News Picks

Monday, December 31, 2007

Video: Net Neutrality

Source: Public Knowledge

Friday, December 28, 2007

Political Environment & Green Movement in America

Responding to post on SES: Science, Education, and Society Blog by the Urban Scientist

Urban Scientist,

I just read your comments about AAEA's blog post Political Environment & Green Movement In America. Just a few words in response.

In my experience as an African American involved in the environmental movement, I can say that I have felt welcomed by the various organizations and groups that I have come to know and be associated with. The point that AAEA is making is that the movement has not yet come to the point where minorities are seen in LEADERSHIP positions. As I am still at a very early stage in my career, I can’t say that I’ve personally experienced being passed up or ignored for key leadership positions. But, I hope to someday advance into executive level position within an advocacy, government, or policy organization.

I can say that for years I have felt like an oddball among the African American community because of my interests, education and career choices. It seems to me that blacks who do aspire to higher education to pursue finance, business, law and now, technology fields. All fine, honorable occupations and careers. My gripe with people who advise young minorities in career choices is that they push, pressure, and present these as the only acceptable career choices. As a result, most educated blacks today have a lot of difficulty thinking outside the box when it comes to the world we live in. This is ironic because the point of a college education is to train you to be able to reason, question things and broaden your horizons.

I don’t find I find the remarks made on the blog and the linked article Environmental Groups Ignore Diversity Survey inflammatory and antagonistic at all. Using strong or controversial language to get a point across has always been a part of drawing attention to any worthwhile cause or movement. Don’t be too hard on AAEA and EJ groups. I can understand your position of being a scientist and an educator. But one of the things that I think you miss is that people and societies rarely fit into neat equations where 2+2=4. When it comes to Americans, sometimes 2+2 = something completely different to each of us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Video: Lack of Global Warming Talk in 2008 Pres Campaigns

Hats off to the League of Conservation Voters who made this great video


Interesting blurb from NJ Lawyer

In Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court said that if a government thought it was a good idea to condemn private property through eminent domain and hand it over to a private developer - if public officials thought that would forward the public purpose of economic development -well, the nine justices would defer to those local officials' informed judgment. That was in June 2005. So how are things going in New London,Conn, two and a half years later? According to reports in the New London Day, not so well. The private company chosen to redevelop the Fort Trumbull area, Corcoran Jennison, has missed several deadlines for securing financing and hasn't built a single one of the luxury apartments and townhouses that are supposed to begin to revivify the area. The city has given them another six-month extension to get their financing together. Meanwhile, the first condemnation notices for the homes and businesses that once stood in the neighborhood went out a full seven years ago. Oops! 12-20-07

Monday, December 24, 2007

Video: Lake Superior Winter Storm Footage

An up-close and personal view of Lake Superior during the March 2, 2007 winter storm. Footage from the North Shore.

Video: Human Footprint Urban Sprawl Deforestation

Urban Sprawl uses too much land and therefore harvest large quantities of forest. Human Footprints is a video that shows what kind of marks we left behind and how urban sprawl has a major role play in wasting our land. Music from Linkin Park - What I've done

Run time: 4 minutes

Friday, December 21, 2007

Reality Check Video: Land Use Planning Visioning

This is an 8 minute video about land use planning exercise that was conducted in Tampa Bay Florida. I attended a similar one that was conducted in Maryland last year. Its a visioning exercise that is becoming very popular around the country.

Reality Check is a one-day exercise designed to discuss, analyze and develop alternative growth scenarios for our rapidly growing region through 2050. Reality Check is designed to accomplish four tasks:

  • Promote a region wide awareness of the level of growth that is coming
  • Allocate projected housing and employment growth between and among jurisdictions
  • Recognize the legitimate points of view of different stakeholders
  • Lay the foundation for the development of a concrete list of next steps to assure quality growth to meet the region's needs over the coming decades.
Participants will work in teams of 8 to 10 per table, negotiating with each other to create a blueprint for the growth of the region based upon actual demographic, geographic and economic data assembled specifically for the event.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Community Land Trusts and Building Wealth

Anthony Flint
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
At Lincoln House, December 2007 Issue

One of the big reasons Community Land Trusts are known for providing sustainable affordable housing is that the purchase of a home - exclusive of the land it sits on - cannot be treated as an ordinary real estate investment: deed restrictions prevent buyers from turning around and selling the home for a big profit. But that's also a potential downside, because a home is a great way for low- and moderate-income families to build wealth. Many housing advocates prefer reliance on subsidies to allow first-time buyers to benefit from the investment in a home in the traditional fashion.

An interesting fact emerged, however, in the wide-ranging discussion of CLTs at Lincoln House Nov. 27, that cast new light on this seeming dichotomy. Some buyers in the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative CLT in Roxbury, Mass. Have been able to save enough money on housing to afford a down payment and purchase of a market-rate house nearby in the community. "Those homes are being purchased as an investment," said John Barros, executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.

Although it may be counter-intuitive, John E. Davis, visiting fellow at the Lincoln Institute and partner in Burlington Associates in Community Development LLC in Vermont, said it was perfectly acceptable to have buyers in CLTs earn enough money to make such an investment - or turn their CLT home over to a son or daughter who may be a high-income professional who just wants to spend less on mortgage payments. "We're looking for permanently affordable housing, not permanently eligible applicants," Davis said.

There are an estimated 200 CLTs nationwide. A recent Lincoln Institute survey drew responses from 120 of them that provide nearly 7,000 units of rental or ownership housing. Davis said he believes there are probably about 10,000 units in CLTs today.

The Nov. 27 Lincoln Lecture, The National Status of Community Land Trusts with Local Examples: A Panel Discussion , was attended by more than 50 people, and featured Davis, Barros and Yesim Sungu-Eryilmaz, research associate at the Lincoln Institute in the Department of Economic and Community Development, and discussion moderated senior fellow Rosalind Greenstein.

Monday, December 17, 2007

AIR POLLUTION: Governors say new ozone standard could hurt industry

Katherine Boyle
E&E News PM

Eleven governors are criticizing an U.S. EPA proposal that could lead to a stricter ground-level ozone standard in 2008.

The governors sent a letter this week to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson saying "uncertain health and environmental benefits do not warrant a tightened standard" and asking that he delay a decision on the issue until he hears from "all interested parties."

"The scientific research on this issue does not provide compelling evidence of any health benefits," the governors wrote.

Governors from Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Texas signed on to the letter.

The letter cites Bob Meyers, deputy assistant administrator for EPA's Air and Radiation Office, as saying there are "esteemed" scientists who do not believe it is necessary to change the ozone standard.

The governors are joined in their opposition to a tighter standard by the National Association of Manufacturers, an industry group.

NAM President John Engler has called the stricter standard "excessive, unwarranted and unjustified." He says the job market and the economy could take a hard hit if it is implemented.
NAM also notes that EPA studies show key air pollutants in the United States have dropped by more than 54 percent between 1970 and 2006. Those pollutants include nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, NAM spokesman Bryan Brendle said.

Brendle also said ozone has dropped 21 percent since 1980. according to EPA data.

"There are a lot of regulations on the books now," he added. "Industry and states are working together to improve the nation's air quality under the current scheme of regulation, so I see no logic whatsoever in changing the current ozone standard."

Click here to read the proposal.

Southeast governors to discuss ACF river basin allocation

Daniel Cusick
December 17, 2007

The governors of Florida, Georgia and Alabama today hope to lay the groundwork for a long-term, water-sharing agreement for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which has emerged in recent months as the prize in a water war spurred by the Southeast's record drought.

In meetings scheduled in Tallahassee, Fla., Gov. Charlie Crist will try to convince fellow Republican Govs. Sonny Perdue of Georgia and Bob Riley of Alabama that Florida cannot abide by an ACF flow regime that would essentially rob the state's Apalachicola Bay of necessary fresh water.

