AmeriScan: April 5, 2007

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Poll: Majority Would Restrict Greenhouse Gas Emissions

PRINCETON, New Jersey, April 5, 2007 (ENS) - Gallup's annual Environment survey finds the overwhelming majority of American adults polled support environmental proposals that would strengthen government restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions and spend more taxpayer money to develop alternative sources of fuel and energy.

A large majority, 86 percent of those polled, favored spending government money to develop alternative sources of fuel for automobiles.

Those in favor of spending more government money on developing solar and wind power grew by a small, but statistically significant, four percentage points over the past year, from 77 to 81 percent.

Americans have been widely supportive of these proposals since Gallup began tracking them six years ago. "Public support for these proposals dipped slightly in 2006 but bounced back this year, and grew to a new high in the case of setting higher restrictions on auto emissions," said Lydia Saad of the Gallup organization.

In the survey of 1,009 adults over the age of 18 conducted March 11 to 14, 79 percent of Americans polled said they favor setting higher emission standards for automobiles, a slightly higher percentage than found in four other polls taken since 2001.

A four point increase is seen in the percentage of those surveyed in favor of imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases - from 75 percent in 2006 to 79 percent today.

Gallup found less support for expanding the use of nuclear energy, 50 percent in favor, or opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, in Alaska for oil exploration, which was supported by only 41 percent of those polled.

Gallup interviewers documented a five point decline in the number of those who favor expanding the use of nuclear energy, and an eight point decline in support for opening ANWR for oil exploration.

In general, more Republicans than Democrats support expanding nuclear power, and more Democrats than Republicans support oil drilling in ANWR. Men are more supportive than women of both proposals.

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Conservationists Will Sue to Protect Yellowstone Grizzlies

BOZEMAN, Montana, April 5, 2007 (ENS) - Conservation groups Tuesday filed a notice with the federal government of their intent to sue to restore Endangered Species Act protections to Yellowstone's grizzly bears. The government intends to lift those protections on April 30.

Eight conservation groups, represented by the nonprofit public interest law firm Earthjustice, cite evidence that Yellowstone's grizzlies face a difficult future because of global warming, hunting, road-building, logging, and oil and gas development.

These bears depend on the seeds produced by the whitebark pine tree as a main food source used to fatten up before winter hibernation. Global warming is causing beetles to kill this key grizzly food source.

"With global warming speeding up reproduction of bark beetles that kill whitebark pine trees, we face a future where every year is a bad year for whitebark pine, and the consequence is every year is a declining year for Yellowstone grizzlies," said Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold.

Grizzly bears in the contiguous United States occupy only two percent of their historic habitat. Only one percent of their historic population levels survive today.

Lifting Endangered Species Act protections for grizzlies rescinds limitations on road-building, logging, and oil and gas development in much of the public lands currently used by grizzlies.

Nearly 40 percent of lands used by grizzlies today in the Yellowstone ecosystem is outside of the designated recovery area, the conservation groups point out.

Although the Fish and Wildlife Service counts the bears outside of the protected area to conclude that the population meets recovery levels, the agency has not taken steps to ensure the bears' viability in those areas after delisting, the conservationists say.

Lifting Endangered Species Act protections will subject the bears to hunting in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

In Wyoming, four counties - Park, Fremont, Sublette, and Lincoln - have passed ordinances and resolutions to show their intolerance of grizzly bears. For example, Fremont County resolved in 2002 that grizzly bears are an "unacceptable species" that constitutes "a threat to the public health, safety, and livelihood" of the citizens of Fremont County.

The conservation groups filing the notice of intent to sue were the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Humane Society of the United States, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watershed Project, Great Bear Foundation, and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.

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Senators Urge Hike in Energy Star Budget for Small Business

WASHINGTON, DC, April 5, 2007 (ENS) – The chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship want to know what the Bush administration want to know what specific steps the Bush administration has taken to help small businesses address climate change with Energy Star Small Business Program.

In an April 3 letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Senators John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, called for more funding to be directed into the program in light of estimates that small businesses use about half of all the commercial energy in the United States.

An EPA official testified before the committee last month that current resources for this program amount to two percent of the overall Energy Star budget, and include the equivalent of two staff members.

Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, told the committee that the EPA spends "about $1 million a year" on its small business program.

The senators are asking Johnson to provide within 30 days a five year history of EPA's budget for the overall Energy Star program as well as for the Energy Star Small Business program.

They want a detailed description of the services provided by the staff designated to administer the Energy Star Small Business program, as well as a five year history of staffing allocations for this program, specifying the identities of any and all EPA employees dedicated to the Energy Star Small Business program.

And further, they want detailed estimates of overall energy use by U.S. small businesses, and of the potential savings that are possible through energy efficiency improvements by small businesses.

The senators said they had been told that small businesses can realistically implement measures to save between 20 and 30 percent of energy usage annually.

"Across the country, this would translate into reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of between 93 and 140 million tons per year, while potentially realizing an estimated combined savings for small businesses of up to $18 billion in annual energy costs," they wrote in the letter to Johnson.

