Hawaiian Islands in Hurricane Flossie's Path
HONOLULU, Hawaii, August 14, 2007 (ENS) - The first Pacific hurricane of the 2007 season is closing in on the Hawaiian Islands. The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane warning for the island chain as Hurricane Flossie approaches from the southeast. Flossie is classed as a category three hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
At dawn this morning the storm was about 260 miles south-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii on the Big Island and 455 miles southeast of Honolulu.
Flossie is moving toward the west-northwest at 15 miles per hour and this motion is expected to continue overnight. Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph with higher gusts.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center said, "If Flossie maintains this speed and direction it will pass 80 miles south of the Big Island tonight."
The storm is expected to bring high surf, heavy rains and potentially damaging winds to the Big Island. Depending on the track of the storm, other islands also may experience heavy rains, high surf, and strong winds.
Hurricane hunter planes have been flying into Flossie's weather system since Monday and confirm the weather forecasts that predict the storm will pass to the south of the island chain.
To be on the safe side, Governor Linda Lingle signed an emergency disaster proclamation Monday, which includes the entire state. It authorizes Hawaii Adjutant General Major General Robert Lee to "activate such units of the Hawaii National Guard as may be necessary to assist and aid civilian authorities in disaster relief and averting any imminent public danger and threat and to insure the compliance with the civil laws of the State of Hawaii."
It also provides for state funding for the "speedy and efficient protection and relief of the damages, losses and suffering resulting from the hurricane."
Governor Lingle said signing the emergency disaster proclamation now will improve the state's ability to respond quickly to any damage caused by the storm.
Santa Barbara Placed on Red Flag Fire Alert
SANTA BARBARA, California, August 14, 2007 (ENS) - The Santa Barbara County Fire Department Monday declared a "Red Flag Alert" for the entire county based on hotter weather coupled with low relative humidities and predicted Sundowner winds in the south coast area.
The enormous Zaca Fire, started on July 4 by sparks from a worker's tool, continues to rage out of control in the Los Padres National Forest.
In an attempt to prevent more fires, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department will be conducting patrols, the Sheriff's Office will have increased ground patrols in place and the Sheriff's Aero Squadron will conduct fixed-wing aircraft patrols during the Red Flag alert period.
There is already a countywide ban in place on all open burning. Any activity in brush areas or areas with vegetation should be done using extreme caution.
The fire department urges residents to immediately report any suspicious observations or concerns to 9-1-1.
The Zaca wildfire has now devoured 101,472 acres and is now considered only 44 percent contained, down from 68 percent containment last week. September 7 is still given as the date of complete containment, but fire officials admit that date is just a target.
There are 2,700 firefighters, 21 helicopters, and eight air tankers at the scene of the fire, which has cost $69 million to date.
To date, over 120 miles of containment line have been completed by firefighters. Some 595 structures are threatened and evacuations remain in effect.
Fire managers say crews continued to make progress on the containment line in the Indian Creek drainage and continuing north along the eastern flank of the fire.
The Los Padres National Forest expanded closure encompasses 649,000 acres and is between Hwy 166 in northern Santa Barbara County and Highway 33 and Matilija Canyon in Ventura County.
Energy Department to Slash Own Energy Intensity 30 PercentWASHINGTON, DC, August 14, 2007 (ENS) – Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has introduced a program aimed at reducing "energy intensity" across the Department of Energy complex nationwide by 30 percent.
The Transformational Energy Action Management, TEAM, Initiative, is supposed to fundamentally transform the way the Department manages energy use in its facilities, Bodman said.
The federal government is largest single user of energy in the United States, and the Energy Department is the second largest energy consumer of all civilian federal agencies.
Energy Department facilities cover 110 million square feet, and the agency has more than 14,000 vehicles in its fleet.
Reducing energy intensity by 30 percent across the Department of Energy, DOE, is estimated to save $90 million in taxpayer dollars per year, after projects are paid for, said Secretary Bodman.
"As the federal government's lead agency on energy management, DOE will have raised the bar with TEAM Initiative," Secretary Bodman said. "Over the next few years, DOE will leverage every possible public and private resource to improve our energy performance and reduce our energy intensity."
This initiative meets or exceeds energy efficiency goals mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as well as President George W. Bush's Executive Order announced in January, which directed federal agencies to reduce energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions, substantially increase use and efficiency of renewable energy technologies, adopt sustainable design practices, and reduce petroleum use in federal fleets.
