AmeriScan: October 23, 2001

NEW STANDARD GUIDES GREENHOUSE GAS REPORTING

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) released today an international standard that will enable businesses to uniformly report their emissions of greenhouse gases.

The standard, called the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative or GHG Protocol, was developed over a three year period by a partnership of more than 350 individuals from corporations, nonprofit organizations, and governments. It is supplemented by a number of user-friendly calculation tools that can be found at: http://www.ghgprotocol.org

"Unlike for financial accounting and reporting, there are no generally accepted international accounting and reporting practices for corporate emissions of greenhouse gases," said Kjell Oren, director of WBCSD's Climate and Energy Program. "GHG Protocol will enable businesses to account and report information from global operations in a way that is consistent with financial reporting standards."

The GHG Protocol addresses the six greenhouse gases identified by climate treaty negotiators as key contributors to global warming. They are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexaflouride (SF6).

Negotiators to the international treaty called the Kyoto Protocol will work out details of the agreement when they meet in Morocco, October 29 through November 9, 2001.

"In the future, greenhouse gases will need to be accounted for on a company's balance sheet in the same way as other assets and liabilities," said Jonathan Lash, WRI president. "WRI and WBCSD have created an invaluable tool for business and others with the GHG Protocol."

The development of the GHG Protocol was guided by two principles: inclusiveness and transparency. It was road tested by more than 30 companies in nine countries, including Dow Chemical Canada, Du Pont, Ford Motor Company, Fortum Power and Heat, General Motors Corporation, Hindalco Industries, IBM, Norsk Hydro, Ontario Power Generation, Shell Canada, Tokyo Electric Power Company, and Volkswagen.

"The GHG Protocol provides an important global standard for the identification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions," said Dr. Paul Tebo, corporate vice president for safety, health and environment at DuPont. "It provides accounting and reporting building blocks that are critical to any emissions trading scheme."

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WTO RULES IN FAVOR OF TURTLE PROTECTION LAW

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - The United States has won a final appeal in a World Trade Organization (WTO) case that challenged its implementation of an earlier WTO ruling on a law restricting imports of shrimp for turtle conservation reasons.

The ruling will allow the U.S. to refuse to import shrimp that are caught with gear that can harm threatened and endangered sea turtles.

"Today's Appellate Body report confirms that our sea turtle conservation law is consistent with WTO rules and, more generally, shows that the WTO as an institution recognizes the legitimate environmental concerns of its members," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.

The preamble to the WTO Agreement recognizes the importance of sustainable development and environmental protection, Zoellick noted.

For more than a decade, U.S. law has imposed the same restrictions on imported shrimp as on shrimp harvested by domestic fleets, requiring use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on trawl nets in regions where threatened or endangered turtle species live.

Malaysia and three other countries brought the challenged the U.S. shrimp-turtle law before the WTO in 1996. A 1998 WTO Appellate Body ruling required the United States to make certain changes to the way it implements the law.

In October 2000, Malaysia challenged the way the United States was implementing the ruling. In June 2001, a WTO panel ruled that U.S. implementation was consistent with its WTO obligations, and the latest Appellate Body ruling upholds that position.

The National Marine Fisheries Service announced last week it will hold eight public hearings on a proposed rule to standardize TEDs throughout the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The proposed regulations are intended to enhance the effectiveness of TEDs and reduce sea turtle mortality caused by shrimp trawling in the Atlantic and Gulf Areas of the southeastern United States.

The proposed TED standardization, which includes an increase in size of the opening, will help larger sea turtles escape from trawls.

More information is available at: http://caldera.sero.nmfs.gov/fishery/pannounc.gen/protann.001/nr01-033.htm

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TRANSGENIC MOUSE DEVELOPED FROM MALE STEM CELLS

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn) have used a retrovirus to modify genes in spermatogonial stem cells in a mouse - the first instance, in any species, of a transgenic animal created by inserting a gene into male germ-line stem cells.

The inserted gene appeared in about 4.5 percent of offspring of mice transplanted with the altered stem cells, and was transmitted to at least three succeeding generations.

