace, and other environmental organizations asking the EPA to comply with the law, which requires the agency to protect Americans against all harmful pollutants, including emissions that damage the climate.

    "The Bush administration tried to say yet again that it's not their job to fight global warming. In fact they have both the legal and moral responsibility to tackle global warming pollution," said Bookbinder.

    Posted by Eric at 02:05 AM | Comments (5)

    June 17, 2004

    Shell Boss on Environment: "really very worried for the planet"

    Geeez, when the head of one of the largest oil companies starts to worry about global warming, you'd think it's about time our president show some concern. From The Guardian:

    In an interview in today's Guardian Life section, Ron Oxburgh, chairman of Shell, says we urgently need to capture emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which scientists think contribute to global warming, and store them underground - a technique called carbon sequestration.

    "Sequestration is difficult, but if we don't have sequestration then I see very little hope for the world," said Lord Oxburgh. "No one can be comfortable at the prospect of continuing to pump out the amounts of carbon dioxide that we are pumping out at present ... with consequences that we really can't predict but are probably not good."

    His comments will enrage many in the oil industry, which is targeted by climate change campaigners because the use of its products spews out huge quantities of carbon dioxide, most visibly from vehicle exhausts.

    Posted by Eric at 12:52 AM | Comments (39)

    Shell Boss on Environment: "really very worried for the planet"

    Geeez, when the head of one of the largest oil companies starts to worry about global warming, you'd think it's about time our president show some concern. From The Guardian:

    In an interview in today's Guardian Life section, Ron Oxburgh, chairman of Shell, says we urgently need to capture emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which scientists think contribute to global warming, and store them underground - a technique called carbon sequestration.

    "Sequestration is difficult, but if we don't have sequestration then I see very little hope for the world," said Lord Oxburgh. "No one can be comfortable at the prospect of continuing to pump out the amounts of carbon dioxide that we are pumping out at present ... with consequences that we really can't predict but are probably not good."

    His comments will enrage many in the oil industry, which is targeted by climate change campaigners because the use of its products spews out huge quantities of carbon dioxide, most visibly from vehicle exhausts.

    Posted by Eric at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

    June 16, 2004

    Climate Scientists Urge Action

    Ten scientists are urging action on global warming, reports the BBC:

    The team called for a major shift to cleaner fuel technologies to constrain the rapid growth in greenhouse gases.

    "We're in the middle of a large, uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have," said Don Kennedy, the editor-in-chief of Science magazine.

    "Global warming has taken place and at our present rate of doing business, there is going to be a lot more of it and it will have serious consequences," added the co-organiser of the open gathering of researchers in Washington DC ...

    The researchers, who met at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, urged US policymakers and the public not to get hung up on the uncertainties that still surrounded climate science - and not to use gaps in knowledge as an excuse for inaction.

    "A combination of the models and the data, including the deep-past climate records, are really pretty convincing that if you increase the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels from today's values of 370 parts per million to a 1,000 ppm - which we are going to do within the next 150 years without a doubt - it is going to be a very different world," said David Battisti, from the University of Washington in Seattle.

    Posted by Eric at 01:07 AM | Comments (1)

    Climate Scientists Urge Action

    Ten scientists are urging action on global warming, reports the BBC:

    The team called for a major shift to cleaner fuel technologies to constrain the rapid growth in greenhouse gases.

    "We're in the middle of a large, uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have," said Don Kennedy, the editor-in-chief of Science magazine.

    "Global warming has taken place and at our present rate of doing business, there is going to be a lot more of it and it will have serious consequences," added the co-organiser of the open gathering of researchers in Washington DC ...

    The researchers, who met at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, urged US policymakers and the public not to get hung up on the uncertainties that still surrounded climate science - and not to use gaps in knowledge as an excuse for inaction.

    "A combination of the models and the data, including the deep-past climate records, are really pretty convincing that if you increase the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels from today's values of 370 parts per million to a 1,000 ppm - which we are going to do within the next 150 years without a doubt - it is going to be a very different world," said David Battisti, from the University of Washington in Seattle.

    Posted by Eric at 01:07 AM | Comments (1)

    June 11, 2004

    Death, Illness Result from Coal Power Plants; Bush Plan Ineffective

    From the unfortunately named Cox News Service:

    Air pollution from coal-fired power plants cause about 24,000 premature deaths a year nationwide, a new study indicates.

    The study, prepared by Abt Associates, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's consultant on air pollution impacts, found that 22,000 of those deaths, along with many nonfatal heart attacks and tens of hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, could be prevented by requiring power plants to install currently available pollution control technology. However, revisions to federal pollution control rules favored by the Bush administration would reduce deaths far less _ by about 10,000 per year in 2020 _ than the limits a bipartisan group of senators proposed in 1999, the study concluded. Abt, based in Cambridge, Mass., released a similar study in 2000 before multiple medical studies linked power plant pollutants with increased risk of cancer and heart attacks.

    Meanwhile, the House of Reps is set to vote on drilling in ANWR. Tell your rep to vote no.

    Posted by Eric at 12:59 AM | Comments (22)

    Death, Illness Result from Coal Power Plants; Bush Plan Ineffective

    From the unfortunately named Cox News Service:

    Air pollution from coal-fired power plants cause about 24,000 premature deaths a year nationwide, a new study indicates.

    The study, prepared by Abt Associates, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's consultant on air pollution impacts, found that 22,000 of those deaths, along with many nonfatal heart attacks and tens of hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, could be prevented by requiring power plants to install currently available pollution control technology. However, revisions to federal pollution control rules favored by the Bush administration would reduce deaths far less _ by about 10,000 per year in 2020 _ than the limits a bipartisan group of senators proposed in 1999, the study concluded. Abt, based in Cambridge, Mass., released a similar study in 2000 before multiple medical studies linked power plant pollutants with increased risk of cancer and heart attacks.

    Meanwhile, the House of Reps is set to vote on drilling in ANWR. Tell your rep to vote no.

    Posted by Eric at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

    June 08, 2004

    Hybrid Car Sales Rising

    In Hawaii, an environmentally-conscious place (hard not to be), sales are rising:

    Sales are brisk, reports Servco Automotive, which runs the Toyota dealerships in Hawai'i. It has sold 160 Priuses since a redesigned 2004 model hit showrooms in October.

    Servco has another 200 people on a waiting list for the car, which starts at $20,810, with delivery time of three to six months, said Lance Ichimura, director for marketing.

    One of the hybrids is in Hamster's garage. And nationwide?
    Nationwide, sales of hybrids are expected to more than double this year to more than 100,000 vehicles and reach 440,000 vehicles by 2008, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

    That's still a tiny fraction of the 16 million new vehicles sold in the United States annually. Hawai'i dealers say, although hybrids are gaining, there's little sign of a slowdown in sales of gas-thirsty autos such as sport utility vehicles and trucks.

    Indeed, demand exceeds supply:
    Production is not keeping up with demand, though, and some Chicago area dealers say it could take a year to get a hybrid.

    The rising popularity of the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids come as sales of some of the biggest gas-guzzling SUVs continue to slip. Hummer sales in 2004 are down 26.4 percent compared with this time last year, officials said. The latest Hummer, the 6,400-pound H2, gets between 8 and 13 mpg.

    Posted by Eric at 01:07 AM | Comments (45)

    Hybrid Car Sales Rising

    In Hawaii, an environmentally-conscious place (hard not to be), sales are rising:

    Sales are brisk, reports Servco Automotive, which runs the Toyota dealerships in Hawai'i. It has sold 160 Priuses since a redesigned 2004 model hit showrooms in October.

    Servco has another 200 people on a waiting list for the car, which starts at $20,810, with delivery time of three to six months, said Lance Ichimura, director for marketing.

    One of the hybrids is in Hamster's garage. And nationwide?
    Nationwide, sales of hybrids are expected to more than double this year to more than 100,000 vehicles and reach 440,000 vehicles by 2008, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

    That's still a tiny fraction of the 16 million new vehicles sold in the United States annually. Hawai'i dealers say, although hybrids are gaining, there's little sign of a slowdown in sales of gas-thirsty autos such as sport utility vehicles and trucks.

    Indeed, demand exceeds supply:
    Production is not keeping up with demand, though, and some Chicago area dealers say it could take a year to get a hybrid.

    The rising popularity of the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids come as sales of some of the biggest gas-guzzling SUVs continue to slip. Hummer sales in 2004 are down 26.4 percent compared with this time last year, officials said. The latest Hummer, the 6,400-pound H2, gets between 8 and 13 mpg.

    Posted by Eric at 01:07 AM | Comments (2)

    June 07, 2004

    Senate Reclassifies Radioactive Waste

    As a result, the Feds will potentially avoid cleaning up radioactive waste ... NRDC:

    DOE is responsible for cleaning up 253 underground tanks containing approximately 100 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste in Washington, Idaho, South Carolina and New York. In July 2003, a federal district court ordered DOE to remove the highly toxic radioactive waste from the storage tanks, many of which have already begun leaking, to protect human health. The ruling prohibited DOE from arbitrarily "reclassifying" the waste as "Waste Incidental to Reprocessing" and abandoning the waste in tanks beneath a layer of grout as the agency had planned. DOE has appealed the district court decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Six states (South Carolina, Washington, Idaho, New York, Oregon and New Mexico) have written in support of upholding the district court's ruling ... In a stunning 48-48 vote, the U.S. Senate today rejected an amendment to strike language in the Defense Authorization funding bill that changes the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), allowing the Department of Energy (DOE) to reclassify lethal high-level radioactive waste as "Waste Incidental to Reprocessing" in South Carolina. The language in the bill, which was written by DOE and added in committee by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), will allow DOE to abandon potentially millions of gallons of highly radioactive waste in leaking tanks in South Carolina, and set an alarming precedent for similar nuclear waste cleanup sites in Idaho and Washington ... "Despite strong bi-partisan support for Senator Cantwell's amendment to strike a dangerous provision from the defense authorization bill, the effort to prevent the Bush administration from weakening nuclear waste protections fell in a tie vote.

    "Senator Graham has done the dirty work for the Department of Energy, rewriting nuclear cleanup laws behind closed doors despite the risks to South Carolina and other states.

