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Friday, June 30, 2006

Prisoners of the pump

Remember the good old days, when gas was $0.89 a gallon? If your pocketbook is hurting at the gas pump, you probably recalls those days – all of five years ago - with a nostalgic sigh. Environmentalists, however, hope that there may actually be a bright side to the rising cost of gasoline. Could high gas prices change our driving habits?

If nothing else, perhaps financial concern will prompt environmentally-blind Americans to reconsider the casualness with which we hop behind the wheel. In one year, an average driver emits about 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as well as 300 pounds of carbon monoxide, and close to 10 pounds each of hydrocarbons and NOx. That’s some heavy junk floating around in our air and our lungs! To find out how much your vehicle emits, enter your stats into the EPA’s Tailpipe Talley at www.environmentaldefense.org/TailpipeTally/.

If you didn’t like the results of that test, fortunately there are a number of approaches to changing those stats, even while driving on gasoline. Don’t get me wrong – gas is dirty, no matter how you drive. But a few small changes in your driving habits, from how you drive to when, can have great cumulative effect. If just 10% people used public transportation for their work commute only, it would save 135 million gallons of gas a year – not to mention lots of pennies at the pump. And even in your private car, how you drive makes a huge difference in your environmental impact. A few steps you can take include:

· Don’t warm up your engine before driving. The engine emits the most pollutants when cold, and it heats up faster when driving than idling.

· Combine outings. Even if you have to turn the car on and off at each parking lot, using the car for many errands at once reduces the number of cold starts.

· Drive steadily. The most fuel efficient speed is between 35 and 45 mph. It’s much more efficient to chug along steadily at 45 mph than to race to a stoplight only to slow down, idle, and accelerate again.

· Don’t idle. Leaving the car running for thirty seconds uses just as much gas as it would to restart the engine.

· Maintain your car. A faulty or poorly serviced engine can release up to 10 times the emissions of a well-maintained one. This includes all parts of the car; old tires, for example, impede the car’s movement and decrease its fuel efficiency.

· Share rides. It costs you about 25 cents a mile to drive your car, figuring in all the operating costs as well as fuel. By ridesharing on the daily commute to work, you can save as much as $3,000 a year on gas, insurance, parking, and car maintenance.

· Drive at non-peak times. This is the best way to avoid idling, stop-and-go traffic, and non-fuel-efficient speeds on the road.

If you think all this is insignificant, think again. The amount of gasoline and money wasted by inefficient driving adds up to 753 million gallons of gas per year, or $1,194 per driver in fuel and time. Just think of the catalytic converters you could buy with all that money!

by Sara Kate Kneidel
Greener Magazine

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6:56 PM

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Green grins and groans, bears, buckets n' Buffett

Our current green press picks for June, which are either Green Grins, some good news to bring a smile to your day or Green Groans, I can't believe they did that! Here are some of the best items sent in by our readers.


  • Floodwood, MN June 17:: DNR Conservation officer Randy Hanzel stumbled upon a yearling bear in the woods recently, the bear's head was firmly stuck in a plastic bucket. After approaching the exhausted 100 lb cub cautiously, Hanzel attempted to wrench the bucket off the hapless youngster's head - to no avail.

  • Not willing to abandon the bear to its fate, Hanzel followed the animal for four hours until it collapsed exhausted and in obvious distress. The officer was then able to lasso the bear and tie it to a tree so that he might safely cut the plastic bucket and free the animal. When he cut the ropes, Hanzel said, the bear sat up dazed, took a drink from a water filled ditch then, "took off like a herd of horses."

    Hanzel who, as a conservation officer who has often had to dispatch injured animals said, "it was nice to save one." We agree :-)

    From Cheryl P, Minneapolis

    Grin and Groan, it's a tie

  • Sunday, June 25 marked a milestone in philanthropy as the world's second wealthiest person, financier Warren Buffett made a surprise announcement that he would gift most of his considerable wealth, $38.8 billion dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates charitable foundation. Buffett's contribution swells the fund assets to nearly $60 billion making it by far the worlds largest endowment for charitable work.

    The endowment will be administered by Bill and Linda Gates as part of their foundation, which gives $1.5 Billion annually to battle world hunger and such diseases as AIDs, Polio and malaria. With this most recent, gift the fund's annual giving is, at one stroke, doubled to nearly $3 billion. :-)

    Buffett, who has perhaps not been treated so fairly in the past for his outspoken attitude, remarked that he had always intended that his vast wealth should be gifted in order to help society. Then in true Buffett style he went on to say, that the money would be spent wisely. "If your interest was taking care of stray cats and you tripled the fund, you might not accomplish too much," he said. "But millions of people around the world are facing health problems. That's not something $3 billion a year is too much for." :-(

    We hope Buffett was not implying that someone donating funds sufficient to triple the amount available to help any cause from cats to the homeless or to simply save a tree is somehow less generous, insignificant when compared to his charity, but that is how it sounds.

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9:39 AM

Monday, June 26, 2006

Three Gorges Dam, dragon and sword

Earlier this month the cofferdams designed to temporarily hold back the rising waters of the Yangtse River were removed and China's greatest engineering feat, Three Gorges Dam, cut the heart of the dragon. When completely filled in 2008, the reservoir formed by Three Gorges will stretch 412 miles to Chongqing, creating a long, deep, wide and slow moving river that will enable safe, reliable navigation along China's most important waterway, as well as an important hydroelectric resource for the Chinese economy.

