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Atlantic CoastWatch

Everglades Deal Weakened March-April 2010


Early in 2008, Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist rolled out a monu-
News For Coastal Advocates
mental plan to save the Everglades via a $1.75 billion buyout in its entirety of the
United States Sugar company including 179,800 acres of land. But over the past
Glades Deal Weakened 1
two years, reported the New York Times in a major front-page, 4.300 word account,
the deal has changed and shrunk. In some respects, according to critics cited in
what the Miami Herald called a “well reported behemoth of a story,” the deal has Marcellus Issues Surface 1
become better for the ailing company than for the Everglades.
Sayings 2
Economic woes have caused the scope of the plan to drop from $1.34 bil-
lion in November 2008 to $536 million—including 72,800 acres of land—in April
2009. Disputes have raged about the lack of transparency in negotiating the details, Disappointments at CITES 3
some initiated by Florida Crystals, a US Sugar rival, and some by the Miccosukee,
Native Americans of whom some live within the Everglades. Questions have been Whaling Policy Worsening 3
raised about whether Crist, facing a court order to proceed with other Everglades
restoration projects, can afford even the downsized US Sugar buyout.
Media 4
Most recently, reported the Times, the South Florida Water Manage-
ment District has given itself an extra six months to find the $536 million. But GA Tightens Water Use 4
for all the flaws in the current version of the plan, and all the charges and counter-
charges, the paper still finds the plan to be a “good deal for the Everglades, “ with Omega Faces Pressures 5
the US Sugar land eventually to be “taken out of agricultural production, removing
a major source of pollution, and converted into reservoirs and artificial marshes to
store and later release into the Everglades during the dry season.” Courts & The Seashore 5

FL Fishery Concerns 6

Marcellus Issues Surface NY vs. Power Plant 8

Huge amounts of natural gas, perhaps 500 trillion cubic feet of it or


enough to supply New York City for almost 500 years at present consumption Water Winner in FL 8
rates, are to be found deep in a layer of hard rock called the Marcellus Shale
in northern Appalachia. The existence of this huge supply, the world’s largest Wanted: Guest Editor 8
known shale deposit, had long been known. But only recently have advances in
drilling technology made production attractive to gas industry companies.

Now “landmen” from these companies are scouring the Appalachian


basin from upstate New York to Virginia, in hopes of persuading private land-
owners to sell off drilling rights. The prices are attractive in these poor commu-
nities, many of whose citizens hope to get their share of what could become an Recurring
economic bonanza. At the same time, though, a groundswell of apprehension
about the environmental consequences of Marcellus drilling is building, and People; Awards; Species &
what has been a quiet debate is rapidly becoming far more public. Habitats; Restorations; Report Cards;
Funding
Air and noise pollution are cited as possible threats. A larger issue in-
volves the need, in the Marcellus, to use a process called hydraulic fracturing, or Atlantic CoastWatch is a bimonthly
“fracking,” to unlock the gas from the rock and channel it into pipelines. newsletter for those concerned with
environmentally sound coastal
(Continued, p. 7) development.
2
Atlantic CoastWatch Sayings
Vol. 14, No. 2 (What follows was submitted to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation by Penn-
sylvania farmer Roy Brubaker, and is published here with their permission)
A project of the Sustainable
Development Institute, which
We as Pennsylvania farmers, who have done much to improve local
seeks to heighten the environmental
streams and the Chesapeake Bay over the past 20 years, should learn all we can
quality of economic development
efforts in forest and coastal regions,
about what’s needed to finish the job. I believe that the federal government,
by communicating information about which is developing the pollution budget for the Susquehanna and for the whole
better policies and practices. SDI is Bay watershed, needs to lead, but not control this effort and make sure that all
classified as a 501(c)(3) organization, of us — farmers, city dwellers and suburbanites — do our fair share. The costs
exempt from federal income tax. are going to be high, for sure, and the feds, the state, and locals need to pitch in
equally. This is the best way forward and the Chesapeake Clean Water Act, in
Board of Directors the form of two bills currently being considered in Congress, is the only proposal
I’ve seen that would do just that.
Freeborn G. Jewett, Jr., Chair
Robert J. Geniesse, Chair Emeritus Fifteen years ago, my wife and I purchased a 94-acre farm in Central
Roger D. Stone, President Pennsylvania and started raising beef cattle and sheep while starting a family
Simon Sidamon-Eristoff, Secretary and holding down a full-time job. We direct market freezer lamb and beef from
Nelse L. Greenway, Treasurer an all-grass production system. We know from regular customer surveys that a
David P. Hunt major reason our sales are growing is that people want to directly support farm-
Hassanali Mehran ers and farming models that protect environmental quality. We are currently
expanding our grazing operation by leasing additional land in our area to meet
Advisers the local demand for our products. It is rewarding to grow food for people we
share a watershed with in a way that respects our common interest in a healthy
William H. Draper, III
environment.
Gary Hartshorn
Stephen P. Leatherman
Jerry R. Schubel Most of my farming neighbors also embrace both their “right to farm” and
Christopher Uhl their responsibility to farm in ways that express their awareness of and respect
for neighbors, consumers, and the natural world. And while they are pragmatic
Staff and resist being told what to do, they also accept the responsibility to do what
is right, and within their means. Rather than being fed up with the demands of
Roger D. Stone, Director & President environmental stewardship, we are continually improving our farming practices
Catherine Cooper, Contributing Editor to reduce agriculture’s negative impact on natural systems.
Anita Herrick, Contributing Editor
Robert C. Nicholas III, Contributing So what’s been missing? Why are our streams and rivers and the bay still
Editor not healthy enough? I believe the reason is unequal effort. Polluted runoff from
developments has been going up, not down. Pennsylvania sewage plants are
only now making upgrades. And in agriculture, we still have too many opera-
Foundation Donors tions that aren’t taking the necessary steps, like streambank fencing and barn-
yard improvements. And what would be the result of insisting these last hold-
Avenir Foundation outs implement the types of BMPs that most have already done over the past
The Fair Play Foundation decade? Their somatic cell count goes down and they begin getting higher pre-
G. Peabody and Rose Gardner
miums for their milk. Their herd health improves and their vet bill goes down.
Charitable Trust
They need less fertilizer for their fields. They can start catching trout rather than
Madriver Foundation
The Moore Charitable Foundation
carp out of their farm streams. This is not the devastating picture that has been
The Curtis and Edith Munson painted by some ag groups.
Foundation
We shouldn’t let bureaucracy and big ag interest get in the way of the posi-
tive change and the new farming models that are ready to roll. Under the Chesa-
peake Clean Water Act, well-managed farms will only become more competitive
as we operate on a more level playing field amongst ourselves as farmers, and
as more pressure is brought to bear on other contributor’s to our water quality
problems. Without it, the agony of disjointed policies and scattershot compli-
ance will only be prolonged, and God knows we can ill afford to throw good tax
money after bad in fixing the bay. It’s okay to make government work. Move the
bill forward.
3

