The Environment

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  Species On Endangered List ChallengedMay 31, 2006 14:47 Ever since a 3-inch fish protected by the Endangered Species Act stopped construction of a dam in Tennessee in 1978, the law has been known as one of the toughest environmental laws on the books.
Environmental groups have used it to halt development in pristine lands across the nation. Today, the law designed to protect animals such as the manatee from extinction also has become a legal tool of property-rights groups and developers.

In a counterpunch to environmentalists who have filed lawsuits aimed at protecting hundreds of plant and animal species by listing them as endangered or threatened, property-rights groups such as the Pacific Legal Foundation are filing lawsuits to have animals and plants removed from the list so that development can proceed.

Meanwhile, industry groups have filed dozens of legal challenges aimed at allowing development on lands set aside by the U.S. government to help protect endangered species.

"The conventional wisdom is that environmental groups exclusively used this provision in court, but today, the industry lawsuits challenging critical habitat designations far outnumber environmental challenges," says Pat Parenteau, a law professor at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vt.

  Tough Challenge Confronts PomboMay 30, 2006 15:23 After several fairly easy attempts to clinch the incumbency, Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, is facing perhaps his most challenging quest to hang onto his congressional seat.

Pombo, the chairman of the House Resources Committee, has found himself on the receiving end of attacks and allegations from numerous groups — namely environmental — that question his integrity and ties to special interests and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"The primary has been more high-profile than it has in the past," Pombo said. "I'm a committee chairman. I'm a big target."

The biggest curve ball, however, was when former Congressman Paul "Pete" McCloskey Jr. moved from Yolo County to the 11th Congressional District with the sole purpose of defeating Pombo, who is seeking an eighth term.

One of McCloskey's main reasons for campaigning to return to Congress is Pombo's attempt to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, which McCloskey co-authored.

"To me, the Endangered Species Act is a valuable thing," McCloskey said. "To him, it's a bar to development."

  Exotic Animal Park Races To Save Endangered SpeciesMay 26, 2006 17:41 An exotic animal park in Garvin County is running out of money and time to save the lives of nine endangered animals. The GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood is trying to rescue the animals from a ranch in Kansas, because exotic animal ownership laws there have recently changed. KTEN's Andrea Kurys has the story.

Volunteers at the park say that if they can't raise the funding to save these animals, they will be euthanized because people in Kansas can no longer own exotics as pets.

An emergency fund-raising effort has been set up at the Mountain View Mall in Ardmore. The park is accepting donations in exchange for play-time and pictures with baby tigers and wolves. The park does not receive state or federal funding, instead it depends on private donations. Park officials say the number of visitors these days just isn't enough to cover expenses. It costs 60-thousand dollars a month to keep the park in operation.

  Too Bad for the DOI: Senate Confirms Kempthorne For InteriorMay 26, 2006 16:11 Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne won Senate approval as Interior secretary on Friday after confirmation proceedings that highlighted the administration's policy on offshore energy exploration.

Kempthorne, a former senator, was confirmed on a voice vote to succeed Gale Norton as the steward of one-fifth of the nation's land _ including tourist magnets as diverse as Yellowstone National Park and the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa.

The confirmation of Kempthorne, 54, was never in doubt. He was challenged by two Democrats, however, one of whom, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, spoke briefly on the Senate floor to emphasize his opposition.

"Sen. Nelson promised Florida that he would not support an interior secretary who would advance President Bush's willingness to acquiesce to the oil lobby" by putting oil rigs off the Florida coast, said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the lawmaker.

Administration policy calls for opening 3.6 million acres of the central Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling.

  ME Wants To Update List Of Endangerd Species For First Time Since 1997May 25, 2006 20:25 The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wants to add a dozen animals and insects including New England's cottontail rabbit and an owl to the state list of endangered and threatened species.

Maine's list, created by the Legislature in 1975, includes 49 animals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects at risk of extinction in the state. The last time it was updated was in 1997, when insects were offered state protection for the first time.

The state's list is similar to the federal list with some notable exceptions.

For example, wild Atlantic salmon is on the federal Endangered Species List but not on the state list. Federal biologists contend wild Atlantic salmon on eight Maine rivers is a genetically distinct population, but the state disagrees.

  Another Bill to Open ANWR to DrillingMay 25, 2006 20:24 The chairman of the House Resources Committee has filed another bill to accomplish what so many prior bills have failed to do: open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Recent strategies to get an ANWR bill through a reluctant Senate have involved mixed marriages _ ANWR and the budget, or ANWR and the defense bill. Rep. Richard Pombo's latest proposal, on the other hand, is a standalone bill dealing only with ANWR. That leaves it wide open to filibuster in the Senate.

"There's always the chance that Sen. (Ted) Stevens and other like-minded senators could get the three votes they need to move forward and pass it with a filibuster-proof majority," said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for Pombo, R-Calif.

The Republican-dominated House has passed ANWR legislation repeatedly in the last five years, with the help of about 30 Democrats. A majority of senators have also voted to drill in the refuge, but Stevens and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have fallen a few voted short of the 60 they need to block a filibuster, a fatal procedural delay.

ANWR, drilling proponents note, could produce a million barrels of oil a day. Environmentalists say the amount is insignificant when you consider the United States is already burning nearly 21 million barrels a day.

  Platte River Plan Accommodates Water Users, Endangered SpeciesMay 25, 2006 16:46 plan to accommodate both endangered species and the growing number of cities and farmers tapping the Platte River was released Tuesday with recommendations that water flows be increased and land set aside for wildlife.

The final environmental impact statement represents years of legal wrangling and negotiations among the three states the Platte flows through: Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

The plan's release comes as hundreds of farmers in northeastern Colorado are scrambling to keep their wells flowing in the face of legal battles over claims they were draining the river to the detriment of people with senior water rights.

Drought and more wells drawing on groundwater have lowered reservoir levels in Nebraska, where there are more people with rights on parts of the Platte than there is water to service those rights.

  Judge: Idaho Plan Violates Endangered Species ActMay 25, 2006 16:45 In a ruling that reaches deep into Northwest farm country, a federal judge on Tuesday found that a salmon-management plan for a network of Idaho irrigation and water-storage dams violates the Endangered Species Act.

Judge James Redden found that the current plan for the upper Snake River drainage is "arbitrary and capricious," and involves a "fatally flawed" analysis that must be reworked.

That plan calls for the release of water to aid salmon in downstream migration. But Redden noted in his ruling that the federal Bureau of Reclamation admits that "there is only a 50/50 chance" that it will be able to provide the full amounts of water outlined in a 2004 plan.

The ruling was a victory for conservation and fishery groups that are seeking broader actions to save threatened and endangered Snake River salmon runs.

The groups have advocated the removal of four lower Snake River dams used primarily for hydroelectric production.

  Endangered Species Act MisconstruedMay 21, 2006 22:31 It is a myth that with the Endangered Species Act, landowners "lose" their property rights.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, out of 429,533 projects considered under the act between 1998 and 2004, less than 1 percent was halted, and all but one of these projects were implemented after modifying the project to address concerns about listed species.

The act guides responsible development; it does not stop it.

Further, the letter writer says the Endangered Species Act is largely for the protection of "lots of weeds, snails, lizards, clams and fish" is a distortion.

The single largest group of species listed by the act as either endangered or threatened in the United States is vertebrates.

Of these 935 species, 359 are mammals, 272 birds, 149 fish and 123 reptiles.

There are invertebrates, flowering and non-flowering plants listed as well, for the act was implemented in the recognition of a basic biological principle: biological diversity and ecosystem health, the health of our planet, are mutually dependent and inseparable.

- Lesley Hammond,

  FL Offshore Drilling Ban Upheld - BarelyMay 19, 2006 17:27 The U.S. House narrowly preserved a decades-old ban on offshore drilling late Thursday night. But the tight vote offered further proof that Florida's ability to keep energy exploration far off its shores forever is growing more tenuous.

By a vote of 217-203, the House accepted an amendment by Florida Reps. Adam Putnam, Jim Davis and others to strip a provision from the Interior Department spending bill that would have lifted a 23-year-old congressional moratorium on drilling for natural gas offshore.

Had the Putnam amendment failed, it would have been the first step toward permitting drilling as close as 9 miles from Florida's gulf coast and 3 miles from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

"There were no hearings on this. Let's make a decision based on what is the truth vs. fiction vs. opinion, what is real, what is safe for the environment," Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, who first put the moratorium into an appropriations bill, implored in a final appeal.

  Senate Declares First Endangered Species Day: May 11May 18, 2006 03:34 In 1972, habitat loss and a poison campaign had decimated Utah's prairie dog population to a mere 3,300. The species was so devastated that United States Fish and Wildlife Service predicted extinction by the year 2000.

Instead, today the Utah prairie dog population has flourished to an estimated high of 11,700. Although still considered endangered, the Utah prairie dogs made this significant recovery after the 1973 listing as a Federal Endangered Species.

Signed into law over 30 years ago by President Nixon, the Utah prairie dog was rescued from extinction with protections gained through the Endangered Species Act.

The Utah prairie dog is just one of the 100 successful species recovery stories the Endangered Species Act has made possible. These success stories led the Senate to declare May 11, Endangered Species Day as a day to become educated about the threats facing species and to promote species conservation.

  Aircraft Carrier Sunk In Gulf Of MexicoMay 17, 2006 20:35 As hundreds of veterans looked on solemnly, Navy divers blew holes in a retired aircraft carrier and sent the 888-foot USS Oriskany to the bottom of the sea Wednesday, forming the world‘s largest deliberately created artificial reef.

Korean and Vietnam War veterans on charter boats watched from beyond a one-mile safety perimeter as the "Mighty O" went down in 212 feet of water, about 24 miles off Pensacola Beach.

"I‘m a little stunned. It‘s a little hard to take," he said.

The Oriskany became the first vessel sunk under a new Navy program to dispose of old warships by turning them into reefs that can attract fish and other marine life.

  WI Allowed to Kill Problem WolvesMay 17, 2006 20:31 The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has received a permit for control of problem wolves from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The permit allows both the lethal and non-lethal trapping of wolves that are killing livestock and domestic animals.
A preliminary count of Wisconsin’s gray wolf population for the winter of 2005-2006 shows that there are from 450 to 520 wolves in the state.
“The wolf population apparently increased slightly from last year’s levels,” said Signe Holtz, director of the DNR’s Bureau of Endangered Resources. “The goal of the plan is a healthy, sustainable gray wolf population. This permit is one of several tools we need to help us attain that goal.”
Wisconsin has had authority from the federal government to trap and translocate or use lethal control on depredating wolves in the past, say wildlife officials, but temporarily lost that authority while the status of wolves across North America was examined in the courts. The permit just issued by the USFWS limits Wisconsin to the taking of 43 wolves in 2006.

  Number Of Nests Shows Turtles Making ComebackMay 17, 2006 01:18 Last year's record of 51 Texas coast nestings of endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles could be topped this weekend, and an unprecedented number of ridley hatchlings are expected to be released into the Gulf of Mexico in the next couple of months, experts said.

With 50 nestings recorded and more than 4,000 eggs recovered for incubation as of Thursday, sea turtle preservationists are growing more and more optimistic that a nearly 30-year project to save the ancient species from extinction is paying off.

"This is a wonderful year," said Houstonian Carole Allen, who has fought for federal Kemp's ridley preservation programs for decades and taught thousands of Texas schoolchildren about the species through a preservation program she founded called Help Endangered Animals-Ridley Turtles. "We've already had three nestings on Galveston Island."

  Bush Border Plan Faulted For Impact On EnvironmentMay 17, 2006 01:18 President Bush's plan to station National Guard troops along the Mexican border is being criticized for failing to take into account the proposal's effect on the environment.

