AmeriScan: March 13, 2002
FEDS DISAGREE ON ANWR OIL STATISTICS
WASHINGTON, DC, March 13, 2002 (ENS) - Two reports released Tuesday offer conflicting views on how much oil could be obtained from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska.
The Department of Interior calculate the number of years that ANWR could supply oil for each state, based on mean U.S. Geological Survey estimates of oil potential in ANWR - 10.4 billion barrels - and petroleum consumption for each state using 1999 figures from the Energy Information Agency.
"ANWR is America's largest onshore prospect for oil and gas," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. "ANWR's reserves, at the mean estimate, will provide 10.4 billion barrels of oil, nearly 40 times the amount imported from Iraq in 2001."
"Based on the mean calculations, ANWR would supply every drop of petroleum for the entire state of Arkansas for 144 years, Missouri for 71 years or South Dakota for 479 years," Norton added.
The 10.4 billion barrels estimate includes USGS figures to recoverable conventional oil in the 1002 Area of the ANWR, including federal lands, native owned private lands and state regulated waters.
"ANWR will require the toughest environmental standards ever imposed," continued Norton. "Exploration will be limited to no more than 2,000 acres out of ANWR's 19 million acres. Exploration will be limited to the winter months, between November and May, to protect breeding and wildlife migration patterns. Ice roads and ice airstrips, which melt away in the spring, will protect wildlife."
Norton's conclusions were called into question by a new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the independent statistical and analytical agency within the Department of Energy.
The report, "Effects of the Alaska Oil and Natural Gas Provisions of H.R. 4 and S. 1766 on U.S. Energy Markets," concludes that drilling in the refuge, including native lands within the refuge and state controlled waters off the coast of the refuge, would have only a negligible effect on oil imports when refuge oil production reached its expected peak in 2020.
"The increased production [from the refuge] is projected to reduce the net share of foreign oil used by U.S. consumers in 2020 from 62 to 60 percent," the report concludes.
The study notes that oil production in Alaska from outside of the Arctic Refuge is projected to increase by 22 percent by 2020.
The EIA found that the amount of so called "technically recoverable oil" from areas of the U.S. outside the Arctic Refuge - 136 billion barrels - is 17.7 times the amount of oil projected to be technically recoverable from within the refuge - 7.7 billion barrels.
At peak production in 2020, oil from the Arctic Refuge would amount to just 800,000 barrels a day, or "roughly seven-tenths of one percent of projected world oil production," the report says. If ANWR drilling is authorized this year, no oil would be recovered from the refuge until at least 2011.
WHITE HOUSE IGNORES INTERNATIONAL FOREST AGREEMENTS
WASHINGTON, DC, March 13, 2002 (ENS) - The Bush Administration is undermining international agreements intended to protect the world's forests, the American Lands Alliance charged today.
The environmental group released a briefing paper arguing that the White House has ignored forest conservation accords negotiated with other nations, choosing instead to roll back forest protections measures at home.
"The Bush Administration is making forest policy decisions that fly in the face of the spirit and intent of the Earth Summit Proposals for Action," said Michael Kellett, president of American Lands Alliance and director of RESTORE: The North Woods, a Massachusetts based conservation group. "The White House is gutting a plan to protect nearly 60 million acres of roadless forests, proposing to dilute environmental review for logging projects, and has suspended efforts to update forest management plans."
The group issued its paper, "U.S. Failing to Implement Intergovernmental Proposals for Action," as Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey met with United Nations representatives at the United Nations Forum on Forests Ministerial in New York.
"According to the Forest Service, the U.S. isn't even trying to implement the agreement here at home," said Kellett. "Instead of leading the nations of the world in implementing the Earth Summit Proposals the Bush Administration is headed in the opposite direction, weakening environmental standards and the public's ability to be involved with management decisions."
One outcome of the 1992 Earth Summit was the appointment of intergovernmental panels that crafted 270 "proposals for action" that participating nations, including the United States, agreed to implement. These proposals outline steps countries should take to protect forests, foster sustainable forest management and ensure public involvement in management decisions.
