Nature Preserve Designed for 100,000 Acres of Tejon RanchTEJON RANCH, California, May 25, 2005 (ENS) - The design for a 100,000 acre nature preserve on the Tejon Ranch was unveiled Wednesday at the ranch after nearly two years of scientific study to identify the best of the natural resources on the historic ranch.
The Tejon Ranch Preserve protects the habitat of threatened and endangered species, preserves wilderness areas and provides public access as the preserve design includes a realignment through Tejon Ranch of the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile long congressionally designated scenic trail from the Mexican border to Canada.
Representatives of Tejon Ranch and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) gathered at the ranch 60 miles north of Los Angeles to share the new design - the result of consultation and recommendations by a scientific peer review panel and an independent environmental advisory group.
"The Tejon Ranch Preserve will protect a pristine, unique and historic landscape equal to the size of Yosemite Valley and twice the size of Santa Catalina Island," said Reed Holderman, executive director of the Trust for Public Land California.
Tejon Ranch and TPL also have signed an agreement to pursue the purchase, by a public agency or non-profit organization, in fee or through conservation easements, of the land within the defined preserve boundaries.
"The proposed 100,000 acre nature preserve on Tejon Ranch offers an extraordinary opportunity for protection of California's wildlife heritage," said Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Joel Reynolds. "This acquisition is critical to ensuring the preservation forever of this essential biological connection between the Sierras and the mountains of Southern California."
Paul Henson, assistant manager of ecological services for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service California/Nevada Operations, called the design of the preserve, "an excellent model for science-based conservation planning. It is designed to protect the best wildlife habitat from destruction, degradation and fragmentation which are the driving forces behind today's decline in species and biodiversity all over the country.
"The next steps are to begin the appraisal process to determine the value of the land and then to seek funding to purchase it," Holderman said. "Working together, we hope to protect the many sensitive habitat lands that are home to the California condor and the largest unspoiled oak woodland in the state, as well as the critical wildlife corridor that links the coast to the sequoias."
"The Tejon Ranch Preserve is a central part of our overall vision for the future of Tejon Ranch and is consistent with the Ranch's historic core values of conservation and good stewardship," said Bob Stine, president and chief executive officer of Tejon Ranch Co. "We believe the Tejon Ranch Vision, which also calls for continuing our historic ranching and farming operations and the limited development of about 5 percent of the Ranch over the next 25 years, is a responsible and balanced plan for the future of Tejon Ranch and shows our commitment to preserving California's legacy and providing for California's future."
Tejon Ranch Co. and TPL announced their partnership in 2003 to protect up to 100,000 acres of the ranch.
Tejon Ranch Co. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TRC. Its principal asset is the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch, which is located approximately 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Bakersfield. Founded in 1843 as several Mexican land grants, Tejon Ranch is now home to farming operations, cattle grazing, oil production, mining, recreational activities and limited development along the Interstate 5 corridor.
Los Angeles Adopts 20 Percent Renewable Energy Goal By 2017LOS ANGELES, California, May 25, 2005 - In less than 12 years, the city of Los Angeles will likely be drawing 20 percent of its energy from renewable resources. That goal was set on Monday by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).
The new policy sets an interim goal of 13 percent by 2010 and a higher goal of 20 percent by the year 2017. The goals - called a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) - would be measured by the amount of electric energy sales to retail customers.
LADWP General Manager Ronald Deaton said, "This policy provides a long term framework to achieve the 20 percent goal without compromising power reliability or the financial stability of LADWP and its customers," he said.
He emphasized that LADWP will conduct detailed studies to determine the need for a renewable energy surcharge to meet the goals, and, if needed, a calculation method and plan for implementing the surcharge.
LADWP will also examine the possibility of a solar surcharge to support a proposed set aside for solar photovoltaics.
Deaton also said LADWP plans to initiate discussions with neighborhood councils and other community groups, on the RPS policy and potential RPS surcharge ordinance. Any proposed surcharge or surcharges would also be subject to a third-party, independent financial review, according to City Council action.
LADWP is also in discussions with renewable resource providers that made a "short list" of proposals submitted under the RPS request for proposals that was issued on June 30, 2004. The short-listed projects consist of wind, geothermal, landfill gas, biomass, and small hydroelectric power facilities.
As described in the RFP, the Department plans to acquire new renewable energy resources through development and ownership of projects, and through mid- to long-term power purchase agreements.
LADWP expects to meet the RPS goals through multiple projects over the next several years.
Deaton said the goal is to enter into agreements with the renewable energy providers once a renewable surcharge, if needed, is established. LADWP, however, would continue to pursue smaller projects with short-term agreements and minimal financial impact.
