AmeriScan: November 14, 2006

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Energy Department Must Write Higher Appliance Standards

WASHINGTON, DC, November 14, 2006 (ENS) - New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Monday announced an agreement under which the federal Department of Energy, DOE, will set new standards to sharply increase the energy efficiency of many types of domestic appliances, such as home ranges and ovens, air conditioners and dishwashers.

This action settles a federal lawsuit against DOE brought by New York and a coalition of 14 other states, the City of New York and three public interest groups.

"These common sense standards will save consumers money, lower our dependence on foreign oil, and improve public health and our environment," said Spitzer, who is also governor-elect of New York. "I applaud the federal energy department for settling this matter and moving forward with these new standards."

“This agreement is great news for our pocketbooks and for our health because efficiency performance standards are the most successful tool we have to cut energy costs and pollution,” said attorney Katherine Kennedy of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a plaintiff group. “There have been a lot of technological advances over the last decade, and it’s high time that we incorporated them across the board.”

New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said, "New York City residents and businesses pay some of the highest energy prices in the country, and the cost improvements of more efficient appliances will be a benefit to all New Yorkers."

The agreement with DOE will especially benefit low income consumers, said Charles Harak, staff attorney of Boston's National Consumer Law Center, which represented the two groups that joined NRDC in its 2005 lawsuit: the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants and the Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy.

“Low income people too often have to choose between heating their apartments and buying food,” Harak said. “The standards that will be issued under today’s agreement will help relieve this burden by reducing their energy bills.

The lawsuits charged that DOE was as much as 13 years late in meeting congressionally mandated deadlines to update energy efficiency standards for a wide range of products.

The consent decree was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and approved by U.S. District Court Judge John Sprizzo.

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Bush Sued to Force National Climate Assessment

SAN FRANCISCO, California, November 14, 2006 (ENS) - A coalition of conservation groups filed suit today against the Bush administration for not completing a national assessment of the impact of global warming on the environment, economy, human health and human safety of the United States.

The assessment, due in November of 2004, is required by the Global Change Research Act of 1990.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace.

“This administration has denied and suppressed the science of global warming at every turn,” said Julie Teel of the Center for Biological Diversity and one of the attorneys arguing the case.

“The Bush administration was so threatened by the profound revelations of the 2000 assessment that it killed the 2004 update," said Teel. "They know the update will affirm what the world’s leading climate scientists believe: that we need immediate and substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It is a complete head-in-the-sand approach to a looming global catastrophe.”

The last national assessment, "Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change," was issued October 31, 2000.

It found that humans are contributing significantly to global warming and that current global warmth is "unprecedented."

Scientific conclusions within the 2000 assessment predicted a doubling or tripling of heat-related deaths, intensified floods and droughts, and the swamping of coastlines by rising seas and fiercer storms.

Teel says that not only has the administration failed to issue an updated national assessment, but it worked to suppress the findings of the 2000 assessment.

“Unfortunately, the Bush administration has not complied with the law, nor has it been truthful with the American people or the world about the science of global warming,” said Danielle Fugere of Friends of the Earth. “This administration is better known for censoring government climate scientists than for providing accurate information.”

Christopher Miller of Greenpeace said, “The Bush administration’s disastrous business-as-usual approach to climate change is so isolated from the desires of mainstream America and the rest of the world that it cannot continue for long."

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San Francisco First City to Report Greenhouse Gas Emissions

SAN FRANCISCO, California, November 14, 2006 (ENS) - The city of San Francisco has successfully certified its greenhouse gas emissions inventory with the California Climate Action Registry, becoming the first city in the United States to earn the Registry’s distinction of Climate Action Leader.

San Francisco is now publicly and voluntarily reporting its greenhouse gas emissions under this rigorous registry program. Measuring greenhouse gas emissions is a key step in determining how to prioritize climate change work.

San Francisco’s Climate Action Program implements emissions reduction goals the city developed through the Climate Action Plan, MUNI’s Zero Emissions 2020 Plan to develop a clean air plan for public transit, and the Electricity Resource Plan, ERP, to help shut down power plants and substitute energy efficiency and renewables.

The city is also expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy in municipal buildings, using clean fuels for city fleets, exploring tidal power under the Golden Gate Bridge and working with businesses and residents to address their individual contributions to climate change.

“Human activities are building up the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this situation threatens to change the world’s climate, raise sea levels to flood coastal regions like the Bay Area, cause irreparable damage to the environment, and destabilize our economy,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

“The enormity of the danger means it’s time for all cities to take action locally, and not follow Washington in denial,” said the mayor.

The Registry, created by the California Legislature in 2000, is a non-profit public/private partnership that helps companies and organizations throughout the United States to track, publicly report and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Registry has been recognized as the gold standard for public reporting of greenhouse gases.

“The city of San Francisco has shown tremendous leadership and made considerable effort to be the first city in the United States to certify and publicly report their greenhouse gas emissions. San Francisco recognizes the importance of verified emissions data,” said Diane Wittenberg, president of the California Climate Action Registry.

San Francisco's certified greenhouse gas emission report for 2005 is available through the Registry’s website at: www.climateregistry.org/CARROT/Public/.

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California May Probe Teflon Chemical as a Carcinogen

SACRAMENTO, California, November 14, 2006 (ENS) - The Carcinogen Identification Committee, CIC, of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's Science Advisory Board will decide on Thursday whether or not to conduct an expedited review of the carcinogenicity of the Teflon chemical, PFOA.

A review is the next step toward having PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, listed as chemical known to the state to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly called Proposition 65.

If the chemical is listed, companies could be required to place warnings on products that expose consumers to PFOA, sometimes called C8.

The Committee will hear testimony from environmental, labor and consumer groups in support of a February petition for an expedited review of PFOA.

The groups have criticized the Committee and other state experts for taking too long to list chemicals and for taking as many chemicals off the Proposition 65 list as they have put on.

PFOA is used to make Teflon cookware, and is found in stain- and water-repellents applied to carpet, clothing and food packaging such as microwave popcorn.

Dr. Thomas Mack, chair of the CIC, asked to have PFOA placed on the meeting’s agenda because of widespread human exposure and the fact that the majority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board concluded that PFOA should be described as a likely human carcinogen.

At the present time, however, the EPA does not believe there is any reason for consumers to stop using any products because of concerns about PFOA.

PFOA is very persistent in the environment, and it has been found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population. According to the EPA, the chemical causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.

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North Carolina GreenPower Dedicates First Wind Project

CLYDE, North Carolina, November 14, 2006 (ENS) - What began as a contribution to the environment from one North Carolina family has become NC GreenPower's first wind power project serving the state's electric supply with cleaner, renewable energy.

NC GreenPower announced today the addition of a 10 kilowatt (kW) Bergey wind turbine owned by Dr. and Mrs. Louis Mes.

The turbine is located in Clyde, a mountain community southwest of Asheville. The electricity it generates is added to the state's power grid through Haywood Electric Membership Corporation, one of 38 electric utilities offering the NC GreenPower program to customers statewide.

NC GreenPower is the first multi-utility green power program in the nation. It was created to encourage the development of renewable energy resources, such as the sun, wind and organic matter by individuals and businesses.

The Mes family wind project is one of more than two dozen projects across the state supported by NC GreenPower.

Projects range from small scale sites such as home-based solar photovoltaic panels and wind turbines to industrial facilities such as landfill methane gas plants. All renewable energy resources are cleaner to use than coal. But because these resources are newer and not yet produced on a scale comparable to a coal plant, their cost to produce is higher.

"The NC GreenPower program was created to provide economic incentives for the generation of electricity from renewable resources," said Maggy Inman, vice president of NC GreenPower. "That incentive is over and above what the utility pays for the power and is essential to making these projects viable."

The incentives come from voluntary tax-deductible contributions that North Carolina citizens can make through their electric bills. For every $4 contributed to the program, 100 kWh of renewable energy is generated and added to the grid by a supplier located in the state.

The 100 kWh generated from each $4 contribution will supply about one-tenth of an average home's power supply.

A monthly contribution of $4 for one year, $48, will offset the consumption of nearly 1,000 pounds of coal required to generate the same amount of electricity, says NC GreenPower.

The savings in coal also will result in an annual offset of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas released when coal is burned. The offset of carbon dioxide is equal to planting of 190 trees or driving a car 3,000 fewer miles.

All contributions to NC GreenPower are tax deductible and go directly to supporting renewable energy generation in North Carolina. For more information visit: www.ncgreenpower.org.

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Rediscovered Butterfly Will Not Be Federally Listed

WASHINGTON, DC, November 14, 2006 (ENS) - The Island Marble butterfly, a recently rediscovered species thought to have been extirpated from its range in northern Washington state for more than 90 years, will not be added to the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

Following a 12 month status review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said today that the species does not warrant listing at this time.

The Service took this decision, officials said, because threats to the species are not as great as previously thought and the National Park Service, the primary landowner of Island Marble habitat, is implementing actions, outlined in a Conservation Agreement with the Service, to ensure the conservation of the butterfly.

"The Park Service efforts, and actions taken by private landowners, have reduced the threats to the species," said Ren Lohoefener, director of the Service's Pacific Region.

To assess the status and range of the species the Service conducted public outreach and 325 surveys in six northern counties in Washington state, including 16 of the San Juan Islands.

The surveys found 26 distinct Island Marble butterfly locations and discovered at least four new populations on San Juan and Lopez Islands.

The Island Marble butterfly is a non-migratory, highly endemic species that lives its entire life on San Juan and Lopez Islands in Washington State. Adults fly for a short period in the spring, utilizing native and non-native plants of the mustard family. The butterfly inhabits upland grasslands, sand dunes and coastal lagoon habitat.

Lohoefener said he is committed to maintaining the positive momentum of voluntary conservation actions by making Island Marble butterfly conservation a priority for partnerships in the Pacific Region.

The Service made its determination not to list the Island Marble butterfly in response to a petition received in 2002 from the Xerces Society, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the San Juans and the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance requesting emergency listing of the species and designation of critical habitat.

In an earlier 90 day petition finding the Service determined that an emergency listing was not warranted because the species occupied a larger area than was originally known.

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