The TEAM Initiative requires that:
Secretary Bodman announced the TEAM program August 8 at the 10th GovEnergy 2007 conference, which brings together federal facility managers to discuss and implement energy management strategies.
In cooperation with Waste Management of New Hampshire, Inc., the university has launched EcoLine, a landfill gas project that will pipe enriched and purified gas from Waste Management's Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise, TREE, in Rochester to the Durham campus, UNH President Mark Huddleston announced today.
The renewable, carbon-neutral landfill gas will replace commercial natural gas as the primary fuel in UNH's cogeneration plant, enabling UNH to receive 80 to 85 percent of its energy from a renewable source.
"By reducing the university's dependence on fossil fuels and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, EcoLine is an environmentally and fiscally responsible initiative," said Huddleston.
The use of landfill gas will reduce the university's greenhouse gas emissions an estimated 67 percent below 2005 levels and 57 percent below 1990 levels.
Construction is set to begin immediately on a landfill gas processing plant in Rochester to purify the gas, and the 12.7 mile underground pipeline which will transport the gas from the plant to the university's Durham campus.
The university is expected to fuel its cogeneration plant with landfill gas by the fall of 2008. Estimated cost of the project, including the construction of a second generator at UNH, is $45 million.
The co-gen plant began operations in 2006, capturing waste heat normally lost during the production of electricity and using this energy to heat campus buildings.
The landfill gas will stabilize the university's fluctuating energy costs, which have doubled in the last five years.
Landfill gas is a naturally occurring by-product of landfill decomposition. Waste Management has a state-of-the-art gas collection system at TREE consisting of over 300 extraction wells, miles of collection pipes, and compressors to capture the landfill gas.
Waste Management now has two landfill gas-to-electric plants at TREE producing landfill gas power for over 9,000 homes which will continue to operate, while excess gas will be sent to UNH.
Alan Davis, district manager for Waste Management, said, "This project will add to the growing roster of landfill gas-to-energy projects operated by Waste Management across the country, and it will help us responsibly allocate the company's resources while providing renewable power to the communities we serve."
With 281 landfills in North America, Waste Management recently announced that is will create 60 additional landfill gas-to-energy facilities.
In total, Waste Management will generate more than 700 megawatts of clean renewable energy – enough to power 700,000 homes or replace over eight million barrels of oil, Davis said.
Waste Management designed and operated its first landfill gas-to-energy facility in the United States over 20 years ago.
This is the third expedition in a series of cruises aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy designed to map the sea floor on the northern Chukchi Cap.
Scientists will explore this poorly known region to better understand its shape and form and the potential for including this area within the United States' extended continental shelf under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea.
The data collected during this cruise will also provide information for better understanding sea floor processes and fisheries habitat, as well as provide input into climate and circulation models that will help scientists predict future conditions in the Arctic.
Previous mapping cruises in this series were conducted in 2003 and 2004.
The northern Chukchi Cap is an ice covered region of the Arctic Ocean where little data about the sea floor is available. The cruise will map the 2,500 meter (8,250 foot) depth contour and the foot of the continental slope – the area where the continental margin transitions into the deep sea floor.
The Bush administration is currently seeking Senate consent to U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention as a priority recommendation under the President's Ocean Action Plan.
Accession would allow full implement of the rights afforded to convention parties to protect coastal and ocean resources.
Coastal states have sovereign rights over resources of the sea floor and subsurface of their continental shelves. Under the Law of the Sea, a country gets 200 nautical miles of continental shelf automatically, but may extend its shelf beyond 200 nautical miles if it meets certain geologic criteria.
Under the Law of the Sea Convention, nations submit scientific data on their continental shelves to a technical body called the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. If a country's claim meets Commission criteria, it strengthens the legal certainty underlying the country's assertion of entitlement to the extended shelf.
The United States is seeking to become a party to the Convention in part to benefit from the legal certainty that comes with this mechanism.
Additional research, coordinated through the National Science Foundation, includes the deployment of several instruments for the National Ice Center to collect information on long-term ice drift. Scientist on the ship will conduct sea ice analysis and observe sea ice characteristics.
They plan the recovery, refurbishment and redeployment of two high-frequency acoustic packages used to record background acoustic noise.
The partnership between NOAA's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping and the Joint Hydrographic Center at the University of New Hampshire is intended to create a national center for expertise in ocean mapping and hydrographic sciences.
WASHINGTON, DC, August 14, 2007 (ENS) - White House officials are blocking a rule intended to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale from ship strikes, the leading cause of whale mortality, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER.
