Note: More damning evidence against cellulosic biofuels and industrial agriculture.
-The GJEP Team
By Tom Philpot, May 9, 2013. Source: Mother Jones
This stuff makes the ethanol industry profitable—and boosts the E. coli in your burger. Photo: Texas AgriLIfe Research/Kay Ledbetter/Flickr
Back in 2007, amid a boom in US corn-based ethanol, researchers at Kansas State University released a sobering study involving distillers grains—the mash that’s left over after corn has been fermented and distilled into ethanol. As various government programs ramped up ethanol production—and with it the price of corn—the livestock industry was increasingly turning to distillers grains as a cheap corn substitute. But the Kansas researchers found that the stuff seemed to cause a spike in a particularly dangerous-to-humans form of E. coli in the cows’ guts.
“Distiller’s grain is a good animal feed,” the study’s lead researcher said in a press release. But its tendency to boost the potentially deadly E. coli 0157 strain “is likely to have profound implications in food safety.”
The US Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for monitoring the safety of meat products, acknowledged the problem from the start. The USDA’s then-undersecretary for food safety, Richard Raymond, told the Des Moines Register in early 2008 that he thought distillers grains were one of several factors behind the massive spike in recalls of E. coli 0157-tainted beef that had occurred in 2007. And he also telegraphed the department’s strategy for responding to the threat: inaction. Here’s the Register:
Raymond said the government had no intention of restricting the use of distillers grains even if the E. coli link is confirmed, and would instead leave it to the industry to decide how to address the issue. One possibility, he said, is to vaccinate cattle.
“I’m not about to tell the cattlemen what they are going to feed their cows,” he said.
But as the Register noted—and as remains true today—there is no approved E. colivaccine.
By Lucas Willard, April 18, 2013. Source: Northeast Public Radio
The town council of Greenfield, Massachusetts has voted to approve a 14-month moratorium on industrial biomass power generators and all waste-to-energy projects until September, 2014.
It’s believed that the 14 month moratorium on industrial size biomass burning and all waste to energy projects in Greenfield is the first of its kind in Massachusetts. Eleven members of the 12-member town council approved the moratorium, with one member abstaining.
The vote came after a petition was submitted to the town council with a large amount of support from town residents.
Sandy Kosterman was one of the petitioners that came to the meeting to express their concerns.
“We were worried about health issues and the environment, and I think it’s great that town of Greenfield is taking the time to study this,” said Kosterman.
By Jen Soriano, April 17, 2013. Source: Yes! Magazine
Goldman Prize recipient Nohra Padilla at a recycling facility. Photo: the Goldman Prize.
There is a growing global movement to significantly reduce the amount of trash we produce as communities, cities, countries and even regions. It’s called the zero-waste movement, and it received a major boost this week as two of its leaders were awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.
Nohra Padilla and Rossano Ercolini are two of the winners of this year’s Goldman Prize, which awards $150,000 to each of six grassroots environmentalists who have achieved great impact, often against great odds. On the surface, Padilla and Ercolini seem to have little in common. Padilla is a grassroots recycler—also known as a waste picker—from the embattled city of Bogotá, Colombia. Ercolini is an elementary school teacher from the rustic farmlands of Capannori, Italy.
Though their experiences are different, they share a common cause: organizing to reduce the amount of trash—everything from cans and bottles to cell phones and apple cores—that ends up buried in landfills or burned in incinerators. Continue reading
By Tim Fenster, March 28, 2013. Source: Watertown Daily Times
Roughly 30 years after contaminants from local industrial operations caused the state Department of Health to issue a warning against eating fish from the Grasse River, two settlements have been reached to help correct the damage that was caused to both local fisheries and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s heritage.
Tribal officials announced they have reached a $19.4 million settlement with Alcoa, Inc. and the Reynolds Metals Co. for the damage caused by contaminants released by the aluminum manufacturers’ Massena operations since the 1950s. Combined with $1.8 million from a 2011 bankruptcy settlement from General Motors, the two settlements will provide more than $21 million toward restoring local fisheries, protecting the environment and working to restore aspects of Mohawk Indian heritage that were affected by the decades-long fishing ban.
Approximately $8.4 million of the settlement funds will support traditional Mohawk cultural practices, such as apprenticeships on Mohawk language and traditional teachings, youth outdoor education programs and horticulture programs for medicine, healing and nutrition.
“The majority of the funds going to the tribe will be used to restore our relations with nature. Due to the contamination, a lot of our relations to nature have been lost,” said Barbara Tarbell, natural resource damage assessment program manager for the Mohawks.
By Jane Regan, March 22, 2013. Source: Haiti Grassroots Watch
“Garbage in, garbage out,” or GIGO, is a computer science term meaning that if the original data is erroneous, even the most sophisticated computer program will produce erroneous results. Perhaps unbeknownst to themselves, Haitian officials, the Haitian people and Haiti’s garbage are caught in the middle of a potentially expensive and risky GIGO scenario.
A foreign company that hopes to set up a trash-to-electricity incinerator in Haiti has misled the Haitian public, and perhaps Haitian authorities, with what appear to be false claims and deliberate attempts to avoid answering key questions raised in a January 22 article by the investigative journalism partnership Haiti Grassroots Watch.
In a text sent to Haiti’s daily Le Nouvelliste and published on February 8 with the title “Le projet Phoenix précise,” (“The Phoenix Project Offers Precision”) the Pittsburgh-based International Electric Power (IEP) company made claims that largely obscure, rather than clarify, its Phoenix Project and the criticisms and risks which surround it. [The text – as relayed by Le Nouvelliste – is available here, in French.]
What is the Phoenix Project?
The Phoenix Project is a planned public-private company that would collect garbage from the capital region and then burn it to allegedly provide 30 megawatts (MW) of electricity available for sale to Haiti’s state electricity company. The initial cost of the venture is about US$250 million, according to IEP, which is seeking a loan from the US government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Once built – by a Spanish company previously chosen by IEP, rather than via an open bidding process – the capital’s garbage would be picked up by public and private garbage collection entities and brought to the plant, sorted and then relevant portions burned.
By Steve Horn, March 6 2013. Source: DeSmog Blog
Photo: DeSmog Blog
In a roll call vote of 95-40, the New York State Assembly has passed a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the toxic horizontal drilling process through which oil and gas is procured that’s found within shale rock basins across the country and the world.
The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed off by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would close the state’s doors to the oil and gas industry’s desire to begin operating in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale basin until May 2015. New York has had a moratorium on the books since 2008.
This is the third time the Assembly has passed such a bill, with similar moratorium bills passing in 2010 and 2011, but then dying a slow death in the Senate and never reaching the Governor’s desk, meaning the de facto moratorium has remained in place.
Could the third time be a charm in 2013 in the Empire State? Continue reading
March 5, 2013. Source: Appalachia Resist!
Appalachia Resist!, RAMPS, and Earth First! take over the Green Hunter frack waste transfer facility in New Metamoras. Photo: Appalachia Resist!
Washington County, Ohio - 8 people who participated in a February 19 protest at GreenHunter Energy’s New Matamoras frack waste facility pled no contest to trespassing.
They were part of a group of 100 who protested the potential barging of frack waste on the Ohio River. On February 19th, protesters blocked the gates to the New Matamoras facility, turned away frack waste trucks, and unfurled a banner that read “GreenHunter: Making the Rich Richer and the Poor Sicker”. GreenHunter Energy, a Texas company which, in addition to the New Matamoras facility, owns several Class II injection wells in Washington and Athens Counties, and a fleet of trucks for transporting frack waste, is now pressuring the Coast Guard to allow barging of hazardous frack waste up and down the Ohio River. According to GreenHunter’s own estimates, each of their barges would carry almost half a million gallons of frack waste, monumentally increasing the influx of toxic waste brought in from out of state for injection in Ohio. Continue reading
By Liu Zhiyi, March 4, 2013. Source: Caixin Online
Vegetable farmer Ren Zhongchen holds a title in his hand to half a hectare of land in Dalahai, just outside Baotou City, but he says the piece of paper is worthless.
Dalahai, home of the state-owned mining behemoth Baotou Steel in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is one of seven villages that has for years been promised compensation for pollution linked to birth deformities and barren farmland.
The surrounding villages were the primary source of fresh produce for Baotou until the end of the 1990s, when crop yields fell to nothing. Farmers said some toxin-resistant plants such as wolfberry and wild olive plants grow, but even these species eventually wither without fruit.
The more than 3,000 residents of the seven villages are only a few kilometers from a massive tailings dam that has been used by the steel company since the 1950s. The mine dump is 11 square kilometers in area. The tailings dam is China’s largest, containing more than 180 million tons of metal waste powder.
By James F. McCarty, February 28, 2013. Source: Cleveland.com
Benedict Lupo is the owner of Hardrock Excavating and D&L Energy, which operates numerous fracking wells in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Photo: AP
A federal grand jury returned an indictment against the owner of an oil and gas drilling company on Thursday, charging him with violating the Clean Water Act by dumping more than 20,000 gallons of fracking waste into a river in Youngstown.
In addition to the charges against Benedict Lupo, 62, of Poland, Ohio, the grand jury also returned Clean Water Act indictments against Lupo’s company, Hardrock Excavating, and an employee of the company, Michael Guesman, 34, of Cortland.
Guesman previously told federal agents that on Jan. 31 he dumped a toxic stew of drilling mud containing salt-water, crude oil and several hazardous pollutants, including benzene and toluene, into a storm drain that emptied into a tributary of the Mahoning River, according to a court document. The employee said he was acting on Lupo’s orders.
By Eric Nusbaum, November 24, 2013. Source: The Daily Beast
Barrels of low-level Class A commercial nuclear waste are checked with a Geiger counter in a trench at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, 10/18/88. Photo: Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis
This month, the Department of Energy announced that a tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is leaking up to 300 gallons of radioactive waste a year. Then last week, Washington governor Jay Inslee corrected that figure: a total of six tanks are leaking. To people unfamiliar with Hanford, this might sound mildly apocalyptic. Nuclear sludge left over from Cold War plutonium production is drip drip dripping into American soil, infiltrating the groundwater, slowly making its way into our rivers. But to Washington residents and Hanford observers, the leak is just another in a long line of mild disasters at America’s most contaminated nuclear waste site, a radioactive drop in the already-polluted Columbia River. Continue reading