ENEWSPF News http://www.enewspf.com/ Fri, 19 Dec 2014 22:29:13 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) UN Secretary General Ban Visits Ebola-hit West Africa, Declares Zero Cases ‘Must Be Everyone’s Goal’ http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57829-un-secretary-general-ban-visits-ebola-hit-west-africa-declares-zero-cases-must-be-everyone-s-goal.html
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia. UN Photo/Evan Schneider
MONROVIA--(ENEWSPF)--19 December 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that there is reason to be “cautiously optimistic” about defeating the Ebola crisis in West Africa, as he made a series of visits to countries most-affected by the unprecedented outbreak, which has sickened some 18,000 people and killed close to 7,000 others throughout the region.

During a meeting in Monrovia with Liberian President, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, to discuss UN support for the country to contain the spread of Ebola, Mr. Ban praised Liberia’s achievements to date, stressing the importance of remaining vigilant in the fight against the disease.

“Now is not the time to ease our efforts. We have witnessed how just one case can trigger an epidemic,” he said. “We have a long way to go. Zero cases – in Liberia and this entire region – must be everyone’s goal.”

Despite his call for caution, he also noted the slowing spread of the virus, paying tribute to the dedication and commitment of Liberians, which was vital in ensuring that the response strategy was working.

“More people are gaining access to treatment. More contacts are being traced. Burials are becoming safer. Communities are mobilizing to protect themselves,” he said.

Later in the day, the Secretary-General visited an Ebola treatment centre in neighbouring Sierra Leone and he again praised the response to the outbreak, singling out Ebola fighters for special acclaim.

“You are heroes,” he told the workers, “You have shown the most noble face of humankind. You have come to the aid of family members, friends, fellow citizens – anyone caught in the grip of the vicious Ebola virus.”

He noted the heavy toll that the disease took from caregivers, saluting their courage and offering condolences to the families and friends of all who have died in responding to the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Mali, including the renowned doctor, Victor Willoughby, a renowned doctor from Sierra Leone who died yesterday.

“The survivors among you have been to hell and back – and know intimately what it is like to be on the receiving end of treatment from women and men in protective gear,” he said. “All of you have helped to save many lives. Thanks to you, even many who did not survive were at least able to retain their dignity through their final moments.”

During both events, the Secretary-General underlined the global nature of the crisis and the strong commitment of the entire international community and the UN to tackling Ebola. In Monrovia, he described how the international response would adapt as the nature of the outbreak evolved.

“We need more robust contact tracing. We need greater preparedness at the district level. And the promising results that Liberia has experienced must be shared regionally to avoid the risk of re-transmission,” he said stressing the need to respond to the long-term socio-economic impacts by working on recovery at the same time as trying to stop transmissions.

“We must scale up our efforts to re-establish basic social services, strengthen health services, support economic activity and build up the country’s resilience. We are ready to help the Liberian Government and people to build your society, more resilient and stronger,” he said.

He concluded by emphasizing that the elections to be held in Liberia tomorrow offered the country a chance to show how far it had come after 10 years of hard-won peace and stability.

“This election will give Liberia and its people an opportunity to show the world how far it has come,” he said. “I urge all Liberians to do their part in ensuring that these elections are peaceful and objective; at the same time, to follow public health guidelines against Ebola to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

In other news, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported on ongoing efforts to tame the outbreak along the front lines of the current “hotspot”, the Western Area of Sierra Leone .The Government, WHO and partners, are sending in a massive surge of staff and resources to this area to intensify efforts to curb the spread of the disease.

The emphasis of the so-called Western Surge Operation is on convincing people to take personal responsibility for bringing this epidemic to an end – to put community before self. Ordinary people can save lives by calling the hotline to report possible Ebola cases or request a respectful burial.

The response targets Freetown and neighbouring areas to break chains of transmission by increasing the number of beds to ensure patients with clinical symptoms of Ebola are isolated and receive appropriate treatment.

“We are ready to give support to the teams who are investigating the cases. This includes providing hands-on support when they have challenges and difficult issues to solve,” says Dr Fikru Abebe, WHO epidemiologist involved in providing support to the teams on the ground.

Source: www.un.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:11:41 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57829-un-secretary-general-ban-visits-ebola-hit-west-africa-declares-zero-cases-must-be-everyone-s-goal.html
Nurses Voted #1 in Honesty, Ethics, Again as in 15 Previous Gallup Polls http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57826-nurses-voted-1-in-honesty-ethics-again-as-in-15-previous-gallup-polls.html

Nation's Largest Nurses Group Cites Greater Advocacy Role at Bedside, Beyond in Year of Ebola

Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--December 19, 2014.  In what has become a holiday tradition, registered nurses are once again viewed as the most trusted profession in the U.S., according to an annual Gallup survey conducted December 8-11.

