Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Senator Stabenow on Canadian trash problem

The following is Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow's letter to Black Bear Speaks, received today.

I am writing to update you regarding important developments in our fight to stop the dumping of Canadian trash in our beautiful state.

Homeland Security report confirms security threat
The Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General has finally completed their report on Canadian trash trucks entering Michigan. I requested this report with Senator Levin and Congressman Dingell in October of 2003 because of grave concerns I had regarding threats to our national security created by the influx of Canadian trash trucks. The findings of the report will come as no shock to you or other Michigan citizens -- the current inspection and screening of trash trucks presents a serious risk to our national security and public health. You can read a short summary of this report on the Department's website.

Details of report not made public
To my great disappointment, Homeland Security has refused to release the details of this report to the public even though it is not classified information. I am fighting to make these important facts available to people living in Michigan so that we can all understand the risk to our communities. On March 3, 2006, I joined Senator Levin and Congressman Dingell in demanding that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff make the full unclassified report available to the public.

Senate budget bill lays groundwork for trash inspection fees
Ultimately, we need to stop these trash trucks altogether. But until that happens, our safety and security depend on the effective screening of their contents. I believe that Canada has an obligation to pay for these inspections. In the recent budget bill, I authored a provision that passed the U.S. Senate, which lays the groundwork for the United States to charge up to $45 million a year in inspection fees to Canadian trash truck companies. These fees equal $420 per truck crossing into Michigan.

This provision would ensure that American taxpayers do not pay the costs of implementing the security recommendations of the Inspector General's report. It would dramatically increase the cost of sending trash into our state (which I hope will eliminate the incentive for them to dump their trash here.)

EPA treaty still not enforced by the Administration
This Administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), continues to have the power to stop the trash today, but has refused to use its authority under an existing treaty with Canada. I continue to pressure top Administration officials to use the legal powers they already have. I met with the new Administrator of the EPA, Steven Johnson, and gave him our petition signed by over 171,000 Michigan citizens demanding a stop to this unprecedented dumping. I will continue to pursue legislation to address this issue and to force the EPA to use their authority to stop the trash.

Inspections and screening critical to national security
Incredibly, even as we fight to prevent Canada from turning Michigan into one big landfill, this month a Canadian trash truck spilled sewage along I-275 in Wayne County, forcing local police to shut the overpass for hours while it was cleaned up. The law I authored in 2003 that requires the use of high tech screening equipment for trash truck inspections was an important safety step, but the Homeland Security report and this most recent trash spill highlight the urgency of this issue and the need for further action.

Inadequate screening of trash trucks makes them attractive targets for criminal and terrorist activity. In recent years, border inspections have found hazardous medical waste, radioactive materials, illegal drugs and counterfeit currency in Canadian trash shipments.

Our online petition is still active. If you know anyone who would like to sign the petition and receive these periodic updates, they can do so by going to www.stabenow.senate.gov/stoptrash.

Thank you so much for your on-going interest and concern. I am offended, as I know you are, that the dumping continues. I will continue to do everything in my power to stop the trash. As always, please feel free to contact my office on this or any other issue of concern to you.

Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

Pointing this out again...

If you haven't yet, you should check out the Great Lakes Town Hall and the Biodiversity Project. Nice sites, great information, from Madison, WI.

EPA, Corps of Engineers Move to Improve Wetlands Restoration and Conservation

Here's this morning's press release from the EPA. I'm worried again.

(Washington, D.C. - March 27, 2006) Swamps, bogs, fens, and marshes are as vital to our environment as coral reefs and rain forests. With that in focus, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are proposing a new rule to ensure more effective wetlands restoration and preservation nationwide. The agencies' rule, being published for public comment, proposes improved science and results-oriented standards to increase the quality and effectiveness of wetlands conservation practices under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

"We are accelerating the pace of wetlands restoration and conservation," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, U.S. EPA assistant administrator for Water. "Today's action which emphasizes the best available science, promotes innovation, and focuses on results will help our nation meet the President's ambitious wetlands goal, while promoting flexibility and accountability."

"We are focusing on a watershed approach for improving wetlands conservation in this proposed rule," John Paul Woodley Jr., assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works), said. "This approach helps us fulfill the promise President Bush has made to protect, improve and create new wetlands and other
aquatic resources."

Because wetlands play such a critical role in the environment, a project proposed to be built in wetlands is first subject to review by the Corps and EPA under the CWA. Consistent with the goal of "no net loss of wetlands," this review often requires a developer to restore or create a wetland to replace the one that was impacted by the project.

The proposed rule:
*Responds to recommendations of the National Research Council to improve the success of wetland restoration and replacement projects;
*Sets clear science-based and results-oriented standards nationwide while allowing for regional variations;
*Increases and expands public participation;
*Encourages watershed-based decisions; and
*Affirms the "wetlands mitigation sequence" requiring that proposed projects fully avoid and minimize potential wetland impacts.