LADWP also expects to initiate discussions with neighborhood councils to update the LADWP's 2000 Integrated Resource Plan - a 10-year blueprint for meeting future energy load growth, improving system reliability, maintaining the lowest possible rates, and demonstrating environmental leadership.
Among renewable projects already in the works are the 120-megawatt Pine Tree Wind project and an agreement to purchase 40 megawatts of power annually from a proposed BioConverter green waste digestion facility.
LADWP is administering a $150 million program to install rooftop solar photovoltaic systems throughout Los Angeles.
The department is also modernizing its hydroelectric power plant in San Francisquito Canyon.
The LADWP has increased energy efficiency and decreased emissions in Los Angeles by "repowering" its aging, in-basin natural gas powered generating units with combined cycle generators and state-of-the-art emissions technology, resulting in over 75 percent emissions reductions.
Oregon Enviros Join Coalition Opposing First Off-Reservation CasinoPORTLAND, Oregon, May 25, 2005 (ENS) - A diverse group of 13 small business, environmental, tribal and pro-family organizations has formed a new coalition to oppose Governor Ted Kulongoski's plan to build the state's first and largest Indian casino off reservation lands in the Columbia River Gorge.
The 500,000 square foot casino is planned by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
The coalition believes the move will damage the natural scenic beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, will hurt small businesses and families, and will lead to more casinos in urban areas.
The Coalition for Oregon's Future includes - The Oregon Family Council, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Oregon Restaurant Association, Trout Unlimited, Oregon Center for Environmental Health, Friends of Mt. Hood, McKenzie Guardians, Stronger Families for Oregon, OSPIRG, Oregon Toxics Alliance, Parents Education Association, and WashPIRG.
Last week, the coalition released the findings of a new statewide poll that shows 61 percent of Oregonians are concerned about the expansion of gambling and casinos; 63 percent are opposed to the Gorge casino plan; 57 percent believe Indian casinos should be limited to reservation lands; 71 percent believe approval of a Gorge casino will lead to more casinos off-reservation lands and 63 percent believe the Columbia River Gorge Scenic area should be off limits to any large scale developments.
The Warm Springs Tribe owns land just outside the City of Hood River that qualifies for Indian gaming under federal law. Recognizing the community opposition in the scenic Gorge area, the Tribe proposed to instead build a gaming facility in Cascade Locks, where there is community support for locating the facility on industrial land within the city limits. The Tribe will close its existing Kah-Nee-Ta High Desert Resort & Casino to conform with the one tribe-one casino rule.
The Tribe has agreed to forever relinquish any legal claim to a portion of the Historic Columbia River Highway that runs though the Tribe’s Hood River land, protecting these scenic Hood River lands and recreational resources from development for all Oregonians.
The compact between the Tribe and the State signed in April contains environmental protections for the scenic Gorge area. The Tribe agreed to address any concerns of the State about the design of the gaming facility to ensure it will be aesthetically compatible with the environment of the Gorge.
The Tribe has agreed to incorporate environmentally-friendly green building technologies in the design and construction of the facility and has agreed to pursue the use of renewable energy in connection with this development.
The Tribe agreed also to develop a traffic management plan so that emissions in the Gorge are not substantially increased due to increased traffic.
The compact includes an unprecedented revenue-sharing agreement between the Tribe and the State and requires the creation of two new funds. One fund will be dedicated to environmental protection, economic development and higher education opportunities, and the other which will be dedicated to charitable organizations throughout the state.
Nevertheless, the Coalition for Oregon's Future opposes the casino and has launched a media campaign and website to present its views at: www.nogorgecasino.com. The tribal website is found at: http://www.warmsprings.com/
Post-Biscuit Fire Logging Will Damage Rare Species, Groups WarnPORTLAND, Oregon, May 25, 2005 (ENS) - More than 100 rare species will be harmed by the logging of old growth trees conducted as part of the Biscuit Fire “Recovery Project,” warns a report released Thursday by eight environmental groups. Animals such as the Pacific fisher, Northern spotted owl and white-headed woodpecker cannot survive if too many large, old trees are removed, the report shows.
“Logging thousands of ancient trees in the Siskiyous will have immense impacts on rare and imperiled wildlife,” said Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity and primary author of the report. “Many of the species potentially impacted by the logging are found nowhere else on Earth.”
The Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Siskiyou Project and five other groups documented that the so-called Biscuit Fire “Recovery Project,” would do little to recover the forest and could harm as many as 100 rare and imperiled wildlife species.
Many of the species likely to be harmed by the logging are dependent on the large trees, both dead and alive, found only in old growth forests, including at least 40 animals that the U.S. Forest Service acknowledges occur in the project area.
The logging was scheduled after the giant Biscuit Fire of 2002 torched a forested area of 499,965 acres in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon, most in Siskiyou and Six Rivers National Forests.
