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AmeriScan: March 5, 2007 AmeriScan: March 5, 2007

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First NAFTA Harmonized Pesticide Label Approved

WASHINGTON, DC, March 5, 2007 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency have given the first joint approval of a harmonized label for a pesticide product under the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

The pesticide is known as Far-Go Granular Herbicide in the United States and Avadex MicroActiv Herbicide in Canada. It is registered for use on wheat, barley, beets, lentils and peas.

The harmonized label allows for cross-border movement of the pesticide product since the harmonized package labeling satisfies the regulatory requirements in both countries. The label states unique use directions to accommodate differences in the two countries’ use patterns.

"As a result of extraordinary collaboration and leadership on the part of governments, growers, and pesticide producers, now joint U.S.-Canadian pesticide labels are a reality,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Gulliford.

Currently, 12 more pesticide products are in the pipeline for NAFTA label development.

“Joint approvals maintain high safety standards, help ensure producers have pest control tools available, and advance the goal of a North American market for pesticides," Gulliford said.

The pesticide Avadex became the first pesticide imported into the United States from Canada under the Pilot U.S. Own Use Import Program. The program was developed by the NAFTA Technical Working Group on Pesticides' Subcommittee on Pesticide Harmonization-NAFTA Labels, and allows U.S. farmers to import certain lower-priced Canadian pesticides by gaining permission from both the pesticide manufacturer and EPA.

The program has been called a stopgap measure until NAFTA labels were approved.

Whether known as Far-Go Granular or Avadex MicroActiv, the active ingredient in the pesticide is Triallate, S-(2,3,3-trichloroallyl)-diisopropylthiocarbamate.

Warning labels state that it should not be applied directly to water, to areas where surface water is present, or to intertidal areas below the mean high water mark.

Triallate has a degradation product TCPSA (trichloropropene sulfonic acid) with properties and characteristics associated with chemicals detected in ground water. The use of this chemical in areas where soils are permeable, particularly where the water table is shallow, may result in ground water contamination.

The triallate degradate TCPSA may have a high potential for runoff into surface water where there are poorly draining or wet soils with slopes toward adjacent surface waters, frequently flooded areas, areas over-laying extremely shallow ground water, areas with in-field canals or ditches that drain to surface water, areas not separated from adjacent surface waters with vegetated filter strips, and areas over-laying tile drainage systems that drain surface water.

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UN Invites San Francisco to Model Global Warming Battle

SAN FRANCISCO, California, March 5, 2007 (ENS) - As part of United Nations efforts to combat global warming, the world body launched a unique partnership Thursday with the city of San Francisco, the Bay Area Council and a wide array of businesses in the region.

Called the Principles on Climate Leadership, the partnership's goal is to give businesses in the area a framework to address climate change as well as a forum to share best practices to reduce greenhouse gases. Firms might set company wide emission reduction goals or provide transportation alternatives for employees.

It will also create a model for climate action in the commercial and public sectors that the UN Global Compact will seek to place in companies and cities around the world. The Compact is an initiative started in 1999 to advance good corporate citizenship and responsible globalization.

More than 20 companies, including Gap Inc., Google and Shaklee, officially endorsed the Principles and also announced the Business Council on Climate Change, BC3, at a special event in San Francisco, the city where the United Nations was born with the signing of the UN Charter in 1945.

“Voluntary initiatives such as the BC3 and the Principles on Climate Leadership will be crucial in bringing about progressive and robust action on the global climate crisis,” said Georg Kell, executive director of the UN Global Compact.

“At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that voluntary action cannot be a substitute for effective regulation," said Kell, "rather, it informs and complements regulation.”

The initiative follows remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he called on the world’s young people to take better care of the planet in the face of global warming than his own generation has.

“We are all complicit in the process of global warming," Ban told a UN International School conference in the General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York. "Unsustainable practices are deeply entrenched in our everyday lives. But in the absence of decisive measures, the true cost of our actions will be borne by succeeding generations, starting with yours."

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Energy Department Funds Six Cellulosic Ethanol Plants

WASHINGTON, DC, March 5, 2007 (ENS) - The Department of Energy, DOE, will invest up to $385 million for six biorefinery projects over the next four years.

When fully operational, the biorefineries are expected to produce more than 130 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Cellulosic ethanol is made not from food crops such as corn, but from agricultural waste, yard waste, trees, forest residues, and perennial grasses.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman says the production will help further the stated goal of President George W. Bush to make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline by 2012.

“These biorefineries will play a critical role in helping to bring cellulosic ethanol to market, and teaching us how we can produce it in a more cost effective manner,” Bodman said.

“Ultimately, success in producing inexpensive cellulosic ethanol could be a key to eliminating our nation’s addiction to oil," Bodman said announcing the funding last week. "By relying on American ingenuity and on American farmers for fuel, we will enhance our nation’s energy and economic security.”

The solicitation, first announced a year ago, was initially for three biorefineries and $160 million. However, in an effort to move more quickly towards energy independence, Bodman raised the funding ceiling.