Three Gorges Dam, became a reality after nearly 100 years of planning. In 1919 Chinese Premier Sun Yat-sen speculated about the benefits of constructing a modern hydroelectric project on the Yangtze River. By the end of WW II, the first director of the TVA (Tennessee Vally Authority,) David Lilienthal wrote a book, TVA: Democracy on the March later published in China, which is widely considered to be the inspiration for the Yangtse project.

Three Gorges Dam was envisioned to harness the great river or long river, as the Chinese call it, which winds its way 3,900 miles to the East China Sea. The river coils like a mythical dragon through an area that is home to nearly 400 million people. Three Gorges Dam spans the point where the last of three narrows called gorges funnel the annual runoff from the 20,000-foot high Tibetan plateau. Annual floods have, over the last century, caused billions in damage and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. Flooding in 1911 killed unknown thousands and again in 1931, took the lives of another 145,000 people, inundating an area the size of New York State, and submerged more than 3 million hectares of farmland, destroying 108 million houses. In the flood of 1935, 142,000 people were killed. As recently as 1998, flooding along the gorges led to 3,656 fatalities, and affected the lives of 290 million people. In that flood, there were more than 5 million houses destroyed and 21.8 million hectares of farmland submerged. The total economic cost of the flood that year was for $30 billion.

When first proposed, the construction was touted by government officials as reminiscent of last century's development of the Tennessee Valley Authority to control flooding in the United States. Three Gorges Dam, which has 26 generators, will produce 85 billion kilowatts of electricity per year, nearly one-ninth of China's present power needs. The control storage of the Three Gorges Dam reservoir is 22.15 billion cubic meters; the flood causeway is 483 meters, with the maximum discharging capacity at 102,500 meters per second, also a record. The two-way, five-step lock is also the most advanced in the world.

When Chinese authorities announced in 1992 that China would begin construction, at last, of Three Gorges Dam they faced considerable resistance from environmental and humanitarian interests around the world. Entire towns were to be displaced by the rising water, thousands of lives uprooted and moved, ancestral ground submerged forever. As recently as the last Presidential elections in the United States, environmentalists voiced caution that the project would result in increased industrialization along the banks of the Yantgse resulting in elevated levels of pollution across one of the world’s most densely populated regions. Recent spectrographic analysis provided by Envisat orbited by the European Space Agency reveal a trend toward increasing levels of nitrogen dioxide, a compound suspected of being a major contributor to global warming. The potential for accelerated NO2 increases is not without concern for environmentalists.

While it would seem that flood mitigation, with its consequent reduction in the loss of life and property, would be a worthwhile commitment, environmentalists point out that such control projects are unlikely to overcome a 100-year event. During the intervening control cycle, populations increase and the memory of past events fades to the point of dangerous disregard and that in such an event more lives could be lost than in all previous floods combined.

Silt accumulation is another disadvantage of large damming construction, the slowing of the river allows greater amounts of silt to settle out of the stream. The Yangtse is one of the world’s most turbulent rivers pouring 960 billion cubic meters of water into the East China Sea annually. The subsequent silt bloom is visible from space and scientists are uncertain what effect the discontinuance of this sedimentary deposit into the East China Sea will have in the long term.

The Three Gorges Dam, while providing great economic and cultural benefit to a growing Chinese economy, at the same time seems to reprise the doubtful contribution of similar undertakings over the last half century of dam building in the United States. Damming projects here have largely failed to provide long-term solutions to soil erosion, flood control or power supply even while they promoted industrial growth and economic gain. Perhaps, in the end, manipulating nature for short-term advantage may prove to be a double-edged sword afterall and not a true dragon slayer.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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12:36 PM

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Back yard camping and other happiness

NV sent us this clip and we had to share the fun. We don't know anything about this happy couple but they have a job with us at the entertainment desk anytime they want. Watch the video, ya just gotta smile. Rated "G" for green


Elsewhere, Orange County, California:: A pelican collided with the windshield of a car here Friday in what local police say may be the county's first case of F.U.I (flying under the influence.) The incident happened at about 11 AM on California's famed Pacific Coast Highway. According to eye witnesses reports, the California brown pelican, whose destination is unknown, was simply flying too low and crashed through the front windshield of the car.

The driver of the car was unhurt. The pelican was transported to a local veterinary clinic where it received treatment for a broken foot and minor cuts. The pelican, which was probably impaired by ingesting a toxin produced by naturally by algae blooms, will be recovering at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center.


Yesterday was the Great American Backyard Campout, an excellent way to reconnect, not just with the kids and family pets but with nature and perhaps even your next door neighbors. Go to the National Wildlife federation's site and you can sign up your official camp site and start blogging, 'course you'll need a wireless connection from the pup tent or maybe just wait until next day, after the "s'mores" have worn off.

Greener Magazine

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5:01 PM

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hybrid tactical for U.S. Army

An old saying goes that an army travels on its stomach, while that may be true the real transport workhorse of the modern Army, the Heavy Expanded
Mobility Tactical Truck or HEMTT, may soon have a new energy source of its own, E85 ethanol or B20, otherwise know as biodiesel, a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aeromatics.

The Army, in conforming with a government directive in 2000,and the more recent Energy Policy Act of 2005, plans to buy about 1,500 of these tactical trucks over the next 10 years. The vehicles are produced in several specific versions required by the Pentagon including wreckers, cargo, tractor and tanker models.

