While the oil and gas industry is rubbing its hands in anticipation of a coalbed methane bonanza, Wall Street is counseling discretion (HCN, 5/26/03: A green light for gas drilling). On Oct. 2, a group of 13 “socially responsible” institutional investors — including the Calvert Group, U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray and Domini Social Investments — urged the Independent Petroleum Association of America to commit to “responsible development of coalbed methane resources,” including the use of low-impact pumping methods, adequate cleanup of well sites, and giving locals input into drilling plans.

In Wyoming, it’s shaping up to be an old-fashioned showdown — just without the guns. The Western Watersheds Project, led by anti-grazing activist Jon Marvel, has sued the BLM for cutting a sweetheart deal with rancher Frank Robbins that exempts him from the environmental scrutiny normally given to public-lands ranchers. Robbins himself has a lawsuit going against eight current and former BLM employees, whom he alleges conspired to bring grazing violation charges against him (HCN, 9/29/03: Reckless rancher cuts sweet deal in D.C.).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will finally protect habitat for the threatened bull trout — five years after federal law required it to do so (HCN, 3/4/02: Bull trout get some help). The agency has missed numerous deadlines for designating critical habitat for the fish, populations of which were added to the endangered species list in 1998 and 1999. In October, the agency settled a lawsuit and agreed to designate critical habitat in the Columbia and Klamath river basins by next September.

Gas-guzzling Hummers aren’t the only vehicles going up in flames these days — environmentalists’ cars are, too (HCN, 9/15/03: Burning one for the road). On Oct. 13, a Toyota Tundra pickup owned by Shane Jimerfield was destroyed in what appears to be arson when it was parked at the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, where Jimerfield works. Two weeks earlier, Center director Kieran Suckling’s mail was doused in gasoline — but not set aflame.
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