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AmeriScan: February 10, 2006

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U.S. Committed to Asia-Pacific Climate Partnership

WASHINGTON, DC, February 10, 2006 (ENS) - The newly established Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate is an essential part of the U.S. commitment to promoting economic development while preserving the environment, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The secretary spoke to the press Thursday as she prepared to meet with ambassadors from the five other countries involved in the initiative - Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea.

First launched by the White House in July 2005, the partnership was intended to complement the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to that pact.

The initiative employs partnerships between public and private sectors of the six partner countries to enhance energy security, promote economic growth and reduce greenhouse gases. The partners first met in Sydney, Australia in January.

"Through our partnership we seek to move beyond divisive politics and to advance common purposes," Rice said. "Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone stands to gain. And together we represent a powerful force for positive change."

Rice said the United States considers its five partners "critical" to the initiative because they are among the world's most economically vibrant and influential nations.

"Our partnership will require a sustained commitment from all of us and we in the United States plan to meet our responsibilities," she said, adding that President Bush proposed $52 million to support the partnership in his budget plan for Fiscal Year 2007.

Also present for the meeting were the CEOs of seven corporations that have been engaged in the partnership, officials from the departments of Energy and Commerce, and the chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), an advisory agency to the executive office of the president.

"Our CEO partners are global leaders in the energy sectors, which account for a majority of the world's industrial production and power generation," Rice said. "By deploying your best technologies and practices, we will lower the cost of production, we will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and we will develop and bring to the marketplace the next generation of technologies to enhance our energy security and our national security."

Present at the meeting were Senators Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, and Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, who sponsored an amendment to the 2005 Senate energy bill that authorized financial incentives for American firms to encourage the development and deployment of technologies to reduce greenhouse gases.

The Hagel-Pryor amendment, passed in June 2005, promotes exports of such technologies to developing countries.

"Green technology is a real winner for this country and for all the countries that are represented here," Hagel said. He expressed support for companies in the United States and around the world who have patented technology that can help to produce "a cleaner, better, safer environment."

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Bush Budget Stops Funding for EPA Libraries, Electronic Catalog

WASHINGTON, DC, February 10, 2006 (ENS) - Under President George W. Bush's proposed budget, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would shut down its network of libraries that serve its own scientists as well as the public, according to internal agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national association of government employees in the natural resources agencies.

In addition to the libraries, the agency will pull the plug on its electronic catalog which tracks an estimated 50,000 unique documents and research studies that are available nowhere else.

Under the Bush budget, $2 million of a total agency library budget of $2.5 million will be lost, including the entire $500,000 budget for the EPA Headquarters library and its electronic catalog that makes it possible to search for documents through the entire EPA library network. These reductions are a small portion of the $300 million in cuts the administration has proposed for EPA operations.

At the same time, President Bush is proposing to increase EPA research funding for topics such as nanotechnology, air pollution and drinking water system security as part of his "American Competitive Initiative."

"How are EPA scientists supposed to engage in cutting edge research when they cannot find what the agency has already done?" asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch."The President's plan will not make us more competitive if we have to spend half our time re-inventing the wheel."

Ruch says EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is moving to implement the proposed cuts as soon as possible.

EPA's own scientists and enforcement staff are the principal library users. EPA's scientists use the libraries to research questions such as the safety of chemicals and the environmental effects of new technologies. EPA enforcement staff use the libraries to obtain technical information to support pollution prosecutions and to track the business histories of regulated industries.

EPA currently operates a network of 27 libraries operating out of its Washington, DC Headquarters and 10 regional offices across the country. The size of the cuts will force the Headquarters library and most of the regional libraries to shut their doors and cease operations.

Each year, the EPA libraries handle more than 134,000 research requests from its own scientific and enforcement staff and operates public reading rooms and provides the public with access to EPA databases.

"Access to information is one of the best tools we have for protecting the environment," said Ruch, calling the cuts the "epitome of penny wise and pound foolish." "By contrast, closing the Environmental Protection Agency libraries actually threatens to subtract from the sum total of human knowledge."

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Florida Expands Wetlands to Improve Everglades Water Quality

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, February 10, 2006 (ENS) - Florida officials Thursday broke ground on expansions of three treatment wetlands to improve water quality in the Everglades.

The expansions are expected to increase the capacity to treat phosphorus-laden runoff from agricultural operations entering the Everglades to more than half a million acre-feet of water a year.

