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AmeriScan: January 17, 2007 AmeriScan: January 17, 2007

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Doomsday Clock Moves Two Minutes Closer to Midnight

WASHINGTON, DC, January 17, 2007 (ENS) - The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, BAS, today moved the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight, and it now stands at five minutes to midnight.

Reflecting global failures to solve the problems posed by nuclear weapons and the climate crisis, the decision by the BAS Board of Directors was made in consultation with the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates.

BAS announced the change today at an unprecedented joint news conference held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC, and the Royal Society in London.

In a statement supporting the decision to move the hand of the Doomsday Clock, the BAS Board focused on two major sources of catastrophe - the perils of 27,000 nuclear weapons, 2000 of them ready to launch within minutes; and the destruction of human habitats from climate change.

In articles by 14 leading scientists and security experts writing in the January-February issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the potential for catastrophic damage from human technologies is explored further.

Created in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock has been adjusted only 17 times prior to today, most recently in February 2002 after the events of 9/11.

The BAS stated, "We stand at the brink of a Second Nuclear Age. Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices."

"North Korea’s recent test of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a renewed emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia are symptomatic of a failure to solve the problems posed by the most destructive technology on Earth."

"The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons," the BAS stated. "The effects may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next three to four decades climate change could cause irremediable harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival."

Stephen Hawking, a BAS sponsor, professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of The Royal Society, said, "As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth.

Sir Martin Rees, president of The Royal Society, said, "Nuclear weapons still pose the most catastrophic and immediate threat to humanity, but climate change and emerging technologies in the life sciences also have the potential to end civilization as we know it."

The BAS recommends reducing the launch readiness of U.S. and Russian nuclear forces and completely removing nuclear weapons from the day-to-day operations of their militaries.

Reduce the number of nuclear weapons by dismantling, storing, and destroying more than 20,000 warheads over the next 10 years, as well as greatly increasing efforts to locate, store, and secure nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere, the BAS urges.

Stop production of nuclear weapons material, including highly enriched uranium and plutonium - whether in military or civilian facilities, the BAS recommends.

Engage in serious and candid discussion about the potential expansion of nuclear power worldwide, the BAS urges, covering the health and environmental hazards of nuclear waste, the production of nuclear materials that can be diverted to the production of weapons, and the safety and security of the plants themselves.

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Evangelicals, Scientists Jointly Urge Environmental Protection

WASHINGTON, DC, January 17, 2007 (ENS) - In a unique collaboration, evangelical and scientific leaders announced today a joint effort to protect the environment.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington, a dozen leaders of the coalition shared concerns about human threats to Creation, including climate change, habitat destruction, pollution, species extinction, the spread of human infectious diseases, and other dangers to the wellbeing of societies.

The coalition released an "Urgent Call to Action" statement signed by 28 evangelical and scientific leaders. The statement was sent to President George W. Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, bipartisan congressional leaders, and national evangelical and scientific organizations.

It urges a "fundamental change in values, lifestyles, and public policies required to address these worsening problems before it is too late."

"There is no such thing as a Republican or Democrat, a liberal or conservative, a religious or secular environment. We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. Scientists and evangelicals share a deep moral commitment to preserve this precious gift we have all been given," said Dr. Eric Chivian, Nobel laureate and director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.

The group pledged to "work together toward a responsible care for Creation and call with one voice" to the religious, scientific, business, political and educational arenas to join them in this initiative.

"Great scientists are people of imagination. So are people of great faith. We dare to imagine a world in which science and religion cooperate, minimizing our differences about how Creation got started, to work together to reverse its degradation. We will not allow it to be progressively destroyed by human folly," said Reverend Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals.

The coalition plans to meet with Congressional leaders from both parties. A summit on creation is planned along with outreach tools, such as a Creation Care Bible study guide and environmental curricula.

"If current deterioration of the environment by human activity continues unabated, best estimates are that half of Earth's surviving species of plants and animals will be extinguished or critically endangered by the end of the century," warned Pulitzer Prize-winning author zoologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University.

The price for future generations will be paid in economic opportunity, environmental security, and spiritual fulfillment. The saving of the living environment is therefore an issue appropriately addressed jointly by science and religion," Wilson said.

One of the imperatives of the group will be to advance the dialogue and influence policy in regards to global warming. "In order to avoid clear and substantial dangers," said NASA climate change scientist Dr. James Hansen, "it will be necessary to substantially reduce CO2 emissions during the next few decades, and perhaps by 80 percent or more before the end of the century."

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ARCO Ordered to Investigate Radioactivity at Anaconda Mine

SAN FRANCISCO, California, January 17, 2007 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday ordered to the Atlantic Richfield Company, ARCO, to begin an investigation to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the Anaconda Copper Mine in Yerington, Nevada.

The order requires ARCO to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study for most of the 3,468 acre mine site. The EPA established the scope of work for the investigation through discussions and coordination with Atlantic Richfield.

“Beginning the comprehensive remedial investigation and feasibility study for this site is the next step toward a thorough cleanup,” said Kathleen Johnson, the EPA’s Superfund Branch Chief managing this site.

“After the feasibility study is complete, the EPA, with assistance from Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and Bureau of Land Management, will select a final remedy and work toward the ultimate clean up,” she said.

Anaconda Minerals founded the copper mine in 1953. Atlantic Richfield acquired Anaconda Minerals in 1977, and continued operations at the mine through 1982.

The site includes a lead shop, four mine waste piles and associated ponds with acidic process water, large tailings piles and expansive evaporation ponds. Approximately half of the site covers private lands held in fee, with the remaining lands subject to the jurisdiction, custody and control of the federal Bureau of Land Management.