Disappointments at CITES People

We note with great sadness the


Delegates from 175 nations gathered in Doha, Qatar for the 15th death of Godfrey A. Rockefeller,
conference on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered a keen conservationist with a special
Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). After an intense two weeks of interest in coastal ecosystems, in
negotiations, the conference ended without new trade measures to protect any Florida at age 85. A military aviator
global marine species anywhere. in World War II and thereafter an
official in the commercial helicopter
A proposal put forward by Sweden and the US would have protected industry, Rockefeller also served in
31 species of red and pink corals. It was turned down. These corals are used in key board and staff positions at the
jewelry making and in homeopathic medicine. Coral species in general have World Wildlife Fund and at the
been adversely affected by the warming and acidification of the ocean, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. An
precious corals are not doing any better. According to the Environment News enthusiastic yachtsman, he ventured
Wire landings have declined by 60 to 80 percent since the 1980s. The decline forth as often as possible into the
reflects the fact that in fished areas there has been a dramatic reduction in the Maine and Chesapeake waters that he
size and structure of the populations as they are being harvested beyond the treasured, “We always keep our boats
point where they can renew themselves. in the water,” he said, reflecting his
interest in being the first out in the
spring and the last home in the fall.
Several proposals were put forward to regulate the trade in eight
species of shark. Despite a majority vote on some of these, the proposals did
“I’m paid to make life miserable for
not meet with final approval as a 2/3 majority was required. The demand for
people who would destroy life at the
sharks is coming principally from China, where shark fin soup is considered edge of the sea,” said Dery Bennett,
a great delicacy, and is now affordable to an ever increasing segment of the long-time executive director of the
population. In Europe, there is demand on certain species, the porbeagle and New Jersey-based American Lit-
spiny dogfish, for their meat. As predators, sharks are an important link in the toral Society. In December Bennett
oceanic ecosystem. According to Oceana, which refers to the UN Food and died at age 79. Memorials to him
Agriculture Organization for this information, nearly half of the highly include the decision to name a pond
migratory shark species are now considered overexploited or depleted. in the New Jersey Fair Havens Fields
Nature Area for him as Dery’s Pond.
A contentious battle over a proposed ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna trade
ended in defeat for Monaco and its allies who had sponsored the proposal. Folk singer, environmentalist, and
Japan, which imports 80% of the fish, known locally as “hon-maguro” and educator Tom Wisner, a ubiquitous
prized for sushi and sashimi dishes, led the charge to defeat the proposal. As it Chesapeake bard for decades, died at
did throughout this conference, it held that CITES was not the forum in which age 79. One of his fellow performers,
to address such issues. In this case, they would prefer to continue to work with at times, was Maryland’s Governor
the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tu- Martin O’Malley, who said that
nas. Meantime, the stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna have dropped more than Wisner’s “life’s hope was to bring
about a new era in our relationship
60% in the last decade, according to the New York Times, amid dire forecasts
with the land and the waters of the
for the future of the species.
Bay.”

New executive director of Blue


Whaling Policy Worsens Ocean Institute is Steve Dishart.
who spent 25 years in corporate life
A proposal to allow but gradually reduce commercial whaling by and before that in broadcasting. His
previous job was as a managing direc-
Japan, Norway and Iceland, suspending a moratorium in force since 1986, is
tor, Swiss Re, a global reinsurer.
being negotiated in advance of the International Whaling Commission
Carl Safina, BOI founder and presi-
(IWC), which will vote on the matter at its Agadir, Morocco meeting in June.
dent, said that Dishart’s passion for
Defying the moratorium, the three whaling nations killed about 1,700 whales the institute’s mission and concern
last year, reported the New York Times—up from 300 in 1990. During his for the environment brought the two
campaign President Obama said he would support strengthening the ban of them together.
on commercial whaling. If the IWC does not keep the moratorium in place,
acknowledging its failure to protect whales, it might be time to shift whale pro- The International Seakeepers
tection to another institution such as the United Nations, said the Guardian. Society, a nonprofit formed by
In a letter to the Washington Post, said Phil Kline, senior oceans campaigner megayacht owners concerned by the
for Greenpeace USA: “It is precisely the policies of hunting whales under the deteriorating health of the sea, an-
auspices of the IWC’s supposed oversight that have brought whale populations
to their endangered status.”
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nounced the appointment of Dean
C. Klevan as its new president and
Media
CEO. Klevan brings with him a long
a Google Maps has added an ingenious feature to its site: bicycling direc-
history in banking, financial services,
tions and maps for 150 cities. They will include 15,000 off street bike trails, which
and philanthropic involvement. He
had been catalogued by the Rails to Trails Conservancy. Just as with those for
lives in Coconut Grove, FL.
the car, you type in your departure address and your destination, and the system
draws a map and provides precise directions and distances. Alternative routes are
Awards
also given - ones a little longer, but more scenic for instance. Unlike with the car
routes, less travelled streets with slower traffic are recommended and detours to
Winner of a national award from the
avoid hills are suggested. There are still kinks in the system, but users can suggest
Association of International Educa-
corrections by using the “report a problem” feature on the web-site. Biking advo-
tors was Bar Harbor, Maine’s Col-
cates are hoping that city planners will take note and be encouraged to create more
lege of the Atlantic (COA) for its
bike lanes.
sprightly International Environmen-
tal Diplomacy program. On campus
and off, the subject, says COA, is
“fully integrated into the curriculum.” Georgia Tightens Water Use
With 15% of its students coming from
outside the US, the college adds, it Runaway growth, profligate water use, and drought have long characterized
has one of the highest percentages of Georgia and especially Atlanta. A critical regional issue has long been a running war
foreign students at any US liberal arts between Georgia and the neighbor states of Florida and Alabama, which have long
colleges. cast covetous eyes on the water in the massive federal reservoir called Lake Lanier,
the principal source of Atlanta’s drinking water.