As part of the state's Acceler8 initiative, Florida is expanding Stormwater Treatment Area 2 (STA-2) in Palm Beach County along with STA-5 and STA-6, located in Hendry County. These expansions will add 6,000 acres to the state's 36,000 acres of treatment wetlands, helping to achieve state water quality standards.

State Representative Richard Machek and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Colleen Castille joined local officials, water managers and environmental scientists to break ground on the three projects.

These and other expansions will prevent an additional 45 metric tons per year of phosphorus from entering the Everglades, state officials said.

"Accelerating critical restoration projects like the expansions of constructed wetlands will provide immediate environmental, social and economic benefits," Secretary Castille said. "Breaking ground on these important Acceler8 projects demonstrates Florida's steadfast commitment to full and complete restoration."

"This project represents our strong commitment to improving water quality in the Everglades," said South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Carol Wehle. "Additional projects will improve water quantity, timing and distribution, and together they will help us achieve restoration success."

Although phosphorus is a nutrient essential to living creatures, excess amounts can harm the Everglades ecosystem. Constructed wetlands work by accumulating phosphorus in their sediments.

Last year, the treatment wetlands prevented more than 189 metric tons of phosphorus from entering the Everglades. Together with improved farming practices, construction wetlands have prevented 2,178 tons of phosphorus from enter the Everglades cutting phosphorus loads to the giant marsh last year by 71 percent.

Completion of these expanded wetlands is scheduled for the end of 2006. Further expansions and new construction will eventually provide an additional 20,000 acres of treatment wetlands. All constructed wetland projects are scheduled to be operational by 2010.

Announced by Governor Jeb Bush in October 2004, Acceler8 is stepping up the pace of funding, design and construction to complete eight critical Everglades restoration projects over seven years.

The projects will restore 100,000 acres of wetlands, expand water treatment areas by close to 29,000 acres and provide 418,000 acre-feet of additional water storage for Everglades restoration a decade ahead of schedule.

During the Jeb Bush administration, Florida has forged a 50-50 State-federal partnership to implement the $8 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and has invested $1.3 billion and committed an additional $3 billion through the end of the decade to clean up and restore the famed River of Grass.

For more information on Acceler8, visit: www.evergladesnow.org.

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Bankruptcy Settlement to Fund Cleanup of Connecticut Raymark Site

BOSTON, Massachusetts, February 10, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received $5.44 million in proceeds from the bankruptcy of Raymark Industries and its successor, Raytech Corporation, according to agency officials in the EPA's New England Regional Office. The funds will go towards the ongoing cleanup of the Raymark Industries Superfund Site in Stratford, Connecticut.

The bankruptcy proceeds will be added to an interest-bearing special account dedicated to the ongoing cleanup of the site, bringing the total balance in the Raymark Special Account to over $15.5 million.

The EPA is currently conducting a detailed evaluation of cleanup options for 26 commercial properties containing Raymark waste. The agency intends to issue a proposed cleanup plan for public comment later this year.

Raymark was a manufacturer of automotive brakes, clutch parts, and other friction components for the automotive industry. Raymark and its predecessors operated at a 34 acre parcel at 75 East Main Street in Stratford from 1919 until 1989. Raymark's manufacturing waste was historically disposed of as fill at 75 East Main Street, at a minimum of 46 residential properties, and at numerous commercial and municipal properties in Stratford.

Since the mid-1990s, EPA has spent over $190 million on investigations and cleanup of the former manufacturing facility and other areas affected by Raymark waste in Stratford.

Cleanup began in 1993 with the removal of Raymark waste from 46 residential properties and other areas in Stratford. This was followed by the demolition of 15 acres of buildings and the placement of an impermeable cap over the entire 34 acre former manufacturing facility.

The EPA says this cap was constructed in a manner that allowed commercial redevelopment of the property while ensuring the continued containment of the underlying contamination. In addition to the demolition and capping work, over 50 monitoring wells were installed in the cap to monitor the quality of the groundwater beneath the property.

The Raymark Advisory Committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm. The public is invited. Please call the Stratford Health Department at 203-385-4090 to confirm the date, place and time of the next meeting.

More information about cleanup activities at the site may be found on the EPA New England website at: www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/sites/Raymark.

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New Jersey HazWaste Firm Must Install $500,000 Upgrade

TRENTON, New Jersey, February 10, 2006 (ENS) - Cycle Chem, Inc. has agreed to spend more than half a million dollars to correct hazardous waste violations and upgrade equipment at their hazardous waste facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Commissioner Lisa Jackson said Thursday.