    Posted by Eric at 03:26 AM | Comments (66)

    Senate Reclassifies Radioactive Waste

    As a result, the Feds will potentially avoid cleaning up radioactive waste ... NRDC:

    DOE is responsible for cleaning up 253 underground tanks containing approximately 100 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste in Washington, Idaho, South Carolina and New York. In July 2003, a federal district court ordered DOE to remove the highly toxic radioactive waste from the storage tanks, many of which have already begun leaking, to protect human health. The ruling prohibited DOE from arbitrarily "reclassifying" the waste as "Waste Incidental to Reprocessing" and abandoning the waste in tanks beneath a layer of grout as the agency had planned. DOE has appealed the district court decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Six states (South Carolina, Washington, Idaho, New York, Oregon and New Mexico) have written in support of upholding the district court's ruling ... In a stunning 48-48 vote, the U.S. Senate today rejected an amendment to strike language in the Defense Authorization funding bill that changes the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), allowing the Department of Energy (DOE) to reclassify lethal high-level radioactive waste as "Waste Incidental to Reprocessing" in South Carolina. The language in the bill, which was written by DOE and added in committee by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), will allow DOE to abandon potentially millions of gallons of highly radioactive waste in leaking tanks in South Carolina, and set an alarming precedent for similar nuclear waste cleanup sites in Idaho and Washington ... "Despite strong bi-partisan support for Senator Cantwell's amendment to strike a dangerous provision from the defense authorization bill, the effort to prevent the Bush administration from weakening nuclear waste protections fell in a tie vote.

    "Senator Graham has done the dirty work for the Department of Energy, rewriting nuclear cleanup laws behind closed doors despite the risks to South Carolina and other states.

    Posted by Eric at 03:26 AM | Comments (2)

    June 01, 2004

    Park Budgets Suffer Underfunding

    The country's national parks are suffering from chronic underfunding, according to a new survey from the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees. The Salt Lake Tribune:

    The 250-member Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees surveyed 12 national parks and found "a combination of significant cuts in budget, staff and visitor services at all of the parks."

    The finding raises questions about the Bush administration's stated goal to "restore and renew" the national parks, according to Bill Wade, former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park and spokesman for the coalition.

    In its report "Pretending to Protect the Parks," the coalition found:
    * Budgets were down at eight of the 12 parks surveyed.
    * Employee levels were reduced at all of the parks.
    * Six of the parks have cut visitor center hours or plan to cut them.
    * Nine of the parks have made cuts that will result in a reduced experience for visitors.

    However, a Republican from Utah says there's no problem because the Bush administration is quite competent:
    But Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, who sits on the House Resources Committee, defended Bush's approach, saying, "It's not so much the amount of money but how it's used.

    "The Bush administration is managing it so they get a good idea where the needs are for maintenance and improvement . . . so I think with the same money, we're doing a much better job."

    Posted by Eric at 12:22 PM | Comments (5)

    Park Budgets Suffer Underfunding

    The country's national parks are suffering from chronic underfunding, according to a new survey from the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees. The Salt Lake Tribune:

    The 250-member Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees surveyed 12 national parks and found "a combination of significant cuts in budget, staff and visitor services at all of the parks."

    The finding raises questions about the Bush administration's stated goal to "restore and renew" the national parks, according to Bill Wade, former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park and spokesman for the coalition.

    In its report "Pretending to Protect the Parks," the coalition found:
    * Budgets were down at eight of the 12 parks surveyed.
    * Employee levels were reduced at all of the parks.
    * Six of the parks have cut visitor center hours or plan to cut them.
    * Nine of the parks have made cuts that will result in a reduced experience for visitors.

    However, a Republican from Utah says there's no problem because the Bush administration is quite competent:
    But Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, who sits on the House Resources Committee, defended Bush's approach, saying, "It's not so much the amount of money but how it's used.

    "The Bush administration is managing it so they get a good idea where the needs are for maintenance and improvement . . . so I think with the same money, we're doing a much better job."

    Posted by Eric at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

    May 24, 2004

    Interior Department Threatens Western Lands

    In a move that shouldn't surprise even the casual observer of the Bush administration, the Interior Department is moving to allow gas and oil development in 33 million acres of Montana and Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Environmental Defense with more:

    The proposed new development calls for more than 100,000 new gas and oil wells (of which 88,000 are coal-bed methane, or natural gas) for one of the largest energy developments on federal lands in the Lower 48. This new development will entail building more than 23,000 miles of roads and thousands of miles of new pipelines and powerlines.

    The prairie landscape and rolling hills of the Powder River Basin are already pockmarked with thousands of coal-bed extraction sites crisscrossed with access roads and pipelines, which connect giant diesel drilling rigs, gas compressor stations, generators and other equipment often as large as locomotives. Extracting natural gas from a coal bed beneath the ground involves pumping massive amounts of water to the surface (millions of barrels of water a month - by some estimates it could take up to 1,000 years for aquifers to recharge).

    Besides decimating the beauty of the landscape and wasting huge amounts of water, the development threatens such species as pronghorn antelope and mule deer, whose migration routes are disrupted, and sage grouse, whose critical habitat is damaged or destroyed by the noisy machinery and traffic. Where once only the wind rippled the prairie grasses, now the roar of engines often dominates.

    Environmental Defense has also released a fact sheet (pdf) if you want to learn more.

    Posted by Eric at 11:21 PM | Comments (6)

    Interior Department Threatens Western Lands

    In a move that shouldn't surprise even the casual observer of the Bush administration, the Interior Department is moving to allow gas and oil development in 33 million acres of Montana and Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Environmental Defense with more:

    The proposed new development calls for more than 100,000 new gas and oil wells (of which 88,000 are coal-bed methane, or natural gas) for one of the largest energy developments on federal lands in the Lower 48. This new development will entail building more than 23,000 miles of roads and thousands of miles of new pipelines and powerlines.

    The prairie landscape and rolling hills of the Powder River Basin are already pockmarked with thousands of coal-bed extraction sites crisscrossed with access roads and pipelines, which connect giant diesel drilling rigs, gas compressor stations, generators and other equipment often as large as locomotives. Extracting natural gas from a coal bed beneath the ground involves pumping massive amounts of water to the surface (millions of barrels of water a month - by some estimates it could take up to 1,000 years for aquifers to recharge).

    Besides decimating the beauty of the landscape and wasting huge amounts of water, the development threatens such species as pronghorn antelope and mule deer, whose migration routes are disrupted, and sage grouse, whose critical habitat is damaged or destroyed by the noisy machinery and traffic. Where once only the wind rippled the prairie grasses, now the roar of engines often dominates.

    Environmental Defense has also released a fact sheet (pdf) if you want to learn more.

    Posted by Eric at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

    Scientists: 'The ice is melting much faster than we thought'

    From the UK Indy, global temps are causing the Greenland ice sheet to melt at a quicker than expected pace:

    Two recent climatic events are warning signs that climate change may be proceeding much more quickly than previously thought, James Lovelock claimed.

    They are the increasingly rapid melting of the Arctic ice-sheet covering Greenland, which will raise global sea levels considerably, and the extreme heatwave in western central Europe in the first two weeks of last August.

    The latter, which saw the British temperature record exceed 100F for the first time, produced 20,000 deaths of mostly elderly people in France, where heat levels, especially at night, were highest.

    Senior scientists, including a team from the Swiss Met Office and Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, have since said that last year's heatwave was entirely unprecedented in climatic history, and attributed it directly to climate change. "There's no question in any reasonable scientist's mind that that was the first real bad event of global warming," said Professor Lovelock. "But the media picked it up only as a story about the wickedness of the French in not looking after their old people."

    Just as alarming, he said, is the dissolving of the Greenland ice sheet, which measurements show is "melting far faster than we expected".

    Posted by Eric at 12:39 AM | Comments (24)

    Scientists: 'The ice is melting much faster than we thought'

    From the UK Indy, global temps are causing the Greenland ice sheet to melt at a quicker than expected pace:

    Two recent climatic events are warning signs that climate change may be proceeding much more quickly than previously thought, James Lovelock claimed.

    They are the increasingly rapid melting of the Arctic ice-sheet covering Greenland, which will raise global sea levels considerably, and the extreme heatwave in western central Europe in the first two weeks of last August.

    The latter, which saw the British temperature record exceed 100F for the first time, produced 20,000 deaths of mostly elderly people in France, where heat levels, especially at night, were highest.

    Senior scientists, including a team from the Swiss Met Office and Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, have since said that last year's heatwave was entirely unprecedented in climatic history, and attributed it directly to climate change. "There's no question in any reasonable scientist's mind that that was the first real bad event of global warming," said Professor Lovelock. "But the media picked it up only as a story about the wickedness of the French in not looking after their old people."

    Just as alarming, he said, is the dissolving of the Greenland ice sheet, which measurements show is "melting far faster than we expected".

    Posted by Eric at 12:39 AM | Comments (4)

    April 29, 2004

    Cities with the Worst Pollution

    From the American Lung Association, those partisan bastards. Reported by MSNBC:

    1. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA
    2. Fresno, CA
    3. Bakersfield, CA
    4. Visalia-Porterville, CA
    5. Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX
    6. Merced, CA
    7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Truckee, CA-NV
    8. Hanford-Corcoran, CA
    9. Knoxville-Sevierville-LA Follette, TN
    10. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
    11. Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV
    12. Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, PA-NJ-DE-MD
    13. New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA
    14. Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC
    15. Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, OH
    16. Greensboro--Winston-Salem--High Point, NC
    17. Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
    18. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
    18. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
    20. Modesto, CA
    So congrats, the OC.

    Posted by Eric at 06:57 PM | Comments (55)

    Cities with the Worst Pollution

    From the American Lung Association, those partisan bastards. Reported by MSNBC:

    1. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA
    2. Fresno, CA
    3. Bakersfield, CA
    4. Visalia-Porterville, CA
    5. Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX
    6. Merced, CA
    7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Truckee, CA-NV
    8. Hanford-Corcoran, CA
    9. Knoxville-Sevierville-LA Follette, TN
    10. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
    11. Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV
    12. Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, PA-NJ-DE-MD
    13. New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA
    14. Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC
    15. Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, OH
    16. Greensboro--Winston-Salem--High Point, NC
    17. Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA
    18. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
    18. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
    20. Modesto, CA
    So congrats, the OC.

    Posted by Eric at 06:57 PM | Comments (6)

    April 28, 2004

    Another Senior EPA Official Leaves

    This time, Marianne Lamont Horinko, from Grist:

    Christine Todd Whitman flew the coop last spring, and yesterday one of her right-hand women -- Marianne Lamont Horinko, the assistant EPA administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response -- announced that she will follow suit on June 1.

    Horinko served as the agency's acting administrator for four months after Whitman's departure from the top EPA spot and before Mike Leavitt's appointment as her replacement. During Horinko's tenure, she quietly -- and by all accounts deferentially -- took a beating in what is known to be one of the most thankless jobs inside the Beltway. In an email announcing her resignation to EPA staff, she wrote of the "strength and courage" needed to withstand the "slings and arrows" that came along with the job ... "Frankly, it's hard to believe that she lasted this long," said Barbara Elkus, a senior policy advisor at the League of Conservation Voters and a former EPA employee who worked with Horinko. "I think at one point in her career she had good environmental inklings, so I was surprised to see that she put up with so much. She did everything they told her to. Many people assumed it was because she hoped for something in exchange -- like Whitman's job. So it was another surprise that she stayed on when she didn't get it."

