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Friday, Aug 29th

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EPA Drops Rules Easing Controls on Power Plants

Six weeks before leaving office, the Bush administration is giving up on an effort to ease restrictions on pollution from coal-burning power plants, a key plank of its original energy agenda and one that put the president at odds with environmentalists his entire eight years in the White House.

President George W. Bush had hoped to make both changes to air pollution regulations final before leaving office on Jan. 20. In the midst of a coal-fired power plant construction boom, the rules would have made it easier for energy companies to expand existing facilities and to erect new power plants in areas of the country that meet air quality standards.

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Fragranced Products Emit Toxic Chemicals

Steinemann put six different fragranced products - dryer sheets, a fabric softener, a laundry detergent, and three different air fresheners (one solid, one spray and one oil) - into an isolated, room-temperature enclosure and used gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that they emitted. She found that together, the products emitted almost 100 different VOCs, every one at levels higher than 300 micrograms per cubic meter.

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Exxon Valdez spill payments reach claimants

The millions of dollars Exxon Mobil Corp. has surrendered as punishment for the Prince William Sound oil spill have started hitting the streets, nearly 20 years after the disaster.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs and Exxon continue to battle in court over whether the oil company owes interest on the punitive damages award. If so, the interest could roughly double the total payout.

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EPA to gut mountaintop mining rule protecting streams

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday approved a last-minute rule change by the Bush administration that will allow coal companies to bury streams under the rocks leftover from mining.

The 11th hour change before President George W. Bush leaves office would eliminate a tool that citizens groups have used in lawsuits to keep mining waste out of streams. Mining companies had been pushing for the change for years.

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Bush administration quietly works to torpedo global warming regulations

Top Bush administration figures have been e-mailing sympathetic mayors and other allies encouraging them to oppose Environmental Protection Agency rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court last year ordered the EPA to craft a proposal to limit the emissions under the Clean Air Act, but the White House made clear it doesn't like the idea.

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Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply

Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of "neo-colonialism", with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

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New Rule Would Discount Warming as Risk Factor for Species

The Bush administration is finalizing changes to the Endangered Species Act that would ensure that federal agencies would not have to take global warming into account when assessing risks to imperiled plants and animals.

The main purpose of the new regulations, which were first unveiled in August, is to eliminate a long-standing provision of the Endangered Species Act that requires an independent scientific review by either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of any federal project that could affect a protected species. Under the administration's proposal, individual agencies could decide on their own whether a project would harm an imperiled species. 

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