Friday, December 22, 2006

Wahoo! It's Global Orgasm for Peace Day!!!

Hey, don't forget today is the day for the BIG O! Sychronized Global Orgasm!

WHO? All Men and Women, you and everyone you know.

WHERE? Everywhere in the world, but especially in countries with weapons of mass destruction.

Winter Solstice Day - Friday, December 22nd, at the time of your choosing, in the place of your choosing and with as much privacy as you choose.

WHY? To effect positive change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy, a Synchronized Global Orgasm. There are two more US fleets heading for the Persian Gulf with anti-submarine equipment that can only be for use against Iran, so the time to change Mother Earth's energy is NOW!

Have Fun!!!

Don't believe me, check out the site Global Orgasm for Peace Day

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Say "Hell No!" to Kennecott Metallic-Sulfide Mine in the U.P.

Sulfide Mining is a process used to extract heavy metals and minerals from deep within the earth. This type of mining has never been done without resulting in "acid mine drainage" or heavy metal contamination anywhere it has been allowed. When sulfide ore makes contact with air and water the byproduct is sulfuric acid. When the sulfuric acid runs off into the local watershed when it rains it creates deadly pollution known as acid mine drainage.

An international mining company, Kennecott, is asking the State of Michigan to approve a proposal for a sulfide mine near the headwaters of two coldwater streams near Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. The proposed site that Kennecott would like to drill is located on State owned land on the Yellow Dog Plains, in one of the most pristine areas in Michigan. All this for a few temporary jobs? The risks far outweigh the benefits. Kennecott was investigated by 60 Minutes for it's cyanide-heap-leach gold mining program in parts of the west that have resulted in giant cyanide contaminated lakes that have been killing migrating water fowl for decades.

The Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing the company's proposal and will announce early next year whether or not they plan on granting a permit for this mine. The DEQ needs to know that the public is against this project and does not want to see a metallic-sulfide mine threaten our state's water and Great Lakes quality of life. Please join thousands of Michigan citizens by saying NO to Sulfide Mining on the Yellow Dog Plains by clicking on the link below and signing the on-line petition:

If the link does not work, please copy and paste it into your internet browser.

Say HELL NO! to sulfide mining on the Yellow Dog Plains. It's just not worth the risk!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ypsilanti Landlord Convicted Of Polluting Huron River

David Kircher was sentenced to five years in prison and a $1 million penalty for polluting the Huron River.

Kircher was found guilty on two counts of discharging raw sewage after a seven-day trial. The investigation by the Southeast Michigan Environmental Crimes Task Force determined that Kircher, owner of Eastern Highlands Apartments, instructed his employees to pump 25,000 to 100,000 gallons of untreated sewage from a sewer line into a storm drain that discharges into the Huron River. During the trial, witnesses testified that raw sewage had backed up in their apartments for several days. At least two incidents were found where children became very sick after drinking the contaminated water. Witnesses also stated they had told Kircher that pumping sewage into a storm drain was illegal, and Dr. Joan Rose, a microbiologist, testified that bacteria, viruses, and parasites are present 100% of the time in untreated sewage and can cause severe health issues.

photo from Wikipedia

Bush Administration asks "Is a clean environmental actually better for the economy?"

What economic benefits do people actually derive from clean air, water and land? The Federal government has taken a step towards answering this question with the release today of its Ecological Benefits Assessment Strategic Plan (EBASP).

A more suitable question might be "How much is a beaver worth to you?"

    "The goal of an ecological benefits assessment is to estimate the benefits of an environmental policy, and when appropriate, estimate the value to society in monetary terms. This facilitates comparisons among policy alternatives to support decision-making. In practice however, ecological benefits are difficult to evaluate. Several factors contribute to this challenge, including limited understanding of the linkages among policies, stressors, and ecosystem services, linkages within and between ecosystems, and linkages between ecological and economic systems. EPA developed the EBASP to improve this situation. The EBASP is an important planning and accountability tool because it makes the underlying rationale for research and institutional actions very clear, and describes the mechanisms to facilitate adaptive implementation and periodic adjustments to reflect advances in knowledge."

The plan was a collaborative effort among EPA's Offices of Research and Development; Policy, Economics and Innovation; Water; Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances; Air and Radiation; and Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

I hate to bring this up, but how do you quantify the spiritual? My relationship with nature is not set in dollar signs, it is a spiritual relationship with God's creation that makes me whole. How do you value the benefits of my time spent hiking in the woods praying? How do you put a price on a sunset that stirs a man's heart toward faith in a creator who knows far more than any of us ever will? How dare you arrogant fuckers put a price on God's artwork. The only benefit I see from all this is that we will be able to sue people more effectively if they screw things up. Cost benefit analysis of our relationship with creation... what a sick way of looking at life on Earth. What's wrong with simply preserving what IS simply for the very reason that it IS?

Read More here

US & EU Renew Energy Star Agreement

(Washington, D.C. - Dec. 20, 2006) The United States and the countries of the European Community today renewed their agreement on the energy efficiency of office equipment products using the government's Energy Star label. The agreement was signed at a ceremony by EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock, Ambassador John Bruton of the Delegation of the European Commission in Washington, and Finnish Ambassador Pekka Lintu. The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union.

Specifically, the agreement calls for the use of Energy Star labeling on office equipment in European markets and United States imports, including computers, monitors, printers, copiers, fax machines and scanners, with other products possibly added in the future. Recently revised and more challenging technical specifications for imaging equipment and computers will result in improved energy efficiency.

Combined, these new specifications will save American households a projected $4 billion over the next 5 years and avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions of more than 6 million cars, with additional energy and environmental benefits possible in the European Union. The renewal of this agreement also lends even greater authority to other nations' efforts to stimulate the market for energy efficient products.

The United States and the European Community first signed the agreement in 2000.

More information

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brownfield News: Redevelopment and New Jobs in Oceana County

A new cleanup project will utilize a $178,635 grant to address environmental concerns and facilitate the development of a contaminated property in the city of Hart. The project announced today will result in investment of over $2.7 million in downtown Hart.

The Lake Point Elderly development will improve a contaminated lakefront property and create a residential area for senior citizens. The downtown property was used as a fuel storage area by the Oceana Electric Cooperative until the 1980s, and subsequently as office space and storage. The grant will be used to demolish a small building on the site and remove contaminated soil and groundwater resulting from underground storage tanks operated by the electric cooperative.

Following this work, private investment of over $2.7 million is anticipated for construction of moderately-priced apartments for senior citizens. The development is within walking distance of several downtown businesses and health care facilities.

The Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and Loan Program provides funding to local governments for environmental response activities on brownfield properties where redevelopment is proposed. Brownfield properties are vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected environmental contamination. The Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and Loan Program was initiated in 1988, and has provided over $132 million for 307 projects statewide.

Monday, December 18, 2006

DEQ Announces Proposed Determination on Nestle Water Withdrawal Proposal

The Department of Environmental Quality has issued a proposed determination that a water withdrawal being considered by Nestle Waters of North America is not likely to cause an adverse resource impact under Michigan’s new water withdrawal law. Under the law, an adverse resource impact occurs when water is withdrawn from a stream at a rate that could harm fish populations.

Nestle is proposing to withdraw water for bottling via a well in Osceola County with a maximum proposed pumping rate of 216,000 gallons per day. The proposed withdrawal would intercept groundwater discharging to Twin Creek and Chippewa Creek, two designated trout streams in Osceola Township. Based upon the calculated base flow of the two creeks, along with Department of Natural Resources studies of natural flow variation in streams statewide, the DEQ proposes to determine that the allowable withdrawal from the two watersheds is a combined 691,200 gallons per day, well below the amount to be withdrawn by Nestle.

The DEQ’s proposed determination is the first to apply Michigan’s new water withdrawal law. It responds to a voluntary request from Nestle for the DEQ to determine whether the proposed withdrawal would have an adverse resource impact.

