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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Unbelievable: Burning Spilled Oil in Gulf of Mexico


NASA

The Center's aggressive opposition to expanded offshore oil drilling is being justified by the latest twist in the Gulf accident scenario: the U.S. Coast Guard is going to burn the spilled oil. Now the ocean pollution problem will be an air pollution problem too. In the grand scheme of bad choices, it is probably better to burn it than to allow it to hit the beaches and marshes along the Gulf Coats. But let us not forget, in addition to the air and water threats, 11 lives were lost in the accident.

The oil slick is 100 miles by 45 miles now, about the size of Jamaica, and is about 15 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The Transocean Ltd. rig Deepwater Horizon caught fire on April 20 and sank on April 22. BP PLC, the oil company, contracted with Transocean to use the rig, had failed to shut down the gushing crude.

EPA Administrator Before House Energy and Environment

Statement of Lisa P. Jackson Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Legislative Hearing on Clean Energy Policies That Reduce Our Dependence on Oil

House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment

FULL STATEMENT

Excerpts

First, in April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Massachusetts v. EPA that the Clean Air Act’s definition of air pollution includes greenhouse gases. The Court rejected then-Administrator Johnson’s refusal to determine whether that pollution from motor vehicles endangers public health or welfare. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, and based on the best available science and EPA’s review of thousands of public comments, I found in December 2009 that motor-vehicle greenhouse gas emissions do endanger Americans’ health and welfare.

The second pivotal event was the agreement President Obama announced in May 2009 between EPA, the Department of Transportation, the nation’s automakers, America’s autoworkers, and the State of California to seek harmonized, nationwide limits on the fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of new cars and light trucks. My endangerment finding in December satisfied the prerequisite in the Clean Air Act for establishing a greenhouse gas emissions standard for cars and light trucks of Model Years 2012 through 2016.

But if Congress now nullified EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers the American public, that action would remove the legal basis for a federal greenhouse gas emissions standard for motor vehicles. Eliminating the EPA standard would forfeit one quarter of the combined EPA-DOT program’s fuel savings and one third of its greenhouse gas emissions cuts. California and the other states that have adopted California’s greenhouse gas emissions standard would almost certainly respond by enforcing that standard within their jurisdictions, leaving the automobile industry without the nationwide uniformity that it has described as vital to its business.

Center Launches South Africa Energy Partnerships Program

The Center is embarking upon a strategy to create partnerships between American, European and South African energy companies and governments. This strategy is comprehensive and covers the full range of natural resources from coal, oil, nuclear, natural gas, mining, electricity, hydro, conservation, efficiency, water resources, and carbon dioxide offsets. The Center is seeking to partner with companies interested in working with companies that not only want to generate profits via appropriate technologies and environmentally friendly projects, but who also seek to expand ownership opportunities for environmental entrepreneurs.

The Center is currently meeting with American companies to brief them about investment and project opportunities in South Africa and throughout the African Union. The Center is seeking direct and indirect partnerships to pursue energy development projects. We are seeking ownership stakes in energy and water ventures. The Center also intends to examine the feasibility of leveraging greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets in financing projects and compensating African Union countries for reducing their carbon footprints.

EPA Map Tracks Enforcement in Chesapeake Bay

EPA Launches Online Map Tracking Enforcement Actions in Chesapeake Bay Watershed

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched an online map that shows the locations of federal air and water enforcement actions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The map is part of EPA’s increased focus on enforcement of federal pollution laws in the Chesapeake Bay region, including a new strategy of targeting geographic areas and pollution sources contributing the greatest amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment to streams, creeks, rivers and the bay.

EPA developed the Chesapeake Bay Compliance and Enforcement Strategy to target the greatest sources of pollution impairing the bay and its tributaries. The draft strategy is a multi-state plan for addressing violations of federal environmental laws, and will be finalized in May as part of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order.

Last year, EPA tabulated enforcement statistics specifically for the Chesapeake Bay watershed and airshed for the first time. Since 2009, EPA has entered into 10 civil judicial settlements and issued 36 administrative orders to sources contributing to the bay’s impairment. These enforcement actions cover 248 facilities in nine states and the District of Columbia. These actions will reduce approximately 16 million pounds of nitrogen oxides to the bay airshed and 2,100 pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus and 82 million pounds of sediment to the bay watershed annually once all required controls are fully implemented. Additionally, settling companies have agreed to invest more than an estimated $731 million in actions and equipment to reduce pollution to the bay and pay $7.2 million in civil penalties.

More information on the map

Information on Chesapeake Bay Compliance and Enforcement Strategy

Cape Wind Project Approved by Department of Interior

The Department of the Interior has approved the 130-turbine Cape Wind Associates project in Nantucket Sound off the coast of Massachusetts. The 440 foot tall turbines (with blades) will cover 24 square miles, roughly the size of Manhattan. Litigation could still stall the project for years. The $1 billion project has already been in the planning and approval stages for nine years.