    Posted by Eric at 08:37 AM | Comments (14)

    Another Senior EPA Official Leaves

    This time, Marianne Lamont Horinko, from Grist:

    Christine Todd Whitman flew the coop last spring, and yesterday one of her right-hand women -- Marianne Lamont Horinko, the assistant EPA administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response -- announced that she will follow suit on June 1.

    Horinko served as the agency's acting administrator for four months after Whitman's departure from the top EPA spot and before Mike Leavitt's appointment as her replacement. During Horinko's tenure, she quietly -- and by all accounts deferentially -- took a beating in what is known to be one of the most thankless jobs inside the Beltway. In an email announcing her resignation to EPA staff, she wrote of the "strength and courage" needed to withstand the "slings and arrows" that came along with the job ... "Frankly, it's hard to believe that she lasted this long," said Barbara Elkus, a senior policy advisor at the League of Conservation Voters and a former EPA employee who worked with Horinko. "I think at one point in her career she had good environmental inklings, so I was surprised to see that she put up with so much. She did everything they told her to. Many people assumed it was because she hoped for something in exchange -- like Whitman's job. So it was another surprise that she stayed on when she didn't get it."

    Posted by Eric at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

    April 22, 2004

    Happy Earth Day

    From a guy who walks the walk, Robert Redford on behalf of the John Kerry campaign:

    Today is Earth Day and I am afraid. For three decades, we have been fighting to protect the environment and have been proud of the great strides our country has taken. If George Bush is reelected we can count on the continuation of his agenda to undo all the advances we have struggled to achieve.

    To put it simply, George Bush's environmental policies endanger our health, loot our natural resources, and destroy the possibility of a secure energy future. George Bush may claim his environmental policies promote "healthy forests" and "clear skies" but those labels are both disingenuous and false. Most of his initiatives are nothing more than payoffs for wealthy campaign contributors.

    We need a President who understands that patriotism includes protecting our nation's incomparable natural wonders, not looking at them merely as oil depositories. Throughout his career John Kerry has fought to clean up toxic waste sites, to keep our air and water clean, and to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other pristine wilderness areas. John Kerry has been one of the environment's greatest defenders.

    I believe John Kerry will do what the President of the United States should do, which is to genuinely lead with a new era of solutions that are good for jobs and economic growth, public health, and the environment. He deserves our support.

    On behalf of our environment, this Earth Day help me make sure the next generation will not have to deal with the devastating environmental consequences of the Bush Administration -- make a contribution to John Kerry today.

    Posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (58)

    Happy Earth Day

    From a guy who walks the walk, Robert Redford on behalf of the John Kerry campaign:

    Today is Earth Day and I am afraid. For three decades, we have been fighting to protect the environment and have been proud of the great strides our country has taken. If George Bush is reelected we can count on the continuation of his agenda to undo all the advances we have struggled to achieve.

    To put it simply, George Bush's environmental policies endanger our health, loot our natural resources, and destroy the possibility of a secure energy future. George Bush may claim his environmental policies promote "healthy forests" and "clear skies" but those labels are both disingenuous and false. Most of his initiatives are nothing more than payoffs for wealthy campaign contributors.

    We need a President who understands that patriotism includes protecting our nation's incomparable natural wonders, not looking at them merely as oil depositories. Throughout his career John Kerry has fought to clean up toxic waste sites, to keep our air and water clean, and to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other pristine wilderness areas. John Kerry has been one of the environment's greatest defenders.

    I believe John Kerry will do what the President of the United States should do, which is to genuinely lead with a new era of solutions that are good for jobs and economic growth, public health, and the environment. He deserves our support.

    On behalf of our environment, this Earth Day help me make sure the next generation will not have to deal with the devastating environmental consequences of the Bush Administration -- make a contribution to John Kerry today.

    Posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (8)

    April 19, 2004

    Environment: 150 Destructive Policies in 1 Year

    nrdccov.jpg

    NRDC's latest report, "Rewriting the Rules," documents the Bush administration's assault on the environment.

    Posted by Eric at 11:36 AM | Comments (57)

    Environment: 150 Destructive Policies in 1 Year

    nrdccov.jpg

    NRDC's latest report, "Rewriting the Rules," documents the Bush administration's assault on the environment.

    Posted by Eric at 11:36 AM | Comments (8)

    April 13, 2004

    "After decades of bombings, Hawaiian island begins to heal"

    Once used as target practice, the island of Kahoolawe, part of the Hawaiian Island chain, is trying to heal. AP:

    For nearly five decades after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the land was ravaged by bombs from U.S. planes and warships. But after years of protests and lawsuits, President George H.W. Bush ordered a halt to the exercises in 1990.

    Today, Hawaii's wet winter is evident in the swaths of green across Kahoolawe's typically barren plains and hills. For Davianna McGregor, an ethnic studies professor at the University of Hawaii and a member of the grass-roots Protect Kahoolawe Ohana, it's a sign of hope.

    "You feel like the island is finally at rest and can begin healing," she said ... Some 22,114 acres (8,845 hectares) of Kahoolawe's surface have been cleared of ordnance: about 84.5 percent, according to the Navy, which does not count 2,600 acres it deems completely inaccessible. Only 2,650 acres (1,060 hectares) 9 or 10 percent, depending who's counting has been cleared to four feet below ground, a level where native plants can possibly be grown as a first step in ending erosion.

    Work remains to be done on the island, said Stanton Enomoto, the acting executive director of Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.

    "That's always going to be a reminder to us," he said. "There's still an obligation on the part of the United States that they have to finish the job."

    Protect Kaho`olawe `Ohana is a 3rd party group devoted to the island, while the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission is a government site from Hawaii.

    Posted by Eric at 09:18 PM | Comments (29)

    "After decades of bombings, Hawaiian island begins to heal"

    Once used as target practice, the island of Kahoolawe, part of the Hawaiian Island chain, is trying to heal. AP:

    For nearly five decades after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the land was ravaged by bombs from U.S. planes and warships. But after years of protests and lawsuits, President George H.W. Bush ordered a halt to the exercises in 1990.

    Today, Hawaii's wet winter is evident in the swaths of green across Kahoolawe's typically barren plains and hills. For Davianna McGregor, an ethnic studies professor at the University of Hawaii and a member of the grass-roots Protect Kahoolawe Ohana, it's a sign of hope.

    "You feel like the island is finally at rest and can begin healing," she said ... Some 22,114 acres (8,845 hectares) of Kahoolawe's surface have been cleared of ordnance: about 84.5 percent, according to the Navy, which does not count 2,600 acres it deems completely inaccessible. Only 2,650 acres (1,060 hectares) 9 or 10 percent, depending who's counting has been cleared to four feet below ground, a level where native plants can possibly be grown as a first step in ending erosion.

    Work remains to be done on the island, said Stanton Enomoto, the acting executive director of Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.

    "That's always going to be a reminder to us," he said. "There's still an obligation on the part of the United States that they have to finish the job."

    Protect Kaho`olawe `Ohana is a 3rd party group devoted to the island, while the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission is a government site from Hawaii.

    Posted by Eric at 09:18 PM | Comments (6)

    March 16, 2004

    EPA: Mercury Rules Rewritten for Industry

    EPA staffers and even Republicans say the Bush White House has been making a mockery of the EPA which, last time I checked, was supposed to stand for the Environmental Protection Agency, not a pro-industry lobbying firm. LA Times:

    Political appointees in the Environmental Protection Agency bypassed agency professional staff and a federal advisory panel last year to craft a rule on mercury emissions preferred by the industry and the White House, several longtime EPA officials say.

    The EPA staffers say they were told not to undertake the normal scientific and economic studies called for under a standing executive order. At the same time, the proposal to regulate mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants was written using key language provided by utility lobbyists ... EPA veterans say they cannot recall another instance when the agency's technical experts were cut out of developing a major regulatory proposal.

    The administration chose a process "that would support the conclusion they wanted to reach," said John A. Paul, a Republican environmental regulator from Ohio who co-chaired the EPA-appointed advisory panel.

    He said its 21 months of work on mercury was ignored.

    "There is a politicization of the work of the agency that I have not seen before," said Bruce C. Buckheit, who served in major federal environmental posts for two decades. He retired in December as director of the EPA's Air Enforcement Division, partly because he felt enforcement was stymied. "A political agenda is driving the agency's output, rather than analysis and science," he said.

    And hey, here's another Republican:
    Russell E. Train, a Republican who headed the EPA during the Nixon and Ford administrations, said: "I think it is outrageous. The agency has strayed from its mission in the past three years."
    So why rewrite the rules for industry? Hmm ...

    Posted by Eric at 11:47 AM | Comments (55)

    EPA: Mercury Rules Rewritten for Industry

    EPA staffers and even Republicans say the Bush White House has been making a mockery of the EPA which, last time I checked, was supposed to stand for the Environmental Protection Agency, not a pro-industry lobbying firm. LA Times:

    Political appointees in the Environmental Protection Agency bypassed agency professional staff and a federal advisory panel last year to craft a rule on mercury emissions preferred by the industry and the White House, several longtime EPA officials say.

    The EPA staffers say they were told not to undertake the normal scientific and economic studies called for under a standing executive order. At the same time, the proposal to regulate mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants was written using key language provided by utility lobbyists ... EPA veterans say they cannot recall another instance when the agency's technical experts were cut out of developing a major regulatory proposal.

    The administration chose a process "that would support the conclusion they wanted to reach," said John A. Paul, a Republican environmental regulator from Ohio who co-chaired the EPA-appointed advisory panel.

    He said its 21 months of work on mercury was ignored.

    "There is a politicization of the work of the agency that I have not seen before," said Bruce C. Buckheit, who served in major federal environmental posts for two decades. He retired in December as director of the EPA's Air Enforcement Division, partly because he felt enforcement was stymied. "A political agenda is driving the agency's output, rather than analysis and science," he said.

    And hey, here's another Republican:
    Russell E. Train, a Republican who headed the EPA during the Nixon and Ford administrations, said: "I think it is outrageous. The agency has strayed from its mission in the past three years."
    So why rewrite the rules for industry? Hmm ...