While not required under the new law, the DEQ is making its proposed finding of no adverse resource impact open to public comment. Copies of the public notice, the report submitted by Nestle’s consultant in support of the petition, and a decision document providing the basis for the DEQ’s proposed determination are available online

Comments on this proposed determination received by January 15, 2007, will be considered in the issuance of a final determination. Comments can be submitted to Brant Fisher, DEQ Water Bureau, PO Box 30273, Lansing, MI 48909-7773, or by email at

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Brownfields: $2Million in New Grants Awarded in Michigan

Allegan received a $250,000 revolving loan grant that will be used to provide subgrants and loans to public and private organizations that will do cleanup work on a downtown brownfield. The city hopes to redevelop 17 downtown sites that remain from the area's manufacturing, railroad and lumber days.

Artspace Projects, Jackson, was awarded $200,000 to clean up hazardous material on the former Acme Industries complex on Mechanic Street. This riverfront property was the site of a machinery and air conditioning manufacturer and is contaminated with solvents, oil and metals. Artspace hopes to turn the brownfield into the Armory Park Arts Project, which will create studio space for artists, and cultural and educational opportunities for residents.

Bay City received $200,000 for petroleum cleanup at the Labadie property, which is one of the sites the city intends to redevelop as part of the Uptown at RiversEdge renewal project. Grant funds will also be used for community outreach and health monitoring.

Brownfields Redevelopment Authority, Lansing, won a $400,000 assessment grant that will be used to look for hazardous substances and petroleum contamination on several sites and in dozens of underground storage tanks. Grant funds will also be used for community outreach, soliciting contractors and drafting redevelopment plans.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was awarded $1 million for a revolving loan fund that will be used to provide subgrants and loans to public and private organizations that will do cleanup work on brownfields sites. These funds will target small and economically distressed communities similar to the 18 cities that are part of the existing Michigan Revitalization Revolving Loan program. The additional $1 million is expected to leverage $12.4 million and could create 46 new jobs.

Assholes in Bush Administration Give Away National Forests to Big Timber Companies

Environmental Impact Statements Cut from U.S. National Forest Plans

WASHINGTON, DC, December 13, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Forest Service has eliminated formal environmental impact statements from the process for writing overall management plans that are required every 15 years for each of the 155 national forests. This determination qualifies the individual plans of each national forest for "categorical exclusion from individual study" under the National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA.

Under the National Forest Management Act Categorical Exclusion Rule, forest plan revisions will now take two to three years instead of over five years with the previous rule, the agency said. The decision came after what the agency called "environmental review" of the new process for developing and updating land management plans under regulations published last year. Under the 2005 planning rule, full environmental analysis will continue at the project level, but it is the long-term forest plans, not site-specific project decisions, that determine which areas will be open to logging, off-road vehicles, back country recreation, and other public uses.

New rule timed to escape public notice

Incoming chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, said the decision chops away at public participation in forest management on public lands. Bingaman said the announcement of the new rule was timed to escape public notice.

"Apparently eager to avoid Congressional and public scrutiny, the U.S. Forest Service has continued its holiday tradition of trying to bury bad news. Yesterday, just hours after Congress adjourned, the USFS issued a final rule that will eliminate environmental analyses and the public’s right to participate in forest management planning under the National Environmental Policy Act," said Bingaman.

The agency said the new rule "improves the planning process by actively involving the public at every step." "The Forest Service first collaborates with communities to identify how forests should improve in the future," the agency said. "The public participates throughout the process as plans are refined and finalized."

But Bingaman said that under the new rule, "any update or significant change to those individual forest plans would be exempt from NEPA review."

Incoming House Resources Committee chairman Congressman Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat, said the new rule is part of an ongoing Bush administration policy to reduce protections for watersheds and wildlife.

The timber industry supports the new rule.

In a letter to the House Resources Committee in February commenting on a proposal to change the way NEPA is applied to activities in national forests, Associated Oregon Loggers spokesman Chris West wrote, "Current NEPA policies are outdated, are excessively costly, are inordinately cumbersome, cause endless project delays, and are unmistakably harmful to the environment."

"Many project-level decisions become so unwieldy under the weight of ineffective NEPA policies, that today federal forests are imminently threatened by serious problems. These problems include catastrophic wildfire, pest epidemics, storm damage, deforested landscapes after catastrophic events, invasive species infection, and spread of these threats to neighboring non-federal property," West wrote.

"These problems harmfully impact federal forest health, injure nearby non-federal property, and damage the economic and social viability of Oregon’s rural forest businesses and communities," he wrote.

Environmentalists view the new rule as a part of the Bush administration's agenda of handing national forests over to big energy and timber interests.

Attorney Tim Preso with the nonprofit public interest law firm Earthjustice said, "This new rule is an attempt to hide the administration's plans for our forests from the public scrutiny required under NEPA."

"Claims that the Forest Service will take the required hard look at environmental impacts only through implementation of site-specific projects, such as timber sales, would shut the public out of the development of the program that calls for such timber sales in the first place," Preso said.

The long-term plans offer the only opportunity to take a "big picture" look at how the entire forest is being managed, instead of the localized look that focuses on a project area alone, said Preso. "That big picture look is critical for a number of wide-ranging wildlife species that depend on the national forests for their survival, including grizzly bears, lynx and elk."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Barack Obama's New Book, Buy it Here!

"A government that truly represents these Americans - that truly serves these Americans - will require a different kind of politics. That politics will need to reflect our lives as they are actually lived. It won't be prepackaged, ready to pull off the shelf. It will have to be constructed from the best of our traditions and will have to account for the darker aspects of our past. We will need to understand just how we got to this place, this land of warring factions and tribal hatreds. And we'll need to remind ourselves, despite all our differences, just how much we share: common hopes, common dreams, a bond that will not break."

--- from The Audacity of Hope

Read Review/Purchase

More Books by Barack Obama

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Harrassing emails from people who don't know jack shit.

Yeah, this is West Michigan, the conservative center of the universe. Sometimes I forget that I do indeed live in a bubble surrounded by a cohort of friends who are actually not brain-dead, who are capable of conceiving of a world that began before they were born and is not ruled by fantasy football or fantasy messiahs or endless streams of pornography.

Yes, I'm a little angry at the email I just read from a guy in Ottawa County who seems to think his is the correct view of the universe and mine is narrow and unrealistic. First of all, thank you for sending me the copy of the ten commandments, I hope you follow them. Personally I was baptized a Roman Catholic (the one true religion) and had those memorized when I was four years old.

So, what I want you to know is, you chose to chew out the wrong ecofreak. I'm no treehugger pansy activist, I'm the real deal. I've got years of research and study under my belt. What I'm going to do is turn your apparent animosity for folks like me into a lesson on the Laws of Ecology. These are not theories, mind you, these are laws... as in the Laws of Physics, the Laws of Thermodynamics, etc. Right? I do this, hopefully, to inform you. I also do it to piss you off a little more, cuz I think you're a dickwad.

Garrett Hardin's Three Laws of Human Ecology:

First: We can never do merely one thing.
This is a profound and eloquent observation of the interconnectedness of nature.

Second: There's no away to throw to.
This is a compact statement of one of the major problems of the affluent society.

Third: The impact (I) of any group or nation on the environment is represented qualitatively by the relation
I = P x A x T , where P is the size of the population, A is the per capita affluence, measured by per capita rate of consumption, and T is a measure of the damage done by the technologies that are used in supplying the consumption. Hardin attributes this law to Ehrlich and Holdren (Ehrlich and Holdren, 1971). (The suggestion may be made that the Third Law is too conservative. The Third Law suggests that I varies as pn where n = 1. There are situations where the impact of humans increases more rapidly than linearly with the size of the population P so that n > 1.)

There are 17 (currently), I will give you the first 3 to think about now and follow with the rest in later posts (because dickwad, your limited mental capacity cannot process all this information at once.)

First Law: Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained.