Since adoption of the proposals, however, the White House has failed to apply the recommendations when developing management policies for National Forests.
"The Bush Administration is taking a Ginsu knife approach to forest management, slicing and dicing our nation's forests, cutting the biological heart out of our wildlands, and in the process leaving an international agreement in shreds," said Steve Holmer of the American Lands Alliance.
The report released today outlines three recent policy decisions by the Bush Administration that contradict the U.S. commitment to implement the accords. The first involves the Administration's failure to implement the roadless area conservation rule that protects 58 million acres of National Forest lands from commercial logging and roadbuilding.
The second is an obscure categorical exclusion directive issued last fall to allow the Forest Service to conduct projects in sensitive forest areas without any environmental analysis or public involvement in the decision. The third is the Administration decision to suspend the forest planning process until they can rewrite the rules to be less environmentally friendly and to allow less public involvement in agency decisions.
The American Lands report is available at: http://www.americanlands.org/earthsummit.htm
U.S. SCORES POORLY ON RENEWABLE INVESTMENTS
WASHINGTON, DC, March 13, 2002 (ENS) - The United States lags far behind other developed countries in generating electricity from renewable energy sources, suggests a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
Among the 30 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks 12th for its renewable generation, deriving less than two percent of its electricity from solar, wind, clean biomass and geothermal energy.
The renewable energy industry is booming in other nations, however. The European Union, for example, has set a goal of doubling the proportion of green energy from six percent to 12 percent of primary energy supply by increasing the share of renewable generated electricity from 14 percent to 22 percent by the year 2010.
Although the United States generates the most electricity from renewable sources, it has increased its generation from renewables by just 36 percent between 1990 and 2000 - demonstrating far less growth than other member countries of the OECD. The United States ranks behind 21 OECD countries that have boosted their energy production from sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy.
The PIRG report argues that the U.S. risks losing a competitive advantage if it continues to invest in non-renewable energy sources at the expense of renewable energy technology. Worldwide, the wind industry is valued at $5 billion and is projected to rise to $70 billion by 2020, the report notes.
The United States, once a leader in developing renewable energy technology, is now falling behind its competitors. Denmark, a country with a small percentage of the U.S. population, controls 50 percent of the global market for wind turbines; in 2000, the U.S. share of global sales - including those in the U.S. - was six percent.
In 1999, the United States controlled 30 percent of the world market for photovoltaics - materials that convert sunlight into electricity, and Japan controlled 40 percent. According to the Energy Information Administration, this represents a marked change from 1995, when U.S. based manufacturing capacity accounted for 45 percent of world photovoltaic shipments, with Japan at 26 percent.
"Unless the U.S. government assumes leadership in the development of renewable technologies, the United States will lose its technological advantage to countries willing to divest from old, polluting energy sources and invest in cheaper, cleaner alternative such as wind power," the report argues.
"Implementing a national standard of 20 percent of all electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020 could jump start a technological renaissance in the United States not seen since the space program of the 1950s and 1960s," concludes the report. "The U.S. could become the global supplier of clean energy to countries eager to mitigate global warming pollution, reduce air pollution and diversify away from environmentally harmful fossil fuels and nuclear power."
TOYOTA SPENDS MILLIONS OVER FAULTY MONITORS
SACRAMENTO, California, March 13, 2002 (ENS) - Toyota has agreed to a $7.9 million settlement with the California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board (ARB) over defects in car emissions monitors.
"We are pleased that we have reached an agreement in this case," said ARB's executive officer Michael Kenny. "We believe that this settlement will not only benefit the owners of the vehicles but all Californians."
ARB tests indicated that during the years 1996-1998, Toyota sold vehicles in California with diagnostic systems that were unable to detect fuel system vapor leaks. The defects were found during tests by the ARB, which ordered a recall of about 330,000 cars.
Toyota challenged the order, claiming that their leak check systems met California requirements. Both parties agreed to allow the case to be heard by an administrative law judge.