    Posted by Eric at 11:47 AM | Comments (6)

    March 15, 2004

    Report Raises More Concerns About Climate Change

    From the World Resources Institute, warning of worsening climate changes:

    Data from WRI's Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) indicate greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, rose 11 percent over the last decade, and are expected to grow another 50 percent by 2020. Studies indicate that the hottest years this century occurred since 1990, the date from which the UNFCCC measures countries' efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    The United Kingdom's top scientist, Sir David King, has publicly warned that the most severe problem facing the world today is climate change. A recent report commissioned by the US Defense Department concluded that abrupt climate change from global warming could trigger war among states for food, water and energy, posing new threats to U.S. national security. A study released in January in Nature magazine suggested that up to 37% of all species in several biologically diverse regions could be driven extinct from the climate change that is likely to occur between now and 2050.

    Dr. David Jhirad, WRI's vice president for research and an international energy expert, believes that unprecedented technology innovation, policy leadership and private capital investment will be needed to solve this problem. "Accelerated development of a portfolio of technologies could stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, enhance global energy security, and eradicate energy poverty. We urgently need the political will and international cooperation to make this happen," he said.

    Posted by Eric at 05:41 PM | Comments (33)

    Report Raises More Concerns About Climate Change

    From the World Resources Institute, warning of worsening climate changes:

    Data from WRI's Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) indicate greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, rose 11 percent over the last decade, and are expected to grow another 50 percent by 2020. Studies indicate that the hottest years this century occurred since 1990, the date from which the UNFCCC measures countries' efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    The United Kingdom's top scientist, Sir David King, has publicly warned that the most severe problem facing the world today is climate change. A recent report commissioned by the US Defense Department concluded that abrupt climate change from global warming could trigger war among states for food, water and energy, posing new threats to U.S. national security. A study released in January in Nature magazine suggested that up to 37% of all species in several biologically diverse regions could be driven extinct from the climate change that is likely to occur between now and 2050.

    Dr. David Jhirad, WRI's vice president for research and an international energy expert, believes that unprecedented technology innovation, policy leadership and private capital investment will be needed to solve this problem. "Accelerated development of a portfolio of technologies could stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, enhance global energy security, and eradicate energy poverty. We urgently need the political will and international cooperation to make this happen," he said.

    Posted by Eric at 05:41 PM | Comments (8)

    March 06, 2004

    Industry Wins in Battle for the EPA

    How the energy / big oil industry won the battle for the environment, courtesy of the NY Times:

    In an administration that puts a premium on keeping its internal disputes private, this struggle went on well out of the public's view. But interviews and documents trace the decisions in which the Bush administration changed the nation's approach to environmental controls, ultimately shifting the balance to the side of energy policy. Senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, including Mrs. Whitman, became isolated, former aides said, and several resigned.

    Thirty years after the first Earth Day, the incoming administration was still confronting power-plant smokestacks spewing fumes. The policy questions were arcane, involving strategies to control polluting particles. At stake, though, were environmental risks to human health and the nation's ability to produce cheap energy, as well as decisions about how the most polluting industries would be monitored for decades to come.

    For operators of some coal-fired plants, the stakes were more tangible. Dozens of plants were facing lawsuits over air pollution brought by the Clinton administration and several northeastern states including New Jersey under Mrs. Whitman before she became head of the E.P.A. The industry, fearing billions of dollars in new costs, set about to undo the suits.

    One of the most important decisions was Mr. Bush's reversal of a campaign promise to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that many scientists say contributes to global warming. The administration also has proposed looser standards for emissions of mercury a highly toxic pollutant than President Bill Clinton had sought. The most protracted fight concerned the administration's decision to issue new rules that substantially reduced the requirements for utilities to build pollution controls when modernizing their plants. The final policy shift may ultimately help the coal-plant operators shed the lawsuits.

    More on the Bush record of helping industry win can be find here, with the NRDC. Also, you can revist RFK Jr's Rolling Stone article on the Bush administration.

    Posted by Eric at 12:50 PM | Comments (25)

    Industry Wins in Battle for the EPA

    How the energy / big oil industry won the battle for the environment, courtesy of the NY Times:

    In an administration that puts a premium on keeping its internal disputes private, this struggle went on well out of the public's view. But interviews and documents trace the decisions in which the Bush administration changed the nation's approach to environmental controls, ultimately shifting the balance to the side of energy policy. Senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, including Mrs. Whitman, became isolated, former aides said, and several resigned.

    Thirty years after the first Earth Day, the incoming administration was still confronting power-plant smokestacks spewing fumes. The policy questions were arcane, involving strategies to control polluting particles. At stake, though, were environmental risks to human health and the nation's ability to produce cheap energy, as well as decisions about how the most polluting industries would be monitored for decades to come.

    For operators of some coal-fired plants, the stakes were more tangible. Dozens of plants were facing lawsuits over air pollution brought by the Clinton administration and several northeastern states including New Jersey under Mrs. Whitman before she became head of the E.P.A. The industry, fearing billions of dollars in new costs, set about to undo the suits.

    One of the most important decisions was Mr. Bush's reversal of a campaign promise to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that many scientists say contributes to global warming. The administration also has proposed looser standards for emissions of mercury a highly toxic pollutant than President Bill Clinton had sought. The most protracted fight concerned the administration's decision to issue new rules that substantially reduced the requirements for utilities to build pollution controls when modernizing their plants. The final policy shift may ultimately help the coal-plant operators shed the lawsuits.

    More on the Bush record of helping industry win can be find here, with the NRDC. Also, you can revist RFK Jr's Rolling Stone article on the Bush administration.

    Posted by Eric at 12:50 PM | Comments (3)

    March 01, 2004

    EPA Chief Mike Leavitt Clean Air `Villain of the Month'

    According to the Clean Air Trust. Whatever did he do?

    O'Donnell noted that with one ill-considered move, Leavitt had undermined more than 30 years of federal law -- specifically a portion of the Clean Air Act designed to prevent "significant deterioration" of air quality in pristine lands. The policy was initially written by Congress in the 1960s, affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1974, and then re-affirmed by Congress in 1977.

    On Feb. 24, Leavitt signed a "memorandum of understanding" that will permit the state of North Dakota to override objections from EPA scientists, who have warned that increased coal burning would sully the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and other nearby treasured federal lands.

    For five years, EPA's professional staff had argued that existing power plants in the state already pump so much sulfur dioxide pollution into the air that added pollution would harm the parks.

    But by using an Enron-style accounting trick, the state of North Dakota magically declared there was plenty of room for more pollution. And with a few strokes of his pen this week, Leavitt formally agreed.

    Posted by Eric at 12:23 AM | Comments (14)

    EPA Chief Mike Leavitt Clean Air `Villain of the Month'

    According to the Clean Air Trust. Whatever did he do?

    O'Donnell noted that with one ill-considered move, Leavitt had undermined more than 30 years of federal law -- specifically a portion of the Clean Air Act designed to prevent "significant deterioration" of air quality in pristine lands. The policy was initially written by Congress in the 1960s, affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1974, and then re-affirmed by Congress in 1977.

    On Feb. 24, Leavitt signed a "memorandum of understanding" that will permit the state of North Dakota to override objections from EPA scientists, who have warned that increased coal burning would sully the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and other nearby treasured federal lands.

    For five years, EPA's professional staff had argued that existing power plants in the state already pump so much sulfur dioxide pollution into the air that added pollution would harm the parks.

    But by using an Enron-style accounting trick, the state of North Dakota magically declared there was plenty of room for more pollution. And with a few strokes of his pen this week, Leavitt formally agreed.

    Posted by Eric at 12:23 AM | Comments (1)

    February 27, 2004

    USPIRG: How EPA Is Misleading The Public About The Superfund Program

    The Bush administration "has failed to include reinstatement of the polluter pays fees in its budget proposals, and Superfunds trust fund is now bankrupt," says the US Public Interest Group.

    EPA claims: Funding for the Superfund program has not decreased in the past few years.

    The facts: Superfund funding decreased by 25 percent during 2001-2004 compared with 1992-2000.

    EPA claims: EPA remains committed to the polluter pays principle.

    The facts: Taxpayers will pay the entire cost of cleaning up abandoned Superfund sites this year, compared with only 18 percent in 1995, the year Superfunds polluter pays fees expired. The Bush administration has opposed reinstating Superfunds polluter pays fees.

    EPA claims: It doesnt matter who pays to clean up Superfund toxic waste sites.

    The facts: Superfund was founded on the principle that those most closely associated with creating toxic waste sites should bear the financial burden of cleaning them up. Regular taxpayers are much less likely to be closely associated with the creation of toxic waste sites than industries that buy, use, or benefit from toxic chemicals.

    To read the report, go here.

    In case you were wondering, there are some health effects from Superfund sites:

    Health Effects: Arsenic is a known to cause cancer of the lungs, bladder, and skin. Arsenic is also linked to cancer of the liver, kidney, colon and nasal passages, and to a variety of non-cancer health effects, including heart disease, diabetes, adverse impacts on the immune system, lungs, and gastrointestinal track, and thickening and discoloration of the skin. There is also evidence linking arsenic to adverse reproductive and developmental impacts.

    LEAD
    Health Effects: Lead can damage almost every organ and system in the human body, especially the immune and reproductive systems, and can cause heart disease and kidney damage. Lead is exceptionally damaging to the central nervous system, particularly in children where it can cause brain damage. Lead has can also decrease IQ scores, slow growth, and cause hearing problems in infants or young children.

    MERCURY
    Health Effects: Mercury can cause brain and kidney damage, and poses an especially high risk of adverse neurological development of fetuses.

    1/4 people live next to Superfund sites.

    Posted by Eric at 03:17 AM | Comments (11)

    USPIRG: How EPA Is Misleading The Public About The Superfund Program

    The Bush administration "has failed to include reinstatement of the polluter pays fees in its budget proposals, and Superfunds trust fund is now bankrupt," says the US Public Interest Group.

    EPA claims: Funding for the Superfund program has not decreased in the past few years.

    The facts: Superfund funding decreased by 25 percent during 2001-2004 compared with 1992-2000.

    EPA claims: EPA remains committed to the polluter pays principle.

    The facts: Taxpayers will pay the entire cost of cleaning up abandoned Superfund sites this year, compared with only 18 percent in 1995, the year Superfunds polluter pays fees expired. The Bush administration has opposed reinstating Superfunds polluter pays fees.

    EPA claims: It doesnt matter who pays to clean up Superfund toxic waste sites.

    The facts: Superfund was founded on the principle that those most closely associated with creating toxic waste sites should bear the financial burden of cleaning them up. Regular taxpayers are much less likely to be closely associated with the creation of toxic waste sites than industries that buy, use, or benefit from toxic chemicals.

    To read the report, go here.

    In case you were wondering, there are some health effects from Superfund sites:

    Health Effects: Arsenic is a known to cause cancer of the lungs, bladder, and skin. Arsenic is also linked to cancer of the liver, kidney, colon and nasal passages, and to a variety of non-cancer health effects, including heart disease, diabetes, adverse impacts on the immune system, lungs, and gastrointestinal track, and thickening and discoloration of the skin. There is also evidence linking arsenic to adverse reproductive and developmental impacts.