  • A population growth rate less than or equal to zero and declining rates of consumption of resources are necessary conditions for a sustainable society.
  • Unsustainability will be the certain result of any program of "development," whether or not it is said to be "sustainable," that ignores the problem of population growth and that does not plan the achievement of zero or a period of negative growth of populations and of rates of consumption of resources.
  • The research and regulation programs of governmental agencies that are charged with protecting the environment and promoting sustainability are, in the long run, irrelevant unless these programs address vigorously and quantitatively the determination of optimal population sizes that can be carried indefinitely and unless the programs study in depth the demographic causes and consequences of environmental problems.
  • Societies, or sectors of a society, that depend on population growth or growth in their rates of consumption of resources, are unsustainable.
  • Persons who advocate population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources are advocating unsustainability.
  • Persons whose actions directly or indirectly cause increases in population or in the rates of consumption of resources are moving society away from sustainability. (Advertising your city or state as an ideal site in which to locate new factories indicates a desire to increase the population of your city or state.)
  • The term sustainable growth is an oxymoron.
  • The term sustainable development in the presence of either constant or increasing human numbers is an oxymoron. Sustainability is directly dependent upon human impact. Development is the product of affluence and technology, AT, in the expression for impact,
    I = PAT.
    The product of AT continues to increase for humans whether P is constant or increasing. Sustainability is conditional upon impact, I, being either zero or constant.

    Second Law: The larger the population of a society, and/or the larger its rates of consumption of resources, the more difficult it will be to transform the society to the condition of sustainability.

    Third Law : The response time of populations to changes in the total fertility rate is the length of time people live, or approximately fifty to seventy years. The consequence of this is termed population momentum.

  • If we want the population sizes to be reduced or at least stabilized by the mid-twenty-first century, we must make the necessary changes in the total fertility rates before the end of the twentieth century.
  • We live in a time of short time horizons.
  • It will be difficult to convince people to act now to change course, when the full results of the change may not be apparent until later in those people's lifetimes.

    Did you get that, jackass? Focus on these until tomorrow when I post another 3 laws of Human Ecology Relating to Sustainablility... 14 more to go.
  • What the hell is wrong with these people!

    From the Traverse City Record Eagle

    The DEQ has ordered Omni Hospitality, owner of the Cherry Tree Inn, to cease all activity and to restore or mitigate alleged damage to the shoreline wetlands.

    Great Lakes Compact vs New Berlin, WI - The Debate

    From USA Today

    A new multistate agreement working its way through state legislatures builds a legal wall around the largest source of fresh water in the world. The deal would ensure that no Great Lakes water is ever shipped outside the region - not in pipes to Arizona, not in ships to Asia, not even to Madison, Wis., or Columbus, Ohio. Read More.

    From the Plain Dealer

    Columbus - A Chester Township legislator has temporarily dammed up a bill that would prevent the siphoning of Great Lakes water. The bill, opposed in a one-man campaign by State Sen. Tim Grendell, would make Ohio the first to approve a multistate pact to restrict the sale of water from Lake Erie and the four other Great Lakes. Grendell's concerns over private property rights were enough to delay a House vote on the bill, ten tatively planned last week. The bill, called the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, appears to still have enough votes to clear the Ohio House. Read More

    Chicago Keeps Gettin' Greener

    From the Chicagoist:

    The latest in the trend towards environmental friendliness in Chicago: the old Cooper lamp factory at 2545 W. Diversey in Logan Square is going to be converted into a "green Merchandise Mart." Known as The Green Exchange, the building will house a furniture maker, a building supply business, a printing company and several other businesses. Read More.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    3-Year Federal Study of US Lakes Begins

    The Environmental Protection Agency is about to start an exhaustive three-year study on the health of lakes. Read the EPA press release.

    Sunday, December 10, 2006

    Dow Chemical - The Human Element Propoganda

    This video is a "remake" of Dow Chemical's Human Element advertising. I found it at Blog4Brains.

    World wide, Dow is involved in human rights abuses: environmental destruction, water and ground contamination, health violations, chemical poisoning, and chemical warfare. Dow Chemical's impact is felt globally from their Midland, Michigan headquarters to New Plymouth, New Zealand. In Midland, Dow has been producing chlorinated chemicals and burning and burying its waste including chemicals that make up Agent Orange. In New Plymouth, New Zealand, 500,000 gallons of Agent Orange were produced and thousands of tons of dioxin-laced waste was dumped in agricultural fields. Dow's toxic legacies of human rights abuses traverse to agricultural fields in Central America where Dow exported EPA-banned pesticide DBCP for use on banana and pineapple crops. As a result, thousands of banana workers were exposed to DBCP and became sterile. In retail markets across the world Dow's dangerous chemicals are present as common household solvents, plastics, paints and pharmaceuticals.

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Velsicol Chemical Poisons the Pine River

    Add this to the list of poisoned waters in Michigan. This kind of bullshit is really starting to piss me off. Every time I hear about some of the ignorant corporate assholes around these parts, I get a little bit angrier.

      Associated Press -- ST. LOUIS, Mich. -- High levels of toxins are polluting the Pine River near a chemical plant, according to a report released this week by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

      DDT, PBB, benzene and other highly toxic chemicals were found in the river at the site of Velsicol Chemical in St. Louis, Mich., said Murray Borrello, an Alma College professor and member of the Pine River Task Force. The toxins pose a risk to human health. DEQ employee Scott Cornelius told the task force that a study outlining what could be done next will be completed in September 2007. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the DEQ will decide what action will be taken, but it could take years.

      The EPA designated the Velsicol plant and the nearby Gratiot County landfill as Superfund sites in 1983. Since then, numerous investigations and cleanups have been conducted, including the construction of a slurry wall. The river's sediment was transported to an approved hazardous waste dumpsite, but the plant never was cleaned.

    Thanks alot Velsicol, you fuckin' jackasses.

    Look, maybe it's time we stop putting chemical plants next to drinking water. Who the hell ever said that that was a good idea? I'll do some research into this issue and post more in a few days. This will take some time and energy to write about properly. I don't want to write more until I have a complete understanding of the situation.

    If anyone has any background info, send it my way.

    Bumpersticker Ideology

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    Hot Carl Runs Again

    Giving the term 'hot Carl' a completely new meaning, Carl "The Specs" Levin announced today that he will run for re-election in '08. Was there ever any doubt?

    Here's what he had to say:
      "As the new Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. The challenges facing us are many, but my commitment to overcoming them is even greater.

      Although I know we will make progress over the next two years, our work will not be easy or soon finished. The economic policies of the past six years are squeezing the middle class and have left us in a deficit ditch that will be difficult to climb out of. The Administration's reckless foreign policy has strained our international alliances and tarnished our standing in the world, which will take years to repair. "

    Go for it, big fella. Make us proud.

    And Senator, if you're reading, impeach those sons-a-bitches as soon as you can.

    Mercury: Act Now to Pass New Legislation Before Year End

    This week, the Michigan Senate passed three bills that are an important first step towards phasing out mercury in products. The bills would ban the sale of thermostats (SB 124), blood pressure measuring devices (SB 123) and esophageal dilators that contain mercury (SB 186).

    You must contact your Michigan State Representative NOW! The Michigan House of Representatives only has until the end of December to pass these bills before session ends and the bills would have to start all over again. Please click the link below to send a message to your House legislator urging them to pass laws this year that phase out products containing mercury. Do it NOW!"

    Tons of toxic mercury are manufactured into products each year in the U.S. Consider that there are currently more than five million mercury thermostats in Michigan, containing over 35,000 pounds of mercury. When these products are sent to a landfill, crushed in a garbage truck or demolition site, or burned in an incinerator, the mercury can be released with potentially serious consequences to people and wildlife.

    Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can affect brain development and, because of this, is particularly harmful to infants, children and pregnant women whose developing babies could be adversely affected. Once in the air and soil mercury makes its way into the rivers and lakes were it works up the food chain, resulting in higher mercury concentrations in the fish we eat. Fortunately, cost effective mercury-free alternatives to these products are readily available. We can reduce our exposure to toxic mercury by phasing out products containing mercury.

    ACT NOW!!! Click here to sign up and send a pre-written letter to your Michigan State Representative!

    DIOXIN: New Legislation Makes Its Way to Michigan Senate

    The Midland Daily News reporter Kathie Marchlewski has been staying on top of new dioxin legislation as it has moved through the Michigan House and Senate. The bill passed the house unanimously last summer and cleared the Senate's Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs committee today. Midland folks involved in the class action lawsuit against Dow Chemical take notice.

    A change was made to the bill as it passed through committee. The change allows the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality more flexibility in information used to calculate its dioxin contamination cleanup criteria.

