With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/7/2010, 1:11pm PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hungarian sludge spill reaches Europe's 2nd largest river; 'Poo Power' in the UK; Possible answer to the mysterious honeybee deaths; Global Work Party on 10-10-10; PLUS: The Clean Air Act, cheaper than advertised ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Expert: Texas is getting hotter due to global warming; Scathing report on BP Oil Disaster from presidential commission; Safety systems worker testifies she did not immediately sound alarms on Macondo rig despite dire warnings; FTC Proposes Revised "Green Guides"; What is "corn plastic"?; Stolen restaurant grease symptom of biofuel craze; Climate talks struggle as China, U.S. face off; Sun's role in warming the planet may be overstated: study ...PLUS: Court rules rBGH-free milk *is* better than the kind produced with artificial hormones ...

STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

  • Hungarian sludge spill reaches Europe's 2nd largest river:
    • Hungarian chemical sludge spill reaches Danube (BBC):
      Toxic red sludge from a spill at an industrial plant in Hungary has reached the River Danube, officials say.

      They said alkaline levels that killed all fish in one river were now greatly reduced, but were being monitored. PM Viktor Orban called the spill an "ecological tragedy". There are fears the mud, which burst out of a reservoir on Monday, could poison the Danube.
      ...
      Disaster official Tibor Dobson said all life in the Marcal river, which feeds the Danube, had been "extinguished".

    • How toxic is Hungary's red sludge?: But what exactly is the sludge, and how hazardous is it to humans? (BBC)
  • 'Poo Power' in the UK!:
    • Oxfordshire town sees human waste used to heat homes: With Cool Illustrations! (BBC):
      Householders in Didcot have become the first in the UK to use gas made from their own human waste and supplied via the national grid to heat their homes.
      ...
      An additional plant installed earlier this year at the Thames Water sewage treatment works in Didcot cleans up the spare biogas that is produced and turns it into biomethane suitable for household hobs and in gas central heating.
    • Human waste power plant goes online in the UK (Gizmag)
    • Cooking on Poop Gas Takes Off: The new plant is sited at a facility already producing electricity, but the additional equipment harvests spare biogas and converts it to biomethane, which is then supplied to homes for use in cooking and gas central heating using the existing pipeline infrastructure. (Treehugger)
  • Oil Spill Commission Denied Subpoena Power:
  • Possible Culprit Found in Mysterious Honeybee Deaths:
    • Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery (NY Times):
      Human nature and bee nature were interconnected in how the puzzle pieces came together. Two brothers helped foster communication across disciplines. A chance meeting and a saved business card proved pivotal. Even learning how to mash dead bees for analysis — a skill not taught at West Point — became a factor.
      ...
      The Army software system — an advance itself in the growing field of protein research, or proteomics — is designed to test and identify biological agents in circumstances where commanders might have no idea what sort of threat they face. The system searches out the unique proteins in a sample, then identifies a virus or other microscopic life form based on the proteins it is known to contain. The power of that idea in military or bee defense is immense, researchers say, in that it allows them to use what they already know to find something they did not even know they were looking for.
    • READ IT: Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline (PLoS One Journal)
    • Military And Scientists Find New Suspects In Dying Beehives (NPR)
  • The Clean Air Act: Cheaper Than Advertised
    • The Clean Air Act has been cheaper and more effective than industry predicts, again and again (David Roberts):
      Guess what? The CAA is a bargain! Turns out industry and government projections were overly high in the early '70s. And the late '70s. And 1990. Every time the act was expanded or amended, really.
      ...
      Guess what the Energy Information Administration found were the actual levelized costs of compliance? $836 million a year. But hey, what's an error of a few billion dollars a year among friends?

      The EPA overestimates costs too. A study [PDF] by economists at Resources for the Future found that out of 17 cases, EPA's initial cost projections overestimated actual costs in 14 and were too low in just three. One reason for this persistent pattern is that it's just extraordinarily difficult to predict technological innovation. Another is that industry itself is often the source of EPA cost estimates....

    • READ IT: The Clean Air Act's Economic Benefits: Past, Present and Future [.pdf] (Main Street Alliance & Small Business Majority)
    • Broken record: Industry is always wrong about the cost of air-quality regulations (David Roberts, Grist):
      Imagine, if you will, that the EPA wildly underestimated the cost of some air-quality regulation. After being implemented, it turned out to cost many multiples of what the agency had projected beforehand. Furthermore, the same pattern held true for decades --- over and over, EPA lowballed the cost of its air regulations.

      Can you conceive the hippie punching that would go on?
      ...
      Now imagine the reverse situation: For decades, every time the EPA proposed a new air-quality regulation, industry-funded economists and lobbyists wildly overestimated the costs, sometimes by up to 1,000 percent.

      Would subsequent industry projections be treated with scorn? Would we see any executive punching?

    • STUDY: Are The Costs of Proposed Environmental Regulations Overestimated? Evidence from the CFC Phaseout (Spingerlink Research, 2000)
  • 10-10-10 Global Work Party
    • FIND A GLOBAL WORK PARTY NEAR YOU at 350.org: (350.org):
      Since we've already worked hard to call, e-mail, petition and protest to get politicians to move, and they haven't moved fast enough, now it's time to show that we really do have the tools we need to get serious about the climate crisis.

      On 10/10/10 we'll show that we the people can do this --- but we need bold energy policies from our political leaders to do it on a scale that truly matters. The goal of the day is not to solve the climate crisis one project at a time but to send a pointed political message: If we can get to work, you can get to work too --- on the legislation and the treaties that will make all our work easier in the long run.

    • 10-10-10: Numerology meets environmentalism (LA Times)
    • JOIN the ONE DAY ON EARTH VIDEO PROJECT (Creative Visions.org):
      With thousands of participants, ranging from teenagers to award-winning filmmakers, One Day on Earth is being represented by every country in the world. The unprecedented scope of video captured on 10.10.10 will be viewable through an online archive system, as well as a feature-length documentary that explores our planet’s identity, slated for 2011.

      Following the landmark event, the One Day on Earth archive –- searchable by topic, popularity and location –- will be available for anyone in the general public to navigate and learn about important issues facing our global community. Participants will also have access to download all One Day on Earth footage for non-commercial purposes, offering an additional opportunity to produce their own interpretations of global life.

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

  • W.Va. Sues Obama, EPA Over Mining Coal Regulations: West Virginia, at the direction of Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, sued the Obama administration today to overturn new federal rules on mountaintop removal mining. (Greenwire)
  • Expert: Texas is getting hotter due to global warming (USA Today):
    Triple-digit temperatures will be the norm in Texas within a few decades, and 115-degree heat won't be surprising, according to the state climatologist.

    Texas A&M University atmospheric sciences professor John Nielsen-Gammon said recently that models he's analyzed show temperatures rising as much as 1 degree each decade, meaning that by 2060, temperatures around the state would be 5 degrees hotter than now.
    ...
    A recent Texas A&M University news release said the heat could bring water shortages, more severe droughts, crop failures and more difficulty controlling air pollution. Farmers will need to irrigate more.

  • Oilpocalypse Revisited: Scathing Report On BP Oil Disaster From Presidential Commission (Wonk Room):
    as the commission nears its six-month deadline, it has issued several staff-written draft reports on contentious topics, from dispersants to oil flow estimates.
    ...
    The commission sharply criticized the government’s failure to correctly estimate the scope of the disaster:

    By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem.

  • BP Oil Disaster Hearings: Safety systems worker testifies she did not immediately sound alarms on Macondo rig despite dire warnings (NOLA.com):
    She said she was trained to sound a general alarm any time more than one light flashed, but didn't do so immediately because she had never been trained to deal with such an overwhelming number of warnings.

    "It was a lot to take in," Fleytas said, testifying by telephone from California. "There was a lot going on."

  • Federal Trade Commission Proposes Revised "Green Guides" (Federal Trade Commission):
    The changes to the “Green Guides” include new guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, “renewable energy” claims, “renewable materials” claims, and “carbon offset” claims. The FTC is seeking public comments on the proposed changes until December 10, 2010, after which it will decide which changes to make final.

    “In recent years, businesses have increasingly used ‘green’ marketing to capture consumers’ attention and move Americans toward a more environmentally friendly future. But what companies think green claims mean and what consumers really understand are sometimes two different things,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “The proposed updates to the Green Guides will help businesses better align their product claims with consumer expectations.”

    The Green Guides were first issued in 1992 to help marketers ensure that the claims they are making are true and substantiated. The Guides were revised in 1996 and 1998.

  • How Stuff Works: What is corn plastic? (How Stuff Works):
    That's right: corn plastic. You can drink coffee out of it, put groceries in it, wear it and even hang ten on it on a corn plastic surfboard. Most important, you can turn corn into plastic and avoid dependency on petroleum. Much like corn ethanol, corn plastic allows us to make a comparable product out of a renewable resource, as opposed to oil reserves that will one day run dry. In addition, since corn can be cultivated throughout the world, market value doesn't hinge on relationships with oil-rich nations or on peace in the Middle East. After all, have you ever seen "No blood for corn" printed on a T-shirt?
  • Stolen Restaurant Grease Symptom of Biofuel Craze (Triple Pundit):
    Renewable energy just cannot catch a break. Some have called the trend a conspiracy to destroy oil companies and make the solar companies rich; the Italian Mafia is skimming money off of wind turbines in Sicily; and now grease is becoming a hot commodity. More businesses from the Jersey Shore to South Carolina are reporting losses due to thieves pilfering used grease before it can be processed into biodiesel.
  • Climate Talks Struggle as China, U.S. Face Off: The U.S. and EU said on Wednesday that U.N. climate talks were making less progress than hoped due to rifts over rising economies' emission goals, while China pushed back and put the onus on rich nations. (Reuters)
  • Sun's Role in Warming the Planet May Be Overstated, Study Finds: The discovery could help explain why Europe can have cold winters while the world as a whole is heating up (Solve Climate)
  • Got pus?: Court rules rBGH-free milk *is* better than the kind produced with artificial hormones. Now what? (Grist):
    Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the state of Ohio's ban on labels that identify milk as rBST- or rBGH-free, meaning produced without the use of artificial bovine growth hormone. Consumer and organic food groups were jubilant at the Ohio news, which may have far-reaching repercussions not only for all milk, but for genetically engineered foods.