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Atlantic CoastWatch

September-October 2008
CO2 Credits Win Buyers
Five years ago, in the absence of firm federal action to curb carbon dioxide News For Coastal Advocates
emissions, New York’s former governor George Pataki resolved to take action
at the regional level. He founded the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative CO2 Credits Win Buyers 1
(RGGI), now a ten-state consortium, that requires power companies to buy “allow-
ances” or “carbon credits” to cover the carbon dioxide they emit.
Ragged Island 1
“The plan,” reported the Providence Journal, “Calls for evaluating each
plant every few years to determine how much carbon dioxide it emitted. The plant Sayings 2
must then be able to present enough allowances to match what it emitted… For the
next several years, RGGI will sell enough credits to cap carbon emissions at current Courts & the Seashore 3
levels.” Plans call for the number of available allowances to drop 10% by 2018. Dirty
plants will have to reduce emissions or spend more on allowances.
Publications 4
Trouble was, until the market actually started to function, no one knew
whether it would generate interest, what price a ton of carbon would actually fetch, Chesapeake Crab Disaster 4
or whether outsiders would try to manipulate it. At least for the short term, such
doubts were put to rest in September, when the nation’s first-ever auction of carbon Hurricanes Blast Caribbean 4
credits took place. It was resoundingly successful.
Ocean & Climate Exhibits 5
On the block were 12.5 million allowances representing 12.5 million tons
of carbon dioxide. Some 59 bidders, seeking four times as many allowances as were
offered, showed up, paying $3.07 for each allowance or $38.5 million in all. Each Citizen Protest Wins in SC 5
participating state can use its share of this money for renewable energy or energy
conservation programs. NJ Acts on Highlands 6
Though RGGI did not disclose the names of the buyers, primarily from the
Hydrophones & Storms 6
energy, financial, and environmental sectors, the Albany Times-Union reported
that the Adirondack Council was one of them. It bought 1,000 credits. Spokes-
man John Sheehan said that all those credits would be retired forever, “and never Maine Isles Power Selves 7
let this CO2 escape the smokestack.” Evaluators found no problems with the sale, in
which 6 of the 10 RGGI states participated. The market will undergo a second test in Green Goes to College 8
December, when a second auction involving the entire consortium will be held.

Everyone Wins on Ragged Island
People; Awards; Species &
The 77-acre Ragged Island, at the eastern end of Maine’s Casco Bay, has
Habitats; Restorations;
long been a dream target for conservationists. The island has splendid features and
importance as a nesting site for guillemots and eider ducks. Once owned by the poet Report Cards; Products;
Edna St. Vincent Millay, the property has since 1951 remained in the hands of a Funding
single family. Conservation-minded, they took no steps to organize formal protec-
tion until recently, when over a three year period during which their real estate Atlantic CoastWatch is a bi-
taxes grew by 250%, the matter took on new urgency. monthly nonprofit newsletter
for those concerned with en-
Enter the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), which organized a
conservation easement that would protect the island while also allowing the family
vironmentally sound coastal
to use it, and raised funds to make the purchase possible. Agreeing to a generous development between the Gulf of
“bargain sale” at 40% below appraised value, the owners still received enough to Maine and the eastern Caribbean
cover taxes and upkeep. Public use of one of the island’s beaches will continue. And provides a daily
of course the guillemots and eiders also benefit from this everybody-wins deal. news listing for the region.
Atlantic CoastWatch
Vol. 12, No. 5
(This article, by David Kyler, executive director of the Center for a Sustain-
A project of the Sustainable able Coast in Georgia, was published in Works in Progress, its newsletter)
Development Institute, which seeks
to heighten the environmental qual- As a person who is paid to think logically in viewing the big picture on pub-
lic policy, I am troubled by the persistent push for offshore oil production along the
ity of economic development efforts
East Coast. The proposal to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling is misguided
in coastal regions, by communicat-
by the fallacies of short-term thinking in facing a long-term problem. Even worse,
ing information about better policies
such an illusory remedy for oil supply will slow America’s urgently needed conver-
and practices. SDI is classified as a sion to energy alternatives, some of which are immediately available and quite
501(c)(3) organization, exempt from practical as investment choices.
federal income tax.
Three years ago, in defending Georgia’s coastline against unwise and risky
Board of Directors proposals for offshore oil development, I commented on the same issue. The ratio-
nale used then seems even more compelling today. Consider the highlights.