    There's a ton of information on the Tittawabassee River dioxin contamination downstream from Dow - which has affected thousands of folks in the Midland area - available on the Ecology Center's website:

    The Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality has a site devoted to the issue called the Midland/Tittabawassee River Dioxin Information Page. Get educated, get informed, get active!


    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    Nestle to Reduce Muskegon River 70 Million Gallons Annually

    The following is taken from a letter from Terry Swier, President of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation:

      "Many of you may have seen or heard of Sunday's article in the Muskegon Chronicle "Bottler aims to take more from rivers" written by Jeff Alexander and picked up by the Associated Press. Nestle has asked the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for permission to pump 70 millions gallons of spring water a year from the headwaters of two trout streams near Evart, MI in Osceola County. If approved that would reduce the annual flow of the Muskegon River by 70 million gallons. The DEQ is suppose to make a decision in January and then it will take public comment. All members of MCWC will be asked to comment.

      Nestle has also found its way into Newaygo County's Monroe Township on the west side of the state. Nestle had been collecting stream data for three years before the public learned of its plans. The well site is located in the southern portion of Monroe Township at the headwaters of the White and Pere Marquette Rivers. Nestle began drilling a monitoring well on Friday and will probably seek approval to pump spring water from that site. The White River ranks among Michigan's best trout streams and is a state designated "Natural River". Will this give the White River more protection than other rivers in MI?

      According to Nestle's geologist at the Stanwood Ice Mt. plant, Nestle is looking at two other sites in Newaygo County and two sites in Wexford County. If all future locations where Nestle is collecting stream flow data are approved this will bring the number of Nestle sites in Michigan to eight."

    These guys think they have the right to take what is ours and sell it back to us at a ridiculous price. Don't be that stupid. It's water! Only a complete fucking idiot would pay $1.29 for something that falls out of the sky. Nestle does not own the waters of the state of Michigan, you do.

    What can you do?

    Boycott! The process of stopping alll this begins with you. Refuse to buy Nestle/Ice Mountain bottled water and let the stores that sell Nestle/Ice Mountain know that you will not shop there until they remove it from the shelf.

    Write a check! Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation needs your financial support NOW! Please visit their website at There's a button on the bottom of the page clearly marked "Make a Donation."

    Write letters of protest to Governor Granholm, to the Director of DEQ Steve Chester, and the Michigan Legislature.

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Air Pollution: Dammit, I made the mistake of reading the news again!!!

    Katwwack!!! That's the sound of my head smacking against my computer desk. Google News Alerts are slowly killing me.

    Nov 27th: EPA releases a press release stating the 11 Michigan counties have met ozone requirements. Missing from the federal agency's list were Allegan and Muskegon counties. Elevated concentrations of ground level ozone, which drifts here from other states, continue to be recorded at air monitoring devices in both counties.

    Nov 28th: Fox News 28 in South Bend says, "The air in Michigan is getting cleaner. So says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says eleven Michigan counties are meeting Clean Air Act standards after several years of falling short."

    Nov 28th: The Muskegon Chronicle says "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a pollution alert earlier this week that lasted through Tuesday for elevated amounts of particulate matter in the air. Environmental officials say the levels, while not extreme, can be troublesome for those with sensitive respiratory systems..."The air (pollution) is building up and there is no way to blow it clean again," said Laura DeGuire, of the DEQ air quality division. "

    Nov 29th: The Grand Rapids Press goes with exactly the same wording, different byline, "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a pollution alert earlier this week that lasted through Tuesday for elevated amounts of particulate matter in the air. Environmental officials say the levels, while not extreme, can be troublesome for those with sensitive respiratory systems...."The air (pollution) is building up and there is no way to blow it clean again," said Laura DeGuire, of the DEQ air quality division.

    Nov 30th: Associated Press says, "Under the Clean Air Act, state and local air quality officials have the primary responsibility for implementing the nation's clean air program. But a study finds that state environmental agencies in the 10 profiled states do not have enough inspectors to monitor industrial emissions and enforce the law...The Center for American Progress and the Center for Progressive Reform today issued the report, "Paper Tigers and Killer Air: How Weak Enforcement Leaves Communities Vulnerable to Smog."...The problem lies with declining federal grants to state and local air quality agencies, which are primarily responsible for enforcing federal clean air standards, the report concludes."

    The Alliance for the Great Lakes website tells me "Air pollution impacts on the Great Lakes are significant. According to one study, nearly 90 percent of all mercury entering Lake Michigan comes from the sky. As a result, women of childbearing age and other sensitive populations are warned by all four Lake Michigan states to not eat fish."

    Nov 30th: Grand Haven Tribune, "Higher air pollution designations have been shown to slow economic growth by placing increased controls on new industrial plants and limits on highway construction, and can lead to vehicle emission inspections and expensive reformulated gasoline. Being designated as a county that meets the eight-hour ground-level ozone monitoring standard eliminates or loosens any restrictions."

    Anyhow, to increase economic growth in West Michigan we had to lower ozone levels, but particulates and mercury will remain a serious problem. The question in my brain, "Won't increased economic growth lead to highter particulate and higher mercury?" What a minute, won't it also lead to higher ozone? Didn't those 11 counties just get permission to add more shit to the air?

    My brain hurts.

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    Reply: Building the Liberal Blogosphere in Michigan

    This is my response to Laura's 4posts over on Michgan Liberal.

    Probably the coolest thing I've done in the realm of marketing and networking with Black Bear Speaks is to sign up for Google Analytics (you need a gmail account). You can get a complete breakdown of visitors both by geography and referring source site, plus it very easily shows you which posts on your blog are getting the most hits/most popular. What I found out immediately? When I raved like a freaking lune about an environmental issue that really upset me I got a ton of hits, but when I simply copied a news story from reputable source I got nothing. The answer is of course to be unique and outrageously outspoken. The nuttier I appear- leftist whacko treehugging luddite - the more interest I get. I average about 50 unique hits a day, but when I raved like an SUV-burnin' ecoterrorist that number tripled.
    Being unique is the path to success in this game. I've written a couple posts about EPA negligence regarding the ozone depleting fungicide methyl bromide and its phase out under the Montreal Protocol. I've only found two other bloggers out there doing so. I got slammed repeatedly in emails from EPA officials and a corporate CEO. That is a story to watch, these folks don't like having attention drawn to them when they are trying to screw you.

    Leftyblogs is only great if you can write a headline. For example, "Canned Cheese, Hybrids and the Rightwing Bastards That Make Them" will most assuredly get more notice than "GM to Build More Hybrids."

    Posting YouTube videos on Black Bear Speaks has so far only been successful when the vids are of Keith Olbermann or Bill Maher. I plan to make my own videos eventually and post about them, so I created a navbar link to my YouTube page. When I finally have the time to become a vlogger I'll be ready. Right now you can only see all the videos that I've "favorited" on YouTube, mostly 9/11 videos about the controlled demolition of the three WTC buildings... and Keith and Bill.

    One more thing. If you join Technorati, make certain you use the Technorati Tag Generator. It's really handy and speeds up the process of adding tags to every single post. I have a post-it stuck to my monitor as a reminder.

    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    People Who Deserve Your Support

    Here's some cool sites that GLIN just sent out to it's listserv. I really like the look and feel of the Wildlands League site, the logo is top notch and the design is really well done.

    St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences

    Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA)

    Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network

    Wildlands League

    Lake Superior Conservancy and Watershed Council

    These are all excellent resources, I will add them to the left column here on Black Bear for future reference. Check them out.

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Eco-Bloggers: Here's a Link to Michigan's New Renewable Fuels Commission Site

    My friendly fellow eco-bloggers, allow me to steer you in the direction of Govenor Granholm's newly formed Michigan Renewable Fuels Commission. There is a public survey on the site, you can give them a piece of your mind. I've already provided them with the Bear's opinion - mainly legalizing hemp production in MI. Notice, Govenor, that I have already stolen your logo and intend to use it for my own gratification.

    DEQ Recognizes Consumers Energy BC Cobb as a Clean Corporate Citizen

    Consumers Energy's BC Cobb Electric Generating Complex was added to Michigan's Clean Corporate Citizen (C3) Program today, becoming the 140th member of the voluntary program recognizing environmental stewardship across the state. All I can say is, "you've got to be fucking kidding."

    The DEQ wants you to know that "the BC Cobb Plant is located on 300 acres at the mouth of the Muskegon River in west Michigan. The facility has been recognized by the Wildlife Habitat Council for their commitment to environmental stewardship and increasing native biodiversity in the marsh, river delta, field, and woodland areas that surround the generating complex. The site received further recognition by the Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals for closure of an existing 62-acre coal fly ash landfill. The solution included installation of a 70-foot deep clay retaining wall around the perimeter of the landfill and a synthetic cover on top to keep stormwater and ash from migrating into nearby waters of the state. The large open area constructed as a result of the project is being considered for public recreational use. In addition, they designed an ash pond series-flow treatment system which has proven to work well while providing habitat for waterfowl.

    The plant burns approximately 1 million tons of blended eastern and low-sulfur western. Active programs are in place to reduce used-oil waste, reduce solvent use, reduce the use of chemical additives in condenser and non-contact cooling water, and to reduce thermal emissions in discharge waters."

    To qualify for a Clean Corporate Citizen designation, candidates must adopt a facility-specific environmental management system and active pollution prevention initiatives, and have a consistent record of compliance with applicable environmental requirements. Clean Corporate Citizens are eligible for certain regulatory benefits under the state's environmental programs, including expedited permit approval.

    This leaves me feeling uneasy. I don't like the fact that the state is rewarding the coal industry, specifically when it is so obvious that coal plants are the primary contributors to global warming and in light of the mountain top removal programs. Coal power plants consistently poison us with mercury, create acid rain and desecrate large sections of souther forest with mining operations. It's great that CE does nice things for ducks, but what about the land where the coal is coming from? The DEQ may think this is good policy, but I believe this is white-washing of an environmental catastrophe. The federal and state government should be giving companies incentives to stop such activities, not promoting business as usual bullshit.

    Meijer donates $450,000 to fight spread of invasive plants

    The Nature Conservancy and Meijer stores are joining forces to battle the spread of invasive plants.Leaders of the non-profit organization and the retailer were scheduled to outline the new plan earlier today an event in Grand Rapids, where Meijer is based. The effort is the first of its kind in the country for the Nature Conservancy, according to spokesperson Melissa Soule.

    Under the partnership, Meijer is donating $450,000 during the next three years to discourage invasive plants and to protect Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Starting next spring, it will also put special tags on non-invasive plants it sells in Meijer stores and offer video and written materials to educate shoppers about the benefits of planting non-invasive species, whether they are native or introduced.

    The 119 tagged non-invasive plants, such as purple coneflower and flowering dogwood, will comprise about 16% of the trees, shrubs and other plants that Meijer sells, according to Soule, who said Meijer will spend about a half-million dollars on educational materials in stores.

    More info in the Detroit Free Press

    Kudos to Meijer for making a gesture.

    If Meijer really wants to help the ecology of the Great Lakes, they could stop building massive shopping centers with enormous parking lots that encourage sprawl. They could power all their existing stores with wind energy. They could expand their organic produce departments in all locations. They could buy locally grown produce. They could start installing outlets in the parking lots for electric vehicles. They could stop selling pesticides. They could stop selling violent video games. They could... Jesus, this list could go on for days. Thanks Hank for the invasive species thang, nice work.


    Grand Rapids Sewage Overflows Until 2019

    Sewer overflows into the Grand River after extremely heavy rains are anticipated for another 12 years, but Grand Rapids officials said volumes have decreased 99 percent since the early 1990s when the city first began addressing the issue. The state is requiring all combined sewer overflows from Grand Rapids to be eliminated by 2019.

    Read the Muskegon Chronicle Article


    State considers possible wolf hunt before assuming oversight of species

    GAYLORD (AP) - Michigan's federally protected population of gray wolves could migrate to state oversight by spring, and a group charged with developing a management plan is divided between allowing the reclusive animal to be hunted or keeping it safeguarded. The Michigan Wolf Management Roundtable is charged with offering advice to update the state's management plan, which was first developed in 1997. Gray wolves will become the responsibility of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources if the federal government delists the animal as a threatened, endangered species in four months.

    Read More

    House Democrats Attempt to Stop EPA Library Closures

    WASHINGTON, DC, November 30, 2006 (ENS) - Democratic House leaders today called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to immediately stop efforts to close libraries across the country pending a review by Congress.

    In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Ranking Members Congressmen Bart Gordon of Tennessee, John Dingell of Michigan, Henry Waxman of California, and James Oberstar of Minnesota expressed their concerns over the current implementation of "library reorganization" plans and the "destruction or disposition" of library holdings.

    "It is imperative that the valuable government information maintained by EPA's libraries be preserved," wrote the ranking members.

    This letter to the administrator follows a successful effort earlier this fall by the Congressmen to initiate a Government Accountability Office, GAO, investigation of current EPA actions regarding their libraries and informational resources. The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, has begun its review. The Congressmen write in their letter to the administrator that the EPA is closing libraries and dispersing resources in accordance with an administration budget directive that has neither been approved nor formally enacted by Congress.

    Implementation of the library reorganization is proceeding at a rapid pace. Reports of the library closures, information destruction, and property auctions continue to surface despite the objections to the plan raised by EPA professional staff, EPA employee union representatives and the American Library Association. The four Congressmen say they want to ensure that EPA actions do not undermine the integrity and value of the public information available at these libraries.

    Background/More Info in the Christian Science Monitor

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    IRS Allocates $800 Million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds

    from EERE News
    The IRS announced on November 20th that it has allocated $800 million in "tax-credit" bonds for a total of 610 renewable energy projects to be located throughout the United States. Unlike normal bonds that pay interest, tax-credit bonds pay the bondholders by providing a credit against their federal income tax. In effect, the new tax-credit bonds, called "Clean Renewable Energy Bonds," will provide interest-free financing for certain renewable energy projects. Since the federal government essentially pays the interest via tax credits, the IRS needed to allocate such credits in advance to the lending authorities, which can be state or local governments or electrical cooperatives. The IRS allocated the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds under a new program established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. See Internal Revenue Bulletin 2006-10, which was issued on March 6th.

    The new bond allocations range from $23,000 to $31 million and are set aside for 434 solar energy facilities, 112 wind power installations, 36 landfill gas facilities, 14 hydropower plants, 13 biomass power plants, and one refined coal production facility. Of course, each of these projects may require other forms of financing and will probably need approval from permitting authorities, so it is unlikely that all 610 projects will actually be built. The IRS had to select the projects from among 709 applications for 786 projects, for which the lending authorities requested a total of $2.6 billion in bond allocations.

    You can't build a wind farm because it's the right thing to do. You have to go jump through a bunch of hoops first to make sure that everyone can make a buck off of it.

    Tags:, , ,, ,

    Some people are so damn stupid...

    Day-care air quality focus of bill, By Angela Delli Santi, Associated Press

    TRENTON - Two months after a South Jersey day-care center was found to be operating in a former mercury-thermometer factory - and a third of the preschoolers enrolled there were found to have elevated levels of mercury - lawmakers yesterday advanced legislation that would monitor air quality inside such sites. The measure would require the state Departments of Health and Environmental Protection to establish guidelines for day-care centers built on or near contaminated sites, and to ensure that the operators meet the standards before the facilities are licensed to open.

    The proposal stems from revelations that three day-care centers in Franklinville, Gloucester County, were on or near contaminated sites. At one, Kiddie Kollege, 20 of the 60 children enrolled tested positive for elevated levels of mercury. Officials said the effects of the exposure should not be long-term, although tests found mercury levels in the air to be 25 times the allowable limit and the center was closed. One of the other day-care centers, also closed, was atop a former fuel company site. The third is on the site of a former gas station with leaking underground storage tanks.

    Ron Corcory, an assistant director in the DEP's Site Remediation Program, said that the agency had already inspected the 38 other day cares identified as on or near contaminated sites and that none posed a health risk to children. The agency is currently inspecting 1,400 other day cares located within 400 feet of a site that could be contaminated, he said.

