Clear Skies Initiative Divides Environmental CommunityWASHINGTON, DC,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - Praise from a conservation group for President George W. Bush's plan to cut power plant emissions has earned that group some scathing criticism from a second environmental organization.
On Friday, the Adirondack Council, considered one of the nation's leading organizations in the fight against acid rain, praised President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative, saying the proposed legislation would halt acid rain damage to the Adirondack wilderness. The initiative aims to cut power plant emissions of three air pollutants - nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury - by 70 percent.
"By proposing his Clear Skies Initiative, President Bush has sent a message to Congress that acid rain is a problem we can, and must, solve right now," said Adirondack Council acting executive director Bernard Melewski, speaking alongside U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman at a press conference.
"The mandatory sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury cuts President Bush proposed in phase one of his plan are very similar to the cuts contained in the Acid Rain Control Act (HR25/S588), a bill sponsored by every member of the New York Congressional delegation," added Melewski. "Phase two makes even deeper cuts, which would help accelerate the rate of recovery in the Adirondacks."
Today, however, the nonprofit Clean Air Trust named the Adirondack Council as its Clean Air Villain of the Month. Since 1999, the Trust has fingered corporations, lawmakers and think tanks for their contributions to air pollution. The Trust has never before named a conservation group as among these so called villains.
"This is a first for us - and an uncomfortable first at that," the group announced in a release. "Why, you might ask, are we singling out an environmental organization noted for its advocacy of protecting the Adirondack Mountains? Because the Adirondack Council has broken ranks with other environmental groups and is supporting the Bush Administration's so called 'clear skies' initiative. In the process, the Council is providing cover for the administration's efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act."
The Trust charges that the administration wants to eliminate or weaken current Clean Air Act requirements for electric power plants, including new source review, regional haze standards, toxic pollution control requirements, and authority for states to reduce interstate pollution.
"We don't want to speculate on the council's motives. And we think it has done extremely valuable work in the past," said the Trust. "We can only hope the council will reconsider the political damage it is causing."
Population Growth Called Forgotten Earth Day IssueSANTA BARBARA, California,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - In 1970, when Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the first Earth Day, environmentalists across the country noted that every environmental problem is a population problem.
More people means more demand on natural resources, and less open space. Yet in the 32 years since the first Earth Day, the U.S. population has increased by 41 percent, from 203 to 287 million.
Current census bureau projections indicate that the U.S. population will double to over half a billion by the end of the century.
Senator Nelson, now a member of the Earth Day Network board of directors, has called for financial incentives to encourage smaller families and reduced immigration levels.
"With twice the population, will there be any wilderness left?" asked Nelson. "Any quiet place? Any habitat for song birds? Waterfalls? Other wild creatures?"
In California, the population is growing faster than the national average. The state's population increased to 34.7 million by July 200l, a two percent increase over the previous year, according to figures from the state Department of Finance.
By comparison, Bangladesh's growth rate has dropped to 1.3 percent. The California Finance Department projects that California's population will grow to 60 million by 2040.
"The consequences of that growth are all around us - loss of open space, traffic congestion and never ending sprawl," said Diana Hull, president of Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). "Habitat loss due to population growth is the greatest threat to wildlife. Over 1,200 plants and animals are listed as endangered or threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
Unlike the situation in 1970, most of today's growth is from immigration, Hull said. Two thirds of the nation's future population growth will come from immigration, according to the Census Bureau.
Hull and other CAPS members will be participating in Earth Day events in Santa Barbara on April 13, and Thousand Oaks and San Diego on April 27, distributing information and encouraging environmentalists to become population activists.
Climate Monitoring Goes MobileRICHLAND, Washington,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - A new mobile atmospheric monitoring system will allow scientists to study and document atmospheric and climate change almost anywhere in the world.
The system, developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), is a complete climate measuring system that can be transported to almost any site. This unique ability to be taken to a specific geographic location is critical, said Jim Mather, a senior research scientist at PNNL.
"We can conduct research wherever the need exists by simply loading the equipment on a flat-bed trailer for transport or even placing it in a cargo container for ocean travel," said Mather. "Its instrumentation can be up and operational at a remote site within 48 hours of arrival."
Having immediate access to newly gathered data is another important feature of the system, dubbed the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Atmospheric Remote Sensing Laboratory (PARSL).
"A major advantage of PARSL is its ability to complete an experiment and make the data immediately available," said Tom Ackerman, chief scientist at PNNL. "Our team can download information directly onto a compact disc or Web site where scientists located anywhere in the world can gain instant access."
The instruments that make up PARSL will allow researchers to focus on key elements that contribute to climate change. In particular, scientists are interested in the amount of solar energy collected at the earth's surface and the atmospheric conditions influencing that change.
Two cloud radar systems and a pulsed laser system - known as a lidar - measure cloud properties such as vertical structure and moisture content. Dust, smoke and other air impurities are measured using a lidar combined with radiometers, which detect the amount of solar energy transmitted through the atmosphere at multiple wavelengths.
Standard meteorological variables such as temperature, humidity and wind speed also are collected.
Understanding how solar energy interacts with the many variables within our atmosphere will help scientists better understand the earth's climate and climate change.
The remote laboratory also is capable of assisting researchers in the study of air quality and is expected to help improve existing weather prediction models.
More information is available at: http://www.pnl.gov/news/back/parsl.htm
Pesticide Training Program Protects Mexican WorkersWASHINGTON, DC,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - A national pesticide safety training program developed by the Mexican and United States governments will help protect the health and safety of the agricultural workforce in Mexico.
The joint project will also benefit migratory workers from Mexico who process crops in the U.S.
With the collaboration of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the University of California at Davis's Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, Mexico is developing so called "train the trainer" courses as part of a project to disseminate pesticide safety information to farmworkers throughout Mexico.
The training program is the culmination of a year long collaborative effort among Mexico's Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Labor and Environment, and the State Plant Protection Committee of Guanajuato.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico and the United States are working together to develop a complementary framework for protecting agricultural workers and the environment from the potential risks posed by pesticides.
In February and March, Mexico conducted a pair of three day workshops designed to teach local outreach, public health, and agricultural specialists how to train agricultural workers about pesticide risks.
During the interactive workshops, which were conducted in Spanish, selected participants in the states of Morelos and Sinaloa learned about risks of pesticide exposure - including how to identify signs and symptoms of exposure; proper handling, storing, and disposing of pesticide products; and environmental impacts and hazards associated with using pesticides.
The participants were also instructed on regulations regarding pesticide labels and occupational safety standards for people who work with and handle pesticides in Mexico. In addition to learning what pesticide information to deliver to agricultural workers throughout Mexico, participants were taught how to train these populations.
Representatives from the EPA, UC Davis and the Texas Department of Agriculture assisted officials from Mexico in conducting these initial workshops. Officials will use these pilots to refine the curriculum and training materials, which will then be used for conducting such workshops throughout Mexico.
The United States and Mexico hope to develop similar training programs and resources that they can exchange.
More information is available at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/safety/
Asarco Must Clean Up Everett SmelterBELLEVUE, Washington,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - The Washington Department of Ecology has ordered Asarco, Inc., to clean up almost 700 acres of land contaminated by its former smelter in Everett.
Asarco, a mining and metal refining company, must clean up arsenic and other hazardous metals that contaminate soil at its former smelter site, plus the surrounding areas in the northeastern part of the city that were contaminated by its emissions. The company also must study how to clean up industrial and port areas along the Snohomish River.
The smelter operated from 1894 to 1912. Asarco sold its property after closing the smelter.
During the 1990s, Asarco re-purchased homes built over the former smelter site, fenced off the area and demolished the houses. Soils in the fenced area contain up to 25,000 parts per million of arsenic, with isolated pockets of arsenic trioxide that contain up to 76 percent arsenic.
About 600 houses and yards beyond the fenced area also need at least some cleanup.
Four years ago, Asarco filed a lawsuit challenging whether the company could be held liable for the cleanup. That lawsuit was dismissed by the state Supreme Court last month.
While the lawsuit was making its way through the courts, Ecology began cleaning the most contaminated occupied residences.
