Greens NZ Regional Report for the first half of January 2001

Here's my outline of what's been happening in Australia and the rest of the Asia - Pacific region. This now has just the excerpts. It includes what I see as relevant items on Energy, Genetic Modification, Fresh Water and Oceans from around the world. They're here because I regard them as having a major impact on at least us in the Asia - Pacific region. I've also picked a few general items and put them in under Philosophy or World-View.  Please contact me if you have comment. - - Mostly, this is news from our part of the world, that Greens will likely want to know about.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

* Australia *

au- Renewable energy a hot sector for Australia stocks - Renewable energy has become one of the sexiest sectors on the Australian share market as rising power prices, government legislation, and a growing interest in "clean" industries drive a surge in share prices. Some stocks jumped sharply in 2000, helped by changes to the law late last year to boost renewable energy use. And while analysts caution the fledgling sector is not without risk, they say there is good potential in the industry, which generated revenue of about A$8 billion in 1999/00, according to the Sustainable Energy Industry Association. "Renewable energy is, in our opinion, the new hot growth sector for utility companies," Deutsche Bank said in a recent report. There are currently only four key listed companies that focus on renewable energy, although there are scores of unlisted companies and major utilities also work in the area. Deutsche said the Federal Government's Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act, which requires power producers to generate an extra two percent of power from renewable sources by 2010, will prompt new investment. The bank believes waste-to-energy is potentially the largest area of investment because it can source income from electricity or steam generation as well as from fertiliser sales and recycling revenues. Deutsche has a strong buy on Renewable Energy Corp , which has risen 173 percent since the start of 2000, and expects the share price to climb as high as A$2.50 within 12 months from current levels around A$1.64. Other stocks in the sector include Energy Developments Ltd , which owns power plants fuelled by landfill gas, coal seam methane, natural gas and distillate, and Pacific Hydro Ltd , a wind and water power generator.

au- Aus. Woodside Petroleum buys 5 pct of US wave power firm - Woodside Petroleum Ltd said on Wednesday it has acquired five percent of wave power technology company US-based Ocean Power Technologies Inc in its maiden investment in renewable energy. A spokesman said Woodside paid US$3.62 million, made up mainly of $3 each for one million shares in Ocean Power, which develops systems to harness ocean wave power to generate electricity. The remainder is for an option to buy 500,000 tonnes of carbon credits by 2012 at a discount to prevailing market prices and a further option to buy 40 percent of Australia-based unit Ocean Power Technologies (Australasia) Pty Ltd. OPT Australasia has the commercial rights to use the parent company's intellectual property in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. It is installing its technology in the Australian state of Victoria for Powercor Australia, jointly owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd and Hong Kong Electric Holdings Ltd .

au- Australia had cool, wet La Nia year 2000Bureau - La Nina weather in 2000 produced the second wettest year in Australia since 1900, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said on Thursday. Excessively wet weather also made 2000 the coolest year for Australia since 1984, the bureau's National Climate Centre said in an annual climate summary. Preliminary data indicated that total average rainfall throughout Australia during 2000 was 714 millimetres, second only to 1974 which had an average of 784 mm, it said. "Much of this heavy rainfall can be attributed to the global climate system having been dominated by La Nia conditions during the early part of the year," it said. La Nia, which translates from Spanish as "girl child", refers to extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, producing wet weather in eastern Australia and parts of Southeast Asia. It is the opposite of the El Nio weather effect. Heavy rainfall resulted in the partial filling of Lake Eyre, in central South Australia, in autumn, as well as numerous floods, such as in New South Wales during November, it said.

au- W.Australia charges Apache over oil spill - The Western Australian Department of Minerals and Energy said on Wednesday it was prosecuting Apache Corp unit Apache Northwest Pty Ltd over an oil spill near its Varanus Island loading facility. The department said in a statement the incident involved a spill of about 25 cubic metres of light crude oil off Varanus Island, 110 km west of Dampier on July 26, 1999. Department petroleum division director Bill Tinapple said the incident occurred when a chain apparently caught and sheared off a valve on a subsea loading line before the transfer of crude oil to a tanker.

au- Melbourne shrouded by worst haze in 18 years - Thick haze smothered Melbourne on Friday from bushfires as far as 200 kilometres (125 miles) away, creating the worst pollution since deadly fires raged near the city 18 years ago. "Data shows that we haven't had conditions as bad as this since the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983," Chris Bell, air quality spokesman for the Environment Protection Authority, told Reuters. The air reeked of smoke which started blowing in on Thursday evening, brought by a southwesterly wind which then stopped abruptly, leaving the haze over the city. "It's a bit encouraging to see some sun now because it'll warm the cold air mass up. But winds are predicted to be pretty light today, so we'd expect these conditions to persist most of the day," Bell told Reuters. Bushfires have been burning for days in the west and southwestern parts of the state of Victoria, including on King Island in the Bass Strait south of Melbourne.

au- Biological Control Conquers Biblical Plague - The plague locust is being halted in its devastating path. Evidence is emerging of successful biocontrol of the insects that have been the scourge of farmers and agro-industrialists since biblical times. In its first large scale operational trial, the fungal pesticide Metarhizium has successfully killed Australian plague locusts in the outback of the state of New South Wales after about 10 days exposure. The program had been so successful that inspectors who examined treated areas said they compared with eradication rates achieved by conventional chemical insecticides, a spokesman for the Australian Plague Locust Commission said. A representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Dr. Clive Elliott, said the success could encourage the FAO to conduct similar trials in sub-Saharan Africa.

* In the Asia - Pacific region:- (alphabetical, then date order) *

cn- China to Create First National Tiger Reserve - A Chinese nature reserve that is inhabited by four to six Siberian tigers is about to be upgraded to a national park, according to the Chinese state information service. Huangnihe River Nature Reserve, in the Mount Changbai area of northeast China's Jilin Province was established by the provincial government last May. The Huangnihe reserve will soon become a national park for the preservation of the area's endangered tigers. After a survey conducted two years ago, Chinese, Russian and American experts concluded that fewer than 20 Siberian tigers were living in the wild in northeast China. Mount Changbai is their most important habitat. Mount Changbai, stretching into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is known as a genepool of the species and an area with the most intact ecological system. All wild tigers are considered endangered. At the turn of the 20th century, there were an estimated 100,000 tigers living in the wild, from the tropical evergreen deciduous forests of southern Asia to the coniferous woodlands of Siberia. Hunted for their body parts which are used in traditional Asian medicines, today there are about 7,000 wild tigers remaining anywhere in the world. A hunting ban imposed on Changbai mountain by the Jilin provincial government five years ago has allowed an increase in wild boars and roe deer, which are prime prey for tigers. A panel of experts videotaped a Siberian tiger chasing a roe deer last month in the nature reserve. It was an adult male tiger, Li Tong, a wildlife expert on the panel told the Xinhua News Service. But the increase in wild prey has not kept the Changbai tigers from killing local cattle. Over 40 oxen have fallen prey to the tigers this autumn. Fifteen oxen raised on tree farms inside the Huangnihe reserve, were eaten by the hungry tigers, and ox bones and skin have often been found since October, workers on the tree farms told Xinhua.

cn- FeatureChina plants seeds of environment protection - On the hills of Jian, pear and pine trees stand where terraced rice fields once covered the land. This tiny town outside China's western city of Chongqing has a small but vital role to play in preventing disastrous flooding on the nearby Yangtze River, the world's fourth longest waterway. In some areas of western China, clear cutting of tree cover has increased run-off and sparked flooding. In others, it has caused water shortages after land was cleared for intensive farming. The forestation project aims to address years of environmental degradation which has scarred China's west, even as the government spurs the region to develop even faster. China started its "Great Western Development" drive in 2000 with an infrastructure construction binge to help the lagging regions catch up with booming eastern provinces. The roads, railway lines and airports have overshadowed the newly-planted saplings, one of just two environmental projects planned so far under the western development programme.

cn- HK coal trader eyes China clean coal plants - Hong Kong-based coal trader Arko Energy Ltd is planning to raise money through a stock exchange listing to fund ambitious plans to build clean coal preparation plants in China. Arko, which will split its clean coal equally between Chinese and export markets, wants to build a network of six plants in China, with total production capacity of 20 million tonnes a year. To fund its ambitious plans, Arko is planning to list in Hong Kong in the second quarter of 2001, director Howard Au said, although he refused to give details of the planned listing citing stock exchange rules. The company is initially focusing on two existing coal preparation plants in Ningxia in China's northwest and Guizhou in the southwest, which it intends to expand and modernise, before building another four plants, Au said. Coal is king in China, fuelling up to 75 percent of its energy needs, but up to 90 percent of that is burnt raw in power stations and is blamed for China's air pollution woes. "China can't get away from coal, but one thing we can do is clean it," Au told Reuters in a recent interview. Coal preparation plants clean, crush, desulphurize and blend the fossil fuel; and washed coal leaves only 5 to 6 percent ash, compared with 25 percent ash for unwashed coal.

cn- AnalysisChina wants to shift to gas, on security fears - China, worried about its energy security, plans to boost domestic use of natural gas in the face of high world oil prices and heavy reliance on crude imports, analysts and industry officials said on Thursday. A desire to halt the outflow of crucial foreign exchange and protect the environment by burning less coal is also driving the shift, they said. Beijing announced plans last year for three massive gas projects - two pipelines and a terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) - as oil prices surged to 10-year highs and state media raised the alarm. "To safeguard national energy security, China should make developing its natural gas industry the priority of its energy policy," the China Daily said in an editorial last month. "China is vulnerable and the situation will not be eased in the coming years because of growing use of cars." The head of the State Economic and Trade Commission, Sheng Huaren, said on Tuesday high world oil prices helped China's three big oil firms reap combined profits of 60 billion yuan ($7.3 billion) last year, but imports brought little net gain. "One-third of oil consumption in China is from imports, so for this portion the three Chinese oil groups did not benefit," Sheng said. The three are China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), China Petrochemical (Group) Corp (Sinopec) and China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC). China has been a net oil importer since 1993. Crude output in 2000 is estimated at 162 million tonnes while imports were pegged at a record 70 million tonnes. And China's intake of crude in 2001 is forecast to rise seven percent on the year to a new all-time high of 75 million tonnes.

cn- UN grants China $25 million to help ozone layer - The United Nations has given China a $25 million grant to help save the ozone layer by phasing out products that destroy the thin shield protecting Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation, state media said on Monday. The largest single contribution China has received from a special UN ozone fund would be used to set up factories expected to produce an annual 10,000 tonnes of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), a less ozone-damaging substance, the China Daily said. The 1997 Montreal Protocol - on which the UN ozone fund is based - commits governments to replacing chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) with safer ones such as HFC's and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC's) which do not in themselves harm the ozone layer. However, scientists say HFC's and HCFC's are powerful greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. Experts say the gases are thousands of times more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. By 2010, China will have stopped producing CFC, which depletes the ozone layer and is found in aerosols, refrigerators and used in making foam plastics, the China Daily said. China, home to some of the most polluted cities on earth, is the largest producer and consumer of ozone-depleting substances. By 2005, it is estimated China will need 10,000 tonnes of HFC for use in cars and other products. That figure will double by 2010, the newspaper said. China imports some 2,000 tonnes of HFC each year. China's environment has become a hot topic because the country's capital is competing with Paris, Toronto, Osaka and Istanbul to host the 2008 Olympic Games and is pouring some $12 billion into cleaning up the city. Beijing's filthy air, choked with fumes from its factories and coal-burning stoves which keep homes warm in its fierce winters, was one of the key reasons the 2000 Olympic Games went to Sydney.