    The DEP ordered the inspections as soon as it found out about Kiddie Kollege, and the state Attorney General's Office is looking into how Kiddie Kollege was allowed to open in 2004 without remediating the mercury.

    So, maybe it would be a good idea not to put daycare centers anywhere near contaminated sites in the first place? What the hell is wrong with these people?

    Tags:, , ,,

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    Video of Hearing on Coast Guard Proposal for Live-fire Training on the Great Lakes

    I'm not sure who created this, but it is well done and he deserves a pat on the back for it.

    This video describes the Coast Guard plan to create 34 live fire training zones across the Great Lakes and contaminate the world's largest freshwater supply with thousands of pounds of lead bullets. The live fire zones also endanger boating, fishing, shipping and US-Canadian relations. Follow the link at the end of the video to voice your opinion.

    How often does the Coast Guard have to use its machine guns now? When was the last time they had to shoot at anyone on Lake Michigan? Who do they think they are going to be shooting at? Are there sinister terrorists lurking just offshore waiting for their opportunity to blow up Ludington? Are there maurading sailboats filled with crazed jihadists about to attack Petosky? I seriously doubt it. It's more likely that they're going to end up shooting a couple drunk pierogi-swillin' Polish guys from Chicago who are pretending to be fishing but are actually driving garbage bags full of ganga across the Lake. I say "no" to guns on the lakes for everyone, including the military.

    Tags:, , ,, ,

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    New Water Diversion Would Derail Great Lakes Protection

    New Berlin, a Milwaukee suburb straddling the western boundary of the Great Lakes basin, seeks DNR approval to pump Lake Michigan water to its residents living outside the watershed.The New Berlin request may prompt other communities to seek diversions before adoption of the Great Lakes Compact, and thus derail efforts to ratify the historic protections signed by the governors of the eight Great Lakes states nearly a year ago.

    "As a signatory of the Compact and chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, Wisconsin Gov. James Doyle committed to the steps toward ratification that are detailed in the agreement," said Joel Brammeier, associate director for policy at the Great Lakes Alliance. "That means passage by each state legislature and approval by Congress."

    The Alliance applauds the DNR's decision to notify the governors and the public about its receipt of the New Berlin application last spring, as well as its current efforts to seek comments about how to proceed with it. Yet a failure to formally consult the Great Lakes governors runs afoul of the U.S. Water Resources Development Act, the existing regulatory framework of Great Lakes protections. Under WRDA, any proposal to divert water from the Great Lakes is subject to regional review and approval or veto by the region's governors.

    "Consideration of an application by New Berlin for a new water diversion is clearly at odds with regional Compact ratification and with WRDA," said Cheryl Mendoza, Alliance water conservation program manager. "It's an irreconcilable position."

    The group counters a key New Berlin assertion that its request doesn't qualify as a diversion because all water withdrawn from Lake Michigan would be returned. In fact, New Berlin is premature in seeking to capitalize on a provision of the Compact allowing so-called straddling communities to apply for and receive Great Lakes water.

    "While the spirit of the application was apparently in good faith, it is wholly counterproductive for municipalities to propose applications for new diversions under provisions of the Compact prior to state legislative approvals and federal ratification," the letter states. The comments also fault New Berlin for "glaringly weak" conservation measures, a key strategy for meeting water needs that any applicant for Great Lakes water must demonstrate under the proposed Compact. Better conservation during the next several years could, by New Berlin's own admission, meet its immediate water needs. This would also help the city become "Compact compliant" - as well as buy time to ratify the Compact. "A pillar of the eventual Compact standards is the achievement of aggressive and consistent conservation practices across the Great Lakes basin. New Berlin's proximity to Lake Michigan does not excuse its responsibility to use water resources wisely and efficiently."

    Other Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces have also voiced serious concerns:
  • New York: The New Berlin application is without key studies, complete data, adequate water supply descriptions, enough system and geological maps, and “descriptions of the situation and feasible options.
  • Illinois: The application could be strengthened with data of "forecasts of future water use, both inside and outside the Great Lakes basin." Furthermore, New Berlin could extend its sprinkling ban, evaluate the effectiveness of its conservation planning, and expand its search for well-water alternatives.
  • Michigan: The state will not begin a formal review until a full-scale diversion application is received, and the Attorney General has said New Berlin cannot proceed without a formal application that meets federal WRDA standards.
  • Ontario: New Berlin hasn’t developed a conservation plan for the diverted water; hasn't undertaken individual and cumulative environmental impact assessments regarding the diverted water; and didn't define or include industry standards and other usage data. (Canadian provinces in the basin have an advisory role, but no veto authority.)

    , ,
  • OZONE LAYER: Methyl Bromide Finally Making the News

    If your a regular BBS reader, you'll note that I posted a press release from the EPA on methyl bromide critical use exemptions under the Montreal Protocol two weeks ago.

    At the 18th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in New Delhi, India, the United States was authorized 91 percent of its request for critical use allocations of methyl bromide for the year 2008. As inventories of ozone-damaging methyl bromide continue to decline, critical use exemptions supposedly help meet the needs of American farmers as they transition to ozone-safe alternatives.

    In that prior post I also provided a link to the Transcript of the Public Hearing on the Proposed 2007 Methyl Bromide Critical Use Exemption Rule that includes testimony with allegations of EPA negligence by Mr. Peter Joyce - CEO of Value Recovery, Inc. The company has developed a technology for removal and destruction of methyl bromide. His testimony, given at EPA's headquarters, stated that the agency has been negligent in doing all it can to prevent emissions and indicated how this negligence plays into the hands of the major corporate players.

  • The NRDC blog republished an Associated Press article called United States to Use Thousands of Tons of Ozone-depleting Methyl Bromide This Year.
  • Truthout is posting a LA Times story entitled US Has Been Stockpiling Banned Pesticide.
  • The Great Lakes Radio Consortium has also produced a piece that you can listen to.

    All I can say is, it's about time guys. Where have you been? I'm disappointed that BushGreen Watch is dropping the ball on this story.

    My email conversation with CEO Joyce was enlightening.

    "My testimony was specifically meant to show how involved and yet simple the situation can be and really represents our frustration of trying to work within the industry (for three years!) and the lack of support from the EPA whose responsibility is supposedly to advance technology and to protect the environment. In this case, they have done neither and we have many other examples."

    "...As a process chemical engineer, I looked at this situation as one that required exposure of the root problem because the public was not at the table and thus the major stakeholder was left out. Thus the reason to take advantage of the opportunity to testify. As I said, we tried for 3 years to get traction on this issue and I felt that I had given industry and the regulators more than enough time to understand our approach. If you would like more information on methyl bromide you can see a mountain of research at This is where the bulk of the $15 million per year is going. It is unusual for an environmental company to publicly criticize the EPA but felt that the time and fairness meant it was time to act. If you would like to see all the commentary out there from companies who wish to save methyl bromide and are commenting on its re-registration then go to and type this in the keyword field - OPP-2005-0123 and ask for all documents both opened and closed. Many large companies like Bayer, Weherhauser etc are here. One will not pick up these documents after doing a Google search."

    I'm certain other bloggers are going to add their unique perspective in the next few days. Stay on top of this issue. It is yet another nail in the Bush Administration's coffin. This story is picking up speed, and I encourage other eco-bloggers out there to pick it up. This is a significant issue that is being ignored in the mainstream press. We need a serious conversation on this issue in the United States. Lou Dobbs, get off your ass and pay attention.

    Tags: , ,
  • Dow Chemical's poisoning of the Tittabawassee River Still goes Unpunished, Lengthy Court Delays

    The dioxin contamination stretches 22 miles downstream of the Dow Chemical Corporation's world headquarters and manufacturing plant located in Midland, MI. The Tittabawassee River connects to the Saginaw River and then flows out to the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.

    Current levels of Dioxin toxicity are over 80 times the level deemed safe for human contact in residential areas. More than 2000 properties are contaminated in an area estimated to cover 16,000 acres spanning either side of 22 miles of river. The contaminated land is covered in homes, parks, churches, schools, farms, a national wildlife refuge, and many small businesses.

    This month marks the one year anniversary of the case's wait on the Court of Appeals docket.