In 2003, the agencies became aware of significant radiological concerns in soil and groundwater, which led to today’s order.

In December 2004, the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection sent the EPA a letter requesting that the agency formally assume the lead role at the site and the EPA accepted the task.

The EPA has removed hazardous substances at several sites. These removal actions include the relining and improvement of ponds within the site fluid management system, which will prevent further groundwater contamination and begin to reduce the acidic load within the ore heaps.

In 2005 the EPA covered 100 acres of mine tailings to prevent the further spread of hazardous dust from blowing off the site and removed 120 transformers containing hazardous PCBs from the site.

The EPA also constructed a new four acre evaporation pond and repaired several other holding ponds to prevent acid mine drainage from seeping into area groundwater.

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New York City Port to Use Cleaner Diesel Fuel

NEW YORK, New York, January 17, 2007 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, today announced that it has reached a settlement with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, NYCEDC, requiring it to pay for cleaner diesel fuels for local marine vessels and pay a penalty of $20,000.

The state agency was cited because it placed into the Historic Area Remediation Site material dredged from its New York City Passenger Ship Terminal without the testing required in its federal permit.

Under the settlement, NYCEDC will provide $85,000 in credited funds to allow Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company to purchase ultra low sulfur diesel for use in the vessels it operates in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

In addition, the company has independently committed to consider using the fuel in its marine equipment into the future.

“The city dredged and did not properly test material that they placed into the water. Such actions could adversely impact our marine environment,” said Alan Steinberg, EPA regional administrator.

“The good news is that they have cooperated fully with EPA and now are taking action to turn this into a victory for the local environment. Emissions from marine vessels contribute to our overall air quality problems, and the new cleaner fuel will help cut that pollution.”

Anyone wishing to place dredged materials in the ocean must first conduct tests and meet stringent requirements developed by EPA and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Should NYCEDC fail to meet the requirements of the consent agreement and carry out the environmental project by June 30, 2008, it will be subject to stipulated penalties.

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Toyota Hybrid Road Tour Offers Test Drives

TORRANCE, California, January 17, 2007 (ENS) - Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. is undertaking a nationwide tour called "Highway to the Future: Mobile Hybrid Experience," to provide drivers with an opportunity to experience automotive hybrid technology.

The tour began January 11 at the San Jose International Auto Show and will travel to more than 150 events throughout the country during the next 18 months.

Consumers will have an opportunity to test Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system and learn about hybrids through educational exhibits and test drives.

"Most people have heard of hybrid technology and probably have a vague idea of how it works, but few have actually driven a hybrid and or taken an up-close look at its operation," said Celeste Migliore, Toyota's national manager, advanced technology vehicles. "This tour allows consumers to learn more about the technology behind this system and the benefits of hybrid vehicles."

There are four interactive learning areas within the exhibit.

  • Alternative Fuels: Fueling the Future, identifies the differences in the various types of alternative fuels and how they are produced.

  • Environment and Resources: Small Steps, Big Difference, shows people what they can do to make a difference for the environment.

  • The Prius Driving Experience simulates the current Hybrid Synergy Drive technology allowing visitors to interact with system while on screen instructions offer driving tips.

  • Hybrid Technology: Not All Hybrids are Created Equal exhibit gives visitors a better understanding of the various hybrid technology options on the market and how hybrids benefit the consumer and the environment.
Toyota has designed the tour to minimize its own environmental impact. Toyota will plant more than 50,000 trees in honor of those visiting the experience in conjunction with the National Arbor Day Foundation.

These trees will help offset the carbon footprint of the trucks transporting the tour across the country.

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North Carolina State Employees Support Renewables

RALEIGH, North Carolina, January 17, 2007 (ENS) - The State Employees’ Credit Union, SECU, Foundation has partnered with NC GreenPower to support cleaner, renewable energy alternatives for North Carolina.

The SECU Foundation will fund 1 kilowatt hour of renewable energy production in North Carolina for each of the 1.3 million members of SECU annually over the next four years - a commitment to renewable energy in North Carolina of over 5.2 million kilowatt hours.

SECU Foundation funding will create generation of electricity from alternative energy sources, such as the sun, wind and methane gas.

Each year, SECU members estimate they will be making an environmental impact equivalent to planting 208,000 trees or not driving 3.2 million miles.

The SECU Foundation funding also fits well with SECU’s commitment to member financial literacy and wealth creation. Bobby Hall, senior executive vice-president of SECU, said, "If we can help members save $30 per month on their energy bills, that means $360 more per year in each member’s pocket. With over one million members, that can add up fast."

A joint education program between SECU and NC GreenPower will be conducted throughout 2007. SECU members will receive practical tips on how to use energy more efficiently, how to conserve through better utilization of insulation, Energy Star rated appliances, light bulbs, and HVAC systems. Most of the conservation measures are relatively simple and inexpensive to adopt.

SECU is a non-profit financial cooperative owned by its members. With $14 billion in assets and over 1.3 million members, SECU provides services to members through over 200 branch offices, approximately 900 ATMs, two Call Centers and a website, www.ncsecu.org.

NC GreenPower is a non-profit organization based in Raleigh that works with participants of nearly 40 electric utilities across the state to encourage the development of renewable energy through voluntary tax deductible contributions.

“This is still a young industry, but one that is growing rapidly,” says Maggy Inman, vice president of NC GreenPower. “Supporting renewable energy development will help to ensure that supplies increase and that costs will continue to grow more competitive with fossil fuels.”

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