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  Sierra Magazine
  November/December 2008
Table of Contents
Ice Manliness Cometh
A Six-Dog-Power Engine
I (Heart) Snowshoeing
Skiing Yellowstone
Welcome Back to the World
Rotten Fish Tales
Big Fun in the Green Zone
Hey Mr. Green
Comfort Zone
Mixed Media
Last Words
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Sierra Magazine

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Lay of the Land

Playing Chicken | 2020 Vision | Low Bench Marks | W Watch | The Hidden Cost of Gas | Sprawl | Bold Strokes | Updates

W Watch: Keeping Tabs on George W. Bush

Back to Business

The September 11 tragedy focused the nation’s attention on immediate problems of Afghanistan and anthrax. But significant environmental decisions, rules, and announcements continued apace, below the public’s radar.

There were a few bright spots: In November, EPA administrator Christie Whitman announced that the Bush administration would uphold strict limits on arsenic in water, reversing its earlier decision to suspend them. And the agency is moving ahead with plans to force General Electric to dredge 1.65 million cubic yards of toxic PCBs from the Hudson River, despite protestations from the company.

But mostly, it has been business as usual: In October, the Bush administration rescinded the government’s authority to prevent miners from digging on fragile public land. Mark Rey, undersecretary of agriculture for natural resources and environment, told a mining trade group that he wants to "reinvigorate" mineral exploration in national forests.

National Park Service officials announced in December that the plan to phase out snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks will likely be delayed for several years–despite overwhelming citizen support.

Also in December, Rey, a former top timber industry lobbyist, approved logging on 46,000 acres of fire-scarred woodlands in Montana’s Bitteroot National Forest, circumventing the usual citizen appeals process. The agency wants to log at least 181 million board feet from the Bitterroot (more than the total harvest of the last 15 years) despite opposition from local residents and scientific evidence that shows logging increases sediment in streams. Calling Rey’s move "impetuous," a federal judge temporarily blocked the plan.

by Reed McManus

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