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Lay of the Land

Everglades Restoration | Green Campaigns | W Watch | Biological Diversity | Bold Strokes | Contaminated Waterways | Safe SUV Myth | Exxon Valdez | Renewable Energy Mitigation Program | Updates

All-Good-News Edition!

WATER GRAB THWARTED Last summer, agribusiness giant Cadiz Incorporated seemed poised to make a bundle from storing and pumping water beneath the Mojave Desert. The firm’s proposal had been approved by the Interior Department despite concerns about the area’s bighorn sheep and desert tortoises, and a warning from the U.S. Geological Survey that excessive pumping could cause the aquifer to collapse. But to the surprise–and delight–of environmentalists, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California cancelled the multimillion-dollar project in October, citing escalating costs and risks to the fragile desert ecosystem. (See "Lay of the Land," March/April 2001.)

SWORDFISH surge back Thanks to the gustatory restraint of chefs and gourmets alike, the once-vanishing North Atlantic swordfish has made a dramatic comeback. An October report shows that the population has recovered to 94 percent of healthy levels, two years after the conclusion of a successful campaign led by SeaWeb and the Natural Resources Defense Council. After stocks dipped below 60 percent, restaurants across the country agreed in 1998 to take swordfish off their menus until international quotas were reduced and fishing was limited in U.S. nursery areas. Both goals were achieved by August 2000, and as long as these safeguards remain, eating swordfish need not be a guilty pleasure. (See "Lay of the Land," January/February 2001, and "Food for Thought," July/August 1998.)

LAUNDRY GETS CLEANER In September, California became the first state to mandate water efficiency for residential clothes washers. By January 2007, all new washing machines in the state must meet tough standards that will reduce their water use by about 7,000 gallons annually–for a total annual savings of nearly a billion gallons in the first year alone. (See "The Hidden Life of Laundry," September/October 2002.)

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