The Center (through its outreach arm) was an early supporter of this project and presented testimony before the U.S. Coast Guard at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hearing on the project in 2004

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Climate Change Indicators in the United States

Collecting and interpreting environmental indicators play a critical role in our understanding of climate change and its causes. An indicator represents the state of certain environmental conditions over a given area and a specified period of time. Examples of climate change indicators include temperature, precipitation, sea level, and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

EPA's Climate Change Indicators in the United States (PDF) report will help readers interpret a set of important indicators to better understand climate change. The report presents 24 indicators, each describing trends related to the causes and effects of climate change. It focuses primarily on the United States, but in some cases global trends are presented to provide context or a basis for comparison. EPA will use these indicators to collect data and generate analyses to:

Monitor the effects/impacts of climate change in the United States
Assist decision–makers on how to best use policymaking and program resources to respond to climate change
Assist EPA and its constituents in evaluating the success of their climate change efforts
EPA Site

Two New EPA Regional Administrators Announced

Dr. Susan Hedman as Regional Administrator for Region 5

James B. Martin as Regional Administrator for Region 8


Susan Hedman will oversee Region 5, comprising Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 tribal nations. Susan has worked in environmental protection for nearly 30 years, from teaching environmental policy at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, to practicing as a staff attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Susan comes to us from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, where she served as environmental counsel and senior assistant attorney general. Prior to that, she was the senior policy advisor on energy and recycling at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. She was also the First Legal Officer for the United Nations Security Council team, in charge of presenting claims for environmental damage from the oil fires in Kuwait. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Ripon College in Wisconsin, a master’s from the La Follette Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School, and a Ph.D. from the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in Madison, Wisconsin.

James B. Martin, right, will oversee Region 8, comprising Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 27 tribal nations. He has worked in the environmental field for nearly 30 years, most recently as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Prior to his career in public service, James managed a nonprofit focused on energy, public lands, and water issues, and spent a decade as the senior attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. He also headed the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado School of Law where he managed an interdisciplinary public policy think tank and taught advanced seminars on energy law, policy and land-use planning. He started his legal career working for four Columbia River treaty tribes in efforts to secure their treaty fishing rights. James has a bachelor’s degree from Knox College and a law degree from Northwestern Law School, Lewis and Clark College.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Coal Mine and Offshore Oil Rig Accidents

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

April was a deadly month for the coal and oil industries.

The April 5 accident at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 miners. The usual reviews and reforms followed just as they will after the next coal mine methane explosion. People are going to die is they mine coal deep underground.

My condolences to those who lost loved ones in the latest Massey mine accident.

On April 20, an oil rig caught fire, exploded and then sank off the coast of Lousiana killing 11 workers. My condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in this accident.

In addition to the lost lives, the accident is an ongoing environmental disaster with un undermined amount of oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. It is spewing oil into the ocean day and night and nobody seems to know when it can be plugged. Officials can only speculate as to whether the oil will wash up on shore.

The Center does not oppose coal use. We do advocate that it should be used as cleanly as possible. We oppose expanded offshore oil drilling because it will increase the likelihood of additional accidents such as this one. Our coasts and our oceans are simply too valuable to risk permanent harm from offshore oil accidents. Forty lives lost in one month. Coal mining and oil production are dangerous businesses. I salute the people willing to risk their lives on a daily basis to assure that we get the energy we need to run our country.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lindsey Graham Controlling Climate & Immigration?

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is threatening to withhold support of the Kerry/Graham/Lieberman (KGL) climate/energy legislation if Senate Democratic leaders push ahead with an immigration bill. Lindsey Graham has somehow managed to make himself the most powerful Senator in the Senate. Now he seems to be controlling two of the most important pieces of legislation facing us today.

Senator Graham believes Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is preparing legislation to overhaul immigration laws and grant legal status to millions of long term immigrants unlawfully in the country. Graham believes this could create problems for Republicans in the midterm elections. Graham believes Reid is playing politics in order to gain favor with Hispanic voters.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

President Obama Issues Earth Day Proclamation

Presidential Proclamation -- Earth Day

A PROCLAMATION

In the fall of 1969, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson announced plans for a national "environmental teach-in" -- one day, each year, of action and advocacy for the environment. His words rallied our Nation, and the first Earth Day, as it became known, saw millions come together to meet one of the greatest challenges of our times: caring for our planet. What Senator Nelson and the other organizers believed then, and what we still believe today, is that our environment is a blessing we share. Our future is inextricably bound to our planet's future, and we must be good stewards of our home as well as one another.

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we come together to reaffirm those beliefs. We have come far in these past four decades. One year before the first Earth Day, our Nation watched in horror as the polluted and debris-choked Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire. In response, a generation of Americans stepped forward to demand progress. What Americans achieved in the decades that followed has made our children healthier, our water and air cleaner, and our planet more livable.

We passed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, established the Environmental Protection Agency, and safeguarded treasured American landscapes. Americans across our country have witnessed the impact of these measures, including the people of Cleveland, where the Cuyahoga River is cleaner than it has been in a century.

