Thursday, December 29, 2005

GOOD NEWS: Wind tower plant going full steam in Sheboygan

A new Lowe's, lower unemployment, a new hospital and -oh yeah, baby - even a factory that is making wind towers and shipping them across Lake Michigan. Once a depressing shithole and armpit of America, Sheboygan, WI is on the rebound.

Read this story here.The Sheboygan Press - Local economy recovering with business, building boom

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: Totally inadequate domestic renewable fuels regulation announced today

Starting in 2006, Americans will be gassing up with almost three percent of so-called "domestic renewable fuels" under new standards issued today. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates this first step, and EPA's Renewable Fuels Standard Program is an attempt to reduce vehicle emissions and strengthen U.S. energy security by doubling the use of fuels produced from American crops by 2012. This Bear's opinion: 3% is not even worth mentioning. Why not 20% or 30% or 50%? Why not phase out fossil fuels completely by 2012? Why not phase out internal combustion engines by 2012? Well, because the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was a complete crock of shit created by Republicans who don't intend to do anything to benefit the environment or the American people.

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson: "This investment in renewable fuels made from domestic crops will support American agriculture and replace fossil fuels with an increasing amount of cleaner-burning alternatives such as ethanol or biodiesel illustrating that environmental progress and economic development can, in fact, go hand-in-hand." Did he really say that or did someone just make up a quote? You decide. Every press release from the EPA quotes Johnson. The guy must do nothing but sit around and give quotes for the media, doesn't anyone else work there? Is he a robot?

Anyway, the new regulation "is intended to provide market certainty for smooth implementation of the program in 2006 as EPA expands the program. Many of the act's other provisions regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard Program for 2007 and beyond will be implemented in subsequent regulations." Yeah, okay. Smooth implementation. Smoothly implement ice caps melting, polar bear extinction and worsening global weather conditions. We're still compromising ourselves into extinction. We're smoothly implementing our own demise.

Okay, sure, their hearts are in the right place. Supposedly this program will "significantly increase the volume of renewable fuels blended into motor vehicle fuels." Under this new regulation "refineries, blenders, and importers would collectively be responsible for meeting program requirements for 2006, where compliance would be calculated over the entire pool of gasoline sold to consumers." Ask yourself, "how the hell are they going to do that?" Watch out folks, the Bushies are going to try and pull some more wool over our eyes.

Yo, EPA, how about getting the American automobile industry off of liquid fuels entirely? How about you give away free bikes to the poor?

For more information on the Renewable Fuel Standard Program, visit:

Find books on Alternative Energy

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bulldozing Chicago

Because man meddled with nature 105 years ago, two of the world's major water systems -- the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins -- were joined together. Now it's time to think seriously about separating the two, a growing number of scientists, advocacy groups and public officials believe. It may be the best way, they say, to stop the spread of invasive species between the basins. With that in mind, the Alliance for the Great Lakes has launched the first study of what would be a gargantuan undertaking costing billions of dollars that will definitely fuck up your commute to work on I-90. Forget about driving on the Skyway for the next 35 years.

Read this article in the Chicago Sun Times: Time to turn things around?

OH NO! Michigan's first hazardous waste well to get operating license

ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) - A company seeking to operate the state's first liquid hazardous waste well has overcome its final hurdle to open along I-94 about a half mile from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday that it will grant Environmental Disposal Systems of Birmingham an operating license on today, ending a 15-year battle between the company and environmentalists. The company will operate the disposal site, where sludge and other industrial waste is to be pumped 4,500 feet below ground. The company said the site's two wells and a storage treatment facility will be safely and scientifically operated.

"There is no need for this type of facility, and once it's here we will have to worry about what it will do to our health, what it's going to do to our property values, what it's going to do the environment and when the first spill or accident ... is going to happen," R.P. Lilly of New Boston, who heads Romulus Environmentalists Care About People, told the Detroit Free Press on Monday.

The plant, on 15 acres at Citrin Drive near Inkster Road and I-94, will treat up to 400,000 gallons of hazardous liquid waste per day. It is licensed to store up to 11,000 gallons of hazardous waste in drum containers, up to 92,000 gallons in rail tanker cars and up to 267,900 gallons in tanks. The waste is classified as hazardous because it contains corrosive acids or toxic contaminants such as heavy metals and chemicals.
It will be treated above the ground to reduce the contaminants before it's injected into a layer of spongelike rock about 4,500 feet below the surface.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates the underground portion of the site. The agency approved the wells and has said the waste will stay confined to a layer of rock deep underground and will not threaten human health or the environment.

But residents in Romulus and neighboring communities, environmentalists and politicians - including Gov. Jennifer Granholm - have expressed concerns. Among them are fears of groundwater contamination, toxins entering the soil, fire, spills and explosions. The state DEQ said there has been no proof that such wells are dangerous.

"Our first choice would have been to adhere to the wishes of the communities of Romulus and Taylor but because of state and federal law and actions by previous administrations, the DEQ must issue an operating license," DEQ Director Steven Chester said in a statement released Monday. In other words "it's not my fault some other dickhead is fucking you." DEQ spokesman Robert McCann said the agency plans to regularly monitor the site and to make sure Environmental Disposal Systems adheres to various conditions.

Monday, December 26, 2005

GOVERNMENT: $200,000 brownfield grant awarded to Goodwill in Pennslyvania

Homeless retards to be put to work cleaning up toxic waste!

The Federal Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic development to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfield site is real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. On January 11, 2002, Bush signed into law the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act. Under the Brownfields Law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through four competitive grant programs: assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, cleanup grants, and job training grants. The brownfields job training grants provide residents of communities impacted by brownfields with the skills and training needed to effectively gain employment in assessment and cleanup activities associated with brownfield redevelopment and environmental remediation.

Goodwill Industries of the Conemaugh Valley, Inc. will train 40 residents, placing a minimum of 34 graduates in environmental occupations or secondary education, and track graduates for two years. The instruction, which includes hands-on experience, consists of four 15-week training cycles, each with 240 contact hours. The Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (PHCC) will deliver the training at the college and at the Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center. Course instruction includes hazardous materials management, environmental geology, sampling, monitoring, HAZWOPER, and mobile equipment handling and safety. Graduates will receive HAZWOPER certification and automatically qualify for admission into PHCC with 13 hours of technical core credits. Goodwill Industries will recruit Johnstown area residents most affected by harmful environmental conditions, and if necessary, reach out to the remainder of Cambria County (population 149,543). Goodwill Industries employs job development staff who meet with environmental employers and hold environmental career fairs.

Johnstown (population 23,906) has several brownfields, including the Lower Cambria Iron Works. EPA awarded brownfields assessment and cleanup grants to Johnstown in 2004, thereby increasing the demand for environmental technicians. This demand is likely to increase further due to the large number of mining and mine drainage sites that also require assessment and cleanup. Johnstown’s poverty rate for families is 142 percent greater than the state average and 105 percent greater than the national average. The unemployment rate is about 66 percent higher than that of the state and nation. Twenty percent of Johnstown residents between the ages of 19 and 21 are not working or enrolled in school, compared to 14 percent for the state. Environmental employers report that they have been unable to find skilled environmental workers in the local area.

Find books on brownfields

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Literature & Environment

I just found this site, thought I would share it. Association for the Study of Literature & Environment

When I was a student at the University of Oregon, I took a course called Environment and the Humanities (er somethin'). We studied the canon of literature reflecting green values throughout history. Some of the books that we read are available below.

According to ASLE, the field of ecocriticism is growing. Check this out.

Here's a list of FREE texts that address aspects of human interaction with the environment at some length (which I just purloined from the ASLE site):

  • Audubon, John James: Birds of America

  • Austin, Mary: The Land of Little Rain
    (HTML at
  • href="">
    Bird, Isabella: Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (Gutenberg text)

  • Burroughs, Edgar Rice: Tarzan of the Apes
    (HTML at Virginia)
  • Calvin, William H.: The River That Flows Uphill: A Journey from the Big Bang to the Big Brain (independent site)

  • Cather, Willa: O Pioneers!
    (text at Wiretap)

  • Cooper, James Fenimore: The Last of the Mohicans
    (Text at Book Stacks)
  • de Crevecoeur, J. Hector St. John: Letters from an American Farmer (AS @ U.Va. text)

  • Darwin, Charles: Works
    (Online Literature Library)

  • Dickinson, Emily: Complete Poems
    (HTML at Bartelby)

  • Jefferson, Thomas: Notes on the State of Virginia
    (AS @ U.Va. text)

  • Lewis and Clark: Journals
    (AS @ U.Va. text)

  • London, Jack: The Call of the Wild
    (text at Wiretap)

  • London, Jack: The Jack London Collection
  • href="">
    Melville, Herman: Moby Dick (HTML at Virginia)

  • Muir, John: American Forests
    (HTML at Virginia)

  • Muir, John: Steep Trails
    (Gutenberg text)

  • Smith, Henry Nash: Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth
    (AS @ U.Va. text)

  • Thoreau, Henry David: Works
    (The Thoreau Reader)

  • Torrey, Bradford: On Foot in the Yosemite
    (HTML at Virginia)

  • Turner, Frederick Jackson: The Frontier in American History
    (AS @ U.Va. text)

  • Twain, Mark: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    (first edition and commentary) (illustrated HTML at Virginia)

  • Twain, Mark: Life on the Mississippi
    (text at Gutenberg)

  • Whitman, Walt: Leaves of Grass, 1900.
    (HTML at Bartelby)
  • Woodlief, Ann: In River Time: The Way of the James (independent site)
  • Saturday, December 24, 2005

    CLIMATE CHANGE: Developers have big plans for wind turbines

    MACKINAW CITY (WJRT) - (12/18/05)-- If everything goes as the developers plan, 40 wind turbines will be built in Huron County. Mackinaw City already has two wind-powered generators.