The Energy Policy calls for a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and a move toward alternative sources of energy by all segments of the Federal Government, including the use of hybrid vehicles like the HEMTT.

HEMTTs are eight-wheeled vehicles that provide transport capabilities for re-supply of combat vehicles and weapons systems. The manufacturer, Oshkosh Truck Corporation provided the following video of the HEMTT A3 being put through its paces at their Wisconsin testing facility.

One version, the TFFT or Tactical Fire Fighting Truck has been designed specifically to meet new standards for fire fighting vehicles, which require a crew of four personnel and a water carrying capacity of 1000 gallons for fire vehicles covering Air Force planes landing at Army fields. The TFFT features all-wheel drive, the ability to ford four feet of water and is capable of hauling up a 60-percent grade at full payload. The fire truck will be deployed worldwide for structural fire protection, wildland firefighting, fuel storage protection, aircraft rescue and rescue extrication in almost any terrain.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

::Don Bosch contributed to this article

Further reading::
Defense Energy Support Center
National Ethanol Vehicle Coaltion
DOE Clean Cities
National Biodiesel Board
Army Petroleum Center

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12:24 PM

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

An inheritance of earth, ocean and sky

When the delegates to the Episcopal General Convention voted to install Nevada Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori to head the American branch of the Angelican Communion Sunday, they may have done more than elect the first woman to preside over that body, as significant as that is, they may have in fact made a decision, conscious or otherwise, to reaffirm a more basic construct, a natural order to the affairs of man, nature and God.

We decided to look at not who Bishop Schori will be after her installation November 4th in a ceremony at Washington National Cathedral, rather we wanted to understand who she has been up until now.

At 52 years of age, Bishop Schori, like many Americans, is firmly engaged in a second career with no plans to stop anytime soon. Speaking with the Las Vegas Review Journal last June, Bishop Schori, regarding her nomination to the office, said, "She was not losing any sleep over the prospect of either winning or losing the presiding bishop's post. Buddhists and Christians," she notes, "share the notion of nonattachment, the ability to "be able to embrace what is in the now. And I think that has been one of the gifts of this process for me," she concluded, "remembering how to do that."

A native of Pensacola, FL, Jefferts Schori lived in the east and graduated from high school in New Jersey. Her life long love of the ocean compelled her to excel in her studies of marine biology at Stanford. After graduating she moved to Oregon and earned her master's and doctorate degrees in oceanography at Oregon State University in 1974.

She returned to Oregon in 1985 along with her husband, Richard Schori, a mathematics professor at OSU after finishing her work in Seattle at the National Marine Fisheries Service there. She began volunteering, with Habitat for Humanity, serving as the treasurer of the Assistance League and as president of the Parents-Teachers Organization at her daughter's school.

By 1994, she had graduated with a degree in theology and began her ministry at the Las Vegas Episcopal Dioceses where she quickly rose to become the Presiding Bishop. Her husband, Richard Miles is a theortical mathematician; they have a daughter, Kate Harris, now 24 and a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

In an article written for the NPR series Taking Issue: Evolution and Religious Faith, August 2005, Schori wrote, "Human beings are meant to be stewards of creation. Everyday, creation and revelation continue in divine-human partnership as God works in the minds of scientists, inviting us all to share in discovering the wonderful mysteries of creation. In this light, I find no difficulty in holding together my faith and the best of recent science. She concludes, “We are compelled to use all of the resources God has given us. Not to use our brains in understanding the world around us seems a cardinal sin.”

The environment, our earth habitat, faces extreme challenges placed before it by globalization, increasing population pressures, global warming and crushing poverty. In many ways, and to countless millions of human beings, the future seems forebidding, destitute of hope. Perhaps, for those most often overlooked by society, the elevation of such a person, a scientist, and activist, theologian and reformer a person the likes of Katharine Jefferts Schori to head the American Angelican Communion and its 77-million members will send a hopeful message to the world that science, society and theology can work together as natural partners in the drive for social change and environmental stewardship. Our only inheritance is after all, just that, the earth, the ocean and the sky, no matter how you define them.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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1:44 PM

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Call for reinstatement of geothermal funding

In a letter delivered Friday to the Members of the U.S.
Senate Committee on Appropriations, more than sixty businesses,
environmental, consumer, and energy policy organizations called for the
restoration of funding for the federal geothermal energy research and
development program. Also signing the letter were four dozen individuals,
including many active in geothermal energy projects.

Specifically, the letter urged the Senate to restore funding for the U.S.
Department of Energy's (DOE) geothermal research and development program
to at least the Fiscal Year 2006 (FY'06) level of $23 million and to
consider an even higher level of support. The White House has proposed to
zero-out funding for geothermal development for FY'07 while the U.S. House
of Representatives has approved a funding level of only $5 million.

The authors of the letter noted that a study recently prepared for the
Western Governors Association conservatively projects the near-term
development potential of geothermal energy at 13,000 megawatts of
capacity. That is the equivalent of about 15 nuclear power plants or 30
coal-fired plants. Further analyses done by the Geothermal Energy
Association suggest that the potential may actually be two or more times

Moreover, geothermal energy's contribution to the nation's electricity
supply increased by 2.6 percent last year according to the latest analyses
done by the Energy Information Administration. At the same time,
non-electric applications of geothermal technology have increased
dramatically among businesses, schools, and homes. Investing in DOE's
Geothermal Research and Development Program will certainly spur even more
development compared to last year's increases.