RNs are viewed as having "very high" or "high" ethical and honesty standards by 80 percent of the public, a full 15 points higher than any other profession in the Gallup Poll. Nurses have topped the list each year since they were first included in 1999, with the exception of 2001 when firefighters were included in response to their work during and after the 9/11 attacks. Additionally, Gallup notes, "since 2005 at least 80 percent of Americans have said nurses have high ethics and honesty." Car salespeople, lobbyists, and members of Congress are rated lowest.

"We could not be more proud to continually earn the trust and confidence of the public," says Deborah Burger, RN, co-president of the nation's largest organization of nurses, National Nurses United, which represents 185,000 registered nurses in all 50 states. "In their most vulnerable moments, patients and families know that they can count on nurses to care for them—to stand up for them."

In 2014, RNs faced ever-growing challenges to safeguard patient safety at the bedside, ranging from flawed electronic medical record technology and unsafe staffing conditions, to fighting to keep hospitals open in underserved communities and securing proper protective equipment for front-line healthcare workers against the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, as well as the U.S.

A few highlights of the gains made over the last 12 months illustrate why nurses continue to earn the trust of the public year after year. RNs were at the forefront of:

Fighting for the highest Ebola safety standards
As the hospital industry dismissed nurse concerns, and the federal government failed to act, registered nurses stood up and demanded substantially improved safeguards for the Ebola virus. A global day of action by 100,000 RNs and health workers resulted in landmark mandatory Ebola guidelines in California, serving as a model of action for all U.S. hospitals.

Nurses march to the Federal Building in Oakland, CA on the National Day of Action for Ebola Safety

Elevating patient safety standards at the bargaining table and in the legislature
RNs won regulations in several states requiring hospitals to maintain workplace violence prevention plans and safe patient handling. Safe nurse-to-patient staffing protections are now part of all NNU contracts. Nurses, who are increasingly the primary breadwinner in the family, safeguarded comprehensive healthcare coverage, including retiree health and secure retirement benefit.

Campaigning for environmental and economic justice
RNs know firsthand how their patients can suffer from environmental toxins, extreme weather and other aspects of the climate crisis. This year, RNs played a leading role in opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, mobilized nurses from around the nation to protest the Detroit water shut-off, calling it a threat to public health, and sent a delegation to this month's United Nations Climate Change Summit in Peru.

Protecting and Expanding Medicare for All
This year, NNU members continued the fight for universal healthcare in town hall meetings, free health screenings, and legislative initiatives from Maine to California.

Championing the fight for Economic Justice with a Tax on Wall Street
With an economic crisis continuing to affect working families, seniors, and children, nurses stepped up the call for a tax on Wall Street speculation. HR 1579, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, the Robin Hood Tax, is a vital step towards funding the programs to redress economic inequality and address other basic needs.

According to Burger, a commitment to maintaining public trust and upholding high ethics, reflected in the Gallup Poll findings, is woven into the very fabric of nursing.

"We hold that trust with our patients and communities as a sacred bond," she says. "Patients and their families expect nurses to fight for them at the bedside, even when it conflicts with the profit motive of far too many hospital managers, insurance companies and others in the healthcare industry who put the bottom line above patient interest."

Source:  www.nationalnursesunited.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:00:38 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57826-nurses-voted-1-in-honesty-ethics-again-as-in-15-previous-gallup-polls.html
EPA Takes Action to Protect Public from Harmful Lead Exposure, Dec. 19, 2014 http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57821-epa-takes-action-to-protect-public-from-harmful-lead-exposure-dec-19-2014.html WASHINGTON –-(ENEWSPF)--December 19, 2014.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced 62enforcement actions that require renovation contractors and training providers to protect people from harmful exposure to lead dust and debris, as required by EPA’s Lead-based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) standards.

The enforcement actions include 55 settlements and six complaints issued between February and October 2014 for renovations performed on pre-1978 homes and child-care facilities. All of the settlements require that the alleged violators certify their compliance with RRP standards and, in most cases, pay civil penalties. In two of the settlements, the violators agreed to fund voluntary lead abatement supplemental environmental projects, which require the removal of lead-based paint and post-construction testing to ensure that no hazardous conditions remain. The settlements led to $213,171 in civil penalties and the violators coming into compliance with federal law. These recent actions are in addition to EPA’s settlement with Lowe’s Home Improvement in April 2014, which included a $500,000 civil penalty as well as implementation of a corporate-wide RRP compliance program.

"Children are most vulnerable to the dangers of lead paint exposure, especially those in predominantly minority and low-income communities, where housing is more likely to contain lead-based paint,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These cases to enforce the RRP rule are vitally important to improving compliance among companies that handle lead-based paint. This leads to safer communities, healthier children and a level playing field for companies that follow the law."

Lead dust and debris from improper renovation activities on properties built prior to 1978 is a major source of lead exposure that can cause lead poisoning. Although using lead-based paint in dwellings was prohibited after 1978, it is still present in more than 30 million homes across the nation, in all types of communities. The RRP Rule provides important protections for children and others vulnerable to lead exposure. Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.

