AmeriScan: August 8, 2007

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Bald Eagle Officially Off Endangered List

WASHINGTON, DC, August 8, 2007 (ENS) - "Today is one for the history books," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crowed, "it’s the day the bald eagle officially soars off the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act."

After plummeting to nearly 400 pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963, the eagle has rebounded to more than 10,000 pairs, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced on June 28. The increased numbers mean the eagle no longer needs legal protection, he said.

The bald eagle first came under federal protection in 1940. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act curbed illegal hunting and shooting of eagles for their feathers.

But the widespread use of the pesticide DDT after World War II caused eagle populations to plummet towards extinction.

When DDT washed off into waterways, it was absorbed by aquatic plants and fish. When eagles ate the contaminated fish, they would be poisoned. DDT prevented the proper formulation of calcium necessary to produce strong eggshells, so the thinned eggshells cracked when an adult bird sat on them in the nest.

Widespread reproductive failure and a steep decline in numbers followed. As a result, the bald eagle was protected in 1967 under the precursor to the Endangered Species Act. The eagle continued to be protected when the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was enacted.

The legal protections under the act, along with the crucial decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban the general use of the pesticide DDT in 1972, provided the springboard for eagle recovery.

Eagles have also benefited from captive breeding programs, reintroductions, law enforcement measures, protection of habitat around nest sites, and land purchase and preservation activities.

Today there are more bald eages in the Midwest than anywhere else in the continental United States. Minnesota has the largest eagle population - 1,312 breeding pairs. Wisconsin’s population is the nation’s third largest outside Alaska, with 1,065 pairs.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall says the agency will work with state wildlife agencies to monitor bald eagles for at least five years. If it appears that eagles again need the protection of the ESA, the Service can propose to relist the species.

The bald eagle will continue to be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

For more information on bald eagles, click here.

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No Worker's Compensation for Media Hurt Covering 9/11

NEW YORK, New York, August 8, 2007 (ENS) - The New York Press Photographers Association is asking members of the media who covered the September 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center to contact the association.

These journalists were exposed to the same toxic chemicals and dust as first responders, and the association wants to ensure that they receive worker's compensation for health problems resulting from that exposure.

David Handschuh, the NYPPA intergovernmental affairs chair and a photographer for the "New York Daily News," circulated a letter to media Tuesday asking people who covered the attacks to come forward.

In the letter, Handschuh explains that New York State has passed a law extending the time for "Rescue and Recovery Workers" to file for Workers Compensation payment for injuries sustained while working at the World Trade Center until August 14, 2008.

"This is VERY good legislation that will help many people but unfortunately excludes photographers, journalists, reporters, producers, correspondents and others in the media who covered the attack for months afterwards," wrote Handschuh.

"We feel that journalists have encountered the same health issues as other rescue and recovery workers and should be treated equitably when it comes to health challenges and care issues resulting from 9/11 exposure," he wrote.

Handschuh himself was injured while photographing the attack when debris from the explosion of the second World Trade Center tower broke his leg, dislocated his knee and caused other injuries.

Now among those suffering from breathing problems, Handschuh says he has heard from about a dozen 9/11 media workers who are suffering health problems.

The NYPPA and other press groups are attempting to identify all media members who are now suffering from health issues as a result of 9/11 coverage or are concerned over future health issues.

The NYPPA also wants media members who covered the attack to fill out and submit a form that would help others who reported the attack to get coverage in the event of future health issues.

The NYPPA will track the responses of the New York State Worker's Compensation Board to see whether these submissions are accepted or rejected.

And the association will lobby New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and the Legislature to offer statutory amendments that would assure the inclusion of journalists.

"We need to hear from you, no matter how long or short a time period you were at "Ground Zero" or how limited or extensive your exposure was," Handschuh writes. "Together I believe that we can get health protection for members of our community who informed the public and recorded history on 9/11/01 and for months and months after."

Handschuh can be reached by email at: or by phone at: 212.210.2344.

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New Jersey Voters to Decide $200 Million Open Space Fund

TRENTON, New Jersey, August 8, 2007 (ENS) – Governor Jon Corzine Monday signed legislation putting an initiative on the 2007 ballot to authorize $200 million to allow the state to continue preserving open space, farmland and historic sites. As the most densely populated state in the nation, New Jersey treasures its open spaces.

The initiative also provides for an expanded Blue Acres program, which funds the purchase of flood-prone properties.

"Preserving New Jersey’s open space, farmland and historic sites and reviving the Blue Acres program is vital to our environment and to our economy," Governor Corzine said. "I strongly encourage voters to support this initiative, which will enable us to continue this program while we work to find a permanent, sustainable funding mechanism."

If approved by voters, the $200 million will be allocated to cover:

All grant proposals and funding requests will be reviewed and evaluated by professional staff using consistent and objective criteria, the governor said.

