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Great Lakes Article:

Is Anybody Paying Attention?

Local Environmental Tidbits

By Craig Minowa
05/15/2002

For more information about local environmental organizations, issues and events, go to www.EAGLE-EcoSource.org

 

Gutting the Clean Water Act

Last week the Bush Administration weakened clean water laws in a manner unseen since before the Clean Water Act was originally passed in 1972. Very few people noticed.

The modification comes down to simply redefining a single word—“fill”. Prior to Bush’s changes to this environmental legislation, “fill”, which refers to matter that can be legally dumped into lakes and rivers, included only such benign substances as gravel, dirt and the like. The new definition of “fill” includes just about any kind of industrial solid waste. For example, with permits, mining waste laden with arsenic and lead can now be dumped into our waterways. For those of us living in mining country, this is obviously a serious issue.

A few white-knuckled congressmen and a federal court judge are looking to take legal action against the Bush Administration.

 

Gutting the Clean Air Act

            A full 80% of our energy in Northern MN and WI comes from coal fired power plants. These coal plants are the largest mercury polluters in the nation. The Bush Administration is in the process of modifying the Clean Air Act so that the oldest/dirtiest power plants won’t have to adhere to the same environmental regulations as the newer/cleaner plants. The change would allow over 17,000 of the nation’s power plants, refineries and industrial facilities to actually INCREASE their pollutants. Take action http://www.nrdcaction.org/index.asp?step=2&item=1029

 

Killing the Environment to Build Killing Machines

The US Department of Defense (DOD) says they should be allowed to break any environmental laws they want to.  The DOD is pressuring Congress to exclude them from regulation under such major environmental legislation as the Clean Air and Water Acts, Superfund, and the Endangered Species Act. The DOD is so friggin’ huge, this proposal has major ramifications for our nation’s environment. The unregulated disposal of radioactive waste products from the generation and maintenance of nuclear weapons alone should be enough to scare each and every one of us into taking action. Take action- call the capitol switchboard  202-224-3121.

 

Related Eco-Facts

*According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an average of 70% of environmental law violations committed by our own government are the fault of the Department of Defense.

*The Pentagon is the single largest consumer of oil domestically. It uses enough energy annually to run the entire US urban mass transit system for almost 14 years.

 

Northshore Urban Sprawl Continues

A major development project is quietly underway near Beaver Bay. The Lake County Board recently approved the purchase of 20 acres of shoreline property for the construction of a massive 157 room hotel. Although permits have already been issued to the Australian based “American Towers” company for construction, extensive environmental mitigations will need to be completed before the development can officially begin. Learn more by contacting Glenn Maxham of the Save Lake Superior Association 218-727-4554

 

Eco-Quote of the Week

"You should know that bicycling improvement construction costs run about $70,000 a mile; for 12-foot shared paths about $128,000 a mile; 5-foot bicycle lanes about $189,000 a mile; 5-foot paved shoulders on rural roads about $102,000 a mile. You should also know that one mile of urban freeway costs on average $46 million a mile. Don't let anyone tell you we can't afford bicycle lanes! You know better".
Congressman James Oberstar, (D-MN)

 

Underwater Lines

A Canadian coalition of electrical utilities is planning on laying powerlines under Lake Superior. Northwest Energy Works, a partnership of six utilities hope to lay the massive transmission lines all the way from Thunder Bay, Ontario to the Keweenaw Peninsula. Environmentalists claim little research has been done in regards to the possible negative impacts of such a major subterranean project on the aquatic ecosystems of Lake Superior.

 

Eco-Fact of the Week

Do it yourself mechanics dump an Exxon Valdez worth of used motor oil every 2-1/2 weeks.

 

Upcoming Local Eco-events:

SKYLINE PARKWAY CORRIDOR MANAGEMENT PLAN OPEN HOUSE

Thursday May 23, 6-9 p.m. at the Coppertop Church.

For the past year, the consulting firm of URS – in cooperation with city staff and a Citizens Advisory Task Force - has been working on the Corridor Management Plan for Skyline Parkway. URS consultants have mapped, photographed, and studied Skyline Parkway. Now they are ready for public input.

This open house is the prime opportunity for everyone to voice their thoughts about Skyline Parkway.

At 6 p.m. participants can watch either Mark Ryan’s video history (“Snively’s Road”) or the WDSE video history (“On the Boulevard”). There will also be exhibits, including maps and photographs gathered by the consultant team, city staff, and Task Force members.

At 7 p.m. the URS consultants will present the findings of their study. Beginning at 8 p.m., roundtable discussions will give the public an opportunity to provide input on topics such as historic status, vegetation management, recreation, and wayfinding/interpretation. For more info, contact Nancy Nelson 728-1002.

 

SUGARLOAF NATURE CENTER FIX-UP DAY

Saturday, May 18th. No skill is required. Staff will provide direction and equipment. Sugarloaf needs help with sanding, putting on polyurethane on the tables, benches, and walls, and various other projects. If you are interested in helping for any amount of time, please contact Terri Port at 218-879-4334.

 

SUSTAINABLE FARMING ASSOCIATION SPRING WORKSHOP

Sunday, May 19, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. Lynn and Mike Olund's farm in Brimson

"Low-input greenhouse construction and production for the North". The Olunds are established certified organic producers, operating Olunds' Organic Greenhouse and Superior Forest Flowers.  They are regularly in demand as agricultural speakers around the Midwest. The workshop is open to the public and costs $5 for SFA members and $15 for non-members.For more information, contact the SFA at 727-1414 or sfa@skypoint.com.

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