Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Administration Opposition to Auto Fuel Economy Costing Billions

Americans will spend upwards of $5 billion extra on gasoline this year than last due to poor automobile fuel economy standards. Had the anti-environment Bush Administration tightened fuel economy standards four years ago, mandating that cars and light trucks get 40 miles to the gallon, American consumers would already be enjoying substantial benefits.

According to the report by US PIRG, the U.S. would be consuming 350,000 fewer barrels of oil per day-- more than half of current U.S. imports from Iraq-- if the government had mandated that the automobile industry make use of the fuel efficiency technology that already existed in 2001.

Such a decrease in fuel consumption would also reduce U.S. carbon dioxide by 23.9 million tons, significantly lowering the country's contribution to global warming.

Wisconsin Greens take action against Iraq War

The Wisconsin Green Party announced that it will work with citizens across the state to place an advisory referendum on as many local ballots as possible in next spring's election asking voters the question, 'Should the United States begin an immediate, phased withdrawal of its troops from Iraq?'" GOOD LUCK!

Greens get some backbone, call for Secretary of Defense's Head on a Platter

The National Green Party has called (again?) for the resignation of Rumsfeld the Wicked for abuses of power in a release last week titled Detainee Torture, Pentagon's Missing $1 Trillion. Read their statements yourself and form your own opinion.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

File this one under "Corporate Propaganda That Makes Me Want to Puke"

Ugh, I feel a big hurl coming on... Dear GE, is "Ecomagination" a cover for your plan to build more nuclear plants all over the planet? I'm not buying it. Do you really think we're that stupid? Thanks, but no thanks.

USNews.com: General Electric puts new focus on global warming (6/6/05)From US News biztech section... "Can industry spread its green fever? General Electric puts new focus on global warming." By Marianne Lavelle

"General Electric's new environmental push, dubbed 'Ecomagination,' features a TV commercial showing an elephant so animated by the industrial giant's clean technology he dances to 'Singin' in the Rain.' GE can claim some fancy footwork, indeed, since its high-profile plan to cut its own greenhouse-gas emissions and boost environmental technology spending, along with similar recent moves by key businesses, has begun to shift the political landscape in favor of action on climate change."

The bear says: A large section of the Housatonic River in Connecticut has been poisoned with PCB by General Electric. GE has effectively delayed efforts to clean up the Housatonic for decades and has spent millions of dollars more on public relations distorting the facts about PCBs in an effort to convince the public that no action is necessary.

GE also continues to undermine the federal Superfund program by challenging key provisions of the statute in federal court.

A responsible, ecologically-minded citizen would not buy anything manufactured by General Electric.

Wolf hunting permits issued, debate begins

Howard Meyerson, Outdoor Editor for the Grand Rapids Press, did a great job of educating folks on the Northern Michigan wolf debate in a piece entitled Cool heads needed on Michigan's wolf issue.

The importance of the this issue, I feel, relates to the way endangered and threatened species are treated in Michigan and is establishing a precedent for future wildlife management. Wolves are the top predator in this part of the country - besides us - so they are a critical species. I intend to personally focus heavily on this issue. As I learn more, I will pass info along.

It should be noted that no human has ever been attacked by a wolf anywhere in the US, ever. The statements in this piece by some who fear for their safety are a bit nonsensical in that light.

Wolves avoid people, except to occassionally eat our sheep and kill our dogs. Sheep are tasty, who can blame them. I eat a nice piece of lamb a couple times a year. Domestic dogs are not food, but are viewed by wolves, I found out recently, as trespassers in wolf pack territory. Wouldn't you shoot a guy who broke into your house, peed everywhere and ate your food? Wolves do the same thing. A wolf pack will also kill a wolf from another pack that wanders into their territory and approaches a female, just like you would if some guy broke into your house and tried to do something nasty with your wife. I think they are a lot like us, they just run faster and have bigger teeth.

Montana pup. For more photos visit www.northamericanwolves.com and get the pic of the day.  Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Here's your chance to Adopt-A-Wolf-Pack in Northern Michigan, courtesy of Northland College's Olson Environmental Institute.

Click the link above for info. Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Life happens...

Life has been a bit crazy lately with the kitchen remodeling project, job hunting, etc. It took a several weeks to rip out and install the new tile floor, and it seems I have had a headache from paint fumes for more than a week.

Kitchen Remodeling Project Posted by Hello

What's new?

