AmeriScan: October 31, 2006

* * *

Asia-Pacific Partnership Countries Plan Clean Energy Projects

COLUMBUS, Ohio, October 31, 2006 (ENS) - The United States and its five partner countries in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate have endorsed 98 projects for meeting energy and environmental goals, U.S. officials announced today.

At an international gathering in Ohio of 100 power industry executives and engineers from partner countries, Paula Dobriansky, U.S. under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, said the projects represent a first step in creating investment opportunities, building local capacity and removing barriers to clean energy technologies.

Also at the meeting, Assistant Energy Secretary Jeffrey Jarrett discussed the Energy Department's decision to fund $450 million over 10 years to support U.S. tests of carbon sequestration technologies.

Carbon sequestration is a carbon dioxide, CO2, capture and storage process that can help take excess, human generated greenhouse gas CO2 – a driver of climate change – out of the atmosphere. The tests will determine if the large-scale CO2 capture and long-term storage can be done safely and economically.

The Asia-Pacific Partnership is a public-private initiative involving six partner nations – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States – and private-sector partners to meet goals for energy security, air pollution reduction and climate change in ways that promote sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

"For the United States," Dobriansky said, "the Asia-Pacific Partnership represents a new level of engagement with key countries on the fundamentally important issues of energy and environment."

"Today, in Columbus, Ohio," Dobriansky said, "we are meeting with American Electric Power and close to 100 power plant executives and engineers from the six partners to address methods to improve efficiency of coal-fired generation plants and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution."

The weeklong meeting, organized and hosted by American Electric Power, AEP, will focus on ways to improve the efficiency of coal-fired generation and activities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and air pollutants.

Michael Morris, AEP’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, "India and China, two developing and rapidly industrializing nations, have a growing need for energy and have been adding new coal-fired generating capacity at an incredible pace that far exceeds capacity needs in many other countries. But they also recognize the importance of reducing emissions to protect the environment and improve the quality of life for their citizens."

Participants will visit power plants to see how technological improvements have been implemented in the United States to increase efficiency and reduce emissions.

The 98 projects span the most energy-intensive sectors of each partner’s economy – power generation, steel, cement, aluminum, mining and buildings and appliances.

The projects focus on sharing best practices; identifying legal, regulatory and market barriers; and contributing to research and development and demonstration programs.

The partners will promote ways to make power plants run more efficiently; identify opportunities for reducing non-CO2 gas emissions in aluminum production processes; advance deployment of solar power, hydro and other renewable technologies; reduce air emissions from coal mining and cement production; and build greener buildings and appliances.

The Asia-Pacific Partnership was launched at a ministerial meeting in Sydney, Australia in January. Partners agreed to a multi-sector work program through eight public-private task forces covering major energy-intensive sectors in Partner economies. In April in Berkeley, California, task forces met to begin developing action plans for these sectors. The partners endorsed plans containing the 98 individual projects and activities in Jeju, South Korea, on October 13.

Together, the Asia-Pacific Partnership nations account for about half of the world’s economy, population, energy use and CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels.

The Bush administration has proposed $52 million in funding to support the work of the Partnership as part of the President’s Fiscal Year 2007 Budget.

* * *

Killer California Wildfire Contained

RIVERSIDE, California, October 31, 2006 (ENS) - The deadly Esperanza wildfire that claimed the lives of four firefighters last week is now considered 100 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The blaze took a fifth life tonight. Firefighter, Pablo Cerda, 23 of Fountain Valley, California, burned over 90 percent of his body in the flames that killed his four companions, was taken off life support and died at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.

The five men were caught by the wind-driven blaze October 26 as they were attempting to protect a house.

A total of 40,200 acres were burned to the south of Cabazon and Banning, California since the fire started shortly after 1 am on October 26. In total, 34 homes and 20 outbuildings were destroyed.

At its peak 1,841 firefighters were battling the wildfire, which cost $9.9 million to fight.

A spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported there are still some hot spots on the north facing slopes, but all evacuations have been lifted. Highway 243, which had been closed for most of the week, has been re-opened.

A multi-agency task force, including federal agents, is investigating the cause of the fire which has been categorized as a case of arson. On Monday, Riverside County sheriffs interviewed two young men about the cause of the fire, but no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed.

The San Bernardino National Forest has been working closely with the families of the fallen firefighters to help arrange private funerals for Mark Loutzenhiser, Jess McLean, Jason McKay, and Daniel Hoover-Najera.

A public memorial service honoring the firefighters is also planned for Sunday, November 5, 2006 at 1:00 pm at the Hyundai Pavilion, Glen Helen Park, 2575 Glen Helen Parkway, Devore, California.