CO2-Energy - Cars, Houses, Electric Power :

en- U.S. Energy Demand, Greenhouse Emissions to Rise - As California's electricity grid is stressed by high demand, scant reserves, skyrocketing fuel prices and power shortages, the federal government has issued a 20 year energy forecast warning Americans to brace for more of the same across the country. Energy demand in the United States will increase 32 percent by 2020, according to the latest energy forecast from the Energy Information Administration in its "Annual Energy Outlook 2001" released at the end of December. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is the statistical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. The growth in energy demand will be outpaced by the growth in greenhouse gas emissions, the agency predicts. The energy crunch will be eased by renewable and energy efficient technologies that are expected to become available and penetrate the U.S. market over the next 20 years, the EIA reports. ; Residence with grid connected solar photovoltaic panels in Gardner, Massachusetts
Solar photovoltaic energy generation will represent the fastest growing source of electricity generation in the United States for the next 20 years. The use of solar power will grow by more than 19 percent each year until 2020, the agency says. Grid connected solar photovoltaic power was one of the smallest contributors to the U.S. electricity pool in 1999, with only 0.01 GW of capacity, but EIA tables show that it will expand by 19.4 percent each year until 2020. Grid connected solar thermal power is expected to grow at 1.7 percent a year. Conventional hydroelectric dams provide the largest source of renewable energy in the United States, with 78 gigawatts of capacity in 1999. These facilities will remain static for the next 20 years, with power output actually decreasing slightly during the period, says EIA.

en- California University First To Be Designed To Green Standards - A new university campus in California will be the first in the country to be designed entirely on green principles. John F. Kennedy University will achieve, "wherever possible, the integration of sustainable principles in the building of its new Concord campus, as well as its academic curriculum," says president Charles Glasser. The goal is to maximize the use of green building materials throughout all aspects of design and construction, including campus furnishings, and to design the energy and water consumption needs using environmentally sensitive yet highly efficient methods. The campus will also strive for the highest possible rating from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy Efficient Design rating system, and will integrate the principles of sustainability into its curriculum. While a number of colleges and universities across the United States have completed sustainability construction practices in individual buildings, Glasser says JFKU will be the first in the country to construct an entire campus implementing Green Principles. The university will purchase a five acre site in downtown Concord, next to the citys rapid transit station, and will start construction early next year. Glasser and 30 other university presidents recently met at Oberlin College in Ohio to address the environmental and the challenges facing society. They were responding to a challenge from Thomas Kean of Drew University, a former governor of New Jersey, who challenged his fellow presidents call to have "higher education provide the leadership to move society toward a more just and sustainable future."

en- Consumer groups question Calif. utilities rate hike demands - California utilities, demanding massive electricity rate hikes, faced a tough cross-examination on Friday from consumer groups skeptical of their claim that the sharply higher rates are needed to stave off the threat of bankruptcy. "We don't think they're in nearly the financial difficulty that they portray themselves to be," said Robert Kinosian, regulatory analyst at the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, a consumer advocacy group. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was hearing the third day of conflicting testimony on the proposed rate hikes. "We have virtually exhausted our ability to borrow money because we are caught between skyrocketing wholesale prices and a retail price freeze. We have three to seven weeks of cash available," Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman Ronald Low told reporters.

en- Wildfire burning on snowless Alaska tundra - Unusual snowless conditions have allowed a 9,000-acre (3,600 hectare) wildfire to burn on the tundra of western Alaska, federal officials said on Friday. Firefighters were monitoring the blaze, which is located on the southern edge of Norton Sound and near the mouth of the Yukon River, about 695 km northwest of Anchorage. The fire is burning in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. Alaska's normal wildfire season is in late spring and early summer, when full greenery has yet to bloom. A winter fire is an oddity, Williams said.

en- InterviewStatkraft frustrated as Norway PM says no more hydro - Norway's state-owned utility Statkraft got a surprise as Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in his New Year's Eve address said there would be no more large-scale hydropower developments in Norway, Statkraft information chief Trond Rostad told Reuters on Tuesday. The decision by Stoltenberg's minority Labour government meant Statkraft's controversial construction of three hydropower stations in Saltfjellet, northern Norway, had to be put to rest. "This is frustrating. We have spent vast resources on this project," said Rostad, but declined to give a figure on the costs involved. The three developments caused the government much politicial headache last autumn, and Statkraft was ordered to halt works in September, just after construction began, due to strong opposition among environmentalists and opposition parties. "We have to conform to the government's decision, but it is a very strong statement which affects not only us but every other Norwegian power producer as well," Rostad said. Norway produces virtually all of its electricity from hydropower, amounting to around 115 terawatt hours (TWh) in a year of normal precipitation levels. The country consumes around 120 TWh per year. According to Rostad, Statkraft has been exploring other forms of power generation for some time, and a case in point was Statkraft's newly acquired consessions to build three wind farms with a total production of 800 megawatts of electricity in western Norway.

en- PollMost Greeks would gladly pay a green tax - More than six out of 10 Greeks would be happy to pay a tax for the protection and preservation of the environment, a poll published in an Athens daily said on Tuesday. The V-PRC poll for Ta Nea newspaper showed 62.7 percent of Greeks were in favour of a green tax while an overwhelming 83 percent agreed the climate had changed considerably in the past years. The nationwide poll, which was conducted between November 18 and December 5, 2000, showed people aged between 18 and 24 were the strongest supporters of an environmental tax with 70.4 percent in favour of it. Just over half of those older than 65 said they would welcome the tax. Greece has endured an extended drought in 2000, which has affected crops, and is also experiencing one of the mildest winters in decades. The destruction of forests was the most worrying environmental issue, with 21.7 percent saying it was the top concern. A potential nuclear disaster was second with just under 21 percent. Each summer Greece is plagued by hundreds of forest fires. Greece does not have any nuclear reactors but plants in neighbours Turkey and Bulgaria have long been considered by Greeks as a potential threat.

en- German opposition campaigns against "ecology" tax - Germany's opposition conservatives stepped up their campaign on Friday against the ruling centre-left coalition's plans to increase "ecology" taxes on petrol from the start of 2001. The Christian Democrats (CDU) distributed red and green petrol cans containing premium gasoline to motorists at garages to protest against the tax, which will add six pfennigs (2.8 US cents) to a litre of petrol from January 1. Using the slogan "Let's get tanked one more time", Christian Democrat general secretary Laurenz Meyer sought to build on widespread dislike of the tax - a key demand of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's junior coalition partners, the Greens. "The ecological tax is neither economically nor ecologically sound. Not one pfennig goes to the environment," Meyer said in a statement to launch the campaign. The tax is designed to cut energy consumption by making fuel more expensive and the multi-billion annual proceeds from the tax are earmarked to help prop up Germany's over-stretched pension system. The eco-taxes, introduced on a range of carbon-based fuels last year and due to rise incrementally to 2003, have proved unpopular and opinion polls show that around 80 percent of Germans oppose the tax. In the last year, petrol prices have risen from around 1.50 marks per litre to around two marks. In the last few weeks prices have come down to around 1.90 marks per litre.

en- Constitutional Court Sinks French Energy Tax Plan - The French government's program of ecological tax reform was dealt a serious blow on December 28 when the country's constitutional court rejected a planned industrial energy tax that was due to take effect on January 1. The ruling has caused a severe political headache for Environment Minister Dominique Voynet. It also threatens the wider ecological tax reform program by wiping out half a billion euros (US$464.6 million) of revenue meant to fund the government's flagship policy of a maximum 35 hour working week. The constitutional council's ruling was part of its a review of the 2001 budget and related tax changes. It finds the planned extension of the general pollution tax - the TGAP - to include energy use by about 40,000 industrial consumers to be unconstitutional on two counts. First, the proposal is judged to be "contrary to the principle of equality" of taxation, because some lower energy consuming companies would end up paying more than other companies consuming more energy. The second reason is that since the tax's stated aim is cut greenhouse gas emissions, it should therefore not have applied to electricity, which in France comes primarily from nuclear power and is therefore virtually carbon-free. The government should instead have designed the tax to encourage industry to switch from on-site fossil fuel use to greater electricity consumption, the council said. The French business federation, MEDEF, welcomed the ruling, but the Green party, of which Voynet is a member, accused the constitutional council of exceeding its mandate by seeking to influence national energy policy. The Greens said the council had taken an excessively "reductionist" view of the tax, which had been created not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also to increase energy efficiency. Expansion of the TGAP is one of the basic requirements for the Greens' participation in France's coalition government. Today, the finance ministry is looking for ways to fill the 35 hour work week funding gap, which amounts to over one billion euros when the scrapping of the energy tax is combined with the constitutional council's simultaneous rejection of plans to use revenue from tobacco and alcohol taxes for the reduction in the work week. It is not known whether the government will seek to reintroduce an energy tax proposal.

en- Norway Turns Its Back on Hydropower - Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has created a mini-sensation in Norway by declaring in his traditional New Year's Eve national address that "the era of large-scale new hydropower development is over" and that several big hydro projects are to be abandoned. The prime minister said construction of hydropower stations at Beiarn, Bjllga and Melfjord in Nordland county would be halted. The futures of several other projects are also in doubt. "I know that this is a decision that will provoke controversy. But the benefits of these development projects are not sufficiently great to justify irreversible encroachment on the natural environment," Stoltenberg said. Norway, one of the world's largest oil exporters, produces virtually all of its electricity for domestic use from hydropower, averaging 115 terawatt hours annually. Last year, however, Stoltenberg's minority Labour government made clear its intention of promoting natural gas technology for electricity production, and approved the construction of two gas fired power stations at the west coast sites of Kollsnes and Krst.

en- California Governor Calls Special Legislative Session On Energy Governor Gray Davis has ordered the state legislature to convene a special session to pass legislation addressing California's energy crisis. "In response to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) failure to meet its obligations, I am taking the extraordinary step of calling the California Legislature into a concurrent Extraordinary Session to immediately address the energy situation in our state," said Davis. "I will call them to do at least the following," Davis continued. "Replace the so-called stakeholders on the ISO Board with Californians who are more concerned about affordable prices and reliability of power and; reestablish the authority for the state to inspect private power plants to assure the coordination of maintenance and operating schedules; and provide low-interest financing for new peaking facilities or re-powering old ones to make them cleaner and more efficient in return for committing their power to Californians at guaranteed low rates."

en- Solar Energy To Be Standard Feature In New Homes - A house builder in California will make solar power a standard feature in its new homes. Shea Homes Inc. of San Diego will install solar systems from AstroPower Inc. in 100 new homes to be built this year. The companies want to build a total of 200 solar homes in the next 18 months, as new development phases roll out. "It's been a long-term goal of our industry in the U.S. to have solar electric home power systems become a standard feature in new home construction," said Howard Wenger of AstroPower. "That's what makes our partnership with Shea Homes so significant. Shea Homes has recognized the value of solar technology as a standard feature." The San Diego division of Shea Homes will feature solar technology in its newest community located in Scripps Highlands, 15 miles north of San Diego. The technology will let homeowners reduce their utility bills by 50 percent over a conventional home.

ENERGIES... week of January 7, 2001:

Largest-yet wind farm on Washington/Oregon state line.
  Nature knows nothing of political boundaries. The wind doesn't stop at lines drawn on a map. The single largest-yet wind farm will be built straddling the artificial line between the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon. The appropriately named Stateline Wind Generating Project 300 megawatt facility will have 450 turbines and supply enough power for 70,000 homes. Stateline will be built, owned and operated by FPL Energy. PacificCorp Power Marketing (PPM) will buy all of the power for at least 25 years. PPM will market wind power products and may work with the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) to combine the wind power with some of BPA's hydropower to market another green power product. Construction for Stateline should begin in February and be complete by the end of the year. Visit Stateline at .

BMW: not hydrogen fuel cells; IC engines on liquid hydrogen.
  Well respected in the marketplace for its high-performance cars, BMW will not follow the lead of other manufacturers toward the development of hydrogen fuel cells to power their cars of the future. Instead, the company believes the objective of zero-emission vehicles can be readily achieved by simply adapting conventional cars to run on liquid hydrogen. To help promote this idea the company is sending its fleet of fifteen model 750hL, 12 cylinder hydrogen bi-fueled luxury sedans on its CleanEnergy WorldTour. BMW makes an interesting point. If hydrogen can be produced cleanly and cheaply in unlimited supplies, can be safely distributed and stored on-board a vehicle, and is considered a zero-emission fuel when burnt, why go to all the trouble to develop hydrogen fuel cells? Further, BMW claims that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would likely be heavier, costlier and, because of the bulk of the systems, not fit into many conventional vehicle designs. The BMW 750hL cars have a range of 250 miles on 37 gallons of liquid hydrogen - almost 7 miles per gallon hydrogen - and are fitted to run also on gasoline. A current model gasoline fueled U.S. spec 750iL is EPA rated at 13 miles per gallon in city driving, 20 mpg highway. Search for CleanEnergy at .

GM & Toyota: interim hydrocarbon fuel for both fuel cells and IC engines.
  Being practical about the possibility of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, General Motors and Toyota working with ExxonMobil have agreed that an interim hydrocarbon-based fuel should be developed that will fuel both fuel cells and internal combustion engines. That fuel would have properties similar to gasoline, but be much cleaner and more efficient. The companies believe that hydrogen may become a common fuel in the future, but the current situation should not be ignored. There are hundreds of millions of conventional cars already on the road with millions more produced each year and only one refueling infrastructure currently available. Realistically, it would take a long time to develop a hydrogen infrastructure. GM also announced that it will introduce a hybrid sport utility vehicle by 2004. The ParadiGM hybrid system utilizes a pair of electric motors working in conjunction with either a four or six cylinder engine and a battery pack. GM has plans to adapt ParadiGM to a range of vehicles. For the interim fuel news visit GM at .

