U.S. Senate Takes Global Warming SeriouslyWASHINGTON, DC, June 22, 2005 (ENS) - A climate change amendment to the Senate Energy Bill without mandatory requirements for greenhouse gas emissions limits was approved Tuesday by a vote of 66 to 29. The amendment sponsored by Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, relies on voluntary action to reduce the heat trapping emissions from combustion of fossil fuels.
While the senators voted down a competing measure that would have imposed mandatory limits on carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, they did pass a bipartisan "Sense of the Senate" resolution that recognizes the role of human activitiy in rising planetary temperatures.
"We all agree on the need for a clean environment and stable climate," said Hagel. "The debate is about solutions. Our amendment is a market-driven, technology-based approach that connects the public and private sectors and enhances the U.S. economy. It recognizes the need for U.S. leadership at home and with developing countries if we are to achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases."
The Senate defeated a climate change amendment offered by Arizona Republican John McCain and Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman that would have imposed mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions by a vote of 38-60.
For the first time, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution indicating that global warming is a problem to be taken seriously.
This "Sense of the Senate Resolution" cosponsored by New Mexicans Republican Pete Domenici, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Democrat Jeff Bingaman, the ranking member of that committee, among others, states:
Congress finds that:
(1) greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere are causing average temperatures to rise at a rate outside of natural variability and are posing a substantial risk of rising sea- levels, altered patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts;
(2) there is a growing scientific consensus that human activity is a substantial cause of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere; and
(3) mandatory steps will be required to slow or stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
It is the Sense of the Senate that: Congress should enact a comprehensive and effective national program of mandatory, market-based limits on emissions of greenhouse gases that slow, stop, and reverse the growth of such emission at a rate and in a matter that
(1) will not significantly harm the United States economy; and
(2) will encourage comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions.
By contrast, in 1997, Senator Hagel, and West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat, won unanimous agreement on a "Sense of the Senate" resolution opposing ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that limits the emission of greenhouse gases because it would "result in serious harm to the economy of the United States."
Julie Anderson, climate campaign director, Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "For the first time, global warming was an integral part of the Senate's debate about our nation's energy future. More and more Senators realize the scientific debate on global warming is over and that we must take action now."
Calling it "a significant development from previous years," Anderson said, ""Ultimately, the Senate was not brave enough to show leadership on this pressing issue. But at least they are talking about it seriously, which is more than the House and Bush administration can say."
John Stanton, vice president of the advocacy group National Environmental Trust, commented, "Senators McCain and Lieberman's amendment failed today because of heavy handed tactics of the White House. The President was forced to pull out all the stops to block Republican senators from supporting any deal to reduce global warming pollution. Even so, key Republicans voted for other measures on global warming, most notably Senators Domenici, DeWine and Hagel."
"While the White House blocked specific legislation requiring mandatory reductions," said Stanton, "54 Senators went on record saying the nation must enact real cuts, and that they reject President's do-nothing approach."
Outer Continental Shelf Resource Inventory Passes SenateWASHINGTON, DC, June 22, 2005 (ENS) - The Senate has voted to conduct a comprehensive inventory of oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf, a measure included in the energy bill that conservationists and some Senators say will harm the coastal ecosystem.
Oil and gas development has been banned for more than 20 years along the country's Continental Shelf, except for the western Gulf of Mexico.
Senator Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican, said he was very disappointed that his motion to strike the inventory from the Senate energy bill was voted down on Tuesday.
Martinez and fellow Florida Senator Bill Nelson and a coalition of coastal state members are opposed to the inventory as a "slippery slope provision that would put increasing pressure on these states to allow offshore drilling off their coasts," Martinez said.
“When you listen to how those in favor of conducting an inventory discuss the issue, it is clear that these individuals are using an inventory as a precursor to drill, said Martinez, saying he will continue the fight for Florida’s coasts as the energy bill goes to conference with negotiators from the House of Representatives.
The Florida senators are urging an alternative that would allow coastal states to opt out of any Outer Continental Shelf inventory.
“An inventory is simply unacceptable to Floridians," Martinez said. "We want to keep our tourism economy intact, we want to keep our fragile ecosystem intact, and we want to keep our beaches as beautiful and pristine as they are currently. Floridians don’t want drilling. We understand that other states may not feel as strongly about this issue as we do, but leave our state alone."