The environmental groups maintain that the fire fulfilled a crucial natural role in a wilderness ecosystem and that the burned area will regenerate naturally.
Instead, the U.S. Forest Service is allowing contract logging the area, although much of it was only lightly burned.
“Our decisions are an investment in the land and people,” said Scott Conroy, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor last July when four documents were issued authorizing the logging. “We are investing in growing trees, protecting communities and old growth from wildland fire, and capturing opportunities to provide jobs and wood for America.”
The U.S. Forest Service plans projects to create 300 miles of fuel management zones, reforest 31,000 acres, restore 700 acres of meadows, complete 70 miles of road work including closure, decommissioning, and stabilization, and "remove 370 million board feet of fire-killed wood, which is enough to build 24,000 homes."
Helicopters will be used to minimize impacts and reduce temporary road construction of five miles of roads. No permanent roads will be built.
The the environmental groups say the "Recovery Project" is actually one of the largest timber sales in national forest history. They point out that logging of 370 million board feet is enough to fill a continuous chain of logging trucks from Seattle to Los Angeles.
Most of this logging will occur in Old-Growth Reserves and roadless areas," the groups say. Their report identifies at-risk species using data from the Oregon Natural Heritage Program on the distribution of Oregon’s imperiled species and in the Forest Service’s Biscuit Fire Environmental Impact Statement, in which the agency concluded individuals or the habitat of many species would be negatively impacted.
“We’ve said all along that logging the Biscuit Fire will have serious negative impacts on the environment,” said Jasmine Minbashian, acting director of Cascadia Wildlands Project. “Our report provides further evidence that the costs of logging ancient trees in Old-Growth Reserves and roadless areas are too high to justify allowing a few logging companies to line their pockets.”
“The Siskiyou Wild Rivers area is a sanctuary for salmon, sensitive wildlife and rare wildflowers that need pristine forests to survive,” said Rolf Skar, outreach coordinator for the Siskiyou Project. “The Siskiyous should be protected as a National Conservation Area to prevent reckless logging from robbing future generations of their rich natural heritage.”
View the environmental groups' report at: www.biologicaldiversity.org
Former Oregon Nuclear Plant Site Opened for Unrestricted UseWASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2005 (ENS) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted the request of Portland General Electric (PGE) to terminate its license for the Trojan nuclear power plant, which closed permanently in November 1992. The federal agency has released for "unrestricted use" the area where the plant formerly operated in Columbia County, Oregon, about 42 miles north of Portland.
Spent fuel removed from the reactor during decommissioning is still stored at an independent installation on another portion of the site. The license granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for this spent fuel storage is not affected by this action.
Trojan began commercial operations in May 1976, with a net electrical output rating of 1130 megawatts electric. After PGE decided to cease operation of the reactor permanently, it conducted cleanup and decommissioning activities in accordance with its NRC approved license termination plan from February 2001 to December 2004.
The NRC offered the public an opportunity for a hearing on the plan, but says no request was filed.
Decommissioning activities included dismantling of the reactor and decontamination. The reactor vessel, which contained most of the remaining radioactive material, except for the spent fuel, was removed from the site in 1999.
In December 2004, PGE submitted an application for termination of its license, indicating that it has completed radiological decommissioning and that final radiation surveys of the site show that it meets NRC criteria for decommissioning and release for unrestricted use.
NRC conducted a number of on-site inspections of the licensee’s actions during the decommissioning process to verify that decommissioning and cleanup were being conducted as described in the license termination plan and to evaluate the quality of this activity.
The agency also conducted independent measurements to verify the company’s final radiation surveys. NRC has concluded that dismantlement and decontamination activities were performed in accordance with the approved license termination plan and that the final radiation surveys and associated documentation demonstrate the facility and site have met the NRC's criteria for decommissioning. Therefore, the license has been terminated.
DuPont Offers Royalty Free Emissions Reduction Technology
WILMINGTON, Delaware, May 25, 2005 (ENS) - DuPont, the nation's second biggest chemicals maker, has offered to provide technologies to reduce emissions of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to other companies in the fluoropolymer industry without charging a royalty for use of the techniques.
PFOA is an essential processing aid used to produce fluoropolymer high-performance materials such as the company's trademark non-stick Teflon coating.
Fluoropolymers also are used in architectural fabrics; chemical processing piping and vessels; automotive fuel systems; telecommunications and electronic wiring insulation; and computer chip processing equipment and systems, as well as consumer products such as clothing and Teflon coated cookware.
DuPont, in cooperation with The Fluoropolymer Manufacturers Group (FMG), a part of the Society of the Plastics Industry, has committed to reduce emissions from fluoropolymer manufacturing sites worldwide and also will reduce APFO content in aqueous fluoropolymer dispersions used for coatings applications.
