Friday, February 29, 2008

Michigan Punishes Granola Manufacturer

Settlement Reached with G.K.I. Foods, Inc.

The Department of Environmental Quality has reached a settlement with G.K.I. Foods, Inc. of Livingston County over allegations of illegal discharges to Michigan’s waters. GKI is a manufacturer of chocolate candy and granola that discharged production wastewater to its sanitary wastewater system which ultimately failed due to the build-up of fats, oils, and grease. The system's failure led to untreated wastewater being discharged to the county drain located behind the facility. GKI will reimburse the State of Michigan for its enforcement costs of $32,807 and pay a civil fine of $11,000.

Yum. Makes you want to run out and buy granola, eh? So, another statement on our culture of obesity, the granola plant generates enough fat and grease to clog your pipes and your arteries.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Ohio Steel Plant Will Emit Tons of Mercury

Russian firm MMK America has plans to construct a steel plant on the Ohio River at Haverhill, OH that will emit over 1800 pounds ofmercury per year. That would be larger than all of the point and fugitive mercury air emission sources in the United States as per U.S. EPA's year 2005 toxic release inventory.

Public comment on draft air and water permits for the facility ends March 27.

Ohio EPA presently intends to allow MMK America to withhold as confidential significant information in the air permit application about maximum process design and other process information.

Read more here: Daily Kos

Thanks for the info Alex:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Environmentalists Should NOT vote for McCain

Info from the League of Conservation Voters

WASHINGTON, DC, February 21, 2008 (ENS) - In the 2007 National Environmental Scorecard released today by the League of Conservation Voters, Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain received a score of zero. The Scorecard is an annual measure of lawmakers' votes on environmental issues.

McCain scored 0 due to missing all 15 votes scored, including the key vote on repealing tax giveaways to big oil - a measure that failed by only one vote.

McCain was the only member of Congress to skip every crucial environmental vote scored by the LCV, posting a score lower than members of Congress who were out for much of the year due to serious illnesses, and even lower than some who died during the term.

Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said, "We were appalled two weeks ago when John McCain was the only senator who chose to skip a crucial vote on the future of clean energy in America - dooming the measure to fail by just a single vote."

"McCain missed votes to save his constituents $499 million dollars at the pump and at least $550 million on their energy bills, while creating more than 10,000 new clean energy jobs in his home state," said Pope.

McCain posts a lifetime LCV environmental score of only 24. By contrast, the average member of Congress scored a 53 in 2007.

McCain has received the endorsement of Republicans for Environmental Protection, the only environmental group recognized by the National Republican Party.

2006 Toxics Release Inventory data finally available online

The TRI is an on-line electronic database, housing information about chemical releases at facilities across the country. According to the EPA, nation-wide chemical releases into the environment are down by two percent from 2005 - of course, this is the Bush Administration, most likely they are lying.

TRI tracks and contains detailed information on releases of nearly 650 chemicals and chemical categories from about 23,000 industrial and federal facilities. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 established the TRI program. In 1990, The Pollution Prevention Act expanded the program by including data on toxic chemicals released, as well as treated, recycled, and burned for energy recovery.

EPA has been providing information to the public about chemical releases into the air, water and land at facilities nation-wide. This information is accessible by geographic location, industry sector, and individual chemicals.

Here's the link, copy and paste it into your browser. Search by zip code to find the bastards who are dumping toxics in your vicinity.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Corporate Greenwashing at its finest

Just in time for Easter, Cadbury has unveiled a range of "eco-eggs" called "Cadbury Treasure Eggs", which rather than being sold in a box are simply foil wrapped. The company says that the Treasure Eggs represent a reduction of over 75 percent plastic and 65 percent less cardboard than previously used in standard eggs.

Huh... obviously now you can be green because you stop putting crap in a box. Is it to soon to start stomping on chocolate eggs while screaming "BULLSHIT!" really loud? Let me know when that's socially acceptable.

Okay, okay... Thank you Cadbury for at least making an effort.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't Give Up On Biofuels

Today's guest writer is Tom Leonard, former executive director of West Michigan Environmental Action Council and all-around cool human being. Enjoy!

GRAND RAPIDS---Will America's Biofuel Boom survive the decade?

It may sound counterintuitive to some, drawing attention to the cloudy future of biofuels in the midst of what seems a massive global biofuels pep rally. Worldwide, biofuels are greatly on the upswing, with major programs proceeding in Indonesia, Brazil, and the European Union among others.

Even here in the suspicious and slow-moving USA, the President has signed a bill that will increase our biofuels production by a factor of six in the next 15 years.

But there are growing pockets of disquiet in many quarters. Some forecasters have already pronounced a requiem for biofuels, while others are sounding alarms of urgent opposition. What's going on?

What's going on is the standard trajectory for good new ideas, from interest to excitement to mania, to disillusionment, and finally, to practical applications.

It's been hard not to get excited about biofuels---especially the petroleum substitutes ethanol and biodiesel. The basic technology is old, and easy. The products are home-grown, redounding to the benefit of local farmers. Biofuels are relatively clean-burning: the carbon dioxide that they release to the atmosphere in running our vehicles, they also strip from the atmosphere as their source crops grow in the fields.

U.S. farmers love ethanol, meaning especially corn ethanol, and U.S. politicians who love farmers love ethanol too. Love, love, love. San Francisco loves biodiesel and is running most of its fleet of vehicles on it. Here in Michigan, we love ethanol and we have five licensed ethanol refineries gearing up to produce it.

Biofuels are such a good idea in so many ways---so why are biofuels in trouble? Here are three reasons:

First, they compete aggressively with food production, raising food prices dramatically. The United Nations estimates that food prices worldwide rose a startling 40% last year. The price of corn was up 50% in 2007 from the prior year, while soybean prices are approaching their all-time high.

Biofuels can't be blamed for all the increases in the cost of our food---there are many factors contributing to that. But their impact is real and can be traced readily, especially here in America. The USA's soybean crop declined 19% last year, in direct response to the shift of farm acreage from the growing of soybeans to the growing of corn for ethanol.

Second, biofuels are not the broad answer to our fuel requirements. There is not remotely enough farm acreage in America to meet our transportation fuel requirements using ethanol, even if we converted all of our farm land from food to fuel. And even though the price of a gallon of E85 is currently running less than a gallon of gasoline, when you adjust for gasoline's greater energy kick, ethanol still does not compete.

Third, their impact on the environment, in the context of human economic behavior, is unsustainable and alarming. The New York Times recently reported on research showing that, once the impact of growing the source crops was taken into account, biofuels constituted a net loss in terms of impact on global warming "greenhouse" gases. Brazil noted last year a 10% spike in Amazonian rainforest destruction due to---you guessed it----new acreage being cleared to grow sugar cane, Brazil’s ethanol crop. In Indonesia, pristine forest is being exchanged for palm plantations, to produce palm oil for fuel. The current rate of forest destruction there is so huge, it virtually guarantees the disappearance of natural Indonesian forest in the next fifteen years.

Goodbye, orangutans.

It will be a remarkable irony if the rush to biofuels, which fundamentally exists to reduce the human impact on global warming, should indirectly accelerate the warming problem, while simultaneously extinguishing vulnerable wildlife species and adding to the risk of mass starvation among the world's human population.

Despite all this, I still see a role for biofuels---but perhaps on a more limited scale, from carefully-selected sources, and for carefully selected and specific purposes. Not the biofuels bonanza visualized by the industry’s cheerleaders up to now. We simply cannot toss the whole biofuels production problem into the free markets, and expect to get a sustainable result. That is how biofuels are being dealt with now, and it is only worsening our problems.

One thing that is heartening about the biofuels boom is that its difficulties relate not at all to the basic chemistry of the fuels. The biofuels problems are really problems of bad land use, inefficient transportation practices, and unsustainably large human populations. If nations like Indonesia can get their act together on forest and peatland protection, damage from palm oil production might be better contained. If we had fewer people to feed, or they were less protein-hungry, we might be less tempted to scavenge in rain forests for new farmland.

In theory, at least, they can still be a success.

On December 19th of last year, President Bush signed an energy bill that calls for a sixfold increase in biofuels in the next fifteen years. It's a good first step, but it doesn’t make biofuels practical in the world we know. We have reached a point where even doing the right thing will have its own dangers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Project Hotseat Pushing Dingell on Climate Legislation

Guest Writer today: Kelli Bosak, Project Hot Seat, Greenpeace USA

In order for the country to unilaterally decrease its carbon emissions,
Congress must continue creating new climate legislation. Global
warming is happening now, but there is still much we can do to avoid
suffering from its worst effects. Our government failed to sign the
Kyoto Protocol, causing the international community to push forward
without us in preventing climate change. By pushing Congress, we can
fight against our doomed future and curb climate change. The state of
Michigan is home to one of the most influential leaders in climate
legislation in the nation, Representative John Dingell. Dingell is the
Chairman of the House's Energy and Commerce Committee and influences
all bills regarding the climate. So, Michigan plays a huge role in
affecting climate legislation. Michigan needs to take a stance on these
issues to make sure Congress protects our environment—for us and the Great
Lakes. Michigan is a top source for renewable energy, but nothing is
being done. To make a difference in this fight, you can either contact
your congressman, Dingell, or comment below. Do not give up on a
sustainable future! We want to fill Congress full of representatives
who will champion global warming solutions.

Thanks, Kelli Bosak
Project Hot Seat, Greenpeace USA

Read More:

Dingell Set to Tackle Warming

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Arghh! Proposed Mega-Dairy threatens Illinois public health and water quality

We have a BIG problem trying to come into NW Illinois' Jo Daviess County.

Wealthy California business man, AJ Bos is trying to set up a 12,000 head mega-dairy near Nora, Illinois. There will be about 70 acres of manure lagoons. The stench will travel for miles. Folks down there are organizing because they are concerned about their drinking water.

They have created a website at: STOPTHEMEGADAIRY.ORG.

Here's what you can do to help the good people living in Nora:

The Jo Daviess County Board voted 11 to 5 to reject the proposed mega dairy. Unfortunately, the IL Dept. of Agriculture can ignore that vote, and place the facility against the wishes of the board and the constituents that they represent.

Please give me one minute right now and take two vitally important actions.

First, contact the Governor, and let him know that you don't want this facility in Illinois. You can call, write, or use his web portal to send him a message.

Governor Rod Blagojevich
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121
TTY: 888-261-3336
Contact the Govenor

Your message should look and sound something like this:

Dear Governor Blagojevich,

The Jo Daviess County board voted 11 to 5 to deny an application for a 12,000 head CAFO proposed for their county. Siting numerous experts concern about major damage to the aquifer and surrounding rivers and streams, and the tremendous negative impact this facility would have on tourism, which is already bringing over $200,000,000 to the county, they rejected this application since it didn't fulfill the eight criteria imposed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Please use your authority as Governor to ensure that the Department of Agriculture follows their own guidelines and denies this application. The citizens of Jo Daviess County deserve the right to have their elected county board make decisions that will have such significant negative impact on their community. Thank you.

Okay now that you've got that done, please go to this Sierra Club web site and tell the federal EPA that huge factory farms should not be exempt from the clean air act. The Bushies would give them a legal loophole to avoid all of the pollution lawsuits being filed against them all over the country. This gift to corporate agriculture from the Bush administration would penalize small family farms, while allowing the largest and richest facilities to do as they pleased.

Alright, you've earned serious bonus point for the last two actions, but now you need to contact the head of the Department of Agriculture, and voice your objections to this facility. Every letter they get has to be reviewed by their board, and included in their files. They need to know that people are concerned about clean air, clean water, family farms, and public health, and won't stand for these factories in Illinois.

Charles A. Hartke, Director
State of Illinois Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 19281, State Fairgrounds
Springfield, IL 62794-9281
(217) 785-4789
FAX: 217.785.4505

You can read much more about this issue at Act now.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Great Lakes Commission urges Congress to reauthorize Great Lakes Legacy Act

Calling it one of its top legislative priorities for 2008, the Great Lakes Commission is calling on Congress to reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act in order to continue progress in remediating contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

First passed in 2002, the Great Lakes Legacy Act authorizes funding to remediate contaminated sediments in the U.S. and binational Great Lakes Areas of Concern designated under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

“The Legacy Act program has been highly successful in cleaning up toxic hot spots in Great Lakes rivers and harbors and has become a cornerstone of Great Lakes restoration efforts,” said Commission Chair and Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry Jr., in a letter to congressional leaders and members of the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces. “It’s critical that Congress reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act and maintain this vital program for restoring the Great Lakes.”

Lt. Gov. Cherry noted that the Commission’s recommendations are consistent with the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration and that the Legacy Act enjoys strong support from the Great Lakes states, the business community, regional environmental organizations and local Area of Concern advisory councils.

The Commission is recommending several amendments to benefit the Great Lakes states and improve the Legacy Act’s effectiveness and efficiency. They include:

• Reauthorize the Legacy Act through 2013 and increase authorized appropriations to $150 million annually. This would be consistent with the recommendations of the Great Lake Regional Collaboration and would better match the projected long-term costs of remediating contaminated sediments.

• Allow the use of general Legacy Act funds for pilot or demonstration projects in order to support research on innovative remediation technologies.

• Allow the use of Legacy Act funds to restore habitat at sites where contaminated sediment has been remediated under the Act.

• Allow contributions from potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to be counted as all or part of the nonfederal cost share for Legacy Act projects as long as that contribution is above and beyond what is required under a legal settlement.

• Allow all nonfederal contributions to Legacy Act projects to qualify for cost-share accounting, regardless of the timing of such contributions.

• Remove the maintenance of effort requirement, which can penalize project sponsors that invest in remediation efforts prior to the start of a Legacy Act project, and which is not appropriate for remediation projects in which costs can fluctuate widely from year to year.

• Allow the disbursal of Legacy Act funds to nonfederal contractors if doing so enhances the timing and effectiveness of a project.

• Extend the life of appropriated Legacy act funds beyond two years so that funds are not lost due to significant, unanticipated delays in completing complex projects.

• Reduce the current 35 percent nonfederal cost-share requirement to 25 percent for orphan sites where no responsible party is available to support the nonfederal cost share, to lessen the burden on states and local communities.

To date, five cleanup projects and seven projects to monitor and evaluate contaminated sediments have been implemented under the Legacy Act, with eight additional projects now under review. The original Great Lakes Legacy Act enacted in 2002 authorized $270 million over five years to remediate contaminated sediments in Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

To see the full recommendations, as approved by the Commission’s Board of Directors, visit Contact: Matt Doss,

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Great Lakes Citizens Health Report Blocked by Feds

For more than seven months, the nation’s top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially “alarming information” as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates.

Researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

The 400-plus-page study, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was undertaken by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the request of the International Joint Commission, an independent bilateral organization that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries. The study was originally scheduled for release in July 2007 by the IJC and the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Certainly this is the greatest piece of government censorship to date in the Great Lakes.

Thanks to Sheila Kaplan and the Center for Public Integrity, the report is now online. It is in your best interest to start reading it now.