The Daily Grist: March 24

Raising a Stink
Rural Residents Join Fight Against Factory Farms

Environmental groups who oppose industrial-style concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on the grounds that they pollute air and water are finding support from an unexpected source: rural residents. Fed up by lax federal and state regulations -- a report last year from the General Accounting Office found that 60 percent of the largest CAFOs are almost entirely unregulated -- local grassroots organizations are
filing lawsuits across the country. The movement is meeting fierce resistance at the state level where government officials have close ties to agribusiness executives and argue that concentration is required by the global market and jobs will be lost if factory farms are pushed out. "It's not about smell," said CAFO owner James McCune. "It's about people without money complaining about people with money." Tom Drew, who owns a family farm, counters, "My land is my kingdom, and I shouldn't have it invaded by odor, by bad disease."

Just In: Timber Take
Bush Plan Likely to Up Old-Growth Logging in Northwest

The Bush administration is
changing the Northwest Forest Plan to make it easier to log old-growth forests on public land in Washington, Oregon, and California. The rule changes -- previously announced, finalized yesterday -- scrap the survey-and-manage program that required the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to look for some 300 rare species of plants and animals prior to logging. The administration also loosened rules designed to protect salmon-bearing streams. The Northwest Forest Plan, hatched under President Clinton, originally promised timber companies some 1.1 billion board feet a year, then revised the goal down to 805 million; actual harvests have fallen far short of that number, with 475 million board feet harvested last year. Timber company complaints and lawsuits prompted the changes.

Depot Man
Office Depot Announces Plan to Go Green

Office-supply giant Office Depot is
teaming up with respected conservation groups in an effort to green its business practices. A new five-year, $2.2 million environmental strategy should demonstrate that the company is "about commitment, not compliance or convenience," said Office Depot President Bruce Nelson. The corporation is collaborating with three nonprofits -- Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and NatureServe -- to create the Forest and Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, which aims to convince logging companies to adopt more responsible conservation practices. Office Depot also unveiled a new policy for buying paper from suppliers, which is intended to protect biodiversity. "We are perfectly clear on the values we want to promote and advance, the types of forests we want our suppliers to avoid, and the forest practices we will and will not accept," said Nelson. The company's shift has mollified two of its harshest critics, the enviro groups Dogwood Alliance and ForestEthics.

We Are the World Bank
Proposal to Limit World Bank Fossil-Fuel Investments Sparks Controversy

The World Bank has not yet officially responded to an independent report released last year that recommends it cease investing in oil and coal projects, but that hasn't stopped industry and enviro leaders from taking sides in a
fierce debate over the matter. The World Bank has postponed an official response to the report -- originally expected in April or May -- until later this year, but leaked drafts indicate that the bank is likely to reject the report's most controversial recommendations while adopting some of less contentious. Large African mining companies, international banks, and governments of developing nations are protesting that economic development would be stunted if the bank curtailed funding for fossil-fuel projects. On the other side, a host of enviros and at least six Nobel laureates are advocating adoption of all of the report's recommendations. Though the bank itself is not a huge investor, its decision will have big consequences because most of the world's major banks have pledged to follow its practices.

For more environmental news and humor go to Grist Magazine.

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