AmeriScan: June 6, 2006

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Sales of Natural Products, Organic Foods Booming

BOULDER, Colorado, June 6, 2006 (ENS) - American shoppers spent more than $51 billion on natural and organic products in 2005, according to research published in the 25th Annual Market Overview in the June issue of "The Natural Foods Merchandiser," a trade magazine serving the natural and organic products industry

Natural products sales increased 9.1 percent across all retail and direct-to-consumer sales channels.

Just over 80 percent of sales came from the natural retailing and mass market channels.

In natural products stores, food sales grew 12.1 percent, and all but one of the food categories tracked by the magazine had double-digit growth.

Organic food sales grew 15.7 percent. Sales of supplements rose 8.2 percent, and natural personal care sales increased 12.1 percent.

Natural Products retailers saw organic fresh meat and seafood sales grow 67.4 percent in 2005 to $114 million.

Organic nutrition bars, beer and wine, other beverages and food service all posted growth of more than 30 percent.

Organic pet products grew 37.5 percent to $65 million.

More facts about one of the nation's fastest-growing consumer segments may be found in The Natural Foods Merchandiser's Market Overview, which provides the most comprehensive current data on retail sales of natural and organic foods, personal care products and supplements.

The Market Overview is produced jointly by The Natural Foods Merchandiser and its sister publication, Nutrition Business Journal, based in San Diego, a source of market research and strategic business information for manufacturers and suppliers in the nutrition industry.

A free Market Overview Webcast will be held July 26 at 2 pm EDT. Natural Foods Merchandiser Editor in Chief Marty Traynor Spencer with other senior staff will discuss the results and answer questions. Register at

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States' Clean Air Lawsuit Against Allegheny Energy Allowed

TRENTON, New Jersey, June 6, 2006 (ENS) - A federal judge has denied an attempt by Allegheny Energy Inc. to dismiss a lawsuit filed last year by five states over violations of the federal Clean Air Act at three of the company’s coal-fired power plants in western Pennsylvania.

The states filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Allegheny Energy Inc., based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and a number of its subsidiaries.

The suit brought by New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland alleges that Allegheny made major upgrades at its Armstrong, Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell plants that significantly increased emissions, without installing new pollution controls required by the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act.

As a result, the states allege the plants have continued to emit thousands of tons more pollution each year, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which cause smog, acid rain and respiratory disease.

On May 30, the court adopted the recommendation of a U.S. magistrate judge by rejecting Allegheny’s attempt to dismiss the states’ claims as time-barred or barred based on other technicalities.

New Jersey officials say the pollution blows into their state, harming the environment. The three plants at issue emit in total hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants a year. The three plants put out more nitrogen oxide emissions than all the power plants in New Jersey combined and more than three times the total amount of sulfur dioxide emissions emitted by all New Jersey power plants.

The Hatfield’s Ferry plant is the fifth largest single source of sulfur dioxide emissions in the country.

“We are pleased that the court has cleared the way for us to move forward with our suit,” said New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber. “We are seeking to compel Allegheny Energy to install the pollution controls mandated by the Clean Air Act so that we can eliminate thousands of tons of toxic pollutants that are blowing into New Jersey. The Hatfield’s Ferry plant is among the worst coal-fired power plants in terms of its harm to public health and the environment in New Jersey.”

“New Jersey will continue to vigorously pursue litigation to protect our citizens’ health and meet clean air quality standards,” said Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat. “This decision proves that New Jersey can and will pursue action to enforce the Clean Air Act’s protections even when the federal government abdicates its own responsibility to do so.”

In addition to the federal violations, the suit alleges violations of Pennsylvania’s air pollution laws and regulations.

The plaintiff states are seeking to require Allegheny to reduce its harmful emissions by installing state-of-the-art pollution controls at each of the three plants. The states also asked the court to assess civil monetary penalties and order Allegheny to take additional appropriate actions to make up for the harm done to public health and the environment by its violations of federal and state law.

The subsidiaries named as defendants in the lawsuit are Allegheny Energy Service Corporation, Allegheny Energy Supply Company LLC, Monongahela Power Company, The Potomac Edison Company and West Penn Power Company.

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Cattle Producers Appeal Import of Canadian Beef

BILLINGS, Montana, June 6, 2006 (ENS) - Concerned about the spread of mad cow disease, U.S. cattle producers are appealing the decision of a federal judge that lets stand a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule allowing import of Canadian cattle and beef products.

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America on Monday filed a notice of appeal in federal District Court in Montana of an April decision by District Judge Richard Cebull that denied the organization’s request for a permanent injunction against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Final Rule.