Georgia, meanwhile, will stress the growing water supply needs of burgeoning Atlanta, which draws water from an major upstate reservoir on the Chattahoochee River, while Alabama will maintain that the ACF basin must provide enough water to support that state's industrial and municipal users.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who hosted the three governors for negotiations on Nov. 1 in Washington, D.C., also will attend today's meeting, as will representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for managing three federally protected species in the Apalachicola River.

The Army Corps is responsible for managing flows along 900 miles of river corridor that drain 19,300 square miles of watershed from the north Georgia mountains to the Florida Panhandle. Disputes over water rights in the basin date back nearly 20 years, as the three states began to realize their water needs exceeded what the ACF basin could provide, particularly in drought years.

This year's drought has been among the worst ever in the Southeast, with rainfall across north Alabama, north and central Georgia, east Tennessee and the western Carolinas measuring half or less than half of normal accumulations.

Under an emergency operations plan implemented in November for the ACF basin, the Army Corps reduced water flows at a hydrodam on the Georgia-Florida border from 5,000 to 4,750 cubic feet per second, in part to allow for greater rainfall accumulation in upstate reservoirs.
The plan, approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service, could allow for even greater flow reductions at Woodruff Dam, but Florida has resisted the cuts, saying its commercial and recreational fishery in Apalachicola Bay is being harmed by the curtailment of fresh water. The bay already is suffering spikes in salinity because of the encroachment of seawater from the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in oyster die-offs and the loss of aquatic vegetation that provide critical habitat for fisheries.

The Fish and Wildlife Service last week signed off on a corps request to cut flows by another 250 cubic feet per second, prompting a protest letter from Florida Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole, who said the current and proposed cuts had "wrought compelling damage on Florida's highly sensitive aquatic resources."

Pat Robbins, a spokesman for the corps' district office in Mobile, Ala., said this morning that no further reductions in flow were made over the weekend and that the agency was assessing the positive effect of a 1.75-inch rain that fell over the southern reaches of the ACF basin on Saturday.

Sarah Williams, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said this morning that Crist will steer the conversation to address both the short- and long-term issues facing the river basin.

"We realize this is a unique situation, but we want to come up with a long-term plan so this doesn't happen again," Williams said.

The governors are scheduled to meet today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST and will hold an afternoon press conference immediately afterward to share details of the talks.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

How Planners can - and are - Addressing Climate Change

December 12, 2007
by Catherine Miller
Massachusetts Chapter
American Planning Association Blog

Planners have been addressing climate change for years. Smart growth—and its resulting compactly developed mixed use communities with balanced transportation systems are the premier solutions that climate action experts are now promoting.

See link above for complete article.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

LCV Applauds Senate Passage of Energy Bill


Contact: David Sandretti, (202) 785-8683 or

More Work Needed to Cut Tax Subsidies for Big Oil, Encourage Investment in Clean, Renewable Energy

WASHINGTON, DC - League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski issued the following statement regarding the Senate 's passage of the energy bill:

"The U.S. Senate should be applauded for passing a much-needed energy bill
that is a significant first step toward increasing fuel efficiency standards for our automobiles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. We urge President Bush to sign the bill after the House passes it. The bill is not perfect. It was stripped of provisions that would have required that 15 percent of our electricity come from clean, renewable energy sources by 2020. And at a time when the oil industry is enjoying near-$100 per barrel oil and record profits, the Senate by one vote earlier today sided with Big Oil and against the American people and the environment. Voting 59-40, a minority of senators blocked an attempt to repeal billions of dollars in tax giveaways to the oil industry and invest that money instead in clean renewable energy for the future. LCV will continue to fight for these critical issues in future legislation,and will work to elect more pro-environment senators who will side with the planet and future generations over the interests of Big Oil and Big Coal."

The nonprofit League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the independent political voice for the environment. To secure the environmental future of our planet, LCV's mission is to advocate for sound environmental policies and to elect pro-environmental candidates who will adopt and implement such policies.

Kerry C. Duggan

Campaigns Project Manager

League of Conservation Voters

1920 L Street, NW #800

Washington, DC 20036

Direct: (202) 454-4592

Mobile/text: (734) 846-0093

Victory for California Clean Car Law

For Immediate Release:

December 12, 2007

Contact: David Willett, 202-491-6919

Victory for California Clean Car Law Sierra Club Calls on EPA to stop delay on waiver

Fresno, CA: In a significant victory in the fight to reduce global warming pollution, today the Federal District Court in Fresno dismissed the auto industry's claims that federal law barred California from enforcing it own motor vehicle greenhouse gas regulations. In a 57-page decision, Judge Anthony Ishii held that these regulations did not in any way conflict with either federal fuel economy laws or with the President's power to conduct foreign policy.Emphasizing that the Clean Air Act expressly authorizes California to regulate emissions that affect human health and the environment, Judge Ishii found that Congress did not intend that this authority be curtailed by federal fuel economy laws.

Statement of David Bookbinder, Sierra Club Chief Climate Counsel “Once again a judge has found the auto industry’s desperate attempts to stay mired in outdated, dirty technology completely without merit. Today’decision is just one more reason why EPA should stop dragging its feet and grant the waiver California needs to move forward with this vital tool to combat global warming.

“Just as we said earlier this year when we celebrated a similar victory in a Vermont court, instead of the automakers thinking of excuses, it’s time for them to put their immense know-how toward solving some of our most pressing problems. This ruling should compel the U.S. automakers to make the kind of clean, efficient cars Americans want--the kind that foreign automakers have used to surge to record profits as the U.S. auto industry buckled under the weight of its gas guzzlers. This ruling is good for the environment, good for America, and, ultimately, good for the automakers.

"It’s now time for the Bush Administration’s EPA to get out of the way and grant California the waiver it and other states need in order to move forward with these landmark protections.”

Assembly Bill 1493, sometimes known as the Pavely Law after its lead sponsor, Assemblywoman Fran Pavely, would require automobile makers to reduce global warming emissions from new cars and light trucks beginning in2009. The Pavely Law is a large step in the right direction because it delivers clean car choices for consumers, and encourages cost-effective,currently available technology to reduce global warming emissions. In2005, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers desperately sued the California Air Resources Board in an attempt to block the law.

The Pavely Law has widespread support from Californians, a majority of the California legislature, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Twelve other U.S. states and Canada are in various stages of adopting California's global warming law. The last step to implement in the law is for a Clean Air Act waiver to be granted to the state. For two years the EPA has refused to make a decision on granting the waiver.

David Willett

National Press Secretary

Sierra Club

(202) 675-6698 (w)

(202) 491-6919 (m)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Opponents vow to fight DEQ approval of UP sulfide mining permit

Disappointment over decision to allow dangerous mining linked with acid mine drainage leads groups to plan next steps

Community and environmental leaders united today in their opposition to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s issuance of a permit for a dangerous sulfide mine on the Upper Peninsula’s Yellow Dog Plains.

Some opponents are now poised to legally challenge the flawed decision that would allow the mine to operate beneath a critical Lake Superior tributary.

The nickel mine would generate hundreds of thousands of tons of acid-leaching waste rock from underneath the Salmon Trout River near Marquette, putting the region’s water at risk, including Lake Superior.

"We are extremely disappointed that after all the work which went into crafting the law governing non-ferrous mining in Michigan that the DEQ has chosen to simply ignore key components of that law. They’ve granted Kennecott a permit which clearly doesn’t even meet the intent, let alone the letter of the law," stated Anne Woiwode, state director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.

National Wildlife Federation attorney Michelle Halley said she and other opponents are currently considering a variety of administrative and court actions. “We need time to review the final permit conditions and will proceed after that,” she explained.

Opponents of the permit include: Huron Mountain Club, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Landowners Opposed to Sulfide Mining, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Students Against Sulfide Mining, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, Save the Wild UP, and a host of other ad hoc groups throughout the region.

