Groups ready fisher lawsuit against feds

by Walt Cook, The Union Democrat, February 11, 2010 [here]

An alliance of environmental groups plans to sue the U.S. Department of the Interior for failing to place the West Coast fisher on the Endangered Species List.

The historical trapping of the animal, a relative of the mink that weighs as much as a house cat, and logging of old-growth forests have “devastated” West Coast fisher populations, the groups contend.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Forest Legacy, Environmental Protection Information Center and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Interior Department on Feb. 4. The groups can file a complaint in federal court 60 days after that date.

Fishers once ranged throughout the forests of Canada and the United Sates, including Washington, Oregon and California. They were almost completely wiped out in the United States, due to a desire for their pelts, which fetched $150 apiece in 1900. They are now making a comeback in some parts of the country.

Today, in California, two native fisher populations exist: Near the California-Oregon border and in the southern Sierra Nevada, about half of the animals’ historic statewide territory, say the groups bringing the lawsuit.

Timber industry groups worry placing the West Coast fisher on the Endangered Species List will hinder logging operations, as such a designation places restrictions on human activities in areas deemed critical habitat.

Chris Conrad, president of the Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment, sees the environmental groups’ push to list the fisher as an underhanded way to stop logging operations. Twain Harte-based TuCARE defends the interests of cattle and logging operators in the Stanislaus National Forest.

Forests in the Sierra Nevada are so overgrown in places that a catastrophic fire is inevitable without more logging, Conrad said.

“I think it’s evident that these groups have another agenda, and that is to completely shut down forest management,” Conrad said. “It’s unfortunate because the thing that endangers the fisher right now is the incredible buildup of forest fuels. If we don’t address that, their whole habitat is going to burn down.” … [more]

22 Feb 2010, 9:06pm
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Sam D. Hamilton dead at 54; U.S. fish and wildlife director

Washington Post, February 22, 2010 [here]

Sam D. Hamilton, 54, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, died Feb. 20 after suffering chest pains while skiing at the Keystone Ski Area in Colorado. The Summit County, Colo., coroner told the Associated Press that his death was consistent with an underlying heart problem. …

Mr. Hamilton, a 30-year veteran of the agency who became its director in September, was one of the leaders of restoration work in the Florida Everglades and along the coastal wetlands and wildlife habitat along the Gulf Coast after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. When the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought extinct, was spotted in his region in 2005, he told The Washington Post: “It’s given us a renewed hope that all these efforts, all this work, can pay off. It’s the story of how you can get a second chance.” …

The son of an Air Force pilot, Mr. Hamilton grew up in Starkville, Miss. His first outdoors job was as a Youth Conservation Corps member on the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, where he learned to band wood ducks and Canada geese, to build waterfowl pens and to understand the importance of managing wildlife habitat. Mr. Hamilton graduated from Mississippi State University in 1977. He rose through the Fish and Wildlife Service from being its Texas administrator, to assistant regional director of ecological services in Atlanta and then director of the agency’s Southeast region, based in Atlanta. …

Survivors include his wife, Becky Arthur Hamilton, of Atlanta; two sons, Sam Hamilton Jr. and Clay Hamilton, both of Atlanta; and a grandson.

20 Feb 2010, 4:01pm
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Judge gives his blessing to copters in wilderness

Fish & Game officials set to collar wolves

By Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, February 20th, 2010 [here]

A federal judge said Friday the Idaho Department of Fish and Game can land helicopters in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area this winter to capture and place radio collars on wolves.

The department won Forest Service approval late last year to briefly land in the wilderness up to 20 times while biologists are flying over counting deer and elk. The landings would occur if and when fish and game biologists spot and are able to shoot wolves with tranquilizer darts. Once on the ground, a biologist would fit the wolves with radio collars to help them monitor wolf movements and populations.

But several environmental and wilderness protection groups sued, saying the landings violated the Wilderness Act. Motorized travel is not allowed in federally designated wilderness areas but there are several exceptions, including one for scientific studies that lead to improving wilderness conditions.

On Friday, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, of Boise, said the landings meet the criteria for exceptions to the ban on motorized travel and refused to issue an injunction.

“The use of helicopters is designed to restore a specific aspect of the wilderness character of the Frank Church Wilderness that had been earlier destroyed by man. In that context, the helicopter flights for this particular operation are consistent with the categorical exclusion that requires they be “limited in context and intensity.” … [more]

19 Feb 2010, 10:27pm
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EPA, Countering Critics of Greenhouse Gas Findings, Says ‘Science Is Settled’

by Molly Henneberg,, February 19, 2010 [here]

The Environmental Protection Agency, responding complaints about its December findings about the threat of greenhouse gases, issued a statement Friday saying that the “science is settled” and “greenhouse gases pose a real threat to the American people.”

The statement comes after after Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a petition with the EPA and a challenge in federal appeals court over the EPA’s conclusions.

With climate scientists in the hot seat recently over an e-mail scandal and mistakes in a prominent U.N. report, Cuccinelli argues the EPA should “restart the process and this time use rigorous, defensible science.”

He says the EPA is expected to announces measures to cap carbon emissions, based on its climate change findings, and that will put a “staggering burden” on Virginia residents and businesses.

The EPA says it is going forward with “common sense measures that are helping to protect Americans from this threat” and said its critics are trying to “stall progress.” … [more]

Note: Twenty-six lawsuits and legal petitions have been filed against the EPA and their CO2 endangerment finding. The EPA’s defense is as pathetic as a kitten thrown into a shark pool. Advice to the squeamish: turn away and don’t look — the lawyerly feeding frenzy is going to be brutal and bloody.

19 Feb 2010, 10:21pm
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The crackup of the climate ‘consensus’

By STEVEN F. HAYWARD, NY Post, February 19, 2010 [here]

The climate-change campaign is in catastrophic free fall.

Nearly every day brings a new embarrassment or retraction for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the supposed gold standard for “consensus” science. The withdrawal this week of BP, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar from the main US business lobby for greenhouse-gas controls is the latest political blow to the campaign.

The anti-warming lobby long demonized skeptics as the moral equivalent of Holocaust deniers while warning of climate “tipping points.” Now, the “Climategate” scandal that broke in November is looking like a true tipping point: The leaked e-mails have done to the climate-change debate what the Pentagon Papers did for the Vietnam War debate 40 years ago — changed the narrative decisively.

For years, skeptics have been pointing out serious defects or gross exaggerations in the climate narrative — glaciers that weren’t actually melting; weak or incomplete data in the records of surface temperature that supposedly proved unprecedented warming; a complete lack of backup for claims that storms and drought are growing more severe. Plus, global temperatures have been flat for the last decade — increasingly falsifying the computer models that project our doom.

The media long ignored every criticism, and generally joined the climate campaigners in denouncing skeptics for their turpitude. Now it’s playing catch-up. … [more]

19 Feb 2010, 10:08pm
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ODFW collars three more Imnaha wolves

Wallowa County Chieftain, 2/18/2010 [here]

State wildlife staffers collared and released three wolves from the Imnaha pack last week, which will help wildlife managers better track and understand the pack’s movements, ODFW announced Thursday, Feb. 18.

A 115-pound wolf believed to be the alpha male was fitted Friday with a GPS collar, which allows ODFW to collect multiple locations of the wolf each day. A 97-pound male was fitted with a radio collar during the same operation and a 70-pound female pup was radio-collared on Saturday.

“The wolves were in good body condition and the capture went well,” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator.

These wolves were found in the ODFW Imnaha Wildlife Management Unit and are part of a pack videoed on Nov. 12, 2009. Based on the evidence so far, Morgan believes this pack consists of 10 wolves, with five of those pups.

Back in January 2008, the alpha female of this pack, B-300, was confirmed to be the first wolf to enter Oregon from Idaho since the early 2000s. She was captured and re-fitted with a working radio collar in July of last year, which helped ODFW find the three additional members of the pack.

While the size of wolf packs can vary, breeding usually occurs only between the dominant or “alpha” male and female of the pack.

In addition to the Imnaha pack, ODFW continues to track a wolf pack in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit, also in Wallowa County. None of these wolves has been collared yet, but wildlife managers have repeatedly found tracks and scat from these animals and estimate there are four wolves in this pack. … [more]

19 Feb 2010, 10:06pm
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Two more monuments planned in Utah?

By Thomas Burr, Salt Lake Tribune, 02/19/2010 [here]

Washington » Rep. Rob Bishop says he has unearthed plans by the Obama administration to wield its power to designate multiple new national monuments in the West, including two that would snatch up thousands of acres in Utah.

That revelation by the Utah Republican set off a firestorm of criticism Thursday from congressional and state leaders in the Beehive State — although the Interior Department insists the document on which Bishop bases his allegation is simply a draft memo outlining lands that may, in the future, deserve protection.

Two Utah swaths are mentioned in the document, marked “not for release” — the San Rafael Swell in the south-central part of the state and Cedar Mesa in San Juan County. The exact size of potential monuments isn’t mentioned.

Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff says Secretary Ken Salazar asked the department’s bureaus to identify areas that might be worth further study as possible management areas or spots for Congress to step in and designate as protected.

“The preliminary internal discussion draft reflects some brainstorming discussions within [Bureau of Land Management], but no decisions have been made about which areas, if any, might merit more serious review and consideration,” Barkoff said. “Secretary Salazar believes new designations and conservation initiatives work best when they build on local efforts to better manage places that are important to nearby communities.”

The seven-page document states that “further evaluations should be completed prior to any final decision,” including gauging congressional and public support.

Interior officials soon will get a sample of that support — or the lack of it — in person. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who will be in Washington, D.C., for a national governors gathering, will meet with Salazar on Sunday and Interior Undersecretary David Hayes on Monday to express his deep concerns.

“I will challenge federal officials,” Herbert said in a news release, “to explain to me how they could possibly be in a better position to know what’s best for our rural lands than those of us here on the ground in this state.”

Environmental activists cheered Interior’s efforts to look at potential monuments.

“Given the attention Congress gives to Utah wilderness, it should come as no surprise that the administration is considering protections for Utah’s incomparable landscapes such as the San Rafael Swell and Cedar Mesa,” said Richard Peterson-Cremer, legislative director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “The success of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has demonstrated to Utahns and Americans the benefits of protecting these special places.”

But Utah’s congressional members expressed plenty of surprise — and outrage.

They remember all too well 1996, when then-President Bill Clinton surprised and angered many Utahns by going to the Grand Canyon during the heat of his re-election campaign and unilaterally setting aside 1.7 million acres in Kane and Garfield counties as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

more »

19 Feb 2010, 10:00pm
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Colder Is Warmer Sez Obama

Obama rebukes climate skeptics

Google News, February 19, 2010 [here]

(AFP) HENDERSON, Nevada — US President Barack Obama on Friday rebuked climate change skeptics who argue that piles of snow dumped on the United States during a frigid winter cast doubt on global warming science.

Here are Obama’s words. You decide whether Barack is science-challenged or not:

When the Conservatives have their conventions (ahem) and they yell at me and say how terrible I am, along with health care this is thing they usually point out. Which is, the president wants to create this cap and trade system, and it’s going to be a job killer, and it’s one more step in the government takeover of the American economy…first of all, we just got five feet of snow in Washington, so a lot of people who are the opponents of climate change they say ’see, look at that, there’s all this snow on the ground, this doesn’t mean anything.’ I want to be just be clear that the science of climate change doesn’t mean that every place is getting warmer, it means the planet as a whole is getting warmer. But what it may mean is, for example, Vancouver, which is supposed to be getting snow during the Olympics, suddenly is at 55*, and Dallas is suddenly getting seven inches of snow.

The idea is that the planet as a whole gets warmer, you start seeing changing weather patterns and that creates more violent storm systems, more unpredictable weather, so any single place might end up being warmer, another place might end up being cooler, there might be more precipitation in the air, more monsoons, more hurricanes, more tornadoes, more droughts in some places, floods in other places. So that’s aspect of the science I think everybody should understand.

My opinion? As usual, Barack is self-referential, paranoid, whining, lashing out, confused, wrong. Typical Barry without his teleprompter.

17 Feb 2010, 9:42pm
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16 ‘Endangerment’ Lawsuits Filed Against EPA Before Deadline

By ROBIN BRAVENDER of Greenwire, NY Times, February 17, 2010 [here]

Industry groups, conservative think tanks, lawmakers and three states filed 16 court challenges to U.S. EPA’s “endangerment” finding for greenhouse gases before yesterday’s deadline, setting the stage for a legal battle over federal climate policies.

Filing petitions yesterday were the Ohio Coal Association, the Utility Air Regulatory Group, the Portland Cement Association, the state of Texas and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Another was filed by a coalition that includes the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the American Petroleum Institute, the Corn Refiners Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Oilseed Processors Association, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, and the Western States Petroleum Association.

The lawsuits ask the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review EPA’s determination that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare. That finding — released in December in response to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling — allows the agency to regulate the heat-trapping emissions under the Clean Air Act. Observers expect the court to consolidate the petitions.

Many industry groups and states argue that forthcoming EPA regulations will have devastating economic consequences, while EPA and environmentalists say the agency is required by law to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The agency is planning to finalize new greenhouse gas rules for automobiles and large stationary sources next month. …

Ten other petitions have been filed by Alabama, Virginia, the American Iron and Steel Institute, Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Mining Association, Peabody Energy Co., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 13 House lawmakers and the Southeastern Legal Foundation, and the Coalition for Responsible Regulation.

A coalition of 16 states and New York City has also asked to intervene on behalf of EPA in the endangerment case. … [more]

17 Feb 2010, 9:40pm
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Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent Second Highest on Record

by Steven Goddard, Watts Up With That, Feb. 17, 2010 [here]

According to Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, last week’s Northern Hemisphere winter snow extent was the second highest on record, at 52,166,840 km2. This was only topped by the second week in February, 1978 at 53,647,305 km2. Rutgers has kept records continuously for the last 2,227 weeks, so being #2 is quite an accomplishment.

According to Rutgers University data through mid February, Northern Hemisphere winter snow extent has been increasing at a rate of over 100,000 km2 per year [since 1989].

Two of the fundamental precepts of global warming theory are that the tropics are supposed to expand, and the Arctic is supposed to warm disproportionately and shrink. …

The World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, is also reporting that ice volume in the Arctic this year fell to its lowest recorded level to date. …

The last time that snow extended this far south was in the 1970s, when climatologists were worried about the onset of an ice age, and some suggested that we needed to melt the polar ice caps by covering them with soot. …

During the 1970s the southern snow cover was seen as a sign of an impending ice age, and the solution was to melt the polar ice caps. In 2010, the nearly identical snow cover is a sign of out of control global warming and the solution is to shut down modern civilization. … [more]

17 Feb 2010, 9:39pm
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Minnesotans Sue to Delist Wolves

RangeFire, February 16, 2010 [here]

“Dale Lueck, a north central Minnesota rancher, and Gerald Tyler, a retired real estate developer from Ely, MN, are suing to force the Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to delist wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

“Frustrated with the government’s inability to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which stipulates that once a species is deemed recovered, it must be delisted, Lueck and Tyler filed notice on Jan. 15 of intent to sue Secretary of Interior Kenneth Salazar and three USFWS officials. The agencies have 60 days to respond to the complaint. Absent a satisfactory response, Lueck and Tyler plan to seek relief in federal court.

“Lueck says the ESA is clear on the matter of delisting and their complaint zeroes in on the fact that the 1992 Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan and ESA recovery criteria for the wolf in the Midwest have been fully met. The plan called for a sustained population of 1,251-1,400 wolves in Minnesota and an additional viable population in Wisconsin and Michigan of at least 100 wolves. Today, about 3,000-3,500 timber wolves exist in Minnesota, with about 1,000 more in Wisconsin and Michigan.

“Lueck says the wolf was delisted and managed by Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan without incident for approximately 18 months in 2007-2008. But in fall 2008, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. sided with the Humane Society of U.S. and placed the Midwest wolves back under ESA protection.

“As a member of the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Lueck was involved in developing Minnesota’s Wolf Management Plan and getting it passed by the Minnesota Legislature over 10 years ago. Lueck said, ‘It deeply troubles me that as citizens, we are forced to go into court to get our federal government to simply obey the law.’ … [more]

17 Feb 2010, 9:38pm
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After a Shooting, Colleagues Try to Regain Footing

By SHAILA DEWAN and KATIE ZEZIMA, NY Times, February 15, 2010 [here]

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — When after many months of careful tending, Sarah Cseke reached a milestone in her graduate student research, she went straight to the office of the busy chairman of the biology department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Gopi Podila, to share the triumphal moment.

“I knocked on his door with a petri dish full of hairy roots, and he actually came to the door and took the time to look at it,” she said. “He was just as happy as I was.”

On Friday, the biology department at the university lost Dr. Podila, 52, and two other faculty members in a hail of gunfire at an afternoon faculty meeting. A colleague with a Harvard Ph.D., Amy Bishop, is charged with capital murder. Another professor and the department administrator are still in the hospital in critical condition.

The deaths have left a small, close-knit department trying to pick up the pieces without either its leader, Dr. Podila, or the person colleagues described as its “glue,” Stephanie Monticciolo, 62, the administrator, who doles out hugs and birthday reminders. Ms. Monticciolo is in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.

The two other people killed were Maria Ragland Davis, 50, and Adriel Johnson, 52, described as professors who spent hours of extra time helping students. A colleague, Joseph Leahy, 50, a microbiology professor known for his zesty lectures, remained hospitalized with a head wound.

“They will leave a large hole in our department,” said Debra Moriarity, a biology professor and the dean of the university’s graduate program.

A third member of the department, Luis Cruz-Vera, was released from the hospital over the weekend. … [more]

12 Feb 2010, 9:40pm
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SoCal Edison pays $2.8m to settle wildfire lawsuit

San Jose Mercury News, 02/11/2010 [here]

ROSEMEAD, Calif.—Southern California Edison has paid $2.8 million to settle a government claim that it caused a 2002 wildfire that destroyed four square miles of the Inyo National Forest.

