AmeriScan: February 18, 2005

* * *

French Government Nuclear Firm Seeks to Build U.S. Plants

BETHESDA, Maryland, February 18, 2005 (ENS) - Based in Paris, the nuclear power corporation Framatome ANP is positioning itself to build and operate nuclear power plants in the United States.

The company is a member of the AREVA group, owned by the government of France. Framatome ANP is AREVA’s joint subsidiary with Siemens.

"AREVA has been preparing for a revival of nuclear generation in North Amerca for some time, and we now have the focus, technology and resources in place to play a leading role in nuclear power’s bright future," said Ray Ganthner, senior vice president of Framatome ANP.

On Tuesday, Framatome ANP announced the formation of a new organization to focus on "the future need for commercial nuclear generation in North America."

The New Plants Deployment team, managed by Ganthner, will lead the North American deployment of the EPR, which the company describes as "an advanced, evolutionary, pressurized water reactor design."

"The U.S. EPR will be part of a global fleet of standardized plants, designed and built in North America," said Ganthner. "The licensing and engineering work will be done primarily in our Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lynchburg, Virginia, locations." Framatome ANP has been using these locations to develop new manufacturing processes for nuclear fuel fabrication.

The company says it has established "a new state-of-the-art for both pressurized water reactor and boiling water reactor fuel manufacturing."

AREVA, through its Framatome ANP subsidiary, has begun a dialogue with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to outline its intentions regarding design certification of the EPR and to be sensitive to the agency’s resource planning needs. AREVA’s intent is to complete the pre-application process so that an application for design certification can be made to the NRC as soon as possible.

Framatome ANP will also "support the global project to develop a Generation IV high temperature gas reactor."

"AREVA never stopped designing and building nuclear power plants around the world and has been a leading supplier in North America for over 30 years through its COGEMA and Framatome ANP subsidiaries," said Tom Christopher, CEO of AREVA Inc.

With 7,100 employees in North America, Christopher says AREVA is "the only vertically integrated supplier who can provide uranium enrichment, nuclear fuel, plant services, major plant components, spent fuel solutions and energy delivery systems."

AREVA designed and installed 30 percent of the world’s current nuclear generation capacity and provides nuclear fuel to 46 percent of the world market.

"Today, AREVA is the only global nuclear supplier currently building a Generation III plant," said Christopher.

On February 8, the French government announced plans to partially privatize three major energy firms, including AREVA, but the plan has provoked protests among nuclear workers.

Framatome ANP is headquartered in Paris with regional subsidiaries in the United States and Germany. The company's total workforce of 14,000 is active in Eastern and Western Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa.

* * *

EPA Invites States Into Clean Energy-Environment Partnership

WASHINGTON, DC, February 18, 2005 (ENS) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will launch the new Clean Energy-Environment State Partnership Program together with 10 charter states.

California, Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are the charter states.

EPA will announce the new program at the National Association of State Energy Officials' 2005 Energy Outlook conference.

Under the voluntary program, EPA assists states as they develop and implement action plans to improve air quality, decrease energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance economic development. The program is based on maximizing the use of energy efficiency, renewable energy and other clean power options.

With the demand for energy expected to climb 40 percent by the year 2025 and about 126 million people living in counties where monitored air is unhealthy at one time or more during the year, many states are seeking to integrate their energy and environmental policies to protect public health and ensure electricity reliability, energy security and economic development.

The EPA estimates that if all 50 states implemented cost-effective clean energy-environment policies, the expected growth in demand for electricity could be cut in half by 2025, and more demand could be met through a cleaner energy supply.

This would mean annual savings of more than 900 billion kilowatt-hours and $70 billion in energy costs by 2025, while preventing the need for more than 300 power plants and the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 80 million of today's vehicles.

"EPA is pleased to initiate a new effort to help states work on cost-effective energy and environmental strategies that make sense for their air, their electricity systems, and their economies," said Jeffrey Holmstead, EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation.