Freeborn G. Jewett, Jr., Chair
Robert J. Geniesse, Chair Emeritus z Under our current (outmoded) energy policies, use of oil will increase
Roger D. Stone, President beyond any possibility of America becoming ‘energy independent’– even under
Dale K. Lipnick, Treasurer the most optimistic estimate of U.S. reserves. In a global oil market, price benefits
Gay P. Lord, Secretary would also be negligible.
Nelse L. Greenway
David P. Hunt z Unless unprecedented alternative-energy policy improvements are
Hassanali Mehran achieved soon, by the time oil discovered now would be available to consumers, US
Simon Sidamon-Eristoff demand will have increased so much that the added oil sources would be trivial in
comparison. There would be little if any net gain in available oil and added threat
Advisers to environmental quality, while the urgently needed transition to alternatives is
further delayed.
William H. Draper, III
Gary Hartshorn z Combustion of fossil fuels, regardless of supply options and costs, is a los-
Stephen P. Leatherman ing proposition. The destructive effects of emissions on human health and global
Jerry R. Schubel atmosphere are simply intolerable. And they will be made more so by the prospects
Christopher Uhl of rapidly rising energy demands in developing countries like China and India.

Staff z Two opportunities are by far the most promising, both based on proven,
existing technology: rapid development of wind, tide, and solar power generation
Roger D. Stone, Director & President and major improvements in energy efficiency of both buildings and transportation.
Shaw Thacher, Executive Director
Ron Grandon, Contributing Editor z Although there have been relatively few oil spills at offshore drilling facili-
Anita Herrick, Contributing Editor ties, when pollution occurs, it is environmentally severe and difficult to clean up.
Robert C. Nicholas III, Contr. Editor Therefore, to safeguard public interest, the consequences and risks must be care-
fully considered. A human error, accident, equipment failure, natural event or act
of terrorism involving an offshore oil well or shipment could produce catastrophic
Foundation Donors
contamination of Georgia’s coastline and wildlife. In coastal Georgia, such an event
could result in the loss of billions of dollars of income by local businesses that are
Avenir Foundation
directly dependent on the quality of our environment – such as outdoor recreation,
The Fair Play Foundation
tourism, and commercial fishing. Moreover, it could take years to recover from such
The Madriver Foundation
impacts, and damage to the quality of life in some coastal communities could be ir-
The Marpat Foundation
The Curtis and Edith Munson
z Propagating the misleading promise of offshore oil development will
impede the urgently needed conversion to using a cleaner, more practical array of
The Environmental Film Festival renewable energy resources such as tides, solar power, offshore wind and select
in the Nation’s Capital, which for- biofuels. The longer we delay in making this transition, the more it will cost and the
merly operated under the auspices of harder it will be for our communities to adjust.
the Sustainable Development Institute
is now functioning as an independent z Likewise, oil prospecting, regardless of its other consequences, will reduce
501(c)3 non-for-profit organization. political momentum for taking practical steps needed for Georgians and other
Americans to become more energy efficient. Incentives to reduce energy use are weakened by the false impression that there’s plenty more oil just offshore.
(cont’d, page 3)
Courts & the Seashore
Arrested, cuffed, and headed for the
z The Supreme Court of Canada, in a unanimous decision, ruled that slammer in Newfoundland was fish-
commercial fishing licenses should be considered as property when settling bank- ing boat captain and author Linda
ruptcy claims. The case involved a fisherman, Benoit Saulnier, whose company, Greenlaw of “Perfect Storm” fame.
Bingo Queen Fisheries, Ltd., went bankrupt in 2004; and the Royal Bank, A Canadian fisheries spotter plane
who seized his licenses, worth $630,000, with the intent of selling them to cover had reported the swordfishing boat
Saulnier’s debts. Saulnier refused to sign over the papers, arguing that the licenses she was skippering, the Sea Hawk,
could not be considered as assets, as they constituted a “privilege.” He lost the case fishing in Canadian waters. Officials
in two lower courts, and the Supreme Court upheld those rulings. “To ignore com- boarded the boat, arrested Greenlaw,
mercial reality would be to deny creditors access to something of significant value and escorted the vessel into St. John’s.
