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Sierra magazine
Up to Speed: Two Months, One Page

The Bush administration's outgoing secretary of transportation, Mary Peters, waved goodbye by increasing funding for highways at the expense of bike trails.

Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ships within 23 miles of Atlantic seaboard ports must now reduce their speed to ten knots to avoid bumping into endangered right whales.

Bottoms up! The EPA said it's OK if 20 million Americans drink water contaminated with a rocket fuel ingredient.

Not to be outdone, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ignored more than 100 scientific studies to declare the chemical bisphenol-A safe enough for babies, in whose plastic bottles and sippy cups it often appears.

Women's exposure to phthalates, another common additive to plastics, was linked in Environmental Research to genital deformities in their baby boys. The FDA doesn't consider phthalates a safety risk.

No problems with genetically engineered meat and other animal products either, says the FDA--so no need to label such products.

Nor does the FDA see any need to note that canned tuna is highly contaminated with mercury. One out of five U.S. women of childbearing age has excessive amounts of the toxic element in her bloodstream.

On the other hand, meat and poultry products must now be labeled to indicate which country they come from.

Half of the world's food, says the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, is wasted.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed adding two Hawaiian birds to the endangered-species list, the akikiki and the akekee.

Fish and Wildlife gave up on stripping wolves in the Northern Rockies of their endangered-species status, thus averting state-sponsored wolf-hunting seasons.

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park may soon be able to make live reports of wolf sightings thanks to the park's plan to greatly expand the number of cell towers.

You may not be able to call from your snowmobile, though: A federal judge nixed the National Park Service's plan to increase snowmobile numbers in Yellowstone to 540 a day.

Numbers of Alaskan pollack--the fish in fish sticks, fish-and-chips, and McDonald's fish sandwiches--have dropped by half from last year.

After swimming 600 miles up the Rhine, the first salmon to return to Switzerland in 50 years was caught--and released.

Ford is making a five-seater diesel car, the Fiesta ECOnetic, that gets 65 miles per gallon--but will sell it only in Europe.

The EPA finally got around to regulating emissions from lawnmower engines and other small motors, which will save 300 lives a year.

The Amazon is shrinking three times faster than in 2007, losing 300 square miles of rainforest last August alone.

The ozone hole over Antarctica is growing again, reaching in September 2008 the fifth-largest size ever.

One out of three U.S. schools is in an "air-pollution danger zone."

In the vice presidential debate, both sides came out in favor of "clean coal," a substance that does not exist.

The lame-duck Bush administration rushed to relax environmental regulations before Barack Obama is inaugurated in January.

In the Republic of Congo, researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society discovered a hitherto-unknown population of 125,000 lowland gorillas, more than doubling the rare primate's numbers.

Thanks to a Sierra Club suit, all new U.S. coal-fired power plants must limit their CO2 emissions. Until operators figure out how to do so, no coal-fired plants can be built. —Paul Rauber




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