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                Environmental brief ~ British company to ban smoking in 650 eateries
                Environmental brief ~ British company to ban smoking in 650 eateries

                [JURIST] In Monday's environmental law news, British company JD Wetherspoon [corporate website], owner of 650 restaurants and pubs, announced that it will be banning smoking in its establishments, with all of them becoming smoke-free by May 2006. The company has been a proponent of non-smoking areas, but has decided to take the action of completely banning smoking indoors. Outdoor smoking would still be allowed. The British government's White Paper on Public Health [PDF] includes restrictions on smoking in licensed premises that would take effect by the end of 2008, but does allow smoking in pubs where food is not served. BBC News has the full story, and more on the government's proposed smoking ban.

                In other news,

                • The Canadian provincial government of Prince Edward Island [government website]will hold hearings next month on a potential ban of genetically modified (GM) foods. GM crops are currently permitted and regulated by the Canadian government, although the provinces can set up local controls. Currently PEI farmers have an agreement to not grow GM potatoes, although a number of other GM foods are currently grown in the province. Canadian Press has more.
                • Spain's Ministry of Industry [official website in Spanish] has changed its emission rights allocations, increasing the limits for coal-fired power plants and reducing the limits for cleaner combined-cycle and new power plants. The limits, part of an EU plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, initially were at 148.7 million tons of CO2 over three years, and were raised to 153.2 million tons. Reuters has more.
                • The EPA is seeking comments on a proposed rule [official text] that would approve a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by Maine. The SIP is done in accordance with the Clean Air Act [text]. Maine has proposed a low emission vehicle (LEV) program that would help to bring the state into position to attain the clean air standards. Comments can be made here until February 23.
                • The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau [official website] has announced that it is seeking to designate two new viticultural areas and realign the boundary between two others. There are currently over 150 viticultural areas in the US. The proposed "Horse Heaven Hills" area is approximately 60 miles long and 22 miles wide and is located in the current Columbia River viticultural area in south-central Washington state. Comments on this proposal [text] can be made here until March 25. Also proposed is the "High Valley" area which measures about 3 miles long and 8.5 miles wide and is mostly located in the current Clear Lake viticultural area of northern California. Comments on this proposal can be made until March 25 [comment submission form]. The agency also wants to realign the boundary between the Santa Lucia Highlands and Arroyo Seco viticultural areas in Monterey County, California. Currently, the Olsen ranch owned by E&J Gallo lies mostly within the Santa Lucia area, with the exception of 200 acres that lie across the boundary in the Arroyo Seco area. The realignment would move the boundary about 1000 feet east and align it with the land grant borders. Comments on this proposal can be made here until March 25.
                • The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service seeks comments on a proposed rule [text] that would make uniform the size requirements for all US No.2 grade round potatoes handled under the marketing order for Idaho-Eastern Oregon potatoes. Currently, the minimum size requirement is 1 7/8 inches in diameter for red round potatoes, and 2 inches for non-red round potatoes. The proposed rule would establish the 1 7/8 inch minimum for all round potatoes. Comments can be made here until March 25, 2005.