The Final Rule allows imports of cattle under 30 months of age and beef products from cattle younger than 30 months of age into the United States from Canada, a country affected by mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

“We remain frustrated that there has never been full consideration of the merits of our case,” said R-CALF USA President and Region V Director Chuck Kiker.

“The (U.S.) 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July 2005 that USDA should be given deference in this matter, but there’s never been an evaluation of all of the evidence, by either the 9th Circuit or the District Court," Kiker said.

A preliminary injunction, granted to R-CALF USA by the District Court in March 2005, was reversed in July 2005 by a three-judge panel at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

R-CALF USA then asked the District Court to hear argument on its pending motion for summary judgment, but instead Cebull decided, in effect, that the 9th Circuit already had decided the merits of the case.

In his April 2006 decision, Cebull said his “hands were tied” and that the 9th Circuit had instructed him to ‘abide by this deferential standard,’ and ‘respect the agency’s judgment and expertise.’”

“R-CALF wants the opportunity not only to make certain that USDA’s decision-making on this Final Rule gets a thorough review because the agency has continued to make inconsistent statements about BSE risks, but also to make certain that we have the chance to lay out scientific evidence by nationally recognized experts and government agencies,” Kiker said.

“We’re hoping the 9th Circuit will remand the case back down to Judge Cebull so he can make a decision on the merits of the case,” Kiker said. “Then we’ll proceed from there.”

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Major Oil Spill Exercise Conducted in Ohio

CLEVELAND, Ohio, June 6, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Coast Guard, Ohio EPA, City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and Hannah Marine Corp. participated today in the "Northeast Ohio Area Preparedness for Response Exercise Program 2006" on June 6.

This full-scale exercise simulated the release of oil from a barge in downtown Cleveland on the Cuyahoga River. Participants activated response plans, personnel, and equipment in addition to establishing a command post in the Holiday Inn Select City-Centre in Cleveland.

The simulated spill's location allowed federal, state, and local agencies as well as industry to build stronger partnerships concerning oil spill response within the region.

"This exercise is an important opportunity for us to work in a unified response effort to protect the public, environment and economic resources in the event of a major oil spill," said LCDR Joe Gleason, Commanding Officer, USCG Marine Safety Unit Cleveland.

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 mandates the development of response plans for individual tank vessels and certain facilities for responding to a worst case discharge. This exercise is designed to establish common goals and improvements to the preparedness, prevention and response efforts of the government and petroleum industry.

Response equipment was deployed in the Cuyahoga River in addition to the multi-agency command post activity.

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New York State Awarded $2 Million to Clear Tire Dumps

ALBANY, New York, June 6, 2006 (ENS) - The state of New York has been awarded more than $2 million in penalties and cleanup costs for three illegal tire and solid waste dumps in Rensselaer County. A state court judge froze a bank account of one of the dump operators to secure payment of the cleanup costs.

"This court order will help preserve the environment of Rensselaer County and protect public health," said Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "This case sends a message to unscrupulous operators that if they break the law they run the risk of losing their personal assets. Taxpayers should not foot the bill for environmental scofflaws."

The three dump sites on Route 67 in the town of Pittstown in Rensselaer County contain over 110,000 old tires, dozens of abandoned and dilapidated trailers, junked vehicles and other debris. The dump sites were owned and/or operated by Almag Construction Inc., Doramerica Inc., Maria Stathacos, and William Stroffoleno as well as Martin Doran, who is now deceased.

In October 2005, the Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against each of the parties for operating solid waste management facilities without necessary permits and for persistent illegality and fraud in the operation of the sites.

The dump operators routinely accepted large quantities of waste and allowed it to collect on the sites for years. All of the sites, located near the Johnsonville Post Office, constitute health and fire hazards and community eyesores. Over the years, several fires broke out at the illegal dump site on School Street and the Almag site on Route 67.

The town of Pittstown cleaned up one of the sites in 2003 and the Attorney General’s Office sought and obtained reimbursement for the town’s expenses.

A May 11, 2006 decision in Albany County Supreme Court ordered the parties to pay $279,000 in cleanup costs to the state and the local government and pay penalties and costs of approximately of $1.8 million to the state.

An investment account of one of the defendants, Maria Stathacos, was seized, resulting in the state receiving $342,000 in partial satisfaction of the court order.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Denise Sheehan said, "New York has made tremendous strides in addressing illegal waste tire piles throughout the state. This decision sends an important signal to those who think they can avoid responsibility for their actions."

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Philadelphia to be Sprayed for West Nile Virus Prevention

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, June 6, 2006 (ENS) - Aerial spray treatments to control large populations of mosquito larvae will be conducted in Philadelphia on Wednesday, in areas where sampling has shown increased levels of mosquito production.

Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Southeast Regional Director Joseph Feola said, “The target areas are large mosquito production habitats for the species that potentially can carry the West Nile virus. We think we can do a better job of eliminating mosquito larvae through aerial applications than through traditional application methods on the ground.”

Beginning Wednesday morning, Helicopter Applicators Inc. of Gettysburg, Adams County, will spray the granular larvacide VectoLex CG over wetlands in and around the biosolid and wastewater treatment plants operated by Philadelphia near Penrose Ferry Road in the southwest portion of the city.

VectoLex CG is not a chemical pesticide; rather, it is a species-specific bacterial agent that targets mosquito and black fly larvae when added to the water in production areas.

They also will treat wetlands on the east side of the Philadelphia International Airport. Later in the morning, the applicator will spray wetlands at the city’s northeast wastewater treatment plant, located near the Betsy Ross Bridge.

Certain species of mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, which, when transmitted to people, can cause West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in an inflammation of the brain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all residents of areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis; people over 50 have the highest risk of severe disease.

There have been no confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Pennsylvania so far this year.

Health officials advise that to help eliminate mosquito-breeding areas householders dispose of containers that fill with water. Pay attention to discarded tires. Stagnant water in tires are where most mosquitoes breed. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.

Have clogged roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains, health officials advise. Roof gutters can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.

Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use, turn over wheelbarrows and don’t let water stagnate in birdbaths. Both provide breeding habitats for domestic mosquitoes.

Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens can become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.

Clean and chlorinate swimming pools not in use. A swimming pool left untended by a family on vacation for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.

For more information about West Nile virus and the state’s surveillance and control program, go to

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Pennsylvania Hydrogen Fuel Station Develops Cars, Vans, Bus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania, June 6, 2006 (ENS) – Penn State's University Park campus is operating the only hydrogen fueling station in the state. At the hydrogen station, which produces hydrogen on site from natural gas, researchers are developing a mixed vehicle fleet, including two cars, a bus and vans, to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen gas as a fuel.

The Air Products hydrogen fueling station now offers the option of 30 percent hydrogen-natural gas mixtures or pure hydrogen.

Dr. Joel Anstrom, director of Penn State’s Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Center (HHVRC), says, "We're evaluating multiple vehicle technologies as well as testing the hydrogen fueling infrastructure in a real world environment, under real world loads."

By the end of the summer, Anstrom and his partners expect to have a transit bus and a University maintenance van operating on a blend of hydrogen and natural gas along with a fuel cell car operating on pure hydrogen.

Residents will be able to ride the bus, #85 on the Loop and Link routes, and observe the van and car which will all be marked for identification.

Development and deployment of the hydrogen vehicle fleet involves the collaboration of Penn State's Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, of which the Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Center is a part, the University’s Office of Physical Plant, the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) and Collier Technologies of Reno, Nevada.

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., developed the hydrogen fueling station which produces hydrogen by steam reforming of natural gas and fills the need for a practical and cost effective hydrogen fueling infrastructure to support early deployment of hydrogen vehicles.

Anstrom points out that the buses operated by CATA are already powered by natural gas, which is a mixture of gases that includes about two percent hydrogen. Collier Technologies has outfitted Bus #85 with an engine that can burn mixtures with up to 50 percent hydrogen.

While natural gas is already clean burning, they expect Bus #85 to offer an improved tailpipe emissions profile.

Penn State engineers will perform emissions testing on the bus burning a 30 percent hydrogen-natural gas mixture, which they expect to meet the more stringent 2007 heavy-duty engine emission levels without any tailpipe after treatment.

Vans from the Office of Physical Plant will be modified by Collier Technologies to run on the same hydrogen-natural gas mixture. While one van is complete and scheduled to be in service at summer's end, Anstrom expects a total of six to seven hydrogen-natural gas-burning vans to join the fleet eventually.

HHVRC researchers have also fitted an electric car, donated by General Motors, with a commercially available hydrogen proton exchange membrane fuel cell that will enable it to run on pure hydrogen.

Called the HyLion, the car will demonstrate the fueling process, features, and performance of initial fuel cell vehicles, Anstrom notes.

HHVC researchers and Collier Technologies also are working to adapt the gasoline engine in a hybrid electric vehicle to run on pure hydrogen.

In addition to fueling the fleet, hydrogen produced at the station will be used by other Penn State researchers who need hydrogen. These researchers could include chemists, biochemists and molecular biologists as well as engineers studying hydrogen production, storage, conversion and standards issues.

"When used as a fuel, hydrogen produces no harmful emissions, just water," Anstrom says. "This station can produce hydrogen from domestic or biomass-derived natural gas. We expect that once a demand for hydrogen as a vehicle fuel is created, renewable sources, such as biomass fermentation, even wastewater, will be tapped to produce hydrogen directly."

The project is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Community and Economic Development.

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