The biggest outrage from Bush Inc. is, of course, the opening up of all National Forest lands to roadbuilding, approximately 58 million acres. I can't express the level of sheer ecological criminality of this action. The damage will be felt for generations, unless a newly elected administration can reverse this decision.

I also have a press release here about federal prisoners in California being exposed to toxics from computer recycling operations. Not only are they being forced to work, they are being poisoned at the same time. (Capitalism necessitates a level of slave labor. Marx didn't write that, I did.) If you want to read this I'll email it to you, but I found it too vile to post.

An article picked up from Environmental Media Services about hybrid vehicles follows. I have no faith in hybrid technology. It's a band-aid over a gushing wound. The true solution lies in building carfree cities, where everyone - regardless of economic status - has the ability to walk or take public transportation. Like life was before Henry Ford was born. Policies that encourage growth of suburbs, with the addition of giant mega-store complexes and enormous parking lots, are the real problem. We need to encourage local legislators to create systems of redevelopment and redesign rather than new construction, systems that emphasize sustainable organic urban agriculture programs and locally owned businesses. You can read the hybrid article though, but I believe it is propaganda from the auto industry.

Keep reading kids, and thanks for keeping me on my toes. I've added a few new links, check them out.

Sending Detroit a Message: U.S. Auto Buyers Urged to Pick Next Vehicle to 'Go Hybrid'

At the 40mpg.org Web site, consumers can make their picks for three of the 10 best-selling vehicles in America with no publicly announced plans (as of May 15, 2005) to introduce hybrid models. 40mpg.org encourages higher fuel-efficiency standards for U.S. vehicles and is a Web-based campaign organized by the Results for America arm of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (CSI).

The 10 best-selling vehicles with no publicly announced hybrid plans are (in order of sales): Ford F-Series pick-ups; Toyota Corolla; Chevy Impala; Ford Explorer; Ford Taurus; Chevy Trailblazer; Jeep Grand Cherokee; Ford Focus; Chrysler Town&Country; and the Ford Econoline.

The six out of 10 top-selling U.S. vehicles with hybrids already available (or in the works) are (in terms of their non-hybrid overall U.S. vehicle sales ranking): #2 Chevy Silverado (available now as a 2005 model in limited states); #3 Toyota Camry (hybrid version planned for 2007 model year); #4 Dodge Ram (hybrid production reportedly began in 2004-2005 winter); #6 Honda Accord (hybrid version came out for 2006 model year); #9 Nissan Altima (hybrid planned for 2007 model year) and #10 Honda Civic (hybrid version rolled out for model year 2003).

Civil Society Institute President Pam Solo said: “We are conducting this online poll for one simple reason: Detroit needs to get the message that it can’t keep its head in the sand forever when it comes to vehicles achieving greater fuel efficiency. We have the technology, it is affordable and other nations are using it to overtake American automakers. Our economy depends on the auto industry for tens of thousands of jobs. Unfortunately, it is no coincidence that, of the six vehicles now available in hybrid version among the top 10 sellers in America, four are being offered by non-U.S. automakers.”

Solo added: “Our poll comes at a critical juncture for American automakers. It does no one any good to ignore the increasingly obvious facts: Detroit is allowing itself to be left behind as consumers embrace the new technology that can save them money at the pump, cut pollution and reduce our dangerous over-dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East.”

The source for the data used in the survey for top 10 U.S. vehicle sales (through April 2005) is Automotivenews.com. Announced hybrid sales plans are based on two sources: www.hybridcars.com and public announcements by U.S. and non-U.S. automakers. 40mpg.org recognizes that the status of the auto industry’s hybrid vehicle plans change on a weekly basis and is prepared to adjust the survey as new hybrid-introduction announcements are made by automakers. Information about new hybrid auto introductions should be submitted to contactus@40mpg.org.

The 40mpg.org campaign and Results For America/Civil Society Institute have no direct or indirect ties to any automakers in the United States or elsewhere around the world. Hybrid technology is only one of the fuel-efficiency approaches that 40mpg.org is promoting as a way to save consumers money, reduce harm to the environment and help curb the United States’ dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Fun fact to yell about

The 386,000 miles of roads already built in America's national forests have generated $10 billion in maintenance costs for the US Forest Service. While spending nearly $49 million on logging programs and roads last year, the Forest Service received only $800,000 from timber sales -- a $48 million loss to the American taxpayer.