Species & Habitats In an effort to assuage the neighbor states, and assure its own drinking
water supplies, Georgia has now come up with a Water Stewardship Act designed
Scientists conducting an aerial survey in part to show courts, as the Athens Banner-Herald put it, that “sprawling metro
of a proposed Navy training range Atlanta is working to control its thirst.”
were thrilled to view the birth of a
right whale. This was only the second The new law has generated mixed reactions. To some, it overly favors the
time a birth had been witnessed. It state’s major water users, particularly agriculture, with exemptions. David Kyler
occurred off the Northeast coast of of the Center for a Sustainable Coast criticized the measure because of exemp-
Florida, near the border with Geor- tions for agriculture and power plants, big water users and wasters. Also exempt
gia, an area which is the only calving are irrigation of food gardens, private well owners, nurseries, golf courses and
ground for this endangered species, athletic fields, said the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kyler scored the conservation
whose total population is around 450. proposal for largely ignoring waterless and clean energy ideas such as successful
This occurrence brought into focus solar and windpower methods.
environmental concerns about the
Navy’s plans for combat training near The paper pointed out that that the legislation requires builders to use
this area. efficient water fixtures. More specifically, American Rivers said, the measure
includes “higher efficiency standards for toilets, faucets, urinals, and cooling towers,
The controversial seal hunt got under standardized leak reporting by public water utilities, metering of multi-family, com-
way in Canada in April, but many mercial and industrial construction, and a statewide outdoor watering schedule that
fewer boats were participating. In prohibits watering during the hottest hours of the day when evaporation and water
July the European Union instituted waste are highest.”
a ban on imports of seal products,
which the Canadian government is Further, American Rivers stated, their analysis uses well-tested practices
fighting, taking its objections to the already in use in many cities. The group determined that by implementing simple
World Trade Organization. The water efficiency policies metro Atlanta alone could “save as much as 210 million
increasing lack of demand, also due gallons per day – this is more than an entire Lake Lanier.” The use of the lake for
to the recession, has meant that the Atlanta drinking water could be prohibited unless the three states negotiate a water
price for pelts has gone from $100 a sharing agreement.
few years ago down to $14 last year,
according to the Associated Press. Mary Kay Woodworth, president, Georgia Urban Agriculture
Another factor affecting this year’s Council, supported the stewardship legislation, noting that it protects Georgia’s
hunt is the very mild winter which economic future. With an important court ruling on water allocation pending, she
has resulted in thin or no ice along said, the bill represents a major step toward a “long term solution” to its water woes,
the shores where the pups are born, and a tool for Governor Sonny Perdue to use to “show Georgia and Florida that
and where the hunters usually harvest we are serious about water conservation.”
5
them. Environment Canada, a
Omega Faces Pressures government department, reported
that until mid-March the ice was at
Omega Protein Corporation says it is the world’s largest producer of its lowest in four decades of record
omega-3 fish oil and North America’s largest manufacturer of protein-rich specialty keeping, according to The New York
fish meal and organic fish solubles. The species it hunts for these products is the Times. Some of the seals have gone
lowly menhaden, a relative of the herring, of which it harvests 90% of the nation’s further north in search of ice; but
entire catch. But these days, the sailing is hardly smooth for this dominant com- mostly this situation has led to a very
pany, with stocks on the wane and pressures building for tighter regulation in the high mortality rate. The pups are
federal and state waters where it fishes. born on the ice which provides them
protection from land predators until
Recent writings have put into sharp focus all that the menhaden do for us. they are ready to swim. Many have
In his 2008 book, The Most Important Fish in the Sea, Menhaden and America, H. been found drowned and washed up
Bruce Franklin covers the history of the fish and their exploitation over the cen- on shore. So, despite the yield from
turies. They are easy to catch as the schools are dense. Since they are not edible (by the smaller hunt, with this year’s
humans) the crop has been used variously for lamp oil, fertilizer, and animal feed. “harvest” estimated at a maximum of
50,000 animals vs. this year’s quota
Menhaden, Franklin continues, are also a keystone species in the marine of 330,000, there is no respite for the
ecosystem. Being filter feeders they are at the bottom of the chain on which so many seal pups this year.
other species depend. They are a primary food for larger fish, such as bluefish,
striped bass, and tuna, which get their omega-3 fatty acids from them. The men- Limits placed on blue crab fishing in
haden themselves feed not on other creatures, but on phytoplankton and algae, the Chesapeake Bay have produced
and in the process they filter the water at the rate of 4 to 6 gallons per minute per remarkable results, reported the
adult fish. In the Chesapeake Bay, they helped to keep the water clear by filtering Washington Post. Winter surveys
the upper layers, while the oysters filtered the bottom layer. Both species are now show a doubling of the population
depleted. over the past two years, to a baywide
population of 658 million crabs. the
According to Franklin, “by the end of the 20th century the population highest number since 1997, Amid
and range of Atlantic menhaden had virtually collapsed… Although northern New the jubilation came complaints from
England had once been the scene for the largest menhaden fishery, adult fish had crabbers that restrictions placed on
not been sighted north of Cape Cod since 1993.” He does point to a small bright spot them were depriving them of their
which is that the population along the New Jersey coast seems to have rebounded livelihood.
since a ban on Omega’s boats took effect there.
Restorations
In response to the decline, many states have acted. While much of Omega’s
fishing takes place in the Gulf of Mexico, 13 of the 15 Atlantic coastal states where Maryland’s Oyster Recovery Part-
the company used to fish have banned its boats from their state waters. These only nership has started an oyster shell
extend 3 miles out to sea and this does not preclude the company from operating in recycling alliance. Shells will be col-
Federal waters. lected from restaurants and caterers
who join. There are also several drop-
The two eastern seaboard states where the company is still welcomed are off locations for the general public.
North Carolina and Virginia, where Omega has its major processing plant in the The shells will eventually be delivered
town of Reedville. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest menhaden nursery in the to the Horn Point Hatchery in Cam-
world and a good portion of it lies within Virginia’s state waters. bridge, which is run by the University
of Maryland’s Center for Environ-
Now, says author Paul Greenberg in a New York Times op-ed, there is a mental Science. The shells will be
mounting need for Virginia to join the ban on menhaden fishing in its state waters, used to set the spat which are raised
which would strengthen the Chesapeake’s hand as a viable menhaden nursery. in the hatchery, then planted in the
Moreover, added Greenberg, it is high time for Washington to impose a ban on Chesapeake Bay. “We believe we can
menhaden fishing in federal waters by means of a policy shift on the part of the At- collect about 5,000 bushels in our
lantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Menhaden Management Board. first alliance year, enough shell to
provide substrate for 25 million spat
But action on either front would represent a major shift away from recent on shell,” Alliance volunteer Ver-
history. Omega, said Charles Hutchinson of the Maryland Saltwater Sport- non Johnson said. Project sponsor
fishermen’s Association in a widely circulated web posting, is “a sophisticated Doug Legum said, “The Chesapeake
operation with an amazing amount of political clout both in Virginia and in Wash- Bay is not only an economic engine
ington.” Virginia’s General Assembly has consistently rejected measures to shift for the state of Maryland with an
menhaden management responsibility from itself to the more eco-sensitive Vir- estimated value of over seventy billion
ginia Marine Resources Commission. dollars, it is a God-given gift which we
have an obligation to protect. “
Continued, p. 6
6
Omega, Continued from P. 5
According to the 2009 International
Coastal Cleanup Report, the most nu- The Feds, Hutchinson continues, “could at any time prohibit the har-
merous form of trash collected during vesting of Menhaden in federal waters but have shown little desire to do so.
the yearly cleanup day in September Part of the reluctance is the recognition that to do so would probably result in
is cigarette butts (1,362,741 in the an uproar from the State of Virginia and more directly from Omega. Omega
United States alone). These are not
would claim such an action would put the Reedville operation out of business.”
only unsightly, but the filters are not
If such a regulation were applied to federal waters, and if the menhaden harvest