    It's hard to miss the two towers looming above the landscape, just south of the Mackinac Bridge. They stand 230 feet tall and each has three, 85-foot-long blades. The wind turbines have been making electricity for four years now.

    "If we do this well, we can create a whole new industry for Michigan," said Rich VanderVeen, of Mackinaw Power.

    One of the turbines at the Straits is temporarily out of service, having been struck by lightning. However, when they both are working, they can turn out enough power for 300 homes. "We know Michigan is the 15th windiest state and certainly could produce enough power for one-third of the power in Michigan with just wind power," VanderVeen said.

    Mackinaw City leaders were willing to listen to developers when approached five years ago about the project. "We don't mind standing out from the crowd and being a progressive community in Michigan," said Steve Schnell, with Mackinaw City Community Development.

    Last week, members of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance toured the Mackinaw City wind farm. Andy Hayes is one who was impressed with the environmentally friendly method of making electricity. "Wind power, wind generation, alternative energy sources are on everybody's minds, especially with the rising fuel costs and energy crisis."

    But the project is not without its detractors. Fourteen people have signed a petition, asking Mackinaw City to stop the construction of three more wind turbines. They say when the sun shines, shadows from the spinning blades create an irritating strobe effect and the sound is very annoying. "You can hear them outside, which, okay, is bad enough. But when you can hear them inside, that's when you have to take a really strong look at what is this all about," complained Kelly Alexander, who lives near the turbines.

    Wind turbine proponents say in three years, there could be 2,000 wind turbines across the Great Lakes region. On December 22nd, a trial will be held in Huron County to consider if a zoning change that allows the construction of wind turbines should be put to a public vote. Developers have big plans for wind turbines

    Find books about Wind Power

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    ACTIVISM: Speak your mind at the Great Lakes Town Hall

    New Website Seeks Dialogue and Engagement from 42 Million Great Lakes Residents

    Imagine what it would be like if you could gather everyone concerned about the future of the Great Lakes into one room. You'd not only need a really big room, you'd also be certain to hear a lot of diverse opinions. This is the vision of the Madison, Wisconsin-based Biodiversity Project who announced their online Great Lakes Town Hall this week. I have started using the "My Turn" section, I strongly encourage you to do the same.

    I've also noticed that there are a few wackos using the site. That just comes with the territory.

    CORPORATE CRIME: EPA bitchslaps DuPont

    The largest civil administrative penalty the EPA has ever obtained under any federal environmental statute will be levied against DuPont for violations related to the synthetic chemical Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), a chemical associated with Teflon and with grease and stain repellants, under provisions of both the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

    Meanwhile, DuPont Shareholders for Fair Value (a group of investors concerned with financial impacts of DuPont's use of PFOA ) responded today to a decision by a federal appeals court in San Francisco to reinstate racketeering suits that charge DuPont with hiding information about a widely used fungicide called Benlate. It ain't good when your shareholders turn against you. Read more: DuPont Investor Coalition Cites Reinstatement of Racketeering Case Against DuPont As Echoing Concealment Risks on Teflon Chemical

    ECOTERROR: Suspect charged in 2001 UW arson

    A woman being held in Oregon and accused of toppling an electricity transmission tower and torching a meatpacking plant there is a prime suspect in the 2001 firebombing of the University of Washington's Urban Horticulture Center in Seattle. Chelsea Gerlach, also known as "Country Girl," is one of six people the FBI arrested last week in a series of Northwest ecoterrorism attacks. She is likely to be indicted in the UW arson, according to the feds.

    Find this article at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
    Ecoterrorism suspect may be charged in 2001 UW arson

    CORPORATE CRIME: Foundry in Columbia, Pa. nailed for Hazardous Waste Violations

    Paul W. Zimmerman Foundries Co. has agreed to pay a $30,000 penalty for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste, at its brass foundry in Columbia, PA. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe storage and disposal of hazardous waste. Federal and state inspectors found several violations of RCRA regulations, including improper storage of tons of lead-containing waste, failure to label hazardous waste and mark the storage period of this material, failure to conduct inspections of the hazardous waste storage area and to train employees on hazardous waste management. The company also had no emergency plan to deal with hazardous waste releases. $30k seems like just a slap on the wrist.

    GOVERNMENT: Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy now available; next federal actions outlined

    The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 authorizes $270 million in funding over five years for cleanups of contaminated hot spots at 31 areas of concern in the United States. In 2004, the first year funds were available, Congress appropriated $9.9 million. In 2005, Congress appropriated $22.3 million, and $30 million will be available in 2006. President Bush requested $50 million in 2006.

    Last week, EPA announced the approval of a $50 million Legacy Act cleanup of the Ashtabula River in Ohio, a tributary to Lake Erie. Cleanups of Black Lagoon, an inlet of the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich., and Newton Creek/Hog Island Inlet in Superior, Wis., were completed last month. Another project is under way at Ruddiman Creek in Muskegon, Mich. More projects will be announced in the coming months.

    Additional projects to restore wetlands and aquatic habitat will include streamlining the wetlands permit process specifically for restoration and water quality projects in the Great Lakes basin resulting in the restoration of another 200,000 acres. Healthy wetlands support biological diversity, help maintain valuable economic resources like fisheries, provide flood control and filter pollution.

    Funds are also available to increase beach monitoring and notification programs in lakeside communities. A three-year, three-step effort to perform watershed-based sanitary surveys in Great Lakes recreational waters to help identify sources of pollution has been proposed. Surveys will be done in 2006 and the first pilot projects should begin in the Great Lakes basin in 2007.

    Yeah, baby, there's lot's of money coming our way. A copy of the Strategy is now available at

    GOOD NEWS: Major Corporations Phase Out PVC

    Green Media Toolshed is reporting that Microsoft, HP, Kaiser Permanente, Toyota, Honda have made commitments to phase out PVC in consumer packaging and products Great, now that everyone in the US has it in their house and gets their drinking water through pipes made from this shit...

    ... This is significant for residents of Michigan, which ranks sixth nationally in the amount of landfilled PVC waste, approximately 96,241 tons every year. Hazardous chemicals are used and released in this commonly used material, the second highest selling plastic in the world. Studies show links between chemicals created and used during the PVC lifecycle and cancer, reproductive and immune system damage, and asthma.

    Read more at Green Media Toolshed

    CLIMATE CHANGE: Senator Jeffords' statement regarding the UN Conference

    Senator Jim Jeffords, I-Vt. is the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Yesterday he spoke out:

    "The meetings in Montreal showed that most nations stand ready and willing to address global climate change. Unfortunately, the United States is not among them. The Bush Administration continues to do everything within its power to slow and stall further progress towards reducing greenhouse gases. Climate change is real, it is happening, and there is no time for further delay. We must make mandatory greenhouse gas reductions a reality as soon as possible. I am heartened that a bipartisan majority in the Senate agrees, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to achieve this goal."

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    GOVERNMENT: If no one says there's pollution, there won't be pollution

    EPA is trying to change the rules that require corporations to report their toxic emissions. Obviously The Bushies believe we should allow companies to dump more industrial waste with no way for the public to review their actions. This proposal, now up for public comment, will shrink the main government pollution database, known as the Toxics Release Inventory, by enabling companies to report less information, less frequently.

    Read the entire article at AlterNet: EnviroHealth: Hiding Behind Pollution and Paperwork

    Monday, December 12, 2005

    If you can find proof that the Earth Liberation Front exists, please send it to me

    Undercover informant used in ecoterrorism investigation
    "An undercover informant helped investigators tape a conversation with one of the seven alleged radical environmentalists accused in a series of arson attacks and other crimes in the Pacific Northwest between 1998 and 2001. Existence of the informant was disclosed last week by an investigator in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., during a bail hearing for Daniel McGowan, 31, who faces indictments that he and another man firebombed the office of a wood products mill in Glendale and the office and truck shop of a tree farm in Clatskanie in 2001."

    "The Earth Liberation Front, an underground group that advocates economic sabotage to stop environmental destruction, took credit for the two fires. The FBI describes the group as one of the nation's leading domestic terrorist organizations. "

    I will continue to assert my belief that the Earth Liberation Front does not exist. ELF is simply a slogan spraypainted by individuals. ELF is a concept that has been growing, it has no centralized organizational structure, it has no leaders. My belief is that the appearance of an organized and violent pro-environment movement has been created by the media after these 7 recent arrests in conjunction with those seeking the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Nowhere have I seen proof that anyone of any organization took credit for these acts of arson. It's simply not true. Where is the proof of this? There hasn't been a single advocate for monkey-wrenching or economic sabotage since Ed Abbey passed away. If you can find proof that ELF exists, please send it to me. > News > Nation -- Undercover informant used in ecoterrorism investigation

    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    REVIEW: Cradle to Cradle

    Click to view
    "Reduce, reuse, recycle" urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world?

    In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, "waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new — either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses, as most "recyclables" now are.

    I had the opportunity to attend a talk by William McDonough at a meeting of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids. I was blown away by this man's brain. Buy this book!

    Judge blocks drilling plan in Michigan

    Found this associated press article courtesy of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics website.

    TRAVERSE CITY, MI. -- A federal judge yesterday temporarily blocked an energy company from clearing land in preparation for oil and natural gas drilling in the Huron National Forest near a river. Judge David M. Lawson issued a preliminary order halting Savoy Energy from cutting timber, building a road, and taking other steps to start the project in the north of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

    Lawson said the order was necessary ''to prevent irreparable harm' and to give the court time to review decisions by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to permit the exploratory drilling. The Sierra Club and Anglers of the Au Sable, a fishing group, had filed suit to stop the project.

    ''The courts are showing what Michigan anglers have known all along: that the Au Sable River is one of the most special places in our state and shouldn't be hastily destroyed,' said Rusty Gates, a Michigan angler who is president of the fishing group. The Forest Service permit would let Savoy install a well about three-tenths of a mile from the Mason Tract, a 5,300-acre section of undeveloped woodland. The south branch of the Au Sable River is less than a mile from the proposed drilling site. The Au Sable is considered one of the top rivers for fishing trout in the nation.

    Although the tract is state property, the federal government owns rights to minerals beneath it and has leased production rights to Savoy. The company plans to locate its wellhead on adjacent federal land, and to drill underneath the tract at an angle. If the well is productive, the company plans to install a pipeline and production facility.

    Leanne Marten, supervisor of the Huron-Manistee National Forests, approved the permit application in February, saying that the project would not significantly harm the environment.

    Saturday, December 10, 2005

    ECOTERROR: News links regarding recent Earth Liberation Front arrests

    Six people have been arrested in connection with alleged ecoterrorism attacks in Oregon and Washington dating back to 1998, including the destruction of a Bonneville Power Administration tower near Bend, Oregon. The arrests were made last Wednesday in New York, Virginia, Oregon and Arizona, and each of the defendants has been indicted in Oregon or Washington. One of these individuals has a masters degree in molecular biology, another owned a bookstore.

    What is the connection between these 6 people and why would the feds choose to arrest them all on one day? One bear's opinion: The government is attempting to make it look like there is a coordinated ecoterrorism effort in the US to further justify the upcoming reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

    Besides the tower's destruction, the attacks included three arsons in Oregon and one in Olympia. One of the fires caused more than $500,000 in damage, and the other three caused more than $1 million, investigators said. The feds say that Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility.

    News stories about the recent arrests in the United States:
    Accused ecoterrorist arrested in Flag by Larry Hendricks of the Arizona Daily Sun; Arrests linked to local arson fires by Paul Fattig of the Medford Mail Tribune; Female ecoterror suspect previously convicted in logging protests by KVOA News in Tucson;
    2 arrested in state as FBI targets ecoterrorism by Shaun McKinnon of The Arizona Republic;
    Female ecoterror suspect had two previous minor convictionsKOLD News 13, Tuscon; Eco-Terror Arrests Bring Hope To Solving UW Fire Case by Tracey Vedder of Seattle's KOMO. Grist is also posting articles from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

    Link to the US Department of Justice press release, the source for many of these stories.

    Educate yourself, check out the Earth Liberation Front's website. Then ask yourself, "Does this organization/group actually exist?" The ELF website is just one guy with a computer, probably sitting in his mom's basement.

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    CLIMATE CHANGE: 70 years after logging, forests don't hold as much carbon as original forests

    New research out of Ohio State University suggests that following logging, temperate forests take long periods of time to recover their carbon storing capacity. The scientists examined forests of of the upper Great Lakes region, which were 90% logged at the turn of the century, and found that they store only half the carbon the original forests contained. Poor forest management is blamed for the shortfall.

    Click the "read full post" link to read the press release from OSU.

    Ohio State University release

    December 5, 2005

    By the early 20th century, loggers had harvested more than 90 percent of the forests covering the upper Great Lakes region. The legacy of that destruction continues to have a substantial impact on the environment, researchers say.

    Nearly 70 years after this major disturbance, experimental forested plots in the current study have not returned to a point where they store as much carbon as the original stands. And researchers aren't sure just how long it might take to return to that point.

    Forests serve as storage areas for carbon in the form of carbon dioxide, a key atmospheric pollutant that contributes to global climate change.

    Although many of these harvested areas have regrown, poor forest management practices at the turn of the 20th century have reduced by half the amount of carbon that modern forests can store, said Christopher Gough, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University.

    "It's remarkable that there is still this huge reduction in forest productivity," Gough said.

    The more carbon that a forest can store, the more productive that forest is thought to be.

    Scientists estimate that forests in North America today store about 10 to 12 percent of the total amount of carbon emitted by sources such as industry and automobiles in the United States and Canada .

    Gough, Curtis and their colleagues presented the findings December 8 in San Francisco at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

    The researchers measured the amount of carbon stored in several forested study plots that were harvested and burned at some point during the past 100 years. These areas were part of a biological research station in northern lower Michigan. Study plots were left to regrow after experimental clear-cut harvesting and burning anywhere from 6 to 68 years ago. This experimental disturbance imposed by researchers was in addition to the widespread logging and fire destruction of the early 20th century.

    Several adjacent plots that had not been experimentally harvested and burned were used as a control.

    The measurements showed that the maximum annual amount of carbon stored in the harvested and burned study plots was half of the amount stored in the control forest.

    A century ago, loggers were likely to clear an entire area of trees but take only the choice trunks. That left behind an abundance of smaller trees, along with branches and leaves. The debris dried out and in effect became kindling; in many cases these clear-cut harvests were followed by uncontrolled fires caused by lightning or other means.

    "This kind of slash followed by burning is similar to the current patterns of disturbance in many developing countries," Curtis said.

    Although controlled burning is sometimes used as a forest management practice today, the uncontrolled fires of a hundred years ago were devastating.

    "The slash – the branches and leaves and smaller trees that loggers leave behind – contains nutrients that are eventually recycled back into the forest system," Gough said. "But a lot of these nutrients went up in smoke with the fires, and the aftermath continues to have a negative impact on a forest's ability to store carbon decades later."

    Carbon remains in leaves, tree trunks, branches and roots, and in the debris that cover a forest floor. Carbon is also stored in soil -– microorganisms break down dead leaves and branches into minute particles that eventually become part of the earth. When a forest is clear-cut harvested and burned, much of the carbon it contains is released into the atmosphere.

    "We now know that the amount of carbon that an acre of forest can store depends on how severely it was disturbed in the first place," said Gough.

    Gough and Curtis worked with researchers from the University of Michigan's Biological Station in Pellston, Mich.; Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt.; and Colorado State University, in Fort Collins.

    A grant from the Department of Energy supported this work.

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation wins in court against Nestle

    Mecosta, Michigan - The Michigan Court of Appeals released it's ruling on the controversial case of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation vs. Nestle Waters North America. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) won protection of a stream system deprived of 24 percent of its water as the result of Nestles pumping and diversion of water for the sale of bottled water. The Court further curtailed Nestle's pumping to 200 gallons per minute pending the decision on remand.

    "MCWC is thankful for the Court of Appeal's ruling that upheld Judge Root's finding that Nestle's pumping is unreasonable. It is now undisputed that Nestle has caused and continues to cause harm," said Terry Swier, President of MCWC.

    But there is more to do. Despite finding Nestle's pumping unlawful, this Court of Appeals decision weakened long-standing common law riparian and public trust protections of Michigan's streams. The Court also narrowed court access under Michigan's environmental laws and remanded the trial court's decision on violations of these environmental laws for further findings.