Logging destroys wildlife habitat, causes erosion, and costs you money.

Republicans Push Ecoterror Laws

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Though arson, vandalism, assault, break-ins and other tactics by radical animal rights activists and environmentalists are already illegal, some Republicans want to take punishments a step further. A national group of conservative state lawmakers has been promoting laws creating a separate offense of ecoterrorism since 2003, when California passed such a law. Similar bills have died in Texas and Arizona, and others are pending in Pennsylvania, New York and Missouri.

Bills in Ohio would add that state to the growing number that seek harsher penalties for attacks, including those against dog food makers, farms where animals are caged, and university animal labs. Sponsors say the bills are needed because of fire-bombings at ski resorts and new subdivisions, break-ins to free disease-carrying laboratory animals, and threats against corporate executives and their families.

The Humane Society of the United States opposes using violence in the name of protecting animals but considers the bills too broad, lobbyist Julie Janovsky said. The New York and Missouri proposals would outlaw videotaping without permission in private farms and labs. "At the root they are trying to prohibit investigations into animal cruelty," Janovsky said.

Ohio Republican Sen. Jeff Jacobson included the language on animals in a bill that would outlaw many activities considered domestic terrorism, such as donating money to groups on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Jacobson said he would work to ensure the animal provisions apply only to felonies. His bill would add attacks on lawful animal activities such as farming, food processing and hunting to the list of offenses that could be prosecuted under state racketeering law, allowing the state to seize assets after a conviction, or sue if the suspect is acquitted.

A 1992 federal law forbids interfering with "an animal enterprise" but enforcement is difficult, said FBI Special Agent James Turgal, who heads the agency's Ohio terrorism unit. He said the state ecoterrorism bills could allow more federal terrorism prosecutions under the Patriot Act. Only a small percentage of the FBI's active terrorism investigations in Ohio involve environmental activists, but they are increasing, he said.

The states take varied approaches. The proposed bill in New York -- considered the toughest by the Humane Society -- would ban any attempt to impede animal research or commerce, forbid financial donations to "animal or ecological terrorist organizations" and create a registry of such groups. Missouri's bill bans releasing disease-causing agents in animal and research facilities and would expand a state law that bans damaging or stealing records from the facilities. Pennsylvania's bill, like Ohio's, creates harsher penalties for people convicted of vandalism, assault or other offenses if they involve intimidation or obstruction of legal research and commerce involving animals and natural resources. It also allows suing for damages.

"The penalties in the past don't seem to have deterred actions of the activists," said John Ellis, executive director of the Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research. Animal rights activists have claimed more than $1.3 million in damage to pharmaceutical labs and researchers' homes in western Pennsylvania alone, he said. In Philadelphia, animals were stolen from an agricultural high school.

A Washington state law against damaging animal laboratories has a separate declaration that it gives "full consideration to the constitutional rights of persons to speak freely, to picket, and to conduct other lawful activities."

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed Arizona's bill in March as too broad.

Nathan Runkle, head of Mercy for Animals, a Columbus-based animal rights group that has videotaped conditions at egg farms, said he fears Ohio's bill would infringe on lawful, peaceful demonstrations. Activists had the same concerns before the California law took effect in January 2004. The San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League had filmed ducks and geese being force-fed several pounds of corn mush to fatten their livers for foie gras. The video helped a successful campaign for the state to outlaw force-feeding. The group is still taping and protesting a year later, member Kath Rogers said. "It hasn't really affected us too much," she said. "It's pretty much a misdemeanor either way."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Bush Plan Would Allow More Sewage in Nation's Fresh Water

A Bush Administration proposal to routinely allow partially treated sewage into America's waterways could face a roadblock in Congress next week, when the House of Representatives is expected to vote next week on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget. Included is the opportunity to support the Save Our Water From Sewage Act. The bipartisan amendment to stop increased sewage dumping would block EPA from finalizing a proposal that allows an increase in the use of "blending", a process where partially treated waste is dumped into lakes, rivers and streams.

Currently under the Clean Water Act, partially treated sewage may...
be released only in a dire emergency, such as a hurricane. Otherwise the process known as blending is illegal, and waste treatment must be carried out in three phases -- first screening for solids in the waste, second phase removing most of the viruses, parasites and other pollutants, and the third phase treating sewage for bacteria. If the EPA proposal is finalized, anytime it rains or during snow melts, sewage treatment facilities would be allowed to forgo the second phase of water treatment, which neutralizes viruses and pathogens in the wastewater and aids in the effectiveness of the third phase of treatment.