"Given the significant potential of geothermal energy to meet the
nation's energy needs coupled with the importance of reducing energy
imports, energy prices, and greenhouse gas emissions,­ and the fact that
carefully-sited geothermal facilities can produce cost-effective power
that is significantly cleaner than fossil fuel and nuclear options,­ the
proposed cuts in geothermal funds are both illogical and unacceptable," the
letter's signers wrote. "In fact, there is a good case for significant
increases in funding for not only geothermal, but the full cross-section
of federal renewable energy and energy efficient technology R&D

The full text of the letter and list of signers follows.


June 16, 2006

To: Members, Senate Committee on Appropriations

Attn: Staff Members Working on Appropriations and/or Energy

Dear Senator:

We, the undersigned businesses, organizations, and individuals, are
writing to urge that you restore funding for the U.S. Department of
Energy's (DOE) geothermal research and development program to at least the
Fiscal Year 2006 (FY'06) level of $23 million and to consider an even
higher level of support.

As you know the Administration has proposed to zero-out funding for
geothermal development for FY'07 while the U.S. House of Representatives
has approved a funding level of only $5 million.

Given the significant potential of geothermal energy to meet the nation¨^s
energy needs coupled with the importance of reducing energy imports,
energy prices, and greenhouse gas emissions, the proposed cuts in
geothermal funds are both illogical and unacceptable.

A study recently prepared for the Western Governors Association
conservatively projects the near-term development potential of geothermal
energy at 13,000 megawatts of capacity. That is the equivalent of about
15 nuclear power plants or 30 coal-fired plants. Further analyses done by
the Geothermal Energy Association suggest that the potential may actually
be two or more times greater.

Moreover, geothermal energy's contribution to the nation's electricity
supply increased by 2.6 percent last year according to the latest analyses
done by the Energy Information Administration. At the same time,
non-electric applications of geothermal technology have increased
dramatically among businesses, schools, and homes. Investing in DOE's
Geothermal Research and Development Program will certainly spur even more
development compared to last year's increases.

Given this potential and the fact that carefully-sited geothermal
facilities can produce cost-effective power that is significantly cleaner
than fossil fuel and nuclear options, it makes no sense to reduce funding
for this technology. In fact, there is a good case for significant
increases in funding for not only geothermal, but the full cross-section
of federal renewable energy and energy efficient technology R&D programs.

We therefore urge you to reject the Administration's proposal to zero-out
the federal geothermal energy R&D program and instead support restoration
of funding to no less than FY'06 levels.

We appreciate your support and look forward to hearing from you.



Edna Sussman
Action for Tomorrow's Environment
Scarsdale, NY

Micah Walker Parkin
Alliance for Affordable Energy
New Orleans, LA

Rochelle Becker
Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility
San Luis Obispo, CA

Gary Seawright
AmeriCulture, Inc.
Animas, NM

Daniel F. Ancona III
Ancona International, LLC
Annandale, VA

Bill Holmberg
Biomass Coordinating Council
Washington, DC

Bob Lawrence
Bob Lawrence & Associates, Inc.
Alexandria, VA

Gary R. Thompson, P.Geo; Curtis Marr
Cayley Geothermal Corp.
Sherwood Park, AB, Canada

Daniel Dudak
California State Lands Commission
Long Beach, CA

Duane L. Otto
Cavalier Rural Electric Co-op.
Langdon, ND

Greg Dierkers
Center for Clean Air Policy
Washington, DC

Dave Olsen
Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies
Ventura, CA

Bill Pearson
Chong Partners Architecture
San Francisco, CA

Julie Frank
Dial Discoveries, LLC
Olympia, WA

Ronald C. Barr
Earth Power Resources, Inc.
Tulsa, OK

Kenneth Langer
Washington, DC

Don Erickson
Energy Concepts
Annapolis, MD

Carol Werner
Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Washington, DC

Jim Combs, Ph.D.
Geo Hills Associates
Reno, NV

Glenn Lovelace
GeoTek Energy, LLC
Austin, TX

Marilyn L. Nemzer
Geothermal Education Office
Tiburon, CA

Ted. J. Clutter
Geothermal Resources Council
Davis, CA

Ann Robertson-Tait
GeothermEx, Inc.
Richmond, CA

William Dunlay
Good Energy Engineering
Cape Elizabeth, ME

Nancy Seubert
IHM Justice, Peace and Sustainability Office
Monroe, MI

Keith Parker
Cassville, MO

Dale Merrick
I'SOT Inc.
Canby, CA

Rita Schenck
Institute for Environmental Research and Education
Vashon, WA

Walter S. Snyder
Intermountain West Geothermal Consortium
Boise, ID

Andy McDonald
Kentucky Solar Partnership
Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest
Frankfort, KY

Laurie McClenahan Hietter
MHA Environmental Consulting, Inc.
San Mateo, CA

David Gard
Michigan Environmental Council
Lansing, MI

Adam Rasmussen
Mountain Power Systems
Stateline, NV

Lynne Kurilovitch, Dr. David I. Norman
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Socorro, NM

Northern California Power Agency
Roseville, CA

Michael Mariotte
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Takoma Park, MD