in the hands of the bankrupt. That would be both artificially and potentially ineq- Greenlaw’s mother told the Portland
uitable” wrote Justice William Binnie in his opinion for the Court. A possible Press-Herald that her fishing lines
consequence of the ruling is that it may make it easier for fishermen to obtain loans, had become tangled, and that she
as the licenses could be considered as collateral. In this climate of tight credit, this “may have been working to untangle
would be a positive development for the fishing industry. miles of them when the boat drifted
across the international border into
z Three times, complained the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), the Canadian waters.” After posting bail,
EPA has signed agreements to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The latest, Greenlaw headed back out to sea while
it continued in a round-robin e-mail, was the Chesapeake 2000 agreement which awaiting a court date.
was signed by the states and feds in June 2000 and “would have cut nitrogen and
phosphorus pollution enough to remove the Bay and tributary rivers from the Legendary shark fisherman Frank
federal Impaired Waters List. Eight years later, EPA admits that they will miss this Mundus died at age 82. Working out
goal, and they are discussing moving the deadline back another ten years!” Fed up, of Montauk, Long Island, Mundus
late in October the foundation, joined by a number of co-signers, filed a “notice of landed many huge sharks including a
intent” with the Department of Justice giving 60 days’ warning that the group 4,500 pound Great White. Mundus,
would sue the agency for violating the terms of the Clean Water Act and the Chesa- it is often said, was the inspiration for
peake Bay agreements. William C. Baker, CBF president, termed this “extreme the Captain Quint character in Peter
step necessary because “we have had it with these delays.” In response, the EPA Benchley’s Jaws. While Mundus
announced that it would “complete a pollution reduction budget for nutrients and retired to Hawaii in 1991 and cut back
sediments in the bay watershed by 2010 to expedite the restoration.” on shark fishing, reported the New
York Times, he continued to promote
his own books and his signature yel-
low t-shirt. “The gregarious Mundus,”
Sayings (continued from p. 2) said the Times, “had an outsized
personality nearly as big as his famed
Symbolically, promoting more domestic oil exploitation will work to sub- boat, the Cricket II.
vert our long-term interests by retarding policy advancement, inhibiting innovation
in business and technology, and marginalizing vital environmental concerns. Awards

The greatest boon to American morale, energy independence, and balance Top prize for outstanding investiga-
of trade will be won by making a commitment to rapid transition to technology tive reporting, from the Society of
that efficiently harnesses renewable sources of power. Inherent in this policy shift Environmental Journalists (SEJ)
is investing money and willpower in sustainable energy research that will enable went to reporters Tim Nostrand,
Georgia and the U.S. to become world leaders in this emerging growth industry. John Brennan, Jeff Pillets and
Richard Whitby at The Bergen
Although a well-publicized survey found that about two-thirds of Ameri- Record for their NJ series, “Meadow-
cans support offshore drilling, more recently that claim has been discredited lands for Sale.” The series, said SEJ,
because of the way the survey question was asked. That question, based on a stated showed how a portion of the massive
presumption that drilling would result in a significant price drop at the pump, mis- meadowlands development project
led respondents by contradicting published DOE assessment. Wishful thinking may that involved a corporation called En-
be acceptable in a survey, but we cannot allow it to form the basis of our national Cap became “an enormous tangle of
energy policy. political favors, giveaways, and secret,
taxpayer-backed subsidies for a cata-
As long as we continue to put ill-founded faith in polluting power sources, strophically risky venture.” Second
we will be working against our own well-being. Prolonging the age of fossil fuels will place in the “outstanding explanatory
only serve to constrain our potential as a country and as a species. And it will never reporting” category went to Beth Da-
advance the objective of energy independence. We urgently need the wisdom and ley of the Boston Globe for reporting
conviction to be among the leaders in making the great transformation to a sustain- on climate change’s local effects and
able future. Timing will be crucial to our success, and the search for offshore oil is a bringing home to readers “the some-
reckless distraction that the public cannot afford. times difficult to comprehend connec-
tions of this complex issue.”