Supporters of the Bush Administration blending plan, including sewage treatment plant operators, say that blending will fill the gap in inconsistencies in sewage enforcement. But public health advocates find this unacceptable. "Everyone lives downstream of somebody's sewage treatment," says Nancy Stoner, clean water director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "So we all face a threat to our health, economy and environment if EPA lets wastewater plants routinely discharge largely untreated sewage into our lakes, rivers and streams." [1] The EPA proposal also helps treatment facilities skirt the cost of upgrading, a costly affair, especially since funds for modernization of sewage treatment plants received a substantial cut in the 2005 EPA budget. [2]

The partially treated sewage would flow directly into lakes, rivers and streams -- carrying with it deadly parasites, viruses and bacteria, including dysentery, cholera, e coli, hepatitis, and gastroenteritis. The Center for Disease Control reports that each year the health of 8 million people is adversely affected by water contaminated with sewage waste, and 900 people die each year from illnesses related to exposure. [3] Under the proposed rules, exposure levels will increase if blending becomes regular practice. Dr. Joan Rose, a Michigan State University professor, explained that there is a 50% chance of getting sick from swimming in an area adjacent to a sewage output point where only the first and third stage of treatment are used, whereas the risk is less than .1% from swimming in an area where second stage treatment and disinfection is used. [4]

In the long run, blending has costly financial consequences as well: loss of revenue from beach closings, increased costs for treating drinking water, public health and medical expenses, and harm to fish and wildlife. Even EPA's own water chief, Ben Grumbles, voiced doubts about blending: "The basic point, which is at the heart and soul of the Clean Water Act, is that dilution is not the solution to pollution. You need to treat the sewage. Blending isn't the solution." [5]

[1] Natural Resources Defense Council fact sheet.
[2] Sewage Blending Policy, Clean Water Action fact sheet, Jan. 2005.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] NRDC release, May 11, 2005.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

America's Dirtiest Power Plants

New Report Exposes Worst Plants on Sulfur Dioxide, Mercury, Nitrogen Oxide, CO2 Pollution; Needless Pollution Linked to 20,000 Premature Deaths, Fetal Damage and Global Warming.

The 50 dirtiest among the nation's 359 largest power plants generate as little as 14 percent of the electric power - but account for a disproportionately large share of pollution emissions across four major categories: up to 50 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 42 percent of mercury, 40 percent of nitrogen oxides, and 35 percent of carbon dioxide pollution, according to a major new report from the nonprofit and nonpartisan Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).

Most of the ill health and environmental harms arising from America's dirtiest power plants are avoidable. Currently available and affordable technologies could remove the vast majority of the pollutants in question - reducing the amount of air pollution per megawatt hour by more than 20 times in one major emission category: sulfur dioxide. According to the EIP report, the 50 dirtiest U.S. power plants averaged 22.8 pounds of sulfur dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour, compared to an average of 8.3 pounds per megawatt-hour among all of the nation's 359 largest plants, and under one pound per megawatt-hour for plants equipped with state-of-the-art scrubber technologies.

The 10 states with the heaviest concentrations of the dirtiest power plants - in terms of pounds of sulfur dioxide emissions per megawatt hour of electricity generated - are: Pennsylvania (nine, including five of the 10 dirtiest plants); Ohio (nine); Indiana, (six, including two of the top three dirtiest plants); Georgia (four); Maryland (three); Kentucky (three); Alabama (three); New York (two); Tennessee (two); and West Virginia (two). The "Dirty Kilowatts" report also ranks the worst power plants for carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury, looking at all four pollutants both in terms of total pounds of emissions and also emission rate (pounds per megawatt-hour of electricity produced). Plants in Texas, Georgia, Minnesota, New Mexico, and North Dakota top these additional rankings.

Environmental Integrity Project Director Eric Schaeffer said: "The real tragedy for the health of Americans and our environment is that most of this problem is already preventable. A huge share of these emissions comes from a handful of unnecessarily dirty power plants that have not yet installed modern pollution controls, or which operate inefficiently. Power plant sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions contribute to fine particle pollution that triggers asthma attacks and causes lung and heart disease linked to more than 20,000 premature deaths a year. Carbon dioxide gases contribute to the gradual warming of the planet. Mercury from power plant is a deadly neurotoxin, especially dangerous to developing fetuses and already estimated to be at unhealthy levels in at least 10 percent of pregnant women."

Charles McPhedran, senior attorney, Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), said: "Pennsylvania plants are once again near the top of the air pollution most wanted list. Maybe we need some new 'most wanted' pictures hanging up in our post offices - pictures of the Hatfield's Ferry, Homer City and Keystone plants, wanted for endangering our health."

"It's time we start asking ourselves how much we're really willing to pay for dirty electricity," said Bruce Nilles of Sierra Club's Great Lakes Clean Air Program. "Plants in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota are among the nation's worst sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide polluters, and that translates to asthma attacks, lost school and work days, and emergency room visits. These health costs are avoidable if power companies step up and install modern pollution controls."

Tom "Smitty" Smith, director, Public Citizen Texas Office, Austin, TX., said: "This new data shows exactly why it's time to clean up coal-burning power plants. We can meet our energy needs without poisoning our children. By any measure, electric utility companies in the Lone Star State are among the worst polluters in the country, especially when it comes to toxic mercury and global warming gases. There are cleaner alternatives to the death and disease from dirty power plants."

"The fact that Maryland, a small state, makes the 'Top 10' in the list of the nation's dirtiest power plants shows we can do much more in-state to fix this problem. Yet, the legislative fix to reduce pollution like this in Maryland failed last session." said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Scientist Dr. Beth McGee. "This report underscores the need to control pollution from in-state sources in order to reduce the damage being done to human health, and the health of our rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay."


The EIP report identifies the 50 worst power plant polluters for sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon dioxide (CO2), and mercury, ranked according to emissions rate (the amount of pollution per megawatt-hour of electricity generated) and the total annual amount of each pollutant emitted. The report is based on the latest available EPA and other federal data. The top 50 rankings for SO2, NOx, and CO2 include only the 359 largest plants (i.e. those that generated at least 2 million megawatt hours in 2004) for which emissions and net generation data is publicly available. Roughly three out four of these plants (73 percent) reported coal as their primary fuel source in 2004. Mercury rankings are based on the most current (2002) public data from EPA's Toxics Release Inventory.

Key report findings include the following:

* Sulfur dioxide - pollution per megawatt hour. Of the 359 plants ranked, the top 50 plants with the worst emission rates accounted for 38 percent of SO2 emissions, but only 14 percent of electric generation. Alcoa's Warrick plant in Indiana claimed the top spot, generating just over 46 pounds of sulfur dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity (compared to an 8.3 pound average among the top 359 plants). Louisville Gas and Electric's Coleman plant came in second, with just over 40 pounds of SO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity. Five of the top 10 plants with the worst SO2 emission rates are in Pennsylvania.

* Sulfur dioxide - tons of pollution. Of the 359 plants ranked, the top 50 plants with the highest emissions accounted for 4.5 million tons, or approximately half of SO2 emissions, but only 25 percent of electric generation. Reliant's Keystone plant in Pennsylvania led the way, with 171,000 tons, followed closely by Southern Company's Bowen plant in Georgia, with nearly 166,000 tons. Pennsylvania was home to four of the top 10 highest emitters, and Ohio had three of the top 10. American Electric Power's Muskingum River plant ranks in the top 10 for both emission rate and total tons. Pennsylvania plants also rank high for both total SO2 output and emission rates, with Allegheny Energy's Hatfield's Ferry and Reliant's Keystone power plants making the top 10 in both lists.

* Nitrogen oxides - pollution per megawatt hour. The top 50 plants had an average emission rate of 5.8 pounds of NOx per megawatt-hour, almost double the 3.0 pounds per megawatt-hour average emission rate for all 359 of the nation's largest power plants. Of the 359 plants ranked, the top 50 accounted for 26 percent of all NOx emissions but only 14 percent of net electric generation. Northern State's Riverside (Minnesota) and Minnkota's Milton Young (North Dakota) power plants claimed the top two spots, with emission rates of just over 11 and just under 10 pounds of NOx per megawatt-hour, respectively. Electric utilities do not reduce NOx emissions unless they are required to do so: many plants in the top 50, including seven out of the top 10, are in states with less stringent NOx emission limits because they do not fall under the "NOx SIP call," a federal rule designed to reduce summertime ozone in eastern states (NOx is a precursor to ground-level ozone).