The inventory had bipartisan support, but critics also came from both sides of the aisle. They were from states whose coastal waters are under the drilling moratorium.
Senators in favor of the measure are mostly from inland states, such as New Mexicans Republican Pete Domenici, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Democrat Jeff Bingaman, the ranking member of that committee. They said it is useful to know what resources lie on the Outer Continental Shelf, and the bill is not intended to approve drilling.
Migratory Bird Habitat, Wetlands Conservation FundedWASHINGTON, DC, June 22, 2005 (ENS) - The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved more than $17 million for habitat conservation in the United States and Canada to benefit migratory birds, Interior Secretary Gale Norton said today.
At the same time, the Commission approved the acquisition of more than 600 acres of important migratory bird habitat to be added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System.
The funds will be used to provide grants to states and other partners through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) to meet important habitat goals for migratory birds.
"NAWCA represents exactly the kind of partner-driven conservation efforts that are conserving and improving wildlife habitat across the entire North American continent," said Norton, who chairs the Commission.
The NAWCA Standard Grants funded four U.S. projects in five states totaling more than $3 million to protect, restore or enhance 5,446 acres of wetlands and associated upland habitats. Project partners added nearly $32 million.
A partnership led by Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area will receive nearly $500,000 and put up more than $3 to conserve wetlands along the lower Colorado River in Arizona.
In California, a partnership led by the Wildlife Conservation Board will receive nearly $1 million and put up nearly $13 million to conserve wetlands in San Pablo Bay.
In Idaho and Wyoming, a partnership led by the Teton Regional Land Trust, Inc., will receive $1 million and put up in match nearly $14 million to conserve wetlands in the Teton River Basin.
And in Washington state, a partnership led by Ducks Unlimited, will receive $1 million and put up $2.2 million to conserve wetlands in the San Juan Islands.
The Commission also allocated revenue from the sale of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly called Duck Stamps, to purchase key tracts of land for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
New National Wildlife Refuge System acquisitions are:
Arkansas: Addition of nearly 10,000 acres to the Refuge boundary at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Tucker County. The Service plans on purchasing an estimated 980 acres this summer to conserve bottomland hardwood habitat for migratory waterfowl.
Virginia: Acquisition of a 355 acre easement to protect wetland habitat for waterfowl near Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Richmond County.
Texas: Acquisition of 330 acres to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl near Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty County.
New Jersey: Acquisition of 19.1 acres to preserve Spartina salt marsh for migrating waterfowl within the boundaries of Cape May National Wildlife Refuge in Cape May County.
Tennessee: Acquisition of 56 acres to protect habitat for wintering waterfowl within the boundaries of Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge in Lauderdale County.
The Commission also approved more than $14 million for 14 projects in Canada, and partners added nearly $30 million. In addition, the Commission approved an additional $2 million in allocations for 38 grants under the small grant program for 2006.
"Since many of North America's waterfowl species we enjoy in the U.S. during the spring and fall depend on Canadian wetland habitat during the summer months, it is also appropriate to use NAWCA funds to support wetlands conservation projects in Canada," said Norton.
Funding for this program comes from Congressional appropriations, funds collected from fines, penalties, and forfeitures under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, interest accrued to the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act, and from excise taxes paid on small engine fuels through the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act.
All acquisitions were previously approved by the affected states.
Since 1991, some 2,800 partners have been involved in more than 1,400 NAWCA-supported projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In total, more than $658 million in NAWCA grants have been awarded in the three countries, including $2 billion in private contributions for wetlands and association uplands conservation projects covering almost 14 million acres throughout the continent.
Private Forests Losing Ground to Housing DevelopmentWASHINGTON, DC, June 22, 2005 (ENS) - Housing density in America's private forests will increase over the next 25 years, impacting natural resources across the country, according to a U.S. Forest Service study released Tuesday.
"Every day, America loses more than 4,000 acres of open space to development or more than three acres per minute and the rate of conversion is getting faster all the time," said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth.
"This study provides valuable information for local, state and federal agencies to consider as they make decisions about the future of our communities and our forests," he said.