Donald Okahara, Tyson Toyama
Okahara & Associates, Inc.
Honolulu, HI

Michael W. Grainey, Director
Oregon Department of Energy
Salem, OR

Noah Brockman
PointMan Consulting LLC
Portland, OR

William L Osborn
PowerChem Technology LLC
Minden, NV

Aviv Goldsmith
Precursor Systems, Inc.
Spotsylvania, VA

Phil von Hake
PvH Communications
Morrison, CO

Qadwi Bey
R.A. Energy International, Inc.
Cleveland, OH

Chris Rose
Renewable Energy Alaska Project
Palmer, AK

Roy Morrison
Roy Morrison & Associates, LLC
Warner, NH

Alex Sifford
Sifford Energy Services
Neskowin, OR

Ned Ryan Doyle
Southern Energy & Environment Expo
Etowah, NC

Scott Sklar
The Stella Group, Ltd.
Washington, DC

Tom Bishop
Sunelco, Inc
Victor, MT

Rona Fried
Huntington Station, NY

Leslie Ames
Tahoe Solar Designs
South Lake Tahoe, CA

Tsvi Miedav
Trans-Pacific Geothermal Corporation
Oakland, CA

Stephen Arber
Trident Seafoods Corp.
Seattle, WA

Fred Tornatore
TSS Consultants
Rancho Cordova, CA

Douglas Jung
Two-Phase Engineering & Research, Inc.
Santa Rosa, CA

Marchant Wentworth
Union of Concerned Scientists
Washington, DC

Daniel Kunz, Doug Glaspey
US Geothermal, Inc.
Boise, ID

Tim Wagner
Utah Smart Energy Campaign
Salt Lake City, UT

Guy Nelson
Utility Forum Connection
Lincoln City, OR

Glenn Cannon
Waverly Light and Power
Waverly, IA

Craig Dunn, B.Sc. Geol
WellDunn Consulting
Calgary, Alberta

William R. Henkle, Jr.
Western Geothermal Partners, LLC
Reno, NV


Ronny Bar-Gadda
Palo Alto, CA

Liz Battocletti
Alexandria, VA

John Henry Beyer, Ph.D.
El Cerrito, CA

Robert Blackett
Cedar City, UT

Robert W. Carington, P.E.
San Antonio, TX

Chase Davis
Spokane, WA

Scott Denman
Takoma Park, MD

Ronald DiPippo, Ph.D.
Dartmouth, MA

Kevin Eber
Boulder, CO

Al Fritsch, Ph.D.

Sabodh K. Garg, Ph.D.
Del Mar, CA

Bill Golove
El Cerrito, CA

Will Gosnold
Grand Forks, ND

Holly Heinzmann
Norris, MT

Margarita L. Hopkins
Hilo, HI

Kwang J. Kim, PhD
Reno, NV

Brian A. Koenig
Calipatria, CA

Evgeny Kolev, Ph.D.
Mount Prospect, IL

Marcelo Lippmann
Berkeley, CA

Jim Lovekin
Berkeley, CA

Michael Maish, PE
Boulder, CO

W. Frank Mills, Jr.
Montgomery, AL

Dr. Joseph Moore
Salt Lake City, UT

Liz Moore
Lakewood, CO

Gregory D. Nash, Ph.D.
Salt Lake City, UT

Teresa Nealon
Golden, CO

Giulio Negrini
Carlstadt, NJ

Kenneth Press Nemzer
Tiburon, CA

Brian Normann
Georgetown, TX

Cheri Normann
Edgewood, NM

Harrol D. Pearson
Marble City, OK

Stephen Pew
Huntington Beach, CA

John W. Pritchett
San Diego, CA

Karsten Pruess
Berkeley, CA

Maria Richards
Dallas, TX

Peter Rose *
Geothermal Program Coordinator
Energy and Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

J. Eric Schuster
Olympia, WA

Helen Shane
Sebastopol, CA

Richard P. Smith, Ph.D., P.G.
Nathrop, CO

Lenna Storm
Vienna, VA

James L. Szatkowski, P.E.
Boise, ID

Linda Quackenbush Turner
Salt Lake City, UT

Tracey Van Gundy
Reno, NV

Douglas E. Vetter
Thornton, CO

Phil Wannamaker
Salt Lake City, UT

Randy Weaver
Cincinnati, OH

Margaret Weber
Adrian, MI

Mark D. Wilson
Columbus, OH

* Affiliation listed for identification purposes only

Top of Page

10:46 AM

Thursday, June 15, 2006

From Blue to Green

Some folks that drop by the Evangelical Ecologist are surprised to find out I'm a Navy environmental scientist. "Didn't know the military even had environmentalists!" is an email I get a lot.

I mention this as a disclaimer ahead of the Q&A session that follows below.* But secondly, I understand where they're coming from. Since its inception our military has had a great track record of doing good things. But as an industry over the past half-century or so, it's also had a rather notorious reputation for environmental problems, and a lot of it well deserved.

As the country tuned into environmental stewardship in the '70's, the military (along with the rest of U.S. industries) got its wakeup call. Mostly through fines and notices of violation that tied up military lawyers and base commanders in paperwork and depositions and expensive fines and cleanups, but through public relationship nightmares and legitimate health issues too.

After two decades and hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup and disposal costs, military minds decided to find a better way. The 90's became the Pollution Prevention decade. Every military base around the world dug through its repair shops and hazmat storage lockers to find more eco-friendly ways of doing business. DoD loaned its green ideas to other industries and began working with communities surrounding military areas, influencing the country the way President Clinton and others had envisioned.

Today, making military ecology more effective (and cheaper for taxpayers!) is a priority. Recycling is a great example. At the urging of blogger Rebecca Carter, Greener Mag's Harlan Weikle tracked down Eric Vichich, the Recycling Program Coordinator at MacDill Air Force Base at the recent Recycle Florida Today conference. Harlan suggested I get with Eric mano y mano and see what the boys in blue have been up to. Setting aside any friendly rivalries (Go Navy - Beat Air Force!), here's our Q&A. I think you'll be surprised at some of his answers.

DB: Why did MacDill get into the recycling business, and how long has the base been recycling?

EV: MacDill began its recycling efforts in 1993. Several reasons guided the base decision, including a realization of the potential cost-avoidance, new policy direction from Air Force headquarters, and the desire to implement a program promoting environmental stewardship that would contribute to improving MacDill’s overall environmental ethic.

DB: What sorts of items are typically recycled, and about how much of each? Are there things you'd like to recycle but can't? Why not?

EV: MacDill currently recycles cardboard, office paper, mixed paper, newspaper, plastic, glass, aluminum, metal, tires, yard/wood waste, JP-8(fuel), oil, antifreeze, universal waste (several types of batteries, fluorescent lamps, mercury containing devices), toner cartridges, biosolids (WWTP), fats and bones from Commissary, used cooking oil, concrete and asphalt.

Materials listed by weight (annual average)

  • 8000 tons concrete and asphalt (crushed and reused on base)
  • 2000 tons cardboard
  • 220 tons JP-8/oil
  • 212 tons yard and wood waste
  • 200 tons paper
  • 120 tons tires
  • 100 tons metal
  • 100 tons biosolids
  • 32 tons newspaper
  • 20 tons used cooking oil
  • 5.5 tons plastic
  • 4 tons glass
  • 3.5 tons aluminum
  • 8 tons universal waste
  • 500 toner cartridges

As for items that aren’t currently recycled, I am investigating the feasibility of including organics (food waste) and packaging paper from housing, and plastic stretch/shrink wrap from incoming deliveries. We are lucky to be in the large metropolitan area of Tampa Bay, so there is usually a purchaser for just about any commodity we have. The only limits to the program are when activities become cost-prohibitive. For example, our office areas only have curbside service for paper. To recycle aluminum, plastic, etc. employees must transport their own materials to one of the collection centers around base. It would not be cost-effective to add another pick-up day for non-paper recyclables.

DB: How do you think MacDill compares to the rest of the Air Force and the rest of the military as a whole? How about as compared to an equally-sized industrial corporation? Way above average? About average? Making up for lost ground?

EV: The Air Force and the overall military do a pretty good job at recycling. There are Executive Orders, Air Force Instructions and CFR’s (federal regulations) that require it, so there are plenty of bases and installations that are experienced and working to further improve their programs. MacDill is better than average. There are areas where MacDill excels and can serve as an example to others, and there are areas where we are trying to improve by learning from installations successful in those areas. Our base was the recipient of the “DoD Outstanding Installation Award” bestowed by Recycle Florida Today in 2002 to recognize the continued efforts of the base to improve the scope and quality of our recycling program. MacDill routinely meets and surpasses the DoD target of 40% waste diverted from landfill/incinerators without counting the concrete and asphalt that is recycled. A main difference between us and some other bases is that we don’t process any materials on site. All of our recyclables are collected and sent to a processing site. Bases that process their own commodities are able to sell them at a premium because the product is clean, baled and stored long enough for them to accumulate a large quantity. We don’t get paid as well for our commodities, but we don’t have to worry about equipment maintenance and paying contractors to sort, process and market the material.

There aren’t many corporations to which we could be compared. We act more like a small city than a large corporation. We have industrial facilities, but we also have an airport, residential areas, a supermarket, marina, fitness center, movie theater, etc. Compared to similar sized cities, we are doing an excellent job with our waste minimization and diversion efforts. It helps because just about everyone working or living in our “city” answers to the Wing Commander. In a military situation, if a commander says “We need to do this,” then typically it gets done. MacDill, however, is a rather unique base for the Air Force in how many tenant organizations we have. In addition to Air Force personnel, we have several organizations representing all branches of the military and other federal and state organizations, all with their own unique rules, regulations and chains of command. It can be difficult to institute base wide policy when everyone answers to a different commander. In the end though, if they want to stay on our base, they have to follow our rules.

DB: Does MacDill use Air Force personnel to do recycling or do you use contractors, or a little of both?

EV: MacDill is using contractors for lots of the daily operations around base. I am actually a contractor working under the broad civil engineering contract. Currently, MacDill has a specific waste and refuse contract to handle 95% of our waste disposal needs. Some smaller contracts exist for unique items, such as fuel, oil, tires, fats and bones, cooking oil, etc. when we can work directly with a purchaser or when an item will be picked up for free.

DB: What are two things you would like these folks to know, as a USAF recycling program manager, or as a DoD environmentalist?

