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n2doc

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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 31,420

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

High Levels Of Mercury Found In Fish In Remote National Parks

Unhealthily high levels of mercury have been found in fish in national parks in Alaska and the West, proving that even the most remote lakes and streams in the U.S. aren’t immune to mercury pollution.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service released a report Thursday that found 5 percent of the freshwater fish sampled in 21 western national parks had levels of mercury that were high enough to trigger toxic responses from the fish themselves, potentially endangering their health and lives. In addition, 35 percent of the fish sampled had enough mercury in them to impact the health of some predatory birds, and 68 percent of fish had mercury levels above the recommended amount for “unlimited consumption” by humans.

The researchers said in their report that the levels of mercury in some national parks were alarming because they occurred in small fish — organisms that should have the least amount of mercury in their systems, because the higher fish are on the food chain, the more mercury they’re expected to have.

Zion, Capital Reef, Wrangell-St. Elias, and Lake Clark National Parks all contained sites in which most fish exceeded benchmarks for the protection of human and wildlife health,” the report reads. “This finding is particularly concerning in Zion and Capitol Reef National Parks because the fish from these parks were speckled dace, a small, invertebrate-feeding species, yet their Hg concentrations were as high or higher than those in the largest, long-lived predatory species, such as lake trout.”

more
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/18/3428394/mercury-fish-remote-national-parks/

Connecticut Takes A Step Closer To Keep Fracking Wastewater Out Of The State

Activists on Wednesday delivered petitions with over 5,600 signatures to Connecticut lawmakers in support of legislation that would ban the disposal or storage of wastewater from fracking anywhere in the state. Supporters of the prohibition warn that Connecticut could become the next dumping ground for waste from Pennsylvania’s over 6,000 gas wells.

On Monday, the legislature’s Judiciary Committee approved the proposed ban, SB 327, by an overwhelming 34-6 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate floor.

If the bill is not passed by both the Senate and the House by the end of the current legislative session, May 7, it will die by default.

Last year, three similar bills to ban fracking waste disposal in the state were introduced. Only two of the bills ever made it out of committee and none ever made it any further in the legislative process.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/18/3428213/connecticut-fracking-wastewater-ban/

A Nuclear Power Plant Goes On The Auction Block

In late March, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in southern California hosted a three-day nuclear auction, the first step in a decades-long decommissioning process for the recently shuttered generating station that will cost over $3 billion dollars, account for more than 1,500 jobs lost, and require the replacement of 2.2 gigawatts of power. Forced to close due to the failure of expensive equipment upgrades, the closure of the plant is illustrative of the turning point at which many nuclear power plants in the U.S. find themselves as they confront aging infrastructure, expensive repairs and upgrades, environmental risks, and price competition from natural gas, wind and solar power.

Available to the highest bidder at the auction was everything from overflowing toolboxes to heavy machinery to control panels reminiscent of the one Homer Simpson uses at his job as a nuclear technician. Community members joined seasoned dealers in scouting out turbine heat exchangers, eye-washing stands, and some 2,700 other items for personal use, professional use or resale on the 130-acre site about 50 miles north of San Diego.


SONGS was a powerful community presence long before its guts were sold off and dispersed throughout the region, and it will continue to influence local decision-making for many years to come. The first reactor went into operation in 1968, the decommissioning process will go on for at least two decades, and the radioactive waste will be stored onsite for the foreseeable future. Southern California Edison (SCE), the co-owners of the nuclear plant along with San Diego Gas & Electric Company, organized a Community Engagement Panel to keep residents engaged in the decommissioning process beyond the activity of the auction — there are around 100,000 people living within ten miles of SONGS and nearly nine million within 50 miles.

Around 300 people attended the first meeting held in late March, which was overseen by David Victor, director of the UC-San Diego Laboratory on International Law and Regulation, who was chosen to chair the panel because of his proven leadership abilities and experience bringing together diverse groups of stakeholders.

more
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/18/3425661/nuclear-power-plant-auction/

California Regulators Decide Utilities Can’t Charge Solar-Killing Fees

On Tuesday, California regulators issued a decision that state utilities could not charge certain fees for solar-plus-storage systems in homes and offices, clearing the way for such projects to proceed.

For about a year, California’s big three utilities — Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, and San Diego Gas And Electric — have been charging customers, be they individuals or businesses, various fees for setting up a solar system on their property that includes battery storage. That includes an $800 interconnection application fee, as well as various other charges that can bring the cost between $1,400 and $3,700. The utilities also insisted such systems go through an extensive review process for, they claimed, safety purposes, and to ensure the systems weren’t just storing power produced by the utilities and then seeking credit for it under California’s net metering rules.

Solar system installers said the hurdles have ground new solar-battery projects to a halt. SolarCity, the biggest solar provider in the US, said that only 12 of the 500 customers that signed up for its solar battery systems have been connected to the grid. Among other efforts, SolarCity has started up a pilot project to provide commercial buildings with both a solar array and battery produced by Tesla Motors.

But Tuesday’s decision by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) scuttled many of those obstacles. Under CPUC’s proposal, distributed generation systems (usually solar, but not limited to it) that are eligible for net metering, and that are over 10 kilowatts, must keep their storage component under that 10 kilowatt capacity. For smaller systems, there would be no size limit. Systems over 10 kilowatts will also need a separate meter to keep track of the interchange between electricity generation and battery charging. For smaller systems, local data from the net metering system will be used to tease out the energy drawn into the battery. “Trusting the solar-storage system to measure its own give-and-take status against the grid,” as GreenTech Media put it.

more

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/17/3427739/california-regulators-solar-batteries/

Va. Supreme Court rules for U-Va. in global warming FOIA case

BY TOM JACKMAN
Unpublished research by university scientists is exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday, rejecting an attempt by skeptics of global warming to view the work of a prominent climate researcher during his years at the University of Virginia.

The ruling is the latest turn in the FOIA request filed in 2011 by Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) and the American Tradition Institute to obtain research and e-mails of former U-Va. professor Michael Mann.

Mann left the university in 2005 and now works at Penn State University, where he published his book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” about his theories on global warming and those who would deny it. Lawyers for U-Va. turned over about 1,000 documents to Marshall and ATI, led by former EPA attorney David Schnare, but withheld another 12,000 papers and e-mails, saying that work “of a propriety nature” was exempt under the state’s FOIA law.

In 2012, Circuit Judge Paul Sheridan sided with U-Va., saying that Mann’s work was exempt and that the FOIA exemption arose “from the concept of academic freedom and from the interest in protecting research.” Marshall and ATI appealed.

more

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/local/wp/2014/04/17/va-supreme-court-rules-for-u-va-in-global-warming-foia-case/

NASA Bombs the Moon, Again

NASA's moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned
FRIDAY APR 18, 2014 | MARCIA DUNN FOR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — NASA's robotic moon explorer, LADEE, is no more.

Flight controllers confirmed Friday that the orbiting spacecraft crashed into the back side of the moon as planned, just three days after surviving a full lunar eclipse, something it was never designed to do.

Researchers believe LADEE likely vaporized when it hit because of its extreme orbiting speed of 3,600 mph (5,800 kph), possibly smacking into a mountain or side of a crater. No debris would have been left behind.

"It's bound to make a dent," project scientist Rick Elphic predicted Thursday.

more

http://www.newsdaily.com/article/b76cd2a57d74fbe931f5096200b3f575/nasas-moon-orbiting-robot-crashes-down-as-planned

South Korea Ferry Sinking: Authorities Arrest Captain

Source: WSJ

MOKPO, South Korea—Authorities arrested the captain of the sunken South Korean ferry late Friday evening, as one of the crew confirmed accounts that the captain, 69-year-old Lee Jun-seok, was among the first to abandon the sinking ship.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, crew member Oh Yong-seok, who isn't a target of an arrest warrant, recreated the chaotic final moments before the ship capsized on Wednesday morning. He said that although members of the crew abandoned the boat, they did everything they could to first evacuate the vessel's passengers.

"We didn't break the rules," Mr. Oh said. "We just couldn't do it. We were unable to approach the cabin where passengers were. The ship was just tilted too much, and so suddenly."

The focus on the crew members' final actions came after a third day of frustration, confusion and tragedy that offered no new breakthroughs in attempts to rescue the nearly 300 passengers who remain missing.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304311204579508662325226006

Japan Says It Will Resume Whaling Off Antarctica

Source: NYT

TOKYO — In a move likely to bring renewed international criticism, Japan said Friday that it would resume its controversial research whaling in the Southern Ocean next year under a redesigned program that would address objections raised by an international court.

In a statement, Minister of Agriculture Yoshimasa Hayashi said Japan would submit a new plan for research whaling next fall to the International Whaling Commission that would allow it to restart its annual hunts in waters off Antarctica in 2015. Japan canceled this year’s hunt this month after the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the hunts were in violation of Japan’s legal obligations under an international treaty banning commercial whaling.

In its ruling, the court questioned whether the program was really for research, pointing out that it had yielded few scientific results. Japan says its 26-year-old research program is needed to monitor recovering whale populations in the Southern Ocean, but opponents call it a crude cover for continued commercial whaling.

The decision announced on Friday runs against the predictions of some political analysts, who had said Japan might use the international court ruling as a face-saving pretext for scrapping an outdated program that had become a diplomatic embarrassment while enjoying only limited support among the Japanese, who no longer eat much whale meat. The plans for a redesign suggest that pro-whaling interests influenced the government’s decision, environmentalists said.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/19/world/asia/japan-says-it-will-resume-whaling-off-antarctica.html?ref=world&_r=0

Missouri Mayor: "I Kind of Agreed" with Frazier Glenn Miller

Residents in the town of Marionville, Missouri, are calling for the resignation of their mayor after he made statements supporting the anti-Semitic views of Frazier Glenn Miller, the white supremacist charged with killing three people at two Jewish community sites in Kansas last weekend. Mayor Daniel Clevenger, who was just elected on Tuesday, came under fire after speaking to a local TV station about Miller.
Daniel Clevenger: "He was always nice and friendly and respectful of elder people. You know, he respected his elders greatly, as long as they were the same color as him. ... I kind of agreed with him on some things, but I don’t like to express that too much."


http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/18/headlines/missouri_mayor_i_kind_of_agreed_with_frazier_glenn_miller#.U1FQRO6ZJwk.reddit

Mr. D, Principal of Columbine HS, is retiring...

Frank DeAngelis has worked at Columbine High School for thirty-five years, and he's been principal for the last seventeen. He was in his office when the shooting started. He was there for the aftermath, the years-long recovery that came at a great personal cost. Now, fifteen years after the tragedy that birthed a terrible new chapter in American history, he's finally decided to call it quits. This is his story.

By K. Annabelle Smith on April 18, 2014

Frank DeAngelis didn’t always want to be a teacher, and heaven knows he didn’t expect the responsibilities the job would lay upon him. When he graduated from high school in northern Colorado, he thought he would become an accountant. When he realized there wasn’t a future in keeping the books, he left college for a semester and worked at a grocery store. During the time spent amid fluorescent lights and the bleeping of the cash register, he considered the people who had influenced his life: his junior high baseball coach and his social studies teacher, for example.

“I thought about the impact they had on their students—on me,” he says. “That’s when I decided to go back to school to pursue my degree in education.”

He was hired at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in October 1979, as a social studies teacher. He was twenty-four, and he took to the job immediately. He loved teaching; after school, he coached baseball and football. He spent a year or so at another middle school, but, he returned to Columbine as soon as something opened up. Over time, he climbed the ladder. From ’92 to ’94 he piloted a dean of students program. He rose to assistant principal. Then, in 1996, with the support of his colleagues, Mr. D, as the kids came to call him, became principal.

And for a little while, all was well.

more

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/columbine-frank-deangelis-mr-d
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