The study, "Forests on the Edge: Housing Development on America's Private Forests," was conducted by scientists in the agency's research stations and the private sector.
It suggests that by 2030 housing density will increase substantially on more than 44 million acres or 11 percent of private forest land, an area greater in size than New England.
The Forest Service found that nearly 700,000 acres of forest were converted each year from 1982 to 1997, but this increased to one million acres annually during the last five years of this period and is projected to continue at a strong rate.
The agency estimates that private forests in the Southeast, where three-quarters of all U.S. private forests are located, will experience the most extensive changes.
Forestland development pressures will also be high in parts of the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest and California.
The Forests on the Edge study provides national maps of forested watersheds projected to be developed and a list of the top 15 watersheds, including watersheds in Maine, North and South Carolina, Mississippi, New York, Georgia, Virginia and eight other eastern states.
Private forests cover 430 million acres, nearly 60 percent of America's total forestland. The Forest Service says private forestland provides nearly 30 percent of all fresh water and 92 percent of all U.S. timber harvested in 2001.
The study and maps can be found at: http://www.fs.fed.us/projects/fote/
American Electric Power Installs Scrubbers at Coal-Fired PlantsCOLUMBUS, Ohio, June 22, 2005 (ENS) - The nation's largest electricity generator is installing environmental equipment to reduce emissions at five power plants in Kentucky, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia.
American Electric Power (AEP) has announced five additional locations where it will invest in advanced equipment to continue to improve the environmental performance of its coal-fired power plants. These projects are part of the company’s previously announced plan to invest at least $3.7 billion in environmental retrofits through 2010.
The next group of environmental control investments includes:
Flue gas desulfurization system installations to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at plants in Winfield, West Virginia; Beverly, Ohio; Louisa, Kentucky; and Conesville, Ohio.
Selective catalytic reduction system installation to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at Conesville Unit 4
Flue gas desulfurization system upgrade at a plant located near Hallsville, Texas.
Flue gas desulfurization systems, commonly called scrubbers, reduce emissions of SO2, a contributor to acid rain, by up to 98 percent. "FGD systems provide the additional benefit of removing oxidized mercury from the flue gas as well," AEP said in a statement.
Selective catalytic reduction systems reduce NOx emissions, a contributor to the formation of urban ozone or smog, by up to 90 percent, the company said.
“Our investments in improving the environmental performance of our coal-fired generating stations will allow us to extend the environmental life of these plants and continue to use coal - our nation’s most abundant fuel source and the backbone of the economies in many states where we operate,” said Michael Morris, AEP chairman, president and CEO.
“Even with these significant investments, AEP will continue to provide some of the lowest-cost electricity available for our customers,” he said.
Construction will begin when all design and engineering work is complete and once any needed approvals, permits and certificates are received. The projects will be completed between 2007 and 2010.
The company says these systems will meet the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR).
AEP plans to invest at least $3.7 billion by 2010 in environmental control equipment on existing plants to meet these increasingly stringent air quality regulations.
The $3.7 billion investment figure includes previously announced environmental equipment to be added to five generating units in Ohio and West Virginia.
The company anticipates that additional investments "in the range of $1.5 billion" will be needed between 2010 and 2020 to meet the requirements of CAIR and CAMR.
AEP also has filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio seeking cost recovery for a new 600-megawatt clean-coal power plant with enhanced emission performance using Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology.
The plant, which will be the largest commercial-scale IGCC plant in the United States, will be built in southern Ohio, once cost-recovery approval is received from the Ohio commission, the company says.
At the same time, AEP is facing a federal trial, charged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with air quality violations under the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act. Originally scheduled to be heard June 6, U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus last month delayed proceedings until July 6 as settlement negotiations continue.
Kaiser Aluminum Brownfield to Become Fruit Juice Plant
ERIE, Pennsylvania, June 22, 2005 (ENS) - The state of Pennsylvania has entered into an agreement with four corporations to guarantee the environmental cleanup of the Kaiser Aluminum brownfield site on Erie’s east side and make way for a fruit juice processing and packaging plant.
Kelly Burch, who serves as northwest regional director for the Pennsylvania State Department of Environmental Protection, announced the agreement today, saying, “This was a very complex case that would not have been resolved successfully without significant cooperation and commitment from all of the parties involved.”
