After requesting for more time, Turkmenistan signed the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea on November 8, 2003. The treaty was formally signed by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Russia on November 5, 2003 at Tehran. The United Nations Environment Programme-sponsored convention is the first legally-binding treaty on any subject signed by the five Caspian Sea states. It seeks to halt mounting damage to the world's largest freshwater lake from industrial pollution, sewage inflows and leaks from oil extraction and refining.
Drought has affected one million people in Vladivostok, Russia's far eastern region. Announcing this on Tuesday, November 11, 2003, Vladivostok mayor Yury Kopylov said the region was on the brink of an acute drinking water shortage, as "there only remains enough water in the cisterns until next February." In the same week, un special humanitarian envoy Martti Ahtisaari -- a former president of Finland -- made a three-day visit to Eritrea, where drought has caused widespread crop failure, affecting 1.4 million people.
On November 18, 2003, the us House of Congress passed the country's energy bill. On November 21, 2003, the us Senate blocked Congress from finishing the bill, so dealing a severe setback to President Bush's proposal to redirect the nation's energy agenda toward more production of oil, gas and coal. Critics of the bill, both Democrats and Republicans, said it would provide too many favours to industry and shield makers of mtbe, a gasoline additive, from lawsuits.
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