Thursday, November 30, 2006
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:Great Lakes, IRS, Energy,solar, wind, biomass
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:Idiots, mercury, contamination,New Jersey, children
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
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:Great Lakes, Coast Guard, ammunition,Lead, water quality, drinking water
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
"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:
Great Lakes, Water, Wisconsin
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.
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 www.mbao.org. 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 www.regulations.gov 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: methyl bromide, EPA, ozone layer
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: Dow, Tittawabassee River, Michigan, Dioxin
Monday, November 27, 2006
The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
Doors are at 7:30, The Ragbirds start at 8:00, all ages.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
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.
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
$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.
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.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
“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!
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
CLICK HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FULL 3-MINUTE TRAILER YET!
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.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
According to the American Plastics Council, the average vehicle uses 250 lbs of plastic. A significant proportion of this is used to make interior auto parts such as seat cushions, armrests, steering wheels, wire insulation and dashboards. Many of these plastics are made with harmful chemical additives, such as phthalates in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). These additives off-gas and leach from plastic parts contaminating the air and dust inside vehicles, putting drivers and passengers at risk. Many of the plastics are also not easily recycled and therefore usually end up in landfills or incinerators where their chemical additives contaminate the land, water and air. Incinerating these chemicals creates dangerous byproducts including dioxin, a carcinogen that is linked to serious reproductive, development and immune system problems.
The 2006 Automotive Plastics Report focused on three areas in which some automakers are making significant progress, including: 1) Use of sustainably-sourced bio-based materials; 2) Improving interior air quality; and 3) Reducing the use of PVC.
| Bio-Based Materials || Interior Air Quality|| PVC Reduction|
"Ford, Honda and Toyota's leading edge efforts in the use of bio-based materials, improving interior air quality and reducing PVC clearly put them ahead of the pack," said report author Claudette Juska of the Ecology Center. 'These issues are important to consumers and show a broader commitment to healthier, more sustainable vehicles.'
BIO-BASED MATERIALS : Automakers have stepped up their efforts to use bio-based materials that reduce petroleum use, life-cycle carbon emissions and vehicle weight. Toyota has lead this movement by pioneering the development of an "Eco Plastic" made from sugar cane or corn, and building a pilot plant to produce it. DaimlerChrysler increased the use of renewable materials in some vehicles by up to 98% over previous models by using natural materials such as flax and abaca fibers. Ford has developed a soy-based foam, and will soon begin using a bio-fabric for seating.
INTERIOR AIR QUALITY: Plastic components contain chemical additives that off-gas and contribute to "new car smell." When inhaled these chemicals can cause strong allergic reactions as well as serious long-term health problems. Ford is the only automaker that has certified vehicles (4 so far) using an independent, third party certification standard for interior air quality – the TUV Rheinland Group’s "Allergy-Free" standard. This standard targets a broad set of persistent, toxic chemicals that have adverse effects on the environment and human health. Toyota has set a goal to reduce in-cabin volatile organic compound (VOC) levels in all vehicles globally by 2010, however they did not say to what levels they will be reduced. Honda and Nissan are also reducing in-cabin VOC's in order to comply with the voluntary Japanese Auto Manufacturers Association agreement.
PVC: PVC is difficult to recycle and contains dangerous chemical additives. Honda has set a goal to "apply PVC-free applications across its entire North American product line wherever feasible." The company has already removed PVC from most applications, demonstrating that virtually PVC-free vehicles are possible to manufacture. Hyundai, Toyota and DaimlerChrysler have provided examples of some indoor auto parts that have been replaced with PVC-free alternatives in certain vehicle lines, however they have not provided quantitative measures of progress.
OVERALL GRADES: While some car companies have made improvements from last year regarding their use of sustainable plastics, they still have a long way to go. Following are how they ranked overall in the 2006 report: Toyota C+, Ford C, Honda C, DaimlerChrysler D+, General Motors D, Hyundai D, Nissan D and Volkswagen D-. Together these manufacturers account for 94% of total vehicle sales in the U.S.
RECOMMENDATIONS: In order to reduce the environmental and human health impacts from plastic materials used in vehicles the report recommends that automakers: 1) Increase the use of sustainably-sourced bio-based materials; 2) Certify all vehicles to an interior air quality standard; and 3) Accelerate efforts to eliminate problematic halogenated substances, such as PVC and brominated flame retardants.
SAN FRANCISCO - A coalition of conservation groups filed suit today against the Bush administration for not completing a national assessment of the impact of global warming on the environment, economy, human health and human safety of the United States. The assessment, due in November of 2004, is required by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace.
“This administration has denied and suppressed the science of global warming at every turn,” said Julie Teel of the Center for Biological Diversity and one of the attorneys arguing the case. “The Bush administration was so threatened by the profound revelations of the 2000 assessment that it killed the 2004 update," said Teel. "They know the update will affirm what the world’s leading climate scientists believe: that we need immediate and substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It is a complete head-in-the-sand approach to a looming global catastrophe.”
The last national assessment, "Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change," was issued October 31, 2000. It found that humans are contributing significantly to global warming and that current global warmth is "unprecedented." Scientific conclusions within the 2000 assessment predicted a doubling or tripling of heat-related deaths, intensified floods and droughts, and the swamping of coastlines by rising seas and fiercer storms.
Teel says that not only has the administration failed to issue an updated national assessment, but it worked to suppress the findings of the 2000 assessment. “Unfortunately, the Bush administration has not complied with the law, nor has it been truthful with the American people or the world about the science of global warming,” said Danielle Fugere of Friends of the Earth. “This administration is better known for censoring government climate scientists than for providing accurate information.”
Christopher Miller of Greenpeace said, “The Bush administration’s disastrous business-as-usual approach to climate change is so isolated from the desires of mainstream America and the rest of the world that it cannot continue for long."
November 7th was the day voters in Michigan rejected affirmative action (Proposal 2) and voted for a state constitutional amendment called the Michigan Civil Rights Initative. The question that my professor would surely have posed on the final exam in my seminar is: What effect does a ban on affirmative action programs on the state level have - if any - on the environmental justice movement and the application of environmental policy in Michigan? Where are we now headed? How does the new Michigan civil rights amendment guarantee equity in the application of environmental regulation?
Right now, I can't provide an answer. Here's your chance to help me.
My questions for you:
Need a more complex definition of EJ? According to the University of Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment: environmental justice is concerned with the inequalities that arise from social, political and environmental decision making, actions and policies. Environmental injustice gives rise to class, gender and racial disparities such as the increased likelihood of being exposed to environmental hazards; negative impacts of environmental processes and policies; poverty; public health; worker rights and occupational safety; the segregation of jobs, housing, communities, facilities, and public conveyances; unequal access to environmental amenities like parks and playgrounds; inadequate maintenance of open space, streets, and facilities; inequality in the delivery of environmental services like garbage removal and transportation; the appropriation of land, destruction of indigenous cultures, and the abrogation of traditional treaty rights; and the expulsion or removal of people from particular territories.
Environmental justice is also concerned with the preservation of land, and the environmental practices and cultures of marginalized peoples; developing sustainable communities; providing multi-cultural environmental education; safeguarding human rights; and shaping new environmental discourses, ethics, policies, and plans for the twenty-first century.
Researchers have documented disproportionate exposure to hazardous conditions in communities of color and low-income communities in the U.S. Canada, and some European countries. Hazardous environmental conditions (arising from North-South relations) have been identified in several developing countries. Understanding the processes that give rise to environmental inequalities is a necessity for achieving the goal of a sustainable society.
At first glance, It seems to me that a lack of affirmative action will encourage environmental inequality. Don't let my opinion sway you, I could be wrong. As always your comments are desired and encouraged.
Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace
by Vandana Shiva
Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice
by Julian Agyeman
Polluted Promises: Environmental Racism and the Search for Justice in a Southern Town
by Melissa Checker
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Yesterday Greenpeace activists drove a Kleenex-box shaped bus across the entrance of Kimberly Clark's paper mill in Everett, WA, one of the largest mills in the country, effectively blocking the entrance. This mill receives thousands of tons of ancient trees throughout the year. Greenpeace is demanding that Kimberly Clark's representatives meet with them, and have even provided a meeting room and coffee onboard the bus to facilitate the discussion.