The RRP Rule, which is part of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, is intended to ensure that owners and occupants of pre-1978 “target housing” and “child-occupied facilities” receive information on lead-based paint hazards before renovations begin, that individuals performing such renovations are properly trained and certified, and that renovators and workers follow specific lead-safe work practices during renovations to reduce the potential for exposure to lead.

The penalties in the settlements address the cited violations. Enforcement penalties also help deter violations by others in the regulated industry, and level the playing field for complying companies, since the fines help eliminate the financial advantage a violator may derive from non-compliance which, otherwise, would allow the violator to underbid its complying competitors.

Contractors that are certified under EPA’s RRP standards are encouraged to display EPA’s “Lead-Safe” logo on worker’s uniforms, signs, websites, and other material, as appropriate. Consumers can protect themselves by looking for the logo before hiring a home contractor, and by being generally aware of whether a renovator is following lead-safe work practices when working on their property. Those practices, such as what a renovator must do to minimize lead dust dispersion, are outlined in EPA’s Renovate Right lead hazard information pamphlet, available at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/renovaterightbrochure.pdf

Renovators are required to give the pamphlet to property owners and occupants within 60 days before starting any renovation.

Between mid-February and September 30, 2014, EPA settled enforcement actions with, or issued complaints against, the companies below. In the following settlements, the companies paid civil penalties in excess of $10,000, respectively:

· Student Works Painting, Inc. d.b.a. College Works Painting (CA) paid a $39,532 fine for violating work practice and recordkeeping requirements. · Manhattan Construction Co. and Ark Wrecking Co. (OK) paid a $24,038 penalty for violating requirements for certification, information distribution, ensuring personnel were certified or properly trained, and ensuring that a certified renovator was assigned and performed required tasks.· Z&B Holdings, LLC d/b/a Berry Door & Window (MO) paid a $23,300 fine for failing to comply with information distribution and recordkeeping requirements, and failing to assign a certified renovator.
· Goldman Enterprises Inc., d/b/a Paul Davis Restoration of Kansas City (MO) paid a $16,710 penalty for failure to comply with work practice standards.· Groen Builders, Inc. (NH) paid a $14,950 penalty for violating certification and information distribution requirements, failing to ensure personnel were properly certified or trained, failing to assign a certified renovator, and failing to comply with work practice standards.

· Tilt-In Window and Siding Co. / NJ Window & Siding Co. (NJ) paid a fine of $12,504 for failure to comply with certification, information distribution, work practice, and recordkeeping requirements.

EPA entered into expedited settlement agreements with the 22 companies below. These agreements allow violators to quickly resolve certain minor lead-based paint offenses (not including work practice violations) with a reduced penalty, typically $2,000 or less.· Tim Jones New Look Remodeling Co. (CT)
· Construction Education Foundation of Minnesota (MN)
· Holman Brothers Painting (OH)
· Think People, Inc. (IL)
· Gunton Corporation (OH)
· Builders License Training Institute (MI)
· Midwest Training Services LLC (MI)
· Kaplan AEC Education (WI)
· Vinyl Sash of Flint, Inc. (MI)
· Wonder Makers Environmental (MI)
· ETC Training Services Group (MI)
· Greentree Environmental Services Inc. (IN)
· AB Builders (CA)
· A&D Construction (CA)
· CF Contracting (CA)
· Cogent Construction and Consulting (CA)
· EF Brett (CA)
· Nema Construction (CA)
· Regency Construction (CA)
· Southland Management (CA)
· Welliver Construction (CA)
· Dakota Remodeling LLC (OR)In the following 27 settlements, the companies paid fines less than $10,000, generally because the penalty was reduced for an inability to pay. Every case obtains compliance with RRP standards.· CDL Commercial, LLC (CT)
· East Coast Pros (CT)
· Gerard Therrien (NH)
· Alstar Construction, Inc. (NJ)
· AZ Water Man Corp. (NY)
· JC Painter (NY)
· Raymond Demers (NY)
· APM Vocational Institute (VA)(Settlement)
· Moyer Holdings Corp.,T/A Window World of Lehigh Valley (PA)
· Santos D. Flores Svc. Inc. (MD)
· Windows R Us, LLC (PA)
· Clear Choice Windows & Sliding, Inc. (IL)
· Jim Knibbs Building & Remodeling, Inc. (MI)
· Michiana Window World, Inc. (IN)
· Richmond's Complete Home Improvement (ID)
· ACE Service Team, LLC (MO)
· Brackmann Construction Inc. (MO)
· Douglas Thoman Construction (NE)
· First Choice Builders LLC d/b/a Intext Builders (NE)
· Jaime Diosdado (MO)
· JDC Construction & Remodeling LLC (MO)
· Kansas City Home Doctor, Inc. (MO)
· MCB, LLC (NE)(Settlement)
· Mesa Enterprises, LLC (MO)
· M&L Construction Co., Inc. (MO)
· Aesthetica Painting & Contracting, LLC (CO)
· Vanguard Construction Companies, Ltd. (CO)
EPA issued Complaints against the following six companies:· John Fogg Jr. Enterprises, LLC (CT)
· Waterway Realty LLC (NH)
· Creative Home Builders (MO)
· Dynamic Construction and Roofing, LLC (FL)
· Matthew Andersen d/b/a Andersen Painting (NE)
· Zane Inc. d/b/a ServPro of Freemont/ NW Omaha, Inc. (NE)