By focusing on results and accountability, the proposed standards will improve the quality and effectiveness of wetland replacement projects. Most importantly, the proposal establishes a "level playing field" ensuring that all forms of wetlands conservation satisfy the same high environmental standards.

Increased reliance on innovative, market-based approaches is expected to promote the expansion of wetland banking, which is one of the most reliable and environmentally effective methods of wetland replacement. A wetland bank is a wetland, stream, or other aquatic resource area that has been restored and protected to offset permitted impacts to wetlands or other aquatic resources.

Wetlands provide important environmental functions including protecting and improving water quality and providing habitat to fish and wildlife. Wetlands are also critically important areas for storing floodwaters and can reduce damage from storm surges caused by hurricanes.

For more information regarding compensatory mitigation and how to provide comments on the proposed standards, see: http://www.epa.gov/wetlandsmitigation
Information about the importance of wetlands is available at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/ Additional information about the Corps' regulatory program can be found at: http://www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/cecwo/reg/

Monday, March 27, 2006

DEQ Project Creates Prime Redevelopment Possibilities in Downtown Detroit

Detroiter? You might be interested in what has been going on downtown.
DEQ Project Creates Prime Redevelopment Possibilities in Downtown Detroit

Rivers Indicate Earlier Snowmelt in East

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have found evidence in eastern North America that the snow is melting and running off into rivers earlier than it did in the first half of the 20th century. According to a USGS study published in the most recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters, winter-spring flows in many rivers in the northern United States and Canada are occurring earlier by 5-10 days.

"We studied rural, unregulated rivers with more than 50 years of USGS and Environment Canada river flow data", explained Glenn Hodgkins, lead author and hydrologist at the USGS Maine Water Science Center. "Some 179 rivers in eastern North America met the criteria of our study with 147 in the United States from the Dakotas to New England and 32 in Canada from Manitoba to Newfoundland. These rivers are sensitive to changes in precipitation and temperature," added Robert Dudley, study co-author.

The scientists compared the dates by which half of the total volume of winter-spring runoff has flowed past a river gaging station in each year. Most rivers north of 44° north latitude—roughly from southern Minnesota and Michigan through northern New York and southern Maine—showed earlier winter-spring streamflows. In contrast, many stations south of this line in Iowa, southern Wisconsin, and northern Illinois had later streamflows. Changes in average monthly flows support these results—there are high percentages of rivers north of 44° north latitude with increases in January, February, and March streamflows and relatively high percentages of rivers with decreases in May and June.

In 2005, researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the USGS found earlier streamflow across large portions of western North America in rivers with significant snowmelt runoff.

The documented changes in the timing of winter-spring streamflows in eastern North America may be important to aquatic ecosystems but the impacts of these changes are not well understood. One possible impact may be on the survival rate of Atlantic salmon.

Source: USGS

Friday, March 24, 2006


Hats off to Bruce the Cat in Holland, MI who sent me a link to FUH2.com yesterday. Apparently folks all over the world are flipping off people in Hummers! Wheee! This site has nearly 3000 pics of people giving the finger to Hummer drivers, and there's room to add yours.

Alright! These gas-guzzling, atmosphere-destroying morons need to know that they are indeed morons. Let those fingers fly people! Let's make sure that Hummer drivers know what we think of them! It's Paradigm-shift in action, one Hummer driver at a time.

Black Bear Speaks joins the Green Blogosphere

I'm proud to say that I've been listed as a member of the Green Blogosphere. Thanks to Jeff at Sustainablog for adding me to this list. I am honored. There are dozens of great site listed, and it's awesome to be considered when there are so many excellent blogs and so many cool greens out there writing/working for change...

Jeff's site is by far one of the best written and incredibly well organized blogs out there. He is a diligent and prolific writer who teaches me something new everytime I visit his site. I highly recommended Sustainablog.

EPA Finally goes green

EPA just announced 100 percent of its power consumption at its Washington, D.C. headquarters will be supplied by green, renewable power, and the majority of energy at over 30 regional and laboratory facilities will come from sustainable sources.

EPA has contracted to purchase nearly 260 million kilowatt hours of green power each year for 10 of the agency's offices and 21 laboratories, which places them among the top three green-power consumers in the country. Only the U.S. Air Force and Whole Foods Markets buy more green power.

I know, you'd think they would have done this 30 years ago. It's about damn time.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Governor Granholm's comments to me regarding the Kennecott sulfide mining operation in the Upper Peninsula

March 16, 2006

Jerome Alicki
xxx xxxxxxxxxx St.
Grand Rapids, MI. xxxxx

Dear Mr. Alicki:

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office about the possibility that mining will take place on the Yellow Dog Plains.