    Timeline courtesy of the Midland Daily News
    March 2003: Kathy and Gary Henry of Freeland, along with 24 other residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain, file suit against The Dow Chemical Co. seeking the value of their homes, which they believe have been made worthless by dioxin contamination. They also seek the funding of a trust that would monitor their health, now and in the future, for dioxin-related effects.

    June 2003: Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Leopold Borrello hears Dow and plaintiffs' arguments for the first time. By this time, the number of plaintiffs in the suit has grown to more than 140.

    August 2003: Judge Borrello streamlines the suit by removing claims for trespass, strict liability and punitive damages. He allows plaintiffs to proceed with claims for medical monitoring, nuisance and public nuisance and negligence.

    October 2003: Dow files a request with the Michigan Court of Appeals, requesting a review of Borrello's decision to allow the medical monitoring claim to remain a claim in the suit. The court decides it will not hear the argument.

    November 2003: A hearing to decide whether the suit should be granted class action certification is moved to December.

    December 2003: Dow files with the Michigan Supreme Court, requesting a review of Borrello's decision to allow the medical monitoring claim to remain a claim in the suit. A hearing to decide whether the suit should be granted class action certification is moved to January.

    January 2004 : A hearing to decide whether the suit should be granted class action certification is moved to February, then to April.

    March 2004: A hearing to decide whether the suit should be granted class action certification is moved to June.

    June 2004: Less than a week before the Saginaw Circuit Court is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the class action status of the case, the Supreme Court agrees to hear Dow's appeal of the medical monitoring facet of the suit. It also ordered circuit court proceedings to stop while the matter is under consideration. The stay order by the court marks the sixth delay of a class hearing.

    October 2004: The Michigan Supreme Court hears plaintiffs argue that medical monitoring should be able to be pursued in court and hears Dow's defense.

    July 2005: The Michigan Supreme Court rules that medical monitoring is not an actionable claim, that without injury there is no case. Plaintiffs cannot sue based on potential, but not present, disease or injury. The property portion of the suit is swung back in motion. Howard and Barbara Steinmetz, residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain who live on Midland Road, file a class action suit similar to the Henrys' but proposing a class including only residential homeowners; the Henry suit includes business and municipally-owned property.

    August 2005: Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Leopold Borrello sets Sept. 15 as the date for hearings on class certification.

    September 2005: Borrello hears arguments on class status as scheduled. A decision was expected by Oct. 11. It was delayed again, this time until Oct. 21.

    October 2005: Saginaw County Circuit Judge Leopold Borrello certifies the case as a class action suit, a move that draws an estimated 2,000 property owners into the action. "To deny a class action in this case and allow the plaintiffs to pursue individual claims would result in up to 2,000 individual claims being filed in this court. Such a result would impede the convenient administration of justice," Borrello wrote in his order.

    November 2005 : Dow appeals the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals
    November 2006 : This month marks the one year anniversary of the case's wait on the Court of Appeals docket.

    Tags: , , ,

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    The Ragbirds fill The Ark

    Adam Labeaux's last local show with the Ragbirds. Please bring a canned good donation for Food Gatherers when you come.

    The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
    Doors are at 7:30, The Ragbirds start at 8:00, all ages.
    More Info

    Upcoming gigs:

  • Nov. 30th, Founders Brewery, Grand Rapids
  • Dec. 2nd, Bells Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo
  • Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Alliance for the Great Lakes

    Filmmaker Vince Deur - who previously brought us the inspiring Great Lakes surfing film "Unsalted" - brings his outstanding production talents to a new video for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

    BIOFUELS: Let's not forget the one plant that could really make the difference.

    Henry Ford's first Model-T was built to run on hemp oil, and the car body itself was constructed from hemp. The car "grown from soil" had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was ten times stronger than steel. -- Popular Mechanics.

    In 1916 the U.S. government predicted that by the 1940's all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees would need to be cut. Research suggests that the fiber produced from one acre of hemp is equivalent to 41 acres of trees. -- U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

    Refusing to grow hemp in America during the 17th and 18th century was against the law. A landowner could be jailed in Virginia from 1763 to 1769 for refusing to grow hemp.

    It was legal to pay your taxes with hemp in the U.S. from 1631 to 1800.

    80% of all textiles - fabrics, clothes, linens, drapes, bed sheets, etc. - were made from hemp until 1820 with the introduction of the cotton gin.

    Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers.

    Learn More:

    Hemp Horizons: The Comeback of America's Most Maligned Plant
    by John W Roulac

    Roulac is president of Hemptech, a consulting company that promotes industrial hemp. He looks at the potential for the plant, agricultural and environmental factors, the controversy about its disreputable relatives, the history of its banning in the US, the current laws and politics, and its status as a crop around the world.

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Wetlands: State Builds Enforcement Team's Strength

    The state DEQ has added four new full-time inspectors to its 30-person enforcement team this winter using funds from a federal grant. While they still believe they could use more, they hope the added staff will send a message to developers that, despite the state's financial constraints, somebody is watching. Wetlands regulations and permits are designed to stop the destruction of a valuable environmental resource. When wetlands disappear, they take with them habitats for wildlife, flood protection for humans and a water-quality buffer.

    Read More

    ALTERNATE TRANSPORT: New Commuter Trains Possible along Lake Michigan Shoreline

    $237 million plan to link Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and the southern suburbs with commuter trains.
    If the effort succeeds, it would bring back a mode of transportation that disappeared from Milwaukee about 40 years ago. Commuter rail lines run on existing freight tracks, connecting a major city and its suburbs. They're designed for local trips, unlike intercity Amtrak trains such as the Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line.

    Read More


    Ethanol Producer magazine is reporting that researchers in Michigan are investigating the possibility of growing green crops on brownfield sites. Corn and switchgrass for ethanol production, as well as three oilseed crops for biodiesel production, were planted this year on a two-acre former industrial dump site in Oakland County, MI. The idea behind the three-year study is that marginal land, unfit for growing crops for human consumption, could be used to grow feedstocks for biofuels.

    I Have The Solution to U.S. Dependence on Foreign Oil

    I have invented a product that will solve the global oil dilemma, there will no longer be any reason to fight wars over oil. My invention comes in a variety of sizes and colors and lasts about 10 years. It's environmentally friendly, producing a waste product that can be used as crop fertilizer. It does not produce carbon monoxide or smog and does not hurt the ozone layer. It runs on water, grass and weeds. It is currently available in all 50 states. It is cheap to purchase, usually costing less than $2000, and you only have to go a few miles outside of town to find one you like. Maintenance costs are generally low, and most problems can be addressed at home without the assistance of a specialist. It likes you and enjoys your company, and likes it when you rub its belly and scratch its nose. The solution to U.S. dependence on foreign oil is staring you in the face. Jump on board now, I'm looking for investors. My latest invention is going to change the world.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Canada Backs Away From Kyoto Protocol Commitment

    OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, November 22, 2006 (ENS) - Canada cannot meet its greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, so Environment Canada is proceeding with a rapid roll out of new regulations that will postpone action on regulating these emissions until at least 2010. Canada has ratified the Protocol to the UN Climate Convention and is legally bound to cut emissions six percent in the five years from 2008 through 2012.

    The country cannot achieve that and the government must be "realistic" said Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, who led the Canadian delegation to the UN climate conference in Nairobi last week. "Canada is 35 percent above our Kyoto target," she told the assembly of 100 fellow ministers and thousands of delegates from around the world.

    Read More

    EPA Trashes Libraries of Documents

    WASHINGTON, DC, November 22, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is rapidly dispersing its library collections to preempt Congressional intervention, according to internal emails released Monday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER, a national association of employees in natural resources agencies.

    Contrary to promises by EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock that all of the former library materials will be made available electronically as the agency closes libraries to save money, PEER says "vast troves of unique technical reports and analyses will remain indefinitely inaccessible."

    Meanwhile, many materials formerly held by the Office of Prevention, Pollution and Toxic Substances Library, in EPA's Washington DC Headquarters, were directed to be thrown into trash bins, according to reports received by PEER. This month, EPA closed this library, its only specialized library for research on health effects and properties of toxic chemicals and pesticides, without notice to either the public or affected scientists.