The four companies - Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp., Accuride-Erie LLP, Erie Land Holding Inc. and the Greater Erie Industrial Development Corp. (GEIDC) - ageed to cooperate to expedite redevelopment of the brownfield site and ensure that environmental concerns are addressed in accordance with the Pennsylvania Land Recycling Law.
Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Law requires brownfield sites to meet specific cleanup standards for environmental protection and public health before they can be reused.
Under the agreement, Kaiser will donate its 50 acre property, valued at $2.9 million, to GEIDC.
GEIDC and Erie Land Holding, a company related to Accuride, will be responsible for carrying out the remediation of the site.
Kaiser will remain responsible for addressing any contamination that has left the property from a former waste pond it used during its operations.
“This project has been five years in the making, with all parties involved coming together to turn an underused property into one that will support hundreds of manufacturing jobs,” said GEIDC President and CEO Monica Brower.
“The transaction allows a new manufacturer to build here, allows Accuride to stay and retain their existing jobs in the community and facilitates the cleanup of a site that had known environmental issues," she said. "All parties win.”
The cleanup must be completed by December 31, 2009.
In April, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced that IFP North America Inc. construct a $65 million multi-fruit processing and juice packaging plant in Erie. IFP is expected to break ground this summer on the 300,000 square foot facility on the former Kaiser Aluminum site, which is located in a Keystone Opportunity Zone.
The juice plant will create 300 jobs within three years. IFP plans to begin production in 2006. The company’s major product will be apple juice. IFP says it will process about seven million bushels of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and New York apples each year.
Microchip Inventor Jack Kilby Dies
DALLAS, Texas, June 22, 2005 (ENS) - Jack St. Clair Kilby, co-inventor of the integrated circuit or microchip died of cancer Monday at his home in Dallas. He was 81.
On September 12, 1958, in a lab at Texas Instruments, Kilby successfully demonstrated the first electronic circuit in which all of the components, both active and passive, were fabricated in a single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a paper clip.
He was recognized for his accomplishment by being named the co-winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in physics.
His demonstration opened the door to miniaturizing the transistor, co-invented 10 years earlier by electrical engineering alumnus John Bardeen. The transistor replaced the vacuum tubes of the earliest computers.
"The impact of Kilby's invention is profound," says UW-Madison College of Engineering Dean Paul Peercy. "In the space of Kilby's first transistor, engineers can now fit about 100 million transistors. It was the genesis of very many more innovations that continue to improve our lives. It set the stage for the computing revolution, which in turn made possible the information age."
"Researchers are now working on single-electron transistors and self-assembling circuits. Kilby's invention not only set the stage for all of this, it forever changed the pace of innovation," Peercy said.
Kilby joined Texas Instruments in 1958. He held a number of positions in semiconductor research and development management, including assistant vice president and director of engineering, until his retirement in 1970.
Since then, he had worked as an independent consultant and inventor of integrated circuit technology. From 1978-84, he also held the position of distinguished professor of electrical engineering at Texas A&M University.
In an interview for Texas Instruments, Kilby reflected on his thoughts at the time the circuit was invented. "I think I thought it would be important for electronics as we knew it then, but that was a much simpler business and electronics was mostly radio and television and the first computers. What we did not appreciate was how much the lower costs would expand the field of electronics into completely different applications that I don't know that anyone had thought of at that time."
Kilby was born in Jefferson City, Missouri in 1923, and grew up in Great Bend, Kansas. His father was the owner of a small electric company, and Kilby became interested in radio tubes while listening to big band radio in the 1940s.
Kilby received a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in 1947. After graduation, he worked for the Centralab Division of Globe-Union Inc. in Milwaukee, where he worked on ceramic-based printed circuits.
In 1950 he earned a master's degree in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Kilby held more than 60 patents, including the first on monolithic integrated circuits, reduced titanate capacitors, semiconductor thermal printers and hand-held calculators.
Kilby was the recipient of numerous national and international awards. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a recipient of the National Medal of Science, an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and the 1995 winner of the Robert N. Noyce Award, the Semiconductor Industry Association's highest honor.