EV: Very interesting question. I would first ask “Why don’t you associate the military with recycling?” As for two things I would like the folks out there to know:
1) The military has stricter recycling rules than the average neighborhood and workplace.
2) The U.S. federal government is the single largest purchaser of goods in the world. The DoD is one of the largest purchaser of goods in the federal government. We are in the unique position of being able to answer the question “What difference can I make?” Well, by choosing to recycle and buy recycled products, the DoD is capable of, and successful at, creating and influencing global recyclable commodity and product markets.

That's 2,000 TONS of cardboard each year, folks. Sweet.

Many thanks to Eric for his time, and to Harlan for letting me post this one. If you want more info on all things "environmentally military," you've got to get over to DENIX on the Web, DoD's main eco website.

*[Also for the record, I'm not blogging in any official DoD capacity.]

by Don Bosch

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8:40 PM

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

'Gone fishin': A closer look at the catch of the day

Going fishing is as American as barbeques on the Fourth of July. Despite increasing concerns about the safety of seafood, fishing maintains a wholesome image of lazy afternoons with quaint rowboats and bamboo fishing poles.

After all, your own catch is in fact healthier and more sustainable than commercial seafood. Your wild-caught fish got plenty of exercise and ate a natural diet, and was never exposed to the drugs and chemicals that taint farmed fish – at least not intentionally. In addition, plucking a single fish out of the water is far less environmentally damaging than a massive ocean trawler scraping the sea floor. Your catch also does not have to be processed, packaged, and shipped thousands of miles to your plate.

However, despite these perks, the real deal behind catching your own fish may surprise you.1 Newly released state advisories reveal the alarming truth about wild-caught fish. In North Carolina alone, the number of dangerously contaminated fish species has tripled in just one year, leaping from seven to 22 from 2005 to 2006. Due to prohibitively dangerous levels of mercury, this year’s new advisory warns pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children under age 15 not to consume any of 17 marine and five freshwater species, including such common fare as Spanish mackerel, marlin, shark, and tuna. Fishermen are warned not to consume largemouth bass caught anywhere in the state, for fear of danger to the brain and kidneys.

This danger is real. Suzanne N., an amateur fishing enthusiast from Virginia, can certainly attest to that. On a family vacation in 2003, she innocently ate a fresh tuna she and her family caught off the coast of Long Island. “It was delicious,” she recollected. “But the next day I literally fell to my knees in pain, clutching my neck.” After extensive medical testing, Suzanne learned that she is highly sensitive to heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, which frequently accumulate in fish. The tuna incident was actually a case of acute heavy metal poisoning, which almost killed her. Three years later, she is still struggling to eliminate these poisons from her body through medication and strict diet modification.

While Suzanne is an extreme example, the rest of us will soon be reacting similarly if current trends continue. After all, no standards or certification for organic or sustainably harvested seafood currently exists. Until we clean up our waterways, all our fish populations will be in trouble, and all fish will be contaminated, no matter how it’s caught. Currently, scientists at the EPA estimate that eating less than one serving of wild salmon per month still places you in the “moderate” range of their cancer risk scale. Proceed at your own risk!

by Sara Kate Kneidel
Greener Magazine

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6:04 PM

Summer time and the travel is greening

Google maps and The Earth Day Network have partnered in a "mashup" to produce a nifty site, which helps you map your way to greener travel this summer. The site is called Have a Green Summer.

We took a test drive and found some interesting destinations sure to please the dedicated eco traveler or just make your summer fun a bit more earth friendly. Families will find New York high on the list of destinations, and surprisingly green as well. Whether you like dining on organic greens or in Tavern on the Green you'll find this site's interactive maps and videos as entertaining as they are helpful.

They have a quick and easy directions point-to-point feature and some insider's tips for making the most of your visit. It's all free and requires no registration, or, if you're the more hands on type you can join their Google Group and write your own travel advisories or just ask some questions from other green travelers.

We were so impressed we added our own Green destination pick for your summer's travel adventure at Greener Earth maps, El Yunque National Rain Forest in the Carribbean.

From LA to Orlando you are certain to find a feast of "earthwise' summer adventure for the entire family. Listen to our partner site ENN Radio as host Jerry Kay interviews Earth Day Network's Laurie Howell, and have a Green Summer.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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3:40 PM

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nature Coast, Alberto not the only threat

Dekle Beach is the sort of place you spent your childhood. You might have called it Rehobeth or Coney Island, Lake Minnetonka, June's Quarry or just a sand lot by the edge of town but it was your sand lot and your playmate's forever and a summer.

Lost now to development and grown over by condos and casinos, golf courses carpet the once wild dunes that hid you from your parent's view not so long ago and made for a deliciously secretive rendezvous with nature. The tide reroutes now east and west toward uncertain fishing grounds where once the water-flooded grasses inland for miles and birds simply pass over, their memory of ancient nesting sites long since faded.

Dekle Beach always resistant to the storm fury of hurricanes now faces a much greater threat, a new destiny, one not meant for remembering so much as for dismembering and the process of development in what has become twenty first century man's favorite pastime, eco-management.

The tiny enclave known as Dekle Beach is on the eastern tip of one of Florida's last pristine coastal preserves (satellite map). Located in Taylor County south of almost nothing in the corner of Florida's Big Bend region, called "Nature Coast," the natural grasslands form a barrier to storm surge and provide safe breeding ground for dozens of sea birds including the Great Cormorant, Osprey and American Bald Eagle. The sea grass beds are a vast nursery to the grouper and sea trout and they are the Gulf’s last remaining bay scallop bed.

Dekle beach remains for all intent and purpose unchanged since our childhood and our fathers before that, a sleepy corner of the world where intimacy with nature and a life far removed from the twenty first century’s distractions offer a window into simpler times and the possibility of returning to the freedom of our youth.

That may soon change. A Florida developer has purchased 3780 acres called Boggy Bay and plans to build a resort community of condominiums, homes, and a marina and business park all intended to house a community of hotels and tourism called Magnolia Bay. Lynchpin to their plan however is the proposed dredging of a 2 mile long, 100-foot-wide wide channel deep enough to accommodate 45-foot yachts, through the sea grass meadows of a publicly owned preserve. The channel, they say is key to attracting the boating enthusiasts who will become Magnolia Bay’s new residents.

Slicing the boat channel through these public lands will, according to environmentalists and local residents, drain the grasslands adding pollution and sediment from increased drainage. The clam beds will dwindle and eventually disappear as will the natural protection for sea bird nests and fish nurseries. Boggy Bay will cease to exist in name as well as fact.

The final decision weather to proceed with development of Dekle beach and surrounding grassland areas is far from certain but, for the time being at least, locals as well as potential newcomers look to Alberto, this year’s first named tropical storm as it bears down on Taylor County, and consider the wisdom of nature versus development and how we suffer when the wrong decision is made.

by Harlan Weiklke
Greener Magazine

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10:22 AM

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bank of America pilots hybrids

Today Greener learned through our associate in Charlotte that as part of a pilot test, Bank of America will initiate a program to reimburse $3,000 to associates purchasing a hybrid vehicle. The pilot program will be available to more than 21,000 associates living within 90 miles of 3 test markets: Boston, Charlotte, and Los Angeles.

"Given the size of our commuting associate base, the hybrid program expands our commitment to the environment and helps our associates to participate in making a difference while cutting down on their commuting costs," said Anne Finucane, Bank of America Global Marketing & Corporate Affairs executive and head of the company's environmental council. "We are pleased to be one of the first corporations offering this benefit and strengthening our long-standing leadership on environmental issues."

The company plans to evaluate this pilot program, factoring in employee participation levels and demand to assess how it might be rolled out to the full associate base.

The pilot mirrors the Internal Revenue Service's hybrid vehicle tax credit program and will apply toward a hybrid vehicle as defined by the IRS. All full-time and part-time associates working at least 20 hours a week in the three pilot cities are eligible.

by Haralan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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8:44 PM

Monday, June 05, 2006


Twenty-five years ago today, federal health officials at the CDC reported something that changed our world. On that same day, June 5, 1981, Environment Day celebrated its thirty-second incarnation, the theme, "desertification." Rarely have two dates in history so entwined and become as prophetic as that day in June, 25 years ago today.

On that day the Center for Disease Control, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, described the cases of five gay men from Los Angeles who had all developed rare cases of pneumonia, later identified as auto immune deficiency or AIDS.

Organizers of Environment day assigned this same date for their movement's focus this year again as Desertification Awareness. The enormous coincidence of the impact of those two seemingly disparate events, more than any in recent memory, has effected the last quarter century of man and the environment in ways that are yet to be fully understood.

Twenty five million people have died of AIDS in twenty-five years. The desert has reclaimed 40 percent of the earth's arable land.

HIV is the leading cause of death among those ages 15-59. Starvation from desertification of previously agricultural land is the leading cause of death in underdeveloped nations.

Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger. Every 5 seconds someone dies HIV-aids.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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8:42 PM

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Oranges rejuiced

As fuel costs soar and manufacturers eagerly seek out ever more exotic sources of alternative fuel now and then they stmble on familiar, oranges for instance.

Long the mainstay of Florida growers and road side fruit stands, orange groves abound in the sunshine state and as such contribute mightily to the econonomy of that states agricultural sector.

Now, a researcher believes he has found a use for the mountains of orange peel that plague the grower each season

Karel Grohmann, an agricultural researcher at the USDA Citrus and subtropical Product Lab in Florida envisioned using the waste orange peel to manufacture ethanol. Ethanol is a natural biofuel, which can be extracted from plant materials with a high sugar level, the higher the sugar or energy content, the higher the percent of ethanol that can be produced. Ethanol is made by fermenting the sugars in a process identical to distilling liquor. Yeast first break down the complex sugars to produce simple enzymes which are then comsumed by bacteria, producing ethanol.

The process allows the extraction of by-products other than ethanol such as citrus oils used a a base in a variety of natural cleaning products and as a degreaser for machinery.

The majority of oranges harvested in Florida each year are used to make orange juice, 95%. the USDA estimates that using the waste peels from Florida’s orange crop, refiners could produce up to 55-million gallons of ethanol annually, which is still a small percentage of the nearly 3.5-billion gallons produced in the United States today. Researchers say however that the ethanol would be but a single benefit to the Florida citrus industry. Income from ethanol would improve orange grove farmer’s bottom line, they could get more for their oranges. Juice processors would earn three times the 2-4 cents per pound they now receive from selling the waste peel as cattle feed and landfills would be free of the accumulated peel from excess processing.

Earlier this year the USDA built a pilot processing plant and was able to produce four gallons of ethanol for every 100 gallons of liquid orange pulp. At that level they conclude that the process is profitable based on current gas prices.

by Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

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1:39 PM