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Sierra Magazine
Lay of the Land

Russia's Green Menace | For the Record | Wilderness blackmail | Naming Clearcutters | Crashing WTO's party | Roads to Nowhere | Bold Strokes | UPDATES

UPDATES!

SALMON SETBACK. Wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest are dangerously close to extinction. The best way to save them, activists argue, is to breach four dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington. In July, the Clinton administration failed to take that bold step, postponing a decision on dam removal for at least five years. This followed the testimony of thousands of salmon supporters at public hearings, and 100,000 postcards (many from Sierra readers) demanding removal of the dams. (See "Salmon's Second Coming" March/April 2000.)

ECO-WARRIORS CONVICTED. After being held without bail for 15 months, Mexican activist Rodolfo Montiel, who received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for eco-heroism, was sentenced in August to almost 7 years in jail, and his compaņero Teodoro Cabrera to 10 years. The two ecologistas, who fought to save Mexico's rapidly dwindling old-growth forests, were convicted on drug and weapons charges. The only evidence was "confessions" signed after five days of torture. Supporters, including the Sierra Club and Amnesty International, continue to campaign for the pair's freedom (see "Defending the Forest, and Other Crimes," July/August 2000).

GAS-GUZZLERS NO MORE? Although higher gas mileages would reduce pollution and slow global warming, Congress has refused even to study revising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks-- until now. The Senate finally took steps to repeal a five-year gag order on the topic. In June, it mandated that the Department of Transportation and the National Academy of Sciences study raising the CAFE requirements. Later in the summer, both Ford and General Motors promised to increase the fuel economy of their gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles. (See "Arms Race on the Highway," November/December 1999.)

DIOXIN IS DEADLY.The EPA finally admitted in June what environmentalists have suspected for years: The chemical dioxin causes cancer. Waste incineration and the production of plastics and paper pulp are among the main sources of this persistent pollutant. Activists hope the findings of the draft report will advance their campaign to regulate industrial emissions of dioxin. (See "Hormone Imposters," January/February 1997.)

TAKU RIVER REPRIEVED. In June, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge temporarily blocked construction of the Tulsequah Chief Mine, a project near Juneau, Alaska, that has incited activists on both sides of the border. The proposed mine would threaten the health of a tributary of the Taku River, a teeming salmon run flowing through the coastal rainforest of Canada and Alaska. The judge ruled that the provincial government must address the concerns of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, whose traditional territory would be severed by a 100-mile access road, and reconsider its approval of the mine. (See "Tallying the Taku" March/April 1998.)

BIOPIRATES THWARTED. In May, the European Patent Office revoked a six-year-old patent on an anti-fungal product derived from the neem tree, citing the plant's centuries-old use in India as a medicine, insecticide, and contraceptive. The ruling against patent-holders W. R. Grace and the U.S. Department of Agriculture was heralded by activists as a blow to "biopiracy," or corporate ownership of the rights to living organisms. (See "Lust for Life" May/June 2000.)


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