BlueHummingbird News - Archive
Environment 2004

From The NYT: January 6, 2004
3 Top Enforcement Officials Say They Will Leave E.P.A. By JENNIFER 8. LEE
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 — Three top enforcement officials at the Environmental Protection Agency have resigned or retired in the last two weeks, including two lawyers who were architects of the agency's litigation strategy against coal-burning power plants. The timing of the departures and comments by at least one of the officials who is leaving suggest that some have left out of frustration with the Bush administration's policy toward enforcement of the Clean Air Act. "The rug was pulled out from under us," said Rich Biondi, who is retiring as associate director of the air enforcement division of the agency. "You look around and say, `What contribution can I continue to make here?' and it was limited." ...
The head of the agency's enforcement division, J. P. Suarez, announced his resignation on Monday to take a job as general counsel at a division of Wal-Mart ... In the last two weeks, Bruce Buckheit, the head of air enforcement division, and Mr. Biondi, his deputy, who had worked at the agency since 1971, retired. The two, who took a buyout offered to senior agency employees, join other top enforcement lawyers who have resigned or retired. Eric Schaeffer, the former head of civil enforcement, resigned in spring 2002 with a scathing letter criticizing the administration's enforcement of the Clean Air Act. Sylvia K. Lowrance, the acting assistant administrator for enforcement and a career enforcement official, retired in August 2002. "We will see more resignations in the future as the administration fails to enforce environmental laws," Ms. Lowrance said. ...

From The BBC: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 18:01 GMT
Climate risk 'to million species' By Alex Kirby
Climate change could drive a million of the world's species to extinction as soon as 2050, a scientific study says. The authors say in the journal Nature a study of six world regions suggested a quarter of animals and plants living on the land could be forced into oblivion. They say cutting greenhouse gases and storing the main one, carbon dioxide, could save many species from vanishing. The United Nations says the prospect is also a threat to the billions of people who rely on Nature for their survival. ...

At Nature Magazine: 8 January 2004
Feeling the heat: Climate change and biodiversity loss
Many plant and animal species are unlikely to survive climate change. New analyses suggest that 15–37% of a sample of 1,103 land plants and animals would eventually become extinct as a result of climate changes expected by 2050. ...

From The Independent: 09 January 2004
'US climate policy bigger threat to world than terrorism' By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Tony Blair's chief scientist has launched a withering attack on President George Bush for failing to tackle climate change, which he says is more serious than terrorism. Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser, says in an article today in the journal Science that America, the world's greatest polluter, must take the threat of global warming more seriously. ...

From The Independent: 25 January 2004
Global warming will plunge Britain into new ice age 'within decades'
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Britain is likely to be plunged into an ice age within our lifetime by global warming, new research suggests. A study, which is being taken seriously by top government scientists, has uncovered a change "of remarkable amplitude" in the circulation of the waters of the North Atlantic. Similar events in pre-history are known to have caused sudden "flips" of the climate, bringing ice ages to northern Europe within a few decades. The development - described as "the largest and most dramatic oceanic change ever measured in the era of modern instruments", by the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which led the research - threatens to turn off the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe's weather mild. ...

At NRDC: The Bush Record

Comment at The San Francisco Chronicle: Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Damn Hippie Liberal Trees
BushCo wants you to know: Caring about the environment is for pinko terrorist idiots
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
" ... The GOP has succeeded, woefully, viciously, in demonizing nature. ...
Bush is the worst environmental president in the nation's history. Period. ...
From forest management to air quality to water pollution to emissions standards to land management to industrial farming to reduced controls on heavy polluters to global warming to nuclear waste to our energy policy, BushCo has made atrociously efficient progress in decimating, in just three short years, 30 years of staunch environmental protections. Dubya, by way of his industry cronies, have initiating more than 200 major rollbacks of America's most significant environmental laws. ... "

From THE ASSOCIATED PRESS at The NYT: February 16, 2004 9:11 a.m. ET
AP: How the White House Shelved MTBE Ban
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration quietly shelved a proposal to ban a gasoline additive that contaminates drinking water in many communities, helping an industry that has donated more than $1 million to Republicans. ...

From The NYT: February 18, 2004
Scientists Accuse White House of Distorting Facts By JAMES GLANZ
The Bush administration has deliberately and systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad, a group of about 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, said in a statement issued today. ...