Bush announced Monday that he plans to order up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in support of the Border Patrol.

But the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity said Tuesday that more border walls, roads and low-flying aircraft will harm already stressed wildlife and the environment in the four states along the Mexican border.

The group said Bush's plan threatens Mexican wolves in New Mexico, the pygmy owl and Sonoran pronghorn antelope in Arizona, the flat-tailed horned lizard and Peninsular bighorn sheep in California and the Rio Grande in Texas.

  Lawsuite Filed to Protect American Samoan SpeciesMay 15, 2006 14:53 A US federal judge has allowed a lawsuit charging the US Fish and Wildlife Service with unlawfully delaying protection for 263 wildlife species, Radio New Zealand International reports.

The lawsuit is being filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and Forest Guardians

All 263 species are currently listed as candidates for protection as threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

Two of the species, the Na’ena’e, a rare plant, is found in Hawaii and the many-colored fruit dove is found in Samoa and American Samoa.

There are 25 Na’ena’e plants left and roughly 85 coloured fruit doves were found in a survey in 1986.

To date at least 24 candidate species have gone extinct while waiting for protection.

  AZ Endangered Species' Success TalesMay 13, 2006 21:08 Thursday was Endangered Species Day as declared by the U.S. Senate, the first-ever national celebration of America's commitment to protecting and recovering our nation's endangered species.

Local environmental organizations celebrated by talking about success stories. Nationally, these included the bald eagle, the peregrine falcon, the humpback whale and many other plants, fish and wildlife.

"In Arizona, we celebrate the return of some important species including the Mexican gray wolf, the black-footed ferret, the California condor, and the elusive jaguar," according to a statement from the Sierra Club. "While these animals are not recovered, they are here and in our state due primarily to the Endangered Species Act and the support of the American people."

The Arizona groups also pointed to Pima County's Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, a plan to protect habitat for 55 vulnerable species. The plan has gained national recognition and could set a standard for similar efforts elsewhere.

  Pygmy Owl To Be Removed From Endangered Species ListMay 12, 2006 19:13 Conservation groups have gone to court in Tucson to try to stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from removing the pygmy owl from the endangered species list.

The owl is scheduled to officially be taken off the list Monday.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife filed suit in federal court Thursday challenging that decision. They also are requesting a temporary restraining to block Monday's action.

Fish and Wildlife is removing the pygmy owl from the endangered species list because it has determined it is not a distinct subspecies.

There are only 13 known pygmy owls left in Arizona, said Jenny Neeley of the Defenders of Wildlife. She said the owl will face imminent extinction if endangered species protection is removed.

  Delaware Is Home To 15 Species Of TurtlesMay 12, 2006 15:26 Delaware has 15 species of turtles -- five sea turtles, eight freshwater turtles, one brackish-water turtle and one land turtle. The sea turtles and one freshwater turtle (the bog) are classified as "threatened" on the federal threatened and endangered species list. All the species face habitat loss and alteration as Delaware continues to lose open space to development, says Jim White, associate director of land and biodiversity management at the Delaware Nature Society.

Sea turtles

Sea turtles come ashore only to nest. They have low carapaces that are covered with horny scutes (scales), except for the leatherbacks, which don't have carapaces. Instead, they have leathery skin embedded with bony plates. Sea turtles' forelimbs are flipper-like and produce powerful swimming strokes. The paddle-like hind limbs act as rudders. Unlike other turtles, sea turtles can't retract their necks.

  Did Congress Celebrate 'Endangered Species Day?'May 11, 2006 22:27 By the time these words are placed in print a very significant day should have faded onto yesterday’s page of the calendar. Yes, today, May 11, 2006 the United States Senate issued a proclamation naming this 24-hour span of our lives “Endangered Species Day”. This is a special time to celebrate and honor those rarities, the more than 1,800 life forms now listed as threatened and endangered.

The big question is...Did Republicans find the time this day to celebrate those endangered species in Congress who still have enough backbone to fight for those things they promised during their election campaigns?

Did the Republicans and Democrats in Congress take time to honor those endangered species within their ranks that honestly attempted to pass meaningful ethics reform legislation?

Did the GOP leadership take time to honor those very few endangered species within their party who still understand the being a conservative also means honest stewardship of the public purse?

Did Democrats and Republicans take a moment to make note of those very few endangered species in Congress who honestly are seeking to solve the national energy problem?

  12 Species Of Flies Get Federal ProtectionMay 10, 2006 14:30 Twelve species of rare flies known for their elaborate courtship displays and found only in the Hawaiian Islands are now protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the protected status for the highly valued picture-wing flies Tuesday.

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity sued the service in March 2005, accusing it of violating the Endangered Species Act. The center said the agency did not move ahead fast enough on listing the flies as endangered after a 2001 proposal for the flies' protected status was made.

"The Hawaiian picture-wings ... are one of our most important endemic invertebrates in Hawaii," said Brent Plater, a staff attorney in the center's San Francisco office.

  Recovery of Some Species Plotted on WebsiteMay 10, 2006 03:25 The U.S. Senate declared May 11, 2006 Endangered Species Day to “encourage the people of the United States to become educated about, and aware of, threats to species, success stories in species recovery, and the opportunity to promote species conservation worldwide.”

To help celebrate and educate, the Center for Biological Diversity has created a website ( detailing the conservation efforts that caused the populations of 100 endangered species in every U.S. state and territory to soar.

“From key deer and green sea turtles in Florida, to grizzly bears and wolves in Montana, sea otters and blue butterflies in California, and short-nose sturgeon and roseate terns in New York, the Endangered Species Act has not only saved hundreds of species from extinction,” said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity, “but also put them on the road to recovery. The Endangered Species Act is one of America’s most successful conservation laws.”

  20 Tools for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from MEMay 09, 2006 17:42 Transportation is the leading source of global warming pollution in New England, responsible for more than one-third of the region’s emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading global warming pollutant. Worse, transportation-sector emissions have been rising for decades and are projected to continue to increase if trends toward more vehicle travel and less fuel-efficient cars and trucks continue.

For the New England states to follow through on their historic commitment – made in concert with the eastern Canadian provinces in 2001 – to reduce global warming pollution, reducing global warming pollution from transportation is job number one.

Thankfully, there are many good opportunities for the region to reduce global warming pollution from transportation, while at the same time reducing oil consumption and insulating the regional economy from energy price shocks.

Shifting Gears lays out 20 “bright ideas” that the region’s leaders should consider in their efforts to build a more sustainable transportation system for the region with less impact on the global climate. Many of these ideas are already being implemented in parts of New England or elsewhere.

  US scientists reject Bush scepticism over global warmingMay 09, 2006 17:41 An American government report on climate change has undermined a key claim of Bush administration hard-liners and sceptics who have long disputed a link between carbon emissions and global warming.

The study by the federal Climate Change Science Programme concluded that the atmosphere was growing warmer and that there was "clear evidence of human influences".

Its critical finding was that there was no significant difference between rates of warming on the Earth's surface and in the atmosphere.

Previously, sceptics had seized on satellite measurements suggesting that the atmosphere was not heating up to bolster their argument that there was no link between climate change and man-made emissions.

But the report found that "there is no longer a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere". It also concluded that man-made emissions, mainly caused by burning coal and oil, were driving the change in the global climate.

  HI Whale Collision Reports at Record HighMay 09, 2006 17:35 More and more boaters are having collisions with whales in Hawaii waters and experts say the accidents are at a record high this year.

This season seven whale collisions were reported.

Among those documented cases, a calf that was hit by a boat propellor in March. That was the only case where the boat responsible did not report it.

In past years, the state has confirmed an average of only two to three collisions.

Experts say several factors are contributing to the increase.