    MCWC is seriously considering all of its options regarding further appeals, clarifying the appeals' court ruling, or going forward with the limited proceedings that have been sent back to the trial court. The appeal involves critical legal precedents at a time when Michigan faces approval of a Great Lakes Basin-wide agreement, water legislation, and a rapidly increasing global demand for freshwater.

    MCWC believes the Court of Appeals erred in fashioning a new rule that allows any use or sale of groundwater so long as the social and economic benefits outweigh the harm to a lake or stream. MCWC believes such a rule favors water exports over the rights of private property owners.

    Jim Olson, legal counsel for MCWC stated, "By adopting a broad balancing test, those who want to export Michigan's water have been put on equal footing with the rest of us who depend on our supply of water here, for work and quality of life. This includes farmers, manufactures, golf courses, citizens, and our abundant wildlife," He said. "Michigan's water is a precious public heritage. It should not be subjected to a slippery slope that signals a green light to those who want to convert our water into a private commodity without the consent of our citizens or respect for this water as a legacy for future generations."

    MCWC has urged the protection of existing legal principles and the public trust, and the adoption of stronger laws that would prevent private sale, harm, and abuse of the state's water resources. "Citizens need to get involved, now, before it is too late," Rhonda Huff, vice president of MCWC said. "Our government is ignoring or compromising these principles, which will cost us dearly."

    "Citizens need to contact their legislators and Governor Granholm and demand stronger protection of Michigan's water resources. Michigan can do better," Swier said.

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    Dairy Farm Poop Stench Angers Town

    The owner of the Maple Leaf Dairy in Wisconsin cries ecoterrorism. Opponents say the farm is responsible for sickening odors and damage to the local watershed, which feeds into nearby Lake Michigan. Opposition to his farm is so intense that he contends that vandals opened a valve of a holding structure and sent thousands of gallons of liquid manure cascading over his property on Oct. 12... (there's more)

    Manure from this dairy farm in the Town of Centerville in Manitowoc County is at the center of a dispute between owner Tod Leiteritz and some of his neighbors — a problem seen around the state as dairy farms get bigger and non-farming homeowners move in. Leiteritz started farming in 1978 with five cows on 160 acres. Today, he is the fifth-largest dairy farmer in the state, employing 50 people and managing a herd of almost 3,500 cattle on about 5,000 acres.

    Neighbors opposing the growth of Tod Leiteritz’s dairy have posted signs. A neighborhood group called Centerville Cares has filed suit in Manitowoc County contesting Leiteritz’s permit from the Department of Natural Resources.

    Jose Romero of Cleveland milks cows at Tod Leiteritz’s Maple Leaf Dairy in Manitowoc County. Leiteritz says vandals have caused problems on his large dairy farm, which is mired in a dispute with neighbors over odor and pollution accusations.

    It also has provoked confrontations, lawsuits and a regulatory record that stands three feet high.

    Opposition to his farm is so intense that Leiteritz contends that vandals opened a valve of a holding structure and sent thousands of gallons of liquid manure cascading over his property on Oct. 12.

    There have been other cases of vandalism, and in frustration, Leiteritz is offering a $15,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the manure pumping.

    The controversy over Maple Leaf Dairy is perhaps the most divisive battle today between a Wisconsin farmer and his neighbors, and it underscores the sometimes uneasy relations in farm country as urbanites keep moving in while dairy farms keep growing.

    Opponents say the farm is responsible for sickening odors and damage to the local watershed, which feeds into nearby Lake Michigan.

    State agriculture officials have offered - to no avail - to bring the two sides together.

    And in a sign of how far relations have eroded, Andrew Hanson, a lawyer for the neighbors group Centerville Cares, called Maple Leaf Dairy "the environmental equivalent of a neighborhood crack house."

    "It's been a series of problems out there."

    Leiteritz's attorney, Todd Palmer of Madison, said the accusation was "irresponsible."

    Manure - with all of its odor and potential to pollute - is frequently a source of tension in rural Wisconsin.

    It was responsible for 52 pollution cases between June 1, 2004, and July 1 of this year, according to the Department of Natural Resources. This included 17 fish kills and the contamination of 20 private water supplies.

    At some of the wells, "liquid manure was coming right out of the tap," said Gordon Stevenson, chief of the runoff management section of the DNR and manure regulator for 21 years.

    "This is the worst year I've seen."

    Currently, there are a half-dozen enforcement cases against dairy farms over manure pollution, Stevenson said.

    "I subscribe to the notion that a majority of the problems are caused by a small minority operating in vulnerable areas," he said.

    But there are some trends:

    • The growing use of liquid manure systems has exacerbated problems because the mix of water, urine and manure spreads more quickly across the land. Manure otherwise is scattered in a dry or semi-dry state and allowed to decompose.

    • Most pollution cases are taking place on dairy farms with 200 or more head of cattle.

    • Most of this year's problems took place in February and March - when farmers applied manure on frozen ground, and heavy rains followed.

    Today, the largest 140 dairy farms own 10% of all of the dairy livestock, state figures show.

    The average size of a dairy herd increased 22% to 78 cows between 2000 and 2004. And larger herds - those with 500 cows or more - increased 43% during the same period, according to state figures.

    As dairy herds have grown, "you have more challenges," observed Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen.

    "And then you have more and more people wanting to live in the country, you have sprawl, and that can lead to conflict."

    In the hope of reducing conflict between farmers and non-farmers, new livestock siting regulations are now before the Legislature.

    The regulations include an "odor standard" that requires farms to adopt management practices to reduce manure smells.

    The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, a farm group founded in 2000 after some farmers were stopped from expanding, said the odor standard goes too far and will be costly for many farmers to implement.

    But Laurie Fischer, the group's executive director, said the siting rule is important because standards are needed as dairy farms are poised to expand.

    Milk prices have risen from an average of $12.90 in 2003 for every 100 pounds sold to $16.90 in 2004. The average price paid to farmers this year is $15.63, according to government figures.

    "Two years ago, we had lowest milk prices in 20 years," Fischer said. "No one grew.

    "Now you can see that some farmers are starting to think seriously about expanding, and now I am starting hear more about conflict on the town level."

    The elongated barns of Maple Leaf Dairy dwarf the size of neighboring farms along I-43 in the Town of Centerville.

    Prevailing winds often push the aroma of manure eastward to neighbors along the lake.

    That doesn't help Leiteritz with his neighbors, said the DNR's Bryan Ellefson.

    "Typically there is a different mind-set for people who live close to the lake than those who live farther in," said Ellefson, a wastewater specialist with the DNR.

    Also, his use of a system that automatically flushes manure on the barn floor with a mixture of manure, water and urine causes him problems. The system saves time and labor, but it generally produces more odor, Ellefson said.

    Nothing against dairy farms
    Russ Tooley said he has nothing against dairy farms.

    "They can get as big and ugly as they want," said Tooley, who lives along the lake and is president of Centerville Cares.

    "But you have to be able to breathe the air, and the water has to be able to support fish. As a neighbor, I can't stand (the smell), and he's killing all of the fish."

    Opponents point to two recent incidents that underscore their concerns.

    First, a Sept. 9 fish kill that claimed about 2,000 forage fish and 100 game fish in Fischer Creek.

    And second, an Oct. 13 runoff of manure from a drain tile that runs through Maple Leaf Dairy and into the creek.

    The DNR has never taken action against Leiteritz's farm for manure problems. And officials said they are still investigating these latest cases.

    But DNR documents of the investigation appear to trace the source of pollution in both cases to the Leiteritz property.

    Leiteritz insisted that he is not the source of the pollution and that other farmers in the area could be responsible for the manure spills.

    Leiteritz is 55 years old and started farming in 1978 with five cows on 160 acres.

    Today, he is the fifth-largest dairy farmer in the state. He employs 50 people and manages a herd of nearly 3,500 cattle on almost 5,000 acres.

    But he says his success has been tarnished by harassment from environmentalists and their lawyers.

    "I think it's unjust, to say the least," Leiteritz said. "We're just like anyone else - we're trying to make a living."

    Leiteritz and his attorney aren't pointing their fingers at Centerville Cares. But they say someone is vandalizing Maple Leaf Dairy.

    In addition to the October manure spill, farm employees also recently found all of the caps and a dipstick that protects engine fluids removed from a large four-wheel-drive tractor.

    And in another incident, several of the farm's livestock gates were opened, allowing 50 to 75 dairy cattle to meander out of their barns and onto fields.

    Last year, Leiteritz and his employees had arguments with a neighbor who they claim drove over the centerline with his vehicle as they approached with large pieces of farm equipment.