From The Sunday Herald - 22 February 2004
WHO ‘suppressed’ scientific study into depleted uranium cancer fears in Iraq
Radiation experts warn in unpublished report that DU weapons used by Allies in Gulf war pose long-term health risk
By Rob Edwards, Environment Editor
An expert report warning that the long-term health of Iraq’s civilian population would be endangered by British and US depleted uranium (DU) weapons has been kept secret. The study by three leading radiation scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract cancer after breathing in dust containing DU, which is radioactive and chemically toxic. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately suppressed, though this is denied by WHO. Baverstock also believes that if the study had been published when it was completed in 2001, there would have been more pressure on the US and UK to limit their use of DU weapons in last year’s war, and to clean up afterwards. Hundreds of thousands of DU shells were fired by coalition tanks and planes during the conflict, and there has been no comprehensive decontamination. Experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have so far not been allowed into Iraq to assess the pollution. ...

From The Observer: Sunday February 22, 2004
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
By Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York
· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
· Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters. A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world. The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. 'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.' The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. ...

From Reuters UK: Wed 3 March, 2004 09:29
Insurer warns of global warming catastrophe By Thomas Atkins
GENEVA (Reuters) - The world's second-largest reinsurer Swiss Re warns that the costs of global warming threaten to spiral out of control, forcing the human race into a catastrophe of its own making. In a report revealing how climate change is rising on the corporate agenda, Swiss Re said the economic costs of global warming threatened to double to $150 billion (81 billion pounds) a year in 10 years, hitting insurers with $30-40 billion in claims, or the equivalent of one World Trade Centre attack annually. ...

From The Independent: 07 March 2004
Revealed: Shocking new evidence of the dangers of GM crops By Geoffrey Lean
Genetically modified strains have contaminated two-thirds of all crops in US
More than two-thirds of conventional crops in the United States are now contaminated with genetically modified material - dooming organic agriculture and posing a severe future risk to health - a new report concludes. ... The US biotech industry says it is "not surprised" by the findings. Because of the contamination, the report says, farmers unwittingly plant billions of GM seeds a year, spreading genetic modification throughout US agriculture. This would be likely to lead to danger to health with the next generation of GM crops, bred to produce pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals - delivering "drug-laced cornflakes" to the breakfast table. ...

OP-ED at The NYT: April 6, 2004
The Mercury Scandal By PAUL KRUGMAN
If you want a single example that captures why so many people no longer believe in the good intentions of the Bush administration, look at the case of mercury pollution. ... The head of the E.P.A.'s Office of Air and Radiation, like most key environmental appointees in the Bush administration, previously made his living representing polluting industries (which, in case you haven't guessed, are huge Republican donors). On mercury, the administration didn't just take industry views into account, it literally let the polluters write the regulations: much of the language of the administration's proposal came directly from lobbyists' memos. ... According to The Los Angeles Times: "E.P.A. staffers say they were told not to undertake the normal scientific and economic studies called for under a standing executive order. . . . E.P.A. veterans say they cannot recall another instance where the agency's technical experts were cut out of developing a major regulatory proposal." ...

From Reuters: Thu Apr 22, 2004 03:08 PM ET
Bush Hails His Environmental Record on Earth Day By David Morgan
WELLS, Maine (Reuters) - President Bush, who withdrew from the Kyoto environment accord, sought in an Earth Day appearance on Thursday at a wetlands area near his family's Maine estate to counter critics who accuse him of trying to reverse decades of environmental progress. ... the Republican president claimed credit for what he called "some of the most important anti-pollution policies in a decade."
"Since 2001, the condition of America's land, air and water has improved," he told an audience of about 200 people. But even as Bush announced a goal of creating or preserving 3 million wetland acres over five years, alumni of the first Earth Day in 1970 criticized him for ignoring basic environmental issues ... After Bush spoke, former Environmental Protection Agency head Carol Browner told CNN that the president had redefined wetlands so that nearly half of U.S. wetland areas were no longer protected by the EPA, which was created in response to the first Earth Day. ...

At The Independent: 16 May 2004
Bush holds his summit amid the toxic waste sites
By Michael Williams in Sea Island, Georgia and Geoffrey Lean
Georgia beauty spot chosen by President for G8 summit lies along one of America's most polluted stretches of coast
President George Bush is to bring leaders of the world's richest to Sea Island next month to showcase his "environmental stewardship". But the island - the most beautiful of the sub-tropical Golden Isles off the Georgia coast - is in one of the most polluted areas of the American South. Glynn County, which contains Sea Island - the site of next month's G8 summit - is home to 16 hazardous waste plants. A nearby polluting paper mill is being closed down while the leaders of the world's richest countries, including Tony Blair, are in the neighbourhood. ...

At U.S. Newswire: 7/12/2004 2:11:00 PM
Earthjustice: Bush 'Roadless Rule' Proposal Would Eliminate Forest Protections;
Proposal Will Leave Millions of Acres Vulnerable to Logging, Mining

At Reuters: 15 Jul 2004 21:33:00 GMT
Carbon dioxide emissions may harm ocean life By Christopher Doering
WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - The world's oceans have absorbed nearly half of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans during the last 200 years, creating potential long-term challenges for corals and free-swimming algae, according to two studies released on Thursday. ...
At VOANews: 16 Jul 2004, 01:13 UTC
Scientists: Carbon Dioxide Buildup in Oceans Could Threaten Some Marine Life
By David McAlary
From The NYT: July 20, 2004
Carbon Dioxide Extends Its Harmful Reach to Oceans By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Emissions of carbon dioxide, the main culprit linked to a warming climate, also pose potential risks to the oceans, new research suggests. The oceans have absorbed vast amounts of carbon dioxide released in the industrial age and have measurably changed, chemically and ecologically, as a result. ... The most important new research on the marine impact of carbon dioxide is described in two papers in the current issue of Science. ...

From AFP at SpaceDaily: Jul 21, 2004
US states open legal front in battle on global warming
NEW YORK (AFP) - Eight US states and the city of New York filed suit against five US power companies Wednesday in a bid to get them to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. ... In addition to New York City, the states of California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, have signed on to the suit. Named in the suit are American Electric Power Company, the Southern Company, Tennessee Valley Authority, Xcel Energy Inc. and Cinergy Corporation. Together, the five power companies own or operate 174 fossil fuel burning power plants in 20 states that emit some 650 million tons of carbon dioxide each year -- almost a quarter of the US utility industry's annual carbon dioxide emissions and about 10 percent of the nation's total, according to the states.

From Reuters: Fri Jul 23, 2004 02:17 PM ET
Dead Whales Land in Canaries After Naval Exercises
FUERTEVENTURA COAST, Spain (Reuters) - Two dead whales have landed in Spain's Canary Islands, raising fears they may have been hurt by NATO military exercises off Morocco and that more could have died, officials said on Friday. The two whales arrived in the area within 24 hours and were dead for several days before their bodies drifted ashore, said Tony Gallardo, environmental expert with the local government of the island of Fuerteventura, one of the Canaries, which lies only about 100 km (60 miles) off the southern Moroccan coast. "There is a strong suspicion that their deaths were related to the NATO exercises that finished a few days ago," Gallardo told Reuters. ... Fourteen whales beached in the Canaries in 2002 during multinational military exercises there. It was one of several mass strandings of whales that scientists have linked to the use of naval sonar systems. A year later, researchers published a study in the science journal Nature that found sonar may cause a type of decompression sickness in whales and dolphins. Scientists suspect sonar signals disorientate the mammals, forcing them to come up to the surface too quickly, which could cause the formation of damaging nitrogen bubbles in their tissue. ...

From Reuters at ENN: Friday, July 23, 2004
Military and industry sonar harms whales, says IWC report By Robin Pomeroy
ROME — Sonar used by the military to spot enemy submarines is to blame for increasing cases of whales being stranded on beaches and dying, the scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) said in a report this week. The IWC report adds weight to theories that sonar harms the giant sea mammals, a hypothesis that has been disputed by the military and by the oil and gas industry, which uses the technology to search for energy reserves. "There is now compelling evidence implicating military sonar as a direct impact on beaked whales in particular," said the report released at the IWC's four-day annual convention which was winding up Thursday. ...

From The Washington Post: Tuesday, August 31, 2004; Page A03
Sonar Used Before Whales Hit Shore By Marc Kaufman
Navy Changes Story but Still Denies Responsibility
The Navy has acknowledged that vessels on maneuver off Hawaii last month used their sonar periodically in the 20 hours before a large pod of melon-headed whales unexpectedly came to shore in the area. The acknowledgment added to an already contentious debate over whether the sound from sonar has been causing marine mammals to strand. Navy officials said that a review of the July 3 incident indicates that two ships turned on their sonar between 6:45 and 7:10 a.m., by most accounts just before the unusual movement of almost 200 deep-water whales to the shoreline of a Kauai bay. ... The International Whaling Commission said in a report last month that there is "compelling evidence" that Navy sonar is harming some species of whales, but Navy officials dismissed the conclusion as "unscientific."

From Sept. 30
Russia Backs Kyoto; Treaty May Enter Force Next Year
(Bloomberg) -- The Russian government agreed to sign the Kyoto treaty, meaning the global climate accord probably will enter into force next year over the opposition of the U.S., the world's biggest polluter. ...

From PA News at The Scotsman: Fri 15 Oct 2004 2:48am (UK)
Decline of Amphibians Sparks Environment Fears By John von Radowitz
Scientists have predicted that almost a third of the world’s amphibians face extinction from impending environmental disasters. ...

From The Washington Post: Monday, October 18, 2004; Page A02
Standoff in Congress Blocks Action on Environmental Bills By Juliet Eilperin
For another year, the confluence of partisan tensions, ideological differences, regional conflicts and interest group politics has blocked action on key environmental legislation including reducing air pollution and protecting endangered species, according to lawmakers, advocates and academics. Some analysts warn that the long-standing impasse is reaching a crisis point, as some federal programs are running low on funds and public health threats such as asthma and respiratory problems and pollution of lakes and streams are rising. The stalemate has prompted the Bush administration to resolve environmental questions through changes in federal regulations, effectively leaving Congress on the sidelines. ... Congress adjourned last week without having acted on a number of key measures, including the president's Clear Skies proposal for reducing power plant emissions; efforts to renew an expired industry tax to fund the cleanup of toxic Superfund sites; limits on heat-trapping gases linked to global warming; and measures to alter federal protections of endangered species. ...

From The BBC: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
Aid agencies' warning on climate By Alex Kirby
The greenhouse effect could wreck attempts to lift the world's poorest people out of poverty and reverse human progress, campaigners say. A report by a coalition of environment and aid agencies calls for urgent action to avert the threat. The Working Group on Climate Change and Development says industrialised countries must cut carbon emissions massively by mid-century. They must also help developing nations adapt to climate change, it argues. A report by the coalition, Up In Smoke, says global warming threatens to make the Millennium Development Goals unattainable. ... It says industrialised countries must cut their greenhouse gas emissions to 60-80% below their 1990 levels "to stop climate change running out of control". ...

From Reuters UK: Thu 21 October, 2004 13:44
World Living Beyond Its Environmental Means-WWF By Richard Waddington
GENEVA (Reuters) - The world is consuming some 20 percent more natural resources a year than the planet can produce, conservationist group WWF warned on Thursday. Urging governments to move rapidly to restore the ecological balance, the Swiss-based group said rich countries, particularly in North America, were largely to blame for the situation. "We are running up an ecological debt which we will not be able to pay off," Dr Claude Martin, director-general of WWF International, told a news conference. In its 'Living Planet Report 2004,' the fifth in a series, the WWF said that between 1970 and 2000, populations of marine and terrestrial species fell 30 percent. That of freshwater species declined 50 percent. "This is a direct consequence of increasing human demand for food, fiber, energy and water," it said. What WWF calls the "ecological footprint" -- the amount of productive land needed on average worldwide to sustain one person -- currently stood at 2.2 hectares (5.43 acres). But the earth had only 1.8 hectares (4.45 acres) per head -- based on the planet's estimated 11.3 billion hectares (27.9 billion acres) of productive land and sea space divided between its 6.1 billion people. "...humans consume 20 percent more natural resources than the earth can produce," WWF said. ...

From Reuters: Fri Oct 22, 2004 01:32 PM ET
Russia Duma Ratifies Kyoto Environment Pact By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's lower house of parliament ratified the Kyoto Protocol on Friday, clearing the way for the long-delayed climate change pact to come into force worldwide. The U.N. accord aimed at battling global warming is already backed by 126 countries, but it needed Russia's support to make it internationally binding after the United States, the world's biggest polluter, pulled out in 2001. ...

From Sci-Tech Today: November 3, 2004 10:50AM
Study: Arctic Ice Melt Accelerating
The Arctic is warming almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet due to global warming, according to an eight-nation report compiled by 250 scientists. "The big melt has begun," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the WWF's global climate change campaign.
A thaw of the Arctic icecap is accelerating because of global warming but nations in the region including the United States are deadlocked about how to stop it. An eight-nation report compiled by 250 scientists due for publication on November 8th says the Arctic is warming almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet due to a build-up of heat- trapping gases and the trend is set to continue. "We are taking a risk with the global climate," said Mr. Paal Prestrud, vice-chair of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report, which says emissions of gases from cars, factories and power plants are mostly to blame. ...
From The Washington Post: Thursday, November 4, 2004; Page A13
U.S. Wants No Warming Proposal By Juliet Eilperin
Administration Aims to Prevent Arctic Council Suggestions
The Bush administration has been working for months to keep an upcoming eight-nation report from endorsing broad policies aimed at curbing global warming, according to domestic and foreign participants, despite the group's conclusion that Arctic latitudes are facing historic increases in temperature, glacial melting and abrupt weather changes. ...

From The Independent: 05 December 2004
Bush sets out plan to dismantle 30 years of environmental laws By Geoffrey Lean
Washington - George Bush's new administration, and its supporters controlling Congress, are setting out to dismantle three decades of US environmental protection. In little over a month since his re-election, they have announced that they will comprehensively rewrite three of the country's most important environmental laws, open up vast new areas for oil and gas drilling, and reshape the official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They say that the election gave them a mandate for the measures ...

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