Environmental News Update 3/30/01
TSA Call In Day
The Houston Animal Rights Team (HART) is sponsoring a call in day on April 3 to discourage the Texas State Aquarium from constructing a dolphinarium. Research indicates that dolphins in captivity suffer from depression, boredom, and even insanity, and no other captive dolphin facilities have been built in the United States or Europe for the last 20 years, according to the group. HART is encouraging animal rights activists to call the Corpus Christi, Texas Visitors Bureau in Corpus Christi at 1-800-678-OCEAN (6232) to express their opinions on the matter. http://www.houstonanimalrights.com/
Harris County Projects Win TNRCC Awards
Two projects in Harris County will win Texas Environmental Excellence Awards, presented by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) on May 1. Rohm and Haas Texas, Inc. in Deer Park will be honored in the Large Business/Technical category for their pollutant reduction and resource conservation project. Working in partnership with Dupont and community members since 1987, the company has made a 74 percent (4,985,000 ton) reduction in the amount of pollutants generated and achieved an 18.2 percent reduction in energy consumption, according to TNRCC. Baytowns Parks and Recreation Department will take home the Government award for an environmental improvement project launched in 1990. This four-part initiative included bayou beautification efforts, creation of a wetlands nature preserve, construction of a wetlands education facility, and development of an arboretum to offer environmental educational programs. http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/exec/media/press/03-01harristeea.html
Houstonians to March on Washington May 19
VOTERMARCH, which recently participated in the Inaugural protest, is returning to Washington D.C. on May 19. Activists will converge on the Mall area of the Capitol to express their support for voting and election reform. Leaders are encouraging Houstonians to join with progressive groups advocating voter rights, civil rights, human rights, and environmental rights. Trust-The-People and Counter-Coup.org are hosting a bus trip to Washington for the protest. The bus will leave Houston at 7:00 p.m. on May 17 and return May 20. The trip costs $125; motel (May 18) and meal stops will be at participants own expense. To reserve a space, contact JoAnn Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit http://www.votermarch.org or http://countercoup.org.
Green Mountain to Sell 100 Percent Wind Power
Green Mountain Energy, the only green energy company participating in the Texas Electric Choice Pilot Program, recently announced that they will sell 100 percent wind power to their customers in Texas. Company representatives say they will release their prices on April 3. Through the pilot program, 5 percent of Texans may choose their electric providers starting in June 2001; everyone can choose starting in 2002. To sign up for Green Mountains services, visit http://www.greenmountain.com after April 3. To learn more about Green Mountain Energys controversial history, visit http://www.cechouston.org/newsletter/nl_04-01/greenmountain.html.
Pesticides in Our Parks
A recent study from the Texas Pesticide Information Network analyzes pesticide use in parks in 25 metropolitan areas in Texas. The report, entitled Play at Your Own Risk, shows that more than 75,000 pounds of pesticides were dumped on the 2,922 parks studied in 1998. An additional 100,000 pounds of fertilizers, many laced with pesticides, were used as well. Herbicides accounted for 75 percent of the pesticides applied, while insecticides represented 19 percent of total applications. One of the most widely used insecticides was Dursban, which will soon be banned by the EPA for many uses. The golf courses surveyed applied an average of four times more pesticides per acre than other types of parks; the chemicals they used tended to be more toxic than those used at other parks as well. Houston parks ranked eighth out of 25 for the highest pesticide use per acre. Play at Your Own Risk is available at http://www.txpin.org.
EPA Rejects San Francisco Smog Plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected the Bay Area's plan to clean up ozone pollution, according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 22. The decision was prompted because the number of violations of federal ozone standards exceeded the number allowed during a one-year period in 1999 and 2000. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the Association of Bay Area Governments must resubmit a new air plan by June. However, the EPA did approve some of the measures proposed by regulators, thus forestalling sanctions such as a loss of federal highway funds. http://www.sfgate.com:80/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/03/22/MNW226438.DTL
Bush Backs Out of Kyoto Treaty, New Arsenic Standards
The Bush administration announced Wednesday that it will not seek to implement measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contained in the agreement that the United States and 54 other nations signed in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. The U.S. Senate had never approved the treaty, but U.S. negotiators were involved in ongoing international talks about how it might eventually be implemented. The president asked the State Department to investigate ways for the United States to withdraw its signature on the agreement, which would kill any U.S. commitment to it. This announcement comes after the administrations decision last week not to implement new stricter standards limiting arsenic levels in drinking water. The new standards were developed by the Clinton administration but not published until Bush took office. They were to have taken effect March 23, but EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced three days before then that she was withdrawing them, saying there was not enough scientific evidence to justify the $200 million annual cost to municipalities. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman announced that he is launching a Congressional investigation into President Bush's efforts to rollback environmental regulations and hopes to eventually hold hearings on these issues. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/nation/862591, http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/nation/862612, http://www.enn.com/news/wire-stories/2001/03/03292001/upi_lieberman_42785.asp
Forest Service Chief Steps Down over Bush Policy
Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck, a proponent of a sweeping land-use plan the Bush administration may now be trying to undo, recently announced he is stepping down, according to the Associated Press. As chief, Dombeck worked to conserve old-growth forests, increase staff to protect wilderness areas and improve funding to fight wildfires and protect communities near the agency's 192 million acres of national forests. One of Dombeck's most notable initiatives was a ban on road building and logging in 58.5 million acres of national forest lands, except in rare circumstances. The ban originally was to have gone into effect March 13, but President Bush postponed it until May 12 so he could review it. "It was made clear in no uncertain terms that the administration wants to take the Forest Service in another direction," said Chris Wood, who served as Dombeck's top aide. Wood said Dombeck tried to turn the forests he governed into national parks. Instead, he would like to see the Forest Service recognize the value of forests as resources. http://www.enn.com/news/wire-stories/2001/03/03282001/ap_dombeck_42764.asp
Visit http://www.AirHead.org to calculate the amount of air pollution you emit. Answer a few questions about your lifestyle, and the site calculates how many pounds of air emissions you are responsible for. You can compare your total with those of other Americans and learn about methods and products that will help you reduce your contribution.
Conservation Organizer - Sierra Club, Houston
The Sierra Club is seeking a full-time Conservation Organizer in Houston from now until November 2001. The Conservation Organizer will work closely with regional grassroots campaigns, events, and skills trainings. Applicants can send resumés and cover letters (via email, with Word or text attachment preferred) to Larry Freilich, Sierra Club Representative, Southeast Field Office, Texas/Arkansas Branch Office, 54 Chicon Street, Austin TX 78702; 512-472-9094 x10 (office); 512-472-8710 (fax);email@example.com.
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