January 28th, 2015

Columbian Farmers’ vs. BP court case near verdict over environmental damage

Posted by guest

by, Linda St. Cyr

It has been almost seven years since Columbian farmers’ brought about a case against oil giant BP alleging severe environmental damage to their lands from a pipeline. The UK high court is due to decide whether BP is responsible for the £18m ($27m USD) in lost production to Columbian farmers.

British oil giant BP laid a pipeline across the land of over 100 small farmers. The Ocensa pipeline was buried up to 1.8 metres deep along its 828km length in the mid- 1990s. The pipeline takes in approximately 650,000 barrels of crude a day from the giant oilfield. The farmers’ whose land the pipeline stretches across claim that the work was done unsatisfactorily and that the design of the pipeline was at fault.

The farmers claim that their streams and water sources were blocked, leading to uncontrolled erosion, and the creation of marshy areas. One farmer claimed that he could not keep pigs or chickens because there is not enough water for them. Another farmer claimed that the mud created from the pipeline made farming difficult and claimed he could not sell the farm because of the pipeline. The farmers also claim a loss to much of their income during the management of the pipeline’s construction. BP has rejected all the allegations against them.

A judgment in the case is expected to come in February after both sides give their closing submissions. The case has been ongoing in legal arguments for seven years. The latest arguments have been focused on the alleged damage to four small farms.

“Our water supply has been damaged by sedimentation since the pipeline was laid and I have lost cattle,” Velez Montoya, from Segovia, told Judge Stuart-Smith in the London Technology and Construction Court, according to the Guardian.

This is the first time that BP has faced a UK court over its actions overseas. BP claims no wrongdoing in the case saying that it has acted in a fair manner toward the farmers with generous compensation at the time of the pipeline’s construction and that the construction of the pipeline was carried out to a high standard. BP claims that the farms were declining in productivity before the pipeline was constructed.

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

 

January 5th, 2015

Congress Tells Nutritionists to Not Talk About Environment

Posted by Lisa Carey

My Plate

Top nutrition experts have been assigned to lay the groundwork for new dietary guidelines in the United States. Earlier this year the government-appointed group began collecting data on the environmental implication of various food choices. Prior dietary guidelines have not considered the effects of food choices on the environment.

Congress isn’t happy about the data collection by nutrition experts and has issued a directive to the Obama administration to ignore such factors in the revision that deal with the environment. Congress attached the directive in a massive spending bill that was passed by both the House and the Senate. In the directive, Congress expressed concern that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee “is showing an interest in incorporating agriculture production practices and environmental factors.”

Congress wants environmental factors ignored. NPR reports that the directive is not legally binding, but that it could provoke another battle between the currently hostile Obama administration and Congress.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee works through the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and is supported by the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Both departments review recommendations from the committee and work together to develop and publish revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been established since 1980. The guidelines, as mandated by the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990, are reviewed, updated and published every five years. This is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

The committee is made up of top nutrition experts and the recommendations are based on current scientific and medical knowledge. The new guidelines will take current literature into account. It will be up to the committee to decide if they want to ignore Congress’ directive and address the environmental impact that eating has the health of Americans or address the scientific evidence in that there is an impact between agricultural production and food choices in the updated Dietary Guidelines.

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

January 3rd, 2015

NY Environmental Commissioner Says No Fracking

Posted by guest

Joseph Martens, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner, has spoken out about fracking in the state of New York. Martens plans to prohibit fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in New York. The ban comes after a five-year study done by the DEC that will be released next year.

State health commissioner, Howard Zucker, supports Martens ban. During a detailed presentation, Zucker claimed that the studies on fracking have shown harmful health effects and that there have not been enough long-term studies to show the effects of fracking over time. He concluded that he would not allow his family to drink tap water in an area where fracking had occurred, according to Syracuse.com.

Martens made his announcement at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s year-end cabinet meeting. He said that after the report was released he would “issue legally binding findings statement prohibiting (fracking) in New York state at this time.” Martens made clear that the report released would show a variety of potential environmental effects including pollution of groundwater and the release of methane and ozone.

