AmeriScan: August 14, 2007

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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.

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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.

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Energy Department to Slash Own Energy Intensity 30 Percent

WASHINGTON, 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: