Tennessee's CEOs pull in hefty salaries By GETAHN WARD Staff Writer
For 2007, a year in which the typical Tennessee worker saw a modest 3.4 percent increase in
base salaries, the chief executives of 50 of the largest Tennessee-based publicly traded companies on average saw double-digit gains in their overall compensation packages.
On average, total compensation of the state's top business executives were valued at $3.3 million, up 12.8 percent for the 39 executives for whom year-over-year comparisons are available.
The analysis of corporate proxy filings by Redwood Shores, Calif.-based executive compensation research firm Equilar Inc., meanwhile, showed that those gains came in a fiscal year during which shareholders of the 50 companies saw an overall 7.3 percent decline in stock returns, including dividends. The companies, however, saw revenues increase 6.3 percent on average to $2.7 million, though earnings per share fell 9 percent.
The gap between executive pay and stock performance comes as shareholder activists seek more of a say in how much the big boss is paid. A regulatory change three
years ago that required companies to record the value of stock options as an expense on their income statements also has led to more focus on linking long-term compensation more closely to performance measures.
"The scrutiny has increased tenfold," said T.K. Kerstetter, CEO of Board Member Inc., the Brentwood-based publisher of Corporate Board Member magazine. Those factors have "really brought compensation to be much more transparent than it ever has been."
Kerstetter said comparing the performance of companies against industry peers is a better way to measure whether chief executives are worth their pay increases than looking at changes in a company's stock price.
"There are some CEOs whose stocks have dropped, whose earnings are lower, but who still deserve to be rewarded because they may have done their best management job yet in managing a company in a down cycle and in saving shareholders hundreds of millions of dollars
compared to other companies in their same industry," Kerstetter said. "There are also companies where CEOs have gotten increased compensation where it clearly wasn't warranted."
James Burton, dean of the College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University and a director of Charlotte, N.C.-based Piedmont Natural Gas, said that management teams sometimes pursue actions that are in a company's best long-term interest but that in the short term could negatively affect both their earnings and performance.
Two-thirds get C's, D's
An analysis by San Francisco-based proxy advisory firm Glass, Lewis & Co., using 36 measurement points and including comparisons of executive compensation to peers, gave pay-for-performance grades of C's and D's to two-thirds of 40 of the Tennessee public companies.
Memphis-based pulp maker Buckeye Technologies and National Health Investors, the Murfreesboro-based real
estate investment trust, had A's. CBRL Group, the Lebanon-based restaurant operator, Franklin-based hospital operator Community Health Systems, and drugmaker King Pharmaceuticals of Bristol, Tenn., meanwhile, were all given F's.
Glass, Lewis declined to disclose details about its proprietary research methodology, but each company CEO is compared against sector peers, as well as companies with similar-sized revenues.
Overall, the $17 million total compensation to Fred Smith, CEO of Memphis-based delivery giant FedEx, was the biggest pay package for fiscal 2007. Michael A. Woodhouse of CBRL, who got $12.1 million in total compensation, and Wayne T. Smith of Community Health, who got $11.9 million, were the two Middle Tennessee executives who made the top five statewide.
Wayne Smith's 63 percent increase in total compensation from 2006 came in a year in which investors in Community Health saw a mere 1 percent return. But 2007 also was a
year in which Smith engineered a buyout of Plano, Texas-based Triad Hospitals to double Community's size and largely more than double revenues for its recent first quarter.
Workers earn fraction
Still, most executive pay packages are worth far more than the average $35,375 salary of workers statewide, according to the state's Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
For the 50 CEOs on the list, the median total compensation was valued at $1.56 million, up 4.3 percent for companies that have past data available.
Comparative data isn't available on some companies because their different fiscal years meant they didn't have to comply in fiscal 2006 with new rules providing more details on pay.
In some cases, the amount of total compensation shown in a company's proxy might not be what the CEO actually took home. For instance, Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals CEO William F.
Carpenter III's 2007 package rose 41 percent to $3.5 million in a year in which the company saw a 12 percent decline in shareholders' return.
But 18 percent of that compensation package was related to stock options forfeited because certain criteria under LifePoint's pay-for-performance plan weren't met. A 31 percent rise in Carpenter's salary reflects a smaller base in 2006 before his promotion to CEO and 44 percent of his total package for 2007 involved restricted stock that would vest at the end of 2009 if the company hits certain performance targets, officials said.
Similarly, FedEx spokesman Ryan Furby said of the $17 million Smith received in total compensation in fiscal 2007, only about a third of it, or $6.2 million, came in the form of direct payment of salary and incentive compensation.
Among trends in compensation of CEOs of Tennessee's public companies, average bonuses of the
39 executives whose compensation could be compared year over year fell 18.5 percent to $549,785. Alexander Cwirko-Godycki, research manager at Equilar, wasn't surprised because bonuses are often tied directly to short-term performance, which was affected by the stock market's decline during the second half of last year.
CEOs might not see any big change in longer-term stock-based compensation in a downturn because that compensation may be tied to three- to five-year goals, which means performance would have to keep falling to create an effect, he added.
"It goes to the fact that you have a lot of different pieces in place that explains why overall pay might be going up, while performance isn't so great," Cwirko-Godycki said.
Efforts by shareholder advocates to gain a greater say on executive pay include plans by John Chevedden, a Redondo Beach, Calif., retiree, to introduce a proposal at this year's FedEx annual meeting that would put
pay packages of executives up to a shareholder vote.
"High executive pay — $17 million for Fred Smith — that's what the concern is," Chevedden said, referring to the total compensation package of FedEx's CEO last year.
Nationwide, shareholders have passed only a few of such "say on pay" proposals, an outcome that experts said reflects a thinking that executive pay is more of an issue for boards than individual investors. "Shareholders elect directors who are suppose to act in the best interest of the company and shareholders," said Gary Brown, a securities attorney with law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz in Nashville.
"If you're going to micromanage everything that directors do, why have directors?"
Everything You Know About Water Conservation Is Wrong
Forget short showers. Worry about the 6,340 gallons of "virtual water" in your leather bag.
by Thomas M. Kostigen
I’ve been mindful of the amount of water I use when making a pot of coffee ever since learning that one-third of the tap water used for drinking in North America is actually used to brew our daily cups of joe—and that if each of us avoided wasting just one cupful of coffee a day, we could save enough water over the course of a year to
provide two gallons to every one of the more than 1.1 billion people who don’t have access to freshwater at all.
So for me that excess cold coffee at the bottom of the pot became a bothersome reminder. But I had never thought beyond that—about how much water it takes to actually grow the coffee. That amount is called virtual water (pdf), and it’s the kind of thing you don’t really consider until someone brings it to your attention: “Do you know how much water it took to make this?” Virtual water is a calculation of the water needed for the
production of any product from start to finish.
Here’s how it is figured: It takes about 155 gallons of water on average to grow a pound of wheat. So the virtual water of this pound of wheat is 155 gallons. For a pound of meat, the virtual water is 5 to 10 times higher. There’s a virtual water count for everything. The virtual water footprint of a cup of coffee is 37 gallons; an apple, 19 gallons; a banana, 27; a slice of bread, 10; a sheet of paper, 3; and a pair of leather shoes, 4,400, according to Waterfootprint.org, a Unesco-run (UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Web site providing a calculator for individual and national water use. In fact, virtual water in internationally traded food and products such
as these accounts for 15 percent of global water consumption.
Virtual water matters a lot these days because we are in an encroaching global water crisis. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the world needs to increase its water supply (pdf) for irrigation by 14 to 17 percent by 2030 just to meet its dietary needs. Virtual water is where major savings can accrue.
Proper management and use of the world’s virtual water already save almost 5 percent of the water used annually in global agricultural production, according to Unesco. This follows a simple logic: Places with less water gain access to foods with high water requirements by importing them from areas with high rainfall or substantial water supplies. This allows water-scarce regions to use their own water resources more efficiently for other purposes—and create
water savings. For instance, areas of southern China that have more water and are better equipped to grow certain water-intensive agricultural products can send them to northern China. This frees up northern water supplies for other uses, such as drinking and sanitation. Jordan saves 60 to 90 percent of its domestic water supply by importing water-intensive products.
The water savings are even greater than they seem at first. Producing grain and other foods in an arid country like Jordan may require two or three times the water it takes in humid settings in South America or the United States. So the virtual water saved may be three times the amount that was actually necessary to grow the crop in a more appropriate climate. It’s all about being smart with water.
Yet we can be smarter, and need to be.
Right now we lose 30 to 50 percent of the food we grow—and all the virtual water in it—by the time it is ready for consumption, says Daniel
Zimmer, executive director of the World Water Council (WWC) in Marseille, France. These losses come in harvesting, production, processing, transportation, and storage. Tossing out leftovers wastes every drop of water it took to grow the food (and think of all the times you don’t ask for a doggie bag). Indeed, the third most common refuse found in landfills is food, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “Sure, a few liters of water are saved when you take a shorter shower,” Zimmer says. “But hundreds of liters of water are lost when you throw away food. We have to begin to think about our water use differently.”
I like the idea of virtual water because it helps us think about our water use differently without having to make giant, complicated leaps. It puts water into the context it deserves: We use freshwater mostly for
agriculture, not for drinking or bathing. Today agriculture accounts for about 70 percent of all water use in the world and up to 95 percent in several developing countries. So it makes sense to first start looking at savings via food production. And when I say savings, I mean efficiencies and better water management, not necessarily avoiding particular food groups altogether—although that isn’t such a bad idea once in a while either. Meat requires 5 to 10 times more water to produce than vegetables do. Swap the two in your diet and you will save up to 750 gallons of water a day. (See “What’s Your Virtual Water IQ?” page 26.)
While thinking about water differently should be a moral imperative, in a world view it comes with controversy. “At the global level, virtual water and the trading of it has geopolitical implications,” the WWC says in a report on the subject (pdf). “It induces dependencies between countries....This can be regarded either as a stimulant for cooperation or as a reason for potential conflict.”
Right now the United States is a water exporter, but population growth, pollution, and lingering drought in vast regions may change that. “As demand grows we are going to have to ask what is it being used for and whether that is a good use of our water,” says Maude Barlow, cofounder of the Blue Planet Project. “One-third of the water in the United States is exported as virtual water when a number of major water systems in the United States are in a catastrophic decline. People may begin to say, ‘Why
are we shipping our water away?’”
Dominant virtual water exporters in addition to the United States are Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Thailand. Countries with a large net import of virtual water are Japan, Sri Lanka, Italy, South Korea, and the Netherlands. Based on estimated global virtual water trade flows, national virtual water trade balances can be drafted, but getting countries to agree on creating a fair market for water isn’t easy. “Trade arrangements, access to markets, finance, and foreign exchange must all be taken into account,” the WWC says in its report. For poorer countries those are big obstacles.
International companies are also being pitted against one another because of water shortages and competition for existing resources. The food industry, for example, may end up fighting the biofuel industry for access to arable land as the world runs short of water, warns Peter Brabeck, Nestlé’s
chairman and chief executive. “We will not find sufficient water to produce all the crops,” he told the Financial Timesin February. “There will be a fierce fight for arable land.” But that doesn’t have to be the case.
“Companies like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and many others particularly like the water footprint concept,” says Arjen Hoekstra, professor of multidisciplinary water management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. He notes that because many businesses depend on water as a major component for their products, it’s in their best interests to ensure supplies are plentiful to avoid the potential conflicts. “Some companies see the business risks attached to water scarcity and seriously look into how to reduce and offset their water footprint,” Hoekstra adds.
In the end, though, water parity and more supply will come only through increased awareness among individuals, as they will drive the larger interests. “It’s really about education and getting people to see their own water use and their water footprint; we think that is the first step in conservation,” says Scott Cullen, executive director of the nonprofit group Grace (Grass Roots Action Center for the Environment). Along with Food & Water Watch, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Grace has developed a water footprint calculator for a joint program, H2Oconserve.org. Initiatives such as this may lead to further developments, such as labeling the
water content of products. This, in turn, may lead to even more water-conscious decision making. “Tastes Great…Less Filling…Less Water”—that type of thinking.
It’s time to ask how we can make better use of our water supplies so that virtual water doesn’t remain the ethereal concept its name suggests. It can be a far bigger source of real-world savings. For my part, I now note waste in different forms. I try to plan or order meals more accurately so I don’t have leftovers, and I try to eat lower down the food chain. In short, I try to do what my mother told me as a child—“Eat your vegetables”—because I now know what went into making them: a lot of water.
Our Very Wet Footprint
The average person on earth has a virtual water footprint of about 328,410 gallons each year; that includes everything used to make the food, clothing, and other water-driven products we consume. In China the average footprint is only
185,412 gallons, while in the United States it is 656,012—the largest on the planet. DISCOVER staffers Missy Adams and Corey Powell measured their water footprints using a questionnaire at Waterfootprint.org (and you can too). Questions ranged from how many showers they take each week to whether the water runs while they brush their teeth; from their food preferences to their income.
Research Editor Missy Adams has a relatively small footprint (see chart below), in part because she’s light on the laundry and quick with a shower and has a diet driven by vegetables, fruits, and sweets.
Executive Editor Corey Powell likes meat in his takeout, and you’re sure to find chicken breasts and beef in his freezer—something to cook up while he’s watering his garden or hosing off his sidewalk in Brooklyn.
VIRTUAL WATER USAGE (annual average per person, in gallons)
There are 10,460 cubic miles of freshwater available on the planet as a resource each year, and the breakdown of worldwide access to it just isn’t equal. But understanding who has the good stuff and who is in need can allow us to maximize commerce in virtual water, helping balance things out. For instance, Kuwait has essentially no freshwater; its residents live off desalinated seawater, which doesn’t count as a
direct resource. South America, on the other hand, has an enormous surplus of freshwater due to rainfall and its ecosystem, so it is a great exporter of virtual water. Source: Worldmapper.org. (All percentages are estimates.)
Sea grasses play an integral role in the health of coastal areas throughout the world, including Florida.
The submerged grasses provide food for microscopic organisms and shelter for small fish and other marine life. Sediment pollution is trapped by grasses, which also absorb fertilizer nutrients that wash into rivers, creeks and coastal waters -- helping to stifle outbreaks of harmful algae.
So, the Florida Legislature seemed to do the right thing by passing House Bill 7059, legislation that calls for fines of up to $1,000 for boaters whose propellers damage sea
grass beds. But it is a deceptive, bad bill that deserves Gov. Charlie Crist's veto.
The problem is a sinister amendment tacked onto House Bill 7059 just before the legislation coasted to approval.
The amendment, sponsored by House member Will Kendrick, a Republican from the Panhandle town of Carrabelle, calls for a sea grass mitigation program, the St. Petersburg Times reported recently. Under the legislation, the governor and Cabinet could approve "sea grass mitigation banks."
The Pensacola News Journal reported Tuesday that means developers could get permission to destroy grass beds if
they bought credits from companies that would plant new sea grass beds on state-owned submerged lands.
A veto is warranted for several reasons.
Sea grass beds are important to the places where they exist -- places that should not be destroyed to make way for new marinas and the channel dredging that can come with waterfront development.
Also, environmentalists say it is not clear if sea grass beds can be effectively moved from one place to another. Legislators should have studied that issue before jumping to pass sea grass legislation.
could send legislators a message that Floridians are tired of deceptive decision-making in Tallahassee. Sea grass mitigation was not discussed in Tallahassee, yet House Bill 7059 would jump-start a mitigation program.
Coral reefs, mangroves and marshes are coastal habitats that get attention from the public and media, said an article 18 months ago in the scholarly journal Bioscience. The two marine scientists who wrote the article said sea grasses, which are just as important, are often ignored.
Rejection of the House bill would give attention where it's due.
Agriculture Already Feels Impact of Climate Change
A chilling global warming forecast
New reports about climate change should have us all sweating about the future.
Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2008
There's always a new report about global warming, but the one released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with its charts on optimal temperatures for soybeans and peanuts, is downright creepy in its detail. This isn't your usual futuristic fodder, with vague but dire predictions. The USDA report is more frightening because it states matter-of-factly the practical changes in farming, forestry and water that are transforming the landscape now and will do so again over the next few decades.
The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on a sweeping bill that would require carbon emissions to be slashed 70% by mid-century. Its chances for passage are slim; President Bush opposes it, as he has opposed all meaningful attempts to curb global warming, on the grounds that it would harm the economy. He
ought to read the USDA study, along with a similar but more comprehensive report released last week by his science advisors, which specifies the effects of global warming and its very real costs.
The USDA analysis points out the quandary we're already in after decades of inaction: The impacts during the next few decades are unavoidable. "Much of this change will be caused by greenhouse gas emissions that have already happened," the report says. In other words, we have to plan for adjusting to climate change, as well as preventing it from spiraling into a crisis in this century and beyond.
Though the report stops short of making recommendations, it implies the need for major shifts in agriculture. And there was some good news, though not as
much as the bad. Northern latitudes will experience milder winters -- good for cattle -- and longer growing seasons, but also longer lifetimes for harmful pests. The South might grow too hot for traditional crops such as peanuts and watermelon. The eastern United States will get more rain, but weeds, flourishing in the presence of increased carbon dioxide, will migrate north. Crops that require cold snaps are in trouble.
The prognosis for California is especially discouraging. With a smaller snowpack and less rain, the state will experience longer and more severe droughts. Some crops in the San Joaquin and Salinas valleys might find higher temperatures intolerable, threatening the state's status as a food bowl for the nation. California, though stymied by federal regulators, has led the nation in trying to combat greenhouse gases. But it has been slower to take practical steps to adapt to the warming it can't prevent. The state cannot put off water conservation
measures, and with longer and more dangerous fire seasons, it cannot afford to permit increased sprawl into forests and brush areas.
At the national level, the report should awaken the agriculture sector to the disruption ahead. If the farm lobby, which is powerful enough to continually win wasteful subsidies even though they benefit only a tiny minority, were to team up with environmentalists, imagine what they could do to fight climate change.
After years of controversy, J. Crayton Pruitt could be getting permission from one agency to move forward with a development in TaylorCounty.
The Suwannee River Water Management District staff is recommending approval of Pruitt's residential and golf course development proposed near DekleBeach. The district's board will consider the project June 10.
But there's a catch: The approval would be contingent on TaylorCounty amending its comprehensive plan.
Pruitt, a retired St. Petersburg heart surgeon and major University of Florida donor, said the approval would be a step forward, but there are other hurdles to clear.
"It's still far from for sure," he said.
The Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary would include 624 condominiums, a 874-room hotel, 280,000 square feet of commercial space and a golf course. The project would be located in an remote part of the coast called called BoggyBay.
The project was originally called MagnoliaBay and would have included a marina and 36-acre access channel cut through a state seagrass preserve. Advocacy groups and nearly every environmental permitting agency objected, leading to changes to
the project's name and scope.
But Joe Murphy, Florida director of the Gulf Restoration Network, said the group continues to have concerns about the revised project. The development would harm one of the last wild coastlines left in the U.S., he said.
"Florida's NatureCoast is an amazing natural treasure," he said. "This is not the place for a project that threatens our coast, even a scaled back version of MagnoliaBay."
The revised project would fill 39 acres of coastal wetlands and indirectly impact another 5.5 acres. In exchange, Pruitt would preserve 230 acres, restore 20.4 acres and create 5.5 acres of wetlands, as well as buy three credits from a wetlands restoration project.
Water management district staff recommended the board approve the project, but construction will be allowed only if TaylorCounty satisfied Department of Community Affairs' concerns by amending its comprehensive plan.
While the water
management district's board typically follows staff recommendations, at least one of the board's nine members is against the plan.
David Flagg, a former state lawmaker and Gainesville mayor-commissioner, won't be able to attend the June 10 meeting because of a family obligation. But he issued a letter of opposition to be read into the record.
"While this is good progress, I still could not vote in favor of what I see as a loss of wetlands," he said.
The Department of Community Affairs has opposed the project for violating the TaylorCounty comprehensive plan and a state law requiring projects to avoid the irreversible loss of coastal resources.
But in a May 20 letter, DCA Secretary Thomas Pelham said the state would drop its objections if the county approved a comprehensive plan amendment covering the 1,200-acre project area. The amendment would have to follow the law protecting coastal resources and be approved by the department, according to the letter.
Department spokesman John Peck said he condition means the start, not the end, of a process to ensure the plan meets state law. "We still have some major concerns that have not been worked out," he said.
Nathan Crabbe can be reached at 352-338-3176 or crabben@....
A press conference was held Wednesday with the message, "Stop Trashing the Climate." Advocates say they have good reasons to fight for what they say is right.
Ronald H. Saff, M.D. said, "Already our air has the second worst air quality in the state of Florida and these proposed plants will further worsen our air pollution problem so at best we can hope to keep our air pollution problem at bay."
Saff says if the proposed incinerator or plasma arc gasification plant comes to the County, the short term effects may be nice, but the
long term health and environmental effects will not be..
For more information on the zero waste approach, and the ways the city of Tallahassee is continuing to go green please click the related links below.
Some things in Tallahassee are inherently bad, and there's no way to make them good. Among them: last-minute, late-night additions that turn a good law on its head.
That is what happened with Florida's seagrass bill, which environmental groups had hoped to celebrate. Now, with the exception of a few organizations represented by a public relations firm favored by enviro-unfriendly former Gov. Jeb Bush, the groups that first favored the legislation are asking Gov. Crist to veto it. He should.
What are these?
