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Administration looks at environmental law

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 30, 2002

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is reviewing a landmark environmental law reviled and praised because it requires lengthy studies before foresters cut a tree or developers start to dig.

White House officials say they want to modernize the 32-year-old law they blame for bureaucratic gridlock, but environmentalists fear it's a move to roll back crucial protections.

"Given this administration's past record on the environment, it's hard to imagine they are up to any good," said Maria Weidner of Earthjustice, an environmental law firm and advocacy group.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, which requires developers, loggers and others to describe the effect a project will have on the environment and come up with ways to minimize them.

Environmentalists consider it a fundamental law and rely on it to limit development on public land and block projects that threaten endangered species. But critics say the law has burgeoned into a swamp of regulations and logistical hoops that stall business projects for years.

A nine-member task force is accepting public comment through Sept. 23 and expects to issue a report by early next year.

Schools urged to help students on drugs

WASHINGTON -- Federal drug director John Walters is urging schools to offer help to students who use drugs, not just toss them out.

Guidelines in a report released Thursday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy urge treatment and counseling for drug-using high schoolers.

"The goal is to say we believe we can do a better job of making kids healthy," Walters said. Kicking students out of school without treatment can create "drug-using dropouts," a bigger problem, the report said.

Report finds no evidence of altered Osprey records

WASHINGTON -- A Pentagon investigation found no evidence to back up allegations that Marines altered records on the V-22 Osprey aircraft that takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane.

The Defense Department's inspector general was looking into a half dozen charges that information was omitted or removed from reports on testing and an April 2000 crash.

"The . . . investigation found no evidence to support any of the allegations," acting Inspector General Charles Beardall said in a report dated Aug. 19, but released Thursday when requested.

Also . . .

BUSH THE NEW FUNDRAISING RECORDHOLDER: Fundraisers Thursday in Oklahoma and Arkansas were the 47th and 48th of the year for President Bush, the last in a series of events that have brought the amount he has raised for GOP candidates this year to about $115-million, shattering Bill Clinton's presidential fundraising record of $105-million in 2000.

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