"We have more whales in the water, more boats on the water, we have the awareness of the boaters so when they hit a whale who to call and how to report the whales, the collisions, so we have all those factors coming together," said Jeff Walters with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

  Georgia To Revise Protected Species ListMay 09, 2006 14:52 The robust redhorse, a mystery fish that dropped off the scientific radar screen for 121 years until it was discovered in the Oconee River near Dublin, would become a rare, rather than endangered species, under a proposed new list of Georgia's protected species.

In the first comprehensive revision of the state's protected species lineup since 1992, there are proposals to change the status of some species, such as the redhorse, a sucker fish that can grow to 17 inches and weigh 30 pounds.

The redhorse is considered a recovering species, along with the peregrine falcon and bald eagle, both of which would be down-listed from endangered to rare.

Some other species, such as the Tallapoosa shiner, a minnow that lives almost exclusively in the Tallapoosa River system in northern Georgia and Alabama, would be taken off the protected list.

  While Washington Slept, the World SankMay 08, 2006 15:56 Ten months before Hurricane Katrina left much of New Orleans underwater, Queen Elizabeth II had a private conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair about George W. Bush. The Queen’s tradition of meeting once a week with Britain’s elected head of government to discuss matters of state—usually on Tuesday evenings in Buckingham Palace and always alone, to ensure maximum confidentiality—goes back to 1952, the year she ascended the throne. In all that time, the contents of those chats rarely if ever leaked.

So it was extraordinary when London’s Observer reported, on October 31, 2004, that the Queen had “made a rare intervention in world politics” by telling Blair of “her grave concerns over the White House’s stance on global warming.” The Observer did not name its sources, but one of them subsequently spoke to Vanity Fair.

“The Queen first of all made it clear that Buckingham Palace would be happy to help raise awareness about the climate problem,” says the source, a high-level environmental expert who was briefed about the conversation. ”[She was] definitely concerned about the American position and hoped the prime minister could help change [it].”

  Hands Off ANWRMay 06, 2006 17:42 WHAT'S MORE cynical than offering Americans $100 each to soothe the pain of high gasoline prices? The proposal by some in Congress to open the nation's last, best wild place to exploring and drilling for oil. Most of us can see the $100 offer for what it is: pure political pandering. And we should be equally skeptical of the latest rush to industrialize the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

President Bush and some members of Congress will do just about anything to drill in the Arctic plain, an area often described as "America's Serengeti" for its rich variety of wildlife. In December, we had to drill because of the threat of conflict with Iran. Now it's Iran plus gasoline prices. Forget that it might take as long as 17 years, according to drilling supporters, before any oil found in the refuge reaches market.

It seemed that ANWR drilling had been put to rest at the end of last year, when the Senate rejected a back-door attempt to approve it by making it an amendment to a defense spending bill (this after the House stripped it from a budget bill). But ANWR keeps coming back. Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) was one proponent last week, huffing and puffing in the New York Times: "With all due respect, I cannot understand what coherent political philosophy cuts its own country off from oil."

  Two Coral Species Listed as ThreatenedMay 05, 2006 14:26 The U.S. government said on Thursday it would list two coral species as "threatened" under federal species protection laws after damage to them increased last year as the Caribbean warmed to record levels.

The two species, Elkhorn and Staghorn coral, are threatened by bleaching, caused by high temperatures; disease; and physical damage from hurricanes, said Jennifer Moore, a natural resource specialist with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, in a telephone interview.

Corals form reefs that host a variety of marine life, including fish, invertebrates, and turtles, and protect shorelines by acting as a barrier against waves.

Coral reefs also attract divers, boaters and sport fishermen who spend billions of dollars on tourism, said Moore.

  New Interior Pick To Make Case To SenateMay 04, 2006 19:30 He is a pro-development Western governor and former U.S. senator who some say is not to be trusted with protecting the country's national parks, mountains and other natural resources.

But supporters say that portrayal is not the full picture of Idaho Republican Dirk Kempthorne, President Bush's nominee for secretary of the Department of Interior.