“We had a number of very good proposals, but these six were considered meritorious by a merit review panel made up of bioenergy experts. So I thought it would be best to front-end some more funding now, Bodman said.

Combined with the industry cost share, more than $1.2 billion will be invested in the six biorefineries. Negotiations between the selected companies and DOE will begin immediately to determine final project plans and funding levels. Funding will begin this fiscal year and run through FY 2010.

The six projects selected are:

  • Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas, LLC of Chesterfield, Missouri, up to $76 million. The proposed plant will be located in the state of Kansas. The plant will produce 11.4 million gallons of ethanol annually and enough energy to power the facility, with any excess energy being used to power the adjacent corn dry grind mill. The plant will use 700 tons per day of corn stover, wheat straw, milo stubble, switchgrass, and other feedstocks.

  • ALICO, Inc. of LaBelle, Florida, up to $33 million. The proposed plant will be in LaBelle, Hendry County, Florida. The plant will produce 13.9 million gallons of ethanol a year and 6,255 kilowatts of electric power, as well as 8.8 tons of hydrogen and 50 tons of ammonia per day. For feedstock, the plant will use 770 tons per day of yard, wood, and vegetative wastes and eventually energycane, a tall, stiff stemmed bunchgrass.

  • BlueFire Ethanol, Inc. of Irvine, California, up to $40 million. The proposed plant will be in Southern California. The plant will be sited on an existing landfill and produce about 19 million gallons of ethanol a year. As feedstock, the plant would use 700 tons per day of sorted green waste and wood waste from landfills.

  • Broin Companies of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, up to $80 million. The plant is in Emmetsburg, Palo Alto County, Iowa, and after expansion, it will produce 125 million gallons of ethanol per year, of which roughly 25 percent will be cellulosic ethanol. For feedstock in the production of cellulosic ethanol, the plant expects to use 842 tons per day of corn fiber, cobs, and stalks.

  • Iogen Biorefinery Partners, LLC, of Arlington, Virginia, up to $80 million. The proposed plant will be built in Shelley, Idaho, near Idaho Falls, and will produce 18 million gallons of ethanol annually. The plant will use 700 tons per day of agricultural residues including wheat straw, barley straw, corn stover, switchgrass, and rice straw as feedstocks.

  • Range Fuels, formerly Kergy Inc., of Broomfield, Colorado, up to $76 million. The proposed plant will be constructed in Soperton, Treutlen County, Georgia. The plant will produce about 40 million gallons of ethanol per year and nine million gallons per year of methanol. As feedstock, the plant will use 1,200 tons per day of wood residues and wood based energy crops.

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Kalamazoo River PCB Cleanup Agreements Reached

KALAMAZOO, Michigan, March 5, 2007 (ENS) - Two legal agreements between U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, the state of Michigan and two of the companies responsible for PCB contamination of the Kalamzoo River have brought cleanup of the river a step closer.

One agreement, between EPA, Michigan, Georgia-Pacific and Millennium Holdings, requires the companies to perform a projected $21 million cleanup of the Plainwell Impoundment Area, including removal of a portion of the Plainwell Dam.

The other agreement, between EPA and the two companies, requires the companies to perform about $15 million in additional environmental sampling and investigation throughout the Kalamazoo River Superfund site.

The discussions are part of the ongoing intergovernmental effort to address PCB contamination along an 80 mile stretch of the river.

Polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs, are a group of toxic chemicals that were widely used in carbonless copy paper, and as coolants, insulators and lubricants. PCBs concentrate in the food chain resulting in health hazards to people, fish and wildlife. Congress banned the manufacture of new PCBs in 1976 and PCBs still in use are strictly regulated.

The Superfund site includes five disposal areas, six paper mill properties, the Kalamazoo River, a tributary of Lake Michigan that flows northwest, and Portage Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River that flows north. The project includes three miles of Portage Creek from Cork Street to where it joins with the Kalamazoo River; and from this confluence downstream to the Allegan Dam. Because PCBs have migrated downstream, the Superfund remedial investigation includes the area to the mouth of the Kalamazoo River at Lake Michigan, about 80 miles.

The Plainwell Impoundment cleanup aims to remove 4,400 pounds of PCBs - 132,000 cubic yards of material - from a 1.5 mile segment of the river upstream of the Plainwell Dam between Plainwell and Otsego.

The two year project targets contaminated river banks, in-stream sediment and floodplain hotspots primarily located on land owned by MDNR. EPA, in consultation with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, will oversee the work performed by contractors hired by the responsible parties.

The agreements were produced during mediated discussions that began in late 2004 among EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Michigan Attorney General and Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources, and the two companies.

"The bottom line is that these agreements will help clean up contamination in the Kalamazoo River," said Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox. "And because these agreements require additional studies, testing and research, the health of the river will continue to improve."

State and federal natural resource trustees, who represent the public interest for natural resources at the site, support the agreements.