. (ENERGIES... 07/01) (see: , or if not there, in the archive:

en- Auto Show Circled By Clean Car Rally - A coalition of 18 environmental organizations and consumers rallied outside the North American International Auto Show on Sunday to send automakers a message - build cleaner, greener vehicles. Honda Insight and Toyota Prius owners drove their hybrid gasoline-electric cars in a loop around the Auto Show headquarters. Meanwhile, representatives from the coalition including Michigan Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists and Environmental Defense called for automakers to step up to the challenge. "Today's hybrids demonstrate that Detroit runs the risk of falling behind in the race to meet consumer demand for more environmentally friendly vehicles," said Lana Pollack, president of the Michigan Environmental Council. About 150,000 signature/pledges were brought to the rally, almost 100,000 of which were generated through the website, Pledgemakers said they would be interested in purchasing greener cars if Detroit automakers would build them.

en- Iowa Senator sees Bush opening California to ethanol - A leading farm state senator said on Wednesday he was optimistic that President-elect George Bush would take steps early in his administration to expand the US market for ethanol by denying California its request for a waiver from federal oxygen-content fuel requirements. "I hope early in his administration he will make a clear, definite statement that he's not going to grant California a waiver," Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a conference call with reporters. US corn producers and the ethanol industry are worried the Environmental Protection Agency, in the waning days of the Clinton administration, will grant California's request for a waiver to make cleaner-burning "reformulated gasoline" without using ethanol or any other oxygen fuel booster. But Grassley said he expected the decision, which could mean a 50 percent increase in US ethanol production and demand, would not be made before Bush takes office.

en- Clean Car Information Is Just A Click Away - Environmental Defense's Pollution Prevention Alliance today released its expanded Tailpipe Tally - a web based tool that allows consumers to compare and contrast the environmental performance of any vehicle. The site, , provides pollution and fuel cost information for both old and new model cars and trucks, and shows what environmental and financial benefits are possible if automakers use the best technologies available. "The Tailpipe Tally provides the simplest way to get the most relevant information about fuel costs and pollution from the use of your vehicle," said Dean Menke, Environmental Defense engineer. "With this information, consumers can begin to make driving and vehicle purchasing decisions that help protect the environment and save money." By choosing key parameters from pull down menus, Tailpipe Tally users can select and compare up to four new or used vehicles at one time. For example, a user can compare a current vehicle to any new vehicle offered in 2001, or two new vehicles can be compared side by side. Key parameters include: 1) miles traveled per year (optional); 2) model year (from 1978-2001); 3) vehicle make; 4) vehicle model; and 5) tailpipe emission standard (from a given list). The Tally calculates and presents the following estimates for each vehicle: fuel consumption, fuel cost, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons.

en- Strange fish in warming French seas stump experts - Strange fish are appearing in the gradually warming waters off the French coast, puzzling experts who say they are unsure if global warming, new feeding patterns or pollution are to blame. Flying gurnards, moonfish, triggerfish and tropical turtles are among the creatures that have given up traditional homes as far away as Africa for the Atlantic coast. "It could be a climatic phenomenon. The waters have warmed a little and we are certainly seeing different species to 20 years ago," said Stephane Auffret, director at the Croisic Oceanarium on France's western shoreline. "But, it is impossible to say exactly what is happening in the seas, because fish populations shift every day," he added. Auffret said an increase in plankton - possibly caused by greater marine pollution - fed sea creatures such as jelly fish, who in turn became meals for more exotic creatures.

en- Corn farmers fear Clinton decision on Calif. ethanol - US corn growers on Monday said they were worried President Bill Clinton would scuttle a huge new market for ethanol in California by granting the state a waiver from federal requirements for oxygen content in fuel. Lee Klein, president of the National Corn Growers Association, said the group feared Clinton would grant the waiver as a last-minute political favor before he leaves office in 12 days. Last year California, now struggling with an electricity power crisis, requested a waiver from federal rules that require cleaner-burning "reformulated gasoline" to contain at least 2 percent oxygen. The state is a major user of reformulated gasoline, which is required in parts of the country with the worst air pollution. The request for a waiver was tied to California's decision to phase out MTBE, the most widely used "oxygenate" under the reformulated gasoline program, after the fuel additive was found in groundwater supplies across the state. US refiners say they can make reformulated gasoline, which reduces smog, just as effectively without oxygenates. But corn growers have had their eye on the huge California market since the problems with MTBE began in the late 1990s. Ethanol, an oxygen-rich fuel alcohol made from corn and other forms of biomass, has grabbed the second largest share of the reformulated gasoline program after MTBE.

en- Asia Crude, Gulf crudes up as availability dwindles - Middle East sour crude grade prices firmed on the back of dwindling availability, traders said on Tuesday. A Japanese trader purchased 500,000 barrels of February Oman from China on Monday at a premium of 13 cents per barrel to the official selling price (OSP). The same trader later resold the cargo to a Japanese refiner at a premium of 15 cents to the OSP. The cargo is believed to be one of the last uncommitted Oman cargoes left for loading in February. "There's not much of anything left, which is why everything is kind of storming up," a trader with the European major said. He noted that Abu Dhabi crude had risen by more than 10 cents late last week because of dwindling cargo availability.

en- UNEP: Green Energy Could Save Climate, Forests, Wildlife Accelerating the introduction of environmentally friendly energy such as solar, wind and wave power is one of the most pressing issues of the new millennium, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will tell a meeting of the G-8 countries on renewable energy today. Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP, will be attending a private meeting of the G-8 Task Force on Renewable Energy at the French Ministry of the Environment to hear at first hand how their work is progressing. Green energy must be put at the heart of sustainable development if the threats of climate change and the need to tackle poverty and ill health in the developing world are to be truly addressed, Toepfer will tell the G-8 Task Force. Sustainable development, or not cheating on your children, means things like ensuring our ever growing cities function as stimulating and vibrant places to live and work; to ensuring that the poorest people in the world are not forced to chop down forests full of precious wildlife for wood to cook or keep warm, he says. I cannot frankly see how these problems can be overcome without the widespread introduction of non or lesser polluting forms of energy which conserve the planets finite resources of coal, oil and other fossil fuels, Toepfer says.

en- Ford Plans Higher Mileage Explorer SUV - The Ford Motor Company has announced plans to sell a Ford Explorer that travels 27 miles on a gallon of gas. The Ford Explorer is the nation's best selling sport utility vehicle (SUV). "Last summer Ford announced they intend to turn a corner on fuel efficiency, and today they signaled how they'll move in that direction,"said Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program. "By making a more fuel-efficient Explorer, Ford will help curb global warming, cut America's oil dependence, and save drivers money at the gas pump." The "New York Times" reported Tuesday that Ford will install devices to turn off the SUV's gasoline engine when the vehicle is idling and capture some of the energy lost in braking. The announcement comes on the heels of Ford's pledge last summer to improve overall fuel economy for the automaker's SUVs by 25 percent by 2005.

en- $10.9 Million Supports Energy Efficiency Research - Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has selected 13 firms to perform scientific research for energy efficient power generation, industrial and buildings systems, and transportation. The total grant amount is $10.9 million. "These firms will conduct ground-breaking research into the development of more energy efficient computers, engines, materials and alternative energy systems," said Richardson. "Investment in these technologies should help ease the demand for energy." The Department of Energy (DOE) invests in research to improve energy efficiency and reduce dependency on traditional energy sources. The goal of the research grants is to help bring exploratory research to the point where advanced energy efficient systems can be developed into commercial products. Among the grants is an estimated $1,824,574 for the University of Nevada to conduct research to demonstrate that solar energy systems can be made at an affordable cost for commercial buildings. The University will also demonstrate that complex hybrid reactors used for emissions reduction at power plants can be made to compete with existing technologies. Washington State University will get an estimated $800,000 perform basic research on the use of animal manures as feedstocks to produce low cost energy products, including fuels, chemicals, electricity and other products. Northwestern University will receive about $814,215 to conduct research that enables high temperature ceramic coatings to be used in energy efficient heat engines, such as microturbines and industrial gas turbines.

en- Luxury Resort To Be Powered By Solar Energy - Solar energy will be the source of electricity for an exclusive eco-resort that is being built in New Mexico. The former El Monte Lodge in Taos is being renovated to become an environmentally friendly vacation destination. The lodge was purchased in 1997 by Dharma Holdings Inc., which wants to use the new facility as a prototype and showcase for sustainable living. The company says it is dedicated to sustainable growth and the preservation of natural and cultural resources. "We originally planned the resort to include just 26 guest rooms, a spa and a restaurant," says executive vice president Kimberly Goodyear. "However, we recently purchased adjoining property that now makes it possible to expand the property to 40 guest rooms." The El Monte project will be powered by solar energy, and Solar Sculptures(R) collection systems will be positioned throughout the property. The facility will be constructed in part with recycled materials, and will process its wastewater for reuse as irrigation water. The wastewater will flow through a Living Machine(R), the company's proprietary technology that uses plants, bacteria and other living organisms to process the water. Gunnash(R), an adobe-like material that includes recycled fly ash from coal burning power plants, will be used in parts of the construction.

en- Auto show focuses on environment, safety - Automakers focused on the environment and safety at the motor show in Detroit on Tuesday, even as a new US government rating system raised concerns about the safety of some of industry's most popular models. General Motors Corp. outlined plans to offer high-mileage, cleaner-burning hybrid gasoline-electric engines in a variety of cars, trucks, city buses and other vehicles, beginning with a new sport utility vehicle (SUV) in 2004.

en- UK green power company signs up London authorities - British renewable power company Ecotricity said on Tuesday it had signed a deal to supply electricity to 10 local authorities in the London area. Ecotricity said the deal, covering 18 sites with a combined annual power consumption of 15 million kilowatt hours, marked the biggest single switch to renewable power in Britain's public sector. The authorities' switch to renewables would result in a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of about 6,000 tonnes a year, Ecotricity said. Ecotricity is part of British renewable energy group Next Generation. The company operates about 100 megawatts of renewable power generation in the UK, mostly based on wind, hydro and waste-to-energy processes. Next Generation managing director Dale Vince told Reuters the company expected to install another five megawatts of wind powered generation this year in the UK. In March, the company would finish construction of an on-site wind generator in Glasgow for British supermarket chain J Sainsbury , he said. This would be the UK's first merchant wind turbine, said Vince.

en- World's Largest Wind Farm Coming To Northwest - PacifiCorp and FPL Energy, LLC, have announced an agreement to develop and market power from the world's largest single wind energy development. FPL Energy will build, own and operate the new wind farm along the Washington-Oregon border southwest of Walla Walla, Washington. PacifiCorp's non-regulated subsidiary PacifiCorp Power Marketing, Inc., will purchase and market the entire output of the project over a 25 year period. At 300 megawatts, the Stateline Wind Generating Project will provide a boost of renewable electricity to the energy starved West. More than 450 wind turbines will produce electricity to serve the energy needs of some 70,000 homes each year. "The Stateline project is just the sort of sustainable solution we need for the region's energy shortage," said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. "The project has the added benefit that it can be brought on quickly to meet our immediate needs." Throughout the West, severe shortages of electricity have led authorities to call for stepped up construction of new power plants. Even the speediest construction of conventional fossil plants takes years to bring on line. Most of the Stateline Project will be generating this year, helping to ease shortages. "This is a great example of how alternative energy sources can benefit the Northwest," said Washington Governor Gary Locke. "This facility will help meet the increasing demand for electricity in our region while providing economic development to eastern Washington. Wind powered energy is both cost competitive with gas, and friendlier to the environment." Spring and fall night bird migration studies will be conducted to determine location of some turbines. Once in operation, the project will monitor impacts on birds and bats though a program approved and reviewed by a technical advisory committee consisting of scientists, representatives of government agencies, local landowners, environmentalists and FPL Energy. Wednesday's announcement makes PPM the leading supplier of renewable resources in the Pacific Northwest. FPL Energy is the largest developer and operator of wind energy facilities in the nation with more than 1,000 megawatts of wind turbines in operation or construction in seven states.

en- InterviewRenault issue industry growth warning on environment - French mass car manufacturer Renault SA said on Tuesday warned that long-term growth in the world car business could be jeopardized if problems of fuel consumption and environmental damage are not addressed. In an interview at the Detroit car show, Louis Schweitzer, President of Renault, said the US automotive industry had been particularly slothful. ENVIRONMENT CHALLENGE Schweitzer said the automotive business attitude to environment will determine its long term growth potential. "The future of car companies very much depends on how well they address the fuel crisis and climate change. You see today very different standards. The Europeans are working hard to reduce fuel consumption. you can say fairly that nothing is happening in the US

en- Germany's MVV takes stake in US thin-film solar-PV firm - German utility MVV Energie AG has taken a 33 percent stake in US company Energy Photovoltaics Inc. (EPV) in a move to secure access to EPV's solar energy technology, MVV spokesman Heinz Egermann said. He confirmed a press report on Tuesday that Mannheim-based MVV had secured exclusive rights to produce and market EPV's thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules in Germany. "There is unmet demand for PV cells in Germany, where the long-term subsidisation of solar energy is encouraging the installation of more such units in private homes and municipal housing schemes," Egermann said. "It is hoped that EPV can start commercial production of its new process soon and that MVV can take delivery of EPV modules as early as next year." "EPV's technology has an edge over the competition because it is low in costs, but highly energy efficient," he added.

en- California power talks run on, utilities flag - Government officials and utility company executives held marathon talks with no end in sight on California's power crisis on Wednesday, as one of the state's largest utilities begged for state help to avert a shocking economic failure in the Golden State. Pacific Gas & Electric, a unit of PG&E Corp. canceled its dividend and asked for state money to buy natural gas to feed the power needs of consumers in the richest and most populous US state. While the utilities floundered further, federal officials mediated a second day of negotiations at the US Treasury, hammering out specifics of a framework agreed to late Tuesday by California state lawmakers, regulators and Gov. Gray Davis. Those talks continued into Wednesday evening with no end in sight. Unlike Tuesday's seven hours of discussions, which were led by Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, the Wednesday "technical" round was attended by lower level energy officials, and utility company and power generation executives. "It looks like they are negotiating the price of forward contracts and crunching numbers," said an official with electricity major Duke Energy , a party to the talks.

en- Report Finds Rise In U.S. Global Warming Emissions - U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose 0.9 percent from 1998 to 1999, shows a draft report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Total greenhouse gas emissions of the six main greenhouse gases, rose from 6,689 to 6,748 million metric tons. These gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. The CO2 from fossil fuel combustion at power plants and factories is the largest source of all greenhouse gases, accounting for 80 percent of all emissions in 1999. Fossil fuel combustion was responsible for 88 percent of total greenhouse emission growth from 1990 to 1999. The study also shows that from 1990 to 1999, greenhouse gas emissions from cars, trucks and buses rose 21 percent, while total highway miles traveled climbed 13 percent. The U.S. is required to produce the report as part of its responsibilities as a party to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed in June 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit.