Under the new partnership program, states to work with EPA to develop and implement a state-specific Clean Energy-Environment State Action Plan that contains one or more clean energy-environment goals.

EPA provides Partner States with access to a comprehensive technical assistance package of planning, policy, technical, analytical and information resources and helps direct them to other federal programs that support clean energy-environment strategies.

In addition to receiving technical assistance from EPA, partners benefit from learning from their peers about successful programs and policies at work in other states, identifying themselves as environmental and clean energy leaders, and receiving EPA recognition for the environmental benefits that result from their efforts.

Examples of policies and programs that states may choose to pursue as part of their Clean Energy-Environment Action Plan include energy efficiency incentive programs to promote technologies that can lower emissions and save consumers energy costs and programs to support the adoption of cost-effective green power.

For information on the program and Charter Partners, go to: http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy.

* * *

Canadian Provinces Join U.S. Carbon Sequestration Effort

WASHINGTON, DC, February 18, 2005 (ENS) - The Energy Department has brought government agencies and private entities in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia into the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership program, a North American effort to validate and deploy carbon sequestration technologies.

The program, a network of public and private sector organizations, will select technologies, regulations, and infrastructure for future carbon dioxide capture, storage, and sequestration in different areas of the country. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is produced by the combustion of coal, oil and natural gas.

The two westernmost Canadian provinces join the prairie provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba as Canadian partners.

In August 2003, the Energy Department selected seven original partnerships for the carbon sequestration partnership in August 2003. With the addition of organizations from Alberta and British Columbia, the partnerships now include 216 organizations across 40 states, three Indian nations, and four Canadian provinces.

While Canada has ratified the Kyoto Protocol with its legally binding limits on carbon dioxide emissions, some provincial agencies have gone their own way, choosing to support President George W. Bush's Global Climate Change Initiative, which calls for an 18 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas intensity by 2012 using voluntary means.

They support the work of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, an international effort to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage technologies worldwide.

The partnerships also support the Bush administration's plans for FutureGen, a high-tech coal-fired power plant that aims to produce both hydrogen and electricity, with near-zero emissions. The partnerships will provide the regulatory, infrastructure, and site-selection basis for possible wide-scale deployment of FutureGen technology options in the future.

The Province of Alberta became part of the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership in January 2005. Alberta joined two other Canadian provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and nine states - Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming - investigating opportunities to mitigate CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in the region through the identification of opportunities for geologic and terrestrial sequestration projects.

The Alberta Energy and Utility Board and Alberta Environment will contribute information on Alberta CO2 sources, transportation infrastructure, and the vast geologic formations to the partnership's geographic information system and decision support tools.

Ducks Unlimited Canada will expand their work on characterizing the potential for Prairie Pot Hole Region Wetlands in Alberta to sequester carbon and offset other greenhouse gas emissions through future restoration projects.

British Columbia joined the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (WestCarb) in December 2004. British Columbia joins six states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington - that are researching similar opportunities for future sequestration projects.

The British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines, which has previous experience characterizing their geographic area for sequestration opportunities, will partner with WestCarb. The ministry has created a database of potential sequestration sites, CO2 sources, and transportation infrastructure that is being shared with WestCarb.

In addition to the two expanded partnerships, the national network includes:

DOE is currently soliciting applications for a Phase II competition expected to begin later this year.

More information about the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships is online at: http://www.fe.doe.gov/programs/sequestration/partnerships/.

* * *

Shareholders Hit 31 Firms With Global Warming Resolutions

BOSTON, Massachusetts, February 18, 2005 (ENS) - The season for annual general meetings is here again, and this year a record number of global warming resolutions have been filed by shareholders, according to investor groups Ceres and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Oil and gas companies, electric power producers, real estate firms, manufacturers, financial institutions and automakers - among the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the country - will be hearing from their shareholders on the controversial issue.

Thirty-one resolutions requesting financial risk disclosure and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been filed with nine oil and gas companies, six manufacturers, three electric power providers and two automakers. The filings come from state and city pension funds, as well as labor, foundation, religious and other institutional shareholders.

