The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is getting into the endangered species business. On July 29, the agency announced it is "streamlining" pesticide registration. Under the old rules, the EPA had to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries, the federal agencies that enforce the Endangered Species Act, before approving a new pesticide (HCN, 2/16/04: Salmon get a break from pesticides). Now, the EPA itself will determine if a new pesticide could endanger rare species.
Superstores are going to have a harder time
getting off the ground in the City of Angels (HCN, 6/7/04:
Wal-Mart’s Manifest Destiny). In August, the Los Angeles City
Council passed an ordinance requiring superstores such as Wal-Mart
to conduct economic studies before they build: If superstores want
to locate within the city’s "economic assistance zones,"
they’ll need to make sure the store won’t
eliminate jobs, depress wages or cause neighborhood businesses to
This summer may mark the end of a
22-year-long effort by the Carson National Forest and the state of
New Mexico to keep drillers out of the Valle Vidal, a 100,000-acre
stretch of alpine meadows, trout streams and record elk herds (HCN,
7/19/04: Drilling done right?). In early August, the New
York Times revealed that El Paso Corp. had asked
the White House Task Force on Energy Streamlining to help open the
area to coalbed methane drilling. Now, the Forest Service
has developed a 20-year development scenario, which outlines four
phases of drilling: sinking five to ten exploratory drills,
building a pipeline, drilling on "every allowed surface" and
finally, drilling "problematic locations" using deviated wellbores.
In August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
removed the black-tailed prairie dog from the list of candidates
for endangered species protection, saying it is no longer
"threatened" and "is not likely to become an endangered species
within the foreseeable future." Environmentalists who petitioned
the agency to protect the animal say populations are less than 2
percent of what they were historically, and call the agency’s
decision "reckless" (HCN, 2/28/00: Dog doesn’t get its day).