    Palmer, the attorney for Leiteritz, has contacted the FBI office in Green Bay because he said the vandalism smacks of "ecoterrorism" and that federal laws may have been violated.

    Leiteritz says he has spent more than $1 million in improvements so that his farm will exceed standards for large confined animal feeding operations.

    Unlike smaller farms, large confined feeding operations - any farm with 1,000 animal units or more - must be granted an operating permit by the DNR and file detailed periodic reports of manure spreading and other activities.

    An animal unit is a method of measuring livestock on farms. One thousand animal units equal about 700 milking cows.

    It's taken more than three years to obtain Leiteritz's latest operating permit from the DNR.

    And in recent weeks, Centerville Cares has filed suit in Manitowoc County contesting the permit, arguing that the DNR has never fully analyzed the pollution impact of the farm.

    Maple Leaf Dairy also stirred tensions in 2002 when Leiteritz proposed to expand his farm to 9,000 animal units, which would have made it the largest dairy farm in the state.

    Leiteritz's expansion plans are on hold for now. But he has moved forward with a large construction project next to his farm that could accommodate thousands of additional cattle.

    He said he prefers "slow, steady growth," but if he continues to be challenged, "we will go faster."

    This troubles Hanson, the lawyer for Centerville Cares, because he sees large dairy farms as the next step to vertically integrated agriculture, where large corporations control all facets of production.

    "Who can afford to take that over?" he asked. "It's Land O'Lakes (the large Minnesota-based cooperative) and Kraft."

    Leiteritz bristles at such talk. He said he is merely trying to build a business.

    "Where else but in farming do you hear people complain that business is getting too big?" he asked.

    Said Palmer, his attorney:

    "Like it or not, the dairy industry in this state is undergoing a revolution," Palmer said.

    "I think what you see here is that family farm of the future."

    Read the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Big farm, big feud: Giant dairy's manure angers neighbors

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    Quality Environmental Journalism Sources

    I received an email yesterday from someone calling himself/herself 'Lorax in Ontario' who wanted to know what my sources of information are. Obviously, I haven't listed all the sources I have on this site, I keep some to myself. That would be giving away the store, Lorax!

    One important source of information, as any good reporter will tell you, is the press release. There are literally thousands of companies and organizations out there trying to get information to the public, and they make that info available for free. Most corporations are trying desperately to look green. Head to the company website and you'll be able to find press releases on their efforts. Some advice? Be very skeptical of what a company is telling you in their release. Write your own opinion piece challenging the points that really raise your skeptical cynicism, and make certain to back up your argument with facts.

    In the left column of this page is a section entitled "Environmental Communications." There are some great programs listed that will give you insight and ideas on dozens of issues.

    The following is a list of respectable online information sources that the average Environmental Studies major would find useful when writing a term paper. There are more listed in the left column of this site, scroll down. Good luck Lorax, I hope you find what you are looking for.

    BushGreenWatch - tracking the administration's environmental misdeeds
    Eco-Portal - Latest Environmental News Headlines
    Eldis (news feeds for your site)
    EnviroLink Network
    Environmental Health News
    Environmental Integrity Project
    Environmental Justice Database
    Environmental Literacy Council
    Environmental Media Services - facts and contacts for journalists
    ENN Environmental News Network
    Great Lakes Radio Consortium
    Green Media Toolshed
    Power Reporting
    Society of Environmental Journalists Tipsheet (story ideas)
    U.S. EPA Headquarters Press Releases
    US Environmental Protection Agency - Press Releases from Region 5 (Great Lakes)
    U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

    To learn more regarding writing about environmental issues, check out the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University.

    Find books on Environmental Journalism

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Solid Waste Incinerator Standards Strengthened

    Yesterday - New performance standards are being required to reduce emissions of air pollutants from the last remaining category of waste incinerators requiring Clean Air Act regulation. The category is called 'other solid waste incinerators' (OSWI). OSWI consist of very small municipal waste combustion units and institutional waste incineration units. The final performance standards will hopefully provide improvements in protecting human health and air quality by reducing approximately 1,900 tons per year of air pollution from an estimated 248 incinerators... (there's more)

    Very small municipal waste combustion units are incinerators that burn less than 35 tons per day of municipal solid waste collected from residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial sources. Institutional waste incineration units are incinerators located at public or private schools, churches or civic organization that burn solid waste generated on site. EPA has already issued regulations to control emissions from large municipal waste combustors (greater than 250 tons per day capacity); small municipal waste combustors (250 - 35 tons per day capacity); medical waste incinerators; and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators.

    These final standards will establish emission limits for the following nine air pollutants from these incinerators: particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium, mercury, and dioxins/furans.

    For additional information on this rule visit:

    CLIMATE CHANGE: Lakes lose ice cover earlier in spring

    The trend of northern lakes losing ice cover earlier each spring accelerated during the past 30 years as scientists continue to document a warming climate. Researchers recently re-examined ice trends for 56 lakes across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and New York from 1971-2002. All 56 lakes showed a trend toward earlier ice breakup dates - an average of three days earlier each decade. The new study shows lakes losing their ice even faster than they were before 1975... (there's more)

    Researchers found that the contour line on a map marking where lake ice has melted by April 7 each year moved north by 100 kilometers, or more than 62 miles, during the past 30 years. The recent study reaffirms one released in 2000 that showed lakes across the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia and Japan - over a 150-year period ending in 1995 - froze 8.7 days later each fall and lost their ice 9.8 days sooner each spring.

    Other studies show Northland frogs emerging from hibernation earlier and migrating songbirds returning north weeks earlier than just a few years ago.

    Not acting now to stem higher temperatures will devastate the U.S. economy in future years. J. Drake Hamilton, science and policy director for Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said more and more studies document a warmer climate in Minnesota, such as the ice cover research. She said the sensible reaction is to assume greenhouse gasses are part of the problem and then move to a renewable energy economy and away from imported fossil fuels.
    "This issue has huge economic implications for our region. It's our lakes, our hunting grounds, our heritage all at risk here," Hamilton said. "Not acting will be much more costly for us."

    Read the full article:Grand Forks Herald | 11/30/2005 | ENVIRONMENT: Lakes lose ice cover earlier in spring

    Utility Leaders Actually Considering Energy Efficiency as Solution to Rising Energy Costs

    The fox is definitely in charge of the hen house. Or maybe it's a wolf.

    More than 50 organizations, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have developed a leadership group to launch an aggressive new national commitment to energy efficiency. The joint effort could substantially increase utility funding for energy efficiency and could save customers $200 to $300 billion on energy bills over the next 15 to 20 years.

    In the face of rising energy demands and costs, larger utility investments in energy efficiency are an effective way to lower consumer energy bills, decrease demand for natural gas, improve the reliability and security of the nation's energy systems, and help protect the environment. However, there is a perception that a number of factors are limiting greater utility investment in energy efficiency. Accordingly, the leadership group will look at policies and programs that are delivering results around the country, develop a common understanding of what works, and develop and follow through on recommendations for action.

    "Improving energy efficiency is not just a responsibility that falls to consumers, but the private sector and the government too," Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said. "By working together and sharing the best information and efficiency technologies, all Americans will benefit from an increased energy supply, and hopefully, lower costs."

    "Innovative efforts in energy efficiency are proving that environmental progress and economic development can, in fact, advance hand-in-hand," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "While meeting President Bush's call to conserve, EPA and our partners are working to address our nation's growing energy demand in a way that supports our goals for a clean environment, a healthy economy, and lower energy costs."

    The leadership group is co-chaired by Diane Munns, member of the Iowa Utilities Board and president of the Natural Association Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and Jim Rogers, chairman and chief executive officer of Cinergy. In addition to the federal agencies, the group is made up of representatives from leading gas and electric utilities, state agencies, energy service providers, environmental/energy efficiency organizations, and energy consumers.

    "Given the interrelationship between price, reliability and environmental impact of our energy resource decisions, I am honored to be part of this process which encourages regulators to take a fresh look at cost-effective energy efficiency resources as a means to provide necessary utility services to the customer today and in the future," said Munns.

    "Like Cinergy, many utilities are looking to energy efficiency to balance high demand growth with corporate goals for reduced environmental impact and costs," said Rogers. "We are pleased to be part of this national leadership to advance the business case for energy efficiency."

    Leadership group members include state utility commissioners from California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington; utility executives from American Electric Power, Austin Energy, Baltimore Gas and Electric, Bonneville Power Administration, Cinergy, Entergy, Exelon, New Jersey Natural Gas, New York Power Authority, Pacific Gas and Electric, PNM Resources, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Santee Cooper, Seattle City Light, Southern California Edison, Southern Company, and Xcel Energy; state agency representatives from California, Connecticut, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas; environmental/energy efficiency organizations such as the Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and Natural Resources Defense Council; as well as representatives from ISO New England, PJM Interconnection, The Dow Chemical Company, Food Lion, Johnson Controls, Servidyne Systems, US Automobile Association Realty Company and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. American Gas Association, American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute, National Association of Energy Service Companies, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, National Association of State Energy Officials, National Energy Assistance Directors' Organization, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and North American Insulation Manufacturers Association are serving as observers to the Leadership Group.