The company will also pay the state of New Jersey $90,000 in penalties.

"Cycle Chem created a threat to public health and the environment by failing to maintain a working fire suppression system and storing waste unlawfully," said Jackson. "This agreement achieves compliance while protecting Cycle Chem's neighbors from exposure to toxins stored at this facility."

From 2000 to 2005, DEP cited Cycle Chem for numerous violations of state environmental laws including operating the facility without an adequate fire suppression system.

The DEP also determined during this time that Cycle Chem unlawfully maintained open containers, failed to inspect and date containers, stored certain waste for too long and stored ignitable waste too close to the facility's property line.

In addition, the DEP ordered the facility to make improvements to their hazardous waste treatment areas to ensure waste mixing and consolidation activities are conducted in chambers that have appropriate groundwater protections and are enclosed to prevent air releases.

DEP issued multiple penalty actions for the ongoing violations, resulting in Cycle Chem's request for an administrative hearing. In a January settlement agreement between Cycle Chem and DEP, the facility agreed to upgrade its fire suppression system in accordance with recommendations from the State Fire Marshall, correct ongoing violations at the site and reconstruct various hazardous waste treatment areas to make them environmentally safe.

The agreement establishes a time schedule for each violation, but requires that all the upgrades and improvements be completed in no less than 180 days upon DEP's approval of the required engineering designs.

The state of New Jersey and the federal government regulate the generation, handling, transport, storage and disposal of hazardous materials and waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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New Mexico Investigates Mystery Water Contamination in Rio Ruidoso

SANTA FE, New Mexico, February 01, 2006 (ENS) - The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) are launching an investigation into reports of environmental health concerns in the San Patricio community of Lincoln County, east of Ruidoso. Area residents have reported symptoms after coming in contact with water in the Rio Ruidoso, which runs through the community.

"Water, especially in drought times, is so central to life in New Mexico that we must be vigilant about its protection," NMED Secretary Ron Curry said. "Good water quality is the essential ingredient for healthy New Mexicans, so reports of possible illness from environmental agents require swift and thorough investigation."

Inter-disciplinary teams of water quality experts will be covering all possible bases to determine if there is a contamination problem and to discover what might be the source or sources. Field investigations will start early Saturday morning.

NMED scientists will be contacting private domestic well owners within the investigation target area to obtain permission for sampling. Because of the focused nature of the investigation, NMED will be unable to provide on-demand testing of wells outside of the target area.

The investigation will include chemical and microbiological testing of both ground and surface water.

Groundwater is of concern because aquifer seepage into the river could carry groundwater contaminants into surface water. Teams will test for fecal coliform, nitrate, sulfate, pH, electrical conductivity, iron, fluoride, temperature and organic vapors.

Some results we be available the day of the sampling, others may take several days to a month to get back from the laboratory. Potential sources of contamination will be identified and assessed. Area residents who believe they have symptoms that could be consistent with waterborne disease will be asked to provide this information confidentially to the Health Department.

The Health Department has reviewed public health records for potential waterborne infectious diseases for the Glencoe and San Patricio communities, but neither laboratories nor physicians in the area have reported any to date.

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Broccoli, Cabbage, Soy Found to Cut Cancer Risk

WASHINGTON, DC, February 10, 2006 (ENS) - Some vegetables contain chemicals that appear to enhance DNA repair in cells, which could lead to protection against cancer development, say Georgetown University Medical Center researchers.

In a new study published in the "British Journal of Cancer" and by the journal "Nature" the researchers show that in laboratory tests, a compound called indole-3-carinol (I3C), found in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and a chemical called genistein, found in soy beans, can increase the levels of two specific proteins that repair damaged DNA.

This study is one of the first to provide a molecular explanation as to how eating vegetables could cut the risk of developing cancer, an association that some population studies have found, says the study's senior author, Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"It is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by compounds in the things we eat," Rosen says. "Our findings suggest a clear molecular process that would explain the connection between diet and cancer prevention."

In this study, Rosen exposed breast and prostate cancer cells to increasing doses of I3C and genistein, and found that these chemicals boosted production of the repair proteins BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Since decreased amounts of the BRCA proteins are seen in cancer cells, higher levels might prevent cancer from developing, Rosen speculates, adding that the ability of I3C and genistein to increase production of BRCA proteins could explain their protective effects.

The study was funded by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Cancer Institute and co-authors include Drs. Saijun Fan, MD, PhD, Qinghui Meng, MS, Karen Auborn, PhD, and Timothy Carter, PhD.

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