Another journalistic award winner is
the Charleston SC Post and Courier, z Recently unveiled by Google Earth is a tool enabling you to click onto
which received first place from the a marine protected area and view a trove of print, photo, and video information
Southern Newspapers Publish- about what is there. Far from all the world’s 4,500 marine protected areas are now
ers Association, in the Best Local included in the system but already project manager Steve Miller professes great
Story category, for its three part series excitement about this way to “let conservationists bring hard science to the general
on the effects on people from eating public in an entertaining way.”
mercury-laden fish from local riv-
ers. Reporters Tony Bartelme and z Available via the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is
Doug Pardue shared the award. Homes for Wildlife: A Planning Guide for Habitat Enhancement on
School Grounds. The 237-page volume, which “provides students and teachers
Among this year’s Nobel Prize the opportunity for direct, hands-on learning in the environment, was written by
winners is chemist Osamu Shimo- Marilyn C. Wyzga. It is geared toward K-8 students
mura, 80, scientist emeritus at the
Marine Biological Laboratory in
Woods Hole, MA. In 1962, while on
the faculty at Princeton University, Chesapeake Crab Disaster
Shimomura found a way to transfer to
other living things the green fluores- In late September, federal officials declared the Chesapeake Bay blue crab
cent glow (GFP) found in jellyfish. fishery a disaster, which made watermen eligible for economic assistance to offset
Today, reported the Philadelphia the states’ mandated reductions in their catch. The specific section of the industry
Inquirer, what Shimomura calls a that was targeted by this declaration was the harvest of soft shell and peeler crabs,
“very beautiful protein” has become whose production has declined by 41 percent since the late 1990s. The overall crab
“an essential tool for biochemists, population has been shrinking for years, despite the states’ increasingly draconian
geneticists, and medical researchers in restrictions: last year Virginia recorded a record low harvest and Maryland had its
dozens of fields.” lowest since 1945 (when there were many fewer watermen).

Species & Habitats The precedent for the disaster declaration was set in the Northwest’s
Chinook salmon fishery, where a total ban on harvesting was mandated earlier this
Great Inagua is a large island on the year. The amount of funds available for the watermen is not yet decided nor how it
southern end of the Bahamas and it will be distributed, but Maryland’s Senator Barbara Mikulski is looking for $15
has been the home for thousands of million to spread out over 3 years on bay restoration projects. The idea is to provide
West Indian flamingos. They have the watermen with alternative work to help improve the crabs’ habitat. Maryland
been well protected by virtue of being has already provided $3 million in state funds for such efforts. Many watermen are
on a sparsely populated island, half of unhappy with the decision according to Salisbury Daily Times and would prefer to
which encompasses a national park. be allowed to fish. They are not the only ones affected: the processors, wholesalers,
As Hurricane Ike prepared to sweep suppliers, all those who depend on the harvest in a secondary way will be adversely
across the island, all the birds left, impacted, and it will be much harder to find a way to compensate them.
including the Bahama parrots and
White Crowned pigeons, according
to Glenn Bannister, the president
of the Bahamas National Trust. Hurricanes Blast Caribbean
Many of the other birds returned after
the storm, but comparatively few of Haiti was the victim of four hurricanes, starting in mid-August with Fay,
the flamingos. Meantime there have and working down the alphabet to Ike a month later. The devastation in this already
been sightings in Florida and as far desperately poor country is extreme, with hundreds of thousands of homeless and
away as Mississippi, but it is hard to displaced persons. It is also feared that 60% of their crops have been ruined. At the
tell if these are the Bahamian refu- end of October, John Holmes, the UN relief chief, again stressed the need for
gees. Their breeding season starts in urgent action as famine and disease are looming and only 40% of the $107 million
January, and it is hoped that they will originally called for had come in.
find their way back by then.
Cuba was hit by Gustav and Ike, which were described as the most dev-
Man’s best intentions often go astray. astating in their history. Cuban authorities estimated that the damage could be
On New Jersey’s Cape May, state and as much as $5 billion. More than 400,000 houses were damaged or destroyed;
federal agencies encouraged the city to 140,000 acres of crops were ruined; half a million poultry were lost; the power and
remove feral cats from the beach area, communications infrastructure was badly affected. Cuba has been given aid from
as it was suspected that they were Latin American countries, but refused the $100,000 that was offered by the US. It
preying on endangered nesting birds has asked that the embargo be partially lifted to allow them to buy food. The US did
such as the piping plover. The cats ease up on restrictions in the aftermath of Hurricane Michele in 2001; but at the
having been removed, skunks seem to moment, both sides remain inflexible in the face of the new disasters.
have moved into their habitat. They
Ocean & Climate Exhibits will not prey on the birds, but are a
nuisance to the human inhabitants.