    The first meeting of the Leadership Group is in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 2. For more information, visit: eeactionplan

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    Child Molester in My Neighborhood

    I found out last night, while watching the 11 o'clock news on WOTV Channel 8, that the guy who runs a daycare center on Fuller Ave. here in northeast Grand Rapids, Michigan has been molesting the children in his care. You see this kind of nightmare on "Law and Order" or "CSI," but you never think it could happen near you. The proximity of this crime is deeply disturbing. (there's more)

    This daycare house is on the corner of Kelsey St. and Fuller Ave., and is easily recognizable from the large, brightly colored playground equipment in the chain-link fenced front yard. It is on the opposite side of the street from a Methodist church. So, not only was he raping little girls, he was committing this heinous crime less than 100ft from a house of worship. The thousands of Grand Rapidians who pass by this Fuller Ave. house on their way to work each day will easily recognize the residence I am referring to. It is less than 100 yards north of my house.

    The alledged pedophile's daycare center had it's license revoked November 29th. The pervert is currently in custody after 2 children told their parents that this obese-piece-o-human-waste molested them. This same daycare home was inspected in December of 2004 and was found to have kiddie porn on a computer. The state did not act to shut down this daycare for 11 more months because the police officer present did not understand the kiddie porn law and did not know that kiddie porn refers to any lewd photos of people under 18, even though the state licensing investigator showed them to the cop. Allegations of physical abuse surfaced two years ago when a little girl told her parents that this man was hurting her.

    I'm not encouraging anyone to do anything illegal, but let us as a community come together to let this creep know that he is no longer welcome here.

    Whatever can be done to keep this pervert locked away for as long as possible MUST be done. Let's castrate the bastard, let's make certain that he can never go near another child ever again, and let's also make certain that he knows that he is not welcome back in Grand Rapids when he gets out of prison. Let's make it clearly known nationwide that sexual predators will not be tolerated in our community.

    Please forward this message to everyone you know. Thanks.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2005

    Grand Rapids, Detroit among Inner Cities Rapidly Losing Jobs

    Media Mouse is reporting the results of a Harvard study on job losses in an article entitled Grand Rapids, Detroit among Inner Cities Rapidly Losing Jobs

    "...nearly half of the country's 82 largest municipalities lost jobs from 1995 to 2003, while only one of the surrounding metropolitan areas surveyed lost jobs during the same period. Of the forty municipalities that lost jobs, Grand Rapids and Detroit were among the worst with the most jobs lost.

    While the numbers provided in the study are useful, it is important to also consider that it comes from Harvard University's Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a research group advocating free-market policies as a way of improving the inner city. The Initiative's chair, Harvard business professor Michael Porter, advocates limiting the role of government programs and argues that tax incentives and deregulation will provide substantial improvements to the inner city. Porter has largely dismissed government programs creating jobs, providing job skill training, and designating some cities as redevelopment districts. Instead of providing one-time grants for projects, Porter and the Initiative see the shift towards tax incentives instead of grants as a positive policy shift, with Porter arguing that "you can give somebody a one-time grant, but if you can cut their taxes each and every year, that’s serious coin, potentially." However, the conclusion is based on theory rather than hard facts as the Department of Housing and Urban Development does not currently track the data necessary to measure the overall effectiveness of its tax incentive programs."

    In a related article,the Mouse delivers: 26 companies and industries have been reported as exporting jobs within a 100 mile radius of ZIP code 49501. That's Grand Rapids, baby.

    University of Capetown's Disposable Solar Panel

    Sounding Circle is reporting a prototype method for printing solar panels on paper. I did a google search to see if I could find a photo, but no luck. John doesn't appear to have found an image either. This is a stunning development in solar technology. John describes the process of printing solar panels on paper:

    "The method seems to involve printing with modified color printers, using three or four separate print runs with black, blue, yellow and magenta inks containing tiny silicon particles. They print the metal contacts, then the semiconductor structure, then more contacts. The voltage and power output of the solar cell is determined by the size of the poster. An "A2-sized poster" will deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a cellphone, power a radio or provide five hours of lighting, according to Prof David Britton. News coverage from SA outlets mentions that 'Shops could stock rolls of solar panel posters, and cut it to meet a customer's needs. The poster could be mounted behind a window or attached to a cabinet'.

    Apparently the research team is seeking to commercialise the project. Coupling nanotech with AutoCad fast prototyping is about as advanced as TreeHugging gets. Let's hope they're as good at business as they are at inventing because this could help drive down the price much faster than anyone imagined possible. Recalling that paper can be made of various non-woven polymer strands that are entirely water resistant, this seems like it has great potential."

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    $6.3 million cleanup of Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet is finished

    This is actually GOOD NEWS! In Superior, Wisconsin today state and federal officials announced the completion of cleanup of contaminated sediment from Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet. The $6.3 million cleanup project was the second completed under the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002, a special initiative to clean up 31 pollution hotspots on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes. The creek and the inlet are part of the St. Louis River watershed, the largest tributary to drain into Lake Superior...(there's more)

    Over the past four months, EPA and the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources have removed 60,000 tons of sediment polluted by petroleum products and lead from the mouth of the creek and the man-made inlet. The contamination damaged the habitat for fish and other aquatic life and local officials had posted "No Swimming" signs around the area, which have now been removed.

    The Legacy Act project was the final step in the cleanup of 3-mile-long Newton Creek and Hog Island Inlet. Murphy Oil Co., which owns a refinery in Superior, cleaned up the upper reaches of Newton Creek in the mid-1990s and WDNR cleaned up the middle stretches in 2003.

    Contaminated sediment is one of the major reasons why many Great Lakes fish are not safe to eat in unlimited quantities. It also harms aquatic habitat and pollutes sources of drinking water. This has been a long-term and persistent problem throughout the entire Great Lakes basin. There are still millions of cubic yards of contaminated sediment to be removed from the Great Lakes.

    The Great Lakes Legacy Act authorizes $270 million in funding over five years for cleanups of contaminated sediment hotspots. In 2004, the first year funds were available, Congress appropriated $9.9 million. In 2005, Congress appropriated $22.3 million and $30 million will be available in 2006. The cleanup of the Black Lagoon, an inlet of the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich. was completed earlier this month. Another Legacy Act project is currently underway at Ruddiman Creek in Muskegon, Michigan, and more projects are expected to begin soon.

    Sunday, November 27, 2005

    REVIEW: The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution

    Author: Robert D Bullard
    Review by: Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

    Click to find out more

    Dr. Robert Bullard offers a disturbing account of the environmental and human cost of the excesses of capitalism in this follow-up to Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color. This volume takes a fresh look at the often unequal distribution of environmental hazards to poor and minority communities, examining locations from Louisiana's "Cancer Alley" to Nigeria. In part one, women activists detail their gutsy battles against the combined power of business and government when their minority neighborhoods were threatened by industrial pollution. Part two tells the stories of people (again, mostly minorities and the poor) living in "sacrifice zones," such as Cancer Alley - the stretch down the Mississippi River in Louisiana where approximately 80 percent of the total African American community in the nine parishes lives within three miles of a polluting facility. Parts three and four examine Chicano struggles in the Southwest and global justice issues, "including corrupt... petro-capitalism" in Nigeria, where deep poverty persists despite the country's oil wealth. Readers can learn much about those who pay the costs in safety and health for many of modern life's conveniences.

    Find books about Environmental Justice

    CIA's Homepage for Kids

    If you haven't been there yet, maybe you should check out the Central Intelligence Agency Homepage for Kids. It's a hoot. You may especially enjoy an oddly-shaped blue teddy-bear named Ginger who takes a journey through CIA's Virginia headquarters. Ginger escapes from an analyst's desk; a mysterious analyst named Marta who seems to be missing from work, but keeps a supply of stuffed animals in her cubicle. Ginger can be found on the Agency's K-5th grade page. Far be it from me to criticize the good folks at the CIA, I know they're busy hunting for Bin Laden, but ask yourself this, dear reader, Don't you think you could make a better cartoon bear if you had a $30 billion budget?

    "Look Osama, there's no security in the lobby!"

    Hey Ginger, while you're there, could you find out if Amy Goodman is an undercover agent? There's something sinister about the show Democracy Now! Also you may be interested in Jennifer Garner's recruiting story on the CIA's career webpage. Isn't Garner, after all, just another undercover agent like Valerie Plame-Wilson?

