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Im Schatten der Krise:Alaska soll ausgeplündert werden - 500 Beiträge pro Seite

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Keiner achtet darauf. Wie die Bush-Regierung versucht den im letzten Jahr gescheiterten Versuch, die Ölvorkommen Alaskas zu erschließen, wiederholt.

Conferees Approve Provisions to Expand Development in Alaska National Forests

ASHINGTON, Feb. 11 — Republicans have tucked provisions into the spending bill that the House and Senate conferences are negotiating to permit road building in two Alaska forests, expand timber harvesting in national forests and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploratory oil drilling.

Democrats say the provisions would weaken Clinton-era protections for national forests.

Republicans say Democrats and conservation groups are distorting the proposals to generate opposition to reasonable modifications of overly restrictive policies.

Republicans defeated a Democratic effort on Monday to strip the forest amendments from the bill. As a result, the changes will most likely be included if the $396 billion package is approved.

Conservation groups said introducing those policies in the negotiations seriously undermined the 2.2 million comments that the public submitted before the policies were introduced in 2000. Industry groups said the sweeping policies surprised the timber industry in 2000.

The main controversy centers on the Tongass and Chugach National Forests in Alaska.

The Tongass, the last large remaining rain forest in North America, is roughly the size of West Virginia. The Chugach, the second largest national forest, covers the Copper River Delta, home of a famous salmon run.

"This is the forest equivalent of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," said Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, an environmental group.

The debate has been framed over whether the pristine forest is worth the burden it puts on the 7.6 percent unemployment rate in Alaska.

"We are trying to restore those lost jobs," said Owen J. Graham, executive director of the Alaska Forest Association, a trade group.

One amendment would exempt Alaska from "roadless" area policies that permanently protect the more than 30 percent of the forests not open to timber sales. More than half the national forests have been opened to logging, and about 15 percent have been designated wilderness. The "roadless" rules essentially protect the remaining land.

If the restrictions are lifted, 50 sales pending in the Tongass forest would proceed. A number of the amendments were pushed by Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and who has received significant contributions from the timber industry.

Mr. Stevens defended his amendments, saying he was trying to undo President Bill Clinton`s last-minute addition of land in Alaska to the roadless program despite a law that prohibited adding land there.

The Clinton administration`s designation of many areas of national forest as roadless areas has been challenged in court by Western states, along with the timber industry. The opponents say the government did not assemble enough public reaction for such a broad action.

Concern by Democrats and some moderate Republicans also focuses on the introduction of the amendments. Eight moderate Republicans have sent a letter to the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, C. W. Young, Republican of Florida, saying the last-minute secretive talks "seriously undermine the legislative process."

"It`s not a good way to do business," a signer of the letter, Representative Michael N. Castle, Republican of Delaware, said. "It`s a practice that should not be followed."

House Republican leaders said they wanted to avoid a fight on the environment in the spending legislation.

Other amendments include a push to free Interior Department money for drilling studies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, despite a 20-year-old ban on exploration there.

In addition, the amendments would expand a policy allowing timber companies to cut trees as payment for clearing out undergrowth that poses a fire hazard.

The program`s advocates say it is an economical way to pay for a much-needed service. Conservation groups say the program kills trees to save trees.

Republicans are also proposing to exempt some forest plans from administrative and legal challenges as a way to evade a tactic that conservation groups use to delay sales to build in forests.

"It means there is no protection whatsoever for the public interest," said Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, whose amendment to strip some Republican proposals failed.

Industry officials said the exemption was streamlining the challenge process from two rounds, with one for the overall national forest development plan and one for individual land sales, to just the individual sales.

"It doesn`t take away their right to protest," Mr. Graham of the timber group said. "It takes away their second bite of the apple."
Auch eine Bush Mogelpackung. Wasserstoff aus Kohle oder Öl.

Bush, environmentalists at odds on fuel cell plan

Friday, February 07, 2003
By Randall Mikkelsen, Reuters

WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Thursday his $1.2 billion proposal to spur development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would cut pollution and enhance security, but the plan has left environmentalists steaming.
"If you`re interested in our environment and if you`re interested in doing what`s right for the American people, if you`re tired of the same old endless struggles that seem to produce nothing but noise and high bills, let us promote hydrogen fuel cells as a way to advance into the 21st century," Bush said at the National Building Museum in Washington.

At the museum, Bush toured exhibits of fuel cell technology -- pointing a hydrogen-powered television camera at reporters, making a phone call on a fuel-cell mobile phone, and inspecting a lineup of fuel-cell vehicles.

Outside, a small group of demonstrators carried signs protesting his energy policies and handed out leaflets denouncing the fuel cell proposal as a "dirty energy plan" because part of the plan would seek ways to produce hydrogen using coal and nuclear power.

"The whole thing`s a fraud," said Dan Becker, head of the Sierra Club global warming and energy program. "He`s going to try to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by creating hydrogen out of coal, nuclear, and gasoline."

He said the plan obscured Bush`s failure to seek stronger fuel-efficiency standards for today`s cars and trucks, which would provide quicker energy savings.

Democrats gearing up to seek the 2004 presidential nomination also took shots at the plan, which could give Bush an environmental plank for his reelection campaign.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts called the plan a "smokescreen on energy security," and Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut said it was "nothing more than an exhaust pipe dream."

Bush unveiled his hydrogen fuel initiative last week in his State of the Union speech, proposing $1.2 billion overall and new spending of $720 million over five years to develop technology and infrastructure to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cells and electricity generation.

A separate program previously launched to develop fuel cell vehicles raises the five-year spending total to $1.7 billion.

Fuel cells produce electricity from oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen to power them can be obtained from water, natural gas, coal, or other resources, and the fuel cells emit only water as a byproduct.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the research on using coal to produce hydrogen would seek ways to make it "cleanly."

A White House fact sheet said the proposal would lead to cost-effective fuel-cell vehicles by 2020.

"I don`t know if you and I are going to be driving one of these cars, but our grandkids will," Bush said.

He said fuel-cell cars would not only cut air pollution, they would reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil, enhancing the country`s economic security. "If we develop hydrogen power to its full potential, we can reduce our demand for oil by over 11 million barrels per day by the year 2040," he said.

The United States currently uses about 20 million barrels daily, half of which is imported.

Becker said he was skeptical Bush`s initiative would lead manufacturers to offer significant numbers of fuel cell vehicles because it does not require them to do so. An earlier program to promote gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles has so far failed to yield any production vehicles by U.S. car makers who took part, he said.

Source: Reuters

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