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Environmental brief ~ WA high court strikes down county smoking ban

[JURIST] In Friday's environmental law news, the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that local health boards cannot ban smoking in bars and restaurants. The Court, in Entertainment Industry Coalition v. Tacoma-Pierce Co. Bd. of Health [opinion text], held that a county board's resolution, "by imposing a complete smoking ban, prohibits what is permitted by state law: the ability of certain business owners and lessees to designate smoking and nonsmoking locations in their establishments." AP has more.

In other news,

  • The European Union [official website] has decided to not set targets [EU press release] for reductions in greenhouse gases beyond the first stage of the Kyoto protocol in 2012. In talks between EU officials and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas [EU profile] stated that he wanted the US, China, Russia, India, Japan and Canada to sign onto stricter commitments to reduce greenhouse gases before the EU would set its own targets. The EU's CO2 reduction target is an 8 percent by 2012 for the 15 original members. Dimas is facing some criticism from european environmentalists for not setting the extended targets. The UK Guardian has more.

  • The Costa Rica government has unanimously approved a new national fisheries law yesterday. The law has been under debate for 10 years, when parts of the previous fisheries law (from 1948) were held unconstitutional. The law includes a prohibition on shark finning, requires shrimpers to use Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs), and has stiff penalties for anyone that harms endangered sea turtles. PRETOMA (Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas), a Costa Rican marine conservation organization, has more.

  • The Nova Scotia (Canada) Department of Environment and Labor [official website] announced [press release] Thursday that a farmer will be permitted to spread a fertilizer containing industrial waste on his property, but not treated sewage. The farmer's permit to store and spread biosolid fertilizer was suspended last September follow a public outcry over the practice. The biosolids had been a treated mixture of human waste and rendering-plant sludge. While public official say there is nothing toxic or hazardous about the mixture, the farmer's new permit is limited to the sludge. CP has more.

  • San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announced a plan Thursday that will effectively deputize 400 city workers to write up and fine litterers, following a 2 hour training session in the procedure. San Francisco street-cleaning crews removed 23,451 tons of trash from city streets last year, up 35 percent from 2003. Litterers will face fines ranging from $80 to $1,000, depending on the amount of trash and whether the person is a repeat offender. The San Francisco Chronicle has the full story.

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