Week In Review: February 7th - 11th

Early in the week, the unveiling of the Bush administration's aggressive 2006 budget sparked a number of articles lamenting the president's proposed $7.57 billion cut in EPA funding.

Early in the week, the unveiling of the Bush administration's aggressive 2006 budget sparked a number of articles lamenting the president's proposed $7.57 billion cut in EPA funding. The administration found significant savings -- $361 million -- by trimming a clean water program 33 percent. According to Rob Perks of the Natural Resources Defense Council, "This year's cuts are really bad for clean water." Steve Johnson, acting EPA administrator, took a different view, stating that the plan was a "strong request that allows us to keep up the pace of environmental protections." For the complete story: Bush Seeks Nearly Six Percent Cut in Environment Funding.

Other budget-related articles:
Bush Budget Would Cut Aid for Local Law Enforcement, Environment, Indian Schools
Budget at a Glance: Department of Energy

In the midst of some budgetary doom-and-gloom for the environment stateside, some good news elsewhere. Seven African countries this week established cross-border partnerships in the name of conservation. A two-day summit attended by Central African heads of state resulted in the signing of a landmark treaty designed to mitigate threats to the 500 million-acre Congo Basin forests. Get the details: African Countries Sign Treaty to Protect Rain Forest. In another part of the world, Israel and Palestine found common ground, cooperating on a crucial river clean-up project. Read more: Israelis and Palestinians Clean up Rivers to Save Endangered Turtles, Improve Drinking Water

The controversial plan to construct a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, made headlines again this week, with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman asserting the administration's commitment to the project despite an unexpectedly low funding request by DOE for FY 2006. Robert Loux of Nevada, a leading opponent of the proposed site, took the budget news as a hopeful sign of the program's demise. "It looks to us and others that the project may never rekindle and get started again," he said. For more on Yucca Mountain: Energy Secretary Reaffirms Commitment to Building Nevada Nuclear Waste Dump.

Residents of Libby, Montana received good news on Monday. A federal grand jury found that W.R. Grace and Co. was aware of -- and tried to hide -- the substantial human health dangers its mining operation in Libby posed to its workers, customers, and town residents. The mine released asbestos, sickening more than 1,200 people, and killing some of them. While Maryland-based Grace "categorically denies any criminal wrongdoing," Les Skramstad, a former miner living with chronic lung disease, begs to differ. "This wasn't something that happened to us. This was something that was done to us," he said. Read the details of the indictment: W.R. Grace and Seven Employees Indicted over Asbestos-Contaminated Mine

Scientists were hard at work this week, with promising advances coming to light in several fields of study. New technology in development at the University of South Florida could improve the prospects for migrating manatees. A prototype red tide sensor is nearly ready for launch, and would have the advantage of giving scientists "some predictive capability," according to Mark Luther, who directs the Alliance for Coastal Technologies at USF. For more: Researchers Work on Red Tide Sensor. Also on the subject of predictive capability, Cornell University's Philip Liu has a new model for anticipating the potential for an earthquake to spawn a tsunami. For detail's on Liu's work: Experts Try to Predict What the Next Tsunami Will Do. And beneath the Channel Islands, a double discovery: a new species of coral and a new species of worm. It's "a new animal living on the new animal," said marine biologist Milton Love. Find out more: Scientists Find New Coral Species

The week ahead: On the heels of NASA's prediction that 2005 could be the warmest year on record, the Kyoto Protocol goes into effect next Wednesday with the U.S. looking on from the sidelines. This article examines the impact of the agreement in the long term.

From February 14 - 16, the Sea to Sea Second Regional Forum in Cairo Egypt will "provide a platform for decision makers, government officials, experts, practitioners, relevant private sector representatives and NGOs to discuss the challenges facing marine and coastal areas in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region, share experiences and identify the actions required to make integrated coastal zone management a reality."

Meanwhile, in Australia, the International Conference 2005 will address water and wastewater treatment, focusing on "identifying and address holistic synergies in water recycling."

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Source: ENN