Gov. Cuomo said that he would defer to experts and that he expects lawsuits to be filed challenging the ban on fracking in New York. He said, “I will be bound by what these experts say because I am not in a position to second guess them with my expertise. I am not a scientist.”

Zucker’s 184-page fracking health report was released on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. The study has been in the works since 2008.

“The overall weight of the evidence from the cumulative body of information contained in this Public Health Review demonstrates that there are significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with HVHF, the likelihood of the occurrence of adverse health outcomes, and the effectiveness of some of the mitigation measures in reducing or preventing environmental impacts which could adversely affect public health,” Zucker wrote.

“Until the science provides sufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health from HVHF to all New Yorkers and whether the risks can be adequately managed, DOH recommends that HVHF should not proceed in NYS.”

Gov. David Paterson imposed a moratorium on fracking in New York while the study was being conducted. City officials have asked Cuomo to continue the moratorium on fracking for the next 3 to 5 years to give scientist more time for study of the controversial drilling process.

 

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

December 31st, 2014

New Jersey Environmental Leaders Receive 2014 Governor’s Awards

Posted by Lisa Carey

Earlier this month, New Jersey environmental leaders were honored during a ceremony in Trenton for environmental excellence. Leaders from across the Garden State were presented with the 2014 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards. These awards are New Jersey’s premier environmental awards. They recognize outstanding environmental performance, programs and projects that are dedicated to protecting the environment.

The Honorable John McCormac, Mayor of Woodbridge Township in Middlesex County, was awarded the “Environmentalist of the Year” award for proving that “if you go green, you will save green.”

Monmouth University was recognized for reducing its carbon footprint and initiatives that improve the environment. The university has reduced its carbon footprint, since 2009, by the equivalent of 37,000 metric tons. The school uses hybrid gas/electric vehicles for campus police, employs the use of two solar panels and offers students a minor degree in global sustainability.

Another leader in environmental excellence was Ewa Zak of Montgomery Township in Somerset County. She was honored in the “Healthy Ecosystems” category of awards. She has been an active environmental leader in Montgomery Township for 28 years. She has advocated for tree plantings, preservations, and green belts. She was instrumental in the passage of “green” ordinances within the township and created a Tree Bank.

Other award categories included “Water Resources,” “Innovative Technologies,” and “Health and Sustainable Communities.” A full list of the 2014 environmental leaders can be found at New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection.

“We are committed to protecting New Jersey’s environment,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin. “Through their dedication to environmental protection, these award winners set an example for everyone to follow. The winners and all of those who participated have set a very high standard for environmental excellence. Governor Christie and I commend their leadership.’’

 

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

December 29th, 2014

EU Member States Oppose Scrapping Environment

Posted by Lisa Carey

Air_.pollution_1 wiki public domain

European Union policymakers announced on Tuesday that the focus of the 2015 legislative plan will be issues such as jobs and growth in the economy. Member states charged the EU with sacrificing the environment and scrapping draft laws on waste and air quality.

Reuter’s reports that the European environment ministers who opposed the plans said that scrapping them would send a “negative signal” about Europe’s ambition to curb climate change. The environment ministers claim that the legislative plans for 2015 were at odds with a push for growth.

Previous EU executives have presented on average 130 new plans. The current executives plan set out 23 new initiative and aim to axe 80 existing proposals including proposals on air quality and cutting waste.

EU executives claim that the slim down is to focus on the real priorities. Energy security happens to be on of the real priorities for the EU. A plan was presented to the European Parliament to address energy security due to the conflict with the EU and Russia over Russia’s treatment of the Ukraine. Another initiative includes a proposal to combat tax evasion and fraud.

Lobby group Business Europe, which represents big business including ExxonMobil and BP, was the first to applaud the commission for its “political courage.”

Other groups were less than pleased at the announcement of scrapping the environment for growth.

“This is not killing obsolete proposals, this is destroying Europe’s health and environmental policies,” said Fredrick Federley, a Swedish member of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

November 26th, 2014

EPA Expected to Propose New Ozone Standards

Posted by guest

New, proposed ozone standards by the Environmental Protection Agency would be a major victory for public health groups but it could also throw hundreds of counties out of compliance. The Obama administration is expected to propose tougher limits on smog.

According to the L.A. Times, “The current limit for ground-level ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog, is 75 parts per billion. Concluding that the limit is too weak to protect people’s health, Environmental Protection Agency staff and its science advisors had recommended strengthening the federal standard to 60 to 70 parts per billion.”

The EPA is seeking to increase the federal standard to 65-70 parts per billion and also seeking public comment on the new standards. Environmentalists would like to see the stringent standard of 60 parts per billion whereas businesses would like to keep the existing standards of 75 parts per billion.

The EPA believes that it is necessary to toughen limits on ozone pollution now although it may not be popular to do so with the new Republican controlled Congress about to take office. One of the main reasons that the EPA created a new proposal is to protect Americans from a significant health threat.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement announcing the proposal, “We deserve to know the air we breath is safe.” McCarthy also cited the EPA’s legal mandate to “bring ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science,” the ozone’s damaging effects on children and the elderly while explaining what ground-level ozone is (a respiratory irritant that derives from fossil-fuel burning) and its links to asthmatic attacks and other ailments.

Big business like the oil industry and power companies say that the tighter ozone standard would damage the economy and would send manufacturing jobs overseas. Several Republicans are trying to find a way to thwart the new proposal because they believe that the current standard is healthy. The EPA maintains that the proposal is based on science and that they will listen to what scientists have told them about ozone pollutants and how to keep the air the public is breathing safe.

 

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

November 21st, 2014

Scottish Government Allocates £3.7m to help buy 83 eco-friendly buses

Posted by Lisa Carey

By: B4bees

The Scottish Government has committed to an ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions by 42 percent by the year 2020. In order to accomplish this goal the government has allocated £3.7m ($5.9m USD) to help buy 83 eco-friendly buses to support public transport. The newest additions will bring the total of low carbon buses in Scotland to 209.

The funds have been awarded to nine bus operators through the Scottish Green Bus Fund. First Glasgow, Wilson’s of Rhu, Secure Airparks, First Scotland East, Lothian Buses, Stagecoach North Scotland and Orkney Islands Council are the bus operators who will be recipients of the funding allocation.

The Scottish Green Bus Fund is run through Transport Scotland the national transport agency for Scotland. The goal of Transport Scotland is “to deliver a safe, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable transport system for the benefit of the people of Scotland, playing a key role in helping to achieve the Scottish Government’s Purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish.”

Scotland’s sustainable economic growth is on the rise. The country has engaged in creating a supportive business environment, has begun transitioning to a low carbon economy, and embraced a strategic priorities plan to accelerate and drive sustainable growth.

David Alexander, regional managing director for First UK Bus in Scotland and North England, said of the funding, “The Scottish Green Bus Fund is a fantastic initiative and will support our £7.8m investment in 52 state of the art green vehicles. Bus travel is part of the solution to climate change and congestion. In partnership with manufacturers, we helped bring to market ‘Streetlite micro-hybrid’ vehicles, one of the world’s most fuel efficient buses.”

Alexander is excited that the funding will help bring 43 more fuel efficient buses to Scotland.

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

November 14th, 2014

UK Wind Farms Generated More Power than Nuclear Power Plants

Posted by guest

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014 wind farms in the UK generated more power than nuclear power plants. According to the National Grid, the power increase was due to high winds and faults in nuclear plants. The surge came shortly after the wind farms hit a milestone the previous Saturday when the wind farms generated 6,372 MW of energy.

Wind farms are very controversial in the UK. Polls show that the public is in favor of them until they show up. Then they become a polarizing issue between local communities and national governments.

The European Wind Energy Association says that the controversy is because of “an ideological opposition amongst some politicians and governments now in power to interventionist policies in support of renewable energy but it is also of course a result of  a challenging economic climate, in which questions are being asked about the apparent cost to consumers and taxpayers of supporting ‘green’ technologies.  The latter is relevant to most markets across Europe and worldwide.  While concerns are always raised at local level about the visual, noise or environmental impact of projects, in a time of austerity and cuts, developers can find themselves under increasing pressure to demonstrate greater economic benefit to communities who host wind farms and to bring jobs and investment benefits to national economies.”

The wind farms generating more power than nuclear plants is only temporary, according to the BBC. Windy conditions boosted the output from turbines when eight out of fifteen of the UK’s nuclear reactors were offline. The reactors were down for various reasons including planned outages, an aging reactor, and for maintenance.

Jennifer Webber, a spokeswoman for RenewableUK, the trade body, told BBC, “Wind power is often used as a convenient whipping boy by political opponents and vested interests. All the while, it’s been quietly powering millions of homes across the UK and providing a robust response to its vocal detractors.”

 

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

 

November 7th, 2014

Going green and earning green: TerraCycle in schools

Posted by Lisa Carey

TerraCycle is a new way to recycle waste that has previously been considered non-recyclable or hard to recycle.  Schools go through waste through out the entire school day. Paper, binders, food, and other products are thrown away on a regular basis. Many of the items sent to a landfill can be recycled or upcycled into a new product that can be recycled again after its use has worn out.

Waste is shipped to TerraCycle through a waste collection program called a Brigade. There 40 different Brigade programs including a program for collecting baby food pouches, one for diaper packages and one for recycling cheese packaging. Schools that participate in one of the programs could choose to become part of the drink pouch brigade, the binder brigade or the writing instruments brigade.

The goal of TerraCycle is to recycle and upcycle every waste product that is sent in.  Instead of waste going to a landfill it could become a recycled bench or an upcycled backpack. Participants collect the waste, send it to a TerraCycle facility with a shipping label printed from a TerraCycle account, and then the account gets credited with TerraCycle points once the waste has been processed in the facility. TerraCycle points can be redeemed in the form of cash to the charity or school of your choice. The points can also be redeemed in the form of a charity gift including ones that donate meals, plant trees, or provide drinking water.

TerraCycle has a resources section for schools that wish to participate in the waste collection programs. It gives parents, teachers and students everything they would need to begin collecting waste to recycle items. It also includes a list of contests and contest suggestions to get students excited about recycling, upcycling and creating a healthier environment.

 

November 2nd, 2014

Toxic Purity Analyzer to Help Consumers Detect GMOs

Posted by guest

Technology is about to help the conscientious food consumer find out whether the food they are about to buy is filled with toxins often found in genetically modified foods (GMOs). According to RealFarmacy, the “University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app that uses a phone’s built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules.”

The cradle consists of a series of optical components that use filters and lenses, like that of a smaller laboratory device, to send information to a photonic crystal. The photonic crystal is unique since it much like a mirror only allows one wavelength of light to be reflected while the rest of the spectrum passes through. When a biological agent attaches to the photonic crystal the wavelength will shift from a long wavelength to a short wavelength. This is the nitty gritty of how the device can manage to detect GMOs in food products.

The app that is designed to go with the cradle walks users through the process in a step by step manner in just a few minutes.  When toxic substances are detected the protective glove (part of the device) uses sensors that change colors. There is no change in color if no toxic substances are detected. The team that created the toxic purity analyzer are working on the manufacturing process for iPhones and are working on a way to make the device compatible with Android phones. The team is also working on biosensing tests that can be used in the field to detect pathogens in food and water and toxins in harvested fields such as corn and soybean crops.

GMO detection is not currently consumer friendly. There are many lab kits on the market that can be purchased. Those kits are mostly in scientific language, take many days to weeks to process and analyze, and are not affordable. The toxic purity analyzer, if affordable, will be much easier for consumers to use and provide faster results.

 

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.

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