January 4, 2013

Denali     Photo: Nic McPhee/Flickr

Senate Approves Denali Pipeline

Environmentalists supported bill, Murkowski says

A new measure passed this week by the Senate will allow for the construction of a new gas line through Denali National Park. Bill S. 302 permits a seven-mile stretch of pipeline to be built along the existing highway right-of-way in the park, along with distribution pipes to provide natural gas to park facilities. Lisa Murkowski, the bill's sponsor, said that a coalition of environmental groups had gotten behind the legislation, since it would enable park and local transportation to run on natural gas rather than dirtier diesel fuel.

“A natural gas pipeline route through the park would not only be less expensive to build, but could also take advantage of the existing utility corridor, preventing disturbances to wildlife and environmental impacts on undisturbed lands further to the east or west of the park boundary,” said Murkowski. The bill must pass the House and undergo further environmental review before going into effect.

Via UPI

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    Photo: PoweriPics/Flickr

Lance Armstrong Considers Admitting Guilt

Would confess so he could resume athletic career

Nearly three months after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a lengthy report that detailed allegations of doping (and months after stepping down as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997), Lance Armstrong is said to be considering publicly admitting that he used the performance-enhancing drugs he has been accused of taking during his years as the world's best professional cyclist. Why? He has told anti-doping officials and associates that he is mulling the admission of guilt, according to the New York Times, so that he can resume his athletic career.

Asked by the Times when Armstrong might confess, Tim Herman, his longtime lawyer, said: "I do not know about that. I suppose anything is possible, for sure. Right now, that's really not on the table." But before Armstrong can come clean, he will have to settle a number of open cases, including a federal whistle-blower case "in which he and several team officials from Armstrong's United States Postal Service cycling team are accused of defrauding the government by allowing doping on the squad when the team's contract with the Postal Service explicitly forbade it," according to the Times.

While Herman denied that Armstrong has talked to Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive, the Times cites sources who say otherwise. In addition to Tygart, whom he spoke to in "an effort to mitigate the lifetime ban he received for playing a lead role in doping on his Tour-winning teams," the source says Armstrong has also met with David Howman, the current director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency's code, athletes who admit to guilt may be eligible for a reduced punishment.

Via The New York Times

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    Photo: Creative Commons

Shiffrin Wins Second World Cup Title

American teen leads slalom standings

After nabbing the first World Cup title of her career last month, 17-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin has regained the lead in the World Cup slalom standings by winning Friday's event by a massive margin of 1.19 seconds. Shiffrin posted a combined time of 2 minutes, 1.73 seconds. Slovenian Tina Maze, who entered the slalom as the overall and discipline leader, finished the first leg in second, behind Shiffrin, but then failed to complete her second run. Maze remains atop the overall World Cup standings. Lindsey Vonn, who returned to training yesterday after an illness, skipped the race.

Via ESPN

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    Photo: Glenn Williams/Wikimedia Commons

Officials Crack Narwhal Smuggling Ring

10 years of illicit ivory sales

An illegal 10-year, cross-border, Canada-to-America, narwhal tusk-smuggling ring has been busted in an international sting. For a decade, two Canadians have been legally purchasing narwhal ivory in Canada, and then transporting it to Bangor, Maine, hiding the tusks in a secret trailer compartment in order to cross the border. (It has been illegal to import narwhal tusks since 1972.) The tusks were then shipped, via FedEx, to American dealers, who sold the tusks for anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000 each. The two Americans indicted in the case could face up to $25,000 in fines and 20 years in jail, while the Canadians face 28 different charges. As the Associated Press notes, “Narwhals are known as the unicorns of the sea for their spiral, ivory tusks that can grow longer than eight feet.”

Via Global Post

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Pinnacles to Become a National Park

Monument is a haven for climbers and condors

California’s Pinnacles National Monument will be promoted to the status of National Park per a bill passed through the United States Senate on Sunday. The ancient volcano field, located in the Gabilan Mountains, is a popular destination for climbers with its many caves, canyons, boulders, and spires. The 26,000-acre site is also a haven for the endangered California condor. Thirty-two of the birds have been safely released there since 2003. The bill was already approved by the House of Representatives in July and needs only President Barack Obama’s signature to make it official.

Via Gadling

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