House Bill 7059 was supposed to help seagrass beds, which clean water and nurture marine life, by making it a crime to destroy those that are in aquatic preserves. But an amendment that Rep. Will Kendrick,
R- Carrabelle, who chairs the Committee on Conservation and State Lands, added late one night would make it easier for developers to rip out those seagrass beds simply by writing a check.
The amendment calls for the governor and Cabinet to let private companies create what are known as seagrass mitigation banks on state-owned property. The companies could sell "credits" to developers, who then could wipe out seagrass beds to make way for new marinas or boat channels. Here's how it would work:
The marina developer writes a check to the mitigation bank. Then, to build a marina, he destroys the seagrass beds. The food chain also is destroyed, affecting everything from microscopic shrimp to game fish and manatees.
Then, supposedly, the state uses the developer's money to plant seagrass somewhere else. No one knows even whether planting sea grass elsewhere would work, let alone whether the bed would thrive. Even if the
planting worked, the government's track record on wetlands mitigation - allowing the destruction of natural wetlands for creation of man-made wetlands - should make the most trusting soul a skeptic.
The state wetlands mitigation bank that is supposed to compensate for wetlands destroyed by development has had problems. Man-made wetlands don't work as well as nature's, and the state lacks the staff to monitor them. According to a 2006 St. Petersburg Times investigation, about a quarter of Florida's wetlands mitigation banks got more credit for saving dry land than for anything that helped restore wetlands. With that track record, why should the state even consider seagrass mitigation?
Whenever hurricanes come to Florida, you hear people in power say, "That's the price of living in paradise." Seagrass beds helped make Florida the paradise that is being lost. Gov. Crist can stop this sneak attack on a piece of
Trash and the climate, big problem or nothing to worry about?
Some citizens' groups held a press conference with the message, "Stop Trashing the Climate." Advocates for this cause say they have good reasons to fight for what they say is right.
Joy Towles Ezell, President of the Florida League of Conservation Voters said, "if you think about how much is consumed and then how much is thrown away we are just very, very wasteful"
The key to stop wasting the waste: establishing and implementing a zero waste approach. This calls for a significant decrease in using landfills and incinerators, reducing greenhouse gas emission. But are people willing to stop using landfills and recycle...
Larry Parker, a former resident of Tallahassee said, "Air pollution is totally not healthy recycling is a much better way."
Dan Johnson, a Tallahassee resident said, "it's important for the environment global warming and the amount of pounds that each person puts out with carbon the less we do is better for everybody."
Some people disagreed with the change, but no one wanted to talk on camera; however they did say accessibility and not wanting to break habit were their biggest concerns. But, the experts have a different opinion.
Ron Saff, M.D., Allergy and Asthma Diagnostic Treatment Center said, "Thousands of people in Leon County...are at risk for health problems from air pollution."
Saff says last year Leon County was voted the second worst county in Florida for air pollution, and, he says the problem will get worse if either the proposed incinerator or plasma arc gasification plant come to the County.
Supporters of the stop trashing the climate theory say if everyone joins together Tallahassee, Leon County, the state of
Florida, the nation and even the world will be able to breathe a little easier. --------------------------------------------------- Live at 5
Several citizens groups in the state of Florida are calling for a decrease in landfill usage and incinerators.
A press conference was held Wednesday with the message, "Stop Trashing the Climate." Advocates say they have good reasons to fight for what they say is right.
Ronald H. Saff, M.D. said, "Already our air has the second worst air quality in the state of Florida and these proposed plants will further worsen our air pollution problem so at best we can hope to keep our air pollution problem at bay."
Saff says if the proposed incinerator or plasma arc gasification plant comes to the County, the short term effects may be nice, but the long term health and environmental effects will not be..
For more information on the zero waste approach, and the
ways the city of Tallahassee is continuing to go green please click the related links below.
Study findings counter Florida’s plans By Jim Ash news-press.com Tallahassee bureau
Recycling is a cheaper and
better way to combat global warming than turning waste into energy, according to a study released Thursday by environmental groups.
The study, "Stop Trashing the Climate," calls for a zero-waste strategy that includes higher taxes on incinerators and landfill materials and an end to government subsidies for waste-to-energy projects.
Shutting down incinerators and phasing out landfills through recycling would have the same impact as closing 83 of the nation's 417 coal-burning power plants, according to the study by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Eco-Recycle.
Florida conservation groups seized on the report to bolster their opposition to the state's first biomass energy plant that is in the works for a Florida State University industrial park and three plasma-arc facilities that are slated to turn municipal garbage into energy for Tallahassee as well as Okaloosa and St. Lucie
"Trash is a big climate problem," said Joy Ezell, president of the Florida League of Conservation Voters and Floridians Against Incinerators in Disguise. The state's move to convert waste to energy in the name of combating global warming is "a big step backward instead of forward thinking," she said.
Gov. Charlie Crist last year set a goal for Florida to get 20 percent of its future energy needs from renewable resources, including biomass. He also touted an international financing deal for plasma-arc technology in Florida on a trade mission last year to Brazil.
A spokesman said Thursday that Crist is confident waste-to-energy will be a useful part of the state's climate change strategy.
"The governor is aware that with all new technologies there are concerns," said spokesman Thomas Philpot. "The governor is confident that those issues will be addressed through the permitting process at the Department of
Norcross, Ga.-based Biomass Gas & Electric LLC is behind in its application for a permit to build a 42 megawatt plant on 22 acres near FSU's Innovation Park. The plant would heat wood chips to power a generator and sell electricity to the city. The company stated in an application that it also plans to get a small percentage of its fuel, less than 30 tons per day, from municipal waste, such as yard trimmings.
"Their application is incomplete," said Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Sarah Williams.
Green Power Systems of Jacksonville is planning a 35 megawatt facility on Tallahassee's southeast side that would use a plasma-arc reactor to heat about 1,000 tons of municipal waste a day and turn it into electricity.
Competitors are planning a larger facility that uses the same technology in St. Lucie County, and a much smaller facility in Okaloosa County. Williams said DEP has yet
to receive any applications for those projects.
Green Power Systems spokesman Dick Basford said the group is still negotiating with the city for a site but expects to break ground in as little as nine months.
Dr. Ron Saff, a Tallahassee allergy and asthma specialist, warned that the plants are ill advised in the wake of a recent report by the American Lung Association that recently rated Leon County and Escambia County as having the worst air quality in the state.
"Make no mistake about it, incinerators are a toxic technology," Saff said.
Basford reiterated the company's claims that the plant will meet or exceed all government air pollution standards.
Grant Peeples (the big loser of the State Song contest) CD Release Party Friday the 13th @ the American Legion Hall in Tallahassee at Lake Ella With Lis and Lon Williamson, Frank Graham, Jon Copps, Carrie Hamby and many others. Special Guest: Minie Brattain 8:00 p.m.
Plus, there will be a table for FLORIDA HOMETOWN DEMOCRACY
DEP’s Division of Law Enforcement is responsible for statewide environmental resource law enforcement, providing law enforcement services to Florida ’s state parks and greenways and trails. Agents investigate environmental resource crimes and illegal dredge and fill activities and respond to natural disasters, civil unrest, hazardous material incidents and oil spills that can threaten the environment.
To report environmental crimes, wireless customers can now dial #DEP.
Callers can also report environmental crimes to the State Warning Point
by calling (877) 2-SAVE-FL (1.877.272.8335).
General environmental inquiries
should be directed to DEP district offices during business hours.
Buckeye Technologies Inc., a Memphis-based specialty fibers maker, on Monday reported a rise in fiscal third-quarter profit, due to a tax benefit and a jump in sales. In the quarter ended March 31, profit soared 58.6 percent to $10.4 million, or 26 cents per share, from $6.6 million, or 17 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Results in the most recent quarter includes tax credit of 2 cents per share, while the year-ago period included 2 cents in expenses for restructuring that included consolidation in the company's European sales office. Sales rose 5 percent to $201.9 million from $193
million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected profit of 25 cents per share and sales of $201.5 million. Buckeye Chief Executive John B. Crowe in a statement said maintenance outages at a Florida wood cellulose facility, delayed shipments and lower nonwovens sales dampened results during the most recent quarter.
However healthy Florida’s economy is or isn’t at the moment, it will cycle
back into growth mode in fairly short order. The LeRoy Collins Institute, which in 2005 accurately predicted the revenue shortfall that’s currently pinching state and local governments in Florida, says as much in an updated version of its insightful “Tough Choices” report. In the new version, the institute sees “strong signs” that Florida is establishing itself as a chosen destination for an affluent segment of Baby Boomers that’s now reaching retirement age. And it predicts that the impact of the retiring Baby Boomers will sustain itself over 15 years, not flattening out until the early 2020s.
After the real estate market adjusts, the report says, “Florida is going to have a big appreciation in property values ... and fresh demand for housing supply in the most desirable and limited locations.” And so within 18 months or so — my prediction, not the institute’s — we’re
likely to see headlines shift from concerns about the state budget and the health of the economy back to traditional growth-related issues.
In that light, some behind-the-scenes bureaucracy that’s playing out now will be a big factor in whether the state rides the next growth wave or is, once again, swamped by it.
New Florida residents can get by without enough roads or schools, but they can’t live without water. In 2005, the Legislature linked growth management and water supply more closely with two pieces of legislation, Senate Bills 444 and 360, whose effects will be felt this summer.
Together, the laws dictate that after water management districts determine how
much water will be available in a region, communities must plan their growth around that water supply. Previous laws asked communities only to “consider” the water supply. Now, if a community says it expects 10,000 new residents next year, it has to specify exactly where the water for those new residents is going to come from, what facilities are available to treat the water and how it will pay for new treatment or production facilities (desal plants, for example).
Since the laws passed, the water management districts have updated their water supply plans, and communities have been updating their comprehensive plans with new growth projections and passing them to the water districts for review. Some, like Lee and Collier counties, have been proactive and progressive in their planning, while others show less foresight. For most local communities, “the reality of it
is starting to hit home,” says John Mulliken, director of water supply planning for the South Florida Water Management District. “We’ve got a lot of comp plans in. There’s a wide variety in terms of whether they meet the statutory requirements.”
Over the next several months, as more comp plans trickle in, the water management districts will evaluate whether the communities are meeting the requirements of the law — and they’ll recommend whether the state should approve those local growth plans. There may be rude awakenings for communities that either are oblivious to the law or have chosen to ignore it. Under the law, a local community can’t approve a building permit or issue a certificate of occupancy without a determination that there’s an adequate supply of water to serve the new development. A worst-case scenario could see a building moratorium in a community
that doesn’t get its act together. “The rubber starts to meet the road this summer,” says Carol Ann Wehle, SFWMD’s executive director.
Aside from whether the Legislature resists diluting the law, a key issue is how communities will create additional water supply. Additional groundwater pumping in many parts of the state, particularly the south and southwest, isn’t an option.