biodegradable, and can be harmful to
were to continue in Virginia, Hutchinson continues, there is a further wrinkle
fish and birds if ingested. As of last
year, Maine prohibited smoking on
to consider: “Concentrating all of Omega’s catch in Virginia would be devastat-
State beaches; and now California’s ing to the Bay’s ecology.” With menhaden stocks declining and media interest
Assembly has just passed a mea- on the rise, public attention to this “muddle,” as Hutchinson calls it, is bound to
sure to ban smoking in all its state rise. Less certain are the prospects for constructive policy improvements.
parks. This may reduce the problem;
however, beachgoers are not the only
ones tossing their butts - boaters are
probably worse culprits. Cigarette lit-
Courts & The Seashore
ter reduction at marinas is, however,
working. Last year, 30 marinas used Sewage leaking into Lake Bonnie from a system in a Maryland eastern
grants from the national nonprofit shore town that cannot afford to fix it has forced a campground to close and
Keep America Beautiful to buy made the owner, Gail Litz, face foreclosure, the Baltimore Sun said. She is
cigarette ash receptacles and portable suing to seek an injunction to force Caroline County and the town of Goldsboro
ashtrays for use on boats. The result (with 216 residents in about 84 households), to stop the leaking sewage. Litz
was an average 70 percent reduction also is requesting the county circuit court for $7 million in damages.
in the amount of cigarette litter, Boat
U.S. News said. The sewage pollution has been going on for fourteen years, the paper
said. It concluded, “Town officials have been talking about their residents’
Report Cards failing septic systems since the 1970s, records indicate, when up to half the
community’s systems were either known or suspected to be polluting. Another
Metachem, an abandoned chemical survey in 1985 found 79 percent of the systems failing, improperly function-
plant located on top of the Potomac ing or completely lacking sanitary facilities.” Composting toilets and greywater
aquifer near Delaware City threatens systems were a suggested solution in a comment filed on the story.
drinking water in the region, report
state officials. The reason: cancer
causing benzene levels of 26,000
parts per billion--5,200 times higher
than the federal 5 ppb drinking water With Appreciation
limit--were found in a 150-foot-deep
groundwater layer near the plant,
We offer the deepest respects to Godfrey A. Rockefeller, who died
according to the News Journal. The
suddenly in January, at age 85, near his home in Delray Beach, Florida. Since
paper added that some experts fear
that the contaminated water might
1998, reflecting his passionate concern for protecting the Atlantic shoreline,
reach public wells. At least 6 previ- Godfrey was a faithful and generous annual donor to Atlantic CoastWatch
ously undetected toxic or hazardous through his Madriver Foundation, and we owe him our great gratitude.
chemicals, some more than 100 times Especially generous donations to SDI were recently received from Hart Fes-
above safe levels, were found in deep senden, Lawrence S. Huntington, and Roger W. Sant. We extend warm
groundwater near the plant, “The appreciation for these timely expressions of continuing interest in our work,
poisoned land and water likely won’t and also offer warm thanks to these other recent donors:
recover in our lifetimes,” the paper
observed. Helen C. Evarts
Edward and Sarnia Hoyt
The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, Sally Barlow Ittmann
officially running from June 1 to Hamilton Robinson Jr.
November 30. will produce 14 named Edith N. Schafer
tropical storms and seven hurricanes, John A.H. Shober
said Oilonline.com citing Impact Clyde E. Shorey, Jr.
Weather, which estimates that 4 of Mrs. Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff
these might reach category 3 or high-
Sally Wardwell
er, The most vulnerable coastal area
Robert G. Wilmers
7
Marcellus Shale, Continued from p. 1 for a hurricane strike this year is the
stretch between the Florida-Georgia
Fracking is almost entirely a question of blasting high-pressure water border and Cape Hatteras, N.C.
and sand at the hard rock, but the companies also mix small doses of toxic chemi- Nationwide, Accuweather news
cals into the fluid, lacing the water with “special purpose additives” to ease the service predicted that 2010 will be an
process. Horizontal drilling up to a mile underground, as widely practiced in the “extreme season” with as many as 18
Marcellus, requires extra doses of these chemical supplements. named storms, a 100% increase over
last year. A forecaster in this service
Apprehensions are mounting about possible consequences of water sees a more active season than last
contaminated from the drilling leaking into groundwater aquifers and perhaps year because of a weakening El Nino,