Less than two months after receiving more than 4,000 public comments, including a technical analysis that numbered more than 700 pages, the MDEQ upheld its preliminary decision to allow Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. to blast a mine beneath a blue-ribbon trout stream.

“NWF and key allies that share our concerns are prepared to challenge these permits because they do not meet legal standards,” Halley said. “We cannot stand idly by while the DEQ permits fatally flawed projects.”

Halley questioned whether the MDEQ adequately considered the expert testimony that concluded the mine posed an unacceptable risk to the state’s water resources and the safety of mine workers.

“The MDEQ has always said they would make the decision based on science and yet they have ignored the technical information submitted by leading mining industry experts,” she explained. “Technical analysis was submitted by people who specialize in groundwater, subsidence, air pollution and a myriad of other specialties and all pointed to egregious errors in the permit application. For the MDEQ to turn a blind eye indicates that something other than science is prevailing in Lansing,” Halley continued.

Speaking on behalf of the Huron Mountain Club, Paul Townsend questioned whether the MDEQ ever seriously considered the risks.

“On October 17, we filed comprehensive comments in opposition to the proposed permits, including reports of scientific and engineering consultants, all well-respected experts in their fields. The complete filing was more than 700 pages,” Townsend recalled.

“Now the DEQ has approved the mining permits. While disappointing, this is not surprising, given the past performance of DEQ. We are even more disappointed in Governor Granholm’s lack of leadership on this critical issue. Had the technical comments been properly evaluated, she and her DEQ would have found repeated instances where Kennecott had submitted false or incomplete information which experts believe show that this mine will cause significant environmental damage to the Upper Peninsula,” Townsend said.

Cynthia Pryor, executive director of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, said she believes fear is what is motivating the state agency.

“Unfortunately, Kennecott is holding the State of Michigan hostage to the notion that they will sue them for takings if this mine is not permitted. Why else would our government - who is bound to protect us - sell our lands, our waters and our natural resources to this company from England, despite the will of the people and the scientific realities of the project?” Pryor asked.

Save the Wild UP, the grassroots group that has vocally opposed the project, believes the state has sold out the people of the Upper Peninsula.

“DEQ has made a charade of listening to the public. Governor Granholm seems willing to hold her nose and allow the inevitable nasty pollution of the U.P. and the Great Lakes,” said Dick Huey, co-founder of Save the Wild UP.

While the mining company gained MDEQ approval today, opponents say the project still has several hurdles to clear, including at least one federal permit required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and permission from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to utilize 120 acres of state lands for the mine’s surface facilities via a 40-year land lease. One week ago, Kennecott was notified by MDNR of seven areas of concern related to the company’s plans for the property after the mine’s closure.

Michigan DEQ Approves Kennecott Mine in Upper Peninsula

Contact: Robert McCann(517) 241-7397

DEQ Announces Decision on Kennecott Mine

The Department of Environmental Quality announced today its decision to approve a series of permits to the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company to conduct mining operations at the proposed Eagle Project Mine near Marquette. The department’s decision follows a period of extensive review by the DEQ of public comments and supporting information to determine whether Kennecott’s proposal met the strict standards contained within Michigan’s air quality, groundwater, and mining laws. The DEQ is required to make its decision based solely on whether a proposal meets those standards.

“This has been one of the most thorough reviews of an application ever done by this agency,” said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. “In the end, Kennecott’s proposal met the high standard set by Michigan’s environmental laws.”

This project is the first to be subject to Michigan's new Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining rules that were enacted in response to concerns over potential environmental impacts from mining of metallic sulfide ores. The rules, among the most stringent in the nation, were drafted and agreed to by a multi-stakeholder work group that included representatives from environmental, business, and mining organizations.

Director Chester noted that information received during the public comment period resulted in a number of changes to Kennecott’s permits to alleviate concerns that were expressed by the public and ensure that Michigan’s resources are protected.

“We have made every effort to address the public’s concerns within the limits of what the law allows,” said Director Chester. “We must now remain vigilant in ensuring that Kennecott complies with its permits and lives up to its end of the bargain in keeping Michigan’s environment safe.”

Examples of changes made to the permits during the public comment period include:

  • Limiting the mining activities to elevations below 327.5 meters to address concerns about the stability of the mine. Mining will only be allowed above that level when approved in writing by the DEQ based on further field investigations and analysis to be conducted by Kennecott.

  • Requiring annual certification that the rock stability is sufficient and providing for immediate work stoppage and notification to the DEQ if stability is questionable.

  • A requirement for a filter system in the mine shaft ventilation stack that will result in a significant decrease in particulate matter emissions.

  • A comprehensive fugitive dust plan.

  • Setting maximum daily limits for all groundwater parameters, and increased monitoring requirements.

Kennecott must still acquire a surface use lease from the Department of Natural Resources for the project.

A list of all permit changes and supporting information can be found on the DEQ website at, then click on Kennecott Eagle Project.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Anthony A. Lapham River Conservation Fellowship Program

American Rivers has launched the Anthony A. Lapham River Conservation Fellowship program. It provides an excellent professional development opportunity for talented post-graduates pursuing careers as leaders in the field of conservation advocacy. The Fellowship will be supported by a team of conservation staff and members of our Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, which includes some of the nation's foremost experts on freshwater and other conservation science and policy. See attachment for details. Highlights include:

  • 12-month fellowship beginning in the summer of 2008 (July - Sept; month negotiable)

  • Based in DC

  • Focus on an applied research project that in one of the following: (1) sustainably managing our freshwater resources; (2) restoring rivers (through approaches such as dam removal) and achieving natural flood protection by restoring the natural functions of rivers, wetlands and floodplains; (3) conserving America's heritage by protecting our remaining free-flowing rivers and connecting communities to their rivers; and (4) achieving resiliency in natural and human communities in the face of global warming.

  • Open to individuals with graduate or terminal degrees in stream ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, public health, public policy, law, economics, engineering or related fields.

  • Stipend of $35k plus vacation benefits.

  • Application deadline February 15, 2008.

The fellowship honors the memory of Anthony A. Lapham who served for many years on the board of American Rivers, including as its Chairman. He left an indelible mark not only on American Rivers and many other conservation organizations, but on conservation efforts across this land. The program reflects his integrity, intellect, concern for humanity and commitment to excellence. We are seeking candidates who possess these qualities.

More complete i nformation about the fellowship can be found on our website at .

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ohio - Judge says lakefront rights extend to the 'water's edge'

Judge says lakefront rights extend to the 'water's edge'
Property line ruled mobile

The boundary line that separates public and private land along Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline moves in accordance with the tides, a state judge ruled yesterday. The 77-page decision by Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge Eugene Lucci has potentially sweeping implications for Lake Erie beach walkers as well as fishermen, waterfowl hunters, and birders who want to access the shoreline. It defines the "water's edge" - not the historic high-watermark - as the boundary.

Editorial: Wandering Off The Plantation


Norris McDonald
African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA)

It is an expression of leaving a place where others think you should stay. AAEA has wandered way off the plantation and it has been quite fulfilling. Many would have us address only certain issues such as environmental justice and racism. Of course we address environmental justice and racism but we do not limit ourselves to these important issues. Many are disappointed when we do not meet their expectations of what our positions should be.
For more click here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Maryland Launches New Website for Public Access to Comprehensive Plans

Maryland Department Of Planning
This new website is responsive to Governor O’Malley’s initiative to provide Marylanders open access to the workings of state government and the public process. Providing access to these plans, also known as master plans or master development plans, makes a somewhat complicated and often closed process more open to the general public. This site explains what comprehensive plans are, how they are adopted, the importance to Smart Growth and the role of the State in the process. Click here to visit the Site

Wisconsin - State slow to act on Great Lakes compact

Water officials in other Upper Midwest states are watching Wisconsin with some concern as the state debates whether to sign on to a compact that would regulate withdrawal of water from the Great Lakes and ban pumping water out of the region.

"The quicker we can get this passed, the quicker we can get it to Congress, " said Ken DeBeaussaert, director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes in Lansing.

DeBeaussaert said bills proposing approval of the compact have been introduced in both houses of the Michigan Legislature and have broad bipartisan support. The compact has been approved by Illinois and Minnesota. Wisconsin is the only one of the eight Great Lakes states considering the compact in which supporting legislation has not been introduced.

Standard Definitions for Smart Growth and Sustainable Develeopment?

From Stephen Kerlin's blog, Suburban Planning

Definitions of Smart Growth
Smart Growth has a number of varied meanings and regional modifications throughout the country. One definition cited on the Smart Growth America web site at defines smart growth “according to its outcomes —outcomes that mirror the basic values of most Americans. Smart growth is growth that helps to achieve these six goals: 1. Neighborhood Livability…2. Better Access, Less Traffic…3 Thriving Cities, Suburbs and Towns…4. Shared Benefits…5.Lower Costs, Lower Taxes…6. Keeping Open Space Open.”

For more visit his blog post:
Sustainability and Smart Growth

Sierra Club Says: Keep push on for dioxin cleanup


Keep push on for dioxin cleanup

December 11, 2007

The toxic residues downwind and downstream of Midland have to be cleaned up. If any doubts remained, they should disappear after the past month's momentous discoveries -- one in some buried federal paperwork, the other in Saginaw River sediment.Accumulated dioxins from Dow Chemical Co.'s operations are extraordinarily high. Jaw-dropping would be a better word after the revelation last month that the sample of riverbed sediment showed a dioxin level higher than any test results ever reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Melissa Damaschke
Sierra Club Conservation Organizer
1723 West Fourteen Mile Road
Royal Oak, MI 48073
Phone: (248) 549-6213

Together, we will keep the Great Lakes GREAT!

Monday, December 10, 2007

EPA Press Release: Agreement Will Ensure Clean Up Protections at Groveland, Mass. Superfund Site

Release date: 12/10/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Dec. 10, 2007) – The U.S. EPA and the Dept. of Justice have reached a proposed settlement agreement with the Groveland Resources Corp. and Valley Manufacturing Products Co. to ensure funding for clean up measures taken at the 850-acre Groveland Wells Nos. 1 & 2 Superfund Site, located in Groveland, Mass.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the companies will pay 100 percent of the Net Sale or Net Lease Proceeds in the event their property on the site is sold or leased, to reimburse the United States for costs incurred at the site. The companies will also be required to impose certain deed restrictions or institutional controls on the site in order to ensure protections for public health and the environment remain in place following EPA’s cleanup actions at the site.

The Groveland Wells Site is located within a residential area in the southwestern part of the Town of Groveland, Mass. Valley Manufactured Products Co. manufactured screw products as well as metal and plastic parts from 1963 until 2001. The site is contaminated primarily with Trichloroethene (TCE) which was used to clean (degrease) finished parts. TCE was released into the ground from a variety of sources including, underground storage tanks, underground disposal systems and intentional dumping.

The Groveland site was added to EPA’s National Priority List in September 1983. EPA has been conducting cleanup actions at the site that address the contamination in the soil and groundwater.

The consent decree was lodged with the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts on Nov. 9, 2007, and published in the Federal Register on Nov. 23, 2007. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by federal court.

More information and how to comment:- Review the consent decree ( EPA info on Groveland Wells Nos. 1 & 2 Superfund site ( )

Comments on the proposed settlement must be received no later than Dec. 23, 2007 and can be e-mailed to or written comments can be mailed to

Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resource Division
P.O. Box 7611
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20044-7611
Ref. 90-11-2-338/1.

Al Gore's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

DECEMBER 10, 2007

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Honorable members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen.

I have a purpose here today. It is a purpose I have tried to serve for many years. I have prayed that God would show me a way to accomplish it.

Sometimes, without warning, the future knocks on our door with a precious and painful vision of what might be. One hundred and nineteen years ago, a wealthy inventor read his own obituary, mistakenly published years before his death. Wrongly believing the inventor had just died, a newspaper printed a harsh judgment of his life’s work, unfairly labeling him “The Merchant of Death” because of his invention – dynamite. Shaken by this condemnation, the inventor made a fateful choice to serve the cause of peace.

Seven years later, Alfred Nobel created this prize and the others that bear his name.

Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken – if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose.

Unexpectedly, that quest has brought me here. Even though I fear my words cannot match this moment, I pray what I am feeling in my heart will be communicated clearly enough that those who hear me will say, “We must act.”

The distinguished scientists with whom it is the greatest honor of my life to share this award have laid before us a choice between two different futures – a choice that to my ears echoes the words of an ancient prophet: “Life or death, blessings or curses. Therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.

However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”

So today, we dumped another 70 million tons of global-warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer. And tomorrow, we will dump a slightly larger amount, with the cumulative concentrations now trapping more and more heat from the sun.

As a result, the earth has a fever. And the fever is rising. The experts have told us it is not a passing affliction that will heal by itself. We asked for a second opinion. And a third. And a fourth. And the consistent conclusion, restated with increasing alarm, is that something basic is wrong.

We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.

Last September 21, as the Northern Hemisphere tilted away from the sun, scientists reported with unprecedented distress that the North Polar ice cap is “falling off a cliff.” One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by U.S. Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as 7 years.

Seven years from now.

In the last few months, it has been harder and harder to misinterpret the signs that our world is spinning out of kilter. Major cities in North and South America, Asia and Australia are nearly out of water due to massive droughts and melting glaciers. Desperate farmers are losing their livelihoods. Peoples in the frozen Arctic and on low-lying Pacific islands are planning evacuations of places they have long called home. Unprecedented wildfires have forced a half million people from their homes in one country and caused a national emergency that almost brought down the government in another. Climate refugees have migrated into areas already inhabited by people with different cultures, religions, and traditions, increasing the potential for conflict. Stronger storms in the Pacific and Atlantic have threatened whole cities. Millions have been displaced by massive flooding in South Asia, Mexico, and 18 countries in Africa. As temperature extremes have increased, tens of thousands have lost their lives. We are recklessly burning and clearing our forests and driving more and more species into extinction. The very web of life on which we depend is being ripped and frayed.

We never intended to cause all this destruction, just as Alfred Nobel never intended that dynamite be used for waging war. He had hoped his invention would promote human progress. We shared that same worthy goal when we began burning massive quantities of coal, then oil and methane.

Even in Nobel’s time, there were a few warnings of the likely consequences. One of the very first winners of the Prize in chemistry worried that, “We are evaporating our coal mines into the air.” After performing 10,000 equations by hand, Svante Arrhenius calculated that the earth’s average temperature would increase by many degrees if we doubled the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Seventy years later, my teacher, Roger Revelle, and his colleague, Dave Keeling, began to precisely document the increasing CO2 levels day by day.
But unlike most other forms of pollution, CO2 is invisible, tasteless, and odorless -- which has helped keep the truth about what it is doing to our climate out of sight and out of mind. Moreover, the catastrophe now threatening us is unprecedented – and we often confuse the unprecedented with the improbable.

We also find it hard to imagine making the massive changes that are now necessary to solve the crisis. And when large truths are genuinely inconvenient, whole societies can, at least for a time, ignore them. Yet as George Orwell reminds us: “Sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

In the years since this prize was first awarded, the entire relationship between humankind and the earth has been radically transformed. And still, we have remained largely oblivious to the impact of our cumulative actions.

Indeed, without realizing it, we have begun to wage war on the earth itself. Now, we and the earth's climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: "Mutually assured destruction."

More than two decades ago, scientists calculated that nuclear war could throw so much debris and smoke into the air that it would block life-giving sunlight from our atmosphere, causing a "nuclear winter." Their eloquent warnings here in Oslo helped galvanize the world’s resolve to halt the nuclear arms race.