    Saturday, November 26, 2005

    E.L.F. Strikes Again

    Earth Liberation Front sent an e-mail to The Herald-Mail newspaper in Hagerstown, Maryland saying they 'put the torch to a development of Ryan Homes ... to strike at the bottom line of this country's most notorious serial land rapists.' Three town houses were damaged and one was destroyed just before 4 a.m. in the development near the Centre at Hagerstown on U.S. 40 on November 22nd.

    Read it here: The Herald-Mail ONLINE: Terrorist group claims responsibility for fires

    Friday, November 25, 2005

    Are UP mining jobs worth the environmental risk?

    Found this today in the Toledo Blade.

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Mention the words mining and Upper Peninsula and most people think of copper, and a bygone era. Yet Kennecott Minerals has discovered a huge nickel deposit under an area in Marquette County - possibly a billion dollars worth, or more. Jon Cherry, Kennecott's project manager, said it holds the potential for about 120 jobs, mostly for local people, that would last seven to nine years. That would be a considerable economic plus, especially on the western half of the UP, where neither people nor jobs are in big supply. But environmentalists are not so sure this is a good idea. That's because the Eagle project is what is called a sulfide mine... (there's more)

    This means that the process of getting out the nickel could, if something goes wrong, easily release sulfuric acid into nearby lakes and streams, one of which, the Salmon River, is the only place where a subspecies called the coaster brook trout live and spawn.

    Phil Power, a former newspaper publisher, is torn over the issue. As the state chair of the Michigan chapter of the Nature Conservancy, he is acutely sensitive to the need to safeguard Michigan's environment.

    But Mr. Power is also vice-chair of the MEDC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which is charged with bringing employment to a state which this week saw thousands of jobs eliminated by General Motors. "An intriguing and exciting idea," he said of the plan for the nickel mine. But not worth the risk in that area.

    (This, to me, seems like a conflict of interest that should be brought to the attention of the Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees - Black Bear Speaks)

    However, Kennecott's Jon Cherry said the mine would be safe. "Every precaution will be taken. The rules set a very high standard. We can meet all the rules, we can exceed them," he said. If Kennecott goes ahead with the mine, he pledged to set up a liner to make sure there is no seepage of acid from the rocks that would have to be disturbed to get at the nickel deposit.

    However, even Mr. Cherry admits that preliminary studies show 80 percent of the rocks involved have the potential to generate sulfuric acid. "I have to say, better safe than sorry," said Mr. Power.

    The state government also became concerned when it first learned more than two years ago that Kennecott was thinking about a sulfide mine. "That set off alarm bells," said Skip Pruss, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ.

    "We believed we didn't have the regulatory tools to address sulfide mining," Mr. Pruss said. So in a rare show of bipartisanship, the legislature passed a law a year ago toughening mining regulations. It grants broad and exclusive authority to regulate mining to the DEQ, and requires strict standards for cleaning up a mine site and returning it to nature after it is no longer being run.

    Since then, the various parties have been hammering out rules to govern mining in the state. The DEQ is holding public hearings on the proposed rules Nov. 29 in Escanaba, Nov. 30 in Marquette, and Dec. 7 in Lansing (check for details.)

    Kennecott officials say they haven't made the final decision to go ahead. If they do, they need to apply for an array of permits, Mr. Pruss said. The earliest a mine could be up and running, given the work that needs to be done, would be several years from now. And though all signs indicate that Kennecott intends to go ahead, Mr. Cherry indicated that no final decision has been made.

    Perhaps the final word - for now - should go to Kristy Mills, who owns a store not far from the proposed Eagle mine. She could use more customers, for certain. But she isn't sure about Kennecott.

    "You know we need tourism and visiting, not mining and hauling ore around in big trucks," she said in a telephone interview, and then paused.

    "It's gonna be interesting," she said. She may be more right than she realized. A number of other firms are looking for possible mining sites in the UP. Skip Pruss' rules may soon be repeatedly put to the test.

    Jack Lessenberry, a member of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit and The Blade’s ombudsman, writes on issues and people in Michigan.
    » E-mail him at or call 1-888-746-8610.
    » Read more Jack Lessenberry columns at

    - -

    Internet will allow citizens to weigh in on water quality

    Of The Oakland Press

    The International Joint Commission is hosting an innovative Web Dialogue, Tuesday through Dec. 2, to allow citizens of the United States and Canada to comment on and discuss the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
    The agreement between the United States and Canada was signed in 1972 and last updated in 1987... (there's more)

    "The governments of the U.S. and Canada will be reviewing this agreement beginning in March of 2006," said Frank Bevacqua, public information officer for the International Joint Commission in Washington, D.C.

    "The review will be done directly by the governments of the U.S and Canada led by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada," he said. "The IJC has been asked to consult with the public in the Great Lakes basin before the review begins."

    The International Joint Commission, said Bevacqua, "was created by the Boundary Waters Treaty (of 1909) to help the United States and Canada prevent and resolve disputes over the use of the shared waters." The operating budget of the commission is funded jointly by the U.S. and Canadian federal governments.

    About 56 billion gallons of water from the Great Lakes are used daily for municipal, industrial and agricultural purposes, according to the IJC. In the water quality agreement, said Bevacqua, "the two countries commit to restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem, and they agree to common objectives and cooperative programs to achieve that goal."

    There are 37 million Americans and Canadians who live in the Great Lakes basin. More than 40 million - including 1.2 million in Oakland County - get their drinking water from within the basin, and theoretically people with Internet access could talk with each other and make their opinions known during the dialogue.

    "We're excited," said Bevacqua. "We held 14 meetings, but it's a very big basin, and we're hoping that this will make it convenient for anyone who wants to participate."

    John Klemanski, chairman of the political science department at Oakland University, said the concept of a Web dialogue is a good one, but "getting the word out that that's available is a challenge."

    If something is only available online, then it's only available to people with online access, he said. "I think a lot of this online voting and the online environment itself really appeals to younger people," he said. Younger people, he said, "might find it easier and interesting and maybe become aware of it because they're online doing something else."

    Online forums as an engine for gathering public comment and for shaping public policy won't completely replace live public meetings, he said, but can supplement them. "As long as that's interactive, I think that method is just as good," said Klemanski.

    The IJC is trying to make the dialogue as interactive as possible. For example, an Oakland County resident in Waterford Township, who lives near the Clinton River, which flows to Lake St. Clair and eventually to Lake Erie, will be able to interact with someone who lives in Montreal ‹ the dialogue will be bilingual in English and French with translators available 10 hours daily.

    "The Web dialogue is a four-day discussion with an agenda, topics and expert panelists," said Bevacqua. "It's open to anyone who cares about the Great Lakes.
    It's designed to discuss the full range of public views and issues of concern that would relate to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the end result will be to identify issues the governments should consider when they review the agreement.

    "You have to register, but it's very convenient," he said. "Anyone who has access to the Internet can join the discussion at any time during the four days."

    The discussion is crucial, according to Cyndi Roper, Great Lakes policy director for Clean Water Action, because "we have a significant responsibility to the Great Lakes waters on the U.S. side, Canada has a great responsibility as well. To the extent that we can get together to work out the rules of the road as to how we protect our water, the better off we all are in the long run."

    The agreement, said Mike Shriberg, director of the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, based in Ann Arbor, is in serious need of an update.

    "The agreement really right now isn't a particularly useful tool because the times and the threats have changed and it doesn't go far enough," he said. The group, which is launching an e-mail campaign to weigh in on the water quality agreement review, is pushing for changes, such as the inclusion of what environmentalists call the precautionary principle.

    "Anyone who is proposing to use new chemicals in the Great Lakes should have to prove that they are safe beyond a shadow of a doubt," he said. Right now, that burden of proof rests, not with the manufacturer, but with private citizens and government regulators, he said. "Invoking the precautionary principle, he said, would not stop new industries from establishing themselves in the basin, "but it would mean polluters would have to show there would be no harm to the lakes before a plant was sited. Polluters should also be required to pay for cleanup, treatment and any harm to victims from pollutants instead of taxpayers bearing the burden," he said.

    While there is some concern that reviewing the water quality agreement will result in a more lax regulatory environment, said Shriberg, "the point here is the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is not driving water quality and is not driving cleanup of the Great Lakes right now.

    "In our view because the agreement is not fulfilling its mission anyway, there's little danger (of dismantling a regulatory structure), and there's only one way this could move and that is forward."