threatening watersheds supplying drinking water to 15 million people in New warmer ocean temperatures, weaken-
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. A new, award-winning documentary film ing trade winds, and higher humid-
called Gasland provides graphic evidence of what can happen when gas leaks into ity levels that in 2009 Forecasters
water systems elsewhere in the US, showing repeated instances of household tap- Philip Klotzbach and William
water that lights up at the touch of a match, and chronic illnesses among people Gray, quoted in Environment News
living near gas wells. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) pro- Service, projected 3 to 5 major hur-
fesses to be “extremely concerned” about the possible environmental costs of the ricanes this season.
drilling.
Funding
Others sniff. An industry-sponsored Penn State University study
argues that “well designers exercise extreme care in well design to isolate any The District of Columbia’s 5 cent bag
fluids used in the hydrofracturing process from any potable sub-surface drink- tax (see previous issue of ACW) gen-
ing water.” New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation erated $150,000 during January. It
reports “no known instances of groundwater contamination” resulting from the is estimated that 3 million bags were
use of fracking technology in the Marcellus. The Ground Water Protection still given out in during that month,
Council, an Oklahoma-based coalition of state groundwater regulatory agency but that the monthly average previ-
officials, says that the “potential for groundwater contamination due to hydraulic ously had been 22.5 million, show-
fracturing is extremely remote: chances are as low as 1 in 200,000,000.” ing that the public is adapting to the
new law. The money will be put into
In a 2004 study, the EPA also concluded that fracking posed no threat the newly created Anacostia River
to drinking water. But, says the New York Times, that investigation was “rightly Cleanup Fund.
seen as superficial and skewed toward industry, which provided much of the
underlying data.” With requests for tighter federal regulation and oversight now Jesuits, present in the Chesapeake re-
emerging from many quarters, the EPA will soon launch a new and more careful gion since the early 1600s, established
study of the process. NRDC and the Riverkeeper organization recently sent a farms, came to own vast tracts of land
joint memorandum to EPA, citing numerous cases of adverse impacts from gas around the Bay, and, writes historian
drilling in Texas and in Pennsylvania, and stressing that the study should “not Kent Mountford in Bay Journal,
be limited to a review of existing literature and data,” but instead “must include were able to show Rome “the hand of
actual field study of the full range of lifecycle impacts associated with industrial God busily at work” on these faraway
gas drilling.” properties. The Jesuits eventually
withdrew from farming to concentrate
on their educational mission, found-
Florida Fishery Concerns ing Georgetown University and other
major institutions. As the “denoue-
According to the New York Times, about 165 licensed collectors are ment of this long story,” Mountford
working in Florida, principally in the Keys, to harvest a variety of creatures from continues, Maryland’s Jesuits recently
the reefs to provide authentic habitat for the estimated 700,000 saltwater home decided to divest large parcels they
aquariums in the United States alone. Live coral and many of its invertebrate still owned around the Bay, and
residents, such as anemones, urchins, crabs, shrimp and snails are collected not negotiated a $57 million deal with
only for their decorative value, but because many of them perform cleaning ser- Governor Martin O’Malley for the
vices similar to what they do on the wild reefs. state to acquire and preserve some
4,500 choice acres including plots
Now Andrew Rhyne and Michael Tlusty, both of the New England little changed in 370 years. One such
Aquarium, and other scientists, are raising concerns about the sustainability of property, the Newtown Neck Plan-
this fishery, which they have put forward in a paper, published in PLoS ONE, an tation in southern Maryland, says
open access journal. They point out that Florida is managing reef tank harvest- Mountford, “remains an enduring
ing as a single fishery, when there are many diverse species being collected. There example of the natural treasures that
has been a tenfold increase since 1994 in the overall number of individuals being drew the Jesuits, and scores of other
collected. “The once small ornamental fishery has become an invertebrate-domi- early settlers, to the Chesapeake.”
nated industry supplying five continents,” states the paper.
Atlantic CoastWatch
Sustainable Development Institute
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Washington, D.C. 20007