More information about these actions is available at

More information about the RRP Rule and how contractors can get certified is available at www.epa.gov/lead.

Source: epa.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:42:44 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57821-epa-takes-action-to-protect-public-from-harmful-lead-exposure-dec-19-2014.html
Environmentalists Sue to Protect Water Quality http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57813-environmentalists-sue-to-protect-water-quality.html EPA charged with ignoring past court decision

WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)--December 19, 2014— The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) today announced they have sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen standards to prevent pollution from stormwater, one of the nation’s most widespread forms of water pollution.  More than a decade ago a federal appeals court ordered EPA to strengthen those protections, but the agency has failed to take action.

The dirty water that runs off roads, parking lots and other hard surfaces in cities and suburbs when it rains is the prime cause of beach closings around the country, and is responsible for fouling tens of thousands of miles of streams and hundreds of thousands of acres of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs.  In addition, sediment-laden runoff from forest roads threatens drinking water supplies and kills fish and other aquatic life.

“This inexcusable delay in obeying a clear court order is, unfortunately, all too typical of EPA foot-dragging on the crucial stormwater pollution problem.  The agency has repeatedly promised a much-needed update of all its stormwater protections, and repeatedly failed to come through,” said NRDC senior attorney Larry Levine.

The suit, filed late Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, charges EPA has failed to implement that court’s 2003 ruling ordering the agency to correct and strengthen rules for urban runoff that flows through municipal sewer systems. EPA also ignored the same court’s order to decide whether it has an obligation under the Clean Water Act to regulate runoff from forest roads that wash damaging sediment into water bodies. The ruling in EDC v. EPA resulted from a successful challenge brought by EDC and NRDC against EPA’s 1999 stormwater regulations.

“EPA’s failure to act deprives the public—and the environment—of the important clean water victory that EDC and NRDC achieved over ten years ago. Our waterways continue to remain at risk from stormwater pollution, which threatens public health, wildlife, and recreation. ” said Maggie Hall, Staff Attorney at EDC.

In urbanized areas, according to the suit, stormwater “picks up contaminants, including suspended metals, algae-promoting nutrients, used motor oil, raw sewage, pesticides, and trash,” that flows untreated through municipal sewer pipes directly into streams, lakes and the ocean. It is, the suit says, “one of the most significant sources of water pollution in the nation, at times comparable to, if not greater than, contamination from industrial and sewage sources.”

The appeals court found that EPA’s urban runoff rules for communities with populations under 100,000 don’t comply with the Clean Water Act because they rely on self-regulation by local municipalities and don’t allow for public participation when local pollution controls are being set.

Unpaved forest roads throughout the West are a major threat to water quality, undermining the billions of dollars that is spent on the recovery of native runs of salmon and steelhead, and harming other valuable fisheries and drinking water supplies.

In 2003 the court said the agency had given no justification for its failure to regulate runoff from forest roads and ordered the agency to address this issue.

In 2009, EPA announced it would undertake a major overhaul and upgrading of its urban stormwater rules, which NRDC and EDC welcomed as an opportunity for the agency to obey the court order on urban runoff. NRDC also encouraged the agency to promote green infrastructure—roof gardens, permeable pavements and the like—that would allow more rainfall to soak directly into the ground, and sharply limit runoff volume.

However, EPA never completed the new rules and recently disclosed it was abandoning the effort. EPA had been under heavy pressure from developers not to act.

EPA announced in 2012 that it was considering options for regulating forest road runoff, and that regulation may be appropriate. However, the agency has offered no timeline for a decision.

 In the lawsuit, EDC and NRDC seek a court order imposing clear deadlines for EPA to act. “We hope this suit spurs EPA to get back into the business of modernizing its whole stormwater program, which badly needs updating and could greatly benefit from new green technologies,” NRDC’s Levine said.  

Read more about this issue and the lawsuit, and find the pdf of the lawsuit at Larry Levine’s blog:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Source: www.nrdc.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:01:39 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57813-environmentalists-sue-to-protect-water-quality.html
Sierra Club Statement on Historic Lincoln Electric System Clean Energy Purchase http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/57812-sierra-club-statement-on-historic-lincoln-electric-system-clean-energy-purchase.html LINCOLN, Neb. --(ENEWSPF)--December 19, 2014.  Today, Lincoln Electric System (LES) announced that it signed 25 year contracts to purchase  73 megawatts of power from the from the Prairie Breeze II wind farm in Nebraska and 100 megawatts of power from the BuckEye wind farm in Kansas.  Both projects will be constructed in the coming year and start producing power in 2015.