Construction equipment will begin arriving at the site in the next few weeks, with work slated to begin in early April and continuing through late fall or early winter. The project will follow a similar schedule in 2008. About 20 to 30 loads of dredged material will be trucked daily to a landfill in Kalamazoo. Steps to control dust from the construction activities have been built into the work plan.

A public meeting will be held 6:30 to 8:30 pm, March 15 at the Plainwell High School cafeteria, 684 Starr Rd. The government partners will also host an open house meeting at the Plainwell Community Schools Administration Building, 600 School Drive, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m., to answer questions in a less formal setting.

A fact sheet about the agreements and upcoming work is online at: http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/kalproject/.

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Public Comments Welcome on Polar Bear Threatened Listing

WASHINGTON, DC, March 5, 2007 (ENS) - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials held a public hearing at the Department of the Interior tonight to present information and take comments on the 12 month petition finding and proposed rule to list the polar bear as Threatened throughout its range under the Endangered Species Act.

The Service is particularly interested in comments concerning information on polar bear distribution, habitat selection, food habits, population density and trends, habitat trends, and effects of management on polar bears, the effects of sea ice change on the distribution and abundance of polar bears and their principal prey,

The Service also expressed interest in the effects on polar bears of factors such as oil and gas development, contaminants, ecotourism, hunting, and poaching, and any populations of the species that may qualify as distinct population segments.

At tonight's hearing, Earthjustice attorney Clayton Jernigan spoke on behalf of the nonprofit public interest environmental law firm. He expressed the view of most major U.S. wildlife conservation groups.

"We applaud the Service's science-based determination that global warming presents a serious threat to the continued survival of the species," he said.

"The Service correctly reports that global warming has weakened polar bears' physical condition and inhibited polar bears' reproductive success and ultimately their survival.

"The scientific literature supports the Service's conclusion that as warming temperatures cause further sea-ice retreat, these adverse effects will worsen, resulting in precipitous declines in polar bear populations. Recent evidence showing not only declining populations, but also alarming signs such as cannibalism and drowning, demonstrates the urgency behind this proposal to list the species," Jernigan said.

Before listing the polar bear, Jernigan said the government should "fully account for the loss to and damage of polar bear habitat due to the combination of global climate change and oil and gas development in the Arctic."

"We also ask the Service to rethink its decision to define the 'foreseeable future' in the polar bear listing proposal as just 45 years. The scientific community typically conducts population viability analyses over a time frame of 100 years or longer," said Jernigan.

He also urged the Service to designate critical habitat "to ensure the continued existence of polar bears."

At the very least, he said, critical habitat should include all areas of the Chukchi, Beaufort, and Bering Seas that are seasonally covered by sea-ice, as well as coastal areas that offer potential denning habitat, and those which are used by polar bears during the open water period for movement, feeding and resting.

A public hearing was held in Anchorage, Alaska on Thursday and another is coming up in Barrow, Alaska on March 7.

At the Anchorage hearing, it became clear that the state of Alaska has not decided to support the listing. Governor Sarah Palin's point person on polar bears questioned whether polar bears really need sea ice to survive.

Tina Cunnings, a biologist and a special assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, said polar bears can adapt to use land for hunting. Although ice seals, their preferred food, are vanishing, bears are finding alternative food sources, she said.

She also testified that a listing in the United States could harm bears in Canada because Inuit villagers would have no further incentive to preserve them for American hunters. An Endangered Species Act listing would ban import of polar bear trophy skins.

Written comments can be sent by April 9, 2007 by mail to: Supervisor, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management Office, 1011 East Tudor Road – MS 341, Anchorage, AK 99503; by email to Polar_Bear_Finding@fws.gov; or through the federal rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main. Details will be available at http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/polarbear/issues.htm.

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Air Force Hosts Energy Industry Forum

WASHINGTON, DC, March 5, 2007 (ENS) - Energy policy, aviation platforms and future fuel utilization are some of the topics that will be presented at the Air Force's Energy Industry Forum, March 8 and 9 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

The forum, which is filled to capacity, will have various plenary and concurrent sessions that will look at the full spectrum of the Air Force's energy program, from the demand side to supply side, as well as for infrastructure, vehicles and aircraft.

The Energy Forum is cosponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and also will include presentations by senior level Army, Navy, Energy Department, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Agriculture representatives.

Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne will open the conference. Keynote speakers will include Congressman Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources; Senator Jim Bunning, a Kentucky Republican, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, III; and Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Republican.

The forum will feature exhibits from major energy institutions and the Air Force. An advanced power vehicle demonstration will highlight the Air Force's green efforts of incorporating hybrid technology into its ground transportation fleet.

Partnering with the Department of Defense and other government departments and agencies, the Air Force Energy Forum will provide the industry a better understanding of the Service's plans to move forward with a multitude of energy initiatives and stimulate discussions of new and innovative technologies to bring these new resources on-line in what the Air Force calls "an environmentally sound manner."

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