On June 26, 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, proposed speed limits of 10 knots (11.5 miles per hour) for shipping around port entrances along the eastern seaboard during the migration of right whales between Florida and New England.
Public comment on the NOAA plan ended back in October 2006 and a proposed rule was forwarded to the President's Office of Management and Budget this February. Since that time, the plan has been held up by the White House, well past the normal 90-day review period.
PEER today wrote to Dr. William Hogarth, head of NOAA Fisheries, seeking an explanation as to what or who is holding up enactment of the final rule.
On August 6, six key members of the House of Representatives, including Natural Resources Committee Chair Nick Rahall of West Virginia and the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Chair Madeleine Bordallo of Guam, wrote President George W. Bush urging him to end the blockade on the ship speed limits rule.
On August 10, three key Senators, Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, and Democrats Ted Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts sent a similar letter expressing their "grave concern" about further delays.
The rising concern is based in the conclusion that further delays threaten this species with extinction. The right whale has reached a current official "Potential Biological Removal" level of zero, meaning that the population cannot sustain the premature loss of even one more whale.
"With only 300 right whales left in existence, this species does not have the luxury to wait for the outcome of protracted political games," said New England PEER Director Kyla Bennett, a former federal biologist, who has waged a three-year-long effort for speed limits and other ship strike reduction measures.
"Last year, four right whales died from ship strikes and we cannot afford to lose any more."
On July 31, in testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee, Dr. Hogarth stated that he was confident of the science on which the rule was based, and asserted that the rule would be formally promulgated within two weeks, but the rule has still not been issued.
Foreign shipping companies are lobbying the White House to kill the speed limit rules because most all of the affected vessels are foreign owned or registered, said Bennett.
The Office of Management and Budget has responded by ordering the President's Council of Economic Advisors to conduct an unusual review of the economics and the biological science underpinning the rule.
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, August 14, 2007 (ENS) - Gilchrist & Soames of Indianapolis, a provider of toiletry products to the hotel industry, Monday initiated a worldwide recall of its 0.65oz/18ml toothpaste manufactured in China for the company by Ming Fai Enterprises International Company, after independent tests showed some samples of the toothpaste contained diethylene glycol, or DEG.
The chemical is used as an antifreeze and in the production of resins, plasticizers, and urethanes. It can be also found in hydraulic fluids and brake fluids.
Diethylene glycol is toxic to humans and animals and is not allowed in food and drugs in the United States.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, is not aware of any U.S. reports of poisonings from toothpaste containing DEG.
But the FDA says the agency is "concerned about potential risks from chronic exposure to DEG and exposure to DEG in certain populations, such as children and individuals with kidney or liver disease."
"DEG in toothpaste has a low but meaningful risk of toxicity and injury to these populations," the agency said.
Toothpaste is not intended to be swallowed, but FDA is concerned about unintentional swallowing or ingestion of toothpaste containing DEG.
Gilchrist & Soames is conducting this voluntary recall in cooperation with the FDA. The company also has notified the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in the UK to enable it to notify the European Commission to launch a RAPEX notification in the European Union.
Hotels in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Barbados, Dominican Republic or Turks & Caicos that received the recalled toothpaste from the company's United States distribution center, and those located in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates serviced by the company's UK distribution center, are being asked to destroy any Gilchrist & Soames 0.65oz/18ml Made in China toothpaste they may have on hand.
Hotel guests, who may have received the recalled toothpaste from hotels in any of these countries, should dispose of it.
Kathie De Voe, president of Gilchrist & Soames, said, "After receiving the FDA alert June 1 about tainted toothpaste manufactured in China, we immediately contacted our two Chinese toothpaste suppliers and initiated a series of independent lab tests in both Hong Kong and the United States to determine the possible presence of DEG."
At the same time, Gilchrist & Soames stopped all outgoing shipments and quarantined all of its Made in China toothpaste. The company asked all of its hotel clients to stop offering Chinese-made Gilchrist & Soames toothpaste until further investigation and independent testing by Gilchrist & Soames and the FDA.
De Voe says the company took these steps even though its toothpaste was not among those cited in the FDA warning.
De Voe said, "The fifth round of our independent lab tests showed the presence of DEG in some samples at levels exceeding FDA guidelines from one of our China suppliers. We immediately began the process of initiating the voluntary recall.
Gilchrist & Soames is working with its global supply chain partners to be certain they meet the standards and specifications outlined in its new testing criteria. The company said new testing to confirm the absence of DEG will be part of that process.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.