AmeriScan: October 19, 2004

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Heinz Kerry Highlights Environment in New Hampshire

RYE, New Hampshire, October 19, 2004 (ENS) - Teresa Heinz Kerry shared her environmental viewpoint with about 100 people at the Seacoast Science Center in coastal New Hampshire on Monday. The wife of Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for President, was introduced by former Governor Jeanne Shaheen, Kerry's national campaign chairwoman.

Heinz Kerry was down to earth with her environmental advice. "I look at the problems facing us, the environment, kids - thatís a conversation ready to be had," the "Union Leader" newspaper quoted her as saying. "I donít think thereís anything we have to fix that we cannot fix, except the atmosphere."

She called President George W. Bush's decision not to send the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification "a huge diplomatic blunder." The international agreement to limit the emission of greenhouse gases by industrialized countries has been ratified by Europe, Canada and Japan, and Russian ratification in the near future will bring it into force.

Heinz Kerry spoke about creating green buildings, about acid rain, and about mercury and chemical pollutants like the gasoline oxygenate MTBE.

A former Republican, she spoke of a time when Republicans and Democrats "worked across the aisle" on issues, including the environment.

"Now everything keeps getting rolled back, back and back," Heinz Kerry said. "The world cannot take it, the planet cannot take it."

When she is not campaigning for her husband's election to the White House, Heinz Kerry serves as vice chair for the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, founded in 1995 in honor of her first husband, Senator H. John Heinz III. She also chairs the Heinz Family Philanthropies. and is a longtime board member of the nongovernmental organization Environmental Defense.

The Center for Science, Economics and the Environment fosters collaboration among industry, environmental organizations, academia, and all levels of government. It issues reports on environmental topics such as dam removal, acceptable limits to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, coastal zone management and the state of the nationís ecosystems.

She has endowed a professorship in environmental management at the Harvard Business School and a chair in environmental policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

In 1996 she created the John Heinz Environmental Fellows Program for the United Negro College Fund.

In addition, she has established the Teresa Heinz Scholars for Environmental Research - annual awards to provide support for individuals writing doctoral dissertations or a master's thesis, or for project enhancement, for research and solutions on emerging environmental issues.

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Legislators Object to Oil Drilling in Petroleum Reserve

WASHINGTON, DC, October 19, 2004 (ENS) - Twenty members of Congress sent a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton on Friday, expressing concern over oil and gas development proposed for environmentally sensitive areas of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

In June, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Northeast Planning Area, proposing to make an additional 387,000 acres of land available for oil and gas leasing.

The letter, sponsored by Representative Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, stresses the signers' belief that "the BLM has failed to protect many of the Reserve's biological resources in its development plan."

The legislators' letter states that the BLM released an unbalanced plan for the northeast planning area and suggests a preferred alternative that "wrongly assumes that no cumulative impacts would result from prolonged oil and gas development in the Reserve."

The BLM received over 215,000 public comments opposing the preferred alternative and instead supporting the No Action Alternative. Organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the Pacific Flyway Council, and a group of 200 individual ornithologists and wildlife scientists also support taking no action.

Since the original plan was completed in 1998, the BLM says, the agency has awarded leases on about 1.4 million acres in the Northeast corner of the reserve and industry has drilled 13 exploratory wells.

BLM geologists and petroleum experts believe that "areas currently off-limits for exploration in the Reserve may contain more than two billion barrels of technically-recoverable petroleum. Many of these lands, near Teshekpuk Lake, are located within an area where substantial populations of caribou, raptors, and waterfowl occur," the agency said.

The letter to Norton says that the BLM preferred alternative does not provide adequate protections for sensitive lands, particularly the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area. The BLM preferred plan removes about 75 percent of the current protections to the Teshekpuk Lake area, the lawmakers point out.

"The BLM's preferred alternative is exactly what one would expect from the current administration. It fails to strike any balance, instead it turns over highly valuable ecosystems to the oil and gas industry and removes existing protections in the process," said Natalie Brandon of the Alaska Wilderness League.

BLM Alaska State Director Henri Bisson says, "The energy resources of the National Petroleum Reserve Ė Alaska are essential to meeting our nationís energy demands. The National Petroleum Reserve is estimated to contain 5.9 billion to 13.2 billion barrels of oil. These resources will enhance domestic energy production and decrease dependence on foreign oil sources."

The Department of Interior has yet to announce its final decision in regard to the Northeast planning area of the Reserve.

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200 Campuses Take Part in Energy Independence Day

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, October 19, 2004 (ENS) - Today has been declared Energy Independence Day by cities, tribes and by young voters.

Organized by Energy Action, students on over 200 campuses across the United States and Canada will host rallies, gather signatures, and make phone calls to President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry. They are calling on the presidential candidates to lay out a plan for a complete transition away from polluting energy sources such as fossil fuels, nuclear power, and incineration.

Their "Declaration of Independence from Dirty Energy" calls for a strong commitment to energy efficiency and clean technologies such as wind and solar. The Declaration is expected to gain over 50,000 signatures on this day.

"Young voters are making the connections between U.S. reliance on dirty energy and the issues we care about most, including war, job loss, and global warming," said Billy Parish, coordinator of Energy Action. "Our energy policy is dangerously misguided. A rapid shift to clean energy must be a priority in this election."

Students and workers in Seattle are holding a rally for clean energy and good jobs. "Politicians take note - we are not apathetic. We are informed and we are mobilizing in massive numbers to the polls on November 2nd," said Crystal Leaver of Envirocitizen. "Dependence on dirty energy is a critical issue for young voters because our generation will be the ones forced to clean up the mess from fossil fuels and nuclear energy."

Students in Pennsylvania are presenting "The Declaration of Independence from Dirty Energy" at the Liberty Bell dressed in Colonial costumes. "In 1776, the Forefathers of America came together to declare independence from Britain. 218 years later, we need modern day politicians to show similar courage, and to lead our country away from its dangerous addiction to dirty energy," says Kim Teplitzky, an organizer of the Philadelphia event.

"Our generation has grown up with constant promises that new technologies will replace oil, coal, and nuclear. We are tired of billions of tax dollars going toward research for outdated technologies. Now is the time for bold leadership." said Josh Lynch, student organizer for Greenpeace.

For a complete list of actions and information about Energy Action, see www.energyaction.net.

As part of the Energy Independence Day Campaign more than 150 U.S. Cities for Climate Protection have voluntarily pledged to reduce carbon emissions through conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Native tribes are a strong component of the Energy Independence Day Campaign. The Intertribal Council On Utility Policy (COUP) is composed of federally recognized Indian tribes in the Dakotas and Nebraska, with affiliates throughout the West. COUP provides a unique tribal forum on energy policy based on tribal self-determination and ecological sustainability.

"The world's richest wind energy regime blows through the heart of Native American Reservations in the Northern Great Plains," COUP says. The council's Environmental Justice Wind Project envisions 3,000 megawatts of tribally owned windpower being built on two dozen Indian reservations across the Great Plains by 2010.

"The Energy Independence Day Campaign seeks to hasten the day when America is energy secure and independent with the production of clean, emission free renewable energy. This joint campaign promotes tribally-owned clean energy projects to help meet the emission reduction goals of U.S. cities," said Susan Ode, outreach director for ICLEI Ė Local Governments for Sustainability, which leads the U.S. Cities for Climate Protection program.

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Nevada's Union Workers, Contractors Sharpen Solar Skills

LAS VEGAS, Nevada, October 19, 2004 (ENS) - One of the sunniest states in the USA is getting ready to generate plenty of solar power. Monday Nevada Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat, presented a $250,000 check to a joint union-contractors organization to help the state's workers learn to install solar power cells on new and existing buildings.

Reid will present the Nevada State AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers/National Electrical Contractors Association Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee with the check to fund their Nevada Photovoltaic Systems Training Project.

The project, which promotes renewable energy, will use these funds to train skilled craftsmen to safely and effectively install photovoltaic cells.

Nevada is gearing up to meet the country's most aggressive renewable portfolio standard. Signed into law in June 2001 by Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn, a Republican, the law requires that 15 percent of all electricity generated in Nevada be derived from new renewables by the year 2013.

The new law phases in the renewable energy commitment so that there were five percent of new renewables in the year 2003, there is supposed to be seven percent power generation from new renewables in 2005, nine percent in 2007, 11 percent in 2009, 13 percent in 2011, and then 15 percent in 2013.

The law allows the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to develop a trading mechanism for renewable energy credits for the state's utilities.

The Nevada AFL-CIO estimates that approximately 27,000 jobs would be created in the field by 2013 with 15 percent renewable generation representing almost 1,600 megawatts of installed capacity.

Bob Boehm director of the Center for Energy Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas says Nevada could power the entire country with the Sun's energy. "Covering a barren spot of land just 100 miles in diameter with solar power generators," he told the campus magazine, "would free the United States from reliance on oil imports for electricity generation."

The vision of Nevada as a renewable energy center is shared by Senator Reid. "No state has more potential than Nevada to harness the brilliance of the sun, the strength of the wind, and the heat of the earth to provide clean, renewable energy for our nation," Reid says.

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Wanted: 50,000 Sisters of Women with Breast Cancer

WASHINGTON, DC, October 19, 2004 (ENS) - A new study that will investigate the environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer is seeking 50,000 sisters of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to volunteer as participants in the research.

The Sister Study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, will investigate environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer. The Sister Study is the largest study of its kind to look at breast cancer risk factors.

Dale Sandler, Ph.D., Chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS and principal investigator of the Sister Study said, "By studying sisters, who share the same genes, often had similar experiences and environments, and are at twice the risk of developing breast cancer, we have a better chance of learning what causes this disease. That is why joining the Sister Study is so important."

Women of all backgrounds and ethnic groups are eligible for the study if they are between the ages of 35 and 74; live in the United States; have never had breast cancer themselves; and have a sister - living or deceased - who has had breast cancer.

To recruit a diverse group of volunteers and to ensure the results benefit all women, researchers are especially encouraging African-American, Latina, Native American, and Asian women, as well as women 60 and older to join the Sister Study.

At the beginning, volunteers will complete several questionnaires and provide a sample of their blood, urine, toenails, and household dust. "With that, we'll be able to look at how genes, activities of daily life, and exposure to different things in our environment are related to breast cancer risk," Sandler explained.

"We've made the process as easy and as convenient as possible, so we will come to you," she added. The landmark study will stay in touch with the volunteers for 10 years and compare those who develop breast cancer with the majority who do not.

While past studies have largely focused on hormones, reproductive health, and lifestyle, the Sister Study will take the most detailed look ever at how women's genes, and things women come in contact with at home, at work, and in the community may influence breast cancer risk. Researches will study a range of environmental exposures, from personal care and household products, to workplace and other common exposures.

"Genes are important, but they don't explain it all," said Dr. Sandler. "The truth is that only half of breast cancer cases can be attributed to known factors."

The Sister Study opened in pilot states, including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia, earlier in 2004 but is now open for nationwide enrollment.

Find out more online at: http://www.sisterstudy.org/English/index1.htm

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World Trade Center Dust Survey Planned for Lower Manhattan

NEW YORK, New York, October 19, 2004 (ENS) - A panel of technical experts is floating a draft proposed sampling program to determine the extent of impacts to the indoor environment of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In March 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) convened the World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel to guide and assist the agency in its use of exposure and health surveillance databases and registries to characterize any remaining exposures and risks. The panel is to identify unmet public health needs, and recommend steps to further minimize the risks associated with the aftermath of the WTC attack.

The panel's proposed sampling program, released on Friday, details plans to monitor for the presence of World Trade Center (WTC) dust in indoor environments and determine the geographic extent of environmental impact from the collapse of the towers.

Owners of private buildings, offices or apartments who wish to register for the assessment would do so voluntarily, the panel proposes.

A primary objective of this study will be to determine the geographic extent of WTC dust, and plans call for sampling beyond Canal Street to as far north as Houston Street in lower Manhattan.

The indoor sampling program will provide data that will be the basis for decision-making on whether to extend the area for sampling to determine the extent and magnitude of WTC dust presence.

This information is also key to determining what further cleaning activities in lower Manhattan might be appropriate.

Contaminants of potential concern to be measured include asbestos, silica, manufactured vitreous fibers, polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and lead.

It is important to note, the panel said, that dioxin has also been identified as a contaminant of potential concern, but it is not on the list to be measured. "Like lead," said the panel, "dioxin is a ubiquitous urban contaminant, so attributing dioxin findings to WTC is difficult. However, unlike lead, dioxin dust sampling during EPAís Indoor Air Cleanup program in 2002 found very little dioxin in apartments in the cleanup zone."

One goal for the sampling program is to validate a method to identify a signature for WTC dust and/or combustion products. Scientists at Rutgers University, the EPAís Office of Research and Development, and the University of North Carolina are working to develop fire emissions signatures.

The panel was charged, in part, with reviewing data from post-cleaning verification sampling to be done by the EPA in the residential areas included in EPA's 2002 Indoor Air Cleanup and to verify that recontamination has not occurred from central heating and air conditioning systems.