LES estimates that the wind energy purchases will save the public power utility approximately $435 million. The savings from projected from wind energy contract also enabled LES to finance a five megawatt solar farm, which will be constructed west of Lincoln. This will be the largest solar project in the state of Nebraska.

LES is now on the path to receiving 48 percent of its power from clean, renewable energy.

In response to today's news, Ken Winston with the Nebraska Sierra Club released the following statement:

"LES’ investment in clean, renewable wind energy is an exciting step toward a better tomorrow for the city of Lincoln. This is consistent with Mayor Beutler’s efforts to make Lincoln one of the best cities in the United States. Investing in clean energy and moving away from dependence on fossil fuels is the best path we can take to boost our growing clean energy economy and protect our air and water here in Nebraska for future generations.

"This investment in renewable energy shows Lincoln’s intention to join Omaha in taking a leadership role in charting a healthy energy future for Nebraska. We applaud the steps they have taken to create jobs and generate economic benefits in this state.

“While clean energy is growing and expanding at an exciting pace in Nebraska, LES still buys approximately one third of the output from the outdated Sheldon coal-fired power plant, which pollutes Lancaster County’s air and water. LES clearly knows the power and potential of clean energy, which should empower it to continue to move away from coal.”

Source: www.sierraclub.org

Related Article:

Lincoln Electric System Announces New Wind, Solar Agreements

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:59:15 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/57812-sierra-club-statement-on-historic-lincoln-electric-system-clean-energy-purchase.html
Lincoln Electric System Announces New Wind, Solar Agreements http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57811-lincoln-electric-system-announces-new-wind-solar-agreements.html Lincoln, Nebraska –(ENEWSPF)—December 19, 2014. Lincoln Electric System has finalized power purchase agreements to add 173 megawatts of wind energy and 5 megawatts of solar photovoltaic energy to its power supply resource portfolio by 2016. These projects will increase the utility’s equivalent renewable generation portfolio to 48 percent of LES’ retail energy.

Mayor Chris Beutler and Kevin Wailes, administrator & CEO of Lincoln Electric System, today announced this as one of the most aggressive renewable energy portfolios.   

In addition to being environmentally friendly, the projects will also save customers money. “When viewed as a package, our wind and solar contracts are expected to save LES customer-owners approximately $429 million over the next 25 years,” said Wailes.

The wind additions are spread across two wind contracts secured with the same developer, Invenergy, and involve the 73 megawatt Prairie Breeze II Wind Energy Center, located in northeastern Nebraska, and 100 megawatt Buckeye Wind Energy Center, located in north-central Kansas. In August, LES issued a Request for Proposal for up to 200 megawatts of wind energy. LES received 15 responses encompassing a total of 105 distinct proposals. The selected projects will bring LES’ total wind portfolio to 304 MW.

“This is a very opportune time for LES to invest in more wind energy due to future uncertainties of federal Production Tax Credits for wind developers, potential additional regulations on power plant emissions, and the volatility of fossil fuel prices.” said Wailes.

The solar contract was in response to an LES survey which indicated customers were willing to support more local solar energy. LES implemented SunShares, a new program in partnership with customers to bring a community solar project to the Lincoln area. 

The 5 megawatt solar array will be located about 75th and W. Holdrege Street, visible from Interstate 80. LES will leverage savings achieved through its wind agreements to help supplement customer participation in the LES SunShares program, which allowed LES to obtain optimal pricing for the solar project.

This project will provide LES with valuable solar operating experience and will be the largest solar installation in the state.

“We have worked as partners in the landfill gas to energy project and the new electric vehicle charging stations,” said Mayor Beutler. “The wind and solar announcements today are another powerful demonstration that LES continues to move toward a more sustainable future.

LES also added 50 kilowatts of solar energy through a rooftop solar array commissioned in early December on the LES Walter A. Canney Service Center off 27th and Fairfield streets.

“As this industry changes, we will continue to find a way to balance our mix of resources, control costs, ensure the reliable delivery of power, and keep rates affordable for LES’ customer-owners,” said Wailes. “LES makes decisions to reflect the values of the community, including environmental stewardship through investments in renewable energy and the promotion of energy efficiency.”

Source: www.les.com

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:53:24 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57811-lincoln-electric-system-announces-new-wind-solar-agreements.html
Center for American Progress: Administration’s College Ratings Plan Will Ensure Quality and Value for Students, Taxpayers http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/57810-center-for-american-progress-administration-s-college-ratings-plan-will-ensure-quality-and-value-for-students-taxpayers.html Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--December 19, 2014.  Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, today issued the following statement after the Obama administration released its college ratings plan. Previously, Martin served as assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the U.S. Department of Education.