"As New Jersey’s population continues to grow, so will the amount of space needed to house all of its residents," said Senator Stephen Sweeney, who sponsored the bill in the Senate.

"This funding will allow towns around the State to conserve necessary open space and historic properties so that future generations will be have access to some of the State’s most valuable resources," Sweeney said. "While development is absolutely necessary, it cannot consume all of the state’s open space."

"New Jersey is running out of time to protect its diminishing tracts of open space," said Assemblyman John McKeon, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly. "Passage of this land preservation referendum is critically important."

To date, New Jersey has preserved over 1.3 million acres of open space and farmland.

In addition to the environmental impact of preserving open space, a recent report by the Department of Environmental Protection valued New Jersey’s "natural capital," which includes open space, at $20 billion annually.

In other New Jersey environmental news, the governor today signed a bill eliminating the 10 year statute of limitations on certain environmental crimes.

Currently, if a person knowingly causes widespread injury or damage as a result of the discharge of a hazardous waste or a toxic pollutant, or violates various environmental laws, a criminal prosecution must begin within 10 years of the discovery of the offense.

The statute of limitations has applied to violations of the Solid Waste Management Act, the Comprehensive Regulated Medical Waste Management Act, the Air Pollution Control Act, asbestos laws, and the Water Pollution Control Act.

The new law eliminates the statute of limitations, and has won the support of the advocacy group New Jersey Environmental Lobby.

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Pulp and Paper Mills to Track Environmental Footprints

OLYMPIA, Washington, August 8, 2007 (ENS) - How does a pulp and paper mill measure its impact on the surrounding community? And with a commitment to sustainable practices, can it improve its environmental, economic and social footprint over time?

These are the questions the Washington Department of Ecology and Grays Harbor Paper, GHP, will explore under a new partnership called the Industrial Footprint Project.

Grays Harbor Paper has volunteered, along with three other pulp and paper mills in the state, to provide baseline data to the Department of Ecology on a range of environmental, economic and social indicators.

Working with a consultant, stakeholders and the participating mills, the state agency will use the data to create a scoring system to establish a footprint measurement for each facility. The footprint will serve as a baseline to help companies set targets for improving over time.

"We hope to provide good environmental results that make sense for the mill and the community," said Cullen Stephenson, manager of the Department of Ecology's Solid Waste Program. "These facilities are partnering with us voluntarily. We are advisors, helping encourage more sustainable practices and communities."

"This is a laboratory for a new way of doing business," he said.

"Grays Harbor Paper is working hard to continue to mitigate our environmental footprint, and we are pleased to get assistance in doing this," said GHP President Bill Quigg. "Grays Harbor Paper and the Department of Ecology have common goals that through partnerships we can all achieve."

Based in Hoquiam, Washington, the mill employs about 220 people in the manufacture of uncoated paper, producing 425 tons aday of carbon neutral, post consumer waste process, chlorine free writing paper.

Grays Harbor uses wood waste as biomass fuel to generate 100 percent renewable Green-e Certified electricity that is used to manufacture the paper. The remaining power is sold back into the grid.

To ensure their Harbor 100 brand meets the highest recycling standards, Grays Harbor has the process certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Nippon Paper Industries of Port Angeles announced a similar partnership with Ecology last Friday. The names of the two other mills will be formally announced later in August.

"Clean air, water and soil, and healthy communities and work places are essential to Washington's success in the global economy," said Governor Chris Gregoire. "I am pleased that this public-private partnership is ensuring that Washington remains a great place to live and do business."

Environmental data to be collected includes waste streams, recycling, emissions, water consumption and purchase of raw materials.

One part of the project will be an energy challenge - each facility will be asked to reduce their energy usage.

On the economic side, some data analyzed will include jobs provided and the costs of good and services. Social indicators may include community involvement, health and safety records or good neighbor efforts.

"We are looking for a model that measures the whole picture and the interactions," said Stephenson. "If the company changes an environmental practice that then has an economic or social impact, it could be important for the business and the community to know that."

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U.S. and California Petitioned to Save Longfin Smelt

SAN FRANCISCO, California, August 8, 2007 (ENS) – Three conservation groups today petitioned for California state and federal endangered species protection for another fish in the San Francisco Bay-Delta - the longfin smelt, Spirinchus thaleichthys.

This fish has dropped to record low numbers in the Bay-Delta and is nearing extinction in other northern California estuaries, according to the Bay Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, and Natural Resources Defense Council.

The groups asked the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Bay-Delta population of longfin smelt under the federal Endangered Species Act, and at the same time asked the California Fish and Game Commission to list the species statewide under the California Endangered Species Act.

"On the heels of the Delta smelt crisis, longfin smelt are telling us that the problems are bigger than the Delta," said Dr. Tina Swanson, senior scientist with the Bay Institute.

Delta fish populations collapsed beginning in 2002 and researchers are still trying to find a detailed explanation. But they are relatively certain it is due to some combination of pumping, invasive species and pollution.