In this sampling program, the method for determining concentrations of contaminants will be by wiping hard surfaces or vacuuming porous surfaces for settled dust.

A cleanup will be offered the owner or occupants where contaminants exceed benchmarks in exposure samples from rugs or countertops - in contrast to inaccessible area samples behind refrigerators or on top of bookshelves which will be taken and analyzed primarily to evaluate geographic extent, the panel said.

Following a cleanup, the units or buildings will be resampled for the contaminants that exceeded the benchmarks to ensure that the cleanup brought levels to below benchmarks.

Final decisions on these post-survey activities will made by the EPA in consultation with the WTC Expert Technical Review Panel and the Community-Based Participatory Research planning group.

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New Jersey Bans Non-Native Plants on State Land

TRENTON, New Jersey, October 19, 2004 (ENS) - New Jersey is prohibiting the planting of non-native species on state lands, and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued an advisory list of 20 tree species, 40 shrub species, 15 vine species, 66 herb species, and 16 grass and sedge species that are no longer welcome on public lands in New Jersey.

The list contains just a fraction of the more than 1,200 nonindigenous plants in New Jersey that have been introduced, accidentally or intentionally, mostly from Europe and Asia. Because these tend to have few natural predators or parasites on this continent, they are aggressive competitors for space and nutrients in New Jersey's natural areas.

The new policy is intended to reduce the spread of these invasive species that choke out New Jersey's natural plants and threaten wetlands and waterways, said DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell, announcing the directive on Thursday.

"State agencies need to lead by example and stop planting invasive species on lands that we manage," said Campbell. "This is a small, but important step in our long-term struggle to address this significant threat to New Jersey's rich natural heritage."

Invasive species also threaten New Jersey's agricultural resources through lost production and marketability for agricultural products.

Campbell is ordering DEP employees, consultants and contractors not to use invasive, nonindigenous plant species in planning and implementing plantings, landscaping and land management activities such as habitat restoration and reforestation on state lands and waters.

In July 2003, the Final Report of the New Jersey Comparative Risk Project identified invasive species, including plants, insects and other organisms, as one of the top four environmental problems facing New Jersey.

Some of these species cause harm by contributing to species extinctions, altering the structure of natural plant communities, disrupting ecosystem functions, and degrading recreational opportunities.

Harmful invasive plants are spoiling open spaces such as Island Beach State Park, Rancocas State Park, and the Black River Natural Area, said Campbell.

Invasive species often form dense stands or thickets that crowd out native vegetation. Harmful invasive species not only threaten plant biodiversity but also affect wildlife that depend on the displaced native species for food.

Invasive species are now recognized as a threat to the health of biodiversity throughout the nation and the resulting ecological damage is costing millions of dollars in economic losses each year.

Earlier this year, Governor James McGreevey signed an executive order forming an Invasive Species Council charged with submitting an Invasive Species Management Plan for the state in 2005.

A report entitled An Overview of Nonindigenous Plant Species in New Jersey is available on the DEP's website at http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/natural/heritage/InvasiveReport.pdf.

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Applications Open for EPA Research Fellowships

WASHINGTON, DC, October 19, 2004 (ENS) - Students pursuing degrees in environmental studies may now apply for research fellowships awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Awards are announced in two programs - the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) graduate fellowship program and the Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) fellowship program.

For both the STAR and GRO graduate fellowships, master's level students may receive support for a maximum of two years. Doctoral students may be supported for a maximum of three years with funding available, under certain circumstances, over a period of four years. The fellowship program provides up to $37,000 per year of support.

For the GRO undergraduate fellowship, eligible students will receive support for their junior and senior years of undergraduate study and support for an internship at an EPA facility during the summer between their junior and senior years. The fellowship provides up to $17,000 per year of academic support and up to $7,500 of internship support for a three month summer period.

The EPA is now accepting applications from students for 2005 STAR and GRO fellowships. The deadline for preliminary applications is November 23, 2004.

This week the EPA announced that 156 research fellowships have been awarded to students pursuing degrees in environmental studies for the 2004 fellowship year. Research Fellows selected represent 95 universities in 40 states.

Projects undertaken by previous fellows have included genetic approaches to biodiversity, environmental toxicology and research on watersheds and the impact of human behavior on the environment.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or be lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Application information can be found on the Internet at: http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/.

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