The creation of a college ratings system will make quality and value—for students and taxpayers alike—a central part of our higher-education system. This accountability system will help protect students from poor-performing institutions and ensure the integrity of our federal student aid programs, while highlighting our nation’s best-performing institutions. We all have a stake in ensuring college success and completion for our country’s students, and the Obama administration’s plan released today is a meaningful and responsible step toward better outcomes for students. We applaud the administration’s openness to additional input, which can only make the final rating system better.

Related Resources:

Source: www.americanprogress.org

Related Article:

U.S. Dept. of Education Releases for Public Feedback: A College Ratings Framework

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:47:12 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/57810-center-for-american-progress-administration-s-college-ratings-plan-will-ensure-quality-and-value-for-students-taxpayers.html
Center for American Progress Issues Recommendations to Begin to Reform Criminal Justice System, Police-Community Relations http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/57808-center-for-american-progress-issues-recommendations-to-begin-to-reform-criminal-justice-system-police-community-relations.html Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014.  The recent events following the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, and others at the hands of law-enforcement officials have brought into national focus a debate over the persistent inequalities of America’s criminal justice system—including police practices, the use of force and aggressive policing, arrest and prosecution policies, the severity of criminal sentences, and the disparate impact many of these policies have on communities of color. Today, the Center for American Progress issued recommendations to begin reforming the criminal justice system and police-community relations, which involve improved police training; data collection and accountability; repairing the fractured relationship between police and community; and, in instances where lives are taken, the promise of a diligent, independent, thorough investigation and prosecution, when appropriate.

“The failure to ensure that our judicial and legal systems treat all Americans equally has divided too many of our communities,” said Michele Jawando, co-author of the report and Vice President of Legal Progress, the Center for American Progress’ legal policy program. “Although the Obama administration has taken important first steps to address injustice and inequalities in our criminal justice system, more must be done to improve police accountability and reduce the degree to which the harshest aspects of criminal justice fall disproportionately on communities of color.”

CAP’s new analysis put forth the following four recommendations:

Increase the use of special prosecutors in police misconduct investigations. In recent weeks, the role of the prosecutor and the grand jury system has come under intense scrutiny, raising significant questions about the ability of local prosecutors to remain impartial in cases involving local law enforcement in the same jurisdiction. Whether by state statute requiring an out-of-jurisdiction investigator or state executive action automatically assigning fatalities cases involving police to attorney generals or special prosecutors, all states should adopt policies to ensure that all homicides involving police are conducted by a neutral prosecutor other than the office that typically works with the police department that is the subject of the investigation.

Enhance the collection of data on fatalities involving police. There are significant gaps in the collection and analysis of data related to fatalities involving officers; these gaps make it very difficult to assess the scope of the problem either nationwide or in individual states and localities. The federal government must improve the collection of these data—which federal, state, and local police agencies currently offer on a voluntary and often inconsistent basis—and require state and local law enforcement to provide detailed information about deaths caused by police.

Implement implicit bias training for all federal law-enforcement officers and state and local police involved in federal task forces. The subtle and stark differences that make up white and black experiences in America and the discrepancies in outcomes with similar circumstances between races can be interpreted through the lens of implicit bias. The federal government should require training on implicit bias in police academies and ongoing state and local departmental training as a condition of federal grants.

Increase the federal government‘s oversight of police conduct. The Department of Justice should take a more active approach in setting expectations for police conduct nationwide and ensure compliance with those standards by conditioning participation in federal task forces on the adoption of certain standards, policies, and training and through penalties in federal funding.

“As we move beyond the initial moments of outrage and frustration following these incidents, it is crucial that we seize the opportunity to take concrete steps to address many of the persistent problems with the criminal justice system that these cases have raised,” said Chelsea Parsons, co-author of the report and Director of Crime and Firearms Policy at the Center for American Progress. “We offer a few ideas for such steps, with a recognition that this is just the beginning of the larger conversation we need to have in this country about how to become smarter in the ways we approach crime and justice.”

Read the full report: 4 Ideas That Could Begin to Reform the Criminal Justice System and Police-Community Relations by Michele Jawando and Chelsea Parsons

Related resources: 

One Strike and You’re Out: How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records by Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich

Uncounted Votes: The Racially Discriminatory Effects of Provisional Ballots by Joshua Field, Charles Posner, and Anna Chu

Source: www.americanprogress.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:29:12 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/57808-center-for-american-progress-issues-recommendations-to-begin-to-reform-criminal-justice-system-police-community-relations.html
FDA Approves Lynparza to Treat Advanced Ovarian Cancer http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57806-fda-approves-lynparza-to-treat-advanced-ovarian-cancer.html First LDT companion diagnostic test also approved to identify appropriate patients

Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--December 19, 2014.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today granted accelerated approval to Lynparza (olaparib), a new drug treatment for women with advanced ovarian cancer associated with defective BRCA genes, as detected by an FDA-approved test.