Kennecott Minerals Company has expressed interest in applying for a permit to create a sulfide mine in the Big Bay area. You have raised important questions about the impact this development might have on the quality of life in this beautiful part of Michigan. I appreciate and share your concerns for the Upper Peninsula's pristine environment and your desire for it to remain protected for future generations.

As you know, the DEQ formed a workgroup in 2004 to review the regulation of metallic mineral exploration and other related issues within the mining industry. The workgroup, comprised of concerned citizens, members of conservation and environmental groups, local government officials, scientists, tribes, EPA officials and mining industry representatives, held numerous public meetings and solicited and received comments on the appropriate scope of regulation of nonferrous mining in general. While the workgroup did not review any specific proposed mining operation, it recognized that nonferrous mining would be proposed in areas of extraordinary natural beauty and sensitivity, and that rigorous environmental protections must be fully incorporated in the regulatory framework.

The workgroup made recommendations that were incorporated into Part 632 - Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining - of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protections Act, enacted in December 2004. This law gives the DEQ the authority to administer and regulate nonferrous metallic mineral mining in Michigan. The workgroup and the DEQ had until Feb 15, 2006 to create rules regarding standards of construction, operation, closure, monitoring, reclamation and remediation of these mines. During the rules process, The DEQ received numerous comments regarding the content of the rules and held three public hearings. I considered and formally responded to all substantive comments. In February, Keenecott applied for a permit under this law.

On February 23, 2006, I sent a letter to DEQ Director Steven Chester regarding the permit applications they received from Kennecott. In that letter, I asked the DEQ to carefully review these applications to ensure that Kennecott can meet our new and rigorous mining standards. DEQ will not approve the permit unless it meets the standards in the law and rules that ensure its mining will not pollute, impair, or destroy the air, water, and other natural resources, and that the mining area will be restored to a self-sustaining ecosystem that does not require perpetual care. I have enclosed a copy of my correspondence to Director Chester. (Um, no actually you didn't Governor, but I'll let that slide.)

I am confident that strong, effective enforcement of the law can allow new mining to go forward without threatening the natural beauty and environmental quality of this area.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. Your opinion is helpful to me as I make decisions about environmental issues that affect Michigan's future.

Sincerely yours,

Jennifer M. Granholm

Well, what can I say other than "Jennifer, you are dead wrong." Kennecott has one of the worst environmental records of any company in the U.S. Just because there is a new law in place does not mean that they will adhere to the law. And to even suggest that an ecosystem can be restored and made "self-sustaining" after such a destructive practice as sulfide mining is positively ludicrous. The question is not whether Kennecott can "meet rigorous mining standards," the question is whether this type of mining should occur in Michigan at all. This Bear gives a firm thumbs down to Kennecott and the Granholm administration. Although many steps were taken to mitigate damage, Granholm's Republican opponent in the next election - he who is evil and shall remain nameless - could use this as an example of Granholm's poor environmental stewardship.

What is a SLAPP suit?

Activists, here's something you need to know about. Let me boost your legal knowledge a bit. What is a SLAPP suit? According to nolo.com it's:
"A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, in which a corporation or developer sues an organization in an attempt to scare it into dropping protests against a corporate initiative. SLAPP suits typically involve the environment--for example, local residents who are petitioning to change zoning laws to prevent a real estate development might be sued in a SLAPP suit for interference with the developer's business interests. Many states have "anti-SLAPP suit" statutes that protect citizens' rights to free speech and to petition the government."

What to do if SLAPPed? The Anti-SLAPP Resource Center has some answers.

Here's a couple examples of SLAPP suits from Headwaters Preserve.
Corporate SLAPP suits Against Forest Protesters Begin, Maxxam/PL Has Filed Numerous Lawsuits to Quell Protests
The trial of Pacific Lumber (PL) and Scotia Pacific (ScoPac) Corporations versus Kim Starr (Verbena) began with opening statements last Thursday (see below) in Judge Watson's Superior Court in Humboldt county. It took an astounding 8 days to seat a jury in a jury selection process that weeded out anyone who seemed passionate about the earth and people unhappy
with 'corporate personhood'.

This is the first of three civil lawsuits, known as S.L.A.P.P suits, filed by the timber company against forest activists. "S.L.A.P.P" stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and are a strategy employed by corporations, usually those in the extractive industries, to quell opposition against their practices. Verbena, a well known local forest activist, is representing herself against the harassment lawsuit for alleged civil trespass related to a protest at PL headquarters in Scotia in 2002, to call attention to damaging logging in the Mattole River watershed. The case number is DR020478, Pacific Lumber et al v. Jonathan Laine, Kimberly Starr et al.