en- Auto Firms' C02 Pact With EU Lacks Teeth - The voluntary agreement between the European Commission and vehicle manufacturers to reduce cars' carbon dioxide emissions is weak, unambitious and unenforceable, said a scathing study released today by Europe's largest environment coalition. "Voluntary agreements are fashionable, but our study raises serious doubts as to whether they work at European Union level and whether they are being applied appropriately," said John Hontelez, secretary general of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). In 1997, the European Commission, the executive arm of the 15 member European Union, committed to reducing the emissions of C02 and five other greenhouse gases by eight percent on 1990 levels by 2010. To help reach this target, agreed in Kyoto, Japan, as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the European Commission negotiated a voluntary agreement with European, Japanese and Korean car manufacturers to reduce C02 emissions from vehicles. Under the agreement reached in July 1998 and finalized in 1999, the European Automotive Manufacturers Association (ACEA) pledged to reduce the new car fleet average emissions from 186 grams of CO2 per kilometer in 1995 to 140g/km by 2008 - a reduction of 25 percent. According to the European Commission, such a reduction will contribute about 15 percent of the total emissions reductions required from the European under the Kyoto Protocol.

en- Canadian climate shows continuing warming trend - Amid concerns that global warming is making itself felt in the Arctic, Canadian climatologists said on Wednesday that temperatures across the country were above normal in 2000 for the eighth consecutive year. Last year was the seventh warmest recorded in the 53 years that Environment Canada has been keeping national temperature records, although it was not as warm as 1999 or 1998, the meteorological agency reported. Climatologist Robert Whitewood cautioned against reading too much into a single year's data, but said the warming trends though both the 1990s and over the entire 53-year recording period were interesting. "The fact that we've had in the 1990s a consecutive streak of above-normal temperatures, I think that in itself indicates there has been some sort of shift," Whitewood said. The 2000 national average of minus 2.7 degrees Celsius (27.1 degrees Fahrenheit) was 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.6 F) warmer than the 53-year average. The average is below freezing because much of Canada is located in the Arctic and sub-Arctic, although most people live in the more temperate regions near the US border. The warmer temperatures last year were most notable in the region of the Yukon territory and northern British Columbia, which was was 1.7 degrees Celsius above normal, the agency reported.

en- Governor Davis Plans To Slash California Energy Use - Governor Gray Davis has announced a sweeping plan to reduce California's energy use by at least five percent by Thursday. The measures are required by an energy squeeze that has threatened rolling blackouts as California utilites face a heightened demand for energy in the face of rising fuel prices. Submitted to U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson to satisfy a requirement that paved the way for the granting of an emergency order requiring generators to continue providing power to California, the initiative calls for major reductions in energy use by state government, and a broad public outreach campaign. The effort is expected to reduce the state's peak energy use by 1,600 megawatts - enough power for 1.6 million households. "These common sense measures will have a substantial effect in reducing the strain on California's electric grid," said Governor Davis. "Not only will they save power and help keep the lights on elsewhere in the state, but they also will reduce the state's electric bill." The plan depends on a statewide public outreach campaign coordinated by the Department of Consumer Affairs with other state departments to promote energy efficiency through newsletters, letters, websites, and public forums. The state will launch a publicity program with the California Science Center to reach its more than 1.3 million visitors, and conduct education campaigns with other museums and institutions. State employees will be targeted by a public education campaign to persuade them to reduce energy consumption at work and at home.

en- California likely to impose blackouts hitting 2 million people - California power officials, facing a severe power emergency, said on Thursday a lack of electricity would likely force them to initiate rolling blackouts later in the day affecting up to 2 million people, mostly in Northern California. Officials at the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages about 75 percent of the power grid serving California's 34 million residents, told a news conference they anticipated ordering blackouts between 4 and 8 p.m. Pacific Time (2400-0400 GMT). Rolling blackouts, in which entire neighborhoods are shut off for about an hour at a time, are a desperate final step utilities can take to prevent an uncontrolled collapse of the power grid. California's chronic power shortage took a turn for the worst on Thursday when a strong winter storm knocked out some of the state's biggest power plants, including the giant Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

ENERGIES... week of January 14, 2001:

Weapons to Wind Power- Nevada's 260 MW for Calif.
  Following last week's announcement of a new major wind power project comes possibility of yet another large wind project in the American west. This time the state of Nevada could be host to a 260 megawatt facility to be built by M&N Windpower and Siemens Energy and Automation. To be constructed in stages, the first 85 megawatts could be online in 2002, the remainder by 2004. The project will go ahead, if financing is worked out, power purchases are made and the all-important tax credits for renewable energy are extended beyond 2001. A guess is tax credits will survive given the current energy crisis in California. Customers for the new power are expected to come from that neighboring state. The 664 acre site 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas was formerly used for nuclear weapons testing. Siemens will design and construct the project. The 325 turbines are expected to come from NEG Micron, a shareholder in M&N which will operate and maintain the project once built. Visit M&N at (website appears under construction)

Hybrid Wind/Gas- Minnesota+: 100 MW wind, 550 MW natural-gas turbine power.
  It's no surprise to anyone that the wind doesn't blow all the time at a particular location. No wind, no wind power generated, and electricity must come from elsewhere. Acknowledging this situation, and also looking to meet the expected growing demand for electric power in the upper midwestern United States, Northern Alternative Energy, through its affiliate Navitas Energy and Xcel Energy, will build a $400 million 650 megawatt hybrid wind/ gas turbine power project in the states of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. The project includes 100 megawatts of wind power and 550 megawatts of natural-gas-fueled turbine power. Five sites have been chosen, but lucky Minnesota will get all of the 100 megawatts of wind power and 250 of gas turbine. The gas turbines have the ability to kick in only at peak demand periods or when the wind isn't blowing. Visit Navitas at .

Combustion Without Emissions? No Full-sized Plant Schematics Yet.
  Keep emissions from power plants 100 percent contained, and a major battle for the environment could be won. ThermoEnergy Corporation has received patents on 27 claims related to its ThermoEnergy Integrated Power System (TIPS) process. According to the company TIPS changes the combustion process and tweaks the Rankine cycle (a process cycle used in steam power generation) to enable the capture of carbon dioxide as a liquid for sequestration or beneficial uses. TIPS would operate on variety of fuels - even cheap, low grade fuels - and still meet current and proposed U.S. emissions regulations. The company claims TIPS will eliminate emissions of acid gases, atmospheric particulates and Mercury. If proven, TIPS could be retrofitted to existing power plants or new plants could be built around the process. TIPS could also be used to make hydrogen for fuel cells. ThermoEnergy is working with the U.S. Department of Energy and others to develop preliminary process configuration and schematics for a full sized TIPS power plant. A patent doesn't guarantee the success of a process, only that it is unique. Visit ThermoEnergy at .

. (ENERGIES... 14/01) (see: , or if not there, in the archive:

en- Hong Kong cracks down on illicit fuel activities - Hong Kong customs authorities said they arrested 22 drivers and compounded 24 mud-loading trucks for using illicit oil as fuel on Thursday in their largest such operation to date. "Following a three-week-long investigation, 116 officers ... intercepted 120 mud-loading trucks. Twenty-four were found using suspected marked oil or detreated oil as fuel," the government said in a statement. The statement did not say where the contraband oil came from, but many in Hong Kong believe there is some smuggling from China. The officers of the Marine and Land Enforcement Command stopped the vehicles in the area of Sha Tin in the New Territories mainland portion of Hong Kong. In the statement, the government warned that anyone convicted of using illicit oil as fuel would have a criminal record. The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of HK$1 million (US$128,000) and two years' imprisonment. The news comes just as Hong Kong has been covered by a thick blanket of haze in congested areas, with the air pollution index exceeding 140 in some districts earlier this week and lending weight to a new proposal to "pedestrianise" parts of the city.

en- AnalysisCertificate trade may marry green energy with market - European governments may have found a solution to reconcile policies to subsidise renewable energy with liberalising power markets to drive prices lower. The answer could be so-called green certificates, issued to renewable power producers who can then sell them on to major electricity users, themselves required to purchase a certain proportion of renewable energy. The certificate sale recompenses the renewable plant, which can then afford to sell its normally expensively-produced power into the national grid at the market rate. "Support for renewables can be compatible with the market if it's based on a market system, whereby the market itself decides on the type and level of subsidies," said Hans-Erik Kristoffersen, at Danish electricity industry association, Danske Energiselskabers Forening (DEF). So far only a few bilateral transactions have been concluded, making it hard to assess the efficiency of the system, but many countries believe it will lead to a market for renewable power. A voluntary Europe-wide initiative to implement a Renewable Energy Certificates System (RECS) is also on its way with initial test trading expected shortly. In Denmark, trading is not expected before 2002 as the government is still in the process of deciding how many certificates to issue and the minimum obligation to impose. Current capacity of about 1,700 megawatts of mainly wind farms was developed thanks to government subsidies.

However, not all countries view green certificates as the absolute answer to promote renewables, and a number of them are still in favour of a fixed-price system which shows results but is not so compatible with market mechanisms. Germany has set an example in the field, followed by Spain and, more recently, France. Higher fixed prices were imposed there in the early 90s and since then it has become Europe's largest producer of wind power, accounting for about one-third of wind capacity worldwide, with 5,000 megawatts (MW). Renewable power however still accounts for only six percent of the country's total electricity production. "Such a system has been much more successful than elsewhere," said Johannes Lackmann, president of the German Renewable Energy Association. "A fixed price for renewable power enables investors to take the risk to invest with a known return."

en- FeatureAntarctic ice discovery warms climate change debate - The discovery in a core of ancient polar ice of evidence of a sudden Antarctic temperature rise thousands of years ago has added fuel to the debate on global warming. The find, by scientists working on an ice core taken several km (miles) beneath the surface, is the first evidence of rapid warming in the Antarctic and matches existing evidence of warmer bouts in past aeons in the north pole region. It suggests a temperature spike of around four degrees Celsius took place in the south pole region over about a decade 19,000 years ago. "That's a significant temperature change (over) about a decade... Pretty phenomenal," said Dr David Etheridge, a scientist with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The discovery, by University of Colorado Associate Professor James White towards the end of last year, is sending Australian scientists back to examine their own drill cores of Antarctic ice, taken from Australia's East Antarctic Territory. Scientific interest in White's discovery, from cores taken from coastal West Antarctica, has been heightened by a correlation between the time of the temperature spike and an abrupt rise in sea levels at about the same time, as documented by Australian National University research. "It is fuel for the argument that climate change can be rapid, even in the southern hemisphere, and ice sheets can melt," Etheridge said.

Fresh Water :

fw- Columbia River runoff somewhat below normal in 2001 - The US Northwest's Columbia River Basin will see runoff a little below normal levels between January and July 2001, the Northwest River Forecast Center said in its first forecast for the 2001 water year. The Portland-based agency, part of the National Weather Service, said in its early-bird forecast issued late Thursday that runoff at The Dalles, the next-to-last dam on the Columbia River, will total 92 percent of normal between January and June of next year. The runoff forecast is watched closely by the power industry, since water supplies make a big difference in the amount of hydropower the region can generate. The agency forecast that runoff at the largest dam in the region, Grand Coulee on the upper Columbia River, will be 97 percent of normal between January and July.

fw- Kenyan Dam Protester Arrested, Shot - A Kenyan activist working with dam affected people has been arrested, beaten and faces criminal charges for holding meetings and trying to share information about the Sondu Miriu hydroelectric dam project in southwestern Kenya. Argwings Odera of the Africa Water Network was protesting the dam on environmental and public health grounds on December 26, 2000 when the arrest took place. This was his third arrest for protesting the project. On the day of the arrest, Odera was shot in the arm by police, but the bullet that was aimed at his head and meant to be fatal so as to "silence him," a provincial police officer of Nyanza Province told Odera. "They blew the door and forced the already profusely bleeding man out of the car. He was rained on with punches, kicks and blows to the protest of community members who were present, according to a statement by the Africa Water Network. Odera was released on KES 100,000 (US$1,272) bond with surety of a similar amount. The activist has been charged with tresspass, resisting arrest, incitement of the public against the dam, and publication of a false document - a letter to the government of Japan expressing community objections to the dam. The Japanese government is partially funding the dam project, and the Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, arrived in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday for a three day state visit, the first African trip by a serving Japanese prime minister. Kenya is the largest recipient in Africa of Japanese Official Development Assistance. In 1999, Japan spent more than 57 million dollars in Kenya in the form of grants and loans, an embassy statement said.