Ovarian cancer forms in the ovary, one of a pair of female reproductive glands where ova, or eggs, are formed. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 21,980 American women will be diagnosed with and 14,270 will die from ovarian cancer in 2014.

Lynparza is a poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor that blocks enzymes involved in repairing damaged DNA. It is intended for women with heavily pretreated ovarian cancer that is associated with defective BRCA genes.

“Today’s approval constitutes the first of a new class of drugs for treating ovarian cancer,” said Richard Pazdur, MD, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Lynparza is approved for patients with specific abnormalities in the BRCA gene and is an example of how a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms of disease can lead to targeted, more personalized treatment.

The FDA approved Lynparza with a genetic test called BRACAnalysis CDx, a companion diagnostic that will detect the presence of mutations in the BRCA genes (gBRCAm) in blood samples from patients with ovarian cancer. The BRCA genes are involved with repairing damaged DNA and normally work to suppress tumor growth. Women with mutations resulting in defective BRCA genes are more likely to get ovarian cancer, and it is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of all ovarian cancer is associated with these hereditary BRCA mutations.

The FDA evaluated the BRACAnalysis CDx’s safety and efficacy under the agency’s premarket approval pathway used for high-risk medical devices. Until now, the manufacturer, a clinical laboratory, had been marketing this test, although not specifically for use as a companion diagnostic, without FDA approval as a laboratory developed test (LDT), which is a test that is designed, manufactured and used in a single laboratory. The new test is approved as a companion diagnostic, specifically to identify patients with advanced ovarian cancer who may be candidates for treatment with Lynparza.

“The approval of safe and effective companion diagnostic tests and drugs continue to be important developments in oncology,” said Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “We are very excited that the BRACAnalysis CDx is the FDA’s first approval of an LDT under a premarket approval application and is the first approval of an LDT companion diagnostic. The use of companion diagnostics helps bring to market safe and effective treatments specific to a patient’s needs.”

The FDA’s approval of the BRACAnalysis CDx is based on data from the clinical study used to support approval of Lynparza. Blood samples from clinical trial participants were tested to validate the test’s use for detecting BRCAmutations in this population.

Lynparza’s efficacy was examined in a study where 137 participants with gBRCAm-associated ovarian cancer received the drug. The study was designed to measure objective response rate (ORR), or the percentage of participants who experienced partial shrinkage or complete disappearance of the tumor. Results showed 34 percent of participants experienced ORR for an average of 7.9 months.

Common side effects of Lynparza included nausea, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, distorted taste (dysgeusia), indigestion (dyspepsia), headache, decreased appetite, common cold-like symptoms (nasopharyngitis), cough, joint paint (arthralgia), musculoskeletal pain, muscle pain (myalgia), back pain, rash (dermatitis) and abdominal pain. Serious side effects included the development of myelodysplastic syndrome, a condition where the bone marrow is unable to produce enough functioning blood cells; acute myeloid leukemia, a bone marrow cancer; and lung inflammation.

The most common laboratory abnormalities were increased creatinine, increased average volume of red blood cells (mean corpuscular volume elevation), decreased red blood cell count (hemoglobin), decreased white blood cell count (lymphocytes and neutrophils) and decreased platelet levels.

In June, Lynparza was reviewed by the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee for potential use as maintenance therapy (treatment given to keep cancer from returning). The committee advised the agency in a vote of 11 to 2 that the data did not support Lynparza’s accelerated approval for this use. After the meeting, the company submitted additional information supporting Lynparza’s use for a different use: in patients with gBRCAm-associated ovarian cancer who have received three or more chemotherapy treatments.

The FDA is approving Lynparza under the agency’s accelerated approval program, which allows approval of a drug to treat a serious or life-threatening disease based on clinical data showing the drug has an effect on a surrogate endpoint reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit to patients. This program provides earlier patient access to promising new drugs while the company conducts confirmatory clinical trials. Lynparza’s application was reviewed under the FDA’s priority review program, which provides for an expedited review of drugs that are intended to treat a serious disease or condition and, if approved, would offer significant improvement compared to marketed products.

BRACAnalysis CDx’s application was reviewed under the FDA’s priority review program for devices, which provides for priority review of devices that meet certain criteria, including that the devices are intended to treat or diagnose a life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating disease or condition and, if approved, would offer significant, clinically meaningful advantages compared to marketed products.

Lynparza is marketed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, based in Wilmington, Delaware. BRACAnalysis CDx is manufactured by and performed at Salt Lake City, Utah-based Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, promotes and protects the public health by, among other things, assuring the safety, effectiveness and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: fda.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:17:31 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57806-fda-approves-lynparza-to-treat-advanced-ovarian-cancer.html
Study: No Longitudinal Association Between Cannabis Use And Depression http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57798-study-no-longitudinal-association-between-cannabis-use-and-depression.html
Study: No Longitudinal Association Between Cannabis Use And Depression

Tel Aviv, Israel--(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014.  Cannabis use is not associated with increased incidences of major depression, according to longitudinal data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

An international team of investigators from Israel and Canada assessed the association between cannabis use, major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BP) in a three-year prospective study.