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    John Rendon: The Man Who Sold the War

    While the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence drags its feet on discovering how the White House sold the Iraq war, journalist James Bamford has written a major expose on one of the key players: John Rendon. In his Rolling Stone story "The Man Who Sold the War," Bamford traces the development of Rendon and his firm The Rendon Group (TRG) from Democratic Party organizer to Kuwaiti liberator to secretive Pentagon propagandist-for-hire. In a rare interview, Rendon "boasted openly" to Bamford of "the sweep and importance of his firm's efforts as a for-profit spy." One example of TRG's work is the story of Iraqi exile Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who claimed Saddam Hussein had tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The fact that al-Haideri failed CIA polygraph tests didn't stop TRG from giving Judith Miller the print exclusive interview. "Her front-page story, which hit the stands on December 20th, 2001, was exactly the kind of exposure Rendon had been hired to provide," Bamford writes... (more)

    Here's a link to Rolling Stone: Meet John Rendon, The Man Who Sold the War. But keep an open mind. There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of this information, the most important of which is that John Rendon denies several of the key points...

    The Highlights:

    "Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists... ...One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. "

    And more of the same:

    "Rendon is one of the most influential of the private contractors in Washington who are increasingly taking over jobs long reserved for highly trained CIA employees. In recent years, spies-for-hire have begun to replace regional desk officers, who control clandestine operations around the world; watch officers at the agency's twenty-four-hour crisis center; analysts, who sift through reams of intelligence data; and even counterintelligence officers in the field, who oversee meetings between agents and their recruited spies. According to one senior administration official involved in intelligence-budget decisions, half of the CIA's work is now performed by private contractors -- people completely unaccountable to Congress. Another senior budget official acknowledges privately that lawmakers have no idea how many rent-a-spies the CIA currently employs -- or how much unchecked power they enjoy."

    Frankly, I think this story is complete bullshit. Why has John Rendon been hidden for decades? I think reporter James Bamford made most of this up, or he had help in drafting this story. The writing is not consistent. There are several different writing styles apparent, both male and female.

    Here's the most blatant discrepancy, compare these two sentences.

    It is an unusual career twist for someone who entered politics as an opponent of the Vietnam War.

    As the Mass ended and Moran's Australian-flag-draped coffin passed by the mourners, Rendon lifted his right arm and saluted.

    John Rendon was never in the military. Why the hell would he salute a coffin; especially the coffin of someone who was also not in the military?

    Here's the clincher:

    Rendon was also charged with engaging in "military deception" online -- an activity once assigned to the OSI. The company was contracted to monitor Internet chat rooms in both English and Arabic -- and "participate in these chat rooms when/if tasked." Rendon would also create a Web site "with regular news summaries and feature articles. Targeted at the global public, in English and at least four (4) additional languages, this activity also will include an extensive e-mail push operation." These techniques are commonly used to plant a variety of propaganda, including false information.

    Read between the lines. The writer (or writers) of this article is actually telling you that he is lying to you.

    Rendon, by the way, is also the name of a small town in Texas, a suburb of Ft. Worth, that is about 100 miles north of Crawford.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Dow Corning/Aegis get slapped

    Dow Corning Corp. and Aegis Environmental Management Inc. of Midland, Michigan violated federal rules on the sale and export of pesticides. A $268K penalty has been assessed against the companies as part of a settlement. Dow and Aegis have been selling and exporting pesticides without proper labeling.

    The Feds collected labels and shipping records from samples of pesticides packaged, labeled and released for shipment from a Dow Corning facility in Midland destined for Korea, Thailand, Columbia, Peru, Taiwan, Belgium and Japan. The labels were written entirely in English and lacked translation of key pesticide information into the predominant language of the countries receiving the products.

    Imagine not being able to read the directions on a bottle of bugkiller that you are putting on your garden vegetables. How much do you use, what's safe and what isn't, how often do you apply it? Seems like a silly thing until you realize that the folks in South America spraying vegetables are shipping them back here for you to buy at your local grocery store. Not so funny now, is it?

    Muskegon gets $103K under new federal community environmental improvement program

    The Muskegon County Environmental Coordinating Council, a nonprofit, will receive a $103K federal grant to address local eco-issues identified by Muskegon County residents. Results of a 2-year local study showed that Muskegon residents are most concerned about exposure to lead-based paint, contaminated drinking water and septic systems, air quality, contaminated fisheries and recycling.

    So, the first question that pops into my head is "Why the hell did it take you 2 years to figure that out?" The second question, "Have you fired the idiot who took 2 years to get the answers to simple questions?"

    The money is to be used to: Inform residents and visitors of health risks/benefits of eating locally caught fish; improve understanding of self-contamination issues at households that rely on private wells for drinking water; get more children in Muskegon tested for lead poisoning; raise local awareness of the health effects from airborne pollutants from local industries; and expand local recycling efforts. Apparently all you can do with $100K is make brochures and sit around and talk... hmmm, anyone want to give me a hundred grand?

    Also the feds are giving $50,000 worth of "contract services" to MCECC to help it analyze opportunities to redevelop brownfields in Muskegon. That's basically a free consultant. Consultant for what, to teach you how to get a group of people in a circle and talk?

    Millions of acres of public land to be privatized

    Early in the morning of November 18, 2005, millions of acres of federal public lands were opened to corporate and private ownership. Whether you were aware of this or not, it's too late. Now it moves into the Senate for approval. It's almost as if the argument for/against drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge was a distraction, a ruse to distract the media and conservationists from the real issue. The Republicans have screwed you hard, screwed your children and have pretty much assured that your grandchildren are screwed as well.

    By a vote of 217-215, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Republican budget bill, which contains mining provisions introduced by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-California) that allow land speculators and multi-national mining and energy corporations to take ownership of millions of acres of federal public lands in the West. Pombo's provisions also prohibit the federal government from imposing royalties on minerals and metals removed from public lands, thus foregoing trillions of dollars in potential revenues that could help offset the staggering budget deficit...

    Read More: Green Media Toolshed

    Canada's Chemical Valley

    This a copy of a Great Lakes Radio Consortium transcript of Rick Pluta's report on the chemical industry in Ontario. This is important. The toxins that flow into the St. Clair River and Lake Huron eventually make their way into the entire Great Lakes ecosystem and affect all of our drinking water.

    "North of Detroit, just across the border from Michigan is Canada's Chemical Valley. It's a complex of dozens of petro-chemical factories that employ thousands of people near Sarnia, Ontario. Chemical Valley is the center of the economy here, but it also has a major environmental effect on the Great Lakes. That's because Chemical Valley sits on the Saint Clair River, one of the rivers that connects Lake Huron to Lake Erie. What happens on the Saint Clair River affects thousands of people who downstream from the plants. Chemical spills from Sarnia have polluted the shorelines of both countries...

    Jim Brophy is the director of a health clinic for people who work in the sprawling complex of factories on the Canadian side of the Saint Clair River. Brophy says he's seen people suffering and lives shortened by cancer, respiratory failure, and neurological disorders. "It's an unbelievable tragedy because these diseases are all completely preventable, but arose both because of government and industry negligence over the course of 30 or 40 years, or even longer." Brophy says many of those health problems are also being exported downstream to other communities.

    The Aamjiwnaang tribe makes its home right next to the Chemical Valley complex. A recent study of Aamjiwnaang birth records found that, in the last decade, instead of births being about half girls and half boys, only one-third of the babies born on the reservation were boys. Shifts in reproduction patterns often serve as a signal of an environmental imbalance. Jim Brophy says that suggests the impact of Sarnia's chemical industry on the environment and people deserves more attention.

    "We cannot put a particular exposure from a particular place and link that at this point, but what we are putting together are pieces of a puzzle, and I think that's becoming a major concern not just for our community and not just for the American community on the other side of the river, but I think for people all along the Great Lakes."

    Environmental regulators agree. The province of Ontario recently ordered 11 facilities to clean up their operations so there are fewer spills and emissions. Although the provincial government has little power to enforce those orders, officials say it's a step in the right direction.

    Dennis Schornack is the U.S. chair of the International Joint Commission. The IJC looks to resolve disputes and solve problems in the Great Lakes international waters. He says that, since World War II, Chemical Valley has changed the character of the Saint Clair River. "We really have to watch this for drinking water - that's the main thing. Canada does not draw its drinking water from the river and the U.S. does."

    So communities on the U.S. side have to deal with chemical spills and other pollution in their drinking water, but they have no control over the polluters on the other side of the border.

    Peter Cobb is a plant manager who sits on the board of the Sarnia-Lambton Environmental Association. That's a consortium of Sarnia petro-chemical operations. He says the problem is spills into the Saint Clair River peaked in the 1980s, when there were roughly 100 spills a year. He says now that's down to five to 10 spills a year. "We have made significant progress. Having said that, our target remains zero spills per year, and industry is well aware that our current performance does not meet our own target as well as the expectations of the public." Cobb also acknowledges there have been some major setbacks in the last couple of years. Some big spills have forced downstream communities to once again stop taking their drinking water from the Saint Clair River. Cobb says Chemical Valley will try to do better. "