AmeriScan: November 16, 2006

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Shippers Helped to Calculate, Offset Carbon Emissions

SILVER SPRING, Maryland, November 16, 2006 (ENS) - A new way to offset emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide produced by the shipping industry was launched today by the Maryland nonprofit Carbonfund.org, an advocate of climate change education, carbon offsets and green power.

Carbon dioxide is produced whenever fossil fuels are burned, whether it is the gas that powers the delivery truck or the diesel that fuels the ship that carries goods to their destination.

Designed in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University’s Green Design Institute, the Carbonfree™ Shipping program is based on a proprietary method for determining how much CO2 is produced by each shipment.

A typical package will cost just a few pennies to offset, or neutralize, the climate impact, depending on the weight of the shipment, the method of shipment, and the distance the package will travel, says Carbonfund.org.

The first four companies to participate in the program are BetterWorld.com, Evogear, 3r Living, and alonovo.com.

BetterWorld.com offers almost two million used books for sale online. Evogear's Seattle store stocks skis, snowboards, wakeboards, and lifestyle clothing. 3r Living, a Brooklyn home decor and lifestyle store is dedicated to "future friendly products." alonovo.com provides afree, social values-driven online shopping experience.

"This is a big step forward for the fast-growing carbon offset industry," says Eric Carlson, executive director of Carbonfund.org, a member of the U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership, the Chicago Climate Exchange, and Ceres.

Carlson says the new offset program proves that it is not nearly as expensive to deal with climate change as many people might think.

"This program demonstrates that individuals and companies can have an impact on this global problem, one shipment at a time," he said.

Professor Scott Matthews, project leader for Carnegie Mellon’s Green Design Institute and an expert on the impact of material movement, says the offset program could become popular.

"This methodology could have a very broad effect on the way we address commercially-produced CO2 emissions," he said. "The application we’ve developed for this shipping program is scalable and can easily be modified to meet the needs of other businesses."

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Multi-Million Upgrade for World's Fastest Supercomputer

WASHINGTON, DC, November 16, 2006 (ENS) - The fastest computer in existence will get a $58 million enhancement, the U.S. Department of Energy, DOE, announced Wednesday. The project aims to deliver answers to scientific problems and to safeguard the nation’s nuclear stockpile, officials said.

National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Linton Brooks said, "Supercomputers are crucial to the continued success of the NNSA's science-based efforts to keep the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile safe, secure and reliable without underground testing."

"Computing at these scales will enable predictive simulations that allow researchers to understand how complex physical, chemical and biological systems behave over time. Previously, it was only possible to get brief snapshots on a smaller scale," he said.

The enhanced supercomputer also will be used to reinvigorate nuclear power technologies, the DOE said.

It will be used to model environmental and climate changes, speed genome sequencing, and to deepen understanding of genetic and biological processes.

The work will be performed by scientists at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working with computer and software designers from IBM.

The DOE Office of Science, the NNSA and IBM will share the cost of the five year research and development effort. NNSA and the Office of Science will each contribute $17.5 million and IBM will contribute $23 million.

"Supercomputing is essential to maintaining and extending America’s economic competitiveness," said DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman. "This R&D effort will give us the capability to advance science and business with unprecedented speed, performance and efficiency."

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Colorado Cutthroat Trout Conservation Status Reviewed

SAN FRANCISCO, California, November 16, 2006 (ENS) - The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to provide protection for scores of the world’s most imperiled bird species, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Listing for foreign endangered species restricts buying and selling imperiled wildlife. It can increase conservation funding and attention, and brings a higher level of scrutiny to projects proposed by the U.S. government and multilateral lending agencies such as the World Bank.

The species include the rare Okinawa Woodpecker in Japan and 55 other vanishing birds from around the planet.

Endangered Species Act protection is crucial for the Okinawa woodpecker, Sapheopipo noguchii, due to ongoing destruction of its forest habitat. A small number of woodpeckers remain in undisturbed subtropical forests in the northern mountainous region of the island of Okinawa, Japan.

The primary threat to woodpecker habitat is a joint U.S. and Japanese military proposal to construct additional helicopter training landing areas, including roads and infrastructure.

Also at issue is protection for five of the world’s rarest and most beautiful butterfly species, including the Harris’ Mimic Swallowtail of Brazil, and Kaiser-I-Hind butterfly of Nepal and China.

At least 11 additional bird species not included in the lawsuit have already gone extinct due to long delays in protecting them, according to Peter Galvin, conservation cirector with the Center.

Other bird species in the suit include the Giant Ibis of Laos and Cambodia, the blue-throated macaw of Bolivia, the black stilt of New Zealand, the caerulean paradise-flycatcher of Indonesia, and the slender-billed curlew of Russia, Europe and North Africa.

The lawsuit argues that the Service first determined that protection is warranted under the Endangered Species Act more than 20 years ago for many of these species. Two dozen of the bird species have been waiting for final action since 1984, and 27 have been waiting since 1994.

It has been more than a decade since the USFWS received a petition to list the foreign butterflies.

"The U.S. has a responsibility to help protect these magnificent birds for future generations," says Galvin. "We can limit trade in these vanishing species, and better assist with conservation and recovery efforts if they are listed under the Endangered Species Act."

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Conservation Status of Colorado Cutthroat Trout Reviewed

WASHINGTON, DC, November 16, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it is initiating a status review of the Colorado River cutthroat trout to determine whether the species warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The Service intends to complete this 12 month review by the court ordered due date of June 7, 2007.

The Service is seeking the latest scientific and commercial information on the status of the cutthroat from the public, government agencies, tribes, industry and the scientific and conservation communities.

After gathering and analyzing this information, the Service will determine whether to propose adding the cutthroat to the federal list of threatened and endangered species. Comments will be received until January 8, 2007.

"The Service will evaluate all existing and new information to determine whether threats to the species warrant a listing proposal," said Mitch King, director of the Service's Mountain-Prairie Region. "Information from the public or scientific and commercial communities is invaluable in helping the Service determine the cutthroat's status."

In 1999, the Service received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and others to list the Colorado River cutthroat trout as threatened or endangered in its occupied habitat within its known historical range.

In 2004, the Service determined the petition did not present substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint and the court ordered the Service to conduct a status review for the Colorado River cutthroat trout by June 7, 2007.

The Colorado River cutthroat trout is the only salmonid native to the upper Colorado River basin. It is distinguished by red/orange slash marks on both sides of its lower jaws and relatively large spots concentrated on the posterior part of the body.

The Colorado River cutthroat trout currently occupies portions of the Colorado River drainage in Colorado, southern Wyoming and eastern Utah and may still occur in very limited areas of New Mexico and Arizona.

An informational workshop will be held on December 6, 2006 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and continuing on December 7 from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Holiday Inn, 755 Horizon Drive in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Those interested in presenting at the workshop may request a time slot by sending an e-mail to coloradorivercut@fws.gov. Written comments may be submitted by mail to Colorado River Cutthroat Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 764 Horizon Drive, Building B, Grand Junction, Colorado 81506-3946; or fax to 970-245-6933; or by e-mail to coloradorivercut@fws.gov.

For more information about the Colorado River Cutthroat Trout please visit the Service's web site at: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/endspp/fish/crct.

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Toxics Remain from Pennsylvania Derailment

MEADVILLE, Pennsylvania, November 16, 2006 (ENS) - Norfolk Southern railroad has been granted a permit to excavate contaminated soil that continues to leach sodium hydroxide into Big Fill Hollow, near the village of Gardeau in McKean County, as the result of a 31 car train derailment June 30.

The area is the center of Pennsylvania's Wild lands in the north central portion of the state, renowned for its natural beauty and wildlife.

"This work is designed to get to the root of ongoing contamination of the stream," said state Department of Environmental Protection Northwest Regional Director Kelly Burch.

"Removing the contaminated soil will help to stop sodium hydroxide from seeping into the stream," he said. "This cleanup step also is necessary to ensure the full restoration of the effected waterways and wetlands."

The permit allows Norfolk Southern to temporarily divert 60 feet of the Big Fill Hollow watercourse, excavate and restore 2,500 square feet of the Big Fill floodway, build a temporary clean water ditch through the floodway, and construct groundwater collection devices within the floodway watercourse that are to be removed once the project is completed.

The permit does not authorize wetland disturbance. All disturbed areas must be restored to the original contours and replanted with native, indigenous plant species.

The June 30 spill wiped out fish and aquatic life in Big Fill Run at the accident site and along with nearly an 11 mile segment of Sinnemahoning-Portage Creek.

The effects of the spill were observed as much as 30 miles downstream from the derailment site, with much of the impact in Cameron County.

An unknown amount of the 42,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda or lye, soaked into the ground in and around the derailment site. This residual material must be addressed and cleaned up to ensure a complete recovery of Sinnemahoning-Portage Creek, which is designated as an exceptional value and wild trout stream.

On October 19, DEP announced $8.89 million in penalties against Norfolk Southern for violations of the state’s Clean Streams Law.

On September 22, DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty visited Cameron County and issued an order to Norfolk Southern, setting legally-binding milestones and objectives to ensure the company cleans up the ground contamination and fully restores the area to pre-spill conditions.

McGinty announced an enhanced stakeholder process to involve area residents and businesses in designing regional restoration projects to be funded by civil penalties levied against the company as the result of the spill.

The department has established a website that includes a brief summary and answers to frequently asked questions about the derailment and its aftermath. www.depweb.state.pa.us.

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Obsolete California Dam Demolished

LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST, California, November 16, 2006 (ENS) - Anti-dam environmentalists are declaring victory over an obsolete California dam that was blown up by a state blasting crew last month.

The blast breached the Horse Creek Dam on October 18, restoring access to more than seven miles of upstream habitat for migrating steelhead trout.

Built in 1968, the dam was obsolete just a year later and was causing severe erosion downstream on Horse Creek, a tributary of the Santa Maria-Sisquoc River system.

"This is river restoration with a bang," said Steve Rothert, associate director of dam programs in American Rivers’ California office. "Getting Horse Creek running again turns it from an afterthought into an asset, with benefits upstream and down."

American Rivers provided funding and support for the removal, through a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The explosives that demolished the dam were set by exerts from the California Department of Fish and Game, and U.S. Forest Service firefighters were on hand in case the blast sparked an accidental wildfire.

The video released today by American Rivers shows the nine foot high, 60-foot long dam disappearing in a flash of fire and dust. The video is available online on YouTube.

"This was an amazing cooperative effort, with seamless work by a variety of private non-profits and a whole range of local, state and federal agencies," said Rothert. "Restoring Horse Creek like this gives local communities a real stake and a voice in the health of their river."

Nine feet high and 60 feet long, the Horse Creek Dam was built in 1968 to stop debris from moving downstream after a large wildfire in the upper part of the river drainage. By 1969, the space behind the dam was completely filled with that debris, and it was no longer serving its original purpose.

Reopening the stream will provide restored habitat for the southern steelhead, which is federally listed as an endangered species, together with other aquatic creatures and streamside wildlife.

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