    LEAD
    Health Effects: Lead can damage almost every organ and system in the human body, especially the immune and reproductive systems, and can cause heart disease and kidney damage. Lead is exceptionally damaging to the central nervous system, particularly in children where it can cause brain damage. Lead has can also decrease IQ scores, slow growth, and cause hearing problems in infants or young children.

    MERCURY
    Health Effects: Mercury can cause brain and kidney damage, and poses an especially high risk of adverse neurological development of fetuses.

    1/4 people live next to Superfund sites.

    Posted by Eric at 03:17 AM | Comments (4)

    February 25, 2004

    Study: Great Barrier Reef Will Lose Most Coral Cover by 2050

    A Queensland University's Centre for Marine Studies study, commissioned by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, finds a disturbing and bleak future for one of the world's greatest natural treasures:

    "Only if global average temperature change is kept to below two degrees Celsius can the Reef have any chance of recovering from the predicted damage," the report said.

    Coral has a narrow comfort zone and is highly stressed by a temperature rise of less than one degree Celsius. Water temperature rises of less than one degree coincided with the world's worst recorded coral bleaching episode in 1988. With bleaching, the warmer water forces out the algae that give coral its colour and, if all are lost, the coral dies and the reef will crumble.

    In 1998, 16 percent of the world's coral died, with 46 percent of the Indian Ocean coral destroyed. Scientists project water temperatures to rise this century by between two and six degrees Celsius.

    "There is little to no evidence that corals can adapt fast enough to match even the lower projected temperature rise," said the Australian report. It said that by 2050 the Great Barrier Reef would annually experience stress levels higher than those witnessed in 1998 and, by 2100, stress levels globally for coral would be several times higher than 1998.

    "Coral cover will decrease to less than five percent on most reefs (in the Great Barrier Reef) by the middle of the century under even the most favourable assumptions," said the report. "Reefs will not disappear but they will be devoid of coral and dominated by other less appealing species, such as seaweed."

    Unsurprisingly, most of US coral reefs are in Hawaii. According to the Hawai'i Coral Reef Initiative Research Program, those reefs are also in trouble
    The first island-by-island assessment of the state's coral reefs has found few surprises but considerable damage to an asset estimated to be worth $364 million a year to Hawai'i's economy ... Even before the comprehensive Hawai'i Coral Reef Initiative Research Program report was released, researchers knew that the coral reef ecosystem is being damaged by overfishing, pollution, physical destruction from anchors and being walked on, alien and invasive species, and algae blooms ... Without a healthy reef, some of Hawai'i's most important assets beaches, huge surf and snorkeling and diving spots will deteriorate, the report says. The report estimates the economic value of Hawai'i's reefs at $364 million a year in added value in areas including tourism, fisheries, property value and research.

    The report advocates protective management to sustain the coastal reef ecosystem and notes that the world has already lost about 30 percent of its reefs. Hawai'i's coral reefs make up 80 percent of all reefs under U.S. jurisdiction.

    Two of the most serious problems are reef disease, which has devastated reefs in the Caribbean, and alien algae, which grows into a thick mat that covers the reef, blocking sunlight that coral and reef plants need to survive, said Michael Hamnett, director of the reef initiative program.

    Left unchecked, the algae could come to dominate the Waikiki ecosystem, including the Diamond Head shoreline. Invasive seaweeds have also been a problem off Maui, in California and in the Mediterranean Sea.

    How does coral reef destruction happen? Many factors, including:
    Coral reefs are in serious trouble worldwide from a powerful combination of stresses that are threatening their survival, including:

    overexploitation of resources for subsistence and commercial fishing;
    destructive fishing practices that degrade and destroy the habitat itself;
    increasing coastal populations, which are expected to double in the next 50 years;
    poor land use practices and runoff of pollutants, sediments and nutrients;
    disease outbreaks, which may be associated with poor water quality and pollutants;
    coral bleaching, associated with increasing seawater temperatures and global change; and
    removal of coastal mangrove forests.

    Posted by Eric at 02:38 AM | Comments (46)

    Study: Great Barrier Reef Will Lose Most Coral Cover by 2050

    A Queensland University's Centre for Marine Studies study, commissioned by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, finds a disturbing and bleak future for one of the world's greatest natural treasures:

    "Only if global average temperature change is kept to below two degrees Celsius can the Reef have any chance of recovering from the predicted damage," the report said.

    Coral has a narrow comfort zone and is highly stressed by a temperature rise of less than one degree Celsius. Water temperature rises of less than one degree coincided with the world's worst recorded coral bleaching episode in 1988. With bleaching, the warmer water forces out the algae that give coral its colour and, if all are lost, the coral dies and the reef will crumble.

    In 1998, 16 percent of the world's coral died, with 46 percent of the Indian Ocean coral destroyed. Scientists project water temperatures to rise this century by between two and six degrees Celsius.

    "There is little to no evidence that corals can adapt fast enough to match even the lower projected temperature rise," said the Australian report. It said that by 2050 the Great Barrier Reef would annually experience stress levels higher than those witnessed in 1998 and, by 2100, stress levels globally for coral would be several times higher than 1998.

    "Coral cover will decrease to less than five percent on most reefs (in the Great Barrier Reef) by the middle of the century under even the most favourable assumptions," said the report. "Reefs will not disappear but they will be devoid of coral and dominated by other less appealing species, such as seaweed."

    Unsurprisingly, most of US coral reefs are in Hawaii. According to the Hawai'i Coral Reef Initiative Research Program, those reefs are also in trouble
    The first island-by-island assessment of the state's coral reefs has found few surprises but considerable damage to an asset estimated to be worth $364 million a year to Hawai'i's economy ... Even before the comprehensive Hawai'i Coral Reef Initiative Research Program report was released, researchers knew that the coral reef ecosystem is being damaged by overfishing, pollution, physical destruction from anchors and being walked on, alien and invasive species, and algae blooms ... Without a healthy reef, some of Hawai'i's most important assets beaches, huge surf and snorkeling and diving spots will deteriorate, the report says. The report estimates the economic value of Hawai'i's reefs at $364 million a year in added value in areas including tourism, fisheries, property value and research.

    The report advocates protective management to sustain the coastal reef ecosystem and notes that the world has already lost about 30 percent of its reefs. Hawai'i's coral reefs make up 80 percent of all reefs under U.S. jurisdiction.

    Two of the most serious problems are reef disease, which has devastated reefs in the Caribbean, and alien algae, which grows into a thick mat that covers the reef, blocking sunlight that coral and reef plants need to survive, said Michael Hamnett, director of the reef initiative program.

    Left unchecked, the algae could come to dominate the Waikiki ecosystem, including the Diamond Head shoreline. Invasive seaweeds have also been a problem off Maui, in California and in the Mediterranean Sea.

    How does coral reef destruction happen? Many factors, including:
    Coral reefs are in serious trouble worldwide from a powerful combination of stresses that are threatening their survival, including:

    overexploitation of resources for subsistence and commercial fishing;
    destructive fishing practices that degrade and destroy the habitat itself;
    increasing coastal populations, which are expected to double in the next 50 years;
    poor land use practices and runoff of pollutants, sediments and nutrients;
    disease outbreaks, which may be associated with poor water quality and pollutants;
    coral bleaching, associated with increasing seawater temperatures and global change; and
    removal of coastal mangrove forests.

    Posted by Eric at 02:38 AM | Comments (10)

    February 24, 2004

    Growing Sewage Problem, According to NRDC

    A new report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says "sewage overflows cost Americans billions a year in medical treatment, lost productivity and repairs, and Bush administration policies are compounding the problem." The problem, according to the group:

    Let's hope they're not looking too closely at our sewage collection system. These pipes, some as much as 200 years old, carry enough raw sewage to fill the Great Lakes about every four months.1 Laid end to end, the pipes that carry raw sewage from America's homes, businesses, institutions, and industries would stretch to the moon and back -- twice.2 But in too many communities across the land, pipes are broken or leaking, systems are overloaded, and treatment is sometimes bypassed. The result is that in this most technologically advanced nation on the face of the planet, raw sewage backs up into people's homes with disturbing frequency, and is routinely permitted to flow into bodies of water that are sources of drinking water.

    Theoretically (and by law), all this raw sewage, with its cargo of infectious bacteria, viruses, parasites, and a growing legion of potentially toxic chemicals, gets treated in wastewater treatment plants. But in reality, this aging, often neglected, and sometimes insufficient network of pipes releases untreated or only partly treated sewage directly into the environment.3 The average age of collection system components is about 33 years, but some pipes still in use are almost 200 years old ... Health experts in government, academia, and the private sector voice concern over lack of information and potential health impacts, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society (young children, the elderly, the immuno-suppressed, etc.) who are more susceptible when exposed to the mix of infectious organisms and toxic chemicals in untreated sewage. The problem is compounded by the rise of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," emerging infectious organisms (such as SARS) that can be transmitted through sewage, and increases in the release of myriad toxic industrial chemicals into sewage collection systems. While there's disagreement over whether the numbers of people made sick every year from waterborne diseases in the United States are in the hundred thousands or millions, there is wide agreement that not enough information is being collected to protect public health.

    This problem is bound to worsen as: (1) population growth puts added pressure on sewage collection and treatment systems already operating at or above design capacity; (2) urban sprawl creates more land area impervious to stormwater, further aggravating insufficiencies and weaknesses in the collection system during wet weather; (3) climate change increases the frequency and severity of storms in some areas; and (4) proposed changes to existing laws expose more people to untreated sewage.

    NRDC places some of the blame for the growing problem on the Bush admin:
    "We have a looming public health crisis on our hands that will take billions of dollars to fix," said Nancy Stoner, director of NRDC's Clean Water Project. "Fortunately we do have the technological know-how to deal with this sewage problem. What we don't have is political will. In fact, President Bush's new budget proposal dramatically slashes funding for wastewater infrastructure. At nearly $500 million, it's his biggest cut for any environmental program, and it's indefensible." ...

    The report also identifies a number of Bush administration policies besides the new Bush budget cut proposal that exacerbate sewage pollution. Those policies include shelving a Clinton administration proposal that would have required controls to prevent raw sewage discharges, and a new proposal to allow sewer operators to discharge inadequately treated sewage in waterways when it rains.

    The report can be viewed here.