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Tax-deductible contributions for Atlantic CoastWatch are especially needed.


Checks can be made payable to the Sustainable Development Institute.

NY vs. Power Plant Water Winner for FL


It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River just 24 Final numeric maximums for phosphorous and
miles north of New York City. The first unit of this nuclear nitrogen in Florida streams have been put off by the EPA.
power plant started operation in 1962, but was shut down in The standards were to have been established in October of
1974 because of problems with its cooling systems. Two addi- this year but the agency agreed to delay them until 2011,
tional reactors were built in 1974 and 1976 and together they according to sunshinestatenews.com. EPA also agreed to
produce 30% of the electricity for New York City, accord- have a third party look at differences between their sci-
ing to Wikipedia. The original federal licenses for these two
entific analysis and that done by the state. Possible third
units are due to expire in 2013 and 2015, and a water qual-
parties are the National Academy of Sciences and
ity certificate is required for a 20 year renewal by the U.S.
EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board. Before the EPA’s
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
delay decision, Linda Young, director, Florida Clean
New York State’s Department of Environmen- Water Network, said, “The EPA is trying to stay in line
tal Conservation recently ruled that the obsolete cooling with the consent decree. Polluters want to delay because
systems at the two plants violate the Clean Water Act. They they think somehow it will give them an opportunity to
are known as “once through” systems, according to the New put political pressure on the Congressional delegation and
York Times, as they pull in 2.5 billion gallons of water a day whatever other avenues they are going through, but every
from the river, use it for generating steam and for cooling the Congressman in the world won’t be able to stop it. There’s
reactors, and then pump it back into the Hudson, untreated a court order. It’s going to happen,” southeastagnet.com
but 20-30 degrees hotter. stated. A federal court issued a consent decree agreeing
with the lawsuit filed by the Florida Wildlife Federa-
The intake also kills many organisms and fish, which tion.
get stuck in the filters. More modern systems, built since the
late 1970s use a “closed circuit” technology, which recycles
the water and therefore uses about 10% as much. Wanted: Guest Editor
Atlantic CoastWatch seeks the part time volun-
Entergy, the company that owns the reactors, is
teer assistance of an experienced journalist to identify,
now faced with either shutting down the plants or investing
in their renovation. It said that converting the cooling system write, edit, and lay out articles for this newsletter, half
would cost $1.1 billion and would require shutting down the time between June and December of this year. Office
reactors for 42 weeks. space, Internet connection, phone, fax, and supplies are
provided. Work hours are flexible, office located in the
The company is likely either to fight the ruling or ap- heart of historic Georgetown, D.C. If interested, please call
peal the decision in Washington, or both. us at (202) 338-1017 or e-mail susdev@igc.org with c.v.