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The Daily Grist: March 26

Down the Hatcheries
Salmon Science Panel Claims Report Was Censored

Another day, another batch of scientists ticked off at the Bush administration. This week, it's the Recovery Science Review Panel, an independent board of biologists and ecologists charged by the National Marine Fisheries Service with studying the effect of hatchery salmon on wild salmon populations. The panel claims that its report, which was critical of the Bush administration's proposal to include hatchery salmon in its determination of the size and health of salmon runs,
was disregarded by policymakers. To publicize their findings, panel members published an editorial today in the journal Science. At issue is the possible removal of a variety of salmon populations from protection under the Endangered Species Act. "There are different opinions and a great deal of uncertainty in science," said Usha Varanasi, director of the NMFS northwest fisheries science center. But Robert Paine, a member of the panel, didn't seem uncertain: "The science is clear and unambiguous. As they are currently operated, hatcheries and hatchery fish cannot protect wild stocks."
Kerry on My Greenward Son
Kerry Pushes for High Fuel Economy

As Americans face record-high gas prices, Democratic presidential candidate
John Kerry is hawking his plan to raise automobile fuel-economy standards by as much as 50 percent by 2015. While few think Kerry could actually achieve this goal -- most congressional Republicans and many Midwestern Democrats oppose the plan -- he has put the debate over fuel economy on the front burner. In his campaign, Kerry has framed the issue as one of national security, saying, "The threats that America faces today don't just come from gun barrels, they come from oil barrels -- and we need to disarm that danger." His plan for revamping fuel-economy rules stands in sharp contrast to that of the Bush administration, which admits that saving gas is not its primary goal. Fuel economy is only one of several environmental issues that sharply divide the presidential candidates. Some political analysts believe that the environment -- while seldom a top concern of the electorate -- could influence crucial swing votes in this year's election.

Do Good
Take Action to End "Scientific" Whaling

More than 20,000 whales have been slaughtered since commercial whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1986. What gives? In part, it's because the IWC lets nations kill whales "for the purposes of scientific research" -- even if the whale meat later ends up in swanky restaurants and supermarkets, as happens in Japan. More than 1,400 whales are expected to be killed this year in hunts conducted by Japan, Norway, and Iceland.
Tell the Japanese government to lay off and comply with the spirit of international agreements designed to protect these important marine mammals.

On a Wind and a Prayer
Colorado Weighs Renewable-Energy Bill

With the Bush administration doing little at the federal level to encourage production of renewable energy, states are taking the lead on the issue. The latest front is in Colorado, where a bill to require that utilities get 8 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010 has passed the state House but is one vote short of passage in the Senate. The state's two major utilities support the Renewable Portfolio Standards bill,
but the largest state electricity co-op opposes it, along with the mining industry and several business-friendly state senators. One such senator, Doug Lamborn (R), added an amendment Wednesday that would remove a cap on how much of the renewable power could come from hydroelectric sources, a move he admits is intended to kill the bill. If the bill fails, enviros may attempt to make Colorado the first state to pass an RPS measure by ballot initiative. Some 15 other states currently have laws requiring a set percentage of power to be produced renewably.

For more environmental news and humor go to Grist Magazine.

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