We continue to build on this progress today. My Administration has invested in clean energy and clean water infrastructure across the country. We are also committed to passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation that will create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and cut carbon pollution.

We have more work to do, however, and change will not come from Washington alone. The achievements of the past were possible because ordinary Americans demanded them, and meeting today's environmental challenges will require a new generation to carry on Earth Day's cause. From weatherizing our homes to planting trees in our communities, there are countless ways for every American, young and old, to get involved. I encourage all Americans to visit WhiteHouse.gov/EarthDay for information and resources to get started.

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on the legacy we have inherited from previous generations, and the legacy that we will bestow upon generations to come. Their future depends on the action we take now, and we must not fail them. Forty years from today, when our children and grandchildren look back on what we did at this moment, let them say that we, too, met the challenges of our time and passed on a cleaner, healthier planet.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 22, 2010, as Earth Day. I encourage all Americans to participate in programs and activities that will protect our environment and contribute to a healthy, sustainable future.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA

Earth Day Reception Remarks, White House Rose Garden

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

OMB Reviewing EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reviewing the EPA's greenhouse gas rules as the Obama administration tries to balance global atmospheric protection with economic considerations. Former President Bush addressed this dilemma by proposing an 'intensity' program within a voluntary greenhouse gas reduction program. It tried to peg reductions to economic indicators. It was dismissed and now EPA is considering mandatory reductions in the absence of Congressional legislation.

The rule, utilitzing Clean Air Act authority, targets facilities that emit more than 75,000 to 100,000 tons of carbon-dioxide a year starting in 2011. Yet, the Clean Air Act requires a threshold of 100 to 250 tons for facilities and would include millions of sources. The Obama administration got around this conundrum by utilizing the New Source Review (NSR) section of the Clean Air Act and using a tailoring rule that applies to new facilities or major modifications at existing facilities. The tailoring approach would allow states to build up their regulatory capability. According to EPA, about two-thirds of the stationary-source emissions are from facilities emitting more than 100,000 tons per year. (WSJ, 4/21/10)

Growing Green Awards & New Sustainable Food Blogs

NRDC’s 2010 Growing Green Awards winners Russ Lester of Dixon Ridge Farms and Karl Kupers of Shepherd’s Grain have new blogs highlighting how sustainable food production is not only healthier for our bodies and the environment, but it’s also good business.

Lester was awarded $10,000 for his leading energy efficiency techniques—converting waste walnut shells into energy—and organic walnut growing methods. Kupers won for his inventive pricing model that rewards sustainable wheat growers in the Pacific Northwest.

Last week NRDC announced the winners of the 2010 Growing Green Awards, which honor innovative farmers and food producers who are saving energy, curbing pollution, reducing water and chemical inputs and building stronger markets for sustainable food. See the stories and videos of all the winners here. Read the press release.

Read the complete blogs:

Russ Lester

Karl Kupers

From Conventional Walnut Farming to Growing (and Processing) Green
By Russ Lester

I was born and raised in the Valley of the Hearts Delight, or as most people now refer to it: the Silicon Valley. My dad, grandfather and many before them were all farmers, and I grew up working in their prune orchards. The prunes were conventionally grown, so that meant applying fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. It wasn't until my chemistry and botany classes in college, though, that I started realizing the potential effects of all these chemicals…It was a tragic wake-up call that helped me decide to take the leap and transition our farm to organic.

In the late 80s, doctors discovered that my dad had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Around the same time, we learned of a study linking this type of lymphoma to herbicides used in farming. Although research couldn't directly link my dad's cancer to the chemicals used in his prune orchards, watching his disease progress made me reconsider even the few pesticides that we still used.

My wife and I decided, for our young family's health, to take the next step. My father's death in 1989 marked the end of our use of conventional chemicals.

Shepherd’s Grain: Reconnecting Producers and Consumers through a New Food System
By Karl Kupers

Shepherd's Grain started with two traditional Pacific Northwest wheat growers. We raised commodity wheat and sold it by the bushel to the commodity market, where it was mixed with anonymous wheat from all over the U.S. and exported to countries along the Asian rim.

Back then, the market didn't reward growers for quality or good stewardship. We grew wheat at the lowest cost possible. We handed it over to the market, and couldn't track how the wheat was processed or where it ended up.

Gradually, research showed that diversified production and no-tillage growing were better for the health of the land. Bold farmers in the Pacific Northwest started taking up environmentally sound practices. These farmers were making a commitment of heart and mind, facing the economic risks that came with switching to no-till, direct seed production. They had to "burn the plow" and there was no going back.

Mine Safety & Health Administration To Inpect 57 Coal Mines

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is inspecting 57 coal mines with a focus on ventilation and methane violations. The inspection campaignis being launched in respong to the April 5 West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 miners. The 57 mines were selected for inspection based on their history of significant and/or repeat MSHA violations regarding problems with ventilation, methane buildup and rock dusting.