Now science is warning us that if we do not quickly reduce the global warming pollution that is trapping so much of the heat our planet normally radiates back out of the atmosphere, we are in danger of creating a permanent “carbon summer.”

As the American poet Robert Frost wrote, “Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice.” Either, he notes, “would suffice.”

But neither need be our fate. It is time to make peace with the planet.

We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war. These prior struggles for survival were won when leaders found words at the 11th hour that released a mighty surge of courage, hope and readiness to sacrifice for a protracted and mortal challenge.

These were not comforting and misleading assurances that the threat was not real or imminent; that it would affect others but not ourselves; that ordinary life might be lived even in the presence of extraordinary threat; that Providence could be trusted to do for us what we would not do for ourselves.

No, these were calls to come to the defense of the common future. They were calls upon the courage, generosity and strength of entire peoples, citizens of every class and condition who were ready to stand against the threat once asked to do so. Our enemies in those times calculated that free people would not rise to the challenge; they were, of course, catastrophically wrong.

Now comes the threat of climate crisis – a threat that is real, rising, imminent, and universal. Once again, it is the 11th hour. The penalties for ignoring this challenge are immense and growing, and at some near point would be unsustainable and unrecoverable. For now we still have the power to choose our fate, and the remaining question is only this: Have we the will to act vigorously and in time, or will we remain imprisoned by a dangerous illusion?

Mahatma Gandhi awakened the largest democracy on earth and forged a shared resolve with what he called “Satyagraha” – or “truth force.”

In every land, the truth – once known – has the power to set us free.

Truth also has the power to unite us and bridge the distance between “me” and “we,” creating the basis for common effort and shared responsibility.

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We need to go far, quickly.

We must abandon the conceit that individual, isolated, private actions are the answer. They can and do help. But they will not take us far enough without collective action. At the same time, we must ensure that in mobilizing globally, we do not invite the establishment of ideological conformity and a new lock-step “ism.”

That means adopting principles, values, laws, and treaties that release creativity and initiative at every level of society in multifold responses originating concurrently and spontaneously.
This new consciousness requires expanding the possibilities inherent in all humanity. The innovators who will devise a new way to harness the sun’s energy for pennies or invent an engine that’s carbon negative may live in Lagos or Mumbai or Montevideo. We must ensure that entrepreneurs and inventors everywhere on the globe have the chance to change the world.
When we unite for a moral purpose that is manifestly good and true, the spiritual energy unleashed can transform us. The generation that defeated fascism throughout the world in the 1940s found, in rising to meet their awesome challenge, that they had gained the moral authority and long-term vision to launch the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, and a new level of global cooperation and foresight that unified Europe and facilitated the emergence of democracy and prosperity in Germany, Japan, Italy and much of the world. One of their visionary leaders said, “It is time we steered by the stars and not by the lights of every passing ship.”

In the last year of that war, you gave the Peace Prize to a man from my hometown of 2000 people, Carthage, Tennessee. Cordell Hull was described by Franklin Roosevelt as the “Father of the United Nations.” He was an inspiration and hero to my own father, who followed Hull in the Congress and the U.S. Senate and in his commitment to world peace and global cooperation.

My parents spoke often of Hull, always in tones of reverence and admiration. Eight weeks ago, when you announced this prize, the deepest emotion I felt was when I saw the headline in my hometown paper that simply noted I had won the same prize that Cordell Hull had won. In that moment, I knew what my father and mother would have felt were they alive.

Just as Hull’s generation found moral authority in rising to solve the world crisis caused by fascism, so too can we find our greatest opportunity in rising to solve the climate crisis. In the Kanji characters used in both Chinese and Japanese, “crisis” is written with two symbols, the first meaning “danger,” the second “opportunity.” By facing and removing the danger of the climate crisis, we have the opportunity to gain the moral authority and vision to vastly increase our own capacity to solve other crises that have been too long ignored.

We must understand the connections between the climate crisis and the afflictions of poverty, hunger, HIV-Aids and other pandemics. As these problems are linked, so too must be their solutions. We must begin by making the common rescue of the global environment the central organizing principle of the world community.

Fifteen years ago, I made that case at the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. Ten years ago, I presented it in Kyoto. This week, I will urge the delegates in Bali to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty that establishes a universal global cap on emissions and uses the market in emissions trading to efficiently allocate resources to the most effective opportunities for speedy reductions.
This treaty should be ratified and brought into effect everywhere in the world by the beginning of 2010 – two years sooner than presently contemplated. The pace of our response must be accelerated to match the accelerating pace of the crisis itself.

Heads of state should meet early next year to review what was accomplished in Bali and take personal responsibility for addressing this crisis. It is not unreasonable to ask, given the gravity of our circumstances, that these heads of state meet every three months until the treaty is completed.

We also need a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store carbon dioxide.

And most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon -- with a CO2 tax that is then rebated back to the people, progressively, according to the laws of each nation, in ways that shift the burden of taxation from employment to pollution. This is by far the most effective and simplest way to accelerate solutions to this crisis.

The world needs an alliance – especially of those nations that weigh heaviest in the scales where earth is in the balance. I salute Europe and Japan for the steps they’ve taken in recent years to meet the challenge, and the new government in Australia, which has made solving the climate crisis its first priority.

But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China. While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters ­ most of all, my own country –– that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act.
Both countries should stop using the other’s behavior as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment.

These are the last few years of decision, but they can be the first years of a bright and hopeful future if we do what we must. No one should believe a solution will be found without effort, without cost, without change. Let us acknowledge that if we wish to redeem squandered time and speak again with moral authority, then these are the hard truths:
The way ahead is difficult. The outer boundary of what we currently believe is feasible is still far short of what we actually must do. Moreover, between here and there, across the unknown, falls the shadow.

That is just another way of saying that we have to expand the boundaries of what is possible. In the words of the Spanish poet, Antonio Machado, “Pathwalker, there is no path. You must make the path as you walk.”

We are standing at the most fateful fork in that path. So I want to end as I began, with a vision of two futures – each a palpable possibility – and with a prayer that we will see with vivid clarity the necessity of choosing between those two futures, and the urgency of making the right choice now.

The great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, wrote, “One of these days, the younger generation will come knocking at my door.”

The future is knocking at our door right now. Make no mistake, the next generation will ask us one of two questions. Either they will ask: “What were you thinking; why didn’t you act?”
Or they will ask instead: “How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?”

We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource.

So let us renew it, and say together: “We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.”

Groups challenge Virginia on polluting wastewater plant

Dec 10, 2007
by William C. Flook,
The Examiner
Groups challenge state on polluting wastewater plant

Cato Institute Bashes Good Planning Once Again

More of the same Cato Institute anti-planning rhetoric. Last week the Institute released a policy analysis by Randy O'toole called, The Planning Tax: The Case against Regional Growth-Management Planning, in which he claims the following:

"Growth-management tools such as urban-growth boundaries, adequate-public-facilities ordinances, and growth limits all drive up the cost of housing by artificially restricting the amount of land available or the number of permits granted for home construction. On average, homebuyers in 2006 had to pay $130,000 more for every home sold in states with mandatory growth-management planning than they would have had to pay if home price-to-income ratios were less than 3. This is, in effect, a planning tax that increases the costs of retail, commercial, and industrial developments as well as housing."

I just think O'toole way off base in his assumptions and I find his data suspect. When I have more time to read the policy paper in full I'll report back. You can read the executive summary at the link above.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Can Presidential Candidates Speak to Smart Growth Issues?

Repost from Planetizen Interchange Blog by Robert Goodspeed on how some of the leading candidate's policy statements have interesting things to say about urban policy issues.