Longfin smelt have declined due to many of the same degraded environmental conditions that caused the collapse of the Delta smelt, the conservationists say - reduced freshwater inflow to the estuary as a result of massive water diversions; loss of fish at agricultural, urban, and industrial water diversions; direct and indirect impacts of nonnative species on food supply and habitat; and lethal and sublethal effects of pesticides and toxic chemicals.

"First it was Delta smelt. Now it’s longfin smelt. Others will follow if we don’t watch out," said Kate Poole, an attorney with NRDC. "Next in line are several salmon runs, sturgeon, steelhead, Sacramento splittail, striped bass and threadfin shad."

"We need to take a serious look to how we are managing the San Francisco Bay-Delta and California’s other vital estuaries and comprehensively deal with known problems of reduced freshwater inflows, habitat destruction, toxics and invasive species, said Swanson. "If we don’t, we could lose keystone species from these estuary ecosystems and the commercial and sport fisheries that depend on them."

Longfin smelt were once one of the most abundant open water fishes in the Bay-Delta and a central component of the food web that sustained other commercially important species.

The San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary still is inhabited by the largest and southernmost self-sustaining population of longfin smelt.

But throughout the 2000s, the Bay-Delta longfin smelt population has been just three percent of levels measured less than 20 years ago. For the past four years, longfin smelt numbers have been at record lows.

"Poor management of California’s largest estuary ecosystem could claim another of our native fish species, this time the longfin smelt — a species formerly so common that it supported a commercial fishery in San Francisco Bay," said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity.

"The decline of longfin smelt, as with Delta smelt, is absolutely correlated with reduced freshwater flow into the Bay and excessive water diversions," he said.

The Delta smelt, a species already listed under state and federal Endangered Species Acts, recently plummeted to the lowest population levels ever recorded.

For more on the longfin smelt decline and the ecosystem collapse in the Delta click here.

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Homebuilders vs San Joaquin Air District

FRESNO, California, August 8, 2007 (ENS) - Environmental groups have filed intervention papers in federal court to help the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District defend a rule requiring developers to mitigate the air pollution raised by building new housing projects and other large developments.

On June 6, the National Association of Home Builders filed a challenge in federal district court seeking to invalidate the rule, claiming only the federal government can regulate these activities.

The clean air case is being closely watched by development interests nationally.

Earthjustice is representing Environmental Defense and three chapters of the Sierra Club in the intervention.

At issue is a rule entitled Indirect Source Review, which requires developers to limit pollution from the increased traffic generated by new development.

Developers can either pay a mitigation fee to the district for the purchase of off-site emission reductions, or they can incorporate into their projects elements that will minimize traffic-related emissions - building near public transit, adding bicycle lanes, or building walkable shopping.

Gordon Nipp, who has been fighting unmitigated development in the valley for years as a Sierra Club member, said, "Rampant, poorly designed sprawl is a major cause of the terrible air pollution we suffer with here in the San Joaquin Valley. Every sector of the Valley's economy must join the war against air pollution. It is sad to see the homebuilders trying to avoid doing their part."

The intervention is unusual for environmental and public health groups that have filed and settled numerous lawsuits in recent years that have forced the air district to do a better job of protecting public health.

"We are glad to defend the air district in court when it does something right," said Paul Cort, an attorney with Earthjustice who is representing the environmental groups.

The San Joaquin Valley is the area of the Central Valley of California that lies south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Stockton. Although most of the valley is rural, it contains cities such as Stockton, Fresno, Modesto, Bakersfield, and Merced.

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Feds' New Fishwatch Website Open to Public Comment

WASHINGTON, DC, August 8, 2007 (ENS) - Seafood consumers who are concerned about the sustainability and quality of seafood, can now turn to a NOAA Fisheries Service website FishWatch for the latest information.

The website, at, has information on more than 30 of the most popular seafood species, with more species to be added in the near future.

The NOAA Fisheries Service is inviting the public to visit the FishWatch site and provide feedback on the program through the comments section within the next 60 days.

"Consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety, quality, and sustainability of the seafood they eat," said Bill Hogarth, NOAA Fisheries Service director. "This guide brings accurate fish information available to your seafood market, and it allows consumers to make informed decisions about purchasing seafood."

For instance, the site gives information about the mercury content in various fishes.

"If you are pregnant, nursing, or thinking about becoming pregnant, it is important that you avoid consuming too much methylmercury. This substance can be found in swordfish, and it can harm an unborn child's developing nervous system if eaten regularly," it says in the swordfish section.

The site includes details on fish population strength, life history, conservation status and management.

"Chinook salmon stocks originate in rivers from central California to northwest Alaska," the site states, adding, "The status of Chinook populations varies, with some populations being healthy and robust while others are at risk of extinction."

Consumer information as content of fats, protein, niacin, vitamin B12, and selenium is given along with economic information, such as where the seafood comes from and how much money it brings to the economy.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.