Roadless Areas Broadly Supported--December 1, 2000--
Over fifty US newspaper editorial boards have endorsed the US
Forest Service’s proposed Roadless Area Protection Rule. The rule would affect 58.5 million acres of federal forests from Alaska to Florida and President Clinton is due to make a
final decision by the end of the year.
Most of the papers have encouraged the President to strengthen the
rule by eliminating loopholes that effectively exclude the Tongass National
Forest, the nation’s largest, and allow “stewardship logging” in roadless
areas. Protecting remaining unroaded
forestland is critical for clean water, wildlife habitat and may prove
important for US negotiations over climate change treaties, the papers said.
To learn more about Roadless Areas, National Forests, and the
President’s rule follow these links:
A sample of editorials:
Forest Legacy, Within Reach
New York Times, Nov. 15, 2000
Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Washington Post, Nov. 16, 2000
Planning Forests With A Future
Roanoke Times & World News, Nov. 16, 2000
Forest Service Makes Roadless Policy Work
The Seattle Times Company, Nov. 15, 2000
Virginia Power Company Forced to Clean up its Act--November 22, 2000--Virgina Power lost a landmark legal battle requireing the company to cut emissions from eight coal-burning plants by 70 percent. New York State files duits against power companies in the Midwest and the South because the pollution caused by power plants in these states negatively impacts air quality in New York, and New England in general. The eight plants in Virginia emit about as much sulfur dioxide (which causes acid rain) and nitrogen oxides (which contribute to smog) as all 30 electric power plants in New York State combined.
Follow the links below for more information:
Plants in South to Cut Emissions That Produce Smog in Northeast--NY Times
Dominion Virginia Power Reaches Major Agreement With EPA, Announces Comprehensive Effort To Improve Air Quality--Press Release
Getting Hotter by Degrees, 11 of Them--October 26, 2000--As if the political season was not hot enough already, things could get even hotter in the future. An international group of scientists has prepared a report indicating that not only are humans responsible for at least a portion of global climate change, but, if nothing is done to change the trend, the impact is likely to be larger than previously estimated. The high estimates for temperature increases by the end of this Century are now up to 11º Farenheit, up from about 7ºF in previous reports.
The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due out early next year, was leaked to several news agencies to ensure the results would be discussed before global climate treaty meetings next month in The Hague. "There is increasing evidence from many sources that the signal of human influence on climate has emerged from natural variability, sometime around 1980." said Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth, the head of the climate analysis division of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and a lead author of the panel's summary (NY Times).
The IPCC is "a technical group sponsored by the U.N. and the World Meteorological Organization and comprising hundreds of scientists who assess scientific, social and economic aspects of global climate change. The panel does no original research of its own but attempts to arrive at a measured technical assessment of often-conflicting studies on climate change." (LA Times)
250 Million Gallons of Toxic Coal Sludge Imperils Human Health, Kills Wildlife and Destroys Rivers in KY, WV, and OH--October 20, 2000--Fish, snakes, turtles, salamanders, and frogs are being smothered by lava-like coal sludge in tributaries of the Big Sandy River in the wake of a coal impoundment failure in Martin County, KY on October 11. The sludge, or slurry, has the consistency of wet cement and contains arsenic, mercury, lead, copper and chromium. This toxic front has traveled over 90 miles since October 11 and now imperils the Ohio River.
The Courier-Journal quotes Wayne Davis, environmental section chief for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources as saying: "We think we're just beginning to see the impact. The sludge has smothered everything." He also said that deer, beaver, turkeys and other land animals appear to be avoiding the contaminated streams, but for those [animals] that can't escape the water, the situation looks grim.
Meanwhile it is estimated that some schools in the area will be closed for over one month due to water shortages during the clean-up; many local communities are already draining their water reservoirs. The Governor of Kentucky, Paul Patton has declared a state of emergency in much of northeastern Kentucky. A federal official estimated that clean-up could last more than a year and cost millions of dollars.
The Courier-Journal also said that "The state issued four citations Friday accusing Martin County Coal of "creating imminent environmental damage" by engaging in an unsafe practice when it allowed substandard water and slurry to flow from the impoundment. Since 1986 the state has fined the company nine times, for a total of $16,700, for leaks from its impoundments. The state has not yet determined what fines might be assessed as a result of the current leak."