The judge concluded that ARB testing did not demonstrate Toyota vehicles were out of compliance with California regulations when reviewing the strict regulatory language, but did agree that Toyota failed to disclose required information during certification approval that would have alerted ARB staff to the problem before Toyota received approval.
To prevent future problems, the ARB is working to amend its regulations to ensure that all diagnostic system designs will work as intended in customer's hands.
Through discussions finalized February 20, Toyota agreed to fund a package valued at $7.9 million. A $1.2 million contribution will go to the California Air Pollution Control Fund (APCF). The state uses this fund to educate the public and provide programs to minimize the output of smog-forming emissions from various sources.
Another $4.3 million will go toward supplemental environmental projects to be agreed upon between ARB and Toyota.
Toyota will also extend the warranty coverage for defects that may occur in the evaporative emission control system of the affected vehicles from three years or 50,000 miles, to 14 years or 150,000 miles. Toyota has agreed to introduce some of their new models earlier than required to comply with ARB's near zero evaporative emissions standards.
The extended warranty and the early compliance efforts are together valued at $2.4 million.
FOREST SERVICE RETHINKS LOGGING PLAN
DILLON, Montana, March 13, 2002 (ENS) - The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has withdrawn its plan to log 15 million board feet of timber from 7,000 acres in the Tobacco Root Mountains of Montana.
The proposal was part of project to reduce wildfire risk in the area and restore stands of aspen, sagebrush and Douglas firs.
"During the review we conducted at the Forest Supervisor's Office, we found the elk habitat analysis in the EIS' wasn't adequate," said Peri Suenram, the head of planning for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
The EIS is the environmental impact statement issued by the Forest Service in December, which called for restoring 6,961 acres to more natural conditions over the next three years.
A combination of prescribed burning and cutting down smaller trees that are crowding Douglas fir forests was included. The project also called for the construction of 19 miles of new roads.
Suenram said the decision was appealed by The Ecology Center and Native Ecosystems Council, which triggered a review in Dillon prior to sending the files on to the Forest Service's regional office in Missoula for the formal appeal review.
"We need to improve the elk effective cover' analysis and how we dealt with goshawks," Suenram said. "The measures outlined to protect elk habitat in the EIS didn't clearly address our forest plan standards."
The Forest Service still sees a need to reduce the danger from uncontrollable wildfires, particularly near the national forest boundary in South Meadow Creek near developed private property, and in other areas, Suenram added.
"Withdrawing this decision is all part of the environmental analysis process, and I think it's working," Suenram said. "We're glad the appellants pointed out the weak spots in the analysis."
No schedule for reworking the Tobacco Roots analysis has been made yet.
"The points the appellants raised will be important when we do take another look at this project," Suenram said.
This is the second time the effort to restore forests and grasslands in the Tobacco Roots has run aground. The first plan, put out in 1999, was upheld on appeal, but then withdrawn after a lawsuit was filed against it.
The current environmental impact statement is available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/b-d/feis/feis.htm
FORMER INDIAN VILLAGE PRESERVED
TILLAMOOK, Oregon, March 13, 2002 (ENS) - The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has acquired 137 acres on Kilchis Point for permanent protection as open space and wildlife habitat.
The land has been donated to the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum Foundation. Purchase of the parcel was made possible by an anonymous donation, which funded the entire $970,000 purchase.
"Kilchis Point is one of Oregon's under sung natural jewels," said Chris Beck, TPL project manager. "With increasing development along the Oregon coast, it was essential that we ensure its historic beauty remain intact. Now, this irreplaceable piece of Tillamook County's history will be preserved forever."
Located at the mouth of the Kilchis River along Tillamook Bay, Kilchis Point was named for Chief Kilchis, one of the most respected members of the Tillamook Tribe. It was the location of the largest settlement of Tillamook Indians, who thrived on the abundance of salmon and shellfish available in Tillamook Bay.
Tillamook County's first pioneer, Joe Champion, made his home in a hollowed out Sitka spruce stump adjacent to the Tillamook village.
As the Tillamook Indians discovered many centuries ago, Kilchis Point is brimming with ecological resources. Its tidal streams provide habitat for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead, and its forests of old growth Sitka spruce are ideal for native bald eagles.
With guidance from the Kilchis Point Advisory Committee, the Tillamook Pioneer Museum will manage the property as an educational, cultural and natural resource property.
"We have been truly blessed with the gift of this treasured place," said Phyllis Wustenberg, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum Foundation chairperson. "These are exciting times for the Museum and for all of us interested in preserving the past and protecting our future."
Before conveying the property to the museum, TPL placed permanent deed restrictions on the site to prevent residential development while still allowing some existing, non-threatening uses such as grazing.
"Kilchis Point is a noteworthy addition to TPL's successful coastal conservation efforts," said Geoff Roach, TPL's Oregon field office director. "Acquiring this property protects a vital scenic, natural resource and provides an educational opportunity for the public to appreciate Tillamook Bay's cultural and biological legacy."
TERRORIST VICTIM RECEIVES VALOR AWARD
WASHINGTON, DC, March 13, 2002 (ENS) - Rich Gaudagno, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) refuge manager who is believed to have been among those who fought the terrorist hijackers of United Airlines Flight 93, will be posthumously awarded the Department of the Interior's Valor Award.
Gaudagno, a 17 year veteran of federal service, died when Flight 93 crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. A group of passengers overwhelmed the terrorists and thwarted their plans to crash the airplane into a national security target, believed to be the White House or the Capitol.
"Rich Gaudagno was a trained and dedicated federal law enforcement officer as well as refuge manager," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. "Rich was a 'no nonsense' guy with a strong sense of right and wrong and many of his family members, coworkers, and friends believe he was among those who stopped the hijackers from taking Flight 93 to its intended target."
Norton announced the special recognition for Gaudagno on Monday, the six month anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The award will be presented to members of Gaudagno's family in an April 15 ceremony at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
"Rich carried out his duty in the highest traditions of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior," Norton added. "He was a brave, resourceful, and dedicated federal employee and we wish to honor his example and his memory."
The Department's Valor Award is presented to Interior employees who have demonstrated unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger. The act of heroism is not required to be related to official duties or to have occurred at the official duty station.
Earlier this year Secretary Norton announced that Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Northern California, where Gaudagno was manager, had been renamed in his honor.
Gaudagno began his career as a biologist with the New Jersey Fish and Game Department and at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge near Newark Airport in New Jersey. His first permanent position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in 1987 as a law enforcement officer and wildlife inspector in Philadelphia.
WEBSITE HIGHLIGHTS SAFE SEAFOOD SELECTIONS
WASHINGTON, DC, March 13, 2002 (ENS) - A new, interactive Web site offers information about what seafood choices are safest for the environment and human health.
Environmental Defense today announced the launch of "Seafood Selector," a site that includes fish recipes alongside safety and health facts.
A team of scientists, programmers and editors worked for more than a year to build the data base tool, which covers more than 150 species of fish.
"Seafood Selector is the largest database we know of that is devoted to providing consumer information on the best fish choices," said Joyce Newman, acting chief Internet officer t Environmental Defense.
Visitors to Seafood Selector can learn how to pick and prepare the best, most sustainable fish. The site also tells how to avoid buying fish that are caught or farmed in ways that harm the environment.
"Americans are concerned about the health of their diet and the health of our oceans; Seafood Selector can help people with both, at just the click of a mouse," said Environmental Defense senior scientist, Rebecca Goldburg. "More than 100 U.S. fish stocks are suffering from overfishing, and most commercial fisheries are reaching the brink of unsustainability. But by shopping for seafood caught or farmed in an environmentally sustainable manner, consumers can make a big difference."
Seafood Selector is a part of the redesigned Environmental Defense web site at: http://www.environmentaldefense.org/
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