They describe Kempthorne, also a former Boise mayor, as a true "urban Westerner" with "a pro-states-rights agenda." He is more likely to push the Bush administration for stronger collaboration with states, localities and Native Americans on water and wildlife decisions rather than letting Congress and federal agencies dictate what to do.

"This guy, on a personal level, is not going to be walking into office with an anti-parks, anti-wildlife agenda," said Rick Johnson, executive director of the Idaho Conservation League, who has dealt with Kempthorne on environmental issues for years.

  Where's the Environment?May 04, 2006 19:29 With the presidential race heating up, candidates are broadcasting where they stand on the issues that they think matter most to the American people ­ issues like the economy, jobs, health care, and national security. But one issue has been strikingly absent from the debate: the environment. When my campus environmental group started planning a voter registration drive, we realized that the question was not so much “How can we get students to vote for the most environmental candidate?” but rather “How can we get students to even think about the environment when casting their vote?”

It’s not that student environmentalists don’t care at all about the other campaign issues at all ­ we do. But we also think that a candidate’s position on the environment is a good gauge because environmental issues are more long-term and difficult to address, and so an aggressive environmental plan is a good marker of the politician in general. A politician only interested in getting elected for the next term will not put the environment as a priority, but one with a genuine interest in the public good will address more systemic and difficult issues, such as global climate change.

But so far in this presidential campaign, the environment is getting shoved to the backburner in favor of more immediately obvious threats like terrorism.

  No Reprieve For MTBE in MDMay 03, 2006 16:09 In his quest to convince Americans he was doing all he could to ease their pain at the gas pump, President Bush announced last week he would grant delays in the transition to safer fuel-cleaning additives.

For Maryland, at least, he was too late.

The changeover to ethanol from MTBE as an additive to make gasoline burn cleaner is essentially complete. Except for a straggler here or there, supplies should be available at Baltimore-area service stations that sell specially blended summertime fuel, according to F. Peter Horrigan, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association.

That's good news. The state won't have to live one extra day with water-polluting MTBE, which has been a threat to the environment almost since its arrival here more than a decade ago.

  An Unsuitable Appointment At The EPAMay 02, 2006 14:34 It might be possible to find a worse candidate than William Wehrum for a key Environmental Protection Agency post, but it wouldn't be easy.

Wehrum and his former boss, Jeffrey Holmstead, have repeatedly rewarded big polluters by rewriting - or simply bending - rules to relax standards and reduce enforcement.

In 2003, for example, they helped craft new standards for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. As the rules were being written, career EPA staff members were told by Holmstead and Wehrum not to carry out the usual scientific and economic reviews.

Key passages in the new standards were copied word-for-word from memos prepared by the Washington lobbying firm of Latham & Watkins. Holmstead, who left the EPA last year, and Wehrum, nominated by President Bush to replace him, both formerly worked at Latham & Watkins. There, as at the EPA, they represented the interests of big polluters, including the chemical industry and coal-fired power plants.

Wehrum is now awaiting Senate confirmation to head the EPA's air pollution programs. Last week, a key Senate panel voted along party lines to endorse him. Wehrum, who is utterly unsuited to the job of protecting the environment, has been demonstrating that fact for the last five years, first as Holmstead's deputy at the EPA and later as his acting successor.

  Hippopotamus among 26,000 new species on endangered listMay 01, 2006 04:50 More than 26,000 species of animals, birds, plants and fish will this week be added to the list of those in serious danger of extinction. Thousands of species including the common hippotamus are to be added or moved up the so-called "red list" drawn up by The World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The alarming study by the union, one of the most authoritative pictures of world flora and fauna, will make clear that global warming and human activity is responsible.

The report will confirm that the common skate, once abundant around Britain, has been virtually wiped out. The fish is still stocked by some supermarkets and fishmongers, but there is increasing pressure on them to ban it in the same way that cod has been removed from many retailers' shelves.

Sharks, skates and rays are all thought to be vulnerable. Around 20 per cent of sharks are in increasing danger of extinction, the study says. The giant devil ray, similar to a manta ray, is often accidentally caught in nets intended for tuna and other fish.