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Sierra magazine
Up to Speed: Two Months, One Page

Three days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama reverses George W. Bush's policy prohibiting the funding of international family-planning groups that advocate, counsel, or offer abortion.

On January 26, Obama orders tough new fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks. Says Dan Weiss of the Center for American Progress: "Obama has done more in one week to foster clean energy and energy independence than George Bush did in eight years."

The hottest days of summer now arrive two days earlier than they used to, say researchers at Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley.

Another study, by Harvard with Brigham Young University, proves that clean air makes you live five months longer.

Wind energy now employs more people than coal mining.

But coal has more friends on the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, rules that mountaintop-removal mines don't need extensive environmental review before they fill valleys and streams with rubble.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar voids voids Bush-era oil and gas drilling leases on 13,000 acres near Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument. (See "Guerrilla Bidder")

Salazar also pulls the plug on leases to develop oil shale on federal lands in the Rocky Mountains. "Those who have fantasized that oil shale is a panacea for America's energy needs," he says, "have been living in a fantasyland."

End of the fantasy for wolves: Salazar strips them of endangered-species protection in Idaho, Montana, and the western Great Lakes region--but not Wyoming.

According to a Gallup poll on Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, fewer than four in ten Americans believe in evolution..

The Republican National Committee names Michael Steele as its new chair. Steele coined the 2008 campaign slogan "Drill, Baby, Drill."

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduces legislation to preserve the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness.

Obama signs a $787 billion economic stimulus bill, nearly $100 billion of which funds funds wind and solar power, low-emission vehicles, energy-efficient buildings, and mass transit, including high-speed rail.

RNC chair Steele criticizes the stimulus package for including money for removing barriers to fish in streams and rivers.

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) threatens to reject $42 million designated in the stimulus bill to make buildings more energy efficient. "I'm more than happy to take his money," says fellow Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, "because we in California need it."

In his first budget, Obama increases EPA spending by more than a third, revives the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste, earmarks $3.9 billion for clean-water projects, and builds in revenues from a cap-and-trade program for reducing carbon emissions.

Arizona senator John McCain (R) criticizes the budget for including beaver management programs in North Carolina and Mississippi.

Beavers return to the Detroit River for the first time in a century.

Obama overrides another Bush rule: Federal agencies now have to consult with biologists before undertaking construction projects that could harm endangered critters.

New Jersey senator Bob Menendez (D) blocks the confirmation of two key Obama science advisers over an unrelated proposal to loosen travel restrictions to Cuba.

Obama cuts off funding for the controversial l nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, essentially killing the project.

Obama reverses Bush policy by supporting an international treaty to cut mercury pollution.

For the first time, the EPA officially finds that global warming endangers the public.

NASA launches a $278 million satellite designed to closely monitor worldwide production and capture of carbon dioxide. Moments later it crashes into the sea. --Paul Rauber


Photos and illustrations, left column, from top: iStockphoto/sbayram, iStockphoto/Andyworks, iStockphoto/Albachiara
Photos and illustrations, right column, from top: iStockphoto/uriash, iStockphoto/luismmolina



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