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The Planet

Sprawl Found Harmful to Labor

In September, Good Jobs First released "Labor Leaders As Smart Growth Advocates," a 50-state study which finds that not a single state coordinates its economic development spending with public transportation. Based on interviews with labor federation leaders, the report documents serious problems caused by suburban sprawl and advocates urban reinvestment ("smart-growth") policies. Many of the labor leaders interviewed for the report have worked in coalitions with environmental groups and see sprawl as causing cumulative harm to union members. To read the report, go to

Clean Air Takes a Hit

In August, the Bush administration rolled back clean air enforcement rules for the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants, relaxing the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act. For the first time, thousands of aging coal-fired power plants, oil refineries, and factories will be allowed to upgrade their facilities and extend their operational lives without having to install new anti-pollution equipment as previously required. The new rule was hailed by industry leaders, but environmentalists and many lawmakers said the move undermines one of the few effective tools available to government officials to crack down on industrial polluters. To read more, go to

WTO Talks Break Down

Talks in Cancun, Mexico, on a new world trade agreement collapsed in September when delegates from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean walked out, accusing wealthy nations of bullying tactics and failing to compromise on agriculture and investment policies. The breakdown of the World Trade Organization talks makes it nearly impossible for the agency to reach its goal of crafting a new global trade treaty by next year, and came as an embarrassment for the Bush administration, which has promoted the WTO as an engine of global growth. The Sierra Club has argued that the WTO puts the interests of corporations above the interests of working families and environmental protections. To learn more about the Club’s position, go to

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