Kimberly Clark is wiping out ancient forests for disposable tissue products. Just over a month ago, Fortune magazine reported that the CEO of Walmart has also asked Kimberly Clark to clean up its forest practices. Walmart happens to be the largest retail outlet for products such as Kleenex tissues and Scott toilet paper. If companies like Walmart, and consumers like you apply enough pressure, Kimberly Clark will be forced to the negotiating table.
It's time for Kimberly Clark to stop blowing the world's last remaining ancient forests and start using recycled content and FSC-certified wood in its products.
TAKE ACTION! Click here to send a letter to Kimberly-Clark CEO Thomas Falk.
Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest
by Chris Maser
Ancient Forests: Big Trees & Redwoods wall calendar
by Tide-mark Press
Monday, November 13, 2006
Twelve communities in 10 states will have to share $2.3 million in job training grants geared toward cleaning up contaminated properties and turning them into productive areas. Federal brownfield grants of up to $200,000 each have been awarded to non-profit organizations and local governments. The grants will teach environmental assessment and cleanup job skills to individuals living in low income areas near brownfields sites in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Whoops, not Michigan! Apparently we got some spare change last year.
Since 1998, the feds have handed out $22 million in brownfields job training funds. Approximately 3,000 people have completed training programs, with more than 1,880 obtaining employment in the environmental field (Average wage? $13.26 /hr). The program is designed to ensure that the economic benefits derived from brownfields redevelopment remain in the affected communities.
The 2002 Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was designed to assist states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize brownfields sites. It's estimated that there are currently 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. Since the beginning of the program, more than 1,000 assessment grants have been awarded totaling approximately $262 million, 200 revolving loan fund grants totaling more than $200 million, and 325 cleanup grants totaling approximately $65 million. EPA's brownfields assistance has attracted more than $8.5 billion in private investment and helped attract more than 39,000 jobs.
Did you get that? In the past four years, 325 sites have received funding out of an estimated 450,000; 1000 total sites have been assessed... out of 450,000. That's not even 1%. $2.3million for job training is NOT ENOUGH!
More information on grant recipients is available on the EPA website.
Brownfields Redevelopment: Programs & Strategies for Rehabilitating Contaminated Real Estate
by Mark Dennison
The critical use exemption process was created to provide relief to methyl bromide users who do not yet have any technically or economically feasible alternatives. Under the current structure of the Montreal Protocol, the Parties to the treaty authorize exemptions on an annual basis, and each year EPA promulgates a rule to allocate methyl bromide for critical uses. Methyl bromide allocations are regulated and monitored by EPA.
At the 18th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in New Delhi, India, last week, 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.
The amount authorized at the New Delhi meeting represents 21 percent of the nation's 1991 baseline consumption (U.S. baseline is 25,528 metric tons). Some 18 percent of baseline (4,595 metric tons) will be authorized new production and import, and the remainder will come from pre-phaseout inventories. The EPA decides who gets to use it, and how much.
As methyl bromide alternatives have been adopted and uses scaled back, the quantity of the critical use exemption in the United States has decreased steadily -- the authorizations have decreased from 9,553 metric tons for 2005 to 8,082 metric tons for 2006 and 6,749 metric tons for 2007. The authorization for 2008 continues the downward trend. The level of pre-phaseout inventory has also continued to decrease -- from approximately 16,422 metric tons in 2003 to 12,994 metric tons in 2004 and 9,975 metric tons last year.
More Information/Allegations of EPA Negligence:
Transcript of the Public Hearing on the Proposed 2007 Methyl Bromide Critical Use Exemption Rule: Testimony by Mr. Peter Joyce, CEO -of Value Recovery, Inc. - which has developed a technology for removal and destruction of methyl bromide - given at EPA's headquarters stating that the agency has been negligent in doing all it can to prevent emissions and indicating how this negligence plays into the hands of the major players.
Educate Yourself Further
Ultraviolet Reflections: Life Under a Thinning Ozone Layer
by Annika Nilsson
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
American Electric Vehicle Company in Ferndale, Michigan, will soon begin selling an all-electric car dubbed the "Kurrent" for $9,800 (with a $3,000 federal tax rebate). The car costs about 1-cent per mile to drive, compared to 14- to 16-cents per mile for an SUV.
In this video, SpartanEdge.com Editor Alex "Cool Man" Scott and cameraman Phil Moon take the test vehicle out for a spin on the Michigan State University campus.
AEV President says he expects to hire 40 to 70 assembly employees at the Ferndale plant by next Spring to produce 15,000 of the Italian designed electric vehicles.
Check out the video, it's a cool little car.
Electric and Hybrid Cars: A History by Judy Anderson and Curtis D. Anderson
This massive contamination came to light when citizens learned through FOIA that high levels of dioxin had been found for miles downstream from Dow's manufacturing facility. Subsequent testing confirmed that the watershed and flood plain downriver from Dow's headquarters are contaminated with elevated levels of more than 7,200 ppt. The state residential cleanup standard is 90 ppt. High levels have been found in public use areas and parks.
In response to the revelations, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) worked hand-in-glove with the Dow Chemical Company to craft a settlement agreement which the Michigan Attorney General office called "illegal" and "fatally flawed".
Residents living in dioxin-contaminated areas, joined by leading environmental organizations in the state, have taken legal action to attempt to stop the proposed agreement.
Am I beating a dead horse? This story is as old as it gets.
Can we count on the new Democratic legislature in Michigan to act, or will we see Dow get its way?
Ann Arbor's Ecology Center website has tons of info. View press releases and legal documents on Dow dioxin contamination here.
Trespass Against Us: Dow Chemical & The Toxic Century
by Jack Doyle
Thursday, November 09, 2006
We have a lot of work to do. The Republicans destroyed most of the legislative gains environmentalists made from the 1970's through the 1990's. We are starting from scratch, and I fear we still have an uphill battle to fight due to the large number of conservatives still holding office.
We are starting from scratch. No new species have been added to the Endangered or Threatened species lists in the past six years - not because of bad science - because executives and managers within the Interior Department have blocked it. Mountain-top removal in Appalachia by the coal industry has decimated hundreds of thousands if not mililons of acres of forest. Oil and gas exploration on public lands reached a fever pitch last year, especially in Wyoming and Colorado. Millions of acres of roadless area are being mined, though a judge has reinstated the Roadless Area protections. There is much to be done.
Greens did not fair in this election, they generally had a poor showing statewide in Michigan and they didn't do well anywhere else either. Less than 1%. That is not a good sign.
Yes, there are reasons to be hopeful, but we must not lie back and assume that we have won anything. Now is the time for environmentalists to stand up and be heard. Now it is time to pick up the pieces. We must form new policy initiatives, we must introduce new legislation on the local, state and federal levels, and we must begin to fundraise for the next election cycle and be prepared to take even more seats locally and on the state level.
In January there will be a few more folks in Washington DC that might just listen to us. Now is the time to raise some hell. Get your ass in gear.
What? Did I just write that? Yes, I most certainly did.
My plan so far includes taking a Mac Powerbook and video camera with the software to do sound and video editing and maintaining an internet link. I think a good insurance policy is also in order, as I always end up hurting myself no matter what I attempt.
Yes, I've thought about just riding a mountain bike around each of the big lakes, but my knees might not allow me to make the journey. I've been having a lot of trouble with my right knee lately, especially now that I'm taking yoga. My 'salutations to the sun' are frequently painful.
The goal of this is quite simple. It's a giant sociology experiment. I want to show the variety of people that exist in this region, and how they live and spend their days. I think it's worthy of a National Geographic special. Okay, it's obvious that the folks living in Thunder Bay, Ontario on the north side of Superior are altogether different than folks living in Toledo or South Bend. Shouldn't someone examine that? How can governments and communities make decisions regarding their relationship with the Lakes without examining the details of how others are dependent and interconnected with the Lakes. The whole damn place is almost too big to contemplate. How can we make informed decisions about pollution prevention, hazardous waste dumps, and most importantly water usage without knowing how our actions will affect those on the other side of the body of water we're dealing with?
