AmeriScan: July 22, 2005

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Daylight Savings Time to Be Four Weeks Longer

WASHINGTON, DC, July 22, 2005 (ENS) - Daylight saving time is going to be extended by four weeks to shorten the winter, lengthen the summer and save energy. The measure was approved Thursday by the Energy Conference Committee made up of Congressional members from the House and the Senate who are working to harmonize their differing versions of the energy bill.

The legislation was first introduced by Congressmen Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, and Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

“Today, we shed some additional light on the need for conservation with our daylight saving extension,” said Upton. “Not only will Americans have more daylight at their disposal for an additional four weeks of the year, we will also be keeping our energy consumption as a nation down."

"Kids across the nation will soon rejoice with the extended daylight on Halloween night that will allow for an additional hour of trick or treating," Upton said. "Studies by a leading auto safety group have also shown that extending daylight saving will save dozens of lives on the roads each year.”

“The beauty of daylight saving time is that it just makes everyone feel sunnier,” said Markey, a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the author of the 1986 legislation that added three weeks of daily savings time to the calendar.

The legislation would extend daylight saving by four weeks, starting the second Sunday of March and lasting through the first Sunday of November.

The extension of daylight saving would become effective one year after the enactment of the Energy bill. The bill also calls for a study on the impact of daylight saving on energy consumption to be conducted no later than nine months after the enactment of the bill.

“In addition to the benefits of energy savings, less crime, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity, daylight saving just brings a smile to everybody’s faces,” said Markey.

“Extending daylight saving time makes sense, especially with skyrocketing energy costs. My daylight saving amendment is one small piece of the overall energy package, and with oil at $60 a barrel and gas at $2.50 a gallon, every bit of conservation helps,” said Upton.

The Upton-Markey amendment is supported by studies which show that early daylight saving time and longer days decrease the number of fatal traffic accidents, reduce crime rates, and provide relief for individuals suffering from “night blindness.”

Many groups including organizations like the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation Fighting Blindness, and an array of small businesses which support American pastimes, from barbecues to baseball to boating support the legislation to extend daylight saving.

The extended daylight hours will not apply to the entire United States. Arizona, parts of Indiana, and Hawaii do not observe Daylight Saving Time, at all, and neither do Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

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Pesticides Could Be Reviewed Every 15 Years

WASHINGTON, DC, July 22, 2005 (ENS) - To ensure that pesticide registrations continue to meet current health and safety standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on a proposal to review each existing pesticide registration every 15 years.

This new registration review program, mandated by the Food Quality Protection Act, will begin in 2006 and make sure that older pesticides will still meet the statutory standard of no unreasonable adverse effects.

In developing this program over the past several years, EPA consulted with and received significant input from the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee and other key stakeholders regarding the design of registration review.

The Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee includes members of federal, state and tribal agencies, agri-business and chemical industry representatives and people from environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, American Bird Conservancy, and Defenders of Wildlife.

Under the proposed process, the EPA would assess any changes that have occurred since the agency's last registration decision on the pesticide. EPA would determine the significance of such changes and whether additional restrictions are needed to ensure that the pesticide meets current requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

Registration review will replace the reregistration and tolerance reassessment programs which are nearing completion. As in those programs, the registration review process would allow for public participation, but unlike those "one-time reassessment" programs, registration review will reoccur for each pesticide every 15 years.

During the 90 day comment period for this proposal, the agency will hold public information meetings on the proposed rule.

For additional information on the registration review rulemaking, visit: http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/registration_review

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Army Broke Its Promises to Respect Hawaiian Lands

HONOLULU, Hawaii, July 22, 2005 (ENS) - The U.S. Army has violated its commitment to perform comprehensive archeological investigations of areas threatened by live-fire training on Oahu, when preparing the environmental impact statement, or EIS, for military training at Mäkua Military Reservation, Earthjustice said Thursday.

The Army also broke promises to the Wai‘anae community to consider training locations other than Mäkua, a valley on the western, or leeward side of Oahu.

In the draft EIS, the Army categorically refuses to consider any alternate locations for training, where live-fire training could be conducted with less harm to irreplaceable cultural and biological resources.

By failing to consider other locations, the Army has violated both its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act and its promises during public scoping for the EIS in 2002, Earthjustice said.

The EIS is required under the Army's October 2001 court settlement agreement with Mälama Mäkua, a nonprofit, community organization represented by Earthjustice.

Earthjustice secured an advance copy of the EIS earlier this week, only to learn that the Army has failed to conduct archeological surveys of all areas within Mäkua’s Company Combined-Arms Assault Course (CCAAC) and of areas outside the CCAAC that might be hit by artillery and mortar shells, in violation of the 2001 settlement.

“After signing the settlement in 2001, the Army did absolutely nothing for over two and a half years to try to get a waiver,” said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. “It still has never submitted a complete waiver request. I don’t call that ‘good faith.’”