GM-biotechnology :

gmb- Poll19% of US farmers plan to segregate crops, up from 15% - Despite growing consumer demand for non-bioengineered foods, the vast majority of US farmers are planning not to segregate their biotech crops from the rest of their 2001 harvest, according to a Reuters survey of 400 farmers. America's biggest farm customers, like Japan and Europe, have questioned the safety of genetically-modified crops in human food, pressuring US grain exporters to test and sample their shipments for biotech varieties. About 81 percent of farmers surveyed by Reuters said they would not invest in testing kits, equipment or storage facilities to handle and segregate genetically-modified crops. This is down slightly from last year's survey, which cited 85 percent of participants.

gmb- Pressure Grows for GMO Free Zones in Europe - A campaign to create a network of areas in Europe free of genetically modified (GM) crops was launched in Brussels today at an international conference on the legal and technical issues behind the concept. Organized by the Green and European Free Alliance parties in the European Parliament, the conference was called to highlight frustration among proponents of GM free zones that GM crops cannot currently be banned at local level even where there is public support for such a move. "It should be up to regional and local authorities to decide whether they want to refuse the growing of GMO crops in their own territories - higher bodies like national governments or the EU Commission should not have the power to overrule such a decision," said Green Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Paul Lannoye. The European Commission is currently battling to lift a de facto European Union moratorium on new GM crop approvals. The commission is opposing unilateral moves by some member states to ban crops already given the green light by European Union authorities. Late last year the European Union's scientific committee on plants backed its case against bans on approved GM maize (corn) varieties introduced in Austria and Germany. The disputes may have to be settled by the European Court of Justice.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

hi- Critical Habitat Proposed For 32 Hawaiian Plants - The fourth in a series of seven critical habitat proposals covering 255 Hawaiian plant species was released Friday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). If made final, this proposed rule would establish 28 critical habitat units on the island of Molokai, including 15,227 acres of private, state and federal lands. "With this proposal, we have met our court ordered deadline to propose critical habitat designations or nondesignations for 100 Hawaiian plant species," said Anne Badgley, USFWS Pacific regional director. "Our ultimate goal is to recover these plants and eventually remove them from the list of threatened and endangered species." The 28 critical habitat units are concentrated in the eastern and northwestern portions of Molokai. Most of the acreage is on state and private lands.

hi- Suit Seeks Protections for 17 Hawaiian Forest Birds - The Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund has filed suit in on behalf of Conservation Council for Hawaii (CCH) seeking the designation of critical habitat for 17 species of imperiled Hawaiian forest birds. Some of the brightly colored birds have been declining since the first humans landed in the Hawaiian islands. The suit, filed last week in federal court, seeks to compel Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Jamie Rappaport Clark to take action on CCH's 1992 petition to designate critical habitat for the birds. The 17 forest birds on the islands of Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii were listed as endangered between 1967 and 1975. Some of these species may have already gone extinct, and all of them remain in peril from low population numbers and habitat loss. "We are dismayed that these birds continue to be lost, contributing to Hawaii's dubious distinction of being the extinction capital of the world," said Karen Blue, executive director of CCH, the Hawaii affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. "The USFWS warned in 1982 that 'immediate and heroic' efforts to save these species were needed. While for some it may already be too late, for those that remain, critical habitat designation is a vital legal protection to which these species are entitled."

hk- Cars may be banned from central HK to cut pollution - Hong Kong plans to turn parts of its busy Central commercial district into traffic-free zones in a drive to improve its deteriorating air quality. The proposal would see the closure of several major roads in Central to vehicles, and transport authorities have recommended limiting them to pedestrians only from later this year. The plan would cover popular night-time districts Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo as well as part of Central's busy Queen's Road, and will be discussed in the local district council this week. Air pollution in Hong Kong has stirred much concern in recent years. On bad days, a thick blanket of choking haze shrouds the famous Victoria harbour, sharply reducing visibility. On Monday, the air pollution index (API) reached a very high level in dense districts of Central, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, with readings exceeding 140 in all three districts. The Hong Kong government issues a standard warning urging people with respiratory and heart problems to stay indoors whenever the index rises above 100.

hk- Rare Hong Kong dragonflies saved from developers - A Hong Kong court ruled on Tuesday that a remote valley which is home to some 70 species of dragonfly should be saved from the developers who wanted to turn the area into a multi-million dollar property project. In a major triumph for environmental protection in crowded Hong Kong, the high court agreed with the government which declared the 58-hectare (145-acre) site an area of special scientific interest in 1998 and blocked construction plans. "It is essential to maintain an ecological balance between development and conservation. After all, mankind is only a part, and a very small part indeed, of nature," the high court said in a written judgement handed down on Tuesday.

id- Indonesian population rising at slower rate: 1.4% (c.f. 2%, 1990) - Indonesia has an estimated population of 203.45 million people, with violence in several provinces preventing an accurate count from taking place, the government's latest census shows. The Statistics Bureau said in a statement obtained on Thursday that the results of a census last year showed average annual growth in the last decade had fallen to 1.35 percent from 1.97 percent during the 1980-1990 period. The census did not cover eight districts in the troubled provinces of Aceh, Irian Jaya, the Moluccas, West Kalimantan and North Sulawesi because of security problems. An estimate of the population in those districts was added to the final tally. Many recent estimates of Indonesia's total population have put the number at 210 million people. Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country, and has been rocked by violence and political woes since it plunged into crisis more than three years ago. The census figures showed 60 percent of the country's people lived on the crowded island of Java.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

in- InterviewIndian firm setting up 217-tonne gold refinery - India's private sector Agee Gold Refiners Ltd is setting up a 217-tonne gold refinery in the western state of Maharashtra which will start commercial production by March, a senior company official said on Monday. "We plan to start trial runs this month and commercial production by March," Sanjay Gupta, executive director of the firm told Reuters in an interview. The total cost of the project is 3.04 billion rupees ($65.15 million), he said. "We plan to source raw material from gold mines mainly located in South Africa, Australia, Russia and South America," he said. In the long run, about 50 percent of the company's total gold output would be from the refining of imported raw gold. The balance would come from the recycling of gold jewellery and products collected within the country.

in- India to study impact of proposed Bombay airport - The western Indian state of Maharastra plans to carry out studies to assess the impact of a planned new international airport proposed for Bombay, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said on Thursday. The Airports Authority of India has asked Maharshtra to study the environmental impact of the airport as well as forecast the amount of traffic it can expect, a spokesman for the government body that will undertake the studies, told Reuters. "By 2005, Bombay airport will have approximately 12.6 million passengers per annum. The present airport capacity would reach saturation in the next five years", he told a news conference. The state government has acquired 60 percent of the land required for the new airport near Bombay, he said. The existing Bombay airport is the busiest and most profitable of the country's 65 civilian airports. The government plans to offer four of the country's main airports, including the existing one at Bombay, to private firms.

in- Girl trampled to death by elephants in east India - A herd of wild elephants trampled a teenage girl to death in India's eastern state of Orissa, police said on Thursday. Police said the girl was probably trapped in the herd's path when she came out of her home early in the morning at Bharatpur, on the outskirts of the state's capital Bhubhaneshwar. This is the third death caused by the same wild herd and has led to considerable tension in the area, an official said. Wildlife experts have blamed the growing human encroachments on forest lands for the deaths. Biswajit Mohanty, an official of the Wildlife Society of Orissa said, Bhubhaneshwar bordered the Chandka elephant sanctuary, a home to nearly 80 elephants.

in- Indian wildlife group alarmed by elephant deaths - An Indian wildlife group called on Thursday for heightened vigilance against poachers after the grisly killing of two elephants in the Corbett National Park. One of the beasts was found in the heart of the jungle with its trunk cut off and its tusks removed. The other was a tuskless elephant which was found dead near a sugar cane plantation on the edge of the reserve. "These are the first ones in many years. This is a new trend," Aniruddha Mookerjee, director of programmes for the Wildlife Trust of India, told Reuters. "It's an organised racket. A big (ivory) buyer funds this to be done through a middle man by a small-time village hunter."

in- Cairn Energy Plc strikes hydrocarbon off India's Gujarat - UK-based exploration firm Cairn Energy Plc has made a second hydrocarbon find in its CB-OS/2 block in the Bay of Cambay, off the coast of India's western Gujarat state, the firm said on Monday. Gas reserves estimated at between 50-200 billion cubic feet (1.4-5.7 billion cu metres) and oil had been discovered at an exploration well CB-C-1, some 25 km (15.5 miles) west of its first gas discovery, Lakshmi, in the same block, a company statement said. "The well reached a total depth of 1,600 metres and encountered several hydrocarbon pay zones below 798 metres. Two zones tested and flowed gas at a cumulative rate of 41 million cubic feet of gas per day on a 96/64 inch choke," the firm said. A third zone had flowed oil at varying rates between 150-500 barrels per day. Cairn is on an aggressive multi-well exploration programme in India and has a 75 percent equity stake in the west coast joint venture with India's state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp and Tata Petrodyne.

in- India's Ganges, a holy river of pollution - Hindus believe that a dip in the holy Ganges during the Maha Kumbh Mela festival will cleanse their souls of sin. But the pollution that bedevils the river could do untold damage to the bodies of the faithful who will bathe in the Indian city of Allahabad over the next few weeks. Ram Surat Das, a barefoot old man, emerged from a crowd of Ganges bathers on Saturday holding a steel pot of water. "I'll use this for drinking and cooking and get some more tonight," he said. "It's absolutely clean. Of course it is, it's Ganges water." So far he has survived the physical onslaught of raw sewage, rotting carcasses, industrial effluent, fertilisers and pesticides that infect the river from the Himalayan foothills to the Bay of Bengal. Experts say pollution is to blame for a host of diseases - hepatitis, amoebic dysentery, typhoid, cholera and cancer - among the roughly 400 million people who live in the vast Gangetic basin. According to a recent official report, a so-called Ganga Action Plan which was launched with great fanfare and at huge expense 15 years ago has met only 39 percent of its primary target for sewage treatment. It said that less than half of the grossly polluting industrial units lining the 2,500-km (1,560-mile) river had installed effluent treatment plants, and over 18 percent of them did not function properly.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

jp- FeatureSacred river doubly dammed by pork-barrel Japan - For Shigeru Kayano, damming the Saru River on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido was tantamount to drowning the souls of his ancestors. The former lawmaker sees Nibutani Dam, completed four years ago on sacred land expropriated by the government, as yet more proof that Hokkaido's indigenous minority, the Ainu, have been robbed of their birthright. Now the government, rolling out more of its long tried and tested pork-barrel projects despite ballooning public debt, plans another dam just 23 km (14 miles) upstream in a move local critics say will further mar the once-pristine river. The government says that unlike the 70 billion yen ($619.9 million) Nibutani Dam, which submerged Ainu burial grounds and other holy spots, the planned Biratori Dam is not controversial - despite its proximity to Japan's largest Ainu community. Seventy percent of Nibutani's 500 people are descended from the Ainu, who for centuries hunted bear and deer in the surrounding hills and spear-fished salmon in the Saru River. The region is central to many Ainu creation myths. Scholars disagree on the origins of the Ainu, who are ethnically distinct from the Japanese and developed a culture based on close ties with nature. No one knows how long they have lived on Hokkaido - estimates vary widely from 700 to 10,000 years. Under the Japanese, who first started immigrating to Hokkaido in the 15th century, a policy of assimilation required the Ainu to take up farming, often on poor-quality land parceled out by the government. Disease, poverty and discrimination took their toll. A 1999 government survey puts the Ainu population around 24,000, or 0.02 percent

jp- Japanese Winds Blow Energy Companies into Association - Five companies that generate electricity from wind have formed an industry association in Japan. The Wind Power Developers Association has been created by Tomen Corp., Marubeni Corp., EcoPower Co., Japan Wind Development Co. and the Electric Power Development Co. The new group aims to develop the market for wind power in Japan and to exchange ideas among the members. Electric power companies in the country are prioritizing environmentally friendly energy and have announced plans to purchase electricity generated by wind power on a long term basis. Wind turbines on a Japanese farm (Photos courtesy Japan Wind Development Co. Ltd.)
The association plans to take a leadership position in encouraging further steps by the industry to promote wind power generation and use and invite the participation of other developers to join forces with the association. The trading house Tomen is one of the largest wind energy generators in the world. Its subsidiary, Tomen Power Japan Corp., will manage the association. Japan is the world's fourth largest energy consumer and second largest energy importer after the United States.

jp- Japanese Embassy defends whale hunting in Argentina - More zealous hunting of whales would not disturb the world's ecosystem as long as it is properly regulated, the Japanese Embassy in Argentina said in a recent letter to local lawmakers. Organizations such as Greenpeace allege that Japanese trawlers frequently hunt the world's largest mammal in Argentine waters, which are home to such endangered species as the nearly extinct Southern Right Whale. But a three-page letter from the Japanese Embassy to city council members in the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn, which is 1,125 miles (1,800 km) south of Buenos Aires and famed for its whale-watching, defended controlled whale hunting and labeled attacks on Japanese conduct as "groundless." "We believe that a supervised hunting, not like the one seen decades ago, and of whale species that are not in danger of extinction, can be consistent with the sustainability of the ecosystem," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters. A spokesman at the Japanese Embassy said the Japanese community in Argentina felt unfairly discriminated against because of their association with whale hunting, adding that certain types of the activity are not illegal.

nc- Elyo wins $57 mln power deal in New Caledonia - French energy services company Elyo said on Tuesday its EEC unit had been awarded a 20-year contract worth 400 million French francs ($57.44 million) to distribute electricity in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia. Elyo, a unit of utilities and communications group Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, said in a statement the contract covered the distribution of power to 35,000 people in the territory's capital Noumea and had taken effect on January 1. The company said it would seek to promote the generation of power from renewable energy sources in New Caledonia, where EEC has constructed a 4.5 megawatt wind farm.

Oceans :

oc- Limits Placed On Crab Fishing Vessels In Bering Sea - The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is implementing a program to limit fishing capacity in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) crab fisheries. The first stage of the program reduces the number of vessels that can participate in the BSAI crab fisheries by requiring that vessels meet historic harvest qualifications. To qualify, a vessel must meet existing license limitation program criteria, and vessels 60 feet and over in length must have made at least one landing of BSAI crab in 1996, 1997 or before February 7, 1998. The Norton Sound king crab fisheries are exempt from this program. "Under the capacity reduction program, licenses now can only be used to harvest BSAI crab on qualified vessels," said Jim Balsiger, Alaska regional administrator for NMFS. "This is a new requirement for vessels that have a history of participation in this crab fishery." "The second stage will be the crab LLP license buyback program," said Balsiger. "We anticipate implementation of that phase of the program by May 2001." More information is available at:

oc- Depleted uranium worries raised for Scotland seas - A new front opened on Monday in the probe into the safety of depleted uranium ammunition as environmentalists demanded the cleanup of waters around Scotland where shells were test fired for 10 years. Friends of the Earth and a Scottish parliamentarian demanded the cleanup after Britain's defence ministry said it had fired more than 6,000 shells containing depleted uranium into west Scotland's Solway Firth over the past decade and left them on the seabed.

oc- Damaged Great Barrier Reef gets clean-up - A team of divers and scientists has begun a massive clean-up of Australia's Great Barrier Reef to repair damage caused by the grounding of a Malaysian container ship last year, newspapers reported on Saturday. The Australian newspaper said the 15 experts ferried high-powered underwater vacuum cleaners on Friday to Sudbury Reef, 50 km (30 miles) east of Cairns in Australia's tropical north, to start the reef repair operation. Project manager Paul Marshall told the newspaper the aim was to remove paint that scraped off the Malaysian-flagged Bunga Teratai Satu's hull when it was grounded there on November 2. The vessel was refloated on November 14. The paint, distributed over a large area, contains TBT (tributyl-tin) which kills coral. "In the immediate impact zone there are levels of TBT that are 100 times greater than the acceptable level," Marshall was quoted as saying. The clean-up was expected to take six weeks, but it would take at least five years for the coral to begin to recover and perhaps hundreds of years for the reef's physical structure to fully regenerate, he said.

oc- Whale attacks Australian fishermenreport - Two Australian fishermen were thrown overboard and their boat holed when a whale attacked them off the southeast coast, local media reported on Sunday. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper said holidaymakers Paris Vella and Glen Connell were fishing 1.8 km off Merimbula in New South Wales state when the whale struck their 4.5m boat, pitching them into the water and nearly capsizing the vessel. The whale charged the boat again, knocking a hole in its hull, a Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol official told the paper. Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio said a nearby vessel came to the rescue and towed the fishermen's boat back to shore, with the two men "bailing furiously". ABC said the coastal patrol had taken DNA samples from the hull in a bid to identify what type of whale had charged the fishing boat. Whale attacks are extremely rare.

oc- Energy From The Sea Floor Could Power Equipment - Fuel cells powered by energy from the sea floor could supply electricity to instruments used to monitor ocean currents and water temperatures, says a report in the December 28 issue of "Environmental Science & Technology," a journal of the American Chemical Society. The researchers found that the electrical potential of sediment on the sea floor differs from the electrical potential of the surrounding salt water, said Leonard Tender, a co-author of the study from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. Collecting power from that difference could supply energy for fuel cells for self sustaining oceanographic equipment, he said. "We calculate that optimized power supplies could run oceanographic instruments based on this phenomenon for routine long-term operations in the coastal ocean," Tender said. Organic matter in sediment on the ocean floor releases energy as it decays. In shallow waters, that energy is concentrated just below the ocean floor. Energy for the fuel cell - like the voltage between opposite poles of a battery - comes from a reaction involving chemicals released from the buried sediment and the oxygen, said Clare Reimers, a co-author of the paper from Oregon State University.

oc- FeatureNew England fishermen fear red crab in danger - New England red crab fishermen are bracing for a fight with their West Coast counterparts who have suddenly appeared in Maine waters to exploit one of the last unregulated US fisheries. Faced with a collapsing crab fishery in the Bering Sea, two boats from Washington state have showed up to harvest delicate red crab, and fishermen who have been railing against regulation of other species such as cod, tuna and scallops are seeking emergency rules and regulations to protect the Atlantic crab. The red crab fishery is one of the deepest in the world - some 2,000 feet (600 metres) below the surface on a quarter-mile strip that runs from Canada to Virginia along the continental shelf. "And so ... you think, 'Wow, that's crab for 800 miles out there' ... but if it's only a quarter-mile band, that's only 200 square miles (520 sq. km) of bottom, which is less than what is sitting out here on Jeffrey's Ledge," said Jon Williams, gazing at the horizon from his boat's berth in Westport, Maine.

oc- India-Bound Mercury Shipment Under Fire - Maine's worst mercury polluter is proving to be as controversial in liquidation as when the company was manufacturing caustic soda and chlorine from its Orrington plant on the Penobscot River. HoltraChem Manufacturing Co. closed its plants in Orrington, Maine and Riegelwood, North Carolina last fall, citing rising costs and declining product prices. It was not helped by fines as high as $736,000 imposed by Maine's Department of Environmental Protection for numerous mercury contaminated spills. Among the more pressing issues raised by liquidation was what to do with the 131 tons (260,000 pounds) of mercury HoltraChem had accumulated in the process of producing chlorine since taking over the plant in 1994. The answer appears to have surfaced in the southern Indian town of Kodaikanal. Kodaikanal is a popular tourist destination in the Ghat foothills in Tamil Nadu. It is also home to the largest clinical thermometer plant in the world. Mercury is typically used in thermometers, fluroscent lamps, metal switches and batteries. When released into the environment, it can be deadly since the nervous system is highly sensitive to all forms of mercury. Mercury does not break down, but accumulates in the fat of animals, concentrating as it moves up the food chain. Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Short term exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapors may cause lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes, and eye irritation. A recent study by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences warned that at least 60,000 babies per year in the U.S. could be at risk of learning disabilities because their mothers have eaten mercury contaminated fish and seafood.

oc- Court blocks nuclear ship from Argentine waters - An Argentine court ordered the government on Wednesday to prevent a British ship carrying nuclear waste from entering waters under its control, arguing it put the country's shoreline at risk from a toxic spill. The order means the Argentine government must eject the British-owned Pacific Swan if it enters what the court called the country's "jurisdictional" waters. While environmental group Greenpeace and other sources said "jurisdictional" waters entailed an area 200 miles off the country's shore, Argentina's Foreign Ministry said the vessel had the right to travel up to 12 nautical miles from the shoreline under international shipping agreements. The court's order was vague in its meaning and was issued in response to a request by the country's ombudsman. The Pacific Swan, which is carrying an 80-ton cargo of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel to Japan, was last spotted by the Argentine navy on Tuesday, approximately 200 miles from shore midway down the country's coast.

oc- Japan rebuffs US, stands firm on whale hunt - Japan, the world's biggest consumer of whale meat, rebuffed the United States on Wednesday saying it saw no reason to roll back its controversial programme to kill hundreds of whales every year. In a meeting with visiting US Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta, Japan's Agriculture Minister Yoshio Yatsu said Japan's "research" whaling did not break international law and the United States should not react emotionally to Japanese whaling. "The issue must be resolved based on international laws as well as objective standards... It should not be dealt with emotionally," a Japanese official quoted Yatsu as telling Mineta. Japan justifies its killing of whales as scientific research. President Bill Clinton denied Japan future access to fishing rights in US waters in September in response to Tokyo's decision to expand its whale hunt to include two species protected under US law - Bryde's whales and sperm whales. During Wednesday's talks with the Japanese agriculture minister, Mineta said many members of the international community opposed Japan's whaling programme. In a statement issued by the US Commerce Department on Wednesday, Mineta said the two countries agreed to request the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Science Committee to convene a workshop on research whaling. The statement said the workshop would critically review both lethal and non-lethal methods for whale research. "The United States remains deeply concerned about Japan's lethal research programme," Mineta said in the statement.

oc- Alaska sea ducks' habitat given federal protection - Federal officials on Friday designated stretches of western Alaska coastline and waters as protected zones for two species of sea ducks listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The US Fish and Wildlife Service classified about 39,000 square miles (100,000 square km) as a critical habitat for the spectacled eider, a species that has suffered a 96 percent decline since the 1970s in southwestern Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta. And the agency classified 2,830 square miles (7,330 square km) as a critical habitat for the Steller's eider, a small sea duck that appears to have dwindled substantially from an Alaska population that once may have numbered in the thousands. The Alaska population of the spectacled eider, believed to be suffering in part from lead poisoning, predation and overhunting, was listed as threatened in 1993. The Steller's eider was listed as threatened in 1997. The vast majority of the designated critical habitat is in areas already owned and managed by the federal government.

oc- U.S. And Japan To Request Joint Whaling Workshop - The United States and Japan have agreed to request that the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee convene a workshop on research whaling. The workshop will be held prior to the IWC's summer 2002 annual meeting. The workshop will critically review both lethal and non-lethal methodologies for whale research. U.S. Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta said, "The United States remains deeply concerned about Japan's lethal research program. We believe this workshop will allow careful examination of the variety of techniques that can be used to reduce lethal research on whales." Japan uses a provision in the IWC treaty that allows whaling for scientific research to justify the killing of more than 500 minke whales each year. This year, for the first time, Japanese whalers targeted sperm whales and Bryde's whales, raising objections from the governments of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and many European countries as well as conservation organizations around the world.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

ph- Philippines re-opens dump, eases city's trash woes |1 - The Philippines has decided to re-open a landfill near the capital Manila to temporarily solve the city's mounting garbage problem. Presidential Executive Secretary Edgardo Angara said on Saturday the cabinet had approved the re-opening of the San Mateo landfill, which was closed at the end of last year, creating a build-up of filth in large areas in the metropolis. San Mateo is one of two dumps that receive some 6,000 tonnes of solid waste a day generated by the city's 12 million people. The other dump site, Payatas, was closed after a landslide killed over 200 people in July last year. With no alternative sites in Manila and illegal dumping on the rise, officials tried last week to dispose of some of the city's trash on Semirara Island, just 45 km (30 miles) from the country's premier tourist resort of Boracay. But the two barges filled with garbage were stopped from unloading their cargo in Semirara by locals who picketed the pier in protest. Acting on a petition by local residents, an Antique regional court also issued a 20-day restraining order to halt the dumping, which the government has appealed. "We were caught by surprise by this problem," Executive Secretary Angara said in the president's weekly radio programme. "The president and the cabinet were assured there would be no problem (dumping garbage in Semirara)." In a separate radio interview on Saturday, Angara said the cabinet approved the re-opening of the San Mateo dump site as a temporary measure. "The re-opening of San Mateo is temporary. Its use won't last longer than six months," he told local radio, adding the government would search for a permanent dump site for the city.

ph- FeatureGarbage talk of the town in Manila, rivals politics |2 - It may lack the glamour of presidential impeachment hearings but in the Philippines capital Manila, garbage is rapidly replacing politics as the chief topic of conversation. While the twists and turns of President Joseph Estrada's corruption trial have kept the nation on the edge of its seat, the good citizens of Manila are focusing on a problem closer to home - growing piles of rubbish across the streets of the city. "I encountered one smoldering pile of garbage after another lining the highway. It was an incredible, filthy mess," one irate reader wrote in a letter to a local newspaper. "Clouds of smoke filled the sky as a result of the vain, pathetic attempts to burn the growing mass of filth by local citizens," the writer added. Officials, desperate to find a home for the 6,000 tonnes of solid waste generated by the city's 12 million people every day, have raised hackles as far away as the country's premier tourist resort of Boracay Island.

ph- UpdatePhilippine dump reopening sparks angry protests |3 - Philippines police used water cannons on Sunday to disperse protesters trying to block garbage trucks from reaching a landfill site near the capital which residents fear could cause toxic poisoning. Hundreds of residents in Antipolo, a city of some 600,000 people 30 km (18 miles) east of Manila, hurled stones at the trucks in an effort to stop them travelling to the San Mateo dump. "Last night, they have been trying to enter the city but because of the people here, they were prevented. But this morning, the police from the regional office were here forcefully dispersing all of the people," Antipolo mayor Lito Gatlabayan told Reuters. Some 30 people suffered minor injuries when police used water cannons, he said. "There are many policemen here with truncheons. There's nothing we can do. Tomorrow, residents will file for a petition for a TRO (temporary restraining order)...we are just praying," Gatlabayan said. San Mateo is one of two dumps which have received some 6,000 tonnes of solid waste a day, generated by Manila's 12 million people. The dump was closed on December 31 when its operating contract expired but reopened again at the weekend. "The main problem is that landfill is located within the watershed and 80 percent of the residents in Antipolo rely on the deep wells for their water," said Roland Quong, chairman of the homeowners' association A-Homes. "So if the toxic liquid coming from the landfill penetrates...where we get our water, then our health will be exposed to dangers. This has been going on for almost 11 years." Quong also said the landfill did not have an environmental clearance certificate. "I cannot understand why the government should continue to violate the law that they are mandated to uphold by using the landfill which is inside the watershed." Gatlabayan quoted Lim as saying the landfill site would stay open for only three months.

vt- U.S. Aids In Vietnamese River, Flood Forecasts - The National Weather Service has agreed to work with Vietnam's weather agency to provide advanced weather models and other scientific expertise to help strengthen its ability to predict, warn and manage river and coastal floods caused by tropical storms. The National Weather Service and Vietnam's Hydro-Meteorological Service signed an agreement allowing the two nations to exchange scientific resources, technical knowledge and weather forecast services. The U.S. investment includes $1.4 million to help create a coastal warning system to alert fishing boats at sea and a radio based system that will use U.S. technology to broadcast weather information to boaters listening on low cost radios. Vietnam's Red River Delta region is vulnerable to river flooding, tidal effects and storm surges from tropical systems moving across the South China Sea. The current warning system in Hanoi provides an average of 12 hours notice of a threatening flood event. Once Vietnamese forecasters incorporate the U.S. river forecast models, the warning lead time is expected to increase to 36 hours.

World View :

wv- Four New Long Island Houses Destroyed by Activists - The Earth Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for burning down four new unsold luxury houses at Island Estates in Mount Sinai, Long Island on December 29, 2000. Damage estimates are close to $2 million to the houses. In a statement obtained by ENS, the group said its motive is environmental. "We will not tolerate the destruction of our Island. Recently, hundreds of houses have been built over much of Mount Sinai's picturesque landscape and developers now plan to build a further 189 luxury houses over the farms and forests adjacent to Island Estates," the group stated. Law enforcement officials are investigating the arson. The Earth Liberation Front is viewed as a terrorist group by law enforcement officials, but in the statement covering this incident, the group says they "condemn all forms of terrorism" and claims to be non-violent. "Houses were checked for all forms of life and we even moved a propane tank out of the house all the way across the street just in case in worst case scenario, the firefighters could get hurt. We show solidarity with our firefighters and we are sorry to wake you up in the middle of the night. Don't be mad at us, be mad at urban sprawl ... We are just trying to cause the rich sprawl corporations enough money so they stop destroying the planet, and thus the health, well-being, and existence of humankind."

wv- Apply before 9 Mar For Environmental Justice Small Grants - Minority communities should not have to bear a larger share of environmental contamination than other communities - it is only fair, and it is the law. To translate the law into reality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is open to receiving proposals for the FY01 Environmental Justice Small Grants Program. The total amount of grant funding available is $1.5 million. Grants will range from $15,000 to $20,000. Cost sharing is not required. Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, culture, education, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, the EPA states. "Fair treatment means that no one group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal environmental programs and policies," according to the EPA. In awarding the grants, preference will be given to community based and grassroots organizations that are working on local solutions to local environmental problems. Funds can be used to develop new activities or substantially improve the quality of existing programs that have a direct impact on affected communities. Applications are due March 9.

wv- Combination of Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's Disease - A combination of two widely used agricultural pesticides - but neither one alone - creates in mice the exact pattern of brain damage that doctors see in patients with Parkinson's disease. The research offers the most compelling evidence yet that everyday environmental factors may play a role in the development of the disease. The scientists caution that more studies are necessary to explain the link, since it is probable that many factors contribute to a complex disease like Parkinson's. The researchers say it is unlikely that the pesticides on their own actually cause the disease. The latest findings of a team led by Deborah Cory-Slechta, Ph.D., professor of environmental medicine and dean for research at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, appear in the December 15 issue of the "Journal of Neuroscience." Cory-Slechta's team studied the effects of a mixture of two very common agrichemicals, the herbicide paraquat and the fungicide maneb. Each is used by farmers on millions of acres in the United States alone. Maneb is applied on such crops as potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce and corn. Paraquat is used on corn, soybeans, cotton, fruit and a variety of other products. In the experiment, mice exposed to either one had little or no brain damage, but mice exposed to both share a significant trait with people in the very early stages of the disease: Though they appear healthy, key brain cells known as dopamine neurons are dying.

wv- South Pole Snowpack Reveals Century's Air Quality - A team of scientists will search the South Pole snowpack this January for 100-year-old air samples, to investigate what the air quality was like during the last century. The pockets of air trapped in the snowpack will provide scientists with a historical record of gases that were present in the atmosphere during this period. Researchers will then be able to analyze this record for clues to how human activity has influenced atmospheric processes.

wv- EPA Issues Guidelines For Environmental Economics - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the most far reaching internal guidance ever to assist its employees in analyzing the economic impacts of environmental regulations and policies. The guidelines will ensure that valuation of costs and benefits are treated consistently in all EPA economic analyses. Entitled "Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analyses," the economic framework will assist EPA policy makers and analysts charged with developing environmental and health standards at the lowest cost. Recent advances in theoretical and practical work in the field of environmental economics were incorporated into the new framework. The guidelines assess costs and benefits in various segments of the population, focusing on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. After an extensive peer review, EPA's Science Advisory Board, an independent outside group, approved the new guidelines and confirmed that they represent the best economic analysis available. The Guidelines address major analytical issues on key topics, including:
* Treatment of uncertainty and non-monetary information
* Estimating the value of reducing fatal risks
* Defining baseline conditions, such as contrasting the state of the economy and environment with and without a proposed regulatory policy
* Comparing differences in the timing of benefits and costs
* Examining environmental justice concerns
* Assessing who pays the costs and receives the benefits of regulations
* Locating available data sources for conducting economic analyses.
The guidelines were developed by the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics, and are available at:

wv- Europe to Launch New Earth Monitoring Satellites - A powerful new European weather satellite to be launched early next year will strengthen environmental monitoring in Europe and 45 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. After 23 years of service, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) is preparing to change its main weather satellite Meteosat. January 2002 is the scheduled launch date for the first satellite in the Meteosat Second Generation series (MSG). The new satellites are designed to provide much improved images of changing weather over Europe and Africa every 15 minutes for the next 12 to 15 years.

wv- The U.S. EPA turned 30 years old in 2000. - To mark this anniversary, the Environmental Protection Agency's Pacific Southwest regional office has compiled a timeline of 30 of the top national environmental news stories of the past 30 years, and 30 of the top regional stories. The national stories have been posted on EPA's national Web site, at:
The EPA's S.W. USA regional office has posted its summary timeline at:

wv- BSE-cow killing; Tobacco kills 500,000 people in the EU each year. - EU president Sweden on Wednesday bewailed the waste involved in killing cattle en masse to tackle mad cow disease, and said it was a pity the EU did not take a stronger stand on other well-known health risks like tobacco. "Tobacco and cigarettes kill around 500,000 people in the European Union each year. But we don't care about it, we don't ban tobacco," Swedish Agriculture Minister Margareta Winberg told a news conference in Lisbon. Winberg did not say she opposed the EU decision to buy and destroy all cattle more than 30 months old and destined for the food chain which had not been tested for brain-wasting Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). But she commented that "in a world where you have 800 million starving people, it seems to be not so good a system to burn all these animals." "It means millions of animals will be slaughtered," she said, adding that many healthy animals would probably be killed because not all member countries had the capacity to test all cows. The new policy took effect on January 1 and EU officials estimate up to two million cattle may be destroyed. EU authorities adopted the plan after scientists said that consumers risked catching the fatal human version of BSE, called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), by eating beef from cows aged over 30 months. Winberg said there would be no compulsory testing in Sweden, Finland and Austria, where no BSE cases have been reported. "In Sweden we are not going to test all animals, because we have got this exemption. We are going to test for all risk animals," she said, without specifying what a risk animal was.

wv- Rice/populationFAO; soil may be damaged by intensive cropping - World rice production must increase to almost 800 million tonnes a year by 2025 from nearly 600 million now to keep pace with population growth, the UN world food body said on Wednesday. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement on its web page that rice farmers needed to use resources more efficiently to ensure sustainable growth in output. "We'll need to increase current rice production from nearly 600 million tonnes annually to almost 800 million by 2025 if we want to keep up with population growth," said Nguu Nguyen, agricultural officer in FAO's crop and grassland service. "And to make sure the growth is sustainable, we'll need to do it using less land, labour, water and pesticides," he added. FAO officials have said the world's population was expected to grow by 1.2 percent annually until 2015.

wv- Stop plundering earthplea by Archbishop of Canterbury - The Archbishop of Canterbury warned on Monday that the western world's greed threatened the planet's survival. In a heartfelt New Year message, George Carey said: "A child born in a wealthy country is likely to consume, waste and pollute more in his lifetime than 50 children born in developing nations." Carey, spiritual leader to millions of Anglicans around the world, said: "Our energy-burning lifestyles are pushing our planet to the point of no return." The Archbishop, who has a long record of interest in ecological issues, said: "It is dawning on us at last that the life of our world is as vulnerable as the children we raise." "We want our grandchildren to leave this earth better than they find it - but children born today risk doing more to damage the planet than to nurture it," he added.

wv- Europe Defines New Policy for Eco-Friendly Manufactured Products - The outlines of a future European Union policy to reduce the environmental burden of manufactured products have been sketched out by the European Commission's environment directorate in a draft green paper submitted to other Commission directorates. The discussion paper could be adopted by the full Commission next month unless it meets serious opposition. The European Commission, the executive branch of the 15 nation European Union, is responsible for proposing legislation. The first task of an European Union integrated product policy, the environment directorate says, should be to use market instruments to internalize products' external environmental costs over their whole lifecycle. The "main solution," it says, should be differentiated taxation rates according to the environmental performance. One possibility is to apply reduced value added tax rates to those carrying the European Union's ecolabel. Introducing producer responsibility for goods at the end of their lives is another way of forcing up product standards and "should be extended to further areas of EU and member state legislation," the paper says. Deposit-refund schemes should also be investigated as another means of encouraging consumers to dispose of products properly.

wv- Environment Losing Ground To Growing Population - As world population continues to grow, natural resources are under increasing pressure, threatening public health and social and economic development, warns a new report from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "As we humans exploit nature to meet present needs, are we destroying resources needed for the future?" ask Don Hinrichsen and Bryant Robey, co-authors of the latest issue of "Population Reports, Population and the Environment: The Global Challenge," published by the Johns Hopkins Population Information Program. "Most developed economies currently consume resources much faster than they can regenerate. Most developing countries with rapid population growth face the urgent need to improve living standards" but risk irreparable harm to natural resources on which they depend, according to the Editor's Summary of the report. - Chapter 1: The Earth and Its People, says, "As the 21st century begins, growing numbers of people and rising levels of consumption per capita are depleting natural resources and degrading the environment. In many places chronic water shortages, loss of arable land, destruction of natural habitats, and widespread pollution undermine public health and threaten economic and social progress (refs.). Many experts think that current trends cannot continue much longer without dire consequences (refs.). In most developed countries population is growing slowly or no longer growing at all, but levels of per capita consumption are so high that the environment is under pressure." The editor's summary continues: "Water shortages, soil exhaustion, loss of forests, air and water pollution, and degradation of coastlines afflict many areas," write the authors. "Without practicing sustainable development, humanity faces a deteriorating environment and may even invite ecological disaster," they note. Sustainable development requires slower population growth, the Hopkins report concludes. While the rate of population growth has slowed over the past few decades, the absolute number of people continues to increase by about one billion every 13 years, and the environment continues to deteriorate. The report urges governments and policymakers to take immediate steps toward implementing sustainable development. Sustainable development means raising current living standards without destroying the resource base required to meet future needs. In effect, the world needs to "live off its ecological interest" rather than "using up its ecological capital," the authors write.

wv- Dole Food To Offer Organic Bananas - Dole Fresh Fruit Company, a subsidiary of Dole Food Company Inc., plans to begin offering certified organic bananas to consumers this month. For several years, the company has been conducting research into the production of organic bananas, which are grown without the use of commercial chemicals and fertilizers. Emphasizing improvements in soil fertility, as well as biological and cultural approaches to pests and plant diseases, Dole is now able to add organic bananas to its list of fresh fruit products. The organic bananas will be grown in Ecuador and Honduras on farms that have been certified as organic by U.S. based certification agencies and inspected by the Independent Organic Inspectors Association to ensure organic integrity.

wv- Nontoxic Shots Approved For Waterfowl Hunting - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has given permanent approval to shot formulated of tungsten, nickel and iron for hunting waterfowl and coots, after toxicology tests showed no harm to birds that ingested the shot. In December, the agency also extended temporary approval of tin shot for the current waterfowl season. The USFWS assessed possible effects of the tungsten-nickel-iron (TNI) shot, and determined that it is not a "significant threat" to wildlife. Hunters can use the new shot, marketed under the brand name HEVI-SHOT and manufactured by ENVIRON-Metal, Inc., for the balance of the current season and for all future seasons. Lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting nationwide in 1991. Ingestion of as little as one lead pellet from lake and stream bottoms can cause fatal lead poisoning in most ducks. "As new research shows, the ban on lead shot has been a tremendous boon for North American waterfowl. Hunters should know that by using nontoxic shot, they are helping to preserve our hunting heritage for future generations," said USFWS director Jamie Rappaport Clark, referring to a recent study that examined lead shot poisoning in waterfowl. The study, "Ingestion of Lead and Nontoxic Shotgun Pellets by Ducks in the Mississippi Flyway," was published last summer in the Journal of Wildlife Management. Researchers found that the ban on lead shot reduced lead poisoning deaths of Mississippi Flyway mallards by 64 percent, while overall ingestion of toxic pellets declined by 78 percent over previous levels. TNI shot joins steel, bismuth-tin, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, and tungsten-matrix shot as permanently approved nontoxic shot types.

wv- Healing Our World, by Jackie Alan Giuliano: It Does Pay to FightEnvironmental Success Stories - Every day, millions of people stand up for what they believe in, demanding protection for the Earth's species and life support systems. Injustice abounds in our world, but more people than you think are willing to take on the long, often arduous, frustrating and demoralizing battles to protect our world. The well funded conservative opposition does its best to make opponents feel like they are wrong and going against the American way. The corporate controlled mainstream media does its best to represent these activists as loners and misfits. But these hard fought efforts by individuals and groups of all ages around the world do have an impact. They are changing the face of our culture. Just a few years ago, organic food was considered a fad. But thanks to the efforts of food activists who have exposed the dangers of pesticide poisoning, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that pesticide residues remain on most produce, even after it is washed, the organic food industry is now a $6 billion a year business. When the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) tried to expand the organic food standards to include genetically engineered foods, the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer, and even some pesticide use, people from around the nation voiced their opposition to these proposals, which were clearly supported by the powerful non-organic industry. The USDA received more than 200,000 comments against allowing organic foods to be produced using these methods. Recently, the USDA released new organic food standards that will increase the confidence of organic food buyers everywhere. The new regulations ban the use of biotechnology and irradiation. Meat producers claiming to be organic cannot feed antibiotics to the cattle and organic dairy cows must have access to pasture. There are currently more than 10,000 farms across the United States that use organic methods that must now comply with the new regulations. Activists successfully fought the efforts of the National Food Processors Association which wanted the USDA to label organic produce with a statement that such food is no better than other products. None of these protections would have come about if people had remained silent.

wv- Republicans, trade groups baulk at road ban in forests - Western lawmakers and businesses vowed on Friday to go to court to overturn President Bill Clinton's ban on road construction and timber harvesting in vast stretches of national forests. The administration's new restrictions, announced just 15 days before Clinton leaves office, were expected to trigger a lengthy battle over the future of nearly 60 million acres (24.28 million hectares) of pristine woodlands viewed as rich in oil and lumber by business interests. The final plan issued by the US Forest Service would restrict road construction and repairs and the removal of natural resources such as oil and lumber in 58.5 million acres (23.67 million hectares) of national forests, unless it was necessary for environmental reasons or to reduce the risk of wildfires.

wv- Metal Industries Face New Discharge Limits - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed effluent limitation guidelines for wastewater discharges into waterways from the metal products and machinery industry. The agency is also proposing to revise guidelines and standards for wastewater discharges into waterways from the iron and steel manufacturing industry. EPA's proposals would establish technology based effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for wastewater discharges in a number of industries, including aerospace, electronic equipment, hardware, railroad, ship and stationary industrial equipment, as well as new and existing iron and steel mills. When implemented, the metal products and machinery proposals are expected to reduce the discharge of 20 pollutants by 170 million pounds per year, improving water quality in more than 1,100 streams. The new iron and steel manufacturing guidelines have the potential to reduce annual discharges of toxic and nonconventional pollutants by 210 million pounds.

wv- Mad Cow Scare: Australia, New Zealand Ban European Meats - Australia and New Zealand are suspending the importation of foods containing beef or beef products from 30 European countries because of concerns over brain-wasting Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease. The suspension went into effect Monday. Specified foods containing British beef have been banned from Australia since 1996 following concerns about the link between BSE infected British beef and the human variant of BSE, the fatal brain-wasting Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) and its newly discovered variant, vCJD. The diseases cycle through livestock and can infect humans when cattle consume feed containing meat and bone meal that is contaminated by other animals that have BSE. Without human intervention, cattle eat only grass and grains and do not consume meats of any kind.

wv- 70 Percent Of All Antibiotics Given To Healthy Livestock - Excessive use of antibiotics by meat producers - eight times more than in human medicine - contributes to an alarming increase in antibiotic resistance, a new study reveals. Every year in the U.S., 25 million pounds of valuable antibiotics - about 70 percent of total U.S. antibiotic production - are fed to chickens, pigs, and cows for nontherapeutic purposes like growth promotion, says the report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). This finding - 50 percent greater than livestock industry's estimate for all animal uses - is the first transparent estimate of the quantities of antibiotics used in meat production. The report is also the first to show that the quantities of antibiotics used in animal agriculture dwarf those used in human medicine. "The meat industry's share of the antibiotic resistance problem has been ignored for too long," said Dr. Margaret Mellon, director of the Food and Environment Program at UCS and coauthor of the new report. "Antibiotics are a precious resource and should be used in animals only when necessary."

wv- EU sets guidelines for environmental checks - The European Union has agreed guidelines to encourage governments to check that their industries respect environmental standards, a leading member of the European Parliament said on Tuesday. But the new non-binding regulation falls short of demands from the European Parliament to legally force governments to ensure minimum inspections standards of industrial emissions, British Conservative EU deputy Caroline Jackson said. Opposition from countries which fear the costs of increasing their environmental inspection agencies meant the rules would remain non-binding for the time being, but the EU assembly would continue to fight for binding rules, Jackson said. "Citizens, rightly, will no longer put up with the fact that the European Union adopts a plethora of laws without making any effort to see they are put into place," Jackson, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee, said. "We don't see this as a defeat because we are determined to follow the issue up," she said. The regulation, agreed after negotiations between the parliament, national governments and the EU's executive Commission, foresees possible binding measures in the future. The Commission will study how well member states are performing inspections over the next two years and will propose making the guidelines legally binding if they are not satisfied. In the meantime, the European Parliament, which shares policy making powers with national governments on almost all EU environmental issues, will attempt to insert a clause into all new legislation committing governments to perform adequate inspections, Jackson said.

wv- Ancient Extinctions May Mirror Global Warming Impacts - A peek at the effects of ancient climate changes on small mammals in the western U.S. may provide a snapshot of the future impact of global warming on animal populations. When the climate of the Great Basin of the western U.S. became more arid between 8,300 and 5,000 years ago, the number of small mammal species plummeted, with some becoming extinct, says University of Washington archaeologist Donald Grayson. In a study published in the current issue of the "Journal of Biogeography," Grayson also reported that the population balance among small mammals was altered, with desert loving kangaroo rats becoming the dominant species. Grayson's data are based on analysis of more than 184,000 mammal bones and teeth recovered in Utah's Homestead Cave. It is the largest sample of small mammal fossils from the western U.S. ever studied. The bones and teeth were deposited over a period of about 11,300 years, extending back to the late Pleistocene epoch, by owls that roosted in the cave.

wv- Worldwatch: Political Will to Save Global Environment Falters - Signs of "accelerated ecological decline" and a loss of political momentum on environmental issues are emerging simultaneously, according to State of the World 2001, issued by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington based research organization. "Governments squandered a historic opportunity to reverse environmental decline during the prosperity of the 1990s," said Christopher Flavin, president of the Institute and coauthor of the report. "If in the current climate of political and economic uncertainty, political leaders were to roll back environmental laws or fail to complete key international agreements, decades of progress could unravel," Flavin warns. New scientific evidence indicates that many global ecosystems are reaching dangerous thresholds that raise the stakes for policymakers, reports Worldwatch. The Arctic ice cap has already thinned by 42 percent, and 27 percent of the world's coral reefs have been lost, suggesting that some of the planet's key ecological systems are in decline, say the Institute's researchers. Environmental degradation is leading to more severe natural disasters, which have cost the world $608 billion over the last decade - as much as in the previous four decades combined. With many life support systems at risk of long term damage, the choice before today's political leaders is historic, even evolutionary, in nature, says Flavin. The choice is whether to move forward rapidly to build a sustainable economy or to risk allowing the expansion in human numbers, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and the loss of natural systems to undermine the economy. There are some encouraging signs, Worldwatch notes. In December, negotiators from 122 countries agreed to a historic legally binding treaty that will severely restrict 12 persistent organic pollutants. Iceland launched a pioneering effort to harness its geothermal and hydropower to produce hydrogen, which will be used to fuel its automobiles and fishing boats - an effort that is attracting investments from major oil and car companies. Organic farming, which avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, has surged to a worldwide annual market of $22 billion and may get a further boost from strict organic farming standards issued by the U.S. government in December. "The question now is one of leadership," Flavin said. "Will the United States help lead the world to a sustainable economy in the twenty-first century-as it led the way through global crises in the last century? Or will it be left to other countries to show the way to a sustainable economy in the new millennium?" The full State of the World 2001 report is available online at:

wv- Organophosphate and Carbamate Pesticides, not DU, Linked to "Gulf War Illness" - The Defense Department's special assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Dr. Bernard Rostker, told reporters that pesticides, but not exposure to depleted uranium (DU), may be "among the potential contributing agents" to illnesses among Gulf War veterans. Armed Forces personnel who served in the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991 have been complaining of health problems ever since. Gulf War veterans have died, been paralyzed, had children with birth defects, have emitted semen which burns their wives, and have been disabled with nausea and chronic fatigue. The U.S. Armed Forces used depleted uranium munitions and tank armor for the first time during the Gulf War. The greatest potential for medically significant DU exposure occurred with those veterans who were in or on tanks and other armored vehicles when the vehicles were hit by DU munitions and in veterans who worked in or on U.S. vehicles or sites contaminated with DU, the Pentagon says. The Institutes of Medicine, charged by Congress to review the possible causes of Gulf War illnesses, "reported on their first four potential risk factors, one of them being depleted uranium," Dr. Rostker said. "In their review of uranium and soldiers who have been involved with depleted uranium, we do not see a health risk," he said. The Institutes of Medicine reviewed the potential risk factors of depleted uranium, low levels of the nerve agent sarin, pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills used to guard against nerve agents, and vaccinations against biological weapons. The only thing the Institutes of Medicine were prepared to rule out was the impact of depleted uranium on lung cancers and on renal disease from heavy-metal toxicity, Dr. Rostker said. DU is a substance licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Defense Department abides by the license requirements by providing "certain safeguards in terms of handling and the like," he said. To help evaluate the possible health effects of exposure to pesticides on Gulf War veterans, Rostker's office commissioned Rand Corporation to conduct a survey of Armed Forces personnel to see how the average service member used pesticides. Rand also reviewed the existing scientific literature on the health effects of pesticides used by service members during the Gulf War. Rand worked with the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Defense in carrying out the survey of 2,005 veterans selected to be statistically representative of the U.S. service population in the Kuwait. Rand's survey suggests that pesticides, specifically acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as organophosphates and carbamates, could be among the potential contributing agents to some of the undiagnosed illnesses reported by Gulf War veterans. The Defense Department now says exposure to these pesticides cannot be ruled out as a potential contributing factor to some of these undiagnosed illnesses. Researchers identified 64 different pesticide products containing 35 active ingredients that were used during the Gulf War. The survey considered 12 active pesticide ingredients that Gulf War veterans were exposed to - five organophosphates, three carbamates, two pyrethroids, one organochlorine, and one repellent, DEET. In addition to repellents, fly baits, pest strips, and area sprays, the general military population was exposed to pesticides applied in the field by professionally certified and trained applicators and field sanitation teams.

wv- Major disasters killed 17,000 people, $38 billionSwiss ReInsurance - Major disasters killed 17,000 people and caused about $38 billion in damages in 2000, said Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurer, in initial estimates published on Wednesday. The figures compare with over 105,000 deaths and costs of about $100 billion in 1999. Swiss Re said costs for the global insurance industry amounted to a relatively low $11 billion in 2000, or just over a third of the record sum of $31 billion seen in 1999 as a result of seven earthquakes and severe storms. Among the natural disasters in 2000 were floods in Asia and western Europe. Man-made disasters killed 9,000 people, with two-thirds of the deaths caused by road, air and marine accidents. "Both the frequency of storms and earthquakes in highly populated areas in 1999 as well as their absence in 2000 are purely random," it said. "The trend towards high losses will continue uninterrupted as many risk factors persist - higher population densities and higher concentrations of insured values in endangered areas," it said.

wv- US tells pregnant women don't eat shark, swordfishmercury - Pregnant women should not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because they may contain enough mercury to damage the fetus's nervous system, the US Food and Drug Administration said on Friday. Young children, nursing mothers and women who may become pregnant should avoid those fish as well, FDA said in a consumer advisory. A National Academy of Sciences report issued last July estimated up to 60,000 children a year were born each year who had been exposed to during pregnancy to levels of mercury that could interfer with development of the brain and nervous system. Even so, seafood, a naturally low-fat source of protein, can be an important part of a balanced diet for pregnant women and women who may become pregnant, FDA said. "You can safely eat 12 ounces per week of cooked fish," the FDA advisory said. "You can choose shellfish, canned fish, smaller ocean fish or farm-raised fish - just pick a variety of different species." Consumer groups wanted fresh tuna, used in sushi or served as tuna steak, added to the warning list as well. "We shouldn't be ignoring the risk there," said Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project. "The question is why fresh tuna steak were not included on the list because they can also pose a risk," said Caroline Smith DeWaal of Center for Science in the Public Interest. Mercury enters the environment naturally and through industrial pollution. Nearly all fish contain trace amounts of methyl mercury but longer-lived, larger fish that feed on other fish, like shark or swordfish, accumulate the highest amounts of methyl mercury and pose the largest threat to people who eat them regularly.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Articles for the summaries came via:
* ENS Environmental News Service   Example: (ENS -06 11/7) means:
* ENERGIES... Green Energy News: ;  these items are complete.
  For free ENERGIES subscription contact:
* PlArk Planet Ark  by Reuters.  Example: (PlArk 7375 7/7) means:

It takes me two weeks to build up a summary a half month's articles from these sources.  D.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  Go  to  David's main  page

  Please send any questions or comments to the site manager.

This is: