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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Environmental News Network News Summary (5th-21st June)

Environmental News Network News Summary (5th-21st June)

Date : 21st June 2002, Source : ENN



June 5th 2002

HYDROGEN-POWERED CAR COMPLETES CROSS-COUNTRY JOURNEY

A hydrogen-powered car completed a cross-country trip Tuesday, a first-of-its kind journey that promoters say proves the cleaner-burning fuel can be a viable alternative to gasoline. Fuel cell vehicles won't be mass produced for at least eight years under optimistic predictions, but Daimler Chrysler says the trip by its NECAR 5 vehicle shows the promise of fuel cell engines.

Source: Associated Press


DAM COLLAPSES IN NORTHERN SYRIA, FLOODS VILLAGES, KILLS AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE

A dam collapsed in northern Syria Tuesday, causing the water to flood several villages and killing at least two people as most residents aided by helicopters fled to high ground. The Zeyzoun Dam, built in 1996, burst near the town of Idlib, about 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Damascus.

Source: Associated Press


SENATE EYES STRONGER RULES TO PROTECT SACRED INDIAN SITES

Federal agencies don't do enough to protect sacred sites, American Indian leaders testified Tuesday, citing burial grounds washed away when the Army Corps of Engineers adjusted the flow of the Missouri River. Indian leaders from the Great Plains, where the Missouri River was dammed by the corps nearly 50 years ago, told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that federal agencies have a long history of disregarding sacred Indian sites.

Source: Associated Press


GALAPAGOS DOLPHINS DIE TANGLED IN FISHING NETS

At least 25 dolphins have died, tangled in illegally cast fishing nets off Ecuador's pristine Galapagos islands, park officials said Tuesday. Industrial fishing is prohibited within a 40-mile marine perimeter of the islands, home to sea lions, giant turtles, and unique bird species that inspired British naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Source: Reuters


June 6th 2002

WORLD'S BIGGEST COAL EXPORTER AUSTRALIA DUMPS KYOTO

Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, will not ratify the Kyoto climate change treaty aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Prime Minister John Howard said on Wednesday. Australia's rejection of the Kyoto treaty come a day after Japan ratified the treaty and urged nations like Russia and the United States, the world's biggest polluter, to sign up.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, an additon to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 37 industrialized nations have agreed to cut their emissions of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming. Thirty-nine nations were to have been governed by the original agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, but the Bush administration in March 2001 said that the United States would not ratify, and now Australia, too, has backed away from the agreement.

Source: Reuters


U.S. SENATE PANEL APPROVES YUCCA NUCLEAR WASTE SITE

A divided U.S. Senate Energy Committee set aside Nevada's objections Wednesday and gave its blessing to President Bush's decision to bury deadly nuclear waste from across the nation in the state's Yucca Mountain. On a 13-10 vote, the panel sent a resolution to override Nevada's veto of the $58 billion project to the Democratic-led Senate for anticipated final congressional approval within the next two months.

Source: Reuters


LAWMAKERS OFFER BIPARTISAN BILL TO PROTECT U.S. FORESTS

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday said Congress would overwhelmingly pass new legislation banning road construction in millions of acres of national forests, although they doubted the bill would be supported by Bush administration. The bill would require the federal government to honor a Clinton-era plan to restrict the development of most roads on nearly 60 million acres (24 million hectares) of U.S. forest land.

Source: Reuters


BIG CITIES A HEADACHE U.N. SUMMIT WANTS TO ADDRESS

Open sewers, choking traffic, and bad air are part of the daily grind in Asian cities like Indonesia's capital Jakarta, a problem the U.N. hopes to tackle at a summit in August. The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg ' Earth Summit 2 ' is being billed as the largest U.N. conference ever, where 100 heads of state and 60,000 delegates are expected to work on a plan to drag millions out of poverty while protecting the environment.

Source: Reuters


GLOBAL WARMING TO HIT CALIFORNIA WATER SUPPLY, SAYS STUDY

Global warming will bring hotter temperatures and depleted snowpacks to California over the next several decades, boosting demands on the state's already strained water supplies, according to a new study. "With less precipitation falling as snow and more as rain, plus higher temperatures creating increased demand for water, the impacts on our water storage system will be enormous," said Lisa Sloan, an associate professor of Earth sciences at the University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC) and an author of the new research.

Source: Reuters


IBP PAYS NEBRASKA $1.85 MILLION AS PART OF LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT

IBP Inc. paid Nebraska $1.85 million as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed over alleged environmental violations at its Dakota City plant. Attorney General Don Stenberg made the announcement Wednesday.

Source: Associated Press


LOW-LEVEL OIL SPILL KILLS GALAPAGOS IGUANAS, SAYS STUDY

When an oil tanker ran aground near the Galapagos islands last year, most of its exotic species escaped unharmed. But scientists said Wednesday the near-miss ecological catastrophe had unexpected consequences. Within a year of the accident, 62 percent of iguanas on the nearby island of Santa Fe were dead, proving that even a low-level spill can cause serious damage.

Source: Reuters


June 7th 2002

MEXICAN SPOTTED OWL RECOVERY TEAM SEES THE FOREST FOR THE TREES

Beneath a dome of stars in a canyon folded into southern New Mexico's Guadalupe Mountains, Sarah Rinkevich hears a distinctive, hollow-pitched, four-note call emerge from the surrounding forest: hoo ... hoo-hoo ... hoooooo. Although the sound has become familiar to her, she's always thrilled to hear it. A biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rinkevich is on assignment to survey federally threatened Mexican spotted owls.

Source: Environmental News Network


CAN NATIVE AMERICANS SAVE NORTHERN IDAHOS MOST POPULAR LAKE?

Henry SiJohn, square-faced and bespectacled, peered across the broad waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene, the spiritual center of his Coeur d'Alene tribe. The water shimmered a deep blue, making for a pretty backdrop for the numerous weddings held at a posh neighboring golf resort. Once promoted for national park status, the lake has stoked the tourism economy in Idaho's Panhandle.

Source: E/The Environmental Magazine


GLOBAL WATER 'CRISIS' HIGH ON EARTH SUMMIT AGENDA

Of the myriad issues on the table for a U.N. summit in August that aims to cut world poverty and save the environment, few are as critical as getting safe drinking water to the 1.1 billion people who go without it. The European Union has warned the world was in a global water crisis and made the issue a priority for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and also at final preparatory talks here on Indonesia's resort island of Bali.

Source: Reuters


SPAIN FIGHTS TO SAVE WORLD'S MOST ENDANGERED CAT

Big yellow eyes wide with fright and their pointed ears attentive to every sound in their enclosure, tiny Aura and Saliega almost seem to realize the trouble they are in. For these two muddy brown bundles of fur, each little bigger than a kitten and curled up next to one another for protection, are Iberian lynxes, the world's most endangered feline.
Source: Reuters

MEXICO MUST CRACK DOWN ON DIESEL TRUCKS, SAYS SCIENTIST

Mexico must crack down on smoke-spewing old trucks and buses to see improvement in its 20-year effort to cut pollution in the sprawling capital, a top expert on Mexico City pollution said Thursday. Outdated commercial trucks and buses are top contributors to two of Mexico City's most persistent pollution problems, ozone and fine particles, Mario Molina, an MIT professor and 1995 Nobel laureate for chemistry, said in a speech at a Mexico City university.

Source: Reuters


PROPOSAL TO FURTHER PROTECT THE ANCIENT GULF STURGEON

The government is proposing further protection for the ancient Gulf sturgeon, already listed as a threatened species. The sturgeon, whose fossil ancestry dates back more than 200 million years, is the oldest living species of fish. It can live up to 70 years, grow longer than 9 feet, and weigh more than 300 pounds.

Source: Associated Press


GOVERNMENT DEEMS BUILDING INSECURE, SO RADIOACTIVE WASTE GOES UNDER TENTS

The federal government spent $62 million on a building to store and treat low-level radioactive waste at a California nuclear weapons laboratory, then decided the structure wasn't secure enough. So where is the waste kept now? Under tents. Hundreds of bright yellow, 55-gallon drums are stacked under the tents outside the building at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, east of San Francisco.

Source: Associated Press


DEER WITH CHRONIC WASTING FOUND IN SUBURBAN DENVER
The discovery in suburban Denver of a mule deer infected with chronic wasting disease, a relative of mad cow disease, threatens Colorado's $600 million hunting industry and shows the affliction is spreading south, officials said this week. "This underscores the fact that no part of the state is apparently immune from chronic wasting disease," Colorado Gov. Bill Owens told reporters. "All levels of government must work together to stem the spread."

Source: Reuters


BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S MOUNTAINTOP MINING RULE CRITICIZED AT HEARING

Critics told a Senate panel Thursday the Bush administration is undercutting environmental laws with a rule encouraging mountaintop coal mining, a practice in which ridges are blasted away and rocks and dirt dumped in valleys and streams. The rule is "one of the most significant and destructive changes to Clean Water Act protection in decades," said Joan Mulhern, a lawyer for Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund.

Source: Associated Press


June 11th 2002

CONTROL WATER POLLUTION WITH YOUR OWN RAIN GARDEN

Although it comes as a surprise to many homeowners, the suburban neighborhood is a leading source of water pollution. Residential streets and driveways are inundated with oils and metals from cars and trucks, while lawns and gardens release fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides and pets deposit waste along curbsides. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, stormwater runoff from urban areas is the leading pollutant of rivers and lakes.

Source: E/The Environmental Magazine


FIRE THREATENS DENVER, UP TO 40,000 PEOPLE COULD BE EVACUATED

A wind-driven wildfire closed in fast on Denver on Monday, and authorities said up to 40,000 people might have to be evacuated from their homes along the southwestern edge of the metropolitan area. The 24,400-hectare (61,000-acre) fire roared to within 16 kilometers (10 miles) of residential neighborhoods, spreading toward Denver at about a mile an hour.

Source: Associated Press


UGANDAN DAM VIOLATES WORLD BANK POLICIES ON ECONOMIC, ENVIRONMENT, SAYS REPORT

A US$550 million hydroelectric dam project on the White Nile in Uganda violates World Bank policies that require prior assessment of a project's economic viability and impact on the environment, the bank's internal watchdog panel said in a report. It said the plans also "do not mention or even consider resettlement or compensation of people working in tourism activities" in the Lake Victoria area "who may lose their assets and primary source of income as a result of the project."

Source: Associated Press


ASEAN SIGNS CROSS-BORDER ANTIHAZE PACT

Southeast Asian nations agreed on Monday to help each other tackle the land and forest fires which have periodically blighted the region's agriculture and cherished tourist industries with choking clouds of smoke. "The disastrous consequences of the previous haze episodes should be enough reason to now bring about concrete action from all those concerned to break whatever bureaucratic inertia there exists," Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in a speech to mark the deal.

The agreement signed here by member nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations is designed to prevent a repeat of the suffocating smog caused by forest fires that plagued the region in 1997 and 1998.

The Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution was signed by Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It formalizes the existing Regional Haze Action Plan makes it legally binding.

Source: Reuters


U.S. OPPOSES LABELING GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD

The U.S. White House is against adopting regulations, already in use in some countries, that would require companies to label foods that use genetically engineered ingredients, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Monday. Thompson said labeling foods as genetically altered "puts fear in the market" and would serve only to stymie innovation in the rapidly advancing biotechnology food industry.

Source: Reuters


U.N. NUKE TEAM SEARCHES GEORGIA WOODS FOR CONTAINERS

The United Nations nuclear watchdog agency began searching a rugged swath of western Georgia on Monday for two containers of deadly radioactive material left over from former Soviet days. An international team started by horseback, car, and on foot to scour 550 square km (212 sq mile) for the devices, once used to power remote communications stations, after two others were recovered in February.

Source: Reuters


SOUTH AFRICA SAYS FARM SUBSIDIES OBSTACLE TO U.N. SUMMIT

South Africa slammed rich countries Monday for subsidizing their own farmers at the expense of those from the Third World, saying the issue was a major bone of contention ahead of a U.N. summit it will host on poverty and the environment. Ministers meeting last week on Indonesia's tropical resort island of Bali failed to agree on a draft action plan for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to be held in Johannesburg from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4.

Source: Reuters


POPE AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH SIGN DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT

Joined by a video link, Pope John Paul II and the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians signed a declaration Monday stating that protecting the environment is a "moral and spiritual" duty. Both the pope and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who was in Venice, have described the declaration as another step in helping bridge the nearly 1,000-year-old rift between the two ancient branches of Christianity.

Source: Associated Press


URBANIZATION THREATENS EGYPT FARM LAND, SAYS GEOLOGIST

A prominent geologist warned on Sunday there would be no agricultural land left in already overpopulated Egypt in 60 years time if building continues at current rates. "Recent satellite pictures showed that 32 percent of Egyptian agricultural land has been covered with buildings, factories, roads, and streets," said Farouk al-Baz, director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University in the United States. "If this rate of development goes on there won't be one inch of agricultural land left in 60 years time," he told reporters.

Source: Reuters


June 12th 2002

CALIFORNIA JURY AWARDS EARTHFIRST! ACTIVISTS $4.4 MILLION

A federal jury Tuesday awarded $4.4 million to two EarthFirst! activists whose lawsuit accused the FBI and Oakland police of framing them for a 1990 bombing to discredit their radical environmental group. The U.S. District Court jury found authorities violated Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney's civil rights by arresting and investigating them after a pipe bomb exploded in a car they were driving in Oakland.

Source: Reuters


E.U. NATIONS HOLD FIRST REVIEW OF PROPOSALS FOR DRASTIC FISHING SECTOR REFORM

The 15 E.U. governments held a first review Tuesday of drastic proposals to preserve fish stocks and jobs by slashing fleets, fish quotas, and subsidies plans that have caused anxiety in fishing communities in Spain, France, Portugal, and Britain. On arrival, the European Union fisheries ministers were welcomed by a dozen activists of the World Wildlife Fund who supported the plan for an overhaul of the E.U. fishing sector, which loses 8,000 jobs a year due to overfishing. The environmental activists carried banners urging an end to overfishing.

Source: Associated Press


THOUSANDS MORE EVACUATED IN HUGE COLORADO BLAZE

The biggest fire in Colorado's history raged through parts of four counties south of Denver Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of thousands more residents amid fears that winds could further whip up the blaze. The Hayman fire, about 55 miles southwest of Denver, grew during the day to 85,000 acres plus from 77,000 acres earlier in the day. "It's very hot and really moving," said Pam DeVore, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.

Source: Reuters


U.N. SLAMMED FOR DISTRIBUTING GM CORN IN GUATEMALA

Guatemalan environmental activists slammed the United Nations Tuesday for distributing genetically engineered corn to drought-hit peasants in the Central American nation through its World Food Program (WFP). Environmental group Madre Selva said U.S. laboratory tests on a sack of UN-distributed corn it acquired in eastern Guatemala detected genetically modified varieties, which some scientists fear could be unsafe for human consumption.

Source: Reuters


E.U. PARLIAMENT BACKS BROAD BAN ON ANIMAL TESTING

The European Parliament voted Tuesday to ban cosmetics tested on animals, a move European Union governments say could lead to a global trade dispute. The European assembly decided not only to back a ban on testing within the 15-nation bloc but also to stop imports of all products tested on animals abroad.

Source: Reuters


BRAZIL'S AMAZON DESTRUCTION DOWN BUT STILL ALARMING

The rate of forest destruction of Brazil's treasured Amazon jungle fell 13.4 percent last year from a five-year peak in 2000, figures showed Tuesday, but it is still a pace that deeply troubles environmentalists. The Amazon is a generous source of medicines for humankind and a home to up to 30 percent of the world's animal and plant life. As the world's largest rainforest, it helps sustain regional weather patterns upon which society now depends, scientists say.

Source: Reuters


EARTH SUMMIT RISKS FAILURE WITH VAPID PLEDGES

An Earth Summit in South Africa in August is in danger of collapsing into vapid pledges to curb poverty and save the environment with time fast running out for any meaningful action. Hopes for the Johannesburg summit, seeking ways to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015 while curbing pollution, faded last week after 120 ministers failed to agree a 158-point action plan at a meeting in Indonesia.

Source: Reuters


June 13th 2002

TIME TO PULL OUR HEADS OUT OF THE SAND

What is the biggest environmental challenge of the 21st century? Global warming? The loss of biodiversity? Resource depletion? Pollution? No one really knows. Probably the sum of all these. But I'm beginning to think one of the biggest challenges is overcoming the fact that people are tired of all the depressing news about the environment.

Source: David Suzuki Foundation


DRUG RUNNERS, MIGRANTS CRUSHING NATIONAL PARKS ALONG U.S.-MEXICO BORDER

Drug traffickers scar volcanic desert with illicit runways, while law enforcement officials chase them through once-tranquil parks. Thousands of migrants traipse across delicate backcountry areas, sending campers fleeing to ranger stations, fearful of crowds trekking by their tents in the night.

Source: Associated Press


UNOCAL TO FACE TRIAL IN MYANMAR HUMAN RIGHTS CASE

U.S. oil and gas firm Unocal Corp. faces a September trial over charges that it was responsible for human rights abuses during the construction of a $1.3 billion pipeline in military-ruled Myanmar, the plaintiffs said this week. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney, in a tentative decision Monday, said she would reject Unocal's bid to dismiss the suit, clearing the way for jury selection on Sept. 26, attorney Terry Collingsworth said.

Source: Reuters


IRANIAN CAR MAKER GETS US$500 MILLION TO PHASE OUT GAS GUZZLER

In an attempt to stem growing gasoline consumption, Iran's Oil Ministry has offered $US500 million to the country's biggest car maker to phase out production of Iran's most popular car, the gas-guzzling Paykan. The incentive will be paid to Iran Khodro Co. as part of the ministry's campaign to slash Iranians' huge gas consumption, Oil Ministry official Rohollah Zam said Wednesday.

Source: Associated Press


LAND FOR WOMEN ANSWER TO HUNGER, FOOD SUMMIT TOLD

Giving women more land and an equal footing with men is the single best way to end hunger in the world, experts told a World Food Summit Wednesday. Yet women own only about 1 percent of land in the world, delegates told the U.N.-organized event, and in too many countries land distribution and land rights remain weighted toward men either by law or tradition.

Source: Reuters


EPA CHIEF WAS LEFT IN THE DARK ON U.S. CLIMATE REPORT

Christine Todd Whitman, the top U.S. environmental regulator, said Wednesday she was not told in advance about a controversial Bush administration report that concluded greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities were the primary cause of global warming. The report caused a stir last week among environmentalists because it appeared to align the administration with scientists who believe vehicle emissions and pollution from power plants and oil refineries have caused global temperatures to rise.

Source: Reuters


SYRIA MAKES ARRESTS RELATED TO THE COLLAPSE OF A DAM

Authorities have made arrests in last week's dam collapse that killed 22 people and left thousands homeless, the official Syrian Arab News Agency said this week. The agency did not identify those arrested or give their number, saying only that they belonged to three state-owned companies connected to the construction of the Zayzoun Dam, built in 1996 in northern Syria.

Source: Associated Press


SHELL TO USE ETHANOL IN CALIFORNIA BY YEAR-END

Shell Oil Co. on Wednesday became the latest oil firm to say it would switch by the end of the year to ethanol in California to make cleaner-burning gasoline, raising concerns on whether increased ethanol use could result in higher gasoline prices. Shell, a unit of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, said on Wednesday it would switch from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) a suspected animal carcinogen that has polluted groundwater, to ethanol.

Source: Reuters


ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN URGES RELIGIONS TO SAVE PLANET

The spiritual head of the world's Orthodox Christians urged religious leaders on Wednesday to do more to protect the environment, saying time was running short to save what they view as God's creation. "We are losing time, and the longer we wait the more difficult and irreparable the damage," Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew told a news conference in Oslo, where he received a $100,000 environment prize.

Source: Reuters


June 14th 2002

WHOOPING CRANE RECOVERY SPREADS NEW WINGS

Sporting gangly legs and a long neck, the young chick awkwardly poised on a tiny island does not appear to be a particularly significant presence. However, this rare bird's recent appearance in Florida marks an historic milestone in an endangered species recovery effort: it is the first whooping crane (Grus americana) since 1939 born in the wild in the United States that can fly on its own.

Source: Environmental News Network


U.S. TO RELAX AIR POLLUTION RULES FOR UTILITIES

The Bush administration on Thursday said it will relax costly air pollution rules when U.S. utilities are repaired or expanded, triggering a storm of protest from environmental groups and some Democrats. The move by the Environmental Protection Agency came after months of lobbying by U.S. utilities and industry, which have long complained about complex rules on how far they can go to enlarge or upgrade a plant before having to install costly equipment to control smog, acid rain, and soot.

Source: Reuters


SHIP CAPTAIN PLEADS GUILTY TO ALASKA POLLUTION

The captain of a South Korean-owned cargo ship accused by the Coast Guard of illegally dumping waste oil into the sea off Alaska pleaded guilty this week to falsifying records, obstructing justice, and witness tampering. Doo Hyun Kim, now in custody in Anchorage, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court. He has pledged to help U.S. officials in their investigation of deliberate oil pollution from freighters.

Source: Reuters


MOTHER NATURE HELPS MEXICO WITH LONG-OVERDUE WATER DEBT TO THE U.S.

Drought-stricken Mexico got a little help from Mother Nature this week in paying off a long-overdue water debt to the United States. Unexpected rain showers boosted the depleted lower Rio Grande, sending a small amount of water to the United States, said Sally Spener, spokeswoman for the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). The commission oversees all international water payments.


MORE THAN 223 DEAD IN HEAVY CHINESE RAINS

At least 223 people died and 320,000 were left homeless after parts of western China were inundated by the heaviest rains on record, disaster officials said Thursday. Weekend rains set off severe floods and mudslides across six provinces and regions, sweeping away bridges and roads and knocking down homes, according to authorities.

Source: Associated Press


U.S. SOUTHWEST DROUGHT TO IGNITE MORE FIRES

One of the worst droughts in the U.S. Southwest is expected to intensify this summer, setting the stage for an unprecedented wildfire season, U.S. government weather forecasters said Thursday. However, cooler temperatures and rain will improve conditions in parched regions along the Atlantic Coast during the next three months, they said.

Source: Reuters


EXXON MOBIL FILES MOTION TO REDUCE VALDEZ DAMAGES

Exxon Mobil Corp. filed a motion with federal court this week to reduce the $5 billion in punitive damages awarded as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to something less than $40 million. A federal appeals court last year declared the initial award "excessive" and sent the case back to Anchorage District Court with orders to reduce it, but plaintiffs reacted angrily to Exxon's proposal.

Source: Reuters


TAXI DRIVERS PROTEST GOVERNMENT BAN ON DIESEL CARS

Taxi drivers demonstrated Thursday against a government ban on diesel cars as the Cabinet approved a compensation package for the owners. Protesters demanded the government postpone the ban, approved by parliament last year in hopes of reducing air pollution. The ban is scheduled to go into effect June 15.

Source: Associated Press


ANNOUNCEMENT OF MISSOURI RIVER CHANGES DELAYED INDEFINITELY

The Bush administration is postponing indefinitely the long-awaited plan for altering the Missouri River's flow. The agencies controlling the process the Army Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service began consultations Thursday at the service's regional offices in Denver. Corps spokesman Paul Johnston said there is no timeline for the talks, which represent the latest delay in a dozen years of review.

Source: Associated Press


June 18th 2002

HAS THE BUREAU OF RECLAMATION MET THE NEEDS OF THE CHANGING WEST?

When President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Reclamation Act of 1902, he gave a new government agency the unambiguous charge to go forth and make the desert bloom by bringing water to family farms. The idea, says University of Oklahoma historian Donald Pisani, was to boost the West out of the depression of the 1890s by helping populate the vast empty lands with yeomen farmers, considered the foundation of democracy.

Source: Associated Press


BLIND CALVES BORN NEAR INDIA'S NUCLEAR SITE

Ranjeeta Ramji grabbed the calf by its head with one hand and ran the other up and down in front of its eyes, the absence of a reaction evidence that it was blind. Then the Indian farmer pointed to a cyst-like swelling on the startled young animal's neck. "Cancer, cancer," he said in English.

Source: Reuters


POWER DEREGULATION FUELED POLLUTION, SAYS NAFTA AGENCY

North American power companies, the continent's biggest polluters, slashed spending on energy efficiency programs by 42 percent between 1995 and 1999, in part because of the deregulation of electricity markets, an environmental watchdog said Monday. In a 45-page report on the continent's electricity market, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a Montreal-based agency created under the North American Free Trade Agreement, said power companies cut expenditures on energy efficiency measures to US$1.4 billion in 1999 from $2.4 billion in 1995.

Source: Reuters


DROUGHT PUTS FOCUS ON WISDOM OF FARMING IN THE DESERT

Farmers and politicians call Utah's fourth straight year of below-average snowpack a disaster. But a University of Utah political science professor who writes on Western water issues says that ignores a simple fact: Deserts are supposed to be dry. "It's a mistake to talk about the drought as a crisis," said Dan McCool. "We are always in a drought. That's the definition of a desert. It's ignoring that Utah is a desert that's causing the problem."

Source: Associated Press


COMMON HUMAN BACTERIA LINKED TO DISEASE KILLING CARIBBEAN CORAL STRAIN

Bacteria found in the intestines of humans and other animals have been identified as the cause of a disease killing elkhorn corals in the Caribbean Sea. First reported in 1996, the disease has spread widely, causing severe damage to the branched corals.

Source: Associated Press


JUDGE REFUSES TO LIFT INJUNCTION AGAINST MINING PERMITS

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue permits that allow streams to be buried under excess rock and dirt from mountaintop removal coal mines, a federal judge ruled Monday. U.S. District Judge Charles Haden's 51-page ruling was in response to a request from the corps to clarify his May 8 decision ordering the agency to stop issuing the permits. The corps also asked Haden to stay that order while it appealed.

Source: Associated Press


MONTANA GOVERNOR DENIES SPECIAL LAND DEAL FROM COMPANY BEING SUED BY STATE

Gov. Judy Martz testified Monday that she bought 80 acres next to her homestead from a company being sued by the state, but that Atlantic Richfield Co. never sought nor expected favors in return. Martz's testimony came during the first day of a two-day hearing into an ethics complaint by the state Democratic Party over her $24,000 land purchase from Arco in 1999, two months after she announced she would run for governor. Arco had paid $70,000 for the property two years earlier.

Source: Associated Press


WOMAN ACCUSED IN COLORADO WILDFIRE APPEARS IN COURT

A long-time U.S. Forest Service employee, whose job it is to protect forests, appeared in federal court Monday, charged with having started the largest fire in Colorado history. Firefighters continued to battle the blaze one of six sweeping through drought-parched Colorado trying to make progress before winds from the southwest whip up conditions.

Source: Reuters


June 20th 2002

PACIFIC ROCKFISH IN GRIM SHAPE AND OTHER STORIES

Pacific rockfish populations have dropped to alarmingly low levels, according to a new report issued by government fishery biologists. The findings are likely to result in a ban of most bottom fishing off the continental shelf of the West Coast. Known on menus as rock cod or red snapper, the 60 or so species of long-lived fish are declining catastrophically due to a combination of habitat destruction and overfishing.

Source: California Academy of Sciences


CALIFORNIA REACHES $45.8 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH BP

Oil giant BP has agreed to a $45.8 million settlement with California over allegations BP-owned Atlantic Richfield Co. failed to meet state law requiring upgrades of underground fuel storage tanks, the attorney general's office announced Wednesday. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said the company, which cooperated with state officials, will pay $25 million in fines and must show it made $20.8 million in improvements to the storage tanks at 59 gas stations across California.

Source: Reuters


REPUBLICAN WILL HEAD U.S. ENERGY BILL NEGOTIATIONS

Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin, who wants to allow oil drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge, edged out a Democratic senator on Wednesday to head the congressional panel that will negotiate a final bill to overhaul U.S. energy policy. As head of the conference committee, Tauzin will set the agenda for about 60 negotiators trying to reconcile the sharply different House and Senate versions of energy legislation.

Source: Reuters


MOBILE PHONES CAUSE HUMAN CELL CHANGES, SAYS STUDY

A study by scientists in Finland has found that mobile phone radiation can cause changes in human cells that might affect the brain, the leader of the research team said Wednesday. But Darius Leszczynski, who headed the two-year study and will present findings next week at a conference in Quebec, said more research was needed to determine the seriousness of the changes and their impact on the brain or the body.

Source: Reuters


CALIFORNIA MAY MAKE MICRO-POLLUTION STANDARDS WORLD'S STRICTEST

The California Air Resources Board will consider making the state's air quality standards for microscopic pollutants the world's strictest. But it could be at least a decade before technology allows those standards to be met.

Source: Associated Press


BOAT LEAKS HUNDREDS OF GALLONS OF OIL IN BRAZIL'S AMAZON

A river boat sank on an Amazon tributary spilling hundreds gallons (thousands of liters) of diesel oil into the Rio Negro, officials said Wednesday. The boat D. Malvina was carrying diesel oil just outside of the jungle capital of Manaus, 1,770 miles (2,850 kilometers) northwest of Rio de Janeiro, when a mechanical failure caused it to sink early Tuesday morning, said Port Authority Lt. Zilmar Moreira.

Source: Associated Press


FINBACK WHALE SONGS MAY BE MATING CALLS, SAYS STUDY

Scientists lowered microphones into the Pacific Ocean and came up with evidence suggesting that the booming songs sung by finback whales are mating calls, rather than sonarlike navigation signals. The findings raise concerns that shipping noises and other human-made sounds at sea could interfere with the whales' breeding.

Source: Associated Press


June 21st 2002

OIL AND GAS ROADS THREATEN TO BEAR DOWN ON THE GRIZZLY

A burly brown bear with the signature shoulder hump of a grizzly strides across a meadow in Yellowstone National Park in late spring, as the last light of day filters through the cloud cover. Elk and bison look up from their grazing, unfazed. The bear, weak from hibernation, is focused on procuring less energy-intensive prey, such as scavenged bison carcasses and the tiny white blossoms and corms of spring beauties that speck the forest edges.

Source: Environmental News Network


MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE RECYCLES PAPER AND ITS OLD BUILDINGS

"I had my first college class in that room right there," said Chad Malone, pointing to a ground-floor chamber stripped to a concrete shell and filled with rubble. "Chem 104. This was a terrible building. Cold, cold." Very few people get to trash their old college classrooms. (At least, very few get paid to do it.) But that's not what makes Malone's operation unique. It's how he's demolishing Middlebury College's old Science Center that's so remarkable.

Source: E/The Environmental Magazine


PANEL PASSES RESTRICTIONS ON WEST COAST FISHING TO PROTECT DEPLETED SPECIES

A panel that oversees the West Coast's fishing grounds approved severe restrictions Thursday intended to protect several depleted species of fish. The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to prohibit groundfish fishing in medium depths north of Cape Mendocino, about 200 miles north of San Francisco. South of the cape, groundfish trawling will be prohibited except for doversole, thornyhead, and sable fish.

Source: Associated Press


MALAYSIAN LEADER SAYS SINGAPORE MUST PAY HIGHER PRICE FOR WATER

Prime Minister Mahathir said Thursday that he expects talks between Singapore and Malaysia to resolve pricing disputes on water, but that Singapore should pay a lot more. "I think it is ridiculous to sell water at three sen (US0.78 cent) per 1,000 gallons when Hong Kong is buying water from mainland China at 8 ringgit (US$2.10) per 1,000 gallons," Mahathir said.

Source: Associated Press


DISCARDED REFRIGERATORS WILL COST BRITAIN MILLIONS, LAWMAKERS SAY

A stockpile of discarded refrigerators spawned by tough European Union environment rules will cost Britain 40 million pounds (US$60 million) to clear, a committee of lawmakers said Thursday. The Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee blamed Prime Minister Tony Blair's government for failing to foresee the significance of the new regulations, which took effect Jan. 1 and make it illegal to discard the ozone-depleting foam insulation from fridges and freezers.

Source: Associated Press


NAFTA GROUP TO STUDY TRANSGENIC CORN IN MEXICO

A NAFTA environmental commission said Thursday it would investigate reports of transgenic corn growing in southern Mexico, responding to concerns that imported corns have contaminated native crops. Scott Vaughan, head of the economy and trade division of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) said genetically modified corn was a "huge issue" for Mexico and warranted additional investigation. Results of the probe in the southern state of Oaxaca could come within nine to 10 months, said.

Source: Reuters


SENATE TO STUDY AUSTRALIA'S URANIUM MINES AFTER A SERIES OF LEAKS

The Senate will hold an inquiry into a series of leaks of radioactive waste from Australian uranium mines, opposition lawmakers announced Thursday. There have been at least five leaks of contaminated water and radioactive waste at two of Australia's three uranium mines this year, government reports have said.

Source: Associated Press


PROBE INTO POSSIBLE ASBESTOS POISONING WIDENING BEYOND WESTERN MONTANA TOWN

Federal health officials said Thursday they are trying to determine whether ore mined in Montana and shipped across the country may have spread potentially fatal asbestos. The western Montana town of Libby, which for decades was the world's largest supplier of vermiculite ore, has been at the center of what lawmakers and federal officials describe as a public health crisis.

Source: Associated Press


CANADA SETS FARM PACKAGE BUT LITTLE NEW AID

The Canadian government, stung by "wrong-headed" U.S. agricultural subsidies, announced a farm aid package of its own Thursday, promising not to distort trade but offering farmers little additional cash. The government put a C$5.2 billion (US$3.4 billion) price tag on the six-year program, but most of that either was going to replace existing farm subsidies or for food safety and other projects that do not directly support farm income.

Source: Reuters


GEORGIA-PACIFIC TO PAY $10 MILLION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE IN WISCONSIN

Georgia-Pacific Corp. will pay $10.1 million and donate 1,000 acres for environmental damage caused by polluting the Fox River, state officials said Thursday The agreement represents a "major milestone" in restoring fish and wildlife habitat in the river, Natural Resources Secretary Darrell Bazzell said.

Source: Associated Press





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