Barack Obama has this to say about how urban form is related to energy independence:

Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities: Over the longer term, we know that the amount of fuel we will use is directly related to our land use decisions and development patterns, much of which have been organized around the principle of cheap gasoline. Barack Obama believes that we must move beyond our simple fixation of investing so many of our transportation dollars in serving drivers and that we must make more investments that make it easier for us to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives.

Reform Federal Transportation Funding: As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account. Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks, and he will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. Building more livable and sustainable communities will not only reduce the amount of time individuals spent commuting, but will also have significant benefits to air quality, public health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Require States to Plan for Energy Conservation: Current law simply asks governors and their state Departments of Transportation to "consider" energy conservation as a condition of receiving federal transportation dollars. As president, Obama will require governors and local leaders in our metropolitan areas to make "energy conservation" a required part of their planning for the expenditure of federal transportation funds.

Level Employer Incentives for Driving and Public Transit: The federal tax code rewards driving to work by allowing employers to provide parking benefits of $205 per month tax free to their employees. The tax code provides employers with commuting benefits for transit, carpooling or vanpooling capped at $105 per month. This gives divers a nearly 2:1 advantage over transit users. Obama will reform the tax code to make benefits for driving and public transit or ridesharing equal.

After the Minnesota interstate bridge collapse last summer, Hillary Clinton released her "Rebuild America Plan." In it, she pledged significant funding for improvements to roads, bridges, seaports, and broadband networks. She also pledged an additional $1 billion for intercity passenger rail systems, arguing it "It is an environmentally efficient alternative to highway driving and short flights; it relieves congestion on roads and airports; reduces the emission of automotive pollutants; and it stimulates economic growth by linking metropolitan areas."

She also had this to say about public transit and local land use:

Increase federal funding for public transit by $1.5 billion per year. Increased public transit usage is arguably the best strategy for ameliorating the energy and environmental costs of transportation. As energy costs rise, more people will rely on public transportation. Today, only 5% of Americans commute by public transit, but doubling that figure could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25%. Public transit is also critically important to people who live in urban areas and rely on buses and trains for travel to work and school. Moreover, as the population ages, an increasing number of people will need public transit as their ability to drive diminishes. Hillary will increase federal investment in public transit by $1.5 billion per year to ensure needed capacity expansions and service level improvements.

Link federal public transit funds to local land use policies that encourage residential developments that maximize public transit usage. Over the next 25 years, a large percentage of the buildings we live, work, and shop in will be rebuilt or newly built. This presents a significant opportunity for the federal government to encourage sensible residential and commercial development that are linked to, and encourage, public transit usage. Local areas seeking large federal investments in public transit are already required to have land-use plans and policies that make investing in a high-density transit system worthwhile. Today, these requirements are focused mainly on commercial developments and not enough on residential considerations. Hillary will encourage the sort of dense residential concentrations needed to support public transit systems by better linking public transit funding with residential land-use policies. This will help to discourage sprawl and fight congestion.

John Edwards has the following policy recommendations for housing policy:

Create a Million New Housing Vouchers: Our current housing policies concentrate low-income families together, isolating willing workers from entry-level jobs and children from good schools. Edwards will create a million vouchers over five years to help low-income families move to better neighborhoods. At the same time, he will phase out housing projects that tie families to certain locations and are often lower quality and more expensive than private sector alternatives.

Revitalize Devastated Neighborhoods: Edwards believes that it is better to invest in struggling neighborhoods than abandon them. He will reform and expand the HOPE VI program to replace dilapidated housing in areas of concentrated poverty.

In his policies regarding energy, Edwards also discusses measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled:

Edwards will create incentives for states and regions to plan smart growth and transit-oriented development with benchmarks for reductions in vehicle miles traveled. He supports more resources to encourage workers to use public transportation and will encourage more affordable, low-carbon and low-ambient pollution transportation options.

Bill Richardson has said he would establish smart growth criteria for federal and state funding to "Give preference to funding for sites that comply with Smart Growth guidelines." Fellow Interchange contributor Josh Stephen noted in September that Richardson brought up land use during an interview, stating he'd support policies addressing environmental justice, encourage "a smart land-use policy," and support energy efficient transportation like like light rail.

While I couldn't find statements on these issues on the Republican candidate's websites during a brief review, it was mostly because they have chosen to highlight other topics. As groups like Smart Growth America are quick to point out, urban development policies are not strongly partisan and can result in unlikely allies working towards common goals. While they may not campaign on them, Republican candidates will also face these issues if elected president.

What are your reactions to the positions above--do they go far enough? What candidate positions or issue areas am I ignoring?

Robert Goodspeed is a master's candidate in community planning at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Considering the Smart Growth President

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Virginia LCV Releases 2008 Issue Briefings

The Virginia League of Conservation Voters recently released its issue briefing book for 2008.

In it, they publish a series of white papers identifying what they consider to be the most important environmental/conservation policy issues facing Virginia. Issues cover the gambit of environmental areas including: climate change, Energy Efficiency, Transportation Funding and VDOT Reform, Wetlands Protection, Land Conservation, Wetlands Protection, and Citizen Boards. Also includes evaluations of proposed legislation and identifies policy solutions for the Commonwealth. Read the briefing book at the link below.

2008 Virginia Conservation Briefing Book

My Vote for the Best On-line Conservation Publication

The 2007 Inaugural Issue of Conservation Minnesota (CM) Magazine–The State of Water, is the best put together publication I've seen in a long time. Filled with color photographs and interesting stories about Minnesota's natural world, CM magazine is easy to read. Articles generally focus on wildlife and nature, but the magazine frequently features topics explicitly related to sustainability. I especially love the interactive features.

Flip open the Inaugural Issue and enjoy >

Whose Water is it Anyway?

A letter to the editor of the Detroit News from the President of the International Bottled Water Association restates all the old canards in defense of the private capture for profit of the public's water. Here are a few:

1) The headline implies that packaging and selling water from springs or rivers or lakes is just another 'use' like any other. But common law has traditionally linked the right to use water with its use in the watershed, not its export. Selling water to distant customers for profit is a radically different concept, and not a traditional use.

2) "Proponents of the bills are seeking to make radical changes to the law that are not based on sound science." Where is the sound science that justifies the current Michigan law's distinction between unlimited amounts of water leaving the state in containers less than 5.7 gallons (not a diversion) and water leaving the state in containers 5.7 gallons or greater in the same volumes (diversion)? A spring or river won't know the difference.

3) "Interestingly, the International Joint Commission determined in its 2000 final report to the U.S. and Canadian governments that the Great Lakes basin imports about 14 times more bottled water than it exports and is a net importer of bottled water." Interestingly, this was before Nestle's large-scale operations began in Michigan in 2001. Even more importantly, the issue is not current ratios of export vs. import but the potential for major water taking expansion in an industry which has been growing 5-10% per year.

4) "The bills ignore the fact that bottled water is a consumed use of ground water, as is the case with other beverage and food producers. The bills change bottled water into a diversion of water. If bottled water is produced according to Food and Drug Administration regulations, it is without question a product, and all products should be treated equally." Water is an ingredient in beverages and food; water itself is claimed to be the 'product' in bottled water.

Michigan's conservation and environmental community is right to seek reinstatement in Michigan law of the centuries-old principle that water belongs to the public and there is no right to export it for sale.

Dave Dempsey

Minnesota sets tentative CO2 price

Minnesota sets tentative CO2 price
By Ben
Published December 7, 2007

A Minnesota agency set a non-binding price range on carbon dioxide emissions on Thursday, a move environmentalists say vindicates their past arguments against the proposed Big Stone II power plant in northeast South Dakota.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission told electricity providers to analyze emission prices between $4 and $30 a ton when planning how their systems will grow.

The change does not directly affect the Big Stone II proposal, which is awaiting approval of its power lines from the Minnesota commission next year.

But the St. Paul-based advocacy group Fresh Energy said the price range shows that the five utilities hoping to build Big Stone II were using an overly rosy analysis of the risk of future carbon regulation.