"We started cleaning the most contaminated homes where people still live so the families could be safe in their homes," said David South, Ecology's site manager. "Now it's time for Asarco to step forward and eliminate the hazard for the rest of the community."
Ecology has cleaned 38 residential properties so far and will clean up more this summer.
If Asarco refuses to comply with Ecology's cleanup order, the department will continue to clean up occupied homes as funding allows. Asarco could be held liable for up to three times the amount of any costs incurred by Ecology and for civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day.
Ecology's order directs Asarco to begin cleanup work by April 30, 2003, and to complete the cleanup by 2009. The order is available online at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/tcp/sites/sites.html
Comments on the order can be submitted through May 9 to David South, Phone: 425-649-7200 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Atlanta Greenspace Target of New Environmental InitiativeATLANTA, Georgia,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - The Trust for Public Land has launched an initiative to protect open space in fast growing Atlanta.
The most recent U.S. census shows that more than 20,000 people have moved into the city of Atlanta in the past 10 years. DeKalb County, which contains a sliver of the city, has also seen a significant shift in population over the past 30 years with a 60 percent growth rate.
An analysis by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) on parks issues found that Atlanta places last in the nation in the number of park acres per thousand residents among similarly sized cities. The city also ranks next to last in park space as a percentage of overall city area, and places in the bottom third of cities in public expenditures on parks and open space.
"This influx of new residents puts enormous pressure on our urban environment and places a burden on parks and open space in both the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County," said Russ Marane, TPL's Georgia director. "The parks are over utilized and under maintained, while the decline of open space contributes to air and water pollution and degrades quality of life for urban residents."
Seeking to address these problems, TPL-Georgia has launched a new initiative called CitySpaces. The goal of CitySpaces is help conserve land as parks and greenspace within Atlanta and in DeKalb County, and the denser portions of Fulton County.
TPL hopes to use CitySpaces as a model that other cities facing increasing development could use to plan for growth pressures.
"People here are used to living in the 'City of Trees,' but now they see that the tractors are rolling," said CitySpaces director Angie Graham.
The push to protect more land inside the perimeter is getting another boost from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, headed by the Home Depot cofounder and new Atlanta Falcons owner. The foundation announced earlier this year that it will provide $30 million of funding for Atlanta greenspace protection over the next three years.
"The Arthur M. Blank Foundation and TPL share a common goal, and that is to improve the quality of life for Atlanta's citizens through the creation and expansion of parks and open space," Marane said. "The Foundation's leadership in this effort will leverage greater private and public support and attention to the issue and will leave a wonderful greenspace legacy for generations to come."
Anti-Bioterrorism Research Funded by EPAWASHINGTON, DC,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting proposals from small businesses for research into detecting and decontaminating bioterrorism attacks.
As part of the EPA's response to terrorism, the agency's Small Business Innovation Research program identified three areas needing further research. The first involves bioterrorism decontamination systems for special materials found in museums, historic homes, government buildings and important civilian buildings.
These materials could include items such as fibrous tapestries, art, gowns and clothing; rare books, legal papers and historic documents; porous ceramics, desks and historic furniture; and electrical equipment including computers.
The second area concerns special decontamination technologies and sampling systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in smaller, commercial buildings, apartment buildings and homes. The EPA is focusing on environmentally friendly decontamination systems such as ultraviolet, ozone or sonic cleaning systems, as well as HVAC sampling equipment to verify that decontamination is successful.
The third area for research involves sampling drinking water supplies in smaller drinking water systems that serve fewer than 10,000 people, and larger systems that do not have extensive onsite testing capabilities. The EPA is particularly interested in pretreatment kits that minimize interference with the analytical instruments used at these facilities.
More information is available at: http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/sbir2002.html
California to Boost Water RecyclingSACRAMENTO, California,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - California has created a State Recycled Water Task Force with a goal of providing enough safe recycled water for the needs of up to 1.5 million Californians by 2007.
"Water is without a doubt the lifeline of our State," said Governor Gray Davis. "I formed this important Task Force to make sure that as our state's population expands we will have a safe, reliable and adequate supply of water for all Californians."
The Task Force will discuss a range of subjects, including ways to increase the use of recycled water in industrial and commercial applications, and opportunities for increasing the use of recycled water in businesses such as commercial laundries. Recycled or reclaimed water is wastewater that has been treated and disinfected to meet strict California Department of Health Services regulations.
The Task Force will also look at ways to maximize water conservation and water use efficiency.
Organized and administered by the State Department of Water Resources, the Task Force is chaired by Richard Katz, a member of the State Water Resources Control Board. Among the Task Force members is Dr. Takashi Asano, a University of California at Davis adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering and the 2001 recipient of the Stockholm Water Prize for his achievements related to recycled water and protection of the world's water resources.
California is already taking steps to increase its use of recycled water. For example, golf courses in the San Ramon Valley will soon be able to stop spraying drinkable water on their greens, and area parks will no longer spray water on their playing fields that could be used as drinking water.
Over the next 10 to 15 years, the San Ramon Valley Recycled Water Project will deliver 21 million gallons of recycled water daily to large irrigation customers such as parks, golf courses, business parks, greenbelts and roadways. The project is supported by a grant and loan totaling $24 million, approved by Governor Davis in January.
"Keeping our water clean and drinkable has been a top priority for Californians," Governor Davis said. "These funds will help protect California's precious water resources."
Chocolate Laced Cattle Feed Can Kill BirdsWASHINGTON, DC,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - A feed supplement used by dairy farmers can be fatal to wildlife, warns the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
USFWS special agent in charge Thomas Healy said the discovery was made when a dairy farmer alerted Vermont state game wardens to a sudden die off of several ring billed gulls at his farm. The cause was suspected to be the ingestion of chocolate, a supplement added to ground bread fed to dairy cows.
The gull carcasses and samples of the feed were sent to the USFWS National Forensic Laboratory, where analysis revealed that the birds had died from thiobromine and caffeine toxicity, as a result of eating chocolate, Healy said. Chocolate can also be toxic to some mammals, including dogs, foxes and badgers.
Federal and state authorities are requesting that individuals using this type of feed supplement make every effort to prevent birds from gaining access to the supplement during storage or while feeding livestock. A screen or enclosure should be used to prevent wildlife from accessing the feed, according to Healy.
Under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, killing birds protected under the Act is a criminal violation, whether done intentionally or unintentionally, unless the USFWS issues a permit to do so, Healy explained.
To report similar incidents of poisoned wildlife, or for further information, contact the USFWS in Essex Junction, Vermont, Phone: 802-879-1859
Endangered Rabbits Bred in CaptivityWOODBRIDGE, California,
April 9, 2002 (ENS) - Baby bunnies are the first tangible result of an unprecedented effort to bring an imperiled California rabbit back from the brink of extinction.
Biologists who are managing a new captive breeding program say at least seven riparian brush rabbits have been born in recent weeks and are thriving in an enclosure that protects them from predators. The captive breeding program is a last ditch effort to save an endangered species that once was among the most abundant in California's Central Valley.
Within a few months, the young rabbits will be released at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge and other sites in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Biologists hope to release up to 20 rabbits this year to boost the species' dwindling population.
Launched late last year, the captive breeding project is a joint venture of several state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Endangered Species Recovery Program at California State University - Stanislaus.
This is the first time an endangered mammal has been bred in captivity in California.
"This shows how the Endangered Species Act should work," said Wayne White, supervisor of the USFWS Sacramento office. "State and federal agencies are working together to recover a species that is in danger of disappearing. Not only are we bolstering the population, but we are restoring habitat for the rabbit on state and federal lands."
Riparian brush rabbits once inhabited riparian forests along most major streams flowing onto the floor of the northern San Joaquin Valley. More than 90 percent of riparian forests along Central Valley rivers have now been lost to urban, commercial and agricultural development.
Today, the only known populations are confined to Caswell Memorial State Park on the Stanislaus River and along an overflow channel of the San Joaquin River. The species was almost wiped out in the winters of 1997 and 1998, when floods inundated its habitat for prolonged periods.
Biologists hope to establish at least three self sustaining populations of the rabbits at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge and other state and federal lands along the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers.
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