The FMG is made up of the U.S. fluoropolymer producers, including DuPont, Dyneon (3M), Daikin America, and Asahi Glass Chemicals Americas.
"This action will reduce the potential for emissions at processors who use aqueous fluoropolymer dispersions by more than 90 percent," DuPont said. APFO is the form of PFOA used as a fluoropolymer processing aid.
"DuPont is offering our technology as a royalty-free cross license to help ensure the success of the FMG commitment," said David Boothe of DuPont Fluoropolymer Solutions. "Since all still need to use APFO to make fluoropolymers, this program is not designed to replace this essential processing aid. DuPont will instead add a step to our process that removes nearly all APFO from our aqueous dispersions to accomplish the goal," said Boothe. "We expect to announce availability of these next-generation aqueous dispersion products soon."
In addition to source reduction technology for APFO in dispersion, DuPont also is offering royalty-free access to its patents and technology for PFOA emissions abatement, water treatment and recovery for reuse.
DuPont has been fighting legal and public relations battles over releases of PFOA and in February reached a $107.6 million settlement in a West Virginia class action lawsuit aimed at the company for polluting drinking water near its manufacturing plant with PFOA.
DuPont is under investigation by the Justice Department for releases of PFOA. On May 17, 2005, DuPont was served with a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The subpoena, served by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Justice Department, relates to PFOA and its salts, C8, ammonium perfluorooctanoate, and FC-143.
The subpoena calls for the production of documents previously produced to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other documents related to those chemicals.
"Consistent with our core values, DuPont is committed to operate to the highest standards of ethical behavior and environmental responsibility," said Stacey Mobley, senior vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel. "We will be fully responsive to the DOJ in this matter."
On Tuesday, a group called DuPont Shareholders for Fair Value called on the Securities Exchange Commission to investigate whether DuPont is hiding the cost of its PFOA fight.
"DuPont has an obligation to provide investors with a full and honest disclosure about the liabilities associated with PFOA," attorney Sanford Lewis, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement.
Lawmakers Drive Fuel Cell Cars on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2005 (ENS) - More than 30 fuel cell companies displayed their latest developments to members of Congress Tuesday as part of the US Fuel Cell Council Fuel Cell Week in DC. The industry association - representing fuel cell developers, manufacturers, suppliers and customers - fosters the commercialization of fuel cells in the United States.
It was a ride and drive show featuring fuel cell vehicles from DaimlerChrysler, General Motors and Nissan.
The Fuel Cell Council arranged for Georgetown University's fuel cell bus to shuttle people to tour the first functional hydrogen and gasoline filling station in the country on Benning Road.
As a special attraction, the SunLine U.S. Army NAC Peterbilt 385 Class 8 tractor was driven from the West Coast to Capitol Hill to participate in the show.
Hydrogen fuel cells produce power by means of an electrochemical reaction. The only end products are electricity, water, and some heat, so the pollution-free reaction can power vehicles.
The electrochemical reactions of a fuel cell begin when hydrogen enters one side of the fuel cell (the anode), where it is separated into an electron and a hydrogen ion, explains the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
In the case of one type of fuel cell- a proton-exhange membrane, the ions move through a membrane (the cathode) to combine with oxygen on the other side, making water.
Meanwhile, since electrons cannot pass through the membrane, they are forced to take an external route through the cathode, creating an electrical circuit that carries them through the electric motor.
As they pass through the motor, the electrons transfer power from the fuel cell to the motor. The motor, in turn, drives the wheels of the car.
The controlled reaction of hydrogen and oxygen that occurs in a fuel cell is much more efficient than the typical combustion process of a standard vehicle engine. As a result, fuel cell vehicles are expected to be two to three times more efficient than conventional cars and light trucks, the UCS says.
Participating in the Capitol Hill show were a wide variety of companies - 3M, Air Products and Chemicals, Ballard Power Systems, BTI/Fuel Cells 2000, Columbian Chemicals Company, Cooperative Research Network, Delphi Corporation, DuPont Fuel Cells, Entegris, FuelCell Energy, General Electric, Graftech, Hydrogenics Corporation, IdaTech, Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells, Methanol Institute, Millennium Cell, MTI MicroFuel Cells, NexTech Materials, Nuvera Fuel Cells, Plug Power, Proton Energy Systems, ReliOn, Renewable Fuels Association, Siemens Westinghouse, SOFCo - EFS Holdings, Teledyne Energy Systems, UltraCell Corporation, US Navy/USMC Fuel Cell Team, UTC Fuel Cells, and W.L. Gore as well as the U.S. Department of Energy and National Energy Technology Laboratory.
The event enjoyed bi-partisan sponsorship by Senators Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat as well as Representatives Nancy Johnson, a Connecticut Republican and John Larson a Connecticut Democrat.
The US Fuel Cell Council is found online at: www.usfcc.com.