The U.S. attorney’s office announced Thursday that the utility settled a lawsuit claiming it failed to replace broken equipment on a power pole or trim trees that had grown into power lines.

The Forest Service determined that sparks from a 12,000-volt power distribution line ignited the blaze about 15 miles north of Bishop in the Sierra Nevadas.

Edison didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement, which was finalized on Jan. 26 in Sacramento.

In a statement, the Rosemead-based utility says it maintains its equipment to the highest industry standards.

Obama Budget Retools FWS for Warming World

By PATRICK REIS AND ALLISON WINTER of Greenwire, NY Times, February 10, 2010 [here]

Despite a backlog of endangered species issues and a host of current lawsuits, the Fish and Wildlife Service plans to focus firmly on the future.

“The budget does reflect a switch in our priorities,” said Chris Nolin, head of the service’s budget division. “Our primary focus is reorienting the agency so we can address climate change. We need to start looking at climate change in everything we do. That was really the focus of this budget.”

The Obama administration has proposed redirecting cash and personnel toward climate research and acquisition of land that would become corridors for wildlife moving as temperatures rise and habitat changes. Some wildlife biologists and environmental groups have welcomed the change, but the agency’s budget worries other environmentalists who are concerned the agency may lose ground on endangered species protection.

“We support climate change adaptation. We support renewable energy development. But none of that should be done at the expense of real protections for species,” said Noah Greenwald, director of the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity’s endangered species program. “With the added threat of climate change, endangered species need even more protection.”

Fish and Wildlife Director Sam Hamilton said the new investment is not intended to take away from the rest of the agency’s work. Rather, he wants to bolster FWS’s mission to conserve wildlife by calling on the agency’s 9,000 employees to make climate change planning central in their work.

The heart of the effort is a new program, “landscape conservation cooperatives,” which is aimed at uniting federal agencies, states, nonprofits and universities to advise on the service’s regional management decisions. Theirs will be the “daunting task,” Hamilton said, of helping design strategic regional conservation plans that consider the impact of rising temperatures, water scarcity, disease and invasive species on plants and animals.

The agency plans to launch eight cooperatives this year and to expand the initiative later to cover 21 landscape regions. The budget includes $29 million for climate change planning and science, a 45 percent increase over levels in fiscal 2010, when the program launched. Much of that money would go to the landscape cooperatives.

The budget also makes a significant deposit on land acquisition, $106 million, a boost of nearly 12 percent above last year’s levels. After years of diminished funding for buying land, Hamilton said he wants to restore land-purchasing programs with a eye toward creating refuges for species being driven out of their native ranges by climate change. … [more]

Note: Junk science leads to junk policies. Obama is using the AGW hoax to further his Marxist anti-private property ends. The government owns too much land already, but is hell-bent on garnering more. The government land rush will not save a single cricket, but it will lead to more megafire destruction.

11 Feb 2010, 2:55pm
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Arizona quits Western climate endeavor

Cutting greenhouse gases too expensive, Brewer says

by Shaun McKinnon, The Arizona Republic, Feb. 11, 2010 [here]

Arizona will no longer participate in a groundbreaking attempt to limit greenhouse-gas emissions across the West, a change in policy by Gov. Jan Brewer that will include a review of all the state’s efforts to combat climate change.

Brewer stopped short of pulling Arizona out of the multistate coalition that plans to regulate greenhouse gases starting in 2012. But she made it clear in an executive order that Arizona will not endorse the emission-control plan or any program that could raise costs for consumers and businesses.

State officials said the policy shift was rooted in concerns that the controversial emissions plan would slow the state’s economic recovery. Brewer says the state should focus less on regulations and more on renewable energy and investments by businesses that can create green jobs.

The governor also ordered the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to take another look at stricter vehicle-emissions rules set to take effect in 2012. Automakers said the rules, based on those adopted by California, would raise the cost of a new car significantly.

The governor’s order is another blow to the Western Climate Initiative, a group of seven states and four Canadian provinces that joined forces in 2007 after growing impatient with the federal government to address climate change.

The coalition agreed to implement a regional “cap and trade” system, which limits how much pollution companies can emit, then allows them to buy and sell pollution credits. …

The Western group is one of several state-led coalitions formed to regulate greenhouse gases. A group of Northeastern states is in the second year of its cap-and-trade system, one that only regulates electric utilities.

A federal plan has stalled in the Senate and is unlikely to move anytime soon. … [more]

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