The targeted mines are in 10 states. West Virginia leads the list with 23 mines, Kentucky has 14, and no other state has more than four mines. (MSHA)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

EPA & Earth Day Celebrate 40th Anniversaries

Both EPA and Earth Day are 40 years old.

The Center is 25 years old.

The National Mall in Washington, DC is the place to be to commemorate. Earth Day is April 22. The Earth Day Network is coordinating the National Mall event on April 25. The nation's top environmental cop, Lisa P. Jackson, will be in many places and spaces during the celebrations and commemorations.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson is scheduled to appear at the EPA Earth Day tent on Saturday between 12pm‐2pm and also on the Mall Sunday for the Earth Day network concert where she will introduce John Legend at 3 pm.

On Earth Day, Thursday, April 22nd, Administrator Jackson will appear on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

EPA Earth Day

Monday, April 19, 2010

54 Universities Compete in EPA’s Green Power Challenge

For the fourth year in a row, the University of Pennsylvania, left, has emerged as the top individual school in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2009-2010 College and University Green Power Challenge. The university beat out 53 other universities by purchasing more than 192 million kilowatt hours (KWh) of green power, or 46 percent of their power purchases. Collectively, the Ivy League is the overall college conference champion in the challenge, with an annual green power usage of more than 225 million kWh -- the equivalent environmental impact of avoiding the annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of nearly 31,000 vehicles.

EPA ranks collegiate athletic conferences by the total amount of green power used by their member schools. To be eligible, each school in the conference has to qualify as an EPA Green Power Partner and each conference has to collectively use at least 10 million kWh of green power. Spread across 26 athletic conferences nationwide, 54 universities competed in this year’s challenge. The challenge’s total annual green power usage of more than 1 billion kWh has the equivalent environmental impact of avoiding the CO2 emissions of nearly 160,000 vehicles.

EPA’s Green Power Partnership encourages organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with traditional fossil fuel-based electricity use. Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydropower. The partnership includes a diverse set of organizations including Fortune 500 companies, small and medium businesses, government institutions, as well as a growing number of colleges and universities. Green power electricity generates less pollution than conventional power and produces no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which helps with climate change.

More information on the winners of EPA’s College and University Green Power Challenge

More information on EPA’s Green Power Partnership

NRC Rules Vermont Yankee Nuke Leak No Threat to Public

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the potential radiation dose to a member of the public due to the migration of tritiated water into the Connecticut River at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is less than .01 millirems a year. The dose is well below the established limit of 100 millirems a year to a member of the public set forth in NRC regulations. The .01 millirem dose is also well below the Environmental Protection Agency's 25 millirem limit and the NRC's 3 millirem limit on liquid effluent. The average annual dose to people from natural and man-made radiation sources is about 360 millirems.

In January, Vermont Yankee announced water samples of wells on site were contaminated with tritium. By mid-February the source was identified, and the leak was stopped. Remediation measures are now under way.


The Groundwater Protection Initiative (GPI), a voluntary nuclear industry commitment to address the leak of tritiated water at nuclear power plants around the country, includes groundwater monitoring wells at nuclear power plants. GPI led to the quick discovery of the leak and resulting containment and onging mitigation. (Brattleboro Reformer, 4/17/10)

EPA Awards Nearly $80 Million to Cleanup Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has selected $78.9 million in brownfields grants to communities in 40 states, four tribes, and one U.S. Territory. This funding will be used for the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields properties, including abandoned gas stations, old textile mills, closed smelters, and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties.

The brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. As of March 2010, EPA’s brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $14 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, and 61,277 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment. These investments and jobs target local, under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed. Cleaning up our communities is one of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities, which leads not only to health and environmental benefits but also economic development and prosperity.

In total, EPA is selecting 304 grants through the Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants programs:

· 188 assessment grants, totaling $42.56 million, will conduct site assessment and planning for cleanup at one or more brownfields sites as part of a community-wide effort.

· 17 revolving loan fund grants, totaling $17 million, will provide loans and subgrants for communities to begin cleanup activities at brownfields sites. Revolving loan funds are generally used to provide low interest loans for brownfields cleanups.

· 99 cleanup grants, totaling $19.36 million, will provide funding for grant recipients to carryout cleanup activities at brownfield sites they own.
Since the beginning of the brownfields program in 1995, EPA has awarded 1,702 assessment grants totaling $401 million, 262 revolving loan fund grants totaling more than $256.7 million, and 655 cleanup grants totaling $129.4 million. As part of Administrator Jackson’s commitment to this program, the 2011 proposed budget includes an increase of $215 million for brownfields with a focus on planning, cleanup, job training and redevelopment.

In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed. The brownfields law expanded the definition of what is considered a brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands, sites contaminated by petroleum, or sites contaminated as a result of manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs (e.g. meth labs).

More information on the FY 2010 brownfields program and grant recipients

More information on EPA’s brownfields program

Brownfields Success Stories

The Spray Safe Shopping Guide

What You Need To Know When Evaluating Pesticides

EcoSMART founder and Eco-Dad, Steve Bessette, shares his expert insight to help you shop for non-toxic pest control products to keep your family and pets safe!