“Those few CEOs pushing new, dirty coal plants should level with their customers. They can’t say we didn’t know coal is a risky investment,” said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy.

Big Stone II spokesman Dan Sharp said the utilities used the price of $9 a ton because the Minnesota commission ordered them to. And the commission did not say on Thursday if the price was meant to be a carbon tax or part of a cap-and-trade system.

“It’s really hard to make any kind of comparison or any kind of judgement, because they weren’t specific,” Sharp said.

Op-Ed: Praise for MDEQ & Corporate Staff

This is a letter forwarded to me about some noteworthy people in Michigan Dept. of Enviro Quality.
I would like to call your attention to some individuals who are noteworthy. I thought about saying “extraordinary” but they would probably feel uncomfortable with that. A bit of background is called for. A juice processing facility in Paw Paw, Michigan had historically sprayed fruit juice processing waste on adjacent fields. In July with 95-degree temperatures, sugar wastes smelled awesome! Since becoming the new operators, Coca-Cola upgraded and significantly expanded the facility. A new water reclamation plant replaced the spray fields. Effluent from the plant now enters the Paw Paw River.

Currently neighbors are concerned because of the uncertainty over where the groundwater might carry the wastes. As you might expect, neighbors wonder if the groundwater will impact their wells, health, or property values. The Coca-Cola, with MDEQ oversight has installed monitoring wells and is testing neighbors’ wells. To allay concerns, Coca-Cola is providing bottled water to some of the homes. Although never used at the facility, arsenic has been found in several wells including a school.

So is the spray field area responsible? If you lived next door, should you be concerned? Most people are not hydro-geologists, chemists, toxicologists, pediatrician, internists, nor pubic health experts. Yet all of these people may play a part in helping residents know if there are risks and
who may be impacted, and when.

Coca-Cola should be very grateful that they sent Dirk Lundsford, to the Coca-Cola as plant manager. Dirk deserves credit for creating a series of public meetings hosted by Julie Pioch, Van Buren Extension Director, to help the community understand by bringing together “credible experts”. The transparency of the meetings are due to the candor and participation of neighbors, Dirk, and state agency staff: MDEQ geologist, Eric Chatterson and MDEQ toxicologist, Amy Perbeck, along with Dan Fields, Coca-Cola plant environmental director. Coca-Cola should be grateful to the neighbors who have insisted on being heard and are willing to continue to refine their questions and gather and provide health information.

At last week’s meeting, Amy and Eric helped the neighbors better understand how groundwater moves and what the risks are from some of the substances found in the water samples. As a long time observer and participant in public meetings I can tell you that how you respond is as important as what you have to say. I believe that the majority of people felt that each participant actually cared about their concerns.

So, Dirk Lundsford and Dan Fields, Julie Pioch, Amy Perbeck, Eric Chatterson and neighbor Dianna Stump and the other residents, my hat is off to you. You deserve recognition for your part in insuring an atmosphere of respect and concern. It is so easy for pieces to fall through the cracks that always exist. There won’t be many here.

Chuck Cubbage

Friday, December 7, 2007

Forest Service Chief Announces Open Space Conservation Strategy

Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell announced the release of the agency's Open Space Conservation Strategy today. View the Strategy and the Press Release at the Forest Service's Open Space Conservation

The Open Space Conservation Strategy is the product of extensive public comment and collaboration, with over 22,000 comments received - nearly all supportive of the Strategy. Open space benefits include clean air and water, climate change mitigation, outdoor recreation opportunities,wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, and improved human health.
You can download the Open Space Conservation Strategy, view interactive loss of open space examples, read Forests on the Edge publications, and find resources at the Forest Service Open Space Conservation

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Michigan: State house Committee Pass Great Lakes Compact


December 5, 2007


Patrick Schuh/517.214.4288

Cyndi Roper/517.490.1394

(Lansing)—The Michigan House of Representatives Great Lakes and Environment Committee today approved legislation ratifying the Great Lakes Compact, taking a crucial first step toward protecting Michigan's water resources from abusive withdrawals and diversions. The multi-state, and a companion multi-nation agreement establishes basic guidelines to prevent Great Lakes water diversions and ensure resource sustainability; the Compact requires each state to pass implementing legislation.

"As the Great Lakes State, we must be leaders in providing water resource protection. As other states still undecided consider whether to approve the Compact, they look to see how Michigan weighs in on this historic agreement for our waters," said David Holtz, Michigan Director for Clean Water Action. "The House committee action today demonstrates that Michigan—which has the most at stake in protecting the Great Lakes—has taken this important action in moving the Compact forward toward eventual approval by the full Legislature."

The legislation (House Bill 4343) will ban the diversion of water outside the Great Lakes Basin and it signals that Michigan is serious about protecting the Great Lakes from exports. Upon legislative approval, Michigan will be the third of eight states to ratify the Compact.

A strong package of companion bills implementing the Compact that protect Michigan's inland waters from damaging withdrawals by extending public control over all lakes, rivers and streams and giving residents a role in permit decisions also received a boost by the committee. Those bills were moved forward when the committee conditioned support for controversial water withdrawal technology favored by Senate Republicans to passage of the stronger water withdrawal protections in the Democratic bills.

Water use legislation this year has taken different directions in the House and Senate with the Senate's proposal relying soley on untested technology—a web-based assessment tool supported by industry groups—to determine how much water can be taken from Michigan's inland rivers,streams and groundwater. Local citizen groups and anglers concerned about the impacts on fishing streams throughout the state have expressed concern that the Senate approach would ignore local input thereby allowing large-scale water withdrawals that could impact local waterways.

"Any legislation that is passed must provide clear public oversight and strong protections against over pumping Michigan's water, said Holtz. " We applaud the house committee's leadership in passing the Compact and eagerly await passage of the strong implementing legislation to which it is tie-barred."

# # #
Clean Water Action is Michigan's leading grassroots environmental organization with over 205,000 members statewide. Individuals can learn more about the organization and its campaigns

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Indiana takes big step toward developing a statewide greenways network

The state of Indiana announced on Tuesday plans to acquire over 150 miles of abandoned railway. About 400 parcels of land in 39 counties would be sold to the state and would then be given to local communities for the development of trails. Indiana Department of Transportation officials said the state would spend $1.5 million to buy the abandoned railroads.
A greenway is a corridor of protected open space managed for conservation, recreation and non-motorized transportation. Greenways often follow natural geographic features such as ridge lines, stream valleys, and rivers, but may also be built along canals, utility corridors, or abandoned rail lines. Widths may vary from thirty to a thousand feet. Most greenways include a trail or bike path, but others may be designed strictly for environmental or scenic protection.The environmental benefits include reduced stormwater runoff, flood reduction, water quality protection, and preservation of biological diversity. The trails within the greenways provide access between neighborhoods and destination points, opportunity to travel without an automobile, outdoor education classrooms, and close-to-home paths for walking, jogging, bicycling, and roller blading.

The Indianapolis Star, Dec 05, 2007
Full Story: Deal to buy rails puts Indiana on path to statewide trail system


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Institute Report Calls for Increased Funding for EPA Brownfields Program

In November 2007, the Northeast-Midwest Institute and the National Brownfields Coalition released the fourth in its series of reports on the EPA Brownfields Program.

EPA has invested about $800 million in the assessment and cleanup of brownfields since 1995. According to EPA, this investment has leveraged more than $9 billion in cleanup and redevelopment monies – a return of more than ten to one. In addition, this investment has resulted in the assessment of more than 8,000 properties and helped to create more than 37,000 new jobs. The report cites needs for greater resources for the program to be more effective in cleaning up the nation's brownfield sites.

