AmeriScan: November 15, 2006

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America's Official Recycling Day

WASHINGTON, DC, November 15, 2006 (ENS) - Events were held across the nation today - America Recycles Day - to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and to encourage Americans to sign personal pledges to recycle and buy recycled products.

America Recycles Day, proclaimed officially by President George W. Bush, brought people together at thousands of events such as the one at the Florida State Capitol.

Exhibits and activities at the Florida event highlighted the principles of recycling, reusing and reducing waste. Participants competed in "Junk Yard Art” and kid’s recycling contests, and enjoyed paper making and recycling bingo. Others delivered hard-bound books, printer and toner cartridges, cell phones, rechargeable batteries and compact discs for recycling.

In addition, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the City of Tallahassee, Leon County and the Florida Department of Management Services provided information and displays for visitors.

"We expect hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country to sign pledges, come to events and rally around the importance of recycling,” said Kate Krebs, executive director of the National Recycling Coalition this morning.

"Many people are already active recyclers and look for recycled products when they shop. But for recycling to really make a difference, we need to involve even more people," she said.

The count of people participating today is not yet tallied, but in 2005, more than 100,000 individuals signed or e-mailed pledges to recycle and buy recycled. Many of these pledges were signed during America Recycles Day events, with more than 1,000 events staged across the country.

In 2005, recycling and composting activities prevented almost 78 million tons of material from ending up in landfills and incinerators, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA.

Today, the United States recycles 32 percent of its waste, a rate that has almost doubled during the past 15 years, the EPA says.

This year’s America Recycles Day campaign continues the theme, It All Comes Back To You. The slogan means that a recycled product can return to consumers as another new product. It also means that recycling comes back to consumers as an improved environment, preservation of resources and economic wellbeing of the country; and also that it is everyone’s responsibility to recycle.

For more information about the National Recycling Coalition, visit www.nrc-recycle.org.

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EPA Greens the Annual Brownfields Conference

BOSTON, Massachusetts, November 15, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has utilized recycling and other green principles at Brownfields 2006, a national conference on redevelopment being held in Boston this week, attended by more than 6,000 people.

The conference is a national forum for professionals involved in redevelopment of properties across the country which are stigmatized, contaminated and/or abandoned. Redevelopment of blighted properties helps keep undeveloped lands in a natural state, the agency says.

Brownfields 2006 will be the greenest conference in the 11 year history of the event, EPA officials say.

Conference organizers promoted electronic registration to reduce paper usage. To reduce duplicate mailings, they used an improved merge/purge system.

Organizers increased the use of post-consumer recycled paper in all conference materials.

They recycled bottles, cans, paper, and more from the kitchen, conference center, and session rooms at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Food waste from conference center facilities is being composted.

The EPA organizers encouraged attendees to use Boston’s extensive public transit system or hybrid taxi service, and they offered conference hotels with environmentally-friendly operations.

They required buses used for the conference to comply with Massachusetts’s anti-idling regulations

Educational sessions and a special workshop focused on green building are offered, and exhibitors have been encouraged to use environmentally friendly booths.

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New Volcano Alert-Level System Adopted

WASHINGTON, DC, November 15, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Geological Survey, USGS, is adopting a common system nationwide for characterizing the level of unrest and eruptive activity at volcanoes.

The new volcano alert-level system will replace three separate systems currently being used in the United States.

Under the new system, the USGS will rank the level of activity at a U.S. volcano using the terms:

These levels reflect conditions at a volcano and the expected or ongoing hazardous volcanic phenomena. When an alert level is assigned by an observatory, accompanying text will give a fuller explanation of the observed phenomena and clarify hazard implications to affected groups.

The United States is one of the most volcanically rich countries in the world, with 169 active and dormant volcanoes.

Since 1980, 45 eruptions and 15 cases of notable volcanic unrest have occurred at 33 U.S. volcanoes.

In 2005, the USGS released the first ever comprehensive and systematic review of the volcanoes. The report established the framework for the National Volcano Early Warning System, which ranks the most dangerous volcanoes in the U.S. and discusses monitoring gaps at each volcano.

Of the 55 volcanoes that pose the biggest threat to the United States, approximately half are "significantly under monitored," the USGS says.

Alaska, California, Washington state, Oregon, Hawaii, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas have dangerous volcanoes with either significant monitoring gaps or no monitoring in place.

To help keep communities safe, it is essential to monitor hazardous volcanoes so that the public knows when unrest begins hazards can be expected, the federal agency says.

The USGS is responsible for issuing timely warnings of potential volcanic disasters, but warnings can only be available if volcanoes are adequately monitored with instrument networks in place before unrest develops.

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New York Expands Open Space Plan to Include Coasts

ALBANY, New York, November 15, 2006 (ENS) - Governor George Pataki today released the 2006 New York State Open Space Conservation Plan, which provides an outline for protecting environmentally sensitive lands and waters throughout the State.

For the first time, the 2006 Plan includes the state’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

"Over the past 12 years, New York State has made significant progress in protecting open space, which has helped to enhance the quality of life for our citizens,” Governor Pataki said. "The Open Space Conservation Plan has been an important tool to guide these efforts and identify critical objectives and priorities."

The first State Open Space Conservation Plan was adopted in 1992, and updated versions were released in 1995, 1998, 2002, and 2006.

The plan sets the framework to protect some of the most environmentally important lands and waters in the State, and has been instrumental in efforts to expand public parklands, preserve working landscapes for forestry and farming, and create new opportunities for recreation.

Since 1995, New York State has invested more than $16.5 billion to protect and preserve New York’s environment, including more than 975,000 acres of open space statewide.

Under state law, New York’s Open Space Conservation Plan is updated by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, with the assistance of nine regional advisory committees jointly appointed by the state and county governments.

The Department of State also contributes to the plan as part of its implementation of the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

Authorizing this new priority project category will enable the state to acquire lands adjacent to, or in holdings within, existing state forests, unique areas and wildlife management areas.

Implementing a stream buffer easement program as part of the statewide Small Projects category willprovide for maintenance of stream buffers to protect water quality and wildlife habitat.

The updated plan incorporates the state’s new Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy into its land acquisition and conservation strategies.

The plan implements the Erie Canal, Niagara Greenway and Empire State Greenway initiatives outlined by Governor Pataki to encourage the comprehensive development of greenways across New York.

It protects long distance trail corridors and expands the existing Catskill Mountain Forest Legacy area to include the Shawangunk Ridge and creates a new Forest Legacy Area in the Finger Lakes region. The legacy status allows these areas to compete for funding from the United States Forest Service’s Forest Legacy program to conserve forest resources.

Click here to read the 2006 New York State Open Space Conservation Plan.

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Lower Snake Dam Removal Could Save Taxpayers Billions

SEATTLE, Washington, November 15, 2006 (ENS) - Removing four dams on the lower Snake River in Washington state will save U.S. taxpayers and Northwest electricity consumers billions of dollars, finds a study released today by a coalition of taxpayer, business and conservation groups.

Entitled "Revenue Stream," the study examines the economic impact of dam removal and salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to taxpayer savings of up to $5 billion, the study finds that increased tourism, new outdoor recreation, and improved sport and commercial fishing opportunities could generate more than $20 billion in revenue for the region.

"The bottom line is clear,” said David Jenkins, government affairs director for Republicans for Environmental Protection. "The financial cost of maintaining and operating these dams far outweighs their benefits. It will be cheaper for taxpayers and better for utility ratepayers to remove these dams and replace their current benefits than to continue funding the status quo.”

"This report makes it clear that dam removal is a cost-effective option to restore the nation's Columbia and Snake River salmon and must be considered,” said Steve Ellis, vice president for programs at Taxpayers for Common Sense.

This year, Snake River spring/summer chinook salmon, one of four Snake River salmon and steelhead populations listed under the Endangered Species Act, returned at levels as low as when they were listed as endangered in 1992, and only three Snake River sockeye returned to Redfish Lake in Idaho.

Two decades of failed federal salmon recovery efforts have already cost taxpayers and Northwest utility ratepayers nearly $7 billion, the coalition says.

The report estimates that it will cost taxpayers another $9 billion just to keep these four outdated dams operating for the next decade.

"Electric ratepayers keep paying and paying for measures that can’t possibly restore threatened and endangered Columbia Basin fish or help those living, working and doing business in salmon-dependent communities,” said Sara Patton, executive director of NW Energy Coalition, a regional clean-energy and consumer-protection alliance.

Removal of the four dams and subsequent recovery of Snake River salmon populations would be lucrative for fishing and outdoor recreation industries in the West.

Representing a nearly five-fold increase in commercial fishing, sport fishing and recreational opportunities in the Columbia Basin and five Pacific states California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska revenues could reach $20 billion over the next two decades, the report suggests.

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Los Angeles Averts Owens Lake Dust Control Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES, California, November 15, 2006 (ENS) - The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, LADWP, and the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District have announced a plan to further reduce dust blowing off the dry Owens Lake by expanding the dust control area and using new methods that will save water and costs for the city of Los Angeles.

The proposed settlement agreement, which is the result of an intensive five month mediation process between city and district staffs, will result in the dismissal of the city’s lawsuit against the district.

It resolves pending litigation over Great Basin’s determination to expand the portion of the lake requiring dust control, and calls for the agencies to work cooperatively to bring the Owens Lake area into compliance with the federal Clean Air Act standard for fine dust particles, known as PM10.

Windblown dust from the dry Owens Lake bed has exceeded the Clean Air Act standard and is one of the most significant sources of air pollution in the southwestern United States.

The agreement between the two agencies, which requires approval of both governing boards, "is the culmination of intensive but amicable mediation process and signals a new era of cooperation between LADWP and Great Basin,” said H. David Nahai, president of the LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners.

Under the terms of the negotiated settlement, LADWP will construct dust control measures on an additional 12.7 square miles of the dry Owens Lake bed by April 2010, at an estimated cost of $105 million.

LADWP is on target to complete dust control measures on 29.8 square miles of the lake bed by December 31, 2006, as required by a 2003 State Implementation Plan. Upon completion of the new project, LADWP will have constructed 43 square miles of dust controls on the lake bed.

The agreement allows LADWP to use a new mitigation method called "moat and row” to prevent windblown soil erosion.

This new technology will control the wind blown dust without using any water, avoiding the cost of replacing that water supply for Los Angeles as well as the cost of losing hydroelectric power generation due to reduced flows through the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

The moat and row method works by building rows of berms flanked by ditches to create moats. The moats are designed to capture moving soil particles, while rows will physically shelter the lake bed from the wind. A demonstration project is planned.

The Board of Water and Power Commissioners is scheduled to meet November 27 in Los Angeles, and the Great Basin Board will meet in Independence on December 4 to consider approval of the proposed settlement agreement.

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