7 Tips to Finding a Safer Pest Control Product


1) Before buying a pesticide, always read the entire label…front and back!: Often times consumers are swayed to purchase products based on brand names, marketing claims, or images. That can be problematic when choosing a pesticide given the potential health risks involved. It is important to read the entire label before buying a pesticide, not just the front label. And make sure you read the ingredients list and all the precautionary statements. If there are major precautionary statements or warnings, there are most likely toxic ingredients in the product. Also, pay close attention to the product’s “duration of control” listing, as this is an indicator how long harmful pesticide residues will remain after spraying. Think about it…if the product claims to kill insects for up to 4 weeks, what about people and pets?

2) What is in that pesticide product? You need to know!: While reviewing a product’s contents is important on most anything you buy, it is especially important when it comes to pesticides given where these types of products are applied (i.e. inside a home, around the home, in the yard, etc). Carefully read the product’s ingredient list, paying particular attention to the active vs. inactive ingredients. The non-toxic products will not only have well-known active ingredients, but also no hesitation in listing all their inert ingredients as well. Synthetic products will have man-made active ingredients unfamiliar to you, and these products do not list any of their inert ingredients, an indication that they may be trying to hide something. Also, familiarize yourself with the Pesticide Action Network Pesticide Database and become accustomed to cross referencing ingredients to learn about their safety profiles and true toxicity.

3) Make sure you have the right product for your specific insect pest problem!: Pesticides are specifically formulated to fight a specific pest, so picking the correct product will ensure that you are not wasting time, resources and money on an ineffective product. And follow the label use directions carefully. Incorrect usage of the product can increase your exposure (and your family’s) to potentially harmful ingredients.

4) An EPA registration number on a label does not mean the product is “approved” or is regarded as “safe” by the EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for ensuring that a pesticide when used according to label directions, can be used with a reasonable certainty of no unreasonable adverse effects on human health and no unreasonable risks to the environment. The EPA does not “approve” pesticides, nor does it classify them as “safe” during registration. It only registers them for use in the U.S. per label directions. The EPA has identified a class of “minimum risk” ingredients that are safe enough to be classified as exempt from EPA registration due to their safety profile. EcoSMART products are comprised of such ingredients and qualify for the EPA exemption.

5) Look for specific “safety” claims on the product label to know the product meets the government’s highest safety standard. EPA has designated “Minimum Risk” pesticides and afforded them special regulatory status. Only Minimum Risk pesticides that qualify for the Government’s highest safety standard can be labeled as SAFE. If there are no safety claims on the label, read all those precautionary statements closely!

6) Don’t be Fooled by “Imposters”!: Even though a product boasts “natural” or “eco” on its label, it could still contain harmful ingredients. Here are some tell-tale signs of imposters:
Claims of persistence in the environment (harmful residue concerns)
WARNING or CAUTION statements on the front of the label
Precautionary language, often hidden on the back of the label, like ENVIRONMENATAL HAZARDS TO DOMESTIC ANIMALS or PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL HAZARDS.
FIRST AID language if product is swallowed inhaled or gets in eyes or on clothing with directions to call a poison control center or a doctor. Remember: If the label does not specifically say SAFE (i.e. Safe Around Children & Pets), the product does not qualify for the Government’s highest safety standard.

7) Never stop asking questions: New studies and new products are being introduced each and every day and it is your responsibility as a consumer to stay educated. Ask questions, research products and ingredients on-line and stay up-to-date with the industry to ensure that you are using the safest, most effective products on the market…for the benefit of you, your family, your pets and the environment.

More information

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Constellation Buys Two Natural Gas Generation Facilities

Constellation Energy Group Inc. has agreed to purchase two natural gas generation facilities in Texas for $365 million. The plants — Colorado Bend Energy Center and Quail Run Energy Center — are owned by Houston-based Navasota Holdings. Constellation will add 1,100 megawatts of capacity to its 7,100 megawatt generation portfolio at the close of the deal. One megawatt of energy can power 1,000 homes. (The Daily Record, 4/16/10)

Center to Monitor Mine Safety, Strip Mining & Fly Ash

The April 5 explosion at the Performance Coal Company (Massey Coal Company) in West Virginia that killed 29 workers has moved the Center to launch a comprehensive coaling mining and use minotoring program.

The Center opposes strip mining, supports use of cleaner coal, supports coal-to-liquids, promotes converting CO2 from coal into gasoline, and supports beneficial reuse of fly ash.

Mine safety is regulated by the Department of Labor (DOL) Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). MSHA has established a SINGLE SOURCE PAGE of information and resources regarding the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion.