“The EIS is supposed to give the Army and the public the information they need to decide whether to allow training at Mäkua,” said Mälama Mäkua spokesman Fred Dodge.

“That’s why, when we settled our lawsuit, we insisted that the Army agree to carry out comprehensive archeological surveys of the areas where mis-fired mortar or artillery shells could destroy cultural sites," Dodge said.

"The Army’s failure to hold up its end of the bargain makes this EIS useless for making an informed decision about training at Mäkua,” Dodge said.

Mäkua, which means "parents" in Hawaiian, is a sacred site. Over 100 Native Hawaiian cultural sites have been identified at Mäkua, including Hawaiian temples, altars, burials and petroglyphs.

The 2001 settlement required the Army to complete, as part of the EIS process, surface and subsurface archeological surveys of all areas within the CCAAC training area and surface archeological surveys of all areas artillery and mortar shells might land outside the south firebreak road.

When the Army invited the public to provide input on the EIS’s scope in 2002, it promised to consider locations other than Mäkua for military training, including training at Pöhakuloa Training Area on Hawai‘i Island and building a replacement facility at another Army facility on Oahu.

Because of Mäkua’s cultural and biological importance, the public endorsed the Army’s proposals, particularly urging the Army to consider re-configuring facilities at Schofield Barracks to accommodate company-level training.

“The Army may have a short memory because its commanders change every couple of years, but we don’t,” said Mälama Mäkua president Sparky Rodrigues. “We’re going to hold the Army to their promise to take an honest look at moving training out of Mäkua. We owe it to our children and children’s children to protect this sacred place.”

“When the Army wants to do something, like bringing Strykers to Hawaii, it says spending hundreds of millions of dollars to move ranges at Schofield and build new facilities at Pöhakuloa is no big deal,” noted Dodge. “When the community wants the Army to protect Mäkua by training elsewhere, all of a sudden, it’s ‘no can.’ That’s just not right.”

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Oil Well Proposed for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 22, 2005 (ENS) - The National Park Service is allowing public comment until July 31 on a proposed wildcat oil well project that conservationists warn would damage fragile redrock lands in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is requesting an environmental impact statement be prepared for the 9,730 acre area, known as Middle Moody Canyon, which can only be accessed along a rough dirt road that first goes through one of the Bureau of Land Management's crown jewels, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Viking Exploration proposes a well pad and access roads that would be located in classic redrock country and along a unique geologic formation known as the Waterpocket Fold.

The proposal would involve blading a drill pad, and also putting in a sludge pit and holding tanks, as well as reconstructing and creating several miles of dirt road. SUWA points to the scars from other failed wells in the region that have lasted for many years, and fears oil development in the Middle Moody Canyon would also damage the unique resource.

The National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management are jointly preparing an Environmental Assessment to evaluate the environmental effects of this proposal.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is asking that the agencies prepare a more detailed environmental impact statement to analyze the project and hold public meetings in major metropolitan areas such as Salt Lake City to inform the public.

In its invitation for public comment, The Park Service lists issues and concerns as: air quality, vegetation and wildlife, lightscapes, threatened, endangered and species of concern, geology, geohazards and soils, cultural resources, natural soundscapes, visitor use, water resources, public health and safety, paleontological resources, and wilderness values.

Members of the public can review documents and send a comment letter via the Park Service's website by clicking here.

Submit written comments to: Superintendent Glen Canyon National Recreation Area P.O. Box 1507 Page, AZ 86040-1507, or hand-deliver comments to Glen Canyon NRA headquarters at: 691 Scenic View Drive Page, AZ

Find out more from SUWA at: http://www.suwa.org/entry.php?entry_id=682

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Massive Wisconsin Tire Fire Measured by Satellite

MADISON, Wisconsin, July 22, 2005 (ENS) - University of Wisconsin- Madison researchers are using satellite imagery to measure the extent of a massive smoke plume rising from a fire at a tire recycling facility in Watertown, Wisconsin.

A few hours after the fire began on Tuesday morning, NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the region and captured an image of the smoke plume. By that time, the plume of smoke extended 93 miles to the southeast, stretching across Milwaukee and over central Lake Michigan.

More than 637 square miles were covered by the plume, including 290 square miles of Lake Michigan.

fire

The smoke from the Wisconsin tire fire could be seen from space. (Photo courtesy NASA)
Officials estimate as many as one million tires are still burning at the rural Wisconsin recycling facility, Watertown Tire Recyclers.

Roads were closed and more than 125 firefighters from 14 departments fought the blaze, which was contained early Tuesday afternoon.

But the fire is still burning and could smoulder for several days or a week, Jennifer Warmke, deputy director of the Dodge County Emergency Management Office, told the "Wisconsin State Journal" newspaper.