The 31 filings easily surpass the 22 global warming shareholder resolutions filed last year, say Ceres and the Interfaith Center, which track shareholder resolutions on environmental issues.

New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. said, "With increasing, credible, scientific evidence that global warming is occurring, and given the potential environmental and regulatory impacts across companies and industries, the boards of directors of public companies should direct their managements to assess these effects and to disclose the findings to their shareholders."

Many of last year's resolutions received the highest voting support ever, particularly in the oil and gas sector where support levels were as high as 37 percent. Seven resolutions were withdrawn by filers last year after companies agreed to undertake climate risk assessments and committed to specific greenhouse reduction targets.

This year global warming resolutions have been filed with automakers Ford and General Motors, and in the energy sector, with Dominion Resources; FirstEnergy; Progress Energy.

In the oil and gas sector, shareholders have filed resolutions with Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Apache Corp., ChevronTexaco Corp., ExxonMobil Corp., Marathon Oil Corp., Tesoro Corp., Unocal Corp., Vintage Petroleum, and XTO Energy Inc.

Manufacturers Allergan, Avery Dennison, Analog Devices, Corning; Dow Chemical, and Newell Rubbermaid will be faced with global warming shareholder resolutions at their annual meetings this year.

In the financial services sector, filings have been made with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Wachovia, and Wells Fargo & Co.

The announcement of shareholder resolutions comes one day after the Kyoto Protocol's entry into force. The international treaty requires 35 industrialized countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by and average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Ceres President Mindy Lubber said, "Adoption of the Kyoto Protocol adds even greater urgency to these shareholder resolutions. There's a rising tide of investor concern because carbon limits are taking effect around the world."

The United States did not ratify the protocol, but many of the U.S. companies targeted by shareholder resolutions will need to reduce emissions in Europe, Canada, Japan and other countries.

Denise Nappier, treasurer for the state of Connecticut, said, "The new regulatory environment regarding climate change brings both risks and opportunities for companies in countless industries. The consequences for those companies that do not act responsibly and take steps to assess these risks and opportunities - and share that assessment with investors - can be quite serious."

* * *

Allegheny Energy Sued Over Pennsylvania Coal Plant Pollution

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania, February 18, 2005 (ENS) - "We have soot covering our houses and cars, decks and porches, lawns and flowers," says Charlotte O'Rourke, who lives near the Hatfield's Ferry power plant in Masontown, Pennsylvania. "I never open my windows - even last summer when my air conditioning broke. And I don't let my grandchildren play outside."

O'Rourke is one of several plaintiffs who are suing Allegheny Energy for air pollution violations at the coal-fired power plant. "I'm sad that I've had to sue," she said, "but something has to be done right away."

Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), a statewide public interest conservation organization, with the support of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), has filed suit against Allegheny Energy, the groups announced Wednesday.

The plaintiffs say they are suing because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have not yet stopped the pollution violations at the Hatfield's Ferry plant. "My own government has failed to protect me," said O'Rourke.

"This plant's records show that it pollutes the air with soot six out of every seven days," said Charles McPhedran, senior attorney for PennFuture. "No one should have to live under these circumstances. PennFuture intends to enforce the law against this soot-belching power plant."

"It's bad enough that the government agencies aren't stopping the pollution, but if the majority in Congress has its way, even these laws will be gutted," said EIP Director Eric Schaeffer. "At a time when we are learning that soot and fine particle pollution are not just dangerous, but deadly, it is a tragedy that our elected officials are considering putting more families at risk with their so-called 'Clear Skies' plan."

The Hatfield's Ferry pollution violates both federal and state law, persistently exceeding the limits for visible air contaminants and particulate matter.

Local residents have long complained of the effect of these pollutants on their homes and property, and recently have expressed concerns about their health. A copy of the complaint detailing the problems and the laws involved is posted on the PennFuture website, http://www.pennfuture.org.