The work is the cover story in the November 6 issue of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," and appears today on the journal's web site. The findings could enable the creation of transgenic individuals in a wide range of species, permitting scientists to develop research models for study of numerous human diseases.

Led by Ralph Brinster of Penn's Department of Animal Biology, the scientists succeeded in inserting a foreign gene - in this case a common marker gene - into two to 20 percent of mouse spermatogonial stem cells in laboratory experiments, a ten-fold improvement over previous attempts.

"These results indicate that there is no intrinsic barrier to the genetic engineering of spermatogonial stem cells using retroviruses, and that once inserted, the foreign genes will continue to be transmitted and expressed from one generation to the next," said Brinster, the Richard King Mellon Professor of Reproductive Physiology at Penn.

All male mammals harbor many spermatogonial stem cells, key repositories of genetic material which after puberty give rise to sperm. In the human male, about 1,000 sperm cells, each carrying a different combination of genetic material, are generated in this manner with each heartbeat. The female germ cell, the egg, stops dividing before birth, but male germ line stem cells continue to divide throughout life.

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BARABOO RIVER RUNS FREE FOR 115 MILES

BARABOO, Wisconsin, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - The Baraboo River is now the longest main stem of a river returned to free flowing through dam removal in American history.

Almost a hundred elected officials, community leaders, river enthusiasts and environmental regulators gathered on the banks of the Baraboo Monday to celebrate the removal of the final dam east of the city.

"It is an honor to be part of this historic day, when we applaud not only the environmental success of freeing this river, but also the unique and effective partnerships that helped make this moment happen," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) secretary Darrell Bazzell.

On October 11, work crews removed the Linen Mill dam, the final dam on the Baraboo River and the scene of two boating fatalities last summer. The removal marked the final chapter in a six year campaign by a vast partnership including the Sand County Foundation, the DNR, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the city of Baraboo and other agencies and groups to purchase and remove the final four dams on the river. Now, the river flows 115 miles unrestricted.

"This celebration was a long time in coming and is a tribute to all of the hard work of many partners including local groups like the Baraboo River Canoe Club, Citizens for Waterfront Revitalization and the local Kiwanis Club," said River Alliance of Wisconsin executive director Todd Ambs. "The free flowing Baraboo River is rapidly healing itself, proving what we have often said if you remove the dams, the fish will come. Selective dam removal is one of the best tools we have for restoring the health of rivers throughout Wisconsin."

The Baraboo River now flows free from just north of Elroy to Portage, where the river merges with the larger Wisconsin River. River experts say restoring the Baraboo to its natural state will allow migrating sturgeon and sport fish to thrive in its waters once again.

"Wisconsin is setting the standard by which other states will be measured," said Reed Coleman of the Sand County Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization with origins in Sauk County. "The Baraboo River is now open for business, the business of recreation, enjoyment and the restoration of the natural habitat."

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BITTERROOT GRIZZLY REINTRODUCTION PLAN GETS SECOND LOOK

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - Public comments on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) proposal to cancel plans to reintroduce grizzly bears into the Bitterroot ecosystem in Montana and Idaho have led the agency to review its decision.

The USFWS released a preliminary analysis today of public comments received on its proposal to withdraw a decision to reintroduce grizzly bears into the Bitterroot, and focus recovery efforts on the five existing populations in the lower 48 states.

The proposal drew 28,222 comments from 50 states and 19 countries, the majority of which opposed the USFWS proposal.

The agency will review the public comments - and in particular evaluate any new biological information they may contain - as part of the Department of the Interior's final decision making process on grizzly bear reintroduction.

The USFWS announced in June the proposal to focus recovery efforts on the 1,100 grizzly bears in the lower 48 States, which are divided in five separate populations in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. Under the proposal, biologists would continue actions to conserve and recover grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem, where a grizzly population of 400 to 600 bears is increasing by two to four percent each year, and in the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem, where grizzly populations are stable or increasing and number 400 to 500 bears.

The USFWS also would refocus recovery efforts and methods to preserve and increase populations in the Selkirk ecosystem where there are 40 to 50 bears; the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem, with 30 to 40 bears; and the Northern Cascade ecosystem where there are about five bears.