A second SLAPP suit filed against people involved in forest protests that took place in the Mattole area itself in 2001 is in discovery phase. The third SLAPP suit is focused on the Freshwater watershed protests of March 2003, when treesitter Remedy and others were removed from high up in ancient redwoods they had occupied for up to a year alongside Greenwood Heights Road. Over forty people were arrested at that time during intense public protests. Large crowds turned out to witness and protest the cutting of the ancient trees as well as the sometimes brutal and always reckless extractions performed by Eric Schatz of Schatz Tree Service and his employees, under contract to PL.

Maxxam/PL has filed at least six of these SLAPP harassment lawsuits against critics of their liquidation logging practices, the first in 1987. The suits currently in court were filed between 2001 and 2003.

Yes, this is something to watch out for. It's why the word 'satire' appears in the title of this page.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Illinois waters will get cleaner... someday

I'll just quote tonite:

"On January 19 the Illinois Pollution Control Board adopted a stringent new rule limiting the acceptable concentration of phosphorus in wastewater from most new or expanding city wastewater and industrial plants. Since algae thrives on phosphorus, this new rule will help to curb excessive amounts of harmful algae in Illinois waters. After years of legislative wrangling, Illinois environmental groups have succeeded once again, with the help of Governor Blagojevich, in protecting waterways from substances known to harm them. In addition to the immediate benefits of having clean lakes and streams, this rule will serve as a precedent for future phosphorus pollution laws in the entire Mississippi watershed. The rule came as the result of years of efforts by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Sierra Club-Illinois Chapter, Prairie Rivers Network and other environmental organizations."

Source: Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest

Saturday, March 18, 2006

We Energies' Wind Project

Blue Sky Green Field Wind Project will be capable of powering 45,000 homes

We Energies filed a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity application today with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for authorization to construct the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Project.

The proposed wind project will be located in the towns of Calumet and Marshfield in northeast Fond du Lac County. The wind project is being designed to generate up to 203 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power approximately 45,000 residential homes. The project will consist of approximately 88 wind turbines with an installed cost of up to $346 million, which includes allowance for funds used during construction.

Note the We Energies is also building the largest coal burning power plant ever, just north of Chicago on the lakeshore.

Senator Jeffords Comments during Great Lakes hearings

Senator Jeffords supports the $20billion plan for Great Lakes clean-up, while Lord Asshole, -oops, excuse me - Senator Imhoff, the ignorant prick who is head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says the program is to expensive.

The following are Senator Jefford's comments during the hearing on March 16th:

The Great Lakes are the nation's largest fresh water reservoir. This is a resource we need to protect.

Lake Champlain has two hydrologic connections with the Great Lakes ecosystem. The first is along the Canadian border through the St. Lawrence into Lake Ontario. The second is along the southern part of the lake where it connects to the Great Lakes through the canal system.

These lakes are all part of the same ecosystem, and face many of the same problems. For example, there are 48 invasive aquatic species in the Lake Champlain Basin, and 13 of them have come from the Great Lakes. It is imperative that we enact legislation to comprehensively address invasive species in this Congress.

As we move forward on Great Lakes restoration, we must incorporate Lake Champlain into the process. We do not want to make large investments in the Great Lakes or Lake Champlain, only to find that a failure to comprehensively address a particular issue limited our success.

We know that water quality problems do not respect state or national boundaries. No program knows this better than the Great Lakes. I urge the witnesses here today and the members of the Committee to keep Lake Champlain, the eastern end of the Great Lakes ecosystem, in mind as we move forward.

Mr. Chairman, I want to take a minute to identify something else these two ecosystems have in common: They are both starved for money. In the face of EPA's own study showing a spending shortfall of $270 billion for water infrastructure needs, this Administration continues to cut spending. This year's proposed budget would cut the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by almost 50 percent from what annual appropriations were when President Bush took office.

At our Committee's hearing on the EPA budget, I said that this budget is like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. We cannot resolve the problems in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain by ignoring them. We must turn the corner on clean water funding.

U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Friday, March 17, 2006

Whew! I'm calling it a success!

Black Bear Speaks had nearly 4000 visitors over the past year! 3,919 from March 15, 2005 to March 15, 2006. I've been counting unique visits to this site, there is a record of how many individual computers checked out the Bear. If you scroll down, you'll note that the 4000 mark will be reached today.

Daily hits on this site have grown, averaging about 25 per day(that doesn't include me). That means that there are a number of repeat repeat readers, the Bear has gotten over 3800 hits since mid November.

Anyway, the message is getting out there. Thanks to everyone who has come to the site and read, responded, emailed me cool stuff, and linked their blog to this one. You've kept my spirits up for the past year with lots of positive comments, I really appreciate it. I also really appreciate it when folks tell me I've made a mistake or I'm just "fuuuuuullll of Shit!" Those are the funniest emails. I get pretty worked up about them. Now if I could just get those folks to start giving me job offers...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dude, the evidence is overwhelming

World Resources Institute has just released a review of last year's major climate research. The studies indicate how changes due to human-induced climate change are already having quantifiable effects on the environment. The review comes to three critical conclusions:
1. Taken collectively, the studies suggest that the world may well have moved past a key physical tipping point.