    Posted by Eric at 09:30 AM | Comments (6)

    Growing Sewage Problem, According to NRDC

    A new report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says "sewage overflows cost Americans billions a year in medical treatment, lost productivity and repairs, and Bush administration policies are compounding the problem." The problem, according to the group:

    Let's hope they're not looking too closely at our sewage collection system. These pipes, some as much as 200 years old, carry enough raw sewage to fill the Great Lakes about every four months.1 Laid end to end, the pipes that carry raw sewage from America's homes, businesses, institutions, and industries would stretch to the moon and back -- twice.2 But in too many communities across the land, pipes are broken or leaking, systems are overloaded, and treatment is sometimes bypassed. The result is that in this most technologically advanced nation on the face of the planet, raw sewage backs up into people's homes with disturbing frequency, and is routinely permitted to flow into bodies of water that are sources of drinking water.

    Theoretically (and by law), all this raw sewage, with its cargo of infectious bacteria, viruses, parasites, and a growing legion of potentially toxic chemicals, gets treated in wastewater treatment plants. But in reality, this aging, often neglected, and sometimes insufficient network of pipes releases untreated or only partly treated sewage directly into the environment.3 The average age of collection system components is about 33 years, but some pipes still in use are almost 200 years old ... Health experts in government, academia, and the private sector voice concern over lack of information and potential health impacts, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society (young children, the elderly, the immuno-suppressed, etc.) who are more susceptible when exposed to the mix of infectious organisms and toxic chemicals in untreated sewage. The problem is compounded by the rise of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs," emerging infectious organisms (such as SARS) that can be transmitted through sewage, and increases in the release of myriad toxic industrial chemicals into sewage collection systems. While there's disagreement over whether the numbers of people made sick every year from waterborne diseases in the United States are in the hundred thousands or millions, there is wide agreement that not enough information is being collected to protect public health.

    This problem is bound to worsen as: (1) population growth puts added pressure on sewage collection and treatment systems already operating at or above design capacity; (2) urban sprawl creates more land area impervious to stormwater, further aggravating insufficiencies and weaknesses in the collection system during wet weather; (3) climate change increases the frequency and severity of storms in some areas; and (4) proposed changes to existing laws expose more people to untreated sewage.

    NRDC places some of the blame for the growing problem on the Bush admin:
    "We have a looming public health crisis on our hands that will take billions of dollars to fix," said Nancy Stoner, director of NRDC's Clean Water Project. "Fortunately we do have the technological know-how to deal with this sewage problem. What we don't have is political will. In fact, President Bush's new budget proposal dramatically slashes funding for wastewater infrastructure. At nearly $500 million, it's his biggest cut for any environmental program, and it's indefensible." ...

    The report also identifies a number of Bush administration policies besides the new Bush budget cut proposal that exacerbate sewage pollution. Those policies include shelving a Clinton administration proposal that would have required controls to prevent raw sewage discharges, and a new proposal to allow sewer operators to discharge inadequately treated sewage in waterways when it rains.

    The report can be viewed here.

    Posted by Eric at 09:30 AM | Comments (5)

    February 16, 2004

    Bush Admin Helps Corporate Donors; Shelves Pollutant Ban

    From an AP investigation:

    The Bush administration quietly shelved a proposal to ban a gasoline additive that contaminates drinking water in many communities, helping an industry that has donated more than $1 million to Republicans ... The Associated Press obtained a draft of the proposed regulation that former President Clinton (news - web sites)'s EPA sent to the White House on its last full day in office in January 2001.

    It said: "The use of MTBE as an additive in gasoline presents an unreasonable risk to the environment."

    The EPA document went on to say that "low levels of MTBE can render drinking water supplies unpotable due to its offensive taste and odor," and the additive should be phased out over four years ... In 2000, the MTBE industry's lobbying group told the Clinton administration that limiting MTBE's use by regulation "would inflict grave economic harm on member companies."

    Three MTBE producers account for half the additive's daily output.

    The three contributed $338,000 to George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Republican Party and Republican congressional candidates in 1999 and 2000, twice what they gave Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Since then, the three producers have given just over $1 million to Republicans.

    The producers are Texas-based Lyondell Chemical and Valero Energy and the Huntsman companies of Salt Lake City.

    "This is a classic case of the Bush administration helping its campaign contributor friends at the expense of public health," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, a Washington-based environmental group.

    Posted by Eric at 12:43 AM | Comments (8)

    Bush Admin Helps Corporate Donors; Shelves Pollutant Ban

    From an AP investigation:

    The Bush administration quietly shelved a proposal to ban a gasoline additive that contaminates drinking water in many communities, helping an industry that has donated more than $1 million to Republicans ... The Associated Press obtained a draft of the proposed regulation that former President Clinton (news - web sites)'s EPA sent to the White House on its last full day in office in January 2001.

    It said: "The use of MTBE as an additive in gasoline presents an unreasonable risk to the environment."

    The EPA document went on to say that "low levels of MTBE can render drinking water supplies unpotable due to its offensive taste and odor," and the additive should be phased out over four years ... In 2000, the MTBE industry's lobbying group told the Clinton administration that limiting MTBE's use by regulation "would inflict grave economic harm on member companies."

    Three MTBE producers account for half the additive's daily output.

    The three contributed $338,000 to George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Republican Party and Republican congressional candidates in 1999 and 2000, twice what they gave Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Since then, the three producers have given just over $1 million to Republicans.

    The producers are Texas-based Lyondell Chemical and Valero Energy and the Huntsman companies of Salt Lake City.

    "This is a classic case of the Bush administration helping its campaign contributor friends at the expense of public health," said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, a Washington-based environmental group.

    Posted by Eric at 12:43 AM | Comments (10)

    February 12, 2004

    Hamster Numbers: Bush Unemployment and Education

    From EPI, the percent increase in long-term unemployment by education level (2000-2003).

    High school degree or less = 156%
    Some college = 259%
    Bachelor's degree = 299%

    Posted by Eric at 01:13 AM | Comments (34)

    Hamster Numbers: Bush Unemployment and Education

    From EPI, the percent increase in long-term unemployment by education level (2000-2003).

    High school degree or less = 156%
    Some college = 259%
    Bachelor's degree = 299%

    Posted by Eric at 01:13 AM | Comments (12)

    February 06, 2004

    Janet Jackson and Global Warming

    Har.

    Posted by Eric at 01:13 PM | Comments (20)

    Janet Jackson and Global Warming

    Har.

    Posted by Eric at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

    February 04, 2004

    More Renewable Energy for Colorado?

    Colorado could become one of the first states to let voters decide by ballot if there should be "more wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy from their power companies."

    Environment Colorado and the Sierra Club filed proposed language Monday for a ballot initiative that voters could decide in November, if backers collect the required 67,820 signatures by Aug. 2.

    The vote also rides on the current General Assembly, which has failed to pass renewable-energy bills in three consecutive legislative sessions.

    Currently, environment-conscious Colorado gets less than 1 percent of its total energy supply from renewable energy.

    If voters approved it, the proposed ballot initiative would force large electrical providers to get 10 percent of their power supply from renewable sources by 2012 and 20 percent by 2022.

    Previously, environmental groups have won five of seven ballot initiatives in Colorado since 1994.

    Posted by Eric at 03:03 AM | Comments (16)

    More Renewable Energy for Colorado?

    Colorado could become one of the first states to let voters decide by ballot if there should be "more wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy from their power companies."

    Environment Colorado and the Sierra Club filed proposed language Monday for a ballot initiative that voters could decide in November, if backers collect the required 67,820 signatures by Aug. 2.

    The vote also rides on the current General Assembly, which has failed to pass renewable-energy bills in three consecutive legislative sessions.

    Currently, environment-conscious Colorado gets less than 1 percent of its total energy supply from renewable energy.

    If voters approved it, the proposed ballot initiative would force large electrical providers to get 10 percent of their power supply from renewable sources by 2012 and 20 percent by 2022.

    Previously, environmental groups have won five of seven ballot initiatives in Colorado since 1994.

    Posted by Eric at 03:03 AM | Comments (2)

    January 31, 2004

    Bush's Proposed Mercury Rules Show Industry Influence

    Surprise! WPost:

    A side-by-side comparison of one of the three proposed rules and the memorandums prepared by Latham & Watkins -- one of Washington's premier corporate environmental law firms -- shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions ...

    Latham & Watkins was among the law firms and utility industry groups that lobbied the administration last year during deliberations over mercury rules in the Clean Air Act. The firm represents Cinergy Inc. and other major utilities and energy companies with a major interest in the outcome of the rule-making. Holmstead, an assistant EPA administrator, and his chief counsel, Bill Wehrum, worked for Latham & Watkins before joining the EPA.

    There is nothing unusual about industry groups peppering government agencies with position papers and recommendations. Indeed, lawyers for Latham & Watkins served on an EPA mercury advisory group and submitted two detailed memos -- one dated March 8, 2002, that dealt with the challenges of regulating different grades of coal, and another, dated Sept. 4, that outlined a number of regulatory legal theories. However, some former EPA officials said it is rare for the agency to simply insert large chunks of an industry analysis into a proposed rule.

    Posted by Eric at 05:26 AM | Comments (37)

    Bush's Proposed Mercury Rules Show Industry Influence

    Surprise! WPost:

    A side-by-side comparison of one of the three proposed rules and the memorandums prepared by Latham & Watkins -- one of Washington's premier corporate environmental law firms -- shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions ...

    Latham & Watkins was among the law firms and utility industry groups that lobbied the administration last year during deliberations over mercury rules in the Clean Air Act. The firm represents Cinergy Inc. and other major utilities and energy companies with a major interest in the outcome of the rule-making. Holmstead, an assistant EPA administrator, and his chief counsel, Bill Wehrum, worked for Latham & Watkins before joining the EPA.

    There is nothing unusual about industry groups peppering government agencies with position papers and recommendations. Indeed, lawyers for Latham & Watkins served on an EPA mercury advisory group and submitted two detailed memos -- one dated March 8, 2002, that dealt with the challenges of regulating different grades of coal, and another, dated Sept. 4, that outlined a number of regulatory legal theories. However, some former EPA officials said it is rare for the agency to simply insert large chunks of an industry analysis into a proposed rule.

    Posted by Eric at 05:26 AM | Comments (2)

    January 22, 2004

    Marine Scientists: Whales losing fear of humans

    I guess they haven't seen me bench press.

    Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. OK, I'll stop. Honolulu Adv:

    Many whales appear to have lost their aversion to boats and humans, said Joe Mobley, an animal behavior expert, whale researcher and professor at the University of Hawai'i's West O'ahu campus.

    "There are things the whales are doing that they never used to do," he said. "I've been out on boats where they come up and touch the boat with their bodies or tap it with a fluke."

    The animals may be responding to a change in human behavior over the past century from industrial whaling to commercial whale watching, from a period when they were being killed for their blubber to one in which they are being viewed regularly by humans armed only with cameras.