* * *

Nine Utilities Join EPA in Responsible Appliance Disposal

WASHINGTON, DC, October 31, 2006 (ENS) - Each year Americans dispose of some 13 million older refrigerators and freezers, many of which contain chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs, that deplete the ozone layer and contribute to climate change.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and nine utilities today launched a Responsible Appliance Disposal program to promote environmentally sound disposal of these household appliances, which the agency says will reduce emissions as well as save consumers money.

"Promoting the responsible use of products that emit ozone depleting and greenhouse gases makes business sense and protects the environment," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "We have the ability to make a difference by properly disposing of everyday household appliances."

Refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1995 contain chlorofluorocarbons, which deplete the ozone layer. In addition, about 23 million U.S. households have secondary units in their basements or garages, which are often older, less efficient models that may consume three to four times more energy than newer units.

The new partnership will help utility companies encourage the retirement and proper disposal of these older units while ensuring that CFCs, both in the insulation foam and in the refrigerant, are captured and destroyed or recycled.

The new partners are Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, PacifiCorp, Nevada Power/Sierra Pacific Power, the Snohomish Public Utility District, Fort Collins Utilities, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Austin Energy, and San Diego Gas and Electric.

Program partners will provide the EPA with data on the quantity of CFCs recovered and destroyed or recycled. The program also will promote the recovery and proper disposal of PCBs, mercury, and used oil contained in the appliances.

Older household refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers consume three to four times more energy than newer units. These older appliances rely on refrigerants and foam blowing agents used in the insulation foam within the cabinet walls that deplete the ozone layer and contribute to global climate change if emitted to the atmosphere.

Newer refrigerators and freezers contain different refrigerants and foam blowing agents that are less harmful to the ozone layer, but are still potent greenhouse gases.

Federal law requires that when handling of household appliances at the end of their useful lives all refrigerant be recovered prior to dismantling or disposal and mercury, used oil, and PCBs be properly managed and stored.

To date, the EPA says, more than 45 utilities have implemented appliance disposal programs across the country, 15 of which are still ongoing. These programs target the removal and safe disposal of old, inefficient refrigerators and freezers by offering appliance owners a financial incentive of about $35 for the collection of their old units, and/or by providing rebates toward the purchase of a new unit that has earned the federal Energy Star label for superior efficiency.

* * *

Massachusetts Selects Ten Nonpoint Source Pollution Projects

BOSTON, Massachusetts, October 31, 2006 (ENS) - Ten projects worth nearly $1.6 million in funding have been recommended as part of the federal fiscal year 2007 Section 319 Nonpoint Source Competitive Grant Program.

"Eliminating nonpoint source pollution represents one of our greatest challenges to water quality improvements," said Massachusetts Environmental Affairs Secretary Robert W. Golledge, Jr. "These grants are part of the Romney-Healey Administration's comprehensive efforts to preserve the unique character of our communities, and to make sure Massachusetts remains the kind of place where people want to live, work, raise families and visit."

"It is critical for the health of our lakes and streams to eliminate pollution from nonpoint sources," said Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Acting Commissioner Arleen O'Donnell. "These funds will assist municipalities and stakeholder groups to implement projects that will directly benefit drinking water sources, aquatic recreational areas and the fish stocks which live in these waterways."

The projects will help to protect Massachusetts' water resources by restoring and preserving watershed areas, constructing stormwater treatment systems, demonstrating innovative technologies, and educating the public on how to protect sensitive natural resources.

Recipients include municipalities, planning commissions, and watershed and conservation groups.

The projects approved are located in the communities of North Reading, Bedford, Barnstable, Scituate, Sutton and Douglas, Ludlow, Pittsfield, and two projects connected to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The 319 grant program focuses on implementation of measures to control nonpoint sources of water pollution. Nonpoint source pollution is caused by diffuse sources that are not regulated and are normally associated with precipitation and runoff from the land or infiltration into the soil.

Common types of nonpoint source pollution include phosphorus and nitrogen from lawn and garden fertilizers, bacteria from pet waste and waterfowl, oil and grease from parking lots, and sediment from construction activities and soil erosion.

Each of the funded projects was reviewed and approved by MassDEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Funding for the projects, totaling $1,580,000, will be available this fall.

* * *

Pennsylvania Spends $1.23 Million to Protect Coastal Zones

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, October 31, 2006 (ENS) - Governor Edward Rendell today announced $1.23 million in grants for 35 projects intended to protect and enhance Pennsylvania’s coastal zones along the Lake Erie and the Delaware Estuary shorelines. The grants finance projects such as rehabilitating streambanks and restoring riparian buffers to reduce pollution flowing into waterways; reforesting urban areas, managing stormwater runoff; and developing new technologies to locate and address unseen sources of pollution.

"Pennsylvania’s coastal zones are tremendously valuable parts of our environment and outdoor landscape, and they also play a key role in our quality of life and economic growth," the governor said.

"Right now, these areas face increasing pressure from development, shoreline erosion, biodiversity losses and nonpoint source pollution. Sound management of these resources is vital to both the environmental and economic health of Pennsylvania," he said.

Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty announced the $1.23 million while presenting a $15,000 grant to Marcus Hook Borough officials in a ceremony along the Delaware River behind the Marcus Hook Community Center, just south of Market Square Memorial Park in Delaware County.

The borough will use its $15,000 grant to conduct a feasibility study to determine the best and most sound way to develop a marina at the park. Market Square Memorial Park provides the only direct access for the community to the Delaware River in Marcus Hook Borough.

"What makes these coastal zones so dynamic is the direct connection between natural resources and community life, as is demonstrated so clearly here in Marcus Hook," McGinty said. "Tourism, recreation, port development, business and industrial development - all of these vitally important activities depend on how we manage and protect our coastal resources."

The coastal zone is the area where the land meets the sea and includes both coastal waters and adjacent shorelands. Pennsylvania has two coastal areas: 57 miles of coastline along the Delaware Estuary and 63 miles of coastline along Lake Erie.

The Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone lies within Bucks, Delaware and Philadelphia counties. The zone contains islands, marshes and the shorelands of tributaries that are affected by ocean tides. The combined facilities of the Delaware Estuary comprise the largest freshwater port in the world.

The Lake Erie Coastal Zone is located within Erie County and includes the shorelines of major tributaries. The zone extends to the middle of the lake to the boundary with Canada and inland 900 feet within the city of Erie. The lake, one of the state ports for international shipping, also contains Presque Isle State Park.

The Pennsylvania Coastal Zone Management Program provides grants and technical assistance to nonprofit groups, local governments and state agencies to improve public access, protect natural resources, and conserve coastal resources.

The majority of Coastal Zone Management Grants are funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from money made available by the U.S. Congress. Since the program’s federal approval in 1980, the Pennsylvania Coastal Zone Management Program has provided more than $51 million in funding for coastal zone projects.

* * *

Feds and California to Build E85 Ethanol Fueling Network

PASADENA, California, October 31, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Department of Energy, DOE, today announced selection of a team to receive grant funding to jumpstart a new alternative fuel network in the state. The grant would provide partial funding to build 15 publicly accessible E85 ethanol stations in California.

Among those on the team are CALSTART, General Motors, CleanFUEL USA, Pacific Ethanol, United Oil Company, Community Environmental Council, the City of Tulare, the California Energy Commission, the California State Automobile Association, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the San Joaquin Valley Clean Cities Coalition, and the Southern California Regional Clean Cities Coalition.

Headquartered in Pasadena, California, CALSTART is a non-profit corporation that works with its 130 participating organizations to accelerate the commercialization of clean and energy efficient transportation technologies.

E85 consists of 85 percent ethanol and only 15 percent gasoline. However, there is currently only one public station that sells E85 ethanol in California, although the state has more than 300,000 flex-fuel cars capable of running on the fuel.

This project will create the fundamental building blocks of an E85 refueling network and provide new fueling choices for the owners of those cars.

"We view this initial grant from DOE as an important first step in building a renewable roadway for California. We’re moving from a mono- to a poly-fuel future and consumers want more fuel choices now," said CALSTART President and CEO John Boesel.

Ten E85 fuel pumps will be constructed at existing gas stations owned by United Oil in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Four pumps will be built at stations along the highway 101 route from Ventura to San Luis Obispo County, and a final E85 pump will be installed in the San Joaquin Valley alongside Highway 99 in Tulare.

Of the more than 300,000 ethanol capable flex-fuel vehicles in California, one-third were produced by General Motors.

Elizabeth Lowery, GM’s vice president of environment and energy, said, "This DOE grant will help us build on our existing efforts to make flex-fuel vehicles viable in California. E85 ethanol needs to become more widely and publicly available in California to offer local motorists greater choice and diversity in the kinds of fuels they use for their Flex Fuel vehicles."

This project builds on announcements GM has already made with other state governments, oil companies, ethanol producers, and retail partners in California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Virginia.

Since May 2005, GM has announced partnerships with states and fuel providers around the country to locate up to 175 new E85 ethanol fueling locations by the end of 2006.

There are approximately 1,000 E85 ethanol stations throughout the country. Most of the stations are based in the Midwest.

Ethanol for this project will be produced in California and supplied by Pacific Ethanol, a company headquartered in Madera, California. There are three existing ethanol plants in the state and efforts underway to build four more by the end of 2007. Within the next two years, California ethanol production is expected to reach 400 million gallons per year, an amount that would be sufficient to cover the demand from the 15 new E85 ethanol stations.

* * *