    "By its actions, it appears that the appointed management at EPA is determined to actually reduce the sum total of human knowledge," said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "EPA is not an agency renowned for its speed, so its undue haste in dumping library holdings suggests a political agenda rather than anything resembling a rational information management plan."

    In the case of the OPPTS Library, the collection is being offered to other EPA offices. What has not been immediately claimed is destined for the trash bin. PEER says the only "unique" documents that EPA is digitizing are those authored by EPA staff. Thousands of documents written or compiled by EPA contractors will remain boxed up and unavailable, either electronically or physically, as the material has not been catalogued. The EPA is spending more money closing the libraries than it asserted it would save, $2 million, from the closures.

    "The dismantlement of EPA's library network has been directed from above without any assessment of the information needs of the agency, let alone outside researchers or the public," Ruch added, noting that the Senate will soon be taking up EPA's budget for the current fiscal year. "It is high time Congress weighs in before EPA completely destroys its library system."

    Democrats Senator Barbara Boxer of California the incoming chair of the oversight committee for EPA, and Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey are leading an effort to restore EPA's network of libraries during the current lame-duck session of Congress.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Some Photos From Today, This is Why I Still Live Here

    Rising waters, Riverside Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Willow leaves, more than you can possibly imagine

    Riverside Park Lagoon, Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Giant willow, Grand Rapids

    Grand River, with a view of downtown Grand Rapids skyline.

    All photos by Jerome Alicki are, of course, copyright protected. Thanks.

    WATER QUALITY: Settlement Reached with West Michigan Developer

    The Department of Environmental Quality has settled an enforcement action taken against Eastbrook Development Company of Kentwood that arose after the DEQ observed repeated discharges of sediment to the Rogue River, tributary channels, and wetlands in violation of Michigan's water quality protection laws. The discharges occurred at Eastbrook's Saddle Ridge construction site, a residential development in Algoma Township.

    The DEQ alleged the discharges were the result of Eastbrook's failure to implement adequate soil erosion controls at the Saddle Ridge site. Discharges of sediment are a significant environmental concern due to habitat destruction and nutrient enrichment and can lead to significant reductions in water quality. The Rogue River has been designated by the Department of Natural Resources as one of a few "Natural Rivers" in the state.

    Eastbrook has voluntarily entered into an agreement with the DEQ and committed to ensuring adequate maintenance of soil erosion and sedimentation control measures at the Saddle Ridge site. They also agreed to provide soil erosion control plans for future phases of development at Saddle Ridge and pay a civil fine in the amount of $37,500. Eastbrook will reimburse the DEQ for $2,200 in enforcement costs.

    MiCorps Volunteer Stream Monitoring Grant and Start-Up Grant Applications now available

    MiCorps provides grants for water quality monitoring in wadable streams and rivers. The monitoring primarily includes an evaluation of benthic invertebrate communities and stream habitat. The grants may be used to fund a local monitoring coordinator and/or purchase water quality monitoring supplies. MiCorps will provide training to the grantees, and the data will be used by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as a screening tool to identify sites requiring a more detailed assessment and as supplemental data for DEQ water resources management programs.

    Agricultural Pollution: What the Hell is A CAFO?

    Once again, Muskegon Chronicle writer Jeff Alexander produces high quality journalism.

    Massive livestock facilities known as CAFOs, concentrated animal feeding operations, are sprouting across Michigan and neighboring states. CAFOs house thousands of animals in barns and store millions of gallons of liquid manure in lagoons until the animal waste is used to fertilize farm fields.

    The volume of sewage and toxic air emissions CAFOs produce is on par with cities and industrial facilities.

    One large CAFO can produce as much sewage -- in the form of animal manure -- as a city of 100,000 people. Unlike cities and factories, which must treat wastewater and control air pollution, CAFOs are allowed to spread untreated manure on the land and foul the air because the facilities are exempt from most state environmental laws.

    Read More

    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    US Energy Department May Sell Surplus Mercury Stockpile

    WASHINGTON, DC, November 17, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Department of Energy, DOE, is considering selling some 1,300 tons of surplus mercury on the international market, prompting urgent warnings from health organizations that the toxic metal would find its way back into the domestic food chain from the developing world. Word of the potential sale has prompted a formal request to the agency by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) to keep the mercury in storage and out of the environment.

    “Given that mercury is a trans-boundary pollutant that is deposited both locally and globally,” he wrote to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, “any strategy to reduce mercury in the environment must also include reducing the volume of mercury traded and sold in the world market.” The senator was joined by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Mercury Policy Project in warning that U.S. mercury exports will “boomerang” back to the United States.

    The DOE stockpile is nearly five times the amount exported in 2004 by all U.S. companies combined. Once used in weapons and energy technologies, the mercury is now obsolete for DOE functions and no longer of any use to the government. Mercury exports often go to poorly regulated industries in developing countries, which release it into the atmosphere. Some of that air pollution wafts over the ocean and back to the United States, contaminating ocean and freshwater fish.

    Add the bear to your site!

    Climate Conference Agrees on Workplan for Future Emissions Cuts

    NAIROBI, Kenya, November 17, 2006 (ENS) - The United Nations climate change conference wound up its two week meeting today by approving a plan to work towards limiting global warming after 2012 when the present agreement governing greenhouse gas emissions expires. The Kyoto Protocol sets legally binding emission reduction targets for 35 industrialized countries during the five years from 2008 to 2012.

    In another forward step, developing countries will receive financial and technical help in adapting to the effects of global warming, the conference agreed, as thousands of participants from 180 countries went home with dire warnings about potential climate calamities ringing in their ears...

    Read the rest...

    Saturday, November 18, 2006


    Holy crap kids, I just got back from the theatre and I gotta tell ya, I was just amazed, completely blown away. Anyone who know me knows that I love Bond movies and have seen all 20 multiple times. This is hands down the best. Live and Let Die and Her Majesty's Secret Service, previously my two favorites, pale in comparison.


    Daniel Craig is the new Bond. He makes Sean Connery and Roger Moore's versions of 007 look like complete pussies. Pierce Brosnan is a dainty little girl in comparison. Craig's Bond is no gentleman. He is a coniving, sinister, incredibly strong and agile wanton killer. Gone are the dumbass John Cleese "Q" scenes, gone are the sappy Moneypenny flirtations. No, this guy has only one purpose, to fucking kill you!

    Bond takes on the worst of the worst, terrorists plotting to blow up planes at airports. Yes, the world is full of terrorists who hate America and Britain. Yes, the world is full of evil men who finance terrorism. Yes, 007 hunts them down and mercilessly kills them all!! I was on the edge of my seat after the first 30 seconds of this movie, and it continued to slap me in the face for another 2 hours.

    Many a power-hungry madman has tried to torture Bond before, but not like this. This is not Goldfinger's laser beam. This is a torture scene that would make the guards at Abu Ghraib and Auschwitz wince! Bond looks up at his captor and with an horribly evil laugh delivers the best Bond line ever, "I'm going to tell everyone that you died while scratching my balls."

    Bond Girls: "OHHHHHH JAMES!!!"

    Eva Green! The best cleavage ever on a movie screen, she kicks all the Octopussy' girls collective butts. You can't find a more beautiful and talented woman than the phenomenal Eva Green. Oh yeah, Bond gets his willy waxed. A lot!

    Catherine Murino makes Ursula Andress look like a dirty, mangy old schnauzer. There's a bunch of other actors, but after seeing Murino you pretty much forget that anyone else is in this movie.

    Based on the first Bond book written by Ian Fleming, the story recounts the creation of 007. Martin Campbell directs, from a screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Paul Haggis. James Bond's first 007 mission leads him to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), banker to the world's terrorists. In order to stop him, and bring down the terrorist network, Bond must beat Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game at Casino Royale. Bond is initially annoyed when a beautiful British Treasury official, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) is assigned to deliver his stake for the game and watch over the government's money. But, as Bond and Vesper survive a series of attacks by Le Chiffre and his henchmen, a mutual attraction develops. And develops again, and again, and again. DAMN! I was blushing!

    Judi Dench is back as M. The Aston Martin is back too, complete with high-tech dashboard gizmos.