The recycling operation's owner had been warned by the state in a July 12 letter to reduce his enormous pile of tires or face possible charges said an official with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The image was collected by an instrument called MODIS, one of several sensors on the Aqua satellite. While the resolution, or level of detail, in MODIS imagery is coarse, the sensor provides daily coverage of very large areas.

This allows scientists to use MODIS to monitor atmospheric and lake-surface conditions across the entire Great Lakes region on a daily basis.

Researchers at the UW-Madison Environmental Remote Sensing Center processed the raw image data to enhance the visibility of the smoke plume. While the plume can easily be seen over land, it is more difficult to detect over the dark background of Lake Michigan's water.

Satellite images of the Watertown tire fire are found at: http://www.ersc.wisc.edu/research/TireFire/

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Pennsylvania Dentists Agree to Rid Their Offices of Mercury

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, July 22, 2005 (ENS) - Pennsylvania dentists and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have launched a new partnership to review voluntary best management practices for mercury-bearing amalgam wastes and collect obsolete supplies of elemental mercury to prevent the material from entering the environment.

“This marks a major accomplishment in efforts to ensure a cleaner, healthier environment in Pennsylvania,” DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty said Thursday.

McGinty signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pennsylvania Dental Association Chief Executive Officer Camille Kostelac-Cherry to implement the two-pronged approach to reduce mercury discharges from dental offices.

Together, the agencies will collect stored elemental mercury from dental offices statewide for recycling and conduct a review of the voluntary use of best-management practices for reducing amalgam wastes in dental offices.

The program is being launched as a three-month trial in 16 eastern Pennsylvania counties before being implemented on a statewide basis.

Dentistry switched from elemental mercury to amalgam capsules about 25 years ago. Previously, dentists mixed the amalgam for fillings using elemental mercury. As a result, many dental offices still have containers of excess elemental mercury stored in their offices.

Through surveys conducted in 2001 and 2004, the state has identified approximately 1,062 pounds of elemental mercury ready for collection from dental offices across the state.

Although use of elemental mercury has become obsolete, mercury compounds still are commonly used in dental practices.

Mercury makes up approximately 50 percent of the amalgam used in dental offices for fillings. Amalgam particles are a potential source of mercury not only in wastewater, but also in ground water, streams and rivers. Pennsylvania has approximately 8,000 dentists discharging to about 920 publicly owned water treatment works.

The review of amalgam waste best-management practices will allow DEP to ascertain the number and percentage of dental facilities voluntarily implementing best management practices. The data will be used as a basis to determine whether future regulatory action is warranted to reduce the amount of mercury entering the environment through wastewater discharges.

Currently, there is little hard data in Pennsylvania to determine the amount of mercury being discharged from dental offices, and the results of national studies are so variable as to be inconclusive. One study found that 60 percent of mercury in water treatment works comes from dental practices, while a study conducted by the U.S. Navy determined that only 0.006 percent of mercury leaches out of dental amalgam particulate into the wastewater stream.

While the amount of mercury discharged by dental practices is unknown, the threat of mercury contamination is understood.

Methylmercury, a form of mercury that has undergone biological processes, has been well established as a neurotoxin, and chronic low-dose prenatal exposure has been associated with poor performance on neurobehavioral tests in children, including those tests that measure attention, visual-spatial ability, verbal memory, language ability, fine motor skills and intelligence. At high doses, mercury exposure can cause tremors, inability to walk, convulsions and even death.

Mercury most endangers pregnant women, children, subsistence fishermen and recreational anglers.

Beyond its dangers to public health, the accumulation of methylmercury in fish also threatens Pennsylvania’s economy. Some two million people fish in Pennsylvania each year, including about 500,000 young people under 16. More than 18 million fishing trips take place in the commonwealth annually. All that activity generates $1.6 billion for the state's economy, supports 15,000 jobs and brings in more than $50 million in state sales and income taxes.

In January 2004, DEP began its Mercury Reduction Initiative, a comprehensive strategy to reduce mercury in the environment. Last November, DEP launched the Pennsylvania Mercury Automobile Switch Removal Program. This voluntary program is expected to recycle 600 pounds of mercury over the next two years from vehicles that are no longer useable.

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Musicians, Actors Lobby Against Nuclear Waste on Native Land

WASHINGTON, DC, July 22, 2005 (ENS) - Monday on Capitol Hill, musicians, actors and Native Americans are holding a briefing to express their strong opposition "to congressional efforts to resuscitate nuclear power with billions of dollars in federal subsidies."

As the House Senate Energy Conference Committee hashes out the final details of the energy bill, musicians Ani DiFranco, as well as Emily Saliers and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, actor James Cromwell and Native American political advocates Winona LaDuke and Margene Bullcreek will hold a Capitol Hill press briefing luncheon in the Capitol Building Room HC-6.

The groups will highlight the dangers and failure of nuclear power by drawing particular attention to pending federal plans to dump 44,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste on Skull Valley Goshute sacred land in Utah.

Representatives from Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, and the Sierra Club will also be in attendance.

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