They EPA's Energy Star for Small Business program, the senators said, deserves the full attention and support of a federal government that believes small businesses can make a difference in the fight to stop global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Delaware Debuts Solar Project for Poultry Industry

LAUREL, Delaware, April 5, 2007 (ENS) - In a ribbon-cutting ceremony held yesterday in Laurel, Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner and U.S. Senator Tom Carper officially opened a solar electric project at a poultry growout house owned by Allen Family Foods, Inc.

Designed as a solar study for the U.S. poultry industry, the new system supplies all essential electricity for lighting, heat and ventilation used to raise day-old chickens to maturity, and will reduce Allen's electricity costs.

Because the cost of grid electricity has risen so high over the past few years, the poultry industry is looking at solar power as a cost effective, sustainable energy source for growout contractors throughout the United States.

WorldWater & Power Corp., developer of high-power solar systems, designed and engineered the $500,000 photovoltaic installation for Allen.

The project is a partnership between Allen, WorldWater, GE Energy, the University of Delaware, the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

The Delaware Green Energy Program granted $250,000 to help fund the system, the University of Delaware will monitor the project and GE Energy, the PV panel supplier, will contribute to the project evaluation study.

The poultry industry is one of the largest employers in Delaware. Some counties have the highest concentration of growout houses in the country.

Allen Family Foods, a third generation family owned company, has been in the poultry business since 1919. Today it employs over 3,000 people in Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina. Along with breeding and hatching facilities, feed mills and processing plants, Allen has a farming division that produces feed grains, 28 company owned growout farms and coordinates with 550 independent contractors that raise chicks for Allen.

If the solar installation in Laurel performs well, similar systems could be installed at poultry facilities throughout the Allen company and across the country.

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Deer Damaging Pennsylvania Forests, Bird Habitat

LEBANON, Pennsylvania, April 5, 2007 (ENS) - The over-browsing of Pennsylvania's forests and agricultural areas by too many deer has eliminated thousands of acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife, according to Timothy Schaeffer, PhD, executive director of Audubon Pennsylvania, the state office of the National Audubon Society.

Dr. Schaeffer made the comments before the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee at a listening session on rural and agricultural issues in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

He called deer the largest single threat to bird habitat after urban sprawl.

"The impact of deer on our forest ecosystem, the crop and forest products losses, the loss of life and property from deer/car collisions and the impact on public health from the incidence of Lyme disease carried by deer have all been documented and the picture painted by these numbers is not good," said Dr. Schaeffer.

A study released in March by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources showed fewer than 25 percent of the 41,650 forest plots they looked at across the state showed desirable forest regeneration and almost 45 percent lacked any new woody growth.

Nearly all of Audubon's 84 Important Bird Areas in Pennsylvania has experienced damage caused by deer over-browsing. These are areas of habitat critical to the survival and diversity of bird populations that must meet dozens of science-based criteria for designation, he said.

"In addition to habitat losses, there is an estimated $90 million in agricultural crop loss and $73 million in damage to our forest products every year caused by deer, according to the Department of Agriculture," said Dr. Schaeffer. "Nurseries are losing an average of $20,000 a year due to deer damage, and state taxpayers lose $18 million a year in deferred and lost timber stumpage sales."

In 2006, state legislators established that $78 million in property damage occurs in the over 39,000 deer/car collisions each year in Pennsylvania, not counting the deaths and injuries to the people involved, the highest of any state in the nation.

In addition, the incidence of Lyme disease, a debilitating and sometimes fatal illness spread by deer ticks, has increased by over 9,000 percent between 1987 and 2004, according to the state Department of Health.

Schaeffer supports allowing hunters to reduce the deer population without further restrictions.

The first priority should be the restoration and maintenance of fully functional forest ecosystems, containing a full omponent of native biological diversity at all levels, he said. "It is the best way to serve the long-term interests of the people and wildlife of Pennsylvania."

To view the Audubon's report, visit: http://pa.audubon.org/deer_report.html

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Old Chicago Factory Finds New Life as Green Exchange

CHICAGO, Illinois, April 5, 2007 (ENS) - A four-story concrete loft building in Chicago that once housed an underwear company is being renovated according to LEED certified standards to become the Green Exchange, the city's first business community committed to environmental sustainability, profit and positive social impact.

Green Exchange will include an organic restaurant and café, a sustainable furniture store, a green building supply company, an eco-friendly printer, architects and designers focused on sustainability, an environmentally-friendly clothing company, a car sharing service, and a bike shop. The first tenants will move in at the beginning of 2008.

The 250,000 square foot Green Exchange located at 2545 West Diversey Avenue is a project of Baum Development LLC, a comprehensive commercial real estate development firm.

The redevelopment has the support of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. "We want Chicago to be a shining example of how a major urban area can live in harmony with its environment – and we want our city to be an advocate for green practices in city planning, construction, energy use and day-to-day management of government and the private sector," said Mayor Daley.

"Green Exchange is a great example of the public/private partnerships that are working together to help make Chicago one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the nation," the mayor said.

The project's architects Hartshorne and Plunkard intend to preserve many of the existing historically significant features. The team will comply with LEED standards when renovating by incorporating an energy efficient environment, a green roof, clean air quality, a landscaped courtyard, bike rooms, meeting and event space, and priority parking for hybrid vehicles.

Green Exchange seeks to broaden the sustainable business marketplace from niche to mainstream. For more information, visit: www.greenexchange.com.