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AmeriScan: April 18, 2006

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Western Governors Sign Frontier Transmission, Clean Coal Deals

SAN DIEGO, California, April 18, 2006 (ENS) - The governors of California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, took a major step forward Monday in the effort to secure clean, reliable sources of energy for the West.

At the New Frontier Power Summit in San Diego, the four governors issued a joint statement of support for the partnership, which includes implementation steps on the Frontier Transmission Line.

The Frontier Line - a proposal for a high-voltage transmission line to connect Wyoming, Nevada, California and Utah - is one step closer to reality with the signing of an agreement between the four states and a coalition of investor-owned utilities.

The coalition of investor-owned utilities agreed to put on paper a detailed feasibility study and conceptual plan for building the Frontier Line. The utilities participating in the coalition are Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison Company, Sierra Pacific Power Company, Nevada Power Company, and Rocky Mountain Power and Utah Power, both divisions of PacifiCorp, recently acquired by MidAmerican Energy Holdings.

Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, heralded the move as a product of the Rocky Mountain Area Transmission Study, a regional transmission planning initiative created in 2003 by Freudenthal and then Governor Mike Leavitt of Utah to identify the most cost-effective transmission given the location of potential new power generation in the Rocky Mountain area.

“Wyoming clearly has energy resources that can be used by other parts of the country, but this project won’t work unless it brings together regional interests across both the public and private spectrum,” Freudenthal said. “It is our hope to be able to see more of the coal and natural gas in Wyoming converted into electrons to be transmitted."

The statement also recognized a new partnership between California and Wyoming for the development of a clean coal power plant. Under the agreement the two states will create a joint task force of experts from both states to help Wyoming land the $1 billion plant, according to statements from the offices of the governors.

"I'm excited also to create this partnership today with my good friend Governor Freudenthal of Wyoming, to make sure that the latest in clean coal technology is developed here in the West," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. "These clean coal plants will emit less pollution overall than the cleanest natural gas plants and will capture and eliminate the harmful greenhouse gases before they can make our global warming problems worse."

The California Energy Commission, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Governor's Climate Action Team have all recommended that any long-term investments in new power generation have a greenhouse gas emission characteristic that is equal to or better than a state-of-the-art combined cycle natural gas power plant, called an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC).

An IGCC plant with carbon sequestration, as called for by the California-Wyoming agreement, would result in no greenhouse gas emissions, exceeding the California standard. The agreement calls on the federal government to provide financial support for the development of IGCC plants.

"All of our states need clean, abundant sources of energy that can power our economy and protect our environment," said Schwarzenegger. "The Western Regional Transmission Expansion Partnership will help us get wind, solar, geothermal and clean coal power delivered to the places where it's needed most. It will also help us reach our targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

The New Frontier Power Summit winds up Wednesday with a panel on removing barriers to greater utilization of renewable energy technologies in the West.

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Power Giant AES Commits $1 Billion to Alternative Energy

ARLINGTON, Virginia, April 18, 2006 (ENS) - One of the world's largest global power companies, the AES Corporation, Monday announced plans to invest approximately $1 billion over the next three years to expand the company's alternative energy business and bring to market new projects and technologies to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions.

Through the creation of an alternative energy business group, AES said it intends to expand its existing alternative energy businesses in wind power generation, biomass and the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

AES will invest in the commercial development of projects and technologies that directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or create emission offsets under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. AES said that, since October 2005, it has already committed to approximately $100 million in investments which will generate over 17 million metric tons of carbon reduction credits through 2012.

The company said it plans to triple its investment in its wind generation business over the next three years.

AES has entered strategic partnerships with Los Alamos National Laboratory and XL TechGroup, to identify, evaluate and bring to market new technologies in the alternative energy area. AES's partnerships with Los Alamos and XL Tech Group - an architect and builder of high value new businesses, primarily in the ecotech, biotech and medtech fields - give AES the opportunity to develop and commercialize proprietary energy-related technologies developed by these entities.

AES said it is evaluating future investments in other sources of alternative energy such as solar power and wave technologies.

The company said it is also evaluating future investments in non-electric business lines such as ethanol, biodiesel, methane capture and conversion projects, synthetic fuels and new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"AES is committed to meeting a developing market need for new energy resources and technologies that will lead to a secure and sustainable energy future," said AES President and CEO Paul Hanrahan. "With 25 years of experience in energy and a presence in virtually every region of the world, AES will play a leading role in this rapidly growing segment of the energy industry."

AES Executive Vice President, Business Development William Luraschi will lead AES's alternative energy group.

"Global energy consumption is expected to more than double by 2025," Luraschi said. "We believe that traditional ways of producing energy alone will not meet this demand, due to rising production and transportation costs, energy security issues and the growing recognition of environmental impacts. That leaves an enormous opportunity for alternative sources of energy to fulfill a large part of this growing demand."

AES is one of the world's largest global power companies, with 2005 revenues of $11.1 billion. With operations in 25 countries on five continents, AES's generation and distribution facilities have the capacity to serve 100 million people worldwide.

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Michigan Proposes 90 Percent Mercury Cut for Power Plants

LANSING, Michigan, April 18, 2006 (ENS) - Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm proposed Monday to reduce mercury emissions from Michigan power plants by 90 percent by 2015.

With the announcement, Granholm joins the governors of Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Georgia, who have all recently announced their intentions to reduce mercury emissions from power plants by 90 percent.

“Michigan must take actions to protect its citizens and environment from mercury contamination, but we must do so in a way that balances energy, environment and the economy,” Granholm said. “Mercury poses a real and serious health concern for the people of Michigan. We are ensuring that future generations can enjoy clean air and safe water.”

“Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is a significant health concern, in particular for children and women of child-bearing age,” Granholm said.

Under the new rule, Michigan power plants will have to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015 based on a system-wide approach. The first phase would use the reduction in emissions authorized under the federal Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR). The second phase would go beyond the CAMR reductions to get to 90 percent.

The governor asked that the rule take into account both technological and cost-based considerations. A utility would be given additional time to comply if it installs and operates mercury reduction technology, but upon testing is unable to demonstrate compliance with the required reduction or emission limits.

Additional compliance time would be provided if a power plant demonstrates that the annualized incremental cost of mercury reduction technology to go beyond CAMR will exceed a specified percentage of the gross revenue from electric generation for the utility system.

The plan will be implemented by Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Steven Chester, whose agency will draft a rule under Michigan’s Clean Air Act to achieve the emission reduction goals set forth by the governor.

In a letter to Chester Monday, Granholm directed that the rule should not allow interstate trading, but that it could include a utility system-wide approach as long as it would not result in “hot spot” mercury emissions that would place Michigan residents at risk.

Chester cited the risk mercury poses to Michigan’s vast water and fishing resources that are critical to the state’s tourism efforts for economic development.

“Our waters play a critical role in our economy, and in our success as a state,” he said. “This new rule will protect our citizens, and improve our quality of life by making our waters safe to fish, swim, and boat in.”

Currently, all of Michigan’s inland lakes are under a statewide advisory limiting the consumption of fish due to mercury contamination.

Director Chester indicated that the DEQ would begin work on promulgating the rule by initiating a formal stakeholder group process to implement the governor’s directive.

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Arizona Governor Signs Law to Allow Sale of E85

PHOENIX, Arizona, April 18, 2006 (ENS) – A blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline known as E85 can now be sold in the greater Phoenix area. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano has signed a bill into law that will allow the alternative fuel to be available throughout Maricopa County.

In the 1990s, Arizona adopted a rule that prohibited the sale of fuels including E85 to meet certain clean air requirements. The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) along with the Tucson Regional Clean Cities Coalition and other groups have been supporting House Bill 2590 to reverse this rule.

“This barrier has prohibited E85 advocates to establish the much needed E85 infrastructure in Maricopa County,” said Phil Lampert, executive director of the NEVC. “We are pleased that the Arizona Legislature has decided to allow the sale of this clean burning, alternative fuel into their state. This is yet another example of the national efforts that are being carried out by the NEVC in order to make E85 a truly 50 state product.”

Colleen Crowninshield, Clean Cities Coordinator of the Tucson Regional Clean Cities Coalition, said, “This is a very important day! We have had many station owners and potential customers within the past two years who have wanted this fuel. This is good for Arizona, good for the individual - just good for everyone!”

There are currently four E85 locations in the state of Arizona. The sites include one location in Sierra Vista and three additional facilities in Tucson. For addresses of these sites and the remaining E85 dispensers throughout the country, visit www.E85Fuel.com.

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Feds Issue New Greenhouse Gas Reporting Guide for Farms, Forests

WASHINGTON, DC, April 18, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced revised guidelines for the Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program that will enable farmers and land owners to estimate, report, and register greenhouse gas reductions and carbon sequestration.

"These guidelines represent an important milestone in the effort to encourage new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without impairing economic growth," said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner. "By participating in this program, our farmers and ranchers have a unique opportunity to be part of the solution to greenhouse gas emissions."

The new guidelines establish an accurate and transparent national registry where businesses and institutions can submit comprehensive reports on their greenhouse gas emissions, sequestration and reductions.

Authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the guidelines were revised by the DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and now provide detailed instructions to enhance the quality, consistency and credibility of the emission inventories and reductions being reported by businesses and land owners.

Actions that farmers and landowners can consider reporting include using no-till agriculture, installing a waste digester, improving nutrient management, and managing forestland.

The program provides opportunities for agriculture and forestry to partner with industry, in developing actions to reduce greenhouse gases by allowing them to document benefits of actions.

The revised program guidelines were developed through an interagency and multi-year public review process that included workshops, meetings and other opportunities to provide the DOE with oral and written comment.

These guidelines include state-of-the-science guidance and tools for estimating emissions from agricultural, forestry, and conservation activities important for carbon sequestration efforts. Provisions encourage participation in the program by small emitters of greenhouse gases, such as farmers and small businesses.

USDA is responsible for the forestry and agriculture sections of the guidelines and worked closely with the Department of Energy in their preparation and release. The new forest and agriculture guidelines, prepared by two USDA agencies - the Forest Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service - address all of the major sources in agriculture and forestry.

The guidelines offer farmers and ranchers a new online tool called COMET-VR which provides a simple and reliable method for estimating soil carbon sequestration.

The technical guidelines for forests include a series of detailed carbon stock default tables with guidance on applying the tables for inventory purposes, direct measurement protocols, and guidance on the use of models.

DOE's Energy Information Administration will administer this voluntary reporting program and will prepare and make available for public review the forms necessary to implement the revised guidelines during the 2007 reporting cycle.

For more information on visit: http://www.usda.gov/oce/global_change/gg_reporting.htm or http://www.pi.energy.gov/enhancingGHGregistry/

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NOAA Helps Volvo Sailboat Racers Avoid Endangered Whales

BALTIMORE, Maryland, April 18, 2006 (ENS) - Every four years the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race pits some of the best sailors in the world against one another. Introduced more than 32 years ago by England's Whitbread Company and the British Royal Naval Sailing Association, the race tests seamanship, craftsmanship, hard work and endurance - and the last thing any crew wants is to strike an endangered North Atlantic right whale.

This year's competition began in November 2005 and ends June 2006, and covers more than 28,000 miles of open oceans and 10 ports of call, including Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland, and New York City.

The seven competing sailboats are in the port of Baltimore right now, and they are heading to New York, then north to the Grand Banks, and across the North Atlantic to the finish line at Gothenburg, Sweden.

They will be less likely to strike a right whale due to a whale locating service offered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - the NOAA Right Whale Sighting Advisory System.

During the racers' path across the North Atlantic, the NOAA Fisheries Service will provide information on whale locations to Volvo Ocean Race organizers.

The NOAA team flies a series of systematic track lines throughout the year, tracking whales inside areas known to be critical habitat, as well as surveying where whales commonly occur.

The team's sightings are posted on the Internet along with sightings provided by ship-based surveys and opportunistic sightings from the U.S. Coast Guard, whale watch vessels, commercial ships and fishing vessels.

At times, sighting locations are broadcast on NOAA weather radio to sea-going vessels.

"It's been very helpful for both the sailors and the whales alike," said Andy Hindley, Volvo Ocean Race director. "Traveling at 20-plus knots in what is effectively a silent sailboat is always a problem for both the boats and the whales when it comes to collision avoidance."

In 2005, the survey crew flew 129 missions covering more than 50,000 miles of track lines. Since 1998, the NOAA aerial surveys have tracked up to two-thirds of the remaining North Atlantic right whale population off southern New England each spring.

Listed as endangered since 1973, North Atlantic right whales are the rarest of all large whale species that live off the northeastern United States, and among the rarest of all large marine mammal species.

Right whale populations have been nearly wiped out by commercial whaling, and the North Atlantic population numbers around 300 whales.

Ship collisions, propeller strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are now the most common causes of serious injury and death of North Atlantic right whales. Additional disturbances from activities such as whale watching and noise from industrial activities may affect the population as well.

To reduce disturbance from boats, the NOAA Fisheries Service published regulations in 1997 that prohibit vessels from approaching right whales within 500 yards.

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Endangered Species in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Hawaii Under Review

WASHINGTON, DC, April 18, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiating five year reviews for protected species in four states and the territory of Guam as required under the Endangered Species Act.

The purpose of these reviews is to ensure that the listing classifications of these species are accurate, are based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review, and whether the status of the species should be considered for change.

The species in consideration in the notice of review are the Holmgren Milkvetch listed as endangered and found in Arizona and Utah; the Maguire Daisy listed as threatened and the Shivwitz Milkvetch listed as endangered and found in Utah; the Virgin River Chub and Woundfin both listed as endangered and found in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah; and the Kanab Ambersnail listed as endangered and found in Arizona and Utah.

The Service will review the status of 61 plant and animal species in the Pacific Islands. All the species are found in Hawaii with the exception of the Micronesian kingfisher found on Guam.

The species to be reviewed include six birds and 55 plants. Last year, the Service initiated status reviews of 27 species in the Pacific Islands. Those reviews are still on-going.

To assist in its reviews, the Service is opening a 60 day public comment period for the submission of scientific and commercial information produced since the original listing of each of these species. The public, government agencies, industry and the scientific and conservation communities are asked to submit information by June 11, 2006.

Submit your comments and materials to the Utah Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attention 5-year Review, 2369 West Orton Circle, Suite 50, West Valley City, Utah 84119.

For the Hawaiian and Guam species, submit information to: Field Supervisor, Attention: 5-Year Review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Buld., Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850, or at pifwo-5yr-review@fws.gov.

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