Last October PennFuture notified Allegheny Energy and the federal and state agencies of the group's intention to file a lawsuit under the federal Clean Air Act and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act

Hatfield's Ferry's 700-foot smokestack was climbed by six Greenpeace protesters "to highlight the dangers of a dirty coal plant and the Bush administration's failure to protect communities living in the shadows of polluting power plants," Greenpeace says. They were each charged with a felony.

On February 15, the six activists resolved their case with the District Attorney of Greene County, Pennsylvania. After generating more than 7,500 faxes from supporters, the felony charges were dropped. The group has always maintained that they were prepared to take responsibility for their actions and they are now serving jail sentences ranging from four days to one month on a lesser charge.

One of the Greenpeace six, who gives her name only as Jess, says she climbed the stack because, "I cannot stand by and watch the Bush administration take advantage of the American people anymore. Dirty power like this coal plant is poisoning our planet and our bodies. The American people have the right to know how damaging these plants are and that clean energy is available now."

* * *

Los Alamos Lab Agrees to Strict Storm Water Regulations

LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico, February 18, 2005 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed an agreement with the Department of Energy (DOE) to guide the DOE through the steps it must take to comply with a new set of stricter storm water management regulations at the Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) site in New Mexico.

The agreement establishes a compliance program for the regulation of storm water discharges from solid waste management and areas of concern point sources at the Lab until those sources are regulated by an individual storm water permit issued by the EPA.

Storm water discharges at Los Alamos are now regulated by a general industrial permit. The DOE and EPA agree that the environmental conditions at the site and unique waste concerns make an individual permit more appropriate.

The Lab is a federal facility covering 40 square miles located in Los Alamos County, in north-central New Mexico. Operated by the University of California for the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration, Los Alamos develops and applies science and technology to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism; and solve national problems in defense, energy, environment and infrastructure.

In addition to its nuclear activities, a number of conventional industrial facilities are located at the Lab, some with associated solid waste management and areas of concern that discharge storm water.

The agreement, signed February 3 by Los Alamos site manager Edwin Wilmot, will serve as a bridge to provide onsite protections and monitoring while an individual permit is developed for the site. The individual permit will contain site-specific conditions to address water quality standards at more than 1,000 solid waste management units.

"I commend DOE for its willingness to work through compliance issues at LANL," said EPA Regional Administrator Richard Greene. "By signing this agreement, DOE demonstrates its commitment to work with EPA and New Mexico to protect the state's valuable natural resources."

"This is an opportunity for us to address water quality issues and concerns at LANL," said Wilmot. "How we manage this program is important to all of us and the Los Alamos community."

The agreement provides for monitoring and sampling at approximately 60 automated monitoring stations at various locations within the Laboratory canyons pursuant to a Storm Water Monitoring Plan.

In addition, it provides for sampling near specific locations on a rotating basis as detailed in the Lab's Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.

Monitoring must continue until the absence of pollutants or contaminants in runoff exceeding water screening action levels has been verified.

The Energy Department shall submit annual updates of its new 2004 Storm Water Monitoring Plan to the EPA for review and approval, with copies provided to the New Mexico Environment Department, by March 31 of each year, beginning in 2005.

If there are pollutants or contaminants detected above an established level, DOE shall conduct an investigation to determine the source within 30 days, and evaluate Best Management Practices that can be used to eliminate the pollutants.

The DOE must screen for metals, PCBs, flow, dioxins, radiation, perchlorate. The problems arise from a variety of factors - a one time spill, storm drainage, firing sites former and active, surface disposal sites, burn sites, operational releases, soil contamination beneath buildings, waste water treatment, outfall and stack emissions, materials disposal areas in trenches, and an incinerator.

New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Secretary Ron Curry said, "Through the agreement signed today, the state of New Mexico will play a strong role in surface water protection at Los Alamos. NMED is now one step closer to moving forward with fence-to-fence cleanup of the entire LANL site."

A copy of the agreement is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6xa/lanl.pdf.

* * *

Scientists Improve Climate Change Detection, Attribution

WASHINGTON, DC, February 18, 2005 (ENS) - Today, climate scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Washington will hear how access to the next generation of climate change experiments has helped their colleagues obtain more comprehensive estimates of the expected "signal" of human influences on climate.

Improved knowledge of this signal, and a better understanding of uncertainties in temperature observations, have helped to unravel the causes of recent climate change.

"The climate system is telling us an internally consistent story," said Ben Santer, an atmospheric scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

"We've observed warming of the Earth's land surface and oceans, cooling of the stratosphere, an increase in height of the tropopause, retreat of Arctic sea ice, and widespread melting of glaciers. These changes are difficult to reconcile with purely natural causes."

The tropopause is the boundary between two atmospheric layers - the turbulent troposphere and the more stable stratosphere.

Santer will report today on the identification of human influences on recent atmospheric temperature changes during a panel session called "Detection and Attribution - Methods and Results - of Climate Trends in Temperature Sensors, Species and Glaciers."

Santer works in Livermore's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison and has compared new computer model simulations performed at several different research institutes to observational records of recent temperature change.

The climate models analyzed by Santer and colleagues included changes in both manmade forcings - well-mixed greenhouse gases, tropospheric and stratospheric ozone, and the scattering effects of sulfate aerosols - and natural external forcings - solar irradiance and volcanic aerosols.

Earlier Livermore research has determined that human-induced changes in ozone and well-mixed greenhouse gases are the primary drivers of recent changes in the height of the tropopause. Research with new model and observational datasets strengthens these findings.

"With new model experiments coming online, we're now in a much better position to estimate how climate changed in response to combined human and natural influences," Santer said.

Scientists with the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison are archiving data from recently completed experiments performed with coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation models that took place at more than a dozen research institutes worldwide.

"This data will be a very valuable resource for the Laboratory and the whole community," Santer said. "We are sitting on a real scientific goldmine."

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

* * *

Florida Releases Moths to Devour Invasive Climbing Fern

HOBE SOUND, Florida, February 18, 2005 (ENS) - An host of leaf-eating moths was released along the wild and scenic Loxahatchee River at Jonathan Dickinson State Park this week to help combat Lygodium (Lygodium microphyllum), an invasive climbing fern spreading through Florida’s natural areas and threatening native wildlife. Also called Old World climbing fern, it blankets native trees with dense growth.

The invasive control project was developed through a partnership between the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service Invasive Plant Research Laboratory.

"For the first time, Florida is using insects as a front line in the ongoing battle to control non-native, ecologically damaging invasive plants," said SFWMD Director Henry Dean. "Biological controls are the key to managing this weed. The release of this insect is an important step in developing an effective integrated management strategy for this highly invasive species."

Caterpillars of the Lygodium moth, Austromusotima camptonozal, eat Lygodium leaves - killing the invasive plants and reducing the competitiveness of larger plants. The moth is the first of a suite of biological control agents that will be used to subdue the spread of the vigorous weed in Florida.

Lygodium is spreading and threatening to overtake native plant communities. Native to Asia and Australia, Lygodium has the ability to resprout from almost anywhere along each climbing leaf. The fern’s sun-blocking canopy kills native plants, with vines invading remote wilderness areas difficult to access with traditional herbicide controls.

The thickly growing plants can be a fire hazard, enabling small ground fires to reach into tree canopies where they can kill the branches.

"The Florida Park Service is dedicated to the control of exotic species across our more than 700,000 acres," said Florida State Parks Director Mike Bullock. "Using insects to combat environmental invaders provides land managers with another tool for protecting native wildlife and restoring Florida’s natural lands."

Florida’s biologists and land managers have waged other battles against harmful environmental invaders. In the 1980s, melaleuca reached critical levels, dominating almost a half million acres in South Florida. Through interagency coordination and management using both herbicides and two biological control agents, melaleuca populations in the region are now mostly under control.