Of course, one of the primary difficulties will be sponsorship. Who would support me while I do this? (Mom?) If anyone has any suggestions, or you know anyone who may have a barrel of money lying around, then please contact me through this site.
I have considered asking the Catholic Church for sponsorship. There were some French priests - I think they were Jesuits, not sure - who came up the St. Lawrence River and then crossed Ontario and Michigan on foot to arrive in the Grand Rapids area in the early 1700's. They were the first white men to come to West Michigan, and they settled near the Ottawa and Potowanamee tribes and traded with them. What if I dedicated a portion of my time to retracing the path of these early missionaries? There is a new bishop in Grand Rapids, not sure what he is like. I wonder if he would be open to considering funding a portion of my journey?
What do you think of my idea?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Have you seen the documentary "Loose Change"? You can find Loose Change on google video and portions of it on YouTube. If you've got 90 minutes to spend getting enlightened you'll want to check it out. If you want to be a patsy and let these asshole NeoCons drive your country into the ground for awhile longer, than you can ignore it. But you will get no respect from me.
Google "Loose Change" the 2nd edition. You'll want to have a strong drink in your hand because you're about to have your mind completely blown about 9-11. There is so much to question, so much that didn't appear in the 9/11 Commission's report, so many lies and distortions. You'll need to watch a little Bill Maher to cheer you up afterward. Make sure you vote Democrat, or Green, or Libertarian, or whatever the fuck you want, but for the love of God DON'T vote Republican. They've stolen our country, they've driven us so far into debt with their deceit. They need to be kicked to the curb people. Wake up and VOTE. If you don't vote, you are handing it over to these lying fucks who will continue flushing our country down the toilet.
This election isn't about the troops. They don't care about the troops. If they did, they would get them the hell out of there. This election isn't about your security. We're the most powerful people on Earth, if we wanted to secure our borders we could do so in an hour. We've got the guns. We've got the planes and the ships. We've got the will. They maintain their power by keeping you afraid. Where is Osama? 5 years and they haven't caught him. The planet isn't that big. The US Marshalls arrested 11,000 fugitive sex offenders two weeks ago. Maybe we should send the Marshalls out to find bin Laden.
The Republicrats don't give a damn about you, only lining their own pockets. Why aren't the American people surrounding the capitol building and tearing it apart brick by brick? They don't give a damn about you, only want to scare you to keep you in line.
Go ahead, vote Republican. Give in. Surrender. Lie still so they can ram the pole in further and turn you into a good little puppet. They don't give a rats ass about you. They don't give a rats ass about the unborn. They don't give a rats ass about anything but the dollar signs. Vote Republican, and then lie still and take it in the rear like a congressional page.
Bush has lost this war. He has lost the War he started for false reasons, that his cohorts lied to Congress to get them to support. It's time to impeach this fucker. It's time to lock him up for lying to us. It's time to lock them up for ending habeus corpus, it's time to lock them up for taking away our rights to privacy, it's time Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld were tried and convicted for war crimes by an International court. It's time. At least we'll be able to save face.
Now, laugh at Bill Maher.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Oh, spank me! Hoekstra, a Republican Congressman from Holland, Michigan - chair of the House Intelligence Commitee - worked together with the Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas and the Bush adminstration to make information about how to make nuclear weapons available to everyone. Why? (They're power hungry madmen?) Their goal was to legitimize the invasion of Iraq by proving Iraq had access to nuclear weapons designs. Rep. Hoekstra and Senator Roberts should RESIGN immediately!!!
Friday, November 03, 2006
Look, I've got no beef with legitimate hunters, real MEN who go out and get whitetails or an elk to feed their families. I'll drink a beer with any of those guys any day of the week. We could crack open a few cold Pabst Blue Ribbons and discuss the best tree-stands or argue about the best scope to mount on your rifle. But it turns my stomach, it really makes me truly ill, to think of some yahoo getting drunk and blasting away at tiny birds because it's fun. That isn't fun, my friends, that is an act of depravity. Killing small animals for kicks or just for target practice is an obscene act. I don't give a rat's ass what Ted Nugent says.
Be a real man and put down the gun, then go to a bar or restaurant and actually try talking to a real-live woman for a change. Am I wrong? Is killing little birds all you've got to do fella? Then you aren't thinking about the ladies much. Are you wearin' Victoria Secret lace panties under your camo-pants?
Here are the facts:
Hunting doves is unnecessary and serves no wildlife management purpose. There is no reason to open a shooting season on doves. Mourning doves are ground-feeding birds that eat pest weed seeds; they pose no threat to agricultural crops, homes, or anything of value to people. Other northern states also have long-standing policies of protecting doves. There are no management problems within those states and no one has suggested that doves are overpopulated.
Mourning doves have significant economic value as live songbirds. Doves are beloved backyard birds and are an important part of the multi-billion dollar bird watching and feeding industry in Michigan. As a backyard songbird, scientific research studies show the mourning dove as "the second most-frequently reported bird at feeders." More Michigan residents participate in wild bird watching and spend more doing it than any other outdoor activity including all forms of hunting combined.
Doves are not a viable human food source. As small birds, even if shot properly, doves have very little "edible" flesh on them. During the 60-day shooting season of September and October, doves are actually at their lightest body weight for the entire year. However, doves are an important source of food for protected birds of prey such as eagles, falcons, hawks, and owls.
Shooting doves is known to produce orphaned young. Doves are scientifically known to still be nesting during the 60-day shooting season of September and October. Doves mate for life because both parents are required to successfully fledge squabs. The killing of one parent is known to cause unnecessary suffering of dependent young who will die in the nest of starvation.
There is an unacceptably high wounding rate for dove hunting. Scientific research studies confirm an average wounding rate of 30 percent in hunted areas - meaning that nearly one in three birds is wounded and not retrieved after being shot. In Michigan, where there is no tradition of dove hunting and where few Michigan hunters have had the experience of shooting at doves, we can expect an even higher wounding rate. If shooters kill 300,000 mourning doves a year, we can expect they will wound and fail to retrieve nearly 100,000 others.
Reducing methane emissions provides immediate environmental and energy benefits. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is over 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at capturing heat in the atmosphere. Because methane is also the primary component of natural gas, capturing and using methane as a clean fuel also provides immediate economic and energy security benefits.
What does this mean to you? It will affect the US economy in four sectors: agriculture, coal mines, landfills and oil and gas. Private firms, banks, NGOs and any interested in using methane as an alternative fuel will be cashing in. The Bush Administration committed $53 million to this initiative over the next five years, but with ADB's backing much more work will be accomplished.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Recent polling of local Michiganders here in Grand Rapids gives ALL the local elections to the Democrats. How many people were surveyed? Okay, I didn't really keep an accurate count - this was entirely non-scientific - but no one I spoke to was considering voting for a Republican.
Here are a few comments:
This should give you some insight into what your neighbors are thinking. Don't believe me? Go ask them for yourself. There are no DeVos lawn signs in my neighborhood, lots of liberal Catholic Democrats around here.
My Prediction: Democratic Landslide in Grand Rapids!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
This bear was lovingly created by illustration professor Molly Corriveau, who is also a master sculptor and painter. Professor Corriveau teaches at Kendall College of Art & Design here in Grand Rapids, which is part of Ferris State University. Her work has appeared in numerous shows and in a large number of publications. Corriveau completed her MFA at the California College of Art in Berkeley, CA and has also taught at Ohio University in Athens, OH. She recently received tenure at Kendall. She is well known here in Grand Rapids, not only for her fantastic sculptures, but also because of her exceptional teaching ability and dedication to her students. Ask anyone who's ever taken one of her classes, they all love her. Corriveau has received a number of awards for her artwork - far to many to list here - and she has been voted "favorite instructor" repeatedly by her students at Kendall.