Grist staff

The Shipping News

Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn has announced an agreement in which several of the largest shipping companies in Asia will work with L.A. to clean up air quality in the city’s port. Last year, the port received 2,200 cargo ship visits, each burning about 14 tons of heavy bunker fuel. Under the new plan, the ships will shut off their engines while docked and plug into the city’s power system, helping to reduce a significant source of pollution in the region. The program would be the largest of its kind in the world. Some local activists predicted, however, that the …

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

The Bush administration and environmentalists are at loggerheads over what should happen to national forests burned in last summer’s wildfire season. The administration is pushing for aggressive logging of scorched forests, including older and larger trees; next month, it will propose new rules meant to reduce delays in timber sales due to environmental appeals. Enviros, meanwhile, argue that it would be best to leave the burned slopes alone, and that the administration is using the issue of salvage logging to try to expand cutting willy-nilly, ignoring ecological consequences.

And other words from readers

  Re: Hitting the Bottle Dear Editor: We would like to thank you for the article by Keith Schneider. Many of the people of Michigan have never heard of Mecosta County. They have no idea that this is their fight also. My husband and I are members of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation; we believe our water is worth protecting. For the new public awareness this article will generate, we thank you, Marlene and Edward Klatt Stanwood, Mich.   Re: This Solar House Dear Editor: I’m glad college students are waking up to the idea of sustainable architecture. Even George …

Turning the Tide

The world’s most northerly town, will soon be the first to take advantage of ocean tides to create electricity with a sub-sea power station. Similar tidal projects are also underway in Australia and Britain, but none has begun selling power. Later this month or early in December, tidal currents on the seabed near Kvalsund, at the Arctic tip of Norway, will begin churning the fish-friendly blades of a windmill-like underwater turbine. The production capacity of the turbine will at first be tiny, but managers hope the project will be powering 1,000 homes by 2004. Tidal power is still the most …

Keep the Pedal From the Metal

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is barring off-road enthusiasts from one of their favorite playgrounds in Utah — but this time, it’s to safeguard their own health, not that of the environment. At Manning Canyon, a recreation area near Salt Lake City, the soil is contaminated with arsenic, lead, mercury, and other heavy metals from a nearby gold mine. Every time a motorist revs the engine, the pollutants are churned up and fill the air. The BLM plans to spend $6.8 million containing and cleaning up the mining tailings that contaminate the site. The project won’t be completed until …

Presto Change-o

Frogs are changing genders — and it ain’t just to Halloween getup. The most popular weed-killer in the U.S. is causing sex changes in frogs, according to a summary of a new study published today in Nature. The study, led by Tyrone Hayes, a biologist with the University of California at Berkeley, contains the first field evidence that atrazine, an herbicide used since the 1950s and once thought benign, is causing developmental defects in a common Midwestern frog. In one watershed researched, 92 percent of the male frogs had been feminized in water with just 0.1 parts per billion of …

Arkansas of the Covenant

Arkansas is poised to consider an innovative plan to create an “alternative fuels” tax on electricity and gas users in the state. Under the plan, which state Rep. Herschel Cleveland (D) said yesterday that he would introduce to the state assembly early next year, residents would be charged a 25-cent tax on each of their monthly electric and gas bills, while commercial and industrial users would be charged 25 cents for every $1,000 of electric or natural gas use per month. The tax would raise an estimated $2 million annually and would be used to create an alternative-fuels fund. Chris …

And other words from readers

  Re: Old MacDonald Had an Idea Dear Editor: Elizabeth Sawin’s article on sustainable agriculture was excellent, but it left out a key piece of the efficiency equation. Today’s farmers not only compete against other farmers in the United States who are subject to U.S. policy, but against all farmers worldwide. Even without expanded definitions of efficiency, our farmers are up against competition that is able to use more “efficient” pesticides banned for use in the U.S. (although usually produced by U.S. companies), farming methods that are far more environmentally destructive, labor that is not only cheaper, but would violate …

The Owl and the Pussycats

Canadian wilderness activists still can’t get over their astonishment or their delight over yesterday’s announcement by International Forest Products (Interfor) that it would halt all logging in spotted owl habitat in British Columbia, Canada. The company is the second-most active logger in the endangered owl’s terrain; not long ago it was considered Public Enemy No. 1 by environmentalists internationally for its logging practices in a pristine valley north of Vancouver. Last year, Interfor agreed to a moratorium on cutting in the most controversial areas of the valley; spokesperson Steve Crombie said the company now wanted to show that “[l]oggers care …

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