The USFWS analysis is available at: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/endspp/grizzly

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FOREST SERVICE ACCEPTS THIRTYMILE FIRE ACTION PLAN

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - The U.S. Forest Service has issued a new plan to improve firefighter safety and coordination during wildfires.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth accepted the 31 point Accident Prevention Action Plan on the Thirtymile Fire on Monday and again expressed his condolences to the families.

"We must prevent tragedies like this one from occurring in the future," said Bosworth. "The Forest Service will work closely with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and our interagency wildland firefighting partners to ensure that proposed changes in management and policies are made to improve firefighter safety and reduce risks."

The Thirtymile Fire killed four firefighters on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest on July 10, 2001. The four were Tom Craven, Karen FitzPatrick, Jessica Johnson and Devin Weaver.

The Accident Prevention Action Plan was based on the Thirtymile Fire Accident Investigation Team's report and the Management Evaluation Report developed by the Thirtymile Fire Board of Review. The review board, chaired by Tom Thompson, deputy chief, National Forest System, detailed action items for each recommendation.

Some of the key actions items include: emphasizing situational awareness; transitioning from initial to extended attack; addressing chronic fatigue issues; and strengthening fire leadership and accountability.

Other changes or recommendations may result when a separate Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration investigation is completed.

"The deaths of these firefighters were preventable," Bosworth said. "Although firefighting is a dangerous vocation, there are standing orders and preventive measures which can be taken to reduce the likelihood of this tragedy happening again. The Forest Service is committed to doing everything possible to improve the safety of these unsung heroes."

The Prevention Action Plan is available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/fire

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12,000 STUDENTS PLEDGE TO BOYCOTT CITIGROUP CREDIT CARDS

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - Dozens of students from across the nation gathered Monday at a Citibank branch to focus attention on Citigroups funding of projects that fuel global warming, deforestation, and human rights violations and to demand support for renewable energy alternatives.

The demonstrators delivered 12,000 student pledges to the bank refusing to do business with the bank.

Students are at the forefront of the movement demanding that corporate financial institutions take responsibility for their role in funding global warming. Students have decided to focus their efforts on Citigroup, citing Citigroup as the number one financier of the coal industry and fossil fuel pipelines.

"We're asking Citigroup to raise the bar by which the business practices of all banks and financial institutions are measured," said Vanessa Pierce, student activist from Grinnell College and coordinator of the Hot 'n Bothered Campaign. "Until Citigroup steps up to the plate with a plan to immediately shift its investments from fossil fuels to clean energy, students will tell Citigroup: 'not with my money!'"

According to the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming could cause the earth to heat up by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit this century. Among the impacts of global warming will be massive species loss, sea level rise, the spread of infectious diseases, and extreme weather.

The primary cause of global warming is carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels. Among the contraversial fossil fuel projects that Citigroup funds are the Chad-Cameroon pipeline, the Camisea Project in Peru and Ecuador's OCP pipeline.

In recent weeks, the OCP pipeline has sparked mass demonstrations across Ecuador to protest its route through the Mindo-Nambillo cloudforest reserve.

"The resistance in Ecuador to the OCP pipeline is one example of people refusing to pay the environmental and social costs of Citi's profits," said Ilyse Hogue, Rainforest Action Network global fiance campaigner. "Citi has a unique opportunity to make use their lending practices to make alternative energy sources accessible to the mainstream market and eliminate destructive projects like the OCP Pipeline."

"Students across the country will continue to boycott Citigroup credit cards, jobs, and student loans until Citigroup stops bankrolling global warming," added Pierce.

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NOAA FUNDS SCIENCE CENTERS

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has targeted $2.5 million to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, as the lead institution in establishing a Living Marine Cooperative Science Center.

Another $2.5 million award will help the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University establish an Environmental Sciences Cooperative Science Center.

The awards are part of NOAA's new Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI). The new initiative will award about $15 million for programs aimed at atmospheric, environmental and oceanic sciences and remote sensing research and educational programs.