* Nitrogen oxides - tons of pollution. Of the 359 plants ranked, the top 50 accounted for 1.3 million tons of NOx, or 40 percent of emissions, but only 29 percent of net electricity generation. Arizona Public Service Company's Four Corners plant and American Electric Power's Gavin plant (Ohio), topped the list, emitting more than 40,000 tons of NOx apiece.

* Carbon dioxide - pollution per megawatt hour. The 359 plants ranked had an average CO2 emission rate of approximately 1,970 pounds per megawatt-hour, while the average emission rate for the top 50 plants was approximately 2,500 pounds per megawatt hour. AEP's Coleto Creek (Texas) plant topped the list, with an emission rate of more than 4,500 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, followed by Alcoa's Warrick (Indiana) plant, with an emission rate of almost 3,000 pounds per megawatt hour. Five large lignite-burning North Dakota power plants rank in the top 25. Lignite is abundant in places like Texas and North Dakota, but has a comparatively low BTU (heat) value, which means more CO2 for the electricity it generates.

* Carbon dioxide - tons of pollution. Because CO2 is not federally regulated, power plants do not control emissions. A strong correlation exists between net generation and total emissions. The largest fossil fuel fired plants typically have the highest CO2 emissions, and the top 50 emitters account for 35 percent of total tons of CO2 emitted and 33 percent of net generation from all plants.

* Mercury - pollution per-megawatt hour. Based on EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2002 (the most current publicly available mercury emissions data), the top 50 plants with the highest emission rates emitted 30 percent of all power plant mercury pollution, but generated only about 14 percent of the electricity. Texas and Pennsylvania power plants topped the list for the highest mercury emission rates. AEP's Pirkey plant (Texas) and Reliant's Shawville plant (Pennsylvania) are the top two dirtiest plants based on mercury emission rates.

* Mercury - tons of pollution. The top 50 power plant mercury polluters accounted for 42 percent (19.06 tons) of all mercury emissions in the TRI, but generated only about 29 percent of the electricity. Reliant's Limestone (Texas) plant emitted 1,800 pounds of mercury, far more than any other power plant. TXU's Monticello (Texas) plant and AEP's Conesville (Ohio) plant came in second and third, emitting 1,324 and 1,300 pounds, respectively. A total of 23 plants in 14 states ranked in the top 50 for both emission rate and total pounds emitted. Six Texas power plants appear on both lists. Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Wisconsin each had two plants on both top 50 lists. Two AEP plants, Pirkey (Texas) and Conesville (Ohio), and Reliant's Limestone (Texas) plant, are in the top 10 for both emission rate and total pounds.

* SO2 and NOx health effects. Sulfates and nitrates (from SO2 and NOx) are major components of the fine particle pollution that plagues many parts of the country, especially those communities nearby and directly downwind of coal-fired power plants. Harvard School of Public Health studies have shown that SO2 emissions from power plants significantly harm the cardiovascular and respiratory health of people who live near the plants. According to EPA studies, fine particle pollution from power plants causes more than 20,000 premature deaths a year. Ground-level ozone, which is especially harmful to children and people with respiratory problems such as asthma, is formed when NOx and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in sunlight.

* Mercury health effects. Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury air pollution, accounting for roughly 40 percent of all mercury emissions nationwide. Mercury is a highly toxic metal that, once released into the atmosphere, settles in lakes and rivers, where it moves up the food chain to humans. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control found that roughly 10 percent of American women carry mercury concentrations at levels considered to put a fetus at risk for neurological damage.

* SO2 and NOx environmental effects. Sulfur dioxide and NOx form acid rain, which damages forests, and acidifies soil and waterways. NOx also increases nitrogen loading in water bodies, especially in sensitive coastal estuaries. According to EPA, NOx emissions are one of the largest sources of nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

* CO2 (greenhouse gas) environmental effects. Carbon dioxide, one of several greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, is released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), wood, and solid waste are burned. Power plants are responsible for at least 35 percent of all man-made CO2 emissions in the U.S., and unlike emissions of SO2 and NOx (which are federally regulated) the electric power industry's CO2 emissions are steadily rising.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Millions of Acres of Wild National Forests Immediately at Risk

Laura Bush is a big fat dyke! Got yer attention? Okay, here goes... In an act of wanton greed and sheer disregard for the future the mindless government zombies currently being manipulated by large corporate fatcats have decided to drop protection for millions of acres of roadless national forest land. The announcement by the U.S. Forest Service completely withdraws the landmark 2001 Roadless Area Conservation rule, which protected 58.5 million acres of unroaded national forest lands for wildlife habitat, recreation, clean water and purposes other than resource extraction. Friday's action eliminates all these protections, leaving in place a state petition process that immediately exposes all national forest lands to logging, mining, and energy drilling. it is obviouse that the higher-ups in the Forest Service have been bought.