Many communities will be looking at creating alternative water sources — via reuse, desalination, treating brackish water and the like. They also need to make conservation a bigger priority. There’s an inherent bias in big organizations like water management districts toward expensive, technology-heavy solutions like desal without comparable investments in conservation,
which is cheaper and faster. The state, meanwhile, puts a disproportionate amount of money into creating alternative supply vs. spending on conservation.
Many believe conservation should get more emphasis. At least one group, the Utility Council of the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association, supports making water conservation or demand-side management programs eligible for funding as alternative water supplies. David Moore, executive director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, a leader in conservation efforts, told attendees at a water conference at the University of Florida in February that he believes “the biggest bite of the water-supply apple in the next 20 years is going to be conservation.”
At the conference, Moore
refuted the notion, advanced by another water manager, that you can’t “count” gallons created via conservation. Moore’s district has excellent statistics to that point, and to how effective conservation measures can be. Water use in Pinellas County, for example, fell from 153 gallons a day in 1990 to 89 gallons in 2006, largely the result of education and conservation measures. Meanwhile, as Trend reported last year, as construction of a giant desal plant on Tampa Bay dragged on for years, the regional water utility managed to reduce groundwater pumping in the region from 192 million to 121 million gallons a day in the face of a growing population — without any of the desalinated water that officials once insisted they needed to meet that goal.
The state has plenty of room to conserve. Farms use half the water consumed in Florida; half the farms use inefficient
flood irrigation. State-supported investments in micro-irrigation could help reduce ag’s consumption. As for overall use, although Florida has reduced its daily per capita usage from 174 gallons a day in 2000 to 157.5 in 2005, that’s still higher than the average daily U.S. per capita consumption of about 100 gallons. Europeans use about 53 a day.
As Trend’s associate editor, Cynthia Barnett, makes clear in her book, “Mirage,” water supply planning needn’t be built on the premise that we have to have more and more water to prosper. Overall water use in the United States stopped rising in the 1980s, yet population as well as gross domestic product have grown steadily ever since. Saving a gallon of water is just as effective — and much, much cheaper — than producing a new one. All the
numbers show that growth and conservation co-exist just fine.
St. Johns River Water Management District is proposing to beef up its water conservation rules. That's good. We need it if we are going to have water for the next generation.
If this surprises
you, it may be that you are not aware that water is becoming a premium commodity or that for the past 17 years the District has had water conservation rules in effect. We don't blame you.
Although the district has rules on watering yards no more than two days a week, enforcement is virtually unheard of.
With new rules, all of us are likely to pay more attention, according to Teresa Monson, spokeswoman for the District.
The proposed rules would limit private wells for lawn irrigation, dictate the amount of water that can be used and mandate reclaimed water be used where available.
days for watering would be limited so enforcement would be easier. One of those proposals is for the odd-even address system. Residents would water only on the specific day tied to their address. How hard is that?
Above all, It takes law enforcement and/or code enforcers to monitor the water use. Perhaps the odd-even address system would make that easier. But let's be realistic, when a cop is on a beat and his/her charge is to protect people and keep the peace, how high on the list of priorities is a citation for breaking water rules?
Local governments will have to adopt ordinances to set up the enforcement. The District does not have water cops in its rules. Code enforcement officers could be charged with this task.
But local governments already have to figure out how to make do with less because of property tax reform budget cuts. Finding the money could be a challenge.
St. Johns County's Stan
DeAngelis, director of building services which includes code enforcement, told The Record that it could come down to neighbors policing it.
We can see it now.
A resident turns on their sprinklers forgetting which day is water day. Next thing, the neighbor next door is telling them, "You are breaking the water rules and you will pay for it."
Is a shouting match going to turn into a fist fight?
Neighbors shouldn't have to actually police this and put themselves at risk of angering their neighbors permanently.
The rules are about saving water, protecting water resources and conserving the alternate sources. We do not want to be the nightmare that Central Florida is because of overdevelopment causing water shortages.
Water conservation appears to be working for St. Johns County Utilities customers. Bill Young, director, said people who conserve pay a lower rate. The water
meters attest to the conservation going on.
The rules won't take effect before 2009.
The District's Hal Wilkening said the public can help shape the rules. Perhaps that will make them more meaningful, too. A public hearing in Jacksonville is on July 1 at 10 a.m. Department of Environmental Protection, 7825 Baymeadows Way, rooms A and B. For more information and a look at the draft rules, go to: http://www.sjrwmd.com
We support water conservation and urge you to speak out at the upcoming public hearing. But strict enforcement of the news rules is what will determine their success.
Keeping a Promise: Industrial
Pollution and the Anishinaabek at Paa-kaa-aa-gaamoni (Quibel) (without Appendices) Leanne Simpson (Mississauga), Ph.D. 566 Bolivar Street Peterborough, ON K9J 4R8
Final Report of the Wabauskang First Nations Indigenous Knowledge and Contaminants Program
Funded by the Indigenous Health Research Development Program October 2007
It is now widely known that the mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon River system in northwest Ontario is one of the largest and most severe examples of industrial contamination in North America.
The Anishinaabek People of Asupbeechoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows) and Wabaseemoong Independent Nations (Whitedog) have been suffering with the tragedy of mercury poisoning on their lands, in their waters and in their bodies for seven decades. ii
part of the story has received national news attention over the past 30 years, another group of Anishinaabek people have also been quietly suffering with the tragedy, unaware they had also been exposed to the very same contamination until the 1980s.
During the early 1960s to the late 1970s, the English-Wabigoon River system was severely contaminated with inorganic mercury, when Dryden Chemical Limited, a subsidiary of Reed Pulp and Paper dumped more than 40 000 pounds of mercury into the environment, which included the Wabigoon River at Drydeniii.
From 1962-1975, Dryden Chemical was operating a mercury-cell chlor-alkali plant for the production of chlorine to use as a bleaching agent in the production of paper.
After the government of Ontario issued a control order to stop all mercury discharges into water systems, Dryden
Chemical installed a designed to isolate and capture mercury, but they continued to release mercury into the air until 1975, when the company was forced to switch its technology.iv The inorganic mercury dumped into the river system, was in addition to raw sewage which created a rich source of anaerobic bacteria to convert the mercury to the more toxic methyl mercury.v Methyl mercury soon spread throughout the entire aquatic ecosystem.
The Anishinabek people, relying on the water from the river for drinking and the fish for food were not told about the mercury for several years, and they continued to drink the contaminated water and eat the contaminated fish for over a decade. Fish from the river system were a staple in the diet of community members.
Commercial fishing and guiding sport fishers provided the communities with its main source of jobs. Fishing represented a substantial component of the local economy, and so when
people could no longer eat the fish, they lost their sustenance, their economic and food security, and their way of life became threatened.
Fish in the English-Wabigoon River system were severely contaminated by methyl mercury with mean mercury concentrations in 1975 ranging from 0.47 – 5.98 ppmvi. Health Canada’s guideline for the safe consumption of fish for frequent fish eaters is 0.2 ppm. Studies completed by Wabauskang First Nation in 2002 indicate that there are still elevated levels of mercury in pike and walleye in addition to elevated levels of mercury in otters.vii
Asupbeechoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows) and Wabaseemoong Independent Nations (Whitedog) eventually received compensation in the 1980s for the contamination, but their Elders and Anishinaabek Knowledge Holders have continued to report that the mercury contamination is still in the river system and that it is still having significant negative impacts on the
fish, aquatic animals, water and wildlife in addition to contributing to illness in the community. This perspective is in sharp contrast to what the people were told at the time, scientists and government officials assured them that the mercury would be completely out of the system in 30 years.
Anishinaabek people living at Paa-kaa-aa-gaa-mon or Quibel, just north of Vermillion Bay, Ontario were the first hit with the contamination. Now part of Wabauskang First Nationviii, these families that experienced the devastating effects of industrial contamination but were never compensated. In fact, community members did not even know that they had been exposed to large amounts of mercury until the late 1980s.
Community Elders remember many people dying untimely and unexplained deaths before the mercury spill was acknowledged. These people were drinking river water and eating fish throughout the 1970s, unaware of the contamination. Again, the
impacts of contamination were severe and devastating for the families involved.
This was not the first time the people living at Quibel had suffered the impacts of industrial pollution. In the mid 1940s, eleven babies born in the small community suddenly died. Those who were being bottled fed with milk made from the river water died first, and several others, including those babies that were being breastfed were permanently damaged from the contaminationix. Betty Riffel was a child at the time, living with her family along the river at Quibel, and she remembers this horrific and traumatic experience very well. Her younger brother Donny, was one of the babies that died. Sick from birth, he lived only nine months, and suffered a terrible death, as did all the other babies at the time, having repeated violent seizers until they died. At the time, medical officials told her parents that he had “an incurable disease”. This was something no one in the community
had ever experienced before. Betty believes the death of these babies and the deaths and disabilities of other community members are consistent with severe mercury poisoning, although at the time, the kraft pulp mill in Dryden was polluting the Wabigoon River with large quantities of a variety of toxic chemicals in their effluentx. Neither industry, nor the federal or the provincial government has attempted to make amends for this blatant injustice. After her baby brother died, Betty went for a long walk in the bush. During the walk, she made a promise to herself and to him to do something about this horrible injustice. Her work on this project is part of that promise.
The Petiquan family, members of the Kingfisher Clan of the Anishinaabek nation has always lived in the English-Wabigoon River system. Wabauskang represented a main gathering place for many of the families that later formed Grassy Narrows and Wabauskang First Nations. In 1873, these
families were represented by Ogimaaxi Sah-Katch-eway and they were signatories to Treaty 3. In 1882 they were given two reserve sights, one near the current reserve at Grassy Narrows and they other at Wabauskang.
Anishinaabek people would spend the winter on family hunting and trapping grounds within the English-Wabigoon River system, gathering for their summers at Wabauskang to trade, fish, conduct ceremonies and engage in the governance of the nation.
This changed dramatically in 1919 when a terrible epidemic of small pox and tuberculosis hit the small community that killed a great many peoplexii. To escape the epidemic, the Chief at the time, Charles Perrault, decided that the families should move away from Wabauskang. Some families chose to relocate to their traplines and hunting grounds to escape the disease, others moved to the old Grassy Narrows Reserve, Lac Seule, Eagle Lake and Quibelxiii. One year later,
pulp and paper operations began in Dryden, ON and throughout the next century the English-Wabigoon river would be contaminated with a variety of chemicals, including organochlorines, dioxins and furans, and mercury, from the plant.
Bertha Petiquan, an Elder from Wabauskang, and the only Elder living from Quibel recalls what life was like in those times, before the contaminationxiv:
“I was born in Quibel someplace. I grew up around Quibel. […] We were living in the bush all the time. We didn’t stay in the town. My mothers name was Sarah. My father’s name was Herman. My mother went with him all over. She died 2 days after she had me. I don’t know what happened. My uncle and his wife looked after me. I was raised trapping and hunting, fishing. I went to school for 2 years at McIntosh. I went to school too late so I didn’t know anything. We were staying in the bush all the time and nobody knew us. I remember
living in the bush. My auntie makes some wigwams. They were nice. She made big ones, fire in the middle, smoke goes up. They were nice. It is hard to do. I know how to do it. They were made out of birch bark. We had to clean those birch barks, cut the big long ones and scrub them. We lived in those all year around. They were warm. We just put a fence kind of in front of the door. We never got cold. My auntie did the skinning. She was really strong that women. She had big hands. We would move around. My uncle would make a big high toboggan to move….. to make the sliding easy. We had dogs to pull it. They were strong. I remember. They go fast. We had 4 dogs. We had a female dog that ran loose at the front and then they went fast. We didn’t move the wigwam, we would come back to it again. My uncle got lots of children – 7. We would all sleep in the wigwam. We used spruce bows to make our beds. […] In the wigwam we didn’t have to use anything because the fire inside lights. We
always asked my uncle to make us kids toboggans to play with. When we were staying in the bush there was a big hill to go down. We also made our own dolls. We made dogs too. We made all kinds of stuff to play with. Then we always wanted to go to the store to buy something. We made the dolls out of old rags. We made little people and dollies out of leaves. The boys would make boats. I would fix the boats for the boys. Now you have to go to the store spend money. […] We always ate the rabbits, rabbits, rabbits. There wasn’t that many beaver long time ago. We just killed moose once – not too many moose a long time ago. Sometime we eat bear meat. One time my uncle found a bear under the snow. We dried meat. We always ate porcupine too. Sometimes they went all day setting snares. Sometimes they would send us to go to get the rabbits. My hands just about froze. We wore moccasins. My auntie always made them. They were nice and soft. They put it in the fire to make the hide. You
have to take the hair first, then you have to soak it again. You have to use brain. You have to clean it…wash it again. After that it dries, and hang it for 2 days. That is how it is cooked. It is brown. You have to cook the brain. Just deer hide, not moose hide. We just cooked the brain with water.”
After spending some time back at Wabauskang, Bertha married John Petiquan and moved back to Quibel in 1937 to start a family. Bertha and John expected Quibel to be a good place to raise their children as the land and the river had always provided them with everything they need – animals to hunt and trap, fish to net, rice beds to collect manoomin (wild rice) and water to drink from the river. They had no reason to believe otherwise, but they began to notice that something was terribly wrong over the next decade.
At the time, Paa-kaa-aa-gaa-mon or Quibel was a small community located along the tracks of the CNR and there were both
Anishinaabek and non-Natives living there. There were houses, tents, a few stores and a nursing station there. People worked on the tracks, but there was also work in the bush cutting wood and guiding. People continued to travel to hunting and trapping grounds in other parts of the English-Wabigoon river system and they set nets along the Wabigoon river to catch fish, drank the water from the river and gathered plants, rice and wild berries from the surrounding areas. Their diet consisted of northern pike, whitefish, walleye, deer, moose, ducks, beavers and rabbits.
People began to get sick in the mid-1940s, but it was the children and babies who bore the brunt of the sickness. Between 1947 and 1949, 10 babies died, all in their first year of life, and all had violent seizures, and what doctors and nurses at the time called “an incurable disease”xv. Most of the babies that died were bottle fed with carnation milk mixed directly with water from the
Most of the babies that survived were breastfed, but they also suffered and continue to suffer life-long neurological damage. Elders and community members believe that this is a result of the contamination of the Wabigoon River. They believe the pulp and paper industry in Dryden poisoned the water.
From a scientific perspective, the description of the symptoms sound indeed like methylmercury poisoning. All of which were used in kraft pulp mills in the 1940s. Kraft pulp and paper mills were notorious for using Hg compounds (mostly HgCl2) as fungicides and bactericides to keep pulp and paper from rotting. xvi This could have easily been spilled into the river system and converted to methylmercury prior to the spill in the 1960s.
Adults also experienced and continue to experience symptoms that include tingling in the extremities, falling down for no reason, seizures, numbness, shaking
and tremors. Their symptoms are getting worse as they age. xvii There were also a high number of suicides in the 1960s which people also believe are linked to mercury poisoning. Many of the last remaining Anishinaabek people who lived a Quibel (there are 9, plus 2 that are now members of Grassy Narrows) have all had their symptoms linked to mercury poisoning by medical doctors. xviii
Even the dogs and cats were sick, having seizures from eating the leftover fish. There is also a high incidence of cancer in the people who were living at Quibel, and some of the remaining people link these cancers to exposure to dioxin and furans in the pulp mill effluent.
Several people interviewed recall the water smelling foul at certain times of the year. They recall seeing a tremendous amount of foam, mostly dark brown and sometimes green on top of the water – more foam than they had ever seen anywherexix. Some of the people remember
an incident that involved large amounts of black tar in the river that they could not wash out of their hair after swimming.
People began to move away from Quibel in the mid 1950s, moving to other locations in the English-Wabigoon River system. In the early 1970s, the reserve was re-established at Wabauskang, and the people of Quibel became band members there. They were never included in the negotiations or the settlement Grassy Narrows and Whitedog reached with the Canadian government, the province of Ontario and the two pulp and paper companies, and they did not learn they had been contaminated until the early 1980s.
The Path Ahead
Those community members interviewed expressed a desire to pursue compensation from appropriate governments and industry. As Pat Petiquan explained to me, the people of Grassy and Whitedog were compensated and so were the white people that lived at Quibel. The only people that have
not been compensated were the Anishinabek people living at Quibel. This injustice only adds to the pain the people feel regarding the events of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. They also expressed a desire to place a memorial at Quibel to honor those that lost their lives to industrial pollution.
Beyond this, the people that lived at Quibel would like to continue to study the issue of contamination in their territory. We have plans to take sediment core samples at Quibel this summer with a scientist, and there are documents that could be helpful to pinpointing what happened at Quibel in the 1940s in the archives in Toronto (access is restricted and must be obtained through the Freedom of Information Act), Thunder Bay and Kenora.
i This is the Anishnabek name for Quibel, and it means at the bend in the river.
ii The initial poisoning
occurred between 1962 and 1975, scientific studies completed by Grassy Narrows and Wabauskang First Nations have documented continuing elevated mercury levels in sediments, crayfish, fish and other top predators. See iii Anastasia M. Shkilnyk, A Poison Stronger than Love: The Destruction of an Ojibwa Community, Yale University Press, New Haven Connecticut, 1985, 179-191.
iv A Poison Stronger than Love; George Hutchison and Dick Wallace, Grassy Narrows, Van Nostrand Reinhold, Toronto, 1977.
v A Poison Stronger than Love, 184. A reference to the raw sewage is made in Richard B. Philip, Environmental Hazards and Human Health, CRC Publishing, 1995, 138.
vi From A Poison Stronger Than Love, 189, Pike 2.31-5.18 ppm, walleye 1.58-5.98 ppm and whitefish 0.47-1.39 ppm.
vii Asubpeechoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows) and Wabauskang First Nation, Final Report of
the Contaminants Project (Heavy Metals), 2005; Asubpeechoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows) and Wabauskang First Nation, Final Report of the Contaminants Project (Organochlorines).
viii The community of Wabauskang First Nation is a small Anishinaabek community located in north west Ontario, about 100 km north of Vermillion Bay.
ix The babies that died in their first year of life included -Jim Petiquan’s daughter #1, Jim Petiquan’s daughter #2, Jim Petiquan’s daughter #3, Jim Petiquan’s daughter #4, Donny Petiquan, Roy Fobister (breastfed), Robert Fobister (breastfed), Harriet Petiquan’s daughter #1, Harriet Petiquan daughter #2, and Anne-Marie Perault’s son.
xThe Dryden Paper Company did not build a recovery plant until 1945 – see http://www.cityofdryden.on.ca/history.shtml.
The invention of the recovery boiler in the 1930s is often hailed as a milestone in the
advancement of the kraft process because it allowed for the recovery and reuse of inorganic pulping chemicals. Before recovery plants, pulp mills discharged highly toxic black liquor (a dark brown cola like colour) directly into rivers. Dryden Chemical (parent company is Reed Pulp and Paper) installed the mercury-cell process in 1962-1975 – this produced the mercury that was dumped into the Wabigoon River.
See www.ec.gc.ca/ceparegistry/docuents/pubs/eps-1-ga-2/table.cfm and George Hutchison and Dick Wallace, Grassy Narrows, Van Nostrand Reinhold Ltd., Toronto, ON, 1977, 32.
xi Ogimaa is the Anishinaabek word for Chief or leader.
xii Interview with Bertha Petiqan September 6. 2007; Andrew Chapeski, Ian Davidson-Hunt and Roger Fobister, Paper Presented at the International Association for the Study of the Commons, Passing On Ojibwa Lifeways in a Contemporary Environment,
available online at http://www.indiana.edu/~iascp/Final/chapeski.pdf.
xiii Interview with Bertha Petiquan September 6, 2007; Passing On Ojibwa Lifeways in a Contemporary Environment.
xiv Bertha Petiquan died during the writing of this report in October 2007.
xv Theses babies were Jim Petiquan’s daughter #1, Jim Petiquan daughter #2, Jim Petiquan daughter #3, Jim Petiquan daughter #4, Donny Petiquan, Roy Fobister, Robert Fobister, Harriet Petiquan daughter #1, Harriet Petiquan daughter #2 and Anne-Marie Perault’s son.
xvi Personal Communication (email) with Dr. Holger Hintelmann, Associate Professor and NSERC Industrial Research Chair, Department of Chemistry and Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University, October 26, 2007.
xvii See transcripts of interviews.
xviii The remaining people of Quibel include Bertha Petiquan, Betty Riffel, Jane
Williams, Pat Petiquan, Andrew Petiquan, Barney Petiquan, Dave Petiquan, John Petiquan, Margaret Wolf, and Bill Petiquan.. They have never been compensated. Andrew Fobister, Evelyn Pahpasay are now members of Grassy Narrows and were compensated when Grassy Narrows received its settlement.
xix See Environmental Hazards and Human Health, 138.
CONTACT: Earthjustice David Guest, Earthjustice, (850) 228-3337 Monica Reimer, Earthjustice, (850) 681-0031 Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500
In Latest Anti-Clean Water Action, Bush Administration Gives Polluters OK to Pump Wastewater into
Drinking Water Supplies
New rule flouts federal court decision, environmental advocates will sue
WASHINGTON, DC - June 9 - A final rule issued today by the Bush administration sanctions the practice of pumping polluted urban and agriculture wastewater into public drinking water supplies. Today's rule finalizes a June 2006 proposal to deregulate this form of water pollution, which the administration has adopted in violation of the law and without regard to public health, according to environmental groups. Speaking before an industry trade association conference this morning, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin Grumbles announced that the agency was issuing the so-called water transfer rule. The EPA's new
rule would exempt an entire class of water polluters from the Clean Water Act. The new rule would allow contaminants to be dumped into drinking water sources as well as lakes and streams by water transfer operations. Under the EPA rulemaking, facilities can "transfer" contaminated water from one waterbody into a cleaner receiving water body without obtaining a permit limiting water pollution and requiring compliance with water quality standards. The rule is intended to effectively overrule a 2006 federal court decision which declared the practice of unpermitted pollution pumping to be illegal. (See Friends of the Everglades, Inc. v. S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist.) Earthjustice attorney David Guest, who represented environmental groups in the successful lawsuit involving the pumping of polluted water into Florida's Lake Okeechobee, underscored the implications of the final rule and said the organization would challenge the rule of behalf of its client organizations.
"In the face of irrefutable evidence that transfers of contaminated water pose grave public health threats, the EPA is trying to disguise disposal of polluted water as allocation of water for later public use," said Guest. "If it poisons you when you drink it, it's not allocation for public use." "EPA deliberately avoided even looking at the pollution implications of this rulemaking for public health across the nation because they know the consequences in many instances, as in Florida, would be a blatant violation of water quality standards," added Earthjustice senior legislative counsel Joan Mulhern. "Today's action by EPA represents one of the last and worst pieces of this administration's anti-clean water agenda. Congress should exercise its oversight responsibilities and investigate how EPA can finalize such a sweeping rule without either a scientific or legal leg to stand upon." In addition to the Florida case, federal courts in
the First and Second circuits have also held that interbasin transfers of waters that result in the pollution of the receiving waterbody require a Clean Water Act permit. Earthjustice's Guest said the organization would challenge the rule of behalf of its client organizations.
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Thirty-seven environmental groups on Monday called for denial of a proposed permit for a hotel and condominium development along the Gulf of Mexico in Taylor County in a region called the Nature Coast.
Dr. J. Crayton Pruitt, a St. Petersburg surgeon, proposes 624
condominium units, an 874-rooom hotel, 280,000 square feet of commercial space and a golf course on 1,243 acres. Environmental groups and state agencies have raised concerns about the permit request to fill in or clear 44 acres of wetlands.
Environmental groups, including Audubon of Florida and the Florida Wildlife Federation, want the water district board to reject the request, saying approval would set a bad precedent for the region. The Suwannee River Water Management District board is scheduled to vote on the permit today at City Hall in Live Oak.
"When you are dealing with a place as special as the NatureCoast there can't be any margin for error," said Joe Murphy, Florida director for the Gulf Restoration Network.
The Suwannee River Water Management District staff says Pruitt sought to avoid or minimize harm to wetlands. A consultant working on the project said most of the project is in the uplands away from wetlands.
The proposed Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary would be located between KeatonBeach and DekleBeach along the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve.
and state agencies last year opposed Pruitt's request to dredge a two-mile channel through the state preserve. Pruitt withdrew the request and scrapped his proposed Magnolia Bay Marina and Resort.
The new project, called the Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary, is touted as an environmentally-sensitive, green development. But the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has asked the developer to back up those claims.
The Florida Department of Community Affairs in February blocked the permit request, saying the project could harm wildlife along the coast. Now, DCA says the permit can be approved but it can't be issued until TaylorCounty addresses the
From: "Joe Murphy" <joe@...> To: <joe@...> Subject: Good News! Governor Crist to veto Seagrass Bill (CS/HB 7059) Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 17:10:55 -0400
Crist to veto seagrass mitigation bill
Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday morning that he intends to veto a bill that would allow developers to destroy seagrass beds. Crist said he decided to veto the bill "to save the seagrass, of course."
The bill was originally intended to help seagrass beds, creating fines for boaters who damage them. But a last-minute change to the bill created a means for developers to gain permission to destroy seagrass beds through mitigation -- essentially writing a check to replace the damage on public property elsewhere in the state. Many environmentalists who originally pushed for the bill had wound up calling for
its veto because of the change.
Posted by Jennifer Liberto at 9:44:51 AM on June 10, 2008 (St. Petersburg Times)
posted by John Kennedy on Jun 10, 2008 11:35:21 AM
Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday that he will veto sea-grass legislation that environmentalists warned could lead to even more waterfront development.
The measure (HB 7059) included $1,000 fines for boaters who damage sea-grass beds with their boat propellers. But a provision pushed into the bill by Rep. Will Kendrick, R-Carrabelle, would also allow developers and other private companies to damage or destroy fragile sea-grass in one location, provided they contributed money to support
sea-grass restoration projects elsewhere -- an approach called sea-grass mitigation banking.
Crist said he would veto the legislation, "to protect the sea-grass. Why else?"
The governor drew praise from Earthjustice attorney David Guest, among several environmentalists who had urged him to veto the measure.
"The bill contained a poison pill, inserted by lobbyists, for developers in a late-night meeting without any public discussion, that would have threatened thousands of acres of underwater maring nursery grounds in Florida," Guest
While looking to protect sea-grass, Crist also said he was keeping one eye on the state's faltering economy as he prepared for action on the state's $66.2 billion budget, which he expects to sign Wednesday.
Last year, Crist vetoed a record $459 million in hometown programs and projects. But this year's total will prove far less, he said, in part because cutting government spending could send a further shock through an already staggering economy.
"That might be one reason why you see less vetoes this week than you saw last year," Crist said. "Stay tuned."
Crist plans to veto "seagrass" bill, but not much more in budget
Gov. Charlie Crist just said he plans to veto legislation that could have set up a program that could have allowed developers to destroy some seagrass beds as long as they restored seagrasses in other areas.
The problem: No one's sure if the so-called "mitigation" plan for seagrasses will work. Environmentalists are split over the legislation because it had loads of good stuff for wildlife managers. But Crist decided just to end the
"I will veto it," Crist said. Asked why, he said: "to save the seagrass, of course. Why not?"
In other veto news, when Crist takes up the budget Wednesday, he plans few vetoes. He said he not only respects all the cuts the Legislature already signed off on, but also doesn't want to damage the economy more by withholding more spending.
A permit for a controversial proposed development along Florida’s “Nature Coast” near a state aquatic preserve has been approved by the Suwannee River Water Management District.
The district board voted 7-1 this morning to approve the permit for the Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary, located in Taylor county between DekleBeach and KeatonBeach. The 1,243-acre project proposed by Dr. J. Crayton Pruitt, a St. Petersburg surgeon, would include 624 condominium units, an 874-rooom hotel, 280,000 square feet of commercial space and a golf course.
Environmental groups and state agencies have raised concerns about the permit request to fill in or clear 44 acres of wetlands and its affect on the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve.
The permit cannot be issued until conditions placed on the permit by those agencies are met, said Jon Dinges, director of resource management at the Suwannee River Water Management
TALLAHASSEE -- Environmental groups were breathing easier and at least one lawmaker was miffed after Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday that he will veto a bill that critics warn would devastate the sea grasses that are the life’s blood of the marine habitat.
The green lobby originally supported the bill because it subjected careless boaters to a $1,000 fine for destroying the submerged grasses that protect the sandy bottom, filter water and shelter and feed juvenile fish.
They quickly reversed course, however, when they learned that a provision quietly added by Rep. Will Kendrick, R-Carrabelle, called for the creation of a sea grass mitigation program that could have
given developers more freedom to destroy the aquatic plants in exchange for replanting them elsewhere.
“The environmental groups love Charlie Crist and this is the reason why,” said David Guest, a Tallahassee lawyer with Earthjustice.
Guest and others complained that they were snookered when Kendrick added the mitigation amendment to the bill at a House Policy & Budget Council meeting on April 15, after an exhausting agenda.
Kendrick’s explanation of the amendment lasted only a few seconds. “That just further clarifies sea grasses that’s intended for protection,” Kendrick told the council members at the time.
Kendrick said last month that his amendment was available for all to read at the committee meeting before the full House and Senate voted and that he was not trying to deceive anyone.
He said he merely wanted to promote a new technology that a PinellasCounty company claims can transplant sea grasses -- substrate, roots and all.
The company claims that patches could be moved out of high traffic areas and replanted in scarred areas where the beds are dying at an alarming rate.
The stakes are high.
In the 1950s there were more than 5 million acres of sea grasses along Florida’s coast. That was whittled to 2 million by 2000 - and it continues to decline at the rate of 82 acres a day.
Kendrick’s legislation would have given Crist and the Cabinet the authority to approve sea grass mitigation banks by private companies on state-owned submerged lands.
Although no plan is in place, the theory could allow developers and government agencies to offset their sea grass destruction by buying credits from companies that
restore sea grasses elsewhere.
Environmental groups warned that the program would have encouraged marine development and made a bad situation worse.
Guest derisively refers to the technology as “hair transplants for the sea.”
Kendrick complained Tuesday that he worked with the governor’s Department of Environmental Protection on the development of the mitigation language and only learned about the governor’s concerns through the media.
“That is part of the most disappointing thing of all, the lack of communication,” Kendrick said.
DEP spokeswoman Sarah Williams said the department supported the measure largely because it gave regulators more power to protect sea grasses with the threat of the $1,000 fine.
“We understand that there were other parts of the bill that caused some concern,” she said.
Crist expressed reservations about the legislation after opponents flooded government offices with e-mails and letters demanding
Asked again about the legislation on Tuesday by reporters after a Cabinet meeting, Crist appeared to be shooting from the hip. “I’m going to veto it,” he said. “To protect sea grasses.”
A permit for a controversial proposed development along Florida’s “Nature Coast” near a state aquatic preserve has been approved by the Suwannee River Water Management District.
The district board voted 7-1 this morning to approve the permit for the Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary, located in Taylor county between DekleBeach and KeatonBeach. The 1,243-acre project proposed by Dr. J.
Crayton Pruitt, a St. Petersburg surgeon, would include 624 condominium units, an 874-rooom hotel, 280,000 square feet of commercial space and a golf course.
Environmental groups and state agencies have raised concerns about the permit request to fill in or clear 44 acres of wetlands and its affect on the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve.
The permit cannot be issued until conditions placed on the permit by those agencies are met, said Jon Dinges, director of resource management at the Suwannee River Water Management District.
A state agency has approved a St. Petersburg surgeon's controversial development in TaylorCounty, despite the opposition of several environmental groups concerned
about its effect on the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve.
The Suwannee River Water Management District approved Dr. J. Crayton Pruitt's latest plans for what he's now calling the Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary. The plan calls for building 624 condominium units, an 874-room hotel, 280,000 square feet of commercial space and a golf course. The project would be built in DekleBeach, where in 1993 a massive tidal surge from the no-name storm killed 10 people and destroyed 57 of the 70 houses.
Pruitt's original plan, known as MagnoliaBay, included a marina and a 7-foot-deep
channel 2 miles long and 100 feet wide cut through the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, the state's largest aquatic preserve and one of the largest stretches of uninterrupted sea grass in North America.
However, that plan ran into strong opposition from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the preserve. So Pruitt came up with a revised project that dropped the marina and channel, added a golf course and changed the name of the development to the Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary. The current plan still requires the destruction of 44 acres of wetlands for the golf course and roads, said Pruitt's environmental consultant, Beverly Birkett of Tampa.
In a letter last week the state Department of Community Affairs expressed continuing concerns about "significant wetlands," sinkholes and springs on the property that could be contaminated by runoff from the golf course. The whole project is "a significant level of urban development in an environmentally sensitive area," an agency official wrote.
But the water district board approved destroying the wetlands by a vote of 7-1. Now the only remaining permit needed is a federal one from the Army Corps of Engineers, Birkett said.
Private innovation is the wellspring of progress on environmental matters. Where once environmental policy inherently mistrusted markets and punishment was pursued more vigorously than progress, today wealth creation, appropriately harnessed, is the main engine of environmental progress. This is the new environmentalism.
At first glance one might attribute comments such as these to a marketing giant such as Wal-Mart or an innovative technology company such as GE. In fact, these are the views of non-profit organizations such as the GLOBE Foundation of Canada that promotes innovative
approaches to addressing serious environmental challenges.
Whereas traditional environmentalism perceived the free market as an adversary, the new environmentalism recognizes the marketplace as an important mechanism for problem solving through incentives. Recognizing that a healthy environment also leads to a healthy economy, consumers and some business leaders are responding accordingly.
The argument is straight forward. Environmental progress over the long term requires self-propelled environmental protection by government, businesses, and individual private citizens. Environmental entrepreneurship is not likely to occur unless people have the incentives and ability to act as private stewards of the environment. While punishment is needed for those who callously flout environmental law, new environmentalism strikes a balance between punishment and incentives that encourage environmental innovation.
It's not a new argument but it is an important one. Traditional environmentalism has failed to appreciate the importance of incentives in guiding human action, whereas the New environmentalism focuses on individual decision-making that provides incentives for people to become good environmental stewards.
John Javna, author of the best selling book - 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth, makes the same point about the importance
of personal values as the core determinants of action - but action that is oriented toward issues.
Such action goes further than simple individual effort. It harnesses the power of cooperation and community that not only works to change individual personal habits, but also to change society -- laws, business practices, and even values. This action inspires a sustained, committed effort to solve specific problems, rather than simply encouraging random environmental behaviour.
The new environmentalism requires environmental specialists and individuals to work together to identify practical measures to address key environmental problems. When governments, business, community groups and individuals work together to tackle environmental issues not only are different perspectives and skills brought to the table, greater power can be marshaled to carry out the actions needed to address environmental issues.
The New Environmental Movement
While this may sound Utopian, in fact here is growing evidence that this new environmental paradigm is being widely endorsed and has staying power. A survey conducted for Canada Post by Harris/Decima, a leading research firm, suggests the most notable trend is demographic- that the preoccupation with the environment cuts across generations and gender, region,
partisan lines and income groups.
UnÃ‚Âlike the past, where environmental movements were largely driven by idealistic young people, the survey found that people of all ages (chief among them women in their 30s and 40s and baby boomers) today are
very focused on environmental issues. How people manage their own lives and maintain their own households is the one part of the environmental equation they can control.
High energy prices have also helped defined the "Ëœnew environmentalism' according to the study. Consumer interest in reducing energy related expenditures and increased attention to energy costs in general serve as an important catalyst for
changing public opinion.
More than 80% of participants in the survey said that they, industry, and government were equally responsible to address environmental concerns. In fact, consumers want businesses to be equal partners in the effort to reduce waste and be more environmentally conscious. They want businesses to take action on environmental matters and wanted products with better environmental credentials,
ideally independently verified.
More information on the Harris/Decima research program on the New Environmentalism is available here.
Originally published in GLOBE-Net â€” the on-line Guide to the Business of the Environment - www.globe-net.com
Subject: FEDERAL SUIT FILED FOR PETITION JUSTICE IN FLORIDA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2008
FLORIDA HOMETOWN DEMOCRACY (FHD) FILES FEDERAL COURT ACTION
TO GAIN NOVEMBER 2008 BALLOT ACCESS
Today FHD (Florida Hometown Democracy) filed a federal court action in the Southern District of Florida seeking the proper certification of ballot status for the FHD constitutional amendment. The suit seeks placement on the ballot as early as the November 2008 election through a companion Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed with the action.
FHD has collected Petitions from over 820,000 people and is seeking to have FHD placed on the November 2008 ballot through remedies provided by the court to the State's mishandling of the petition process.
The complaint alleges four main problems caused by the State that have denied justice to the FHD Petition:
(1) there is no rational basis for the State's recent change to a February 1 combined filing and certification deadline, which should be declared
unconstitutional - the remedy is a return to the prior deadline of August 2008;
(2) the 68 varying methods that the local Supervisors of Elections and the State Division of Elections are using for validating signatures is a violation of equal protection - the remedy is to have all rejected FHD signatures examined under a uniform standard set by the court;
(3) the State's new statute allowing businesses to choose which organizations may come on their property to petition is a violation of the constitutional right to petition for referenda, and was never properly obtained by a constitutional amendment -- the remedy is to strike down the statute; and
(4) the State must be required to abide by its own statute that says that an initiative qualifies whenever it submits the valid number of signatures -- not just every two years at unpredictably varying deadlines, as the State has
Supporters of the FHD Petition, including national ballot-access expert Gary Sinawski, are optimistic that the federal court will object to what the State and its allies in the development industry have been doing to the citizens' right to petition their government through the initiative process, and will redress the balance in favor of the citizens being able to access the ballot with FHD sooner rather than later.
The Florida Hometown Democracy Petition is a citizens' constitutional initiative that will give communities the ability to stop runaway growth. It stipulates that whenever a city or county government wants to change their State-registered comprehensive land-use plan, the final step of the planning process will be a ballot vote by citizens to approve or disapprove the change. According to Florida Hometown Petition co-author, Palm Beach attorney Lesley Blackner,
elected officials have been too easily swayed by developers, and polls have consistently shown that when the FHD measure gets on the ballot, it will be approved by the required 60% of voters.
Additional signed Petitions from Florida voters will bolster the case for FHD's placement on the November 2008 ballot. "We invite more Floridians to make history with us", said John Hedrick, who has been the point person from the Florida Sierra Club for FHD. "Petitions can be downloaded from FloridaHometownDemocracy.com, then signed and mailed in", he said, "and contributions to this volunteer effort are much appreciated."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The sponsors of a proposed state constitutional amendment on growth management sued the state in federal court Wednesday to get the citizens initiative on the November ballot.
Florida Hometown Democracy missed a new petition-gathering deadline but the lawsuit, filed in West Palm Beach, argues the Feb. 1
cutoff violates the U.S. Constitution.
There was no rational basis to move up the deadline for citizen initiatives from August where it remains for amendments offered by the Legislature, said Lesley Blackner, who heads Hometown Democracy.
"It deprives people of their right to associate politically," Blackner said. "The state has got to stop this war against citizens' right to amend their constitution."
The Hometown Democracy Amendment would require voter approval for changes in local comprehensive plans that determine how and where cities and counties grow.
Development and business interests oppose the measure, arguing it would harm Florida's economy. They have pushed for measures such as the Feb. 1 deadline, placed on the ballot by the Legislature and approved by voters in 2004, to make to make it more difficult to amend the constitution through
the petition process.
Secretary of State Kurt Browning, Florida's top election official, is the defendant in the lawsuit. A spokesman for Browning did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
The suit also alleges differing standards used by the 67 county supervisors of elections to verify signatures violates the petitioners' equal protection rights.
Hometown Democracy advocates say they have collected more than the 611,009 signatures needed but were denied ballot access because of the early deadline and differing standards.
The Division of Elections, part of Browning's department, counted only 564,558 verified signatures by Feb. 1. Since then the number has increased to 595,368 but that doesn't include 13,182 signatures revoked under a new law.
An appellate court has invalidated the revocation law, passed at the
urging of Hometown Democracy opponents, but an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court is likely.
That 'new shower curtain smell' gives off toxic chemicals, study finds
An environmental organization finds high concentrations of dangerous chemicals in shower curtains sold at major stores.
By Tami Abdollah, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer June 13, 2008
Vinyl shower curtains sold at major retailers across the country emit toxic chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems, according to a report released Thursday by a national environmental organization.
The curtains contained high concentrations of chemicals that are linked to liver damage as well as damage to the central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems, said researchers for the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment & Justice.
The organization commissioned the study about two years ago to determine what caused that "new shower curtain smell" familiar to many consumers.
"This smell can make you feel sick, give you a headache, make you feel nauseous or [cause] other health effects," said Michael Schade, a coauthor of the report.
Researchers tested the chemical composition of five unopened polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, plastic shower curtains bought from Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart. One of the curtains was then tested to determine the chemicals it released into the air.
The study found that PVC shower curtains contained high concentrations of phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive effects, and varying concentrations of organotins, which are compounds based on tin and hydrocarbons. One of the curtains tested released measurable quantities of as many as 108 volatile organic compounds into the air, some of which persisted for nearly a month.
Seven of these chemicals -- toluene, ethylbenzene, phenol, methyl isobutyl ketone, xylene, acetophenone and cumene -- have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as hazardous air pollutants, said Stephen Lester, the center's science director and a coauthor of the report.
Potential health effects include developmental damage and harm to the liver and the central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems, according to the
Phthalates and organotins, which are not chemically bonded to the shower curtain, are often added to soften or otherwise enhance the curtain. These additives evaporate or cling to household dust more easily than the chemicals in the curtains themselves, Lester said. Volatile organic compounds also evaporate more easily than the less harmful chemicals, he said.
Vinyl chloride, which is a major building block of PVC, is a known human carcinogen that causes liver cancer, Lester said.
"PVC is just bad from cradle to cradle," said Martha Dina Argüello, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "It's a mess when you create, it's a mess when you get rid of it, and it's off-gassing when you're using it."
Representatives of Target and Sears Holding Co., the parent company of Kmart, said their companies were phasing out curtains that contain PVC. Target said about 90% of the store's "owned brand"
shower curtains offered this spring were made of materials other than PVC. Officials from the other companies were not immediately available for comment Thursday.
The report said that Bed Bath & Beyond had increased the number of PVC-free shower curtains it offered by selling those made of ethylene vinyl acetate and fabrics, but that Wal-Mart did not respond to the organization's faxes or letters requesting the retailer's PVC policy.
The American Chemistry Council issued a statement Thursday saying there was "no reliable evidence" that phthalates were harmful or linked to serious health problems, or that they were tied to the new shower curtain smell.
Argüello said studies were still being done on the effects of phthalates and other chemicals on people.
Little information on toxicity is available for 86 of the 108 chemicals detected in the curtains, Lester said.
The EPA has tested vinyl shower curtains and in 2002 said it had found
that many of the same chemicals listed in the center's report.
Lester said the test drew attention to the lack of government regulations or health-based guidelines governing indoor air pollutants.
"The EPA does not regulate indoor air, period," said Barbara Spark, the indoor air program coordinator for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "We have not been given that authority by the Congress."
The Center for Health, Environment & Justice sent a letter to 19 major retailers Thursday informing them of the new report and encouraging them to stop selling PVC products.
"Most companies aren't aware of some of the risks these products entail," Lester said. "Once they're informed of this, they're in many cases ready to make changes and purchase alternative products."
Add shower curtains to the list of household items that you may want to start looking for the organic version of. The one hanging in your bathroom now could be making you sick.
So many of the shower curtains that are in our bathrooms contain something called polyvinyl chloride. You're going to hear more about this and the letters that
should be sticking in your mind are PVC.
That new shower curtain smell is where the danger is. A study released today by the Center for Health Environment and Justice says that new shower smell is releasing 100 toxic chemicals into the air into your bathroom. Their called volatile organic compounds and health experts say shower curtains made with PVC carry 16 times more than the healthy amount of volatile compounds that should be in the air that you breathe.
What are those toxins doing? The study says they're irritating your respiratory system, damaging your central nervous system, even causing a loss of coordination.
"These shower curtains may have a cheap price but, we didn't know they were bad for our bodies until now."
The consumer product safety commission is asking that all PVC shower curtains be pulled from store shelves. Some stores are already reacting to this news. Bed Bath and Beyond, JC Penny, Sears, Kmart
and Target have all started plans to get these PVC curtains off the market. According to the researchers of this study Walmart has not started their plan, but I can't imagine they're far behind.
Bottom line parents, check the packaging. If the product contains PVC, put it back.
To showcase its long-standing indifference toward the environment, the Bush administration last week announced it will not interfere with Florida's practice of pumping polluted farm water and suburban runoff into the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee.
The ruling is the bureaucratic equivalent of an upraised middle digit aimed at all those naive souls who had looked to the government as a protector of our threatened wetlands and aquifers.
Snubbing a 2006 court decision, the Environmental Protection Agency says it won't require permits for ''transfers'' of massive volumes of water, no matter how scuzzy that water is.
''Clean water permits should focus on water pollution, not water movement,'' declared Benjamin Grumbles, one of many useless EPA hacks who next year will be out of a job, and not a moment too soon.
The agency's reasoning for ducking its responsibility is craven and porous. It claims the
federal permit program is designed strictly to stop polluters from trashing waterways -- not to prevent dirty waters from being moved into clean waters by local governments.
Extend this lame logic to a personal level. Say someone hands you a bucket of raw sewage. As long as you didn't create the sewage yourself, you'd be free to pour it into a neighbor's swimming pool.
Intentionally contaminating healthy water with polluted water -- regardless of the source -- is itself a flagrant act of pollution. Yet the EPA says it can't be bothered with regulating such transfers.
The Florida case stems from lawsuits initiated by the Miccosukee Tribe and environmental groups against the South Florida Water Management District, which pumps billions of gallons of water through canals and marshlands.
Flood control and maintaining adequate urban water supplies are the district's priorities,
though it is deeply involved in numerous Everglades restoration projects.
For years, Miccosukee leaders have claimed that the agency funnels dangerous amounts of agricultural pollution into tribal waters, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.
State water managers say they need independent authority to move and allocate water for the public good -- or at least, their view of what's in the public good.
The board members are political appointees so, not surprisingly, what's good for sugar tycoons, cattle barons and housing developers is often deemed good for the general public.
And if that means uncorking crappy water into Lake Okeechobee or the Everglades, so be it.
Cattle dung, fertilizers
A few years ago, the issue went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided that a Broward pumping station could operate without a permit. However, the High Court sent the case back to federal
court in South Florida to deal with the key pollution questions.
In December 2006, in a second case, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled that by back-pumping billions of gallons of farm effluent into Lake Okeechobee, state water managers were violating the intent of the Clean Water Act.
The judge rebuffed the EPA's narrow interpretation of its permitting authority, and she also rejected assertions by the South Florida Water Management District that it would be too costly and complicated to seek federal permission for water transfers.
There would be no lawsuits, or debate, if the water being transferred were actually clean. Millions of tons of cattle dung and fertilizer tend to produce unhealthy lakes, rivers and bays.
The horrid results of the district's primitive pumping policies are most visibly evident during seasons of heavy rain. As soon as the floodgates of Lake Okeechobee are opened, huge cascades of
nutrient-choked water rush into the St. Lucie waterway to the east, and the Caloosahatchee River to the west.
Eventually this crud is swept all the way to the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. It's nothing more sophisticated than the deliberate flushing of an enormous, fetid toilet.
The EPA says the U.S. government's role should focus on stopping pollution at its source. Of course, if the agency had been doing its job, cane growers and ranchers and municipalities wouldn't have been allowed to drown the Everglades with their filthy runoff for all those decades.
The spineless way out
Indeed, if the agency had done its job, the Clean Water Act wouldn't be the joke that it is today all around the country.
The Miccosukees probably weren't stunned that, under its current leadership, the EPA would take the spineless way out and let Florida continue pumping dirty water wherever it pleases.
the sun sets on the calamitous presidency of George W. Bush, the same government that falsely pledged to help save the Everglades now won't lift a finger to make the state stop contaminating it.
Toxic chemicals that ran into the Davidson River on May 27 and 28 wiped out an estimated 22,710 fish in one mile of river, officials with the N.C. Division of Water Quality say.
State environmental officials also say the fish were killed not only by oxygen being depleted from the water, as federal officials originally said, but also from direct contact with acute concentrations of toxic chemicals.
Officials of the N.C. Department of Public Health initially identified the pollutant which spilled into the river from the shuttered Ecusta paper mill as sodium hydrosulfide, a caustic compound used during decades of paper making.
Water samples taken by the Division of Water Quality after the spill
showed the pollution contained arsenic, cadmium, selenium, silver and sodium in levels high enough to kill aquatic life, said Susan Masengale, a spokeswoman for the agency.
"Talking to my chemists, there were a few chemicals that were beyond a doubt dangerous to aquatic life one time down the river," she said.
Tracking the spill
The Ecusta paper mill operated from 1939 until it was closed in 2002. Davidson River Village, LLC, purchased the 527-acre property in January for $15.9 million. The company is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state to clean up chemical storage tanks and other pollution sources scattered across the closed mill site.
The spill occurred when an environmental cleanup contractor on May 27 opened a valve to drain one of these tanks into the large wastewater lagoon on the Ecusta property. The valve was broken, causing the waste to flush
rather than trickle through an industrial sewer.
The sewer, it turned out, was broken underground and released the waste into a stormwater drainage system which dumped it into the Davidson River. A fishing guide who leases the river's banks for private trout angling noticed hundreds of dead fish floating in the river the following day.
The spill was not discovered until late in the day after the night it started. Contractors immediately dug earthen dams to stop any more of the flow from reaching the river, but the 3,100 gallons of waste in the tank had drained out.
The spill did not affect any of the Davidson River upstream, including about two miles leased by Davidson River Outfitters, and the popular section in Pisgah National Forest.
The Division of Water Quality tested the section downstream of the spill for aquatic life a week after the spill. Biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission counted the dead fish
in the streams immediately after the spill. The total of 22,710 fish killed is much larger than any previous estimate.
"Some fish are very social fish and they have large number of fish in big schools," Masengale said. "This is a lot of fish."
The magnitude of the kill shows how productive an ecosystem that section of the Davidson is, she said.
The fish killed included many non-game species of darters, shiners and minnows as well as brown and rainbow trout. The state is awaiting results of biological studies before deciding on any fines or enforcement action against those deemed responsible for the spill, Masengale said.
Not restored yet
Linda Campbell is president of the Pisgah Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the national group that works to protect and restore cold water fisheries. The group met Thursday night with representatives of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to
discuss the spill, she said.
"We as a chapter plan to assist with the restocking of that section," she said Friday. "We have made that offer and it has been accepted although there is no timeline at this point."
The group volunteered to help place fish in the river, but won't be paying for fish, she said. TU uses its funds for outreach programs for children and for a multi-year project to restore stream banks along the section of the Davidson River in Pisgah National Forest.
"I would think there should be some sort of fines imposed by the state which I would assume would be used to repay the owners of that section," she said.
The state has not yet compiled the total value of fish destroyed in the spill, Masengale said. She said she was not sure but expected the state would base fines on all the fish killed and not just trout and other game fish.
"They are all part of the ecological richness of the area. I would
think we would be looking at the totality of what happened there," she said.
Preventing another spill
Asked what steps the state has taken to assure no more spills occur, Masengale said DWQ has prohibited contractors from using the industrial sewer at Ecusta to transport wastes on the site.
"They will not be using that pipeline at all,' she said. "Anything that needs to be transported from one part of the site to another will be done through surface transportation."
As to when the state will decide on enforcement action to recover the cost of the fish killed, Masengale said the state is moving deliberately and carefully to investigate the case, but she did not have a time-frame for that decision.
A new development project proposed for our area's coastline is approved to move forward--a move that some local residents are skeptical about. The first step is made to transforming the Taylor County Coast. An environmental Resource Permit is approved for The Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary. This means the Suwannee River Water Management District is authorizing the construction of the multi-million dollar waterfront project proposed for Dekle Beach. Trey Howard, the attorney for the development project, said, "It's a more inland development than before. The original development was more geared toward water recreation. There will be some passive water recreation, kayaking, canoeing." St. Petersburg developer Dr. J. Crayton Pruitt first proposed the $700 million Magnolia Bay project. Howard says because
environmental concerns hindered the permitting process, Dr. Pruitt renamed the project to The Reserve at Sweetwater Estuary and significantly scaled down the development by eliminating the marina and not digging a two-mile channel. Tallahassee resident Laurie Graybar is from Taylor County and is visiting her family's beach home. She said Dekle Beach has always been a safe haven. "Our fear is we bring in more population and we're not familiar with those people, we no longer can let our eight year olds run around and have that kind of freedom that my son has down here." The new plan includes: 624 condominiums, a 400-room hotel, commercial center, boardwalks and an 18-hole golf course. Dekle Beach native Hope Harvey said, "For Taylor County, it could be a huge economic stimulus. However, for the residents down here it's just a little bit hard to swallow because we like the quaintness of it. So I can definitely see both sides of it." The project has to go
through several more permits. Construction cannot begin until there's a land use change with Taylor County and approved by the Department of Community Affairs.
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