Wednesday, August 30, 2006

E.O. Wilson Interview

Great interview in the U.S . News and World Report of Alabamian E.O. Wilson.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Newspaper Editorial Responses to ADEM Draft Plan

As chair of the Environmental Management Commission's Strategic Planning Committee, I welcome editorial support for the draft strategic plan. Here are the latest newspaper editorial excerpts on the subject.

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Huntsville Times

"Challenge for ADEM"

If there was ever a time when Alabama had to sacrifice and degrade its natural resources in order to provide for a sufficient economy, that time has long passed. Today, Alabamians want and deserve an agency that protects human health and the places, urban or rural, where people live and raise their children.

The Times urges the Environmental Management Commission to approve the proposed long-range strategic plan and dispel once and for all the idea that Alabama has its doors wide open to polluters and environmental ruin. Could any sensible person really want something different?

Entire article here

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Times Daily - Florence

"Raising the Bar"

If the Alabama Environmental Management Commission votes to adopt a long-range strategic plan submitted by a standing committee of the commission, the state could become one of the nation's premier examples of how not only to protect the environment, but to run a regulatory agency.

Entire article (you may need to register)

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Montgomery Advertiser

"Strategic Plan Pushes Laudable ADEM Agenda"

Simply put, Alabama needs to do a better job of protecting its air, land and water, striking a responsible balance between the needs of modern society and the proper care for the fundamental resources that sustain us all. A strategic plan for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, proposed by a subcommittee of the commission which oversees ADEM, is a major step in that direction.

Entire article..

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Alabama Power Wins EPA Lawsuit

Alabama Power won a big case on New Source Review today.

Here is an excerpt from the Birmingham News:

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In her ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Virginia Hopkins said the company had complied with the Clean Air Act. She said the EPA had a history of air pollution rules that aren't legally enforceable.

"To me, EPA sought ... and still seeks regulation by litigation instead of by notice and comment rulemaking," the judge wrote. "The agency's emissions rulemaking process has been characterized by problems with reviewing courts."

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Rest of the Article....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What is in the Air?

Birmingham News environmental reporter Katherine Bouma examined Jefferson County's toxic air pollution issues in last Sunday's Birmingham News (the story was on the front page).

Here is an excerpt from the B'ham News story:

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Engineers at the Health Department would not have discovered the toxic metal at all if they had not decided to go beyond federal requirements and capture the air in industrial areas to identify more than 100 gases, metals and other invisible chemicals.

"It's a soup out there," said Randy Dillard, air monitoring supervisor. "All that stuff is coming from a multitude of various sources, and it's hard to separate it once it gets out in the air."

Arsenic was only one of the heavy metals found at unsafe levels. Cadmium, nickel and manganese also were trapped in the monitors. The Health Department also found 14 gases, including benzene and formaldehyde, at high levels.

Health Department scientists are confident they will be sitting down with industry leaders soon to explain which of their chemicals are harming the public and must be removed from their emissions. If all goes well, the air could be cleaned up within two years.

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The good news - It looks like Jefferson County Health officials are "going beyond federal requirements". In the process of doing so, they found several heavy metals and gases at unsafe or high levels. As a result, they are addressing a potential health problem. That's encouraging.

You can read the rest of the story here and here.

Oil Crisis Series Part 3

Read Part 3 of this amazing series of articles on America's addiction to oil and the global ramifications. Read it here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

AEMC Strategic Plan Goals

On Friday, the Alabama Environmental Management Commission's Strategic Planning Standing Committee released to the Commission and the public it's recommended Draft Strategic Plan. Here is a list of the plan's 13 goals.

* Secure and Increase Stable Funding for ADEM

* Continue Strategic Planning Steering Committee Oversight and Accountability

* Continue Personnel Standing Committee Evaluation of the ADEM Director

* Increase Public Input

* Improve AEMC and ADEM's Relationships with the Public and Legislature

New Policy Goals

* Factor Environmental Justice into ADEN Programs

* Ensure Regulatory Standards are Most Protective of Health and Environment in the Nation based on Science and Ecological Conditions

*Increase Compliance with Issues Permits

* Expand Pollution Prevention Initiatives and Waste Reduction/Recycling Measures

* Review and Upgrade Notification Measures

* Enhance the State's Brownfield Program

* Update the 1991 Solid Waste Management Plan

* Review Emerging Environmental Management Issues

Read the entire AEMC Draft Plan by going here.

A Global Oil Crisis - Telling the Story

Just picked up the Seattle Times this weekend and started reading a Chicago Tribune series of stories on oil and it's future. Incredible writing and research. A must read.

Check it out here and here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Alabama Power's Renew Our Rivers Program Surpasses 7 Million Pounds

Alabama Power's Renew Our Rivers program has removed more than 7.17 million pounds of trash from Alabama lakes and streams since the program's inception in 2000. This spring alone, 816,000 pounds of trash were removed from waterways.

On top of the impressive collection numbers, more than 6000 volunteers have participated in this nationally recognized program.

For more info about Renew Our Rivers visit - http://www.alabamapower.com

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" Still In Alabama Theaters

Folks interested in seeing Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" can still catch it on the big screen in Alabama. Presently, the documentary is being shown in Huntsville (at the Carmike 10) and in Birmingham at the Summit 16.

To learn more about the movie go to http://www.climatecrisis.com

Letters from Alabama...

Some inspiration in the morning from "Letters From Alabama on Natural History" published in 1859 by Phillip Henry Gosse.

"There is no solitude like that which is felt by him who for the first time walks the streets of a busy city in which he is a total stranger. Crowds of human beings pass by, each possessed of the thoughts, feelings, and affections of a man; yet not one stretches out a hand of friendship, not one bestows a nod of acquaintance, not one gives so much a glance of recognition.

In the gloom of the forest, in the silence of the wilderness, far from human abodes, my heart leaps for joy; there I am not lonely, though alone; there are hundreds of objects meet my gaze, with which I have long been accustomed to hold sweet communion."

Black Warrior River Watershed Plans Available

The Black Warrior Clean Water Partnership has just released the Black Warrior Watershed Management Plan. It is online at: http://www.warriorcwp.org (access it through the maps & data link on the left side of the page).

The document is a valuable water quality protection plan resulting from nearly a year's worth of community collaboration. Good job!

Monday, August 07, 2006

AWF Conservation Achievement Award Winners

Last Friday, the Alabama Wildlife Federation held it's annual Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards banquet. Here are some of the notable winners:

Conservationist of the Year - John Borom, Fairhope
Forest Conservationist of the Year - Rhett Johnson, Andalusia
Wildlife Conservationist of the Year - Richard Liles, Montgomery
Legislative Conservationist of the Year - Rep. Thomas Jackson, Thomasville
Conservation Organization of the Year - Paint Rock Restoration Partnership

For a rundown on the rest of the winners, go to - http://www.alabamawildlife.org

Scenic Alabama's Take On American Idol Billboards

Check out Scenic Alabama's take on the Bureau of Tourism's new American Idol Billboard Campaign. http://www.scenicalabama.blogspot.com

Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Passes U.S. House

Rep. Spencer Bachus has championed the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge from the start. For over a year, he has spearheaded an effort to "double" it's size. Last week, the U.S. House agreed. Let's hope, the U.S. Senate can pass the expansion bill (which is supported by Senators Shelby and Sessions) by the end of the session.

Sen. Richard Shelby Secures Funds For Numerous Environmental Programs

Here is some good news.

Through Senator Shelby's leadership on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, he has secured funding for several important environmental projects in Alabama. These projects include the following:

Alliance Education Program for the Gulf of Mexico (an effort led by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab) - $3 million

Escatawpa River Longleaf Hills Ecological Area and Red Hills Big Flat Creek - $6 million

Dauphin Island Coastal Protection Project - $2.5 million

Mobile Bay Fisheries Initiative - $2.5 million

Weeks Bay Reserve (expanded labs and classrooms) - $2 million

Alabama Environmental Education Center (4H Center) - $500,000

Center for Aquatic Resource Management - $6 million

Red Mountain Park Development Project - $1 million

To learn more about these projects access the Senator's press releases here

Friday, August 04, 2006

Alabama's Brownfield's Program - The Numbers

Since it's passage in 2001, the "Alabama Land Recycling and Economic Redevelopment Act" (Alabama's Brownfields Program) has received more than 240 applications with 176 sites successfully completing the program. Presently, 59 additional projects are underway.

Learn more about the program - here.

Sens. Shelby and Sessions Comment About Off Shore Oil Drilling Revenue Sharing Legislation

Earlier this week, the Senate passed Off Shore Oil and Gas Drilling legislation that will have a significant impact on Alabama's environment and state coffers. Here is what our two senators had to say about the legislation.

http://shelby.senate.gov/news/record.cfm?id=260422

http://sessions.senate.gov/pressapp/record.cfm?id=260399

Walking the walk... Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Following up all their "talk" with action. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is making huge strides creating a "carbon neutral" business operation. Check it out.

http://www.cleanenergy.org/programs/hottopic.cfm?ID=68

Hummingbirds On WBHM

Just heard a great radio story about Bob and Martha Sargent's efforts to educate people about hummingbirds. Truly a great story.

Check it out at the WBHM's Tapestry Website (it is below another wonderful story about Spider Martin) http://www.wbhm.com/Tapestry/index.html

Coca-Cola Supports Alabama-Georgia Trail

The dream of bicyclists, runners and walkers making their way from Atlanta to Anniston, Alabama, on a single uninterrupted trail moved closer to reality with the announcement of a $100,000 grant from Coca-Cola North America.The primary purpose of the grant will be to close the 8 mile gap in the Silver Comet-Chief Ladiga trail. Monies will also be used to build a picturesque gateway park at the state line. The gateway is expected to be complete by early 2007.

The Silver Comet to Chief Ladiga gift is just part of a larger $500,000 grant made by Coca-Cola North America to the Rails to Trails Conservancy, a national nonprofit organization that works with local communities across the United States to transform unused railroad corridors into trails and greenways. For more information about this project and Rails to Trails Conservancy and the Chief Ladiga Trail go to http://www.railstrails.org/ and http://epic.jsu.edu/clt/index.html

Bachus Secures $350,000 For Red Mountain Park

Rep. Spencer Bachus of Vestavia Hills recently secured a $350,000 grant for Red Mountain Park to be used for land acquisition. The appropriation was part of the Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary and other Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 2007. The bill passed the House by a 406-22 vote.According to Rep. Bachus' office - the congressman notes that as the Birmingham area continues to grow, the availability and expansion of green space will be essential in attracting businesses and providing a high quality of life.

Nature Conservancy Purchases Land Near the "Walls"

Last month, the Nature Conservancy of Alabama announced it had completed the purchase of an environmentally sensitive tract of land in the Paint Rock Valley that will add 1,648 acres to the Alabama's Walls of Jericho Preserve in Jackson County.

According to the Huntsville Times, the Conservancy stated that part of the river that will be protected is biologically significant containing many federally endangered aquatic species including mussels and darters. Biologists say the Paint Rock is one of the few remaining high-quality, free-flowing rivers in the Tennessee River basin and is home to 17 types of imperiled mussels. In the last several years the Conservancy spearheaded the effort to buy the Walls of Jericho and lands within Jackson County, Alabama and Franklin County, Tennessee, amounting to over 23,000 acres.

For more information about this outstanding effort by the Nature Conservancy of Alabama, contact them at 205-251-1155.

BEN News

BEN Notes: ADEM P2 Award Applications, Red Mountain Park Public Meeting, 19th Annual Coastal Cleanup, Alabama Coastal Birdfest, Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium, , Intro to Stream Restoration, Alabama Cooperative Extension Websites, Land Trust of Huntsville Names New Director

ADEM P2 Award Applications - The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is accepting applications for its 2006 Pollution Prevention (P2) Awards. Applications can be obtained at http://www.adem.state.al.us

Red Mountain Park Public Meeting - Be a part of history, attend the Red Mountain Park Public Meeting, Tuesday, August 8th, 5:30 at the McWane Center. This meeting will outline the efforts to create a new and exciting park in the Birmingham region. For more info go to: http://www.redmountainpark.org

19th Annual Coastal Cleanup - Find out how to participate in the 19th Annual Coastal Cleanup - September 16-19 - by visiting their website at http://www.alcoastalcleanup.com

Alabama Coastal Birdfest - Registration is now open for the Alabama Coastal Birdfest. Check it out at http://www.alabamacoastalbirdfest.com

Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium - Mark your calendars - the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program in partnership with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and the Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies will be holding a symposium on November 27-29 in Mobile. For additional info go to http://www.mobilebaynep.com

Intro to Stream Restoration - A workshop on Stream Restoration will be held on August 21-22 in Gadsden, Alabama. Space is limited. To learn more go to: http://www.aces.edu/waterquality/streams/gadsden.htm

Alabama Cooperative Extension Websites - Below are some ACES websites about rain gardens and several water quality programs:

http://www.aces.edu/waterquality/mg.htm
http://www.aces.edu/waterquality/nemo/yes.htm
http://www.aces.edu/waterquality/nemo/lidres.htm
http://www.aces.edu/waterquality/nemo/intro,htm

Land Trust of Huntsville Names New Director - Last month, The Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama named Huntsville native Cynthia Parker its new executive director. Parker brings years of non-profit and community experience to the Land Trust. The Land Trust has preserved almost 4000 urban acres, maintains nearly 20 miles of trails for public use and is one of Alabama's most prominent and effective land trust. Welcome aboard!For more info about the Land Trust go to http://www.landtrust-hsv.org