Remarks by President Obama on Mine Safety (4/15/10)

Friday, April 16, 2010

NRC Requests NAS Study on Cancer Risk From Nukes

NRC ASKS FOR STUDY ON CANCER RISK FOR THOSE LIVING NEAR NUCLEAR PLANTS

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to perform a state-of-the-art study on cancer risk for populations surrounding nuclear power facilities. The NRC has accepted an invitation from the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the NAS to discuss the request at the board's public meeting on April 26; the meeting agenda will be posted at www.nationalacademies.org/nrsb. The NRC and the NAS will finalize administrative details through the spring so that the study can begin this summer.

15th Annual U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Completed

EPA has released the15th annual U.S. greenhouse gas inventory report, which shows a drop in overall emissions of 2.9 percent from 2007 to 2008. The downward trend is attributed to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions associated with fuel and electricity consumption. Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2008 were equivalent to 6,957 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. Though overall emissions dropped in 2008, emissions are still 13.5 percent higher than they were in 1990.

The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2008 is the latest annual report that the United States has submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The convention sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. EPA prepares the annual report with experts from multiple federal agencies and after gathering comments from a broad range of stakeholders across the country.

The inventory tracks annual greenhouse gas emissions at the national level and presents historical emissions from 1990 to 2008. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” which occurs through the uptake of carbon by forests, vegetation and soils. More information

EPA to Hold Public Hearings on Additions to Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold two public hearings on proposals to add reporting requirements for certain emissions source categories under the national mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting system.

The hearing on April 19 will cover GHGs from fugitive and vented emissions from the petroleum and natural gas industry. The hearing will also cover reporting from facilities that inject carbon dioxide underground for the purposes of geologic sequestration or enhanced oil and gas recovery. The April 20 hearing will focus on the part of the proposal requiring emissions reporting from industries that emit fluorinated gases.

The hearing for the oil and gas sector and facilities that inject and store carbon dioxide underground for the purposes of geologic sequestration or enhanced oil and gas recovery will begin at 9:00 a.m. and continue until 5:00 p.m. local time, at the following location:

April 19: Arlington, Va. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency One Potomac Yard (south building) Conference Center - Lobby Level 2777 S. Crystal Drive Arlington, Va. 22202 The hearing for industries that emit fluorinated gases will begin at 9:00 a.m. and continue until 12:00 p.m. local time, at the following location:

April 20: Washington, D.C. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1310 L. St. N.W. Room #152 Washington, D.C. 20005 Speaker registration: April 19 hearing: April 20 hearing: The public may also register on the day of the hearing but may not be given a specific time to speak. EPA also will accept written comments on the proposed standards until June 10, 2010. More information

EPA Moves to Slash Mercury from Gold Production

Harmful emissions would be cut by more than 70 percent

EPA is proposing to cut emissions from gold ore processing and production facilities, the sixth largest source of mercury air emissions in the country. Today’s action is one of several steps EPA is taking to reduce mercury, which can damage children’s developing brains and nervous systems, even before they are born. EPA’s proposal would reduce annual mercury emissions to about 1,390 pounds a year – a 73 percent reduction from 2007 levels.

There are about 20 facilities in the United States that extract gold from ore that would be subject to the proposed rule. Mercury emitted to the air eventually settles in water, where it can change into methylmercury, which builds up in ocean and freshwater fish and can be highly toxic to humans who eat the fish– sometimes leading to fish consumption advisories to protect public health. EPA will take public comment on the proposed rule for 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. More information

White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors

Lisa Jackson, Ken Salazar, Tom Vilsack
Center President Norris McDonald participated in the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors at the U.S. Department of the Interior today. President Obama delivered remarks in the Sidney Yates Auditorium. There were also remarks by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environment Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson

Panel Discussions:

Conserving working lands for the benefit of all Americans: Secretary Vilsack, Moderator

§ Mayor Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
§ Ray McCormick, Farmer and Conservationist
§ Jaime Pinkham, Vice President of the Archibald Bush Foundation
§ Lynne Sherrod, Western Policy Manager at the Land Trust Alliance

Connecting people to our lands, water and wildlife: Secretary Salazar, Moderator

§ Governor Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico
§ Bill Cronon PhD, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
§ Sally Jewell, CEO of REI
§ Gary Myers, Former Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
§ Ernesto Pepito, Youth Program Director at Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Photo: President Barack Obama signs a memorandum establishing the Great Outdoors Initiative, Friday, April 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trip To South Africa

Videos

Center President Norris McDonald traveled to South Africa on April 4 and returned on April 13 to examine the feasibility of establishing partnerships between American and South African entrepreneurs and businesses to address cooperative energy and environmental projects. The week of programs and meetings is part of an ongoing "United States-South Africa Power Partnership Program." His hosts included Africa Venture Partners (AVP) and Africa Business Group (ABG). Michael Sudarkasa of AVP and ABG facilitated all meetings, tours and events.