2. The science tells us the effects of climate change are at a scale that adds enormous urgency not only to the efforts to prevent additional change, but equally important, to efforts to adapt to the impacts already occurring.

3. The science makes it clear that additional climate impacts will result even if emissions of greenhouse gases are halted immediately.

Dude, read this: World Resources Institute climate science page

Any legislator who does not believe that climate change is occuring should be removed from office immediately. No recall, no elections, just yank them out of their office and tell them they're done working for you.

Three Nuclear Plants Leaking Tritium into Illinois Groundwater

Recently the Illinois EPA was made aware of tritium leaking into groundwater from spills at several nuclear power generating plants in the state – at Byron, Dresden and Braidwood. In an effort to keep citizens well informed, the Agency will be posting links for fact sheets, news releases and other Illinois EPA documents as well as providing links to other sites regarding tritium.

If you want more information: Radiation and Groundwater - Office of Community Relations - Illinois EPA

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation Calls on Citizens to Fight Back

Press Release from MCWC

Mecosta -- With the State's collapse of restrictions to protect the Great Lakes and Nestle's announcement that it may look in Michigan for a second water bottling plant site, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation is calling on citizens to fight back and protest the private sale of its water and take charge of its water resources.

In late January, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and Nestle entered into facilitated mediation setting interim pumping limits while the parties appeal critical water issues to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court is the only branch of government with any power to put a stop to the private take over of Michigan's public waters. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation intends to appeal and ask the Supreme Court to put water back under controls of traditional water law that protect riparian landowners and public use and enjoyment of Michigan's magnificent waters. The state’s long-term economy and quality of life depend on it.

"Nestle waited until it could obtain legislative exemption in Michigan for bottled water before it dropped both the state and federal lawsuit. Only with public control should Michigan consider allowing the private sale of water and only this will ensure long term jobs and clean abundant water in lakes, streams, and the Great Lakes," explains Terry Swier, president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

With the signing of new water legislation, the Governor's office and legislature is handing Michigan's water over to a private corporation without restriction to amount or keeping it in our watershed or the Great Lakes Basin, and without a penny for Michigan's citizens in return. Nestlé is now wanting to go full speed ahead, simply because it wants to grab the water before anyone protests and does something about it's actions.

According to Jim Olson, attorney for Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, "The few jobs promised by Nestle are tokens compared to the real unemployment crisis in Michigan, and will never make up for the problems with the state's economy. If anything, the giving away of a valuable public resource like water in exchange for a few jobs is an outrageous policy decision. Michigan is giving away its birth right to its water legacy. The original idea of establishing a Michigan Legacy for water for the State has turned into a liability.

If there are situations in the future that merit selling water, the public should say so, there should be assurances of no diminishment or harm to the flows in our lakes and streams, and the state should insist on being paid a royalty to be held in trust for the benefit of its citizens," explains Olson.

Swier said, "Michigan has declared to the world that money for large corporations is more important than Michigan's water. We've mortgaged our water and are receiving absolutely nothing in return. This is a breach of the public trust in government to manage our water resources for the benefit of all citizens and business, not just one corporation favored by those in power."

Brownfield Funds to Launch Redevelopment Project, Create 600 Jobs in Grand Haven

Funds have been awarded to a brownfield redevelopment project in the city of Grand Haven in Ottawa County Michigan. The funding includes a $1,000,000 Brownfield Redevelopment Grant and a $1,000,000 Brownfield Redevelopment Loan to facilitate development at a former industrial site in Grand Haven. The Grand Landing Project, located along the Grand River in Grand Haven, will return a contaminated and abandoned industrial facility to productive use. The 21 acre site was used manufacturing, as a tannery, for furniture making, as a municipal wastewater treatment plant, for metal plating, as petroleum storage and for distribution, auto repair, and brine storage. The funding announced today will be used to prevent exposure to contaminants. Private investment is anticipated for acquisition of the property and construction of 175 condominiums, a conference center, and retail and office space. This work is expected to create 600 full-time jobs.

More info: Brownfield Funds to Launch Redevelopment Project, Create 600 Jobs in Grand Haven

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Massive Forest Service Land Sale - more info

304,000 acres up for grabs. First pick goes to state and local governments and land trust organizations. Here's a breakdown of acreage by state, supplied by my buddy Reed down in Virginia. The intent is to pay for rural schools by selling off land. This is a typical practice, many small rural community school systems are supported by logging proceeds.

In Michigan, sections of the Hiawatha National Forest and the Ottawa National Forest are up for sale in Alger, Chippewa, Delta, Gogebic, Iron, Mackinac and Ontonagon Counties. Total number of Michigan acres is 5,880 in over 100 (I couldn't count them all) different locations.

It's called the Forest Service Secure Rural Schools Land Sales Initiative. Right now the Forest Service is seeking comments from all interested individuals and organizations on the list of National Forest System land parcels in the FY 2007 President's Budget proposal to be sold for the purpose of funding payments to Secure Rural Schools (SRS), should this program be extended by amendment to the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. The sale of these parcels is contingent upon amendment of the SRS as proposed by the President. You should submit your comments by March 30, 2006 to be assured of consideration.

How to submit comments: Email to SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us, by fax to (202) 205-1604, or by mail to USDA Forest Service, SRS Comments, Lands 4S, 1400 Independence Ave., SW.,Mailstop 1124, Washington, DC 20250-0003. Electronic submission is preferred. If you submit your comments by e-mail or fax, you do not need to send a paper copy by mail.

Your comments may address the entire list of parcels identified in the President's proposal, or an individual parcel or parcels on that list. If you are commenting about a specific parcel on the list, it would be helpful to provide the parcel's number from the list and all information specifically related to the sale of that parcel. Document and Comment Availability: In addition to publishing the full text of this document in the Federal Register, the Forest Service provides all interested persons an opportunity to view and/or print the contents of this document, the potentially eligible lands listing, and associated maps via the Internet. Information on this proposal and the Federal Register Notice can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us via the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act link to the President's FY 2007 Budget Proposal for the Forest Service Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act Extension page. If you want to speak to a real person: Cynthia R. Swanson, Assistant Director of Lands, Washington Office, 202-205-0099.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 was enacted to provide transitional assistance to rural counties that had been affected by the decline in revenue from timber harvests on Federal lands(Basically, they've already clearcut all the land, so now they're selling it off). These counties traditionally relied on a share of receipts from timber harvests to fund their school systems and roads. The Act stabilized payments that are critically important to more than 4,400 rural schools and addressed many severe maintenance backlogs for county roads. Resource Advisory Committees (RACs) established under the Act have developed and proposed forest health improvement projects.

The President's fiscal year 2007 Budget for the Forest Service proposes legislation to amend the Secure Rural Schools Act. The legislation would provide a source of funding for payments under the Secure Rural Schools Act by authorizing the sale of National Forest System lands. These parcels generally meet criteria traditionally used by the Forest Service to identify lands suitable for sale or exchange. Many of these parcels are isolated from other contiguous National Forest System lands, and because of their location, size, or configuration are not efficient to manage as a component of the National Forest System (Some might be too difficult to log.)

The Forest Service manages about 193 million acres in 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands located in 43 States across the nation. A total of 304,370 acres and approximately 3,000 individual tracts have been identified on 120 national forests, 10 national grasslands, within 35 States. The following table provides a summary of the number of acres identified for each State:

Alabama................................. 3,220
Alaska.................................. 99
Arizona................................. 1,030
Arkansas................................ 3,612
California.............................. 79,825
Colorado................................ 21,572
Florida................................. 973
Georgia................................. 4,522
Idaho................................... 25,464
Illinois................................ 191
Indiana................................. 869
Kentucky................................ 4,518
Louisiana............................... 3,895
Michigan................................ 5,880
Minnesota............................... 2,622
Mississippi............................. 7,503
Missouri................................ 21,566
Montana................................. 13,948
Nebraska................................ 866
Nevada.................................. 2,146
New Mexico.............................. 7,447
North Carolina.......................... 9,828
Ohio.................................... 420
Oklahoma................................ 3,572
Oregon.................................. 10,581
South Carolina.......................... 4,665
South Dakota............................ 13,961
Tennessee............................... 2,996
Texas................................... 4,813
Utah.................................... 5,998
Virginia................................ 5,717
Washington.............................. 7,516
West Virginia........................... 4,836
Wisconsin............................... 80
Wyoming................................. 17,619
Total All States.................... 304,370

Lands located within the boundaries of any component of the National Wilderness Preservation System, National Wild and Scenic River System, National Trail System, National Recreation Area, National Monument, National Historic Site, National Preserve, or specially designated areas such as Research Natural Areas and experimental forests and ranges are not eligible for conveyance. Many of the identified parcels have not been inventoried for natural or cultural resources specific to this proposal. However, they generally meet criteria traditionally used by the Forest Service to identify parcels for potential sale or exchange. Examples of primary benefits of disposal will include: (1) Reduction in agency costs associated with encroachments and boundary management; (2) enhancement of local economies through private sector development; and (3)increased opportunities for acquisition by local governmental entities for low income housing, parks, fire stations, water and wastewater systems, and for other community and public purposes. The proposed sale of these parcels is contingent upon the enactment of legislation by Congress to provide revenue for the authorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. The Forest Service does not have general, non-specific, authority to sell National Forest System lands.

Remember kids, this is YOUR land that Bush is selling. This land belongs to the people. Therefore you have a say in what can and can't be done with it. Voice your opinion about how you want YOUR forests managed. Remember, this is the Bush Administration we are dealing with. Most likely this is going to go badly.

Here's a letter that I just sent to my congressperson

I am writing to urge you to support H.R. 1431, the Fisheries Science and Management Enhancement Act. This legislation will significantly improve the management of our nation's ocean fish populations and ensure that our ocean ecosystems and fishing communities are healthy and sustainable.

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, appointed by President Bush, concluded that, 'Our failure to properly manage the human activities that affect the nation's oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes is compromising their ecological integrity, diminishing our ability to fully realize their potential, costing us jobs and revenue, threatening human health, and putting our future at risk.' The Commission went on to say that, 'The message from both experts and the public alike was clear: our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are in trouble and major changes are urgently needed in the way we manage them.'

The Fisheries Science and Management Enhancement Act implements several key fishery management recommendations of the Commission and, if enacted, will help ensure healthy ocean fish populations and vibrant coastal economies by:

*Strengthening the use of science in fisheries management to ensure that the best possible science forms the basis for management decisions;
*Broadening the representation on fishery management councils to include members of the public;
*Significantly reducing financial conflicts of interest in the fishery management process to ensure that short-term economic considerations do not compromise marine ecosystems;
*Providing training for all new council members to give them the tools necessary to make informed management decisions; and
*Establishing a national cooperative research program to increase our knowledge of the health of our fish populations, and to better understand and minimize the impact of fishing on ocean wildlife.

These reforms are vital to ensure the long-term health of our nation's ocean ecosystems and fishing communities. I urge you to support their enactment by cosponsoring H.R. 1431, the Fisheries Science and Management Enhancement Act of 2005. To cosponsor the bill, or for more information, please have your staff contact Lori Sonken, House Resources Committee staff at (202) 226-2311.

In a related matter, I ask that the US Congress formally ask Canada to stop its proposed 2006 seal hunt. Seals are already in danger from climate change, and the massive slaughter that is coming threatens their viability as a species.

Take Action: Greenpeace - Action Center

Colbert Report not True after all

Last nights episode of the Colbert Report ran a story about Oral Roberts University basketball, which was actually funny because there was a 900 foot Jesus playing ball. But Colbert used the wrong logo! At the beginning of the piece a green and yellow "UO" was shown. That particular logo belongs to the University of Oregon, not Oral Roberts University. Google it yourself if you don't believe me. Colbert acts so smug, I just want him and his staff to know that they need to do a little more fact checking.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Forest Service selling off 300,000 acres

The list of available forest lands is 304,370 acres. This is less than 1% of all national forests and all of the parcels are considered isolated or inefficient to manage due to their location or other characteristics. Detailed maps of each parcel can now be found on the Forest Service website (www.fs.fed.us). Local and state government agencies and nonprofit land trust organizations have the first right to buy these parcels at market value.

Big Ass Windfarm

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, has signed a $27 million contract with General Electric to develop a new offshore wind power system over the next several years. Approximately $8 million of the offshore wind project will be cost-shared by DOE.

The goal is to design and produce a multi-megawatt scale wind turbine which could produce electricity at a much-reduced cost. The wind turbine will be located offshore and is expected to produce electricity at five cents per kilowatt-hour.

There aren't any offshore wind farms in the United States, several projects are in the permitting process.

For more information visit: http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/

More Crack Now!


"I applaud the hard work of the U.S. and Colombian negotiators who today concluded free trade agreement negotiations between the U.S. and Colombia that will open new export opportunities for our farmers and ranchers."

"Colombia is our second largest agricultural market in Latin America, currently accounting for $677 million in sales of wheat, coarse grains, cotton and soybeans, among many others.

As many products from Colombia already enter the U.S. duty-free... this agreement will help to level the playing field for our producers by eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers for U.S. agricultural products."

Cheap Coke Baby!

Sleeping Bear Dunes News

General Management Plan / Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement Process to Begin

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore announced the beginning of a General Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement process. This time, changes to existing wilderness boundaries will be considered in the alternatives. The plan will establish the overall direction for the park, setting broad goals for managing the area over the next 20 plus years.

Read More: General Management Plan / Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement Process to Begin (NPS Digest)

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty

No Evidence of Cougars Found by Researchers at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

Folks keep seeing them, but a survey didn't find any trace of them. Well, the are elusive little buggers...

Read the park service report at No Evidence of Cougars Found

Crystal Method

UCLA and the University of Michigan have announced a new "crystal sponge" material that can store nearly three times more hydrogen than any substance known previously. According to its creators, this is the first material to achieve the kind of storage capacities required to make hydrogen fuel practical. The payoff could be hydrogen fuel that powers not only cars, but electronic devices as well.

nsf.gov - News - New "Crystal Sponge" Triples Hydrogen Storage - US National Science Foundation (NSF)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead!

US Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton Resigns!!!!

Hooray! Interior Secretary Gale Norton resigned Friday after five years of guiding the Bush administration's initiatives to open government lands in the West to more oil and gas drilling, logging, and grazing. Thanks for your service to America, Gale. Thanks for singlehandedly destroying millions of acres of public lands.

According to Forbes, "as one of the architects of Bush's energy policy, Norton eased regulations to speed approval of oil and gas drilling permits, particularly in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming's Powder River Basin."

In her first three years, the pace of drilling permits issued by Interior's Bureau of Land Management rose 70 percent. She also was the administration's biggest advocate for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska's North Slope to oil drilling, areas considered sensitive for caribou and other wildlife.

Oh Gale, we are so glad you're gone!!!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The impeachment is coming, get ready

In its new book, Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, the Center for Constitutional Rights makes it clear that by illegally spying on U.S. citizens, lying to the American people about the Iraq war, seizing undue executive power, and sending people to be tortured overseas, Bush is unfit to lead this country.

GW Bush's crimes make Watergate look like an afternoon in the sun playing on the slip-n-slide. A despot like Bush needs to be removed from power quickly before more damage is done. Congress must stand up to this tyrant now, the hearings should begin immediately. No more debate! Prosecute!

"Vic semper tyrannis," screamed John Wilkes Booth as he jumped down to the stage at the Ford Theatre after putting a slug in the back of Lincoln's head. "Thus unto tyrants."

Mr. Bush, we will refrain from blowing open your skull (but you should probably watch your back if Cheney is in the room). Instead, we will kick your ass to the curb as an example to the next generation of leaders who threaten our constitutionally protected freedoms.

The best article I've read on the reasons for impeachment was in The Nation by Elizabeth Holtzman. You'll definitely want to read that one.

There's a lot of information on the Impeach Bush Coalition blog.

"Bush will go down as the worst president in our nation's history. In a ferocious attack, his adminstration has launched over 300 major rollbacks of US environmental laws, rollbacks that are weakening the protection of our country's air, water, public lands, and wildlife." - Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Climate Change vs. Aviation

George Monbiot got me thinking again, considering the title of his latest piece We Are All Killers Until We Stop Flying.
As far as climate change is concerned, aviation is an utter, unparalleled disaster. It's not just that it represents the world's fastest growing source of carbon dioxide emissions, because while every other source of global warming can be reduced or replaced to a high degree without a serious reduction in our freedoms, there is no means of sustaining long-distance, high-speed travel.

George has some interesting ideas. Check it out here: We Are All Killers

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ontario Challenges U.S. To Protect Air Quality

Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten filed comments with the US Environmental Protection Agency detailing the Ontario government's concerns with the U.S. government's plans to allow higher emissions from coal-burning power plants.

"Air pollution from U.S. coal-fired generators is hurting Ontario's health, and the people of this province are counting on our neighbors to do better," Broten said. "I am calling on my colleagues on both sides of the border to join Ontario in cleaning up the air we share."

Changes to the EPA's New Source Review program would allow coal-burning power plants to operate for longer hours and pollute more per year. This rule change will increase the amount of air pollution coming from the U.S. and lead to increased smog problems in Ontario because it will ease emission controls for a significant number of coal-fired power plants in Midwestern states.

"Smog does not respect international borders, neither do the ill effects," said Dr. Greg Flynn, President of the Ontario Medical Association. "We know that smog can contribute directly to cardiac and respiratory illnesses that can result in death and without a real commitment to cleaning up the air, people will continue to pay the ultimate price - with their lives."

The government of Ontario has begun to do its part by setting a target of generating five per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2007 and committing to close down all of the province's coal-powered generators by 2009. More than half of the air pollution in Ontario originates in the United States, in particular from the electricity production sector. At some Ontario locations, including Sarnia and Windsor, more than 90 per cent of the air pollution comes from U.S. sources.

Transboundary air pollution has a significant and adverse impact on Ontario's economy and its citizens' health. Last year, Ontario had its worst year on record for smog advisories. There were a record 15 smog alerts covering 53 days in the province. And a 2005 provincial study showed that air pollution causes nearly $10 billion in total damages to Ontario, including $6.6 billion in health costs.

"We know that smog-causing pollution is taking an unacceptable toll on our health and economy," said Broten.

Ontario currently has ongoing working relationships with the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, among others, on transboundary air issues.

Shared Air Summit 2006 will take place in Toronto this June and will bring together political leaders, leading scientists, health care professionals, environmentalists and industry representatives from across North America to discuss air quality issues and the impact they have on our health, environment and economies.

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Photo from Greenpeace