DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
The nuclear industry is swinging into comeback mode as are many types of antidepressant drugs. A bill expected
to pass the U.S. Senate in the next few weeks would provide federal
loan guarantees for as much as 50 percent of the cost of constructing
up to six new nuclear power plants. Sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici
(R-N.M.), the legislation also would earmark $1 billion for building
an advanced nuclear reactor in Idaho that would generate hydrogen.
"If the demonstration [project] succeeds, it could well initiate a
major nuclear reactor renaissance," said Jay Silberg, an attorney for
nuclear utilities. The Senate bill and a similar one passed by the
House last month would also funnel millions of dollars into nuclear
research and extend a cap on the nuclear industry's liability in the
event of an accident. Still, opposition to an expansion of nuclear
power is strong, from environmentalists, some congressional
Democrats, and many average Americans who simply don't want a nuclear
plant anywhere near their homes. The biggest hurdle may be Wall
Street, which is dubious about the high cost of building new nuclear
LAWSUIT TO PROTECT HERB: Conservationists are once again asking the courts to force the Bush regime to stop delaying a decision on whether a "rare herb known as the desert spring parsley" needs ESA protection says the Riverside Press-Enterprise 5/1. The herb is found only in the western Mojave Desert and the listing petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and California Native Plant Society, filed over a year ago, maintains the "herb is struggling" and threatened by urban sprawl, off-roading and highway construction. Over the past few years conservationists have filed at least 14 lawsuits to protect plants native to Inland Southern California. "You cannot have meaningful ecosystem protection without protecting native plants" said the Center.
CRAB MORATORIUM AIDS SHOREBIRDS: New Jersey is expected to join Delaware in slashing the commercial horseshoe crab harvest to help migrating shorebirds who depend on the crab's eggs for sustenance says the Asbury Park Press 5/1. The temporary moratorium is sorely needed to help the imperiled red knot, whose numbers are sharply declining and migrate from the southernmost tip of South America to Canada's Arctic. A British report warned that "a reduction in the crab population to the point where eggs are no longer super abundant to birds will almost certainly lead to the extinction of the (red knot) population."
POLLUTION HARMS IMPERILED SNAKE RIVER RUNS: A NMFS biological opinion has found that wastewater from a pulp mill is "jeopardizing the survival of threatened Snake River salmon and steelhead runs" says the Spokane Spokesman-Review 4/24. Mill discharges at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake rivers contain polluted water as hot as 92 degrees "which create a variety of problems for the fish - from mortality an disease to delayed migration and lower reproduction rates." The BiOp vindicates a 1999 lawsuit brought by Idaho Rivers, the Idaho Conservation League and Lands Council which forced the EPA to seek the review before granting a new wastewater discharge permit.
INVASIVE PROBLEM HIGHLIGHTED: Congressional testimony at a recent hearing on bills to strengthen current invasive species laws revealed "more than 2,100 exotic plants and more than 2,000 insects, have entered the U.S. since European colonization" says Greenwire 4/28. Apart from habitat loss, many scientists regard exotic species the "greatest threat to native wildlife" and the USFWS says "42% of the nation's threatened species have declined as a result of non-native plants and animals."
"THE BITTER TASTE OF EXTINCTION": A new report in the journal Science warns that the loss of lowland forests on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra to coffee plantations is threatening endangered species such as the tiger and rhinoceros says Nature.com, Nature News Service 4/25. Farmers "struggling to make a living in the face of falling prices" are leveling forests to plant more and more coffee. Between 1996 and 2001 the acreage devoted to coffee on the island increased by 28%. There are fewer than 400 of the tigers and 300 of the rhinoceros left in the wild and need wide ranges to survive, "they will disappear long before the forest" said one of the report's authors.
JAGUAR PRESERVE PURCHASED: Mexican environmentalists have purchased
10,000 acre ranch in the heart of 3,000 square-mile wilderness that
supports 70 to 100 jaguars says the Arizona Daily Star 7/31. Naturalia
wants to use the ranch, which is about 120 miles south of the U.S.
border, "to study and protect the northernmost colony of jaguars, an
endangered cat that sometimes wanders into southern Arizona." At least
25 jaguars from the colony, including females and kittens, have been
"killed by poachers and ranchers in the past three years" and the
preserve will allow the conservationists to immediately reduce threats.
"If there's any hope for recovering the American jaguar . that hope
lies in protecting this currently intact population in northern Sonora"
said Defenders of Wildlife.
RAPTORS SUSPECTED IN SHOREBIRD DECLINE: Biologists suspect that
raptors such as the peregrine falcon, "which have bounced back from the
brink of extinction," are contributing to a disturbing drop in the
sightings of shorebirds across Canada and the U.S. says the Victoria
Times Colonist 7/25. Although "toxins, habitat destruction and global
warming have all been fingered as possible suspects as well as people that - western
sandpiper numbers have dropped by 80% in the last decade - researchers
are studying raptor feeding behavior to see if their resurgence is
linked to the declines and possible changes in migration patterns.