This is another reason why Bush/Cheney must be impeached, and the Republican Party should be disbanded. 58 million acres are now open for resource extraction. For comparison, Yellowstone National Park is 2.2 million acres. So consider an area the size of 25 Yellowstones now open for roadbuilding. Roads mean access. Access means trucks. Trucks mean construction equipment, mining equipment, logging equipment. Logging equipment means clear cutting of ancient trees. Roads equal erosion. Erosion causes streams to choke, fish to die, birds that feed on fish to die, etc. The food chain goes. The Road is the a destructive force. It is a gateway, a means of egress. It is a means to park a 5 ton RV in the center of forest and flush your twinkie wrappers and your blue human waste into the soil. Roads are an abomination. Once land is paved, the soil beneath it dies. The road is an abomination.

The folks in charge of the Forest Service must be removed. They have been bought.

Resist! Impeach! Prosecute!

Unlike the Roadless Rule itself, which was adopted after more than 600 public hearings and 2.5 million public comments in favor, the announcement follows no public hearings, no scientific scrutiny, and more than 1.7 million public comments in opposition. The WILL of the people is being ignored by the government in favor of multinational corporate interests. In place of nationwide protections crafted through an open and public process, today’s new rule adopts a piecemeal approach, requiring individual states to petition the federal government to protect individual roadless areas. Even if an individual governor did petition for protection, the U.S. Forest Service could still deny his/her request.

It's time for all good tree huggers to come to the aid of the forests... do what you can to stop the rape of our land. Where the fuck is the Lorax when we need him?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Clean Water at Risk in Energy Bill

Lost amidst the debate over the Bush energy bill is a barely noticed provision that exempts a process called hydraulic fracturing from federal regulation. [1] Though bi-partisan citizen groups across the country are urging that the procedure be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, a Congressional committee approved a provision that allows the procedure to remain only under state regulation.

Hydraulic fracturing eases the extraction of fossil fuels by injecting pressurized fluids and chemicals beneath the earth's surface in order to crack open rock formations and access oil and natural gas trapped in them. The problem is that chemicals used in the process can contaminate ground water, posing serious health problems.

The technique was developed by Halliburton Oil, whose former CEO, Vice President Dick Cheney, has consistently backed measures to allow continued use of the technique. Halliburton and two other companies are leaders in the use of this method of drilling. Halliburton makes $1.5 billion a year from fracturing -- one-fifth of its energy-related revenue. [2]

To support their claims that hydraulic fracturing should not be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, industry officials cite an EPA study that says fracturing in coal bed methane wells "poses little or no threat" to drinking water. [3]

But Wes Wilson, a Colorado-based EPA administrator, points out that a recent EPA review of hydraulic fracturing relied on a panel led primarily by energy industry personnel, including a current Halliburton employee.

The Colorado-based Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) recently completed a report that cites several problems with hydraulic fracturing and EPA-led studies. According to OGAP, the EPA study fails to provide "adequate scientific proof that hydraulic fracturing does not pose a threat to drinking water."

The OGAP report points out that while the EPA says hydraulic fracturing poses no threat to drinking water, it also says that chemicals regularly used in the procedure are linked to human health effects. Among them are cancer, liver, kidney, brain, respiratory and skin disorders; birth defects; and other health problems. [4] Lisa Sumi, research director of OGAP, points out that "the EPA had information showing that numerous chemicals are injected at concentrations that threaten human health, but they chose to leave that information out of their study." [5]

[1] "States May Retain Oversight of Process in Gas Oil Fields," Associated Press, Apr. 18, 2005.
[2] "Halliburton's Interests Assisted by White House," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 14, 2004.
[3] "House Panel Deregulates Drilling Technique," Los Angeles Times, Apr. 13, 2005.
[4] "Our Drinking Water At Risk," Oil and Gas Accountability project report, Apr. 2005.
[5] Earthworks press release, Apr. 13, 2005.