The new Ocean Hall opened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum Meantime the city is discussing trap-
of National History at the end of September. Funded in part by Washington ping the skunks with the assistance
philanthropists Roger and Victoria Sant, the exhibit was created by the museum of the state Division of Fish and
in collaboration with NOAA. The colorful multimedia exhibit presents hundreds of Wildlife. But who might come next
specimens of creatures both extant, such a the model of the right whale based on a to fill the comfortable void? Possibly
living specimen named Phoenix, and extinct, such as the impressive fossil jaws of the Norway rats that live in the jetties
Carcharodon megalodon (the giant great whale shark). But the sense and motion of nearby, at which point it will be time
the creatures’ habitat is brought in very effectively by means of constantly running to call in the cats again.
underwater videos, which play on eight large screens above the exhibit cases. These
videos were filmed by Feodor Pitcairn in sites around the world. Brown pelicans, ranging ever farther
northward along the Atlantic sea-
The overall tone of the exhibit is celebratory. The ongoing deterioration of board, have often been spotted in the
the Ocean is not directly presented, but to the museum’s credit the subject is very Chesapeake Bay in recent years. This
clearly addressed on the hall’s website, under the heading “Ocean Conservation” year, for the first time ever, they used
which states: “this productive, precious global system is endangered by human the bay as a breeding habitat. Last
activities. The threats of climate change, overharvesting, habitat destruction, pol- April they began arriving in increasing
lution, and invasive species have created a ‘perfect storm’ – a situation caused by numbers at the vacant Holland Island
simultaneous events that is far graver than if those events occurred separately.” The in Dorchester County on the eastern
web-site contains information about the individual threats, and lists further read- shore. “They’re doing real well,” said
ing; there is also a tab for “what you can do” which brings up a page of recommen- Dave Brinker of Maryland’s De-
dations of good conservation practices. partment of Natural Resources
in an interview with TV station WJZ.
In New York City, the American Museum of Natural History opened “We had 1,000 breeding pair out here
a comprehensive new exhibition, “Climate Change: The Threat to Life and that produced almost 2,000 young.”
a New Energy Future.” According to Michael Novacek, the museum’s se- This is part of the comeback for a spe-
nior vice president and provost, the exhibition “presents the compelling scientific cies that had been ravaged by DDT.
evidence of global warming as a result of human activity” and suggests ways to deal
with this. New York Times critic Edward Rothstein invoked the Danish accoun- Though there are some exceptions
tant Bjorn Lomborg in a review that accuses the museum of proselytizing rather such as the Potomac River, overall
than offering a “reflective analysis.” The Times review is yet another example of how shad stocks along the East Coast are
media in search of “balance” can actually tip the scales in favor of views held by tiny “currently at all-time lows,” reported
minorities of analysts. the Atlantic States Marine Fish-
eries Commission. Exactly why is
not clear. But among the possiblilities
cited in a recent Bay Journal article
Citizen Protest Wins in SC have been large numbers of striped
bass, which eat shad, losses as bycatch
The federally mandated Coastal Barrier Resource System seeks to discour- in other fisheries, changing ocean
age development on vulnerable, hurricane prone sections of the coastline. Land in currents and climate. Whatever the
the system, including a 150-acre tract on South Carolina’s Kiawah Island, is not en- reason, this year’s supply was so weak
titled to federal funds for flood insurance or for beach replenishment. Accordingly, that the annual shad festival on the
when Kiawah Development Partners sought to put 50 houses on that property, Hudson, a principal shad fishery in
they looked for a way to change the boundaries of the system so that their future better times, went shadless this year.
homeowners could qualify for federal insurance.
At their behest, US Rep. Henry Brown filed a bill calling for such a
change. He also scheduled a hearing on the matter, and invited Kiawah’s strongly With 48% of Florida’s 825 miles of
supportive Mayor William Wert to come to Washington to testify in its favor. sandy beach classified as “critically
But then the Post and Courier got wind of it all and published a Watchdog report. eroded,” renourishment either by
“Voters flooded Brown’s office with e-mails and phone calls saying the government transferring sand from one spot to
shouldn’t subsidize new development on fragile barrier islands,” said the paper, and another, or dredging it from offshore,
the town council voted down Wert’s Washington trip. Brown, saying the people had has long been standard operating
spoken, killed the hearing. That effectively killed the bill. “Kiawah Sand Spit Bill procedure. But in Palm Beach County,
Gets Ax,” the Post and Courier reported. reports the South Florida Sun-Senti-
nel, there is new citizen concern about
The developers are pressing on, vowing a cluster of environmental safe- “complex projects that cost taxpayers
guards. Brown’s office alleged political shenanigans on the part of the opponent millions of dollars and cause environ-
running against him this fall. But for the moment, it was a rare instance of citizen mentalists to worry about damage to
pressure winning out over vested power on a coastal development issue. coral reefs.” A Surfrider Founda-
tion challenge to one project was
the first in recent memory, reported NJ Acts on Highlands
the paper. And according to Ed
Tichenor, director of Palm Beach Four years ago, New Jersey’s legislature passed the Highlands Act, a brave
County Reef Rescue, his mission is and far sighted measure designed to protect 860,000 acres of prized land in the
to “put beach replenishment projects northern and western part of the state from sprawl development—and assure clean
on trial.” and plentiful drinking water for some 60% of the state’s population.

Report Cards In more recent years, the Highlands Council, a diverse group of 15 citizens
formed under the law, has been struggling mightily to craft a Master Plan for the
“Our biggest asset and the main rea- region. Last summer the plan was made public and sent to Governor Jon S. Cor-
son we love living here in the Palmetto zine for his signature. Immediately objections flared.
State is our beautiful natural environ-
ment,” said the Myrtle Beach Sun Some, especially including Jeff Tittel. executive director of the New Jer-
News. But the paper found scant en- sey Sierra Club, argued that the plan provides insufficient environmental protec-
couragement from the voting records tion for a precious region. Julia Somers, executive director of the New Jersey
of South Carolina’s elected officials. In Highlands Coalition, told the New York Times that the plan was “flushing a nec-
its 2007 tally, the League of Con- essary act’s mandates down the toilet with polluted Highlands water.” “Loopholed
servation Voters scored the state’s to mush,” said Highlands Council member Tracy Carluccio.
two senators, Lindsey Graham and
Jim DeMint, only 7% on conserva- Farmers and developers countered that the plan places the state’s Depart-
tion legislation. Congressman Henry ment of Environmental Protection “virtually in charge” of planning for the
Brown’s record was even worse—5%. region and, said Rich Nieuwenhuis, president of the New Jersey Farm Bu-
While some legislators at the state lev- reau, places a “de facto moratorium on planned growth for the region.” Highlands
el won somewhat higher ratings from residents complained that they lacked rights and that their future was being decided
the Conservation Voters of South by city people living far away.
Carolina, the paper continued, “our
low end is a very humiliating low end.” From all sides came demands that Corzine veto the master plan and return
it to the Highlands Council for further study. But on September 5 Corzine gave the
Recent water quality tests conducted plan his thumbs-up, and also issued an executive order extending pot-sweeteners
by New Jersey’s Department of to various of the warring pressure groups including funding for a transfer-of-devel-
Environmental Protection reveal opment rights program and restrictions on permitting for development that would
that of 846 spots ranked for aquatic deplete the water supply in already constrained areas.
health, 74% did not meet state stan-
dards. However, reported the Bergen Now, said Somers, work can begin to implement the master plan. But, she
Record, coastal waters and salt bays added, the governor’s actions can be only considered an “interim measure” without
fared a little better, with a 10% uptick funds to carry out the work required.
between 1978 and 2006 on salt bays
and marshlands without restrictions
on shellfish harvesting.
Hydrophones Harvest Storm Data
After five years of work and an expen-
diture of $15 million, researchers led Over the years, there has been extensive media coverage of the hurricane-
by the US Army Corps of Engi- hunter work accomplished by brave pilots wrestling their planes through the most
neers failed to decide on what to do intense storms to measure wind speed. Now, reports Nicholas Makris, a profes-
about the Chesapeake Bay’s badly de- sor at MIT and director of its undersea remote sensing lab, there may be an equally
pleted oyster population. The team’s good and far less expensive way to track hurricanes and cyclones.
major study, released in October,
suggested rebuilding oyster reefs as In a Geophysical Research Letters paper, he describes measuring storms
one possibility, and even with the risks by submerged hydrophone. Says MIT’s news office: “The rolling action of the wind,
associated with exotic species did not churning up waves and turning the water into a bubble-filled froth, causes a rush-
rule out placing Asian oysters in some ing sound whose volume is a direct indicator of the storm’s destructive power.”
locations. All the draft environmental Makris stumbled on the method’s viability when a 1999 hurricane in the Caribbean
impact statement really concluded happened to cross paths with a hydrophone, producing data just as good as what
was that it would cost a lot—between airplanes recorded, and better than satellite information.
$500 and $700 million—to get the
bay’s oyster population back to where Hydrophones installed near an offshore research station off Mexico’s
it typically was from 1920-1970. Study west coast recently collected storm data from that hurricane-prone area, giving
leaders told the Virginian-Pilot that the concept further validation. Those hydrophones have recently been removed, as
they plan 6 public meetings to discuss the project’s managers approach a decision as to whether to continue working off
the various options, and expect to Mexico, where good wind speed data is available from other sources, or return to
issue a final document by mid-2009. Atlantic waters where some information gaps persist.
Said Frances Porter, executive
Maine Isles Power Selves director of the Virginia Seafood
Council: “This gives us no direction
This past summer, driven by rising costs, Maine islands, specifically in whatsoever.”
Penobscot Bay, have started to reconsider how they get their electrical power. As it
is, energy costs in Maine are one third higher than the national average according to A recent issue of 41 N, a publication of
the Bangor Daily News. When compared to the rest of the state, islanders must pay RI Sea Grant and the University
more than twice the rate on the mainland (30 cents per kilowatt hour as opposed to of Rhode Island, gave an overview
15 cents for the state, 10 cents for the national average). of the state’s aquaculture industry.
Historically, Rhode Island was a
One of the principal reasons for the high energy costs is that most of the big producer of shellfish, oysters in
islands depend on power co-operatives, which own and maintain the electrical particular. The harvest of wild oysters
distribution system. There is a limited population to pay for the high infrastructure started to decline after it’s peak in the
costs, such as the maintenance of an underwater cable to connect with the power early 20th century. The cause of the
grid on the mainland. The cable needs to be replaced every 15-20 years - meaning decline was the increasing pollution
that the original one has not been paid off by the time another one needs to be put in Narragansett Bay. The hurricane of
in place. 1938 caused severe destruction from
which the industry did not recover. In
Other islands have a different set of problems. They are too far removed the late 1970s some aquaculture farms
to have an underwater cable, and therefore depend on diesel generators. Those for oysters and mussels started up. In
costs went up with the increase in fuel price. In the case of Matinicus and Monhe- 1981 the aquaculture statutes were re-
gan, there does not seem to be an alternative as each has a small population (and vised to set up procedures for leasing
therefore no money for major outlays) and a small landmass on which to build other underwater land from the state. Since
solutions. then the growth of the industry has
been slow but steady. 2006 was a ban-
In two island groups, those that have forged ahead on the possibility for an ner year when the industry brought
alternative energy source have been the Fox Island Electric Cooperative (which in more than 1 million dollars for the
encompasses North Haven and Vinalhaven) and Swan’s Island Electric Coop- first time since the early 1930s. The
erative (which services that island and Frenchboro). Both of these have underwa- state has a good advantage in that it
ter cables, which makes the use of alternative fuel more remunerative, in that they has a high number of university based
can sell excess power generated during the months when there is less demand, and researchers, who have been working
thus offset some of the costs. What the islands hope to do is escape the increasingly closely with fish farmers to develop
unstable monetary demands on economically fragile communities. better techniques and to combat
In late July, the members of the Fox Island Electric Cooperative took the
lead by voting to support a wind power project that would include at least two wind Products
turbines, which have the possibility of generating enough power for both of the
islands. The obstacles have only become more complex since then. A commercial To counter the problem of storm-gen-
turbine costs around $2.5 million. Credit and funding would have to be available erated toxic runoff from impervious
from the Federal Government, from the Rural Utility Service for instance. Those surfaces such as roadways and park-
funds may not be so forthcoming. On the upside, wind turbines, which have been ing lots, the construction industry has
in high demand and not so easy to acquire, will now be more available given the in recent years developed a variety of
momentary lowering of fuel prices. “pervious” blocks and other materials
allowing stormwater to dribble softly
The recent fall in fuel prices, and the tightening of credit will probably put into the ground. No such substance
these projects on the back burner, as they have in the rest of the nation. But if these would seem to be simpler than the
ideas and projects are not revisited, the viability of Maine’s island communities will “porous pavement” being marketed
be at stake. by Aggregate Industries of Saucus,
MA. It blends agggregate, or larger-
than- normal stones, into the asphalt
mix. The aggregate, says the Boston
With Appreciation Globe, “creates holes in the pavement
that allow water to pass through into
We extend very special appreciation to Russell E Train, The Lee and an extra-deep bed of sand and stone
Juliet Folger Fund, and The Moore Charitable Foundation for the renewal that absorbs and filters the water in
of their most important commitments to this newsletter and associated products. much the same way underlying soil
We have also received most welcome donations from these others: in a field or forest does.” Using the
porous pavement can save builders
Robin Clarke Mr. and Mrs. A. Wright Palmer money on stormwater-prevention
Anne Davidson Mary M. Thacher measures including detention basins,
Environmental Defense Fund Tilia Foundation the paper continues, and permit them
Gail S. Moloney Mr. and Mrs. William Blunt White to build more homes on those spaces.
Atlantic CoastWatch
Sustainable Development Institute
3121 South St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

Tel: (202) 338-1017

Fax: (202) 337-9639

Tax-deductible contributions for Atlantic CoastWatch are urgently needed.

Checks can be made payable to the Sustainable Development Institute.

Green Goes to College
Sign of the times? North Carolina’s
A reflection of new interest in greenness is to be found in the Princeton
New River Foundation recently
Review of colleges, which now includes along with rankings of academics, quality
announced that it was severing ties
of life, and party schools, a “green rating” score which appears in the profiles of 534
with the Waterkeeper Alliance,
colleges posted on their web-site. Based on data collected during the 2007-2008
a national umbrella organization of
academic year, the ratings take into account environmental practices and policies, as
river keeper groups. The reason, said
well as course offerings. Among the eastern seaboard colleges and universities given
New River Foundation president Joe
high marks in the publication is the College of the Atlantic, which has man-
Houle, is that it neither needs nor can
aged to be net-zero on its emissions, by using renewable power, and off-setting the
afford a full time paid river keeper,
rest; Bates, which has opened two major buildings with LEED–Silver equivalence;
as required for membership by the
Emory, where all new buildings will be constructed according to LEED standards;
national organization. In an interview
and Harvard, which has committed to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases (below
Houle added that his foundation, in
2006 levels) by 2016. In addition to having a large staff committed to “greening the
existence since 1995, would do just
campus,” it has established a $12 million loan fund to provide interest free loans to
fine on its own with a part time volun-
student inventors/entrepreneurs for projects that help advance this policy.
teer river keeper and “the power of the
people who love the water.”
The Sierra Club has also started a rating system with its “Cool Schools”
roundup which it first published last year. Eight of the top ten in 2007 were private
Recently distributed, by Connecti-
institutions. This year’s list, which has several overlaps with the Princeton Review’s,
cut’s Long Island Fund Advisory
shows that larger state universities are jumping on to the bandwagon, with the Uni-
Committee, were $310,613 in grants
versity of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Vermont, Arizona State
from the pool of funds generated by
University at Tempe, the University of Florida at Gainesville, the University
the state’s LIS specialty license plate.
of Washington in Seattle all listed among the top ten. The Sierra Club also lists
Fourteen projects to protect and help
“the five that failed” and of those, three are in the middle Atlantic region: William
preserve the Sound were funded,
and Mary in Williamsburg, George Washington University and Howard
including an educational exhibit en-
University, both in Washington, DC.
titled “Sound Outlook: Making Sound
Choices from Source to Sea,” a new
George Washington University did make an effort this fall, encour-
handicapped-accessible fishing pier in
aging students to have a “green” move-in, by reducing the amount of paper in the
the town of East Lyme, and an expan-
usual registration and sign-up forms, urging students to use reusable containers,
sion of the University of Connecti-
and having a recyclable area for moving boxes. In addition, students were encour-
cut’s Long Island Sound Integrated
aged to have at hand a coffee mug and a water bottle, and plates to be substituted
Coastal Observing System into the
for the usual throw-aways. There have been innovations in building too, and the
Connecticut River. As of last July 31,
university is sponsoring a 30-student green townhouse. “There’s a need and a want
139,899 LIS plates had been sold,
for this kind of lifestyle,” campus green leader Ivey Wohlfeld told USA Today.
generating $4.89 million and funding
“But there are also many people who aren’t quite sure what to do about it. We’re still
for 314 projects.
at that stage, but this is a step in the right direction.”

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