    "You're seeing a younger generation of whales who are more comfortable with interaction. Some are not fearful of humans at all," said Christine Brammer, O'ahu program coordinator for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

    Scientists say as the number of whales increase, they become more comfortable with human contact.

    Posted by Eric at 09:37 PM | Comments (8)

    Marine Scientists: Whales losing fear of humans

    I guess they haven't seen me bench press.

    Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. OK, I'll stop. Honolulu Adv:

    Many whales appear to have lost their aversion to boats and humans, said Joe Mobley, an animal behavior expert, whale researcher and professor at the University of Hawai'i's West O'ahu campus.

    "There are things the whales are doing that they never used to do," he said. "I've been out on boats where they come up and touch the boat with their bodies or tap it with a fluke."

    The animals may be responding to a change in human behavior over the past century from industrial whaling to commercial whale watching, from a period when they were being killed for their blubber to one in which they are being viewed regularly by humans armed only with cameras.

    "You're seeing a younger generation of whales who are more comfortable with interaction. Some are not fearful of humans at all," said Christine Brammer, O'ahu program coordinator for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

    Scientists say as the number of whales increase, they become more comfortable with human contact.

    Posted by Eric at 09:37 PM | Comments (4)

    Interior finishes plan on Alaska drilling

    After a while, stuff like this fails to surprise anyone.

    Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed off on a plan Thursday for opening most of an 8.8 million-acre swath of Alaska's North Slope to oil and gas development. Some of the drilling could occur in areas important for migratory birds, whales and wildlife.

    The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management will use the plan to manage a northwest portion of the government's 23.5 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Geologists believe the reserve may contain 6 billion to 13 billion barrels of oil.

    It is located just west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where President Bush wants to open a 1.5 million-acre coastal plain to drilling as one of his top energy priorities. The Senate, in debating a massive energy bill, has rejected drilling there.

    Environmentalists said the management plan threatens the health of Arctic tundra, ponds and lakes that are home to wildlife and migratory birds and provide a vital subsistence hunting and fishing ground for native Alaskans.

    In other enviro news, Robert Redford has something to say about the Bush - Cheney energy bill, courtesy of NRDC, a group that likes its celeb connections. Also, the EPA says it will force cleanups of aging coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act. This, uh, is suspect.

    Posted by Eric at 08:13 PM | Comments (22)

    Interior finishes plan on Alaska drilling

    After a while, stuff like this fails to surprise anyone.

    Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed off on a plan Thursday for opening most of an 8.8 million-acre swath of Alaska's North Slope to oil and gas development. Some of the drilling could occur in areas important for migratory birds, whales and wildlife.

    The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management will use the plan to manage a northwest portion of the government's 23.5 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Geologists believe the reserve may contain 6 billion to 13 billion barrels of oil.

    It is located just west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where President Bush wants to open a 1.5 million-acre coastal plain to drilling as one of his top energy priorities. The Senate, in debating a massive energy bill, has rejected drilling there.

    Environmentalists said the management plan threatens the health of Arctic tundra, ponds and lakes that are home to wildlife and migratory birds and provide a vital subsistence hunting and fishing ground for native Alaskans.

    In other enviro news, Robert Redford has something to say about the Bush - Cheney energy bill, courtesy of NRDC, a group that likes its celeb connections. Also, the EPA says it will force cleanups of aging coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act. This, uh, is suspect.

    Posted by Eric at 08:13 PM | Comments (1)

    Clean Air Villain of the Year

    Edison Electric Institute President Tom Kuhn just beats Rep. Joe Barton in the race, from the Clean Air Trust. Among some of Tom's accomplishments:

    In a race this close, our panel of judges gave Kuhn the disapproving nod because of the terrible impact of his efforts to block controls on toxic mercury. When he won the Clean Air Trust "villain of the month" award in February 2003, we noted that Kuhn was a key "pioneer" fundraiser for President Bush's campaign, and that he was leading a lobbying blitz to postpone mercury cleanup requirements.

    Kuhn has succeeded to the extent that key sponsors of the President's pollution plan (Senators James Inhofe, R-OK and George Voinovich, R-OH) have adopted the Kuhn do-virtually-nothing position, as has new EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt.

    Kuhn showed his continuing clout just last week when Leavitt traveled to an EEI meeting at a posh Arizona resort to speak privately to assembled power company executives. (He also showed his contempt for the media by barring a reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who was attempting to report on what allegedly was a public speech by Leavitt. Perhaps Kuhn didn't want the reporter to listen to Leavitt's question and answer session with the power company executives.)

    Wish I could post a picture of / email for Tom, but Edison won't let me access their bios. "Members only." Of course.

    Posted by Eric at 12:46 AM | Comments (23)

    Clean Air Villain of the Year

    Edison Electric Institute President Tom Kuhn just beats Rep. Joe Barton in the race, from the Clean Air Trust. Among some of Tom's accomplishments:

    In a race this close, our panel of judges gave Kuhn the disapproving nod because of the terrible impact of his efforts to block controls on toxic mercury. When he won the Clean Air Trust "villain of the month" award in February 2003, we noted that Kuhn was a key "pioneer" fundraiser for President Bush's campaign, and that he was leading a lobbying blitz to postpone mercury cleanup requirements.

    Kuhn has succeeded to the extent that key sponsors of the President's pollution plan (Senators James Inhofe, R-OK and George Voinovich, R-OH) have adopted the Kuhn do-virtually-nothing position, as has new EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt.

    Kuhn showed his continuing clout just last week when Leavitt traveled to an EEI meeting at a posh Arizona resort to speak privately to assembled power company executives. (He also showed his contempt for the media by barring a reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who was attempting to report on what allegedly was a public speech by Leavitt. Perhaps Kuhn didn't want the reporter to listen to Leavitt's question and answer session with the power company executives.)

    Wish I could post a picture of / email for Tom, but Edison won't let me access their bios. "Members only." Of course.

    Posted by Eric at 12:46 AM | Comments (8)

    January 21, 2004

    What's the Environment?

    Last year Bush faked love for the environment in his SOTU speech. Luckily, this year, he didn't even try. See NRDC:

    In last night's State of the Union address, President Bush trumpeted his administration's accomplishments from last year and outlined some of his initiatives for this one. What was most notable was that he said nary a word about the environment. Nothing, for example, about his "Healthy Forests" initiative, which will allow loggers to cut down large, fire-resistant trees miles away from where people live, or his "Clear Skies" initiative, which, if passed, would allow power plants to emit more pollution for a longer time than current law.

    He did include one sentence about energy policy. "Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run," he said, "so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy." He did not explicitly call for Congress to pass the energy bill it is currently debating. It's just as well. That bill would not modernize the electricity grid, promote conservation or make the country less dependent on foreign energy sources. NRDC would agree with the president that the criteria he spelled out are necessary ingredients for a sensible energy policy. We called for such a policy three years ago when we released "A Responsible Energy Policy for the 21st Century".

    The fact that President Bush avoided mentioning his administration's environmental policies could be seen as a tacit admission that his record is deplorable and the issue is a vulnerable one for him (see the Bush Record). Polls show that the majority of Americans believe he is more interested in protecting his corporate campaign contributors than public health and the environment.

    Still, Bush found time to warn people about the epidemic of steroids in pro players.

    Posted by Eric at 08:45 PM | Comments (113)

    What's the Environment?

    Last year Bush faked love for the environment in his SOTU speech. Luckily, this year, he didn't even try. See NRDC:

    In last night's State of the Union address, President Bush trumpeted his administration's accomplishments from last year and outlined some of his initiatives for this one. What was most notable was that he said nary a word about the environment. Nothing, for example, about his "Healthy Forests" initiative, which will allow loggers to cut down large, fire-resistant trees miles away from where people live, or his "Clear Skies" initiative, which, if passed, would allow power plants to emit more pollution for a longer time than current law.

    He did include one sentence about energy policy. "Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run," he said, "so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy." He did not explicitly call for Congress to pass the energy bill it is currently debating. It's just as well. That bill would not modernize the electricity grid, promote conservation or make the country less dependent on foreign energy sources. NRDC would agree with the president that the criteria he spelled out are necessary ingredients for a sensible energy policy. We called for such a policy three years ago when we released "A Responsible Energy Policy for the 21st Century".

    The fact that President Bush avoided mentioning his administration's environmental policies could be seen as a tacit admission that his record is deplorable and the issue is a vulnerable one for him (see the Bush Record). Polls show that the majority of Americans believe he is more interested in protecting his corporate campaign contributors than public health and the environment.

    Still, Bush found time to warn people about the epidemic of steroids in pro players.

    Posted by Eric at 08:45 PM | Comments (13)

    January 14, 2004

    The Country's 10 Most 'Endangered' Parks

    Air pollution, development, and other environmental problems threaten the future of 10 of the nation's 'most endangered parks.' What are they? According to the National Parks Conservation Association:

    The National Parks Conservation Association again named Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas as well as five national parks: Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee; Joshua Tree in California; Shenandoah in Virginia; Everglades in Florida; and Yellowstone in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

    The group said air pollution threatens many of the parks. In addition, it said there are problems with private land sales and potential oil and gas drilling in Big Thicket; development along park borders in Joshua Tree; non-native species damage in Shenandoah; management and funding questions in the Everglades; and lack of money and bison slaughters in Yellowstone.

    Thomas Kiernan, the association's president, said the main problem is the annual $600 million shortfall for operating needs in the National Park Service's $2.3 billion budget ... The group had three new places and one program on its list this year:

    -Biscayne National Park in Florida, due to overfishing and water pollution.

    -Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona, from lack of money for protecting plants and wildlife.

    -Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in Alaska, because of land scarred from ATV use and potential road-building.

    -National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, cited for inadequate money for preserving the history of slavery and the civil rights movement.

    Posted by Eric at 06:30 AM | Comments (156)

    The Country's 10 Most 'Endangered' Parks

    Air pollution, development, and other environmental problems threaten the future of 10 of the nation's 'most endangered parks.' What are they? According to the National Parks Conservation Association:

    The National Parks Conservation Association again named Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas as well as five national parks: Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee; Joshua Tree in California; Shenandoah in Virginia; Everglades in Florida; and Yellowstone in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

    The group said air pollution threatens many of the parks. In addition, it said there are problems with private land sales and potential oil and gas drilling in Big Thicket; development along park borders in Joshua Tree; non-native species damage in Shenandoah; management and funding questions in the Everglades; and lack of money and bison slaughters in Yellowstone.

    Thomas Kiernan, the association's president, said the main problem is the annual $600 million shortfall for operating needs in the National Park Service's $2.3 billion budget ... The group had three new places and one program on its list this year:

    -Biscayne National Park in Florida, due to overfishing and water pollution.

    -Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona, from lack of money for protecting plants and wildlife.

    -Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in Alaska, because of land scarred from ATV use and potential road-building.

    -National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, cited for inadequate money for preserving the history of slavery and the civil rights movement.

    Posted by Eric at 06:30 AM | Comments (1)

    January 08, 2004

    How Government Regs Work: Thirty Species Profiled As Success Stories

    In the wake of a stunning new report that predicts the extinction of 37% of current species, perhaps it's apt to look at a government regulation that has worked in protecting endangered species (and why winning the 2004 election is so crucial for our environment). USPIRG:

    Imagine an eastern forest without the sharp pounding of the red-cockaded woodpecker, or imagine Yellowstone without ever being able to hear the howl of the wolf. Not long ago, these images were nearly a reality. Yet today, with the help of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), these species and others are beginning to recover.

    With the ESA, the federal government recognized that Americas diverse wildlife was too valuable to squander. The law acknowledged that threatened or endangered species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people. As a result, the United States made a commitment to conserve species faced with extinction.

    Under the ESA, 1821 species of plants and animals are currently listed as threatened or endangered in the United States and abroad. Listing announces that weve taken notice of a species plight and intend to protect and recover it. Over the years, there have been successes that teach lessons of how to avoid future extinctions.

    Many threatened and endangered species have benefited greatly from critical habitat provided by the ESA. Designation of critical habitat provides protection to areas essential to the conservation of the species ... The Bush administration has hand picked some of the most fervent opponents of the Endangered Species Act to lead the agencies that administer it. One example, the Department of the Interior's Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Craig Manson, stated in an interview, If we are saying that the loss of species in and of itself is inherently bad, I don't think we know enough about how the world works to say that.

    The Bush administration has also opposed listing imperiled species. Since taking office, the administration has listed no species on its own accord. Under court order, the administration has listed 24 species. In comparison, the Clinton administration listed nearly three times as many species without legal action.

    Furthermore, the ESA suffers from chronic funding shortfalls. The federal government acknowledges that $153 million is needed to list and protect a backlog of more than 200 declining species, yet the Bush administration has requested only $12 million for 2004. The ESA can protect species only if the government provides adequate funding and qualified experts to implement it.

    We need stronger advocates for endangered species in the administration. Development in the U.S. continues at an unprecedented rate. Ecosystems altered by human activity are ravaged by invasions from non-native species. These threats and others demonstrate the folly of weakening the ESA.

    To see a list of 30 species saved from extinction, click on over here.

    The problem with endangered species is they can't donate to political campaigns.

    Posted by Eric at 06:40 AM | Comments (142)

    How Government Regs Work: Thirty Species Profiled As Success Stories

    In the wake of a stunning new report that predicts the extinction of 37% of current species, perhaps it's apt to look at a government regulation that has worked in protecting endangered species (and why winning the 2004 election is so crucial for our environment). USPIRG:

    Imagine an eastern forest without the sharp pounding of the red-cockaded woodpecker, or imagine Yellowstone without ever being able to hear the howl of the wolf. Not long ago, these images were nearly a reality. Yet today, with the help of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), these species and others are beginning to recover.

    With the ESA, the federal government recognized that Americas diverse wildlife was too valuable to squander. The law acknowledged that threatened or endangered species of fish, wildlife, and plants are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people. As a result, the United States made a commitment to conserve species faced with extinction.

    Under the ESA, 1821 species of plants and animals are currently listed as threatened or endangered in the United States and abroad. Listing announces that weve taken notice of a species plight and intend to protect and recover it. Over the years, there have been successes that teach lessons of how to avoid future extinctions.

    Many threatened and endangered species have benefited greatly from critical habitat provided by the ESA. Designation of critical habitat provides protection to areas essential to the conservation of the species ... The Bush administration has hand picked some of the most fervent opponents of the Endangered Species Act to lead the agencies that administer it. One example, the Department of the Interior's Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Craig Manson, stated in an interview, If we are saying that the loss of species in and of itself is inherently bad, I don't think we know enough about how the world works to say that.

    The Bush administration has also opposed listing imperiled species. Since taking office, the administration has listed no species on its own accord. Under court order, the administration has listed 24 species. In comparison, the Clinton administration listed nearly three times as many species without legal action.

    Furthermore, the ESA suffers from chronic funding shortfalls. The federal government acknowledges that $153 million is needed to list and protect a backlog of more than 200 declining species, yet the Bush administration has requested only $12 million for 2004. The ESA can protect species only if the government provides adequate funding and qualified experts to implement it.

    We need stronger advocates for endangered species in the administration. Development in the U.S. continues at an unprecedented rate. Ecosystems altered by human activity are ravaged by invasions from non-native species. These threats and others demonstrate the folly of weakening the ESA.

    To see a list of 30 species saved from extinction, click on over here.

    The problem with endangered species is they can't donate to political campaigns.

    Posted by Eric at 06:40 AM | Comments (3)

    January 07, 2004

    1 MILLION+: Climate Change May Threaten More Than One Million Species With Extinction

    This, according to that horribly shrill, anti-American and partisan Conservation International in Nature magazine:

    The study estimates that climate change projected to take place between now and the year 2050 will place 15 to 37 percent of all species in several biodiversity-rich regions at risk of extinction. The scientists believe there is a high likelihood of extinctions due to climate change in other regions, as well.

    Scientists studied six regions around the world representing 20 percent of the planet's land area and projected the future distributions of 1,103 animal and plant species. Three different climate change scenarios were considered - minimal, mid-range and maximum, as was the ability of some species to successfully "disperse," or move to a different area, thus preventing climate change-induced extinction. The study used computer models to simulate the ways species' ranges are expected to move in response to changing temperatures and climate. It represents the largest collaboration of scientists to ever study this problem.

    "This study makes it clear that climate change is the most significant new threat for extinctions this century," said co-author Lee Hannah, Climate Change Biology Senior Fellow at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at Conservation International (CI). "The combination of increasing habitat loss, already recognized as the largest single threat to species, and climate change, is likely to devastate the ability of species to move and survive."

    These forecasts are for species predicted to go extinct eventually based on climate change between now and 2050, but do not suggest that these species will go extinct by then.

    Posted by Eric at 03:16 PM | Comments (47)

    1 MILLION+: Climate Change May Threaten More Than One Million Species With Extinction

    This, according to that horribly shrill, anti-American and partisan Conservation International in Nature magazine:

    The study estimates that climate change projected to take place between now and the year 2050 will place 15 to 37 percent of all species in several biodiversity-rich regions at risk of extinction. The scientists believe there is a high likelihood of extinctions due to climate change in other regions, as well.

    Scientists studied six regions around the world representing 20 percent of the planet's land area and projected the future distributions of 1,103 animal and plant species. Three different climate change scenarios were considered - minimal, mid-range and maximum, as was the ability of some species to successfully "disperse," or move to a different area, thus preventing climate change-induced extinction. The study used computer models to simulate the ways species' ranges are expected to move in response to changing temperatures and climate. It represents the largest collaboration of scientists to ever study this problem.

    "This study makes it clear that climate change is the most significant new threat for extinctions this century," said co-author Lee Hannah, Climate Change Biology Senior Fellow at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at Conservation International (CI). "The combination of increasing habitat loss, already recognized as the largest single threat to species, and climate change, is likely to devastate the ability of species to move and survive."

    These forecasts are for species predicted to go extinct eventually based on climate change between now and 2050, but do not suggest that these species will go extinct by then.

    Posted by Eric at 03:16 PM | Comments (3)

    January 03, 2004

    Republicans and the Environment

    When I was working near the Hill last year, I met Senator Lincoln Chafee on the street and thanked him for his work on the environment. Chafee usually votes with Democrats on matters of the environment, and I told him that it's unusual for a Republican to vote to protect the environment. He told me, "Well, my party was the environment party" and noted that Nixon actually signed the Clean Air Act. He also mentioned Teddy Roosevelt.

    While a lot of what Nixon did with the environment was political, it is worth noting that at one time the Republicans used to be reasonable on the environment. Former House Rep Pete McCloskey (R-San Mateo) in the LA Times:

    Back in 1973, the environment was a bipartisan issue. Both parties strongly supported the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act and many other bedrock laws that have done so much to make our lives enjoyable. Yet today, the Newt Gingrichs and Tom DeLays and others have led the Republican Party to abandon the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt. There are a handful of pro-environment Republicans still in the Congress, but they are outnumbered by people who put corporate campaign contributions and business and development interests ahead in their priorities ...

    When I served in Congress, conservatives and conservationists worked together in friendship. Something dark and onerous has happened since the Republicans took over the House. It's time for Republicans to stand up and try to keep the party true to its historical concept that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the preservation of endangered species.

    If we stand back and allow Democrats to be identified as the sole preservers of environmental values, the GOP could soon return to the minority status it occupied for most of the last 70 years. And that, however unfortunate for the party, would be a good thing for eagles, turkeys, ducks and rainbow trout.


    To learn more about how the Republicans have attacked the environment, see the NRDC or Robert F. Kennedy's article in Rolling Stone.

    Posted by Eric at 07:59 PM | Comments (30)

    Republicans and the Environment

    When I was working near the Hill last year, I met Senator Lincoln Chafee on the street and thanked him for his work on the environment. Chafee usually votes with Democrats on matters of the environment, and I told him that it's unusual for a Republican to vote to protect the environment. He told me, "Well, my party was the environment party" and noted that Nixon actually signed the Clean Air Act. He also mentioned Teddy Roosevelt.

    While a lot of what Nixon did with the environment was political, it is worth noting that at one time the Republicans used to be reasonable on the environment. Former House Rep Pete McCloskey (R-San Mateo) in the LA Times:

    Back in 1973, the environment was a bipartisan issue. Both parties strongly supported the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act and many other bedrock laws that have done so much to make our lives enjoyable. Yet today, the Newt Gingrichs and Tom DeLays and others have led the Republican Party to abandon the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt. There are a handful of pro-environment Republicans still in the Congress, but they are outnumbered by people who put corporate campaign contributions and business and development interests ahead in their priorities ...

    When I served in Congress, conservatives and conservationists worked together in friendship. Something dark and onerous has happened since the Republicans took over the House. It's time for Republicans to stand up and try to keep the party true to its historical concept that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the preservation of endangered species.

    If we stand back and allow Democrats to be identified as the sole preservers of environmental values, the GOP could soon return to the minority status it occupied for most of the last 70 years. And that, however unfortunate for the party, would be a good thing for eagles, turkeys, ducks and rainbow trout.


    To learn more about how the Republicans have attacked the environment, see the NRDC or Robert F. Kennedy's article in Rolling Stone.

    Posted by Eric at 07:59 PM | Comments (2)