Eric Wright, Michael Sudarkasa, Norris McDonald, Paula Jackson, Gregory Boyd, Seth Keshwar-Hill
Tuesday April 6th: After an "Introduction to South Africa" at the offices of Africa Venture Partners with Eric Wright, Michael Sudarkasa, Paula Jackson, Gregory Boyd & Seth Keshwar-Hill, they met with representatives from the U.S. Consulate for a "Briefing on the South Africa Power and Energy Sector. Attendees included Craig Allen-Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs and Senior Commercial Officer, David K. Young-Minerals/Energy Officer-USA Embassy, R. Bruce Neuling-Economic Officer-USA Embassy, Heidy Servin-Baez-Transportation/ICT Officer-USA Embassy, Bheki Ndimande-Comercial Specialist-USA Embassy, Harry Mohloare-Director-KYD Consulting Engineers Ltd, and Jason Nagy-U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

McDonald attended and gave brief remarks at the "Official Opening Reception" for the USA Week at the L'Entrecote Restaurant in Sandton. USA Week is an annual event that brings together American and South Africa businesses.

Wednesday April 7th: McDonald gave a presentation at the forum held at the Africa Heritage Society Auditorium entitled, "Ensuring An Inclusive South African Energy Sector." After participant introductions, the forum discussed "Affirmative Action in the U.S. Energy Sector: Issues, Reflections and Achievements," "BBBEE in the South African Energy Sector," and "Forging U.S.-South Africa Energy Sector Linkages: Opportunites and Considerations. Kennedy Khabo and Michael Sudarkasa, pictured at right, moderated the forum.

Thursday April 8th: Met with Aurecon Group, a global engineering firm based in Hatfield, Tshwane. Dr. Baholo Baholo - Energy Sector Leader for Aurecon described the company and its projects. A discussion about energy and environment followed.

The first meeting at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) included a discussion about environmental issues with Marba Visagie-Deputy Director: Environment-Industry Development Division. The meeting was held at DTI's Pretoria headquarters. The second meeting included a discussion with Donald Mabusela-DTI Director of The Enterprise Organisation and Thulani Mpetsheni-Director-Electrotechnical Unit. They discussed a broad range of energy and environmental issues related to cooperative development.

McDonald met with two representatives of the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA): Mary Urujeni Kamari-Resource Mobilization & International Relations and Jean Madzongwe-Energy Specialist. The meeting included a very good description of the energy situation in Africa. It also included a thorough description of DBSA and the potential for cooperation between the United States and South Africa.

McDonald met with representatives of SASOL for a discussion about carbon dioxide allowance trading and other energy issues.The meetings included John Sichinga-General Manager-Development & Production and Christopher Kobosha-Portfolio Manager-Government Relations and Public Affairs.
Michael Sudarkasa
Friday April 9th: Attended an all day forum at the University of Johannesburg themed, "The American Experience In Democratic South Africa, 1994-2010." The South Africa - America Partnership Forum (SAAPF) Colloquium was held at the School of Tourism and Hospitality in the Pretoria Auditorium. Michael Sudarkasa-Africa Business Group, was the conference coordinator, who delivered opening and closing remarks.

Opening remarks were given by: Dr. Derrick van der Merwe-Pro Vice Chancellor-Univ of Johannesburg, Kennedy Khabo-Coordinator-USA Week-Khabo-Mabe On Time, Inc, Moeletsi Mbeki, Deputy Chair-South African Institute of International Affairs.

Panels: EDUCATION: Chair: Dr. Nomfundo Ngwenya-South African Institute of Int'l Affairs, Dr. Ken Simmons, Retired Professor-Univ of CA-Berkeley & Witswatersrand Univ, Dr. Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo, Univ of Pretoria, Ms. Clara Priester-Education USA, ARTS & CULTURE: Chair: Myesha Jenkins-poet, Lebo M-composer, Hotep Idris-Galata-jazz historian & pianist, Antonio David Lyons- actor/writer/performer, Julialynne Walker-Diaspora Activist, BUSINESS: Chair: Gayla Cook-Mohajane-Exegesis Consulting, Courtney Priester, entrepreneur-Past Chair-Democrates Abroad SA, Gaby Magamola-Thamanga Investments, Eugene Jackson-Renaissance Cities of Africa, MEDIA: Chair: Kenneth Walker-Lion House Strategic Comms, Phil Molefe-South Africa Broadcasting Corporation, Brooks Spector-Daily Maverick, POLITICS: Chair: Dr. Garth Le Pere-DAJO Associates, Francis Kornegay-Institute of Global Dialogue, Dumisani Kumalo-Former Ambassador to UN South Africa, Lou Hureston-Democrats Abroad South Africa.

Saturday April 10th: Meeting with Eskom General Manager Louis Maleka and Sol Masolo-General Manager: PR & Communications-City Power. The meeting included a description of the electricity capacity challenges facing Eskom and how the government owned utility planned to meet the country's electricity needs.
Martin Nel, Norris McDonald, Paula Jackson, Janelle Gravett, Time Raaff
Met with the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association. The meeting included Janelle Gravett, Martin Nel and Tim Raaff. They discussed steel production and opportunities in South Africa. A broad range of possible cooperative projects were discussed.

Sunday April 11: Tour of Soweto. Visited Mandela House. Visited Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum. The museum is a national heritage site intrinsically linked to the origins of the Soweto Uprising and its aftermath.

Monday, April 12th: McDonald, Jackson and Sudarkasa met with Kantha Rattay, Legal Consultant to discuss South African energy and environmental issues. The meeting was held at the AVP offices in Sandton.
Met with Vunani, a financial services company that operates through two divisions: Financial Services and Investment Services. Financial Services is composed of the Asset management, investments banking and property business units. Investment Services houses Vunani's strategic empowerment equity investments. the meeting included Reginal Shaver-Head-Debt Advisory and Debt Capital Raising and via teleconference: Anton Nuno-COO and Mark Anderson-Investments Executive Director. The meeting included a broad discussion about carbon offset allowances and other issues.
Reginald Shaver, Norris McDonald, Paula Jackson, Michael Sudarkasa

Final activity: Tour of Alexandra.

President Obama and Earth Day 2010

President Obama Challenges Americans to Take Action to:

Improve the Environment


In Honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

WhiteHouse.gov Features


New Earth Day Page to Serve as a Resource Guide

President Obama is challenging Americans to take action in their homes, communities, schools, or businesses to improve the environment in honor of the upcoming 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2010. In conjunction with the video message of President Obama, the White House unveiled WhiteHouse.gov/EarthDay as a resource guide for all those interested in learning how they can help make a difference in their community.

The full text of the video is below:

“Forty one years ago, in the city of Cleveland, people watched in horror as the Cuyahoga River – choked with debris and covered in oil – caught on fire.

Images of the burning Cuyahoga shocked a nation, and it led one Wisconsin Senator the following year to organize the first Earth Day to call attention to the dangers of ignoring our environment.

In the four decades since, we have made remarkable progress. Today, our air and water are cleaner, pollution has been greatly reduced, and Americans everywhere are living in a healthier environment. We’ve passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and founded the Environmental Protection Agency. And in Cleveland, the Cuyahoga River is cleaner than it’s been in 100 years.

But the true story of the environmental movement is not about the laws that have been passed. It’s about the citizens who have come together time and time again to demand cleaner air, healthier drinking water and safer food – and who have demanded that their representatives in government hold polluters accountable.

That progress continues today, as individuals and entrepreneurs across the country help lay the foundation for a Clean Energy Economy – one solar panel, smart meter and energy efficient home at a time."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

$10 Million EPA Cooperative Agreement For Teachers

EPA Accepting Applications for National Environmental Education Training Program

EPA is accepting grant applications to help manage the National Environmental Education Training Program over the next five years. EPA will award one cooperative agreement, worth approximately $10 million over five years, that will provide teachers and other education professionals with resources and support to enable them to teach about environmental issues more effectively. EPA will accept applications until July 26, 2010.

The purpose of the national training program is to provide environmental education training and long-term support to teachers and other education professionals across the Unites States. Institutions of higher education and non-profit organizations in the United States are eligible to apply. EPA encourages these institutions to form broad-based partnerships when applying for this program that includes partners, such as Minority Academic Institutions, that represent the demographic diversity of the United States.

EPA believes that a broad-based consortium that builds on existing national environmental education resources and programs is the best way to successfully deliver quality training and support to K-12 teachers, faculty at colleges and universities and non-formal educators across the United States.

More information about application process for the National Environmental Education Training Program

EPA Awards $2 Million In Brownfields Job Training Funds

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is awarding more than $2 million in job training grants for environmental cleanups in communities across the country. The agency’s Brownfields Job Training Program helps train people for jobs in the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields properties, including abandoned gas stations, old textile mills, closed smelters, and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties. These investments target under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.

Twelve governmental entities and non-profit organizations in 10 states are receiving up to $200,000 each to train people in the cleanup of these abandoned and possibly polluted properties, while also providing training in other environmental skills, such as green building design, energy efficiency, weatherization, solar installation, green construction, and native plant revegetation. In New Orleans, Administrator Jackson presented the award to a training program that teaches inner-city youth job skills in environmental assessment and improvement, as well as the value of community service. Graduates are placed in environmental work-related jobs and their success is tracked for one year.

The brownfields job training grants will help recruit, train, and employ residents living near brownfields sites in California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Washington.

In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed. The brownfields law expanded the definition of what is considered a brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands, sites contaminated by petroleum, or sites contaminated as a result of the manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs (e.g. meth labs). EPA’s Brownfields Program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

As part of Administrator Jackson’s commitment to this program, the 2011 proposed budget includes an increase of $215 million for brownfields with increases for planning, cleanup, job training and redevelopment. Since 1998, EPA has awarded more than $33 million in brownfields job training funds. The program prepares workers for employment in the new green economy, and ensures that the economic benefits derived from brownfields redevelopment remain in the affected communities. As of February 2010, more than 5,300 individuals have been trained through the Brownfields Job Training Grant Program, and 3,400 have been placed in full-time employment in the environmental field with an average starting hourly wage of $14.65.

More information on brownfields job training grants

More information on EPA’s Brownfields Program

Brownfields success stories