"This new education initiative is a special partnership effort between NOAA and several academic institutions to expand education, research and professional opportunities in NOAA related sciences," said Commerce Secretary Don Evans. "I thank the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and the other lead institutions for adding to a rich network of research and scientific resources that will benefit NOAA and the nation."

The new Living Marine Cooperative Science Center at the University of Maryland will conduct ecological research on marine and estuarine systems while promoting education, research and advancement opportunities in marine science for students in underrepresented groups. Other Cooperative Science Centers will be established in the areas of remote sensing, environmental sciences and atmospheric sciences.

The new Environmental Sciences Cooperative Science Center at Florida A&M will develop methods and models to predict responses to perturbation of coastal ecosystems and communities and, to improve coastal resource management, and facilitate community education on the function of coastal ecosystems.

"The NOAA Educational Partnership Program addresses the under-representation of African Americans in the sciences, one of the critical problems in higher education today," said Eddie Jackson, vice-president of University Relations/Public Affairs, Florida A&M University. "There is a major need for African Americans to play a major role in environmental issues that especially impact the African American community."

More information is available at: http://www.ofa.noaa.gov/~sdb/EPPS1.htm

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TREE RING DATA POSTED ONLINE

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - New data from tree rings from 500 sites around the world is now available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The data are important because they provide climate scientists and resource managers with records of past climatic variability extending back thousands of years.

The data, available from the International Tree-Ring Data Bank at the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology in Boulder, Colorado, were contributed by Fritz Schweingruber and colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research (WSL-Birmensdorf). The data include tree ring width and wood density measurements, and site chronologies.

The data represent the largest data contribution in the history of the International Tree-Ring Data Bank.

Schweingruber submitted all of his data files to the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology to be made publicly available in preparation for his retirement. The World Data Center for Paleoclimatology is housed at NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center.

One of the most significant features of this collection is the contribution it makes to the coverage of tree ring data in high latitude Northern Hemisphere forests, across Fenno-Scandinavia and Siberia.

Paleoclimatic data are a valuable complement to the much shorter time series derived from instruments and satellites. Paleoclimatic data are used to describe the full range of climate variability, to identify and understand the causes of this climatic variability, to evaluate and improve predictive climate models, and to improve the ability to separate human induced climate change from natural climate variability.

NOAA's paleoclimatology holdings include data from sources such as tree rings, corals, ice cores and sediments.

The tree ring data is available at: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/treering-wsl.html

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MICROSOFT DONATES SOFTWARE TO ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP

WASHINGTON, DC, October 23, 2001 (ENS) - Efforts to safeguard wildlife and wild places will receive a significant boost from Microsoft Corporation's gift of more than $600,000 worth of software to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

"Whether it's working to save pristine places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to put wolves back on the American landscape, or to help people discover and care for nature in their own backyards, we can't get the job done today without state of the art communication and management tools," said NWF president Mark Van Putten. "Microsoft's generosity will help the National Wildlife Federation be more effective in keeping the wild alive."

Effective communication and information sharing is vital to NWF, which has more than 500 staffers spread across 13 locations, along with affiliated organizations in 46 states and 4 million grass roots members and supporters.

The grant will make possible improved data management across the organization and will provide access to the latest electronic collaboration tools. It will enhance efforts to make conservation information and action opportunities available via NWF's website: http://www.nwf.org

The software will also contribute to the organization's new Distance Learning program, Wildlife University, which offers environmental education programming on demand to schools, colleges and anyone with a web browser.

The NWF award was made as part of Microsoft's Technology Leadership Grant Program. The initiative makes major software donations to large national nonprofit organizations to enhance organizational efficiency, use of the Internet, and delivery of service to constituents through improved use of information technology.

Created in 1983, the Microsoft Giving Program is one of the first philanthropic efforts in the high-tech industry. The company's worldwide charitable efforts are aimed at increasing access to technology for disadvantaged communities and supporting community organizations in the areas of education, human services, civic development, the arts and the environment.

Last year, Microsoft gave more than $36.6 million in cash and $179 million in software to more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations.