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Friday, September 28, 2007

State Briefs

CALIFORNIA: Opponents of a proposed 150-megawatt peaker plant asked a federal judge Monday to block the Mirant Corp. project until after the federal government can set national standards for greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed Portrero power plant will only operate during peak power demand (Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle).

INDIANA: A growing number of religious congregations in the Indianapolis area are taking a greater interest in the environment, forming groups to encourage parishioners to recycle and delivering sermons on sustainable living (Robert King, Indianapolis Star).

IOWA: The Fort Madison factor, shuttered in 2001, reopened last week as Iowa's newest wind turbine manufacturing factory. The facility was bought by Siemens Power Generation and is the company's first wind turbine plant in the United States (William Ryberg, Des Moines Register, Sept. 22).

NORTH CAROLINA: Mecklenburg County's first-ever lawn watering ban goes into effect today. The ban in response to a severe drought that has hit the Charlotte area in recent months. The county is under mandatory water restrictions since Aug. 28, limiting watering to two days per week (Bruce Henderson, Charlotte Observer).

OREGON: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the Forest Service violated federal law when it approved the proposed expansion of the Mount Ashland ski area. The Oregon Natural Resources Council -- now called Oregon Wild -- sued the Forest Service after it approved the expansion in 2004 that would have required the clearing of forests. The court sided with the group, which contended the expansion would threaten the Pacific fisher, a sensitive species similar to a mink (Matthew Preusch, Portland Oregonian).

PENNSYLVANIA: A state environment official told state lawmakers Monday that Pennsylvania's hazardous-sites cleanup program is barely funded and will be completely broke by Dec. 31. Kathleen C. McGinty, the state's chief of environmental protection, said the program needed at least $40 million per year for its operations (Diane Mastrull, Philadelphia Inquirer).

SOUTH DAKOTA: The prairie dog population in eastern Fall River County was decimated by an outbreak of plague, officials reported this week. Plague has not been found in the Conata Basin near Badlands National Park, which is the site of the most successful reintroduction of black-footed ferret in the country (Steve Miller, Rapid City Journal).

UTAH: Hill Air Force Base will soon begin removing up to 1,800 cubic yards of soil from an area in base housing contaminated with PCBs. The removal of the tainted soil should be complete by mid-November (Joseph M. Dougherty, Salt Lake Deseret Morning News).

WYOMING: The Sage Grouse Implementation Team told Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) on Monday that Wyoming needs to impose restrictions on residential development in order to protect the sage grouse and its habitat (Billings Gazette).