The Coalition recommends reauthorizing the EPA brownfields program with increased budgetary authorization levels, stepped up through the five year period. The Coalition recommends doubling the size of the current program after inflation is taken into account. Some particular areas that are recommended for new or increased attention include:

  • Increase the upper limit on cleanup funds to $1 million per site;
  • Establish a program to assist state and local environmental insurance programs;
  • Establish pilots for sustainable reuse and alternative energy on brownfields; and
  • Establish pilots for waterfront brownfields.

Veiw the report here: Proposal to Increase Funding for the EPA Brownfields Program

For more information on Federal Brownfields Legislation and the National Brownfields Coalition visit:

State of the Strait Report Assesses the Health of the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie

This indicator project and report are a product of the Canada-U.S. State of the Strait Conference held every two years to bring together government managers, researchers, students, members of environmental and conservation organizations, and concerned citizens to collaboratively assess ecosystem status and provide advice to improve research, monitoring, and management programs for the Detroit River and western Lake Erie.

Major findings include pollution prevention and control programs have resulted in substantial improvements in environmental quality in the Detroit River and western Lake Erie that have led to dramatic ecological recovery. However, there are also signs of deteriorating conditions.

Six key environmental and natural resource challenges remain: transportation expansion resulting in land use changes and regional population growth; nonpoint source pollution; toxic substances contamination; habitat loss and degradation; introduction of exotic species; and greenhouse gases and global warming.

The report recommends that resources be pooled on a regular basis (at least every five years) to undertake comprehensive and integrative assessments through a Canada-U.S. partnership of key management organizations. In addition, the report recommends that: a higher priority should be placed on quantifying targets for indicators (only 17 of 50 indicators have quantitative targets); future assessments should include more pressure, response, economic, social, and human health indicators; and greater emphasis should be placed on making sure that there is equivalent data coverage on both sides of the border.

For a complete copy of the report titled “State of the Strait: Status and Trends of Key Indicators,” please visit the following websites:

State of the Strait

Source and Contact:

Dr. John Hartig

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Monday, December 3, 2007

Importance of Minority Participation in Environmentalism

The following is an excerpt from this month's Bay Journal.

We may carry the mantra of improved water quality just for the benefit of living resources a little too far. Of course, we all want a cleaner environment to improve the ecosystem and bolster the populations of blue crabs, oysters, rockfish, brook trout and submerged aquatic vegetation. But we also need to recognize that a cleaner, healthier environment not only benefits the living resources, but also the people in the watershed. It not just a water quality issue, it is a quality of life issue.

We have failed over the years to properly frame the issue and to put it into a context that reaches beyond the traditional environmental community.


Full article at link below

David Bancroft
More minority involvement needed in Bay cleanup
Bay Journal: The Chesapeake Bay Newspaper
Dec 2007

Also, see related BICEP posts:
Environmentalism for All

Maryland Task Force on Minority Participation in the Environmental Community Releases Final Report

Michigan: Governor signs Long Awaited Environmental Justice Executive Directive

Conference: Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA)

There will be a series of meetings regarding high pressure pipelines and planning in Washington DC on January 15-17. This is the kickoff of the new Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA). Those interested are encouraged to attend, and consider joining one of the task teams. More information is available a:

There also was a recent conference in New Orleans that dealt with these issues. The proceedings of that conference can be found at:

Carl Weimer

Conference: Balancing Nature and Commerce in Communities that Neighbor Public Lands

January 28 - 31, 2008

USFWS National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV

Course Description:
During this 4 day course ‘teams’ will focus on the economics, natural resources and community character of their area and learn valuable partnership building skills. At the end of the four days, teams will leave with a specific action plan for implementing a collaborative project in their community.

Target Audience:
Participants will attend this course in teams comprised of generally 4 – 7 members consisting of public land managers, local business representatives/tourism councils, citizens, and others in public service roles.

For more details:
Balancing Nature and Commerce in Communities that Neighbor Public Lands

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Nature, family, and love of the land: Ludwigs protect land with Land Trust


PRESS RELEASE: Father & Daughter Protect Land with Washtenaw Land Trust:Ludwig family protects lands totaling 167 acres (Ann Arbor, Freedom Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan)

Bob Ludwig and his daughter, Connie Ludwig, have protected their Freedom Township lands, totaling 167 acres, by donating a conservation agreement to the Washtenaw Land Trust.

Rural living is nothing new for Bob Ludwig. He grew up in a small Indiana town where his grandparents had a farm. From the time he was old enough to reach the pedals, he was working there and became a self-described“country boy.” He bought this property on Bethel Church Road in 1968, and he rents the land to a local farmer to be farmed. In the early 1990s, Bob gave half the property to his daughter Connie, who now calls this land home.

Bob said he’s glad that both of them have protected what has become, for each of them, a truly treasured landscape. He is on the land every day,enjoying the quiet, rolling hills and shady woodlands.

“This is such a lovely property, and by protecting it forever, the Ludwigs have given a great gift to the whole community,” said Charity Steere, chair of the Land Trust’s Land Protection Committee.

“Every day is a great day when I can go out there,” said Bob.

“And to know that this will keep it that way, after you’re not around…You know, I was surprised today. I’ve never really had a feeling that something was different or unusual. But after signing the papers yesterday and going out there today, I had a warm, cozy feeling about that.”

“After I’m gone, I know that others will enjoy the land as I have.”

Like her dad, Connie is also excited that the project is finalized.

“I protected it because this is what I wanted for the land in my heart,and the Washtenaw Land Trust provided a way to make it possible,” said Connie.

“It makes you smile inside to look at the property you love and know that its natural beauty will be preserved forever.”

The conservation agreement, also known as a conservation easement, is a legal agreement that places restrictions on the future development of the property. Under the terms of the agreement, the land can continue to be farmed, and it can be sold or passed on to others, but the land can never be developed.

With the donation of the conservation agreement, the property value of the land decreases because of the restrictions on future development.However, this is offset in part by federal income tax deductions that are available to property owners who donate such an agreement. The loss in land value is considered a donation to the nonprofit Land Trust. The Land Trust,in turn, takes on the responsibility of making sure the land stays protected.

About the Washtenaw Land Trust

The first land trust incorporated in Michigan, Washtenaw Land Trust is a private non-profit that protects – forever – the natural areas and working farms that make our community a great place to live. To date, this growing organization has protected 58 properties totaling 3,330 acres throughout Washtenaw, Jackson, and Ingham counties, through voluntary land conservation. With the Ludwig lands, the Land Trust has protected 799 acres in 2007. For more information, visit, or contact or 734-302-LAND (5263).

Susan Lackey
Executive Director
Washtenaw Land Trust
1100 N. Main St. #203
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Michigan: River, Stream and Creek Cleanup Grants Available for 2008

The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) are pleased to announce the release of the 2008 Grant Application Package (GAP) for Michigan’s Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Cleanup Program (VRSCCP). A total of $25,000 (plus carryover from FY 2007) is available under the program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008. This funding is provided by the MDEQ through fees collected from the sale of the State’s Water Quality Protection license plates (Public Act 74 of 2000). The application deadline for Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Cleanup grants is January 25, 2008.

The Michigan VRSCCP provides small grants to local units of government to help implement the cleanup and improvement of the waters of Michigan’s rivers, streams, and creeks. Local units of government may partner with nonprofit organizations or other volunteer groups to carry out the cleanups. There is a minimum local match requirement of 25 percent of the total project costs.

The Volunteer Stream Cleanup GAP and application instructions are available online at The GAP contains detailed instructions, including eligibility requirements and other information for developing a proposal, evaluation criteria, and items that should be included with your application. Applications will be reviewed and assessed by GLC and MDEQ staff, with final decisions anticipated in March 2007. Contractual arrangements will be facilitated by the GLC, which is administering the VRSCCP on behalf of the MDEQ.

Once again, the deadline for submitting grant applications under the FY 2008 Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Cleanup Program is January 25, 2008. If you have questions regarding the GAP or your application, please contact John Hummer at the Great Lakes Commission at 734-971-9135 or