Authors determined that future incidence of MDD was not higher among cannabis users compared to nonusers. They reported: "Our results show no significant association between cannabis use and the incidence of major depression. Conversely, MDD was found to be associated with increased incidence of cannabis use. Regarding BPD, though crude associations were found between cannabis use and consequent mania/hypomania as well as baseline BPD and consequent initiation of cannabis use, in both cases these associations were not maintained in adjusted models of analysis."

Investigators concluded, "Our results do not support a longitudinal association between cannabis use and increased incidence of MDD; rather, they indicate an inverse relationship between the two, which may be attributed to self-medication factors."

Full text of the study, "The association between cannabis use and mood disorders: A longitudinal study," appears in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Source: www.norml.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:47:00 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57798-study-no-longitudinal-association-between-cannabis-use-and-depression.html
Obama Administration Responds to Center for Food Safety Legal Petition and Updates Climate Change Protocols http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57795-obama-administration-responds-to-center-for-food-safety-legal-petition-and-updates-climate-change-protocols.html

Washington D.C.--(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014 – Today the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released updated draft guidance for federal agencies on how to consider greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change before approving new projects.

In 2008, Center for Food Safety's (CFS) sister organization the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), filed a legal petition requesting guidelines to mandate agencies to consider climate change before approving projects. CEQ refused to answer the petition until CFS along with ICTA, filed a lawsuit in April, 2014.

In its initial response to the recent lawsuit, CEQ issued a formal interpretation that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) does require agencies to analyze climate change impacts. Today’s guidance is further detail and improvements on how agencies must analyze them.

“We cannot afford to put off tough decisions until the future,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of CFS. “Climate destabilization is the most pressing issue of our time, and CEQ’s action will ensure that climate change is considered in every major federal project going forward.”

CEQ is the federal agency charged with overseeing the regulations and implementation of NEPA, which is known as the U.S.’s “basic national charter for protection of the environment.” In 2010, CEQ issued its first draft guidance that proposed to clarify the requirement that agencies conduct climate analysis in NEPA reviews. That guidance was stalled, until CFS and ICTA filed a federal lawsuit in April.

The draft guidance will be available for public comment for 60 days. Click here for CEQ’s draft guidance.

Source: www.centerforfoodsafety.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:40:28 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57795-obama-administration-responds-to-center-for-food-safety-legal-petition-and-updates-climate-change-protocols.html
Drug Policy Alliance: Nebraska and Oklahoma Sue Colorado Over Marijuana Legalization http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/57792-drug-policy-alliance-nebraska-and-oklahoma-sue-colorado-over-marijuana-legalization.html Suit Claims Neighboring States Have Increased Law Enforcement Costs Due to CO Law and that Federal Law Trumps State Law

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—December 18, 2014. Today, Nebraska and Oklahoma sued the state of Colorado over its marijuana legalization law, saying the law has created an increased law enforcement burden in neighboring states. The suit, filed by Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, claims federal marijuana prohibition preempts Colorado’s law. Colorado voters decisively adopted Amendment 64 in 2012.

Statement from Tamar Todd, Director, Marijuana Law and Policy, Drug Policy Alliance

“This is a misguided effort to undo cautious and effective state-level regulation of marijuana and to undermine the will of the voters and legislators who enacted it.  Today’s action isn’t just a challenge to Colorado but to the ability and authority of all states to regulate and control marijuana within their borders as they see fit. It implicates the four states that have adopted ballot initiatives by decisive margins to tax and regulate marijuana for adults as well as the 34 states that have adopted laws to regulate medical marijuana.

“The Federal government itself has not challenged the regulatory law in Colorado nor did they choose to interfere with its implementation. To the contrary, the government has deprioritized enforcement of state-level marijuana reforms and acknowledged the interests that both states and the Federal government have in openly regulating marijuana. And just this past week, a historic vote in Congress barred the use of federal resources from interfering with state medical marijuana programs. Today's action is nothing more than an effort to cling to the failed policies of the war on drugs and interfere with a new common sense, less harmful approach to marijuana.”

Related Material: 

Associated Press

2 states challenge Colorado marijuana legalization, By Grant Schulte, December 18, 2014, http://www.seattlepi.com/news/us/article/2-states-challenge-Colorado-marijuana-legalization-5966391.php

LA Times

Congress quietly ends federal government's ban on medical marijuana, 'The first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana' Evan Halper, December 15, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-medical-pot-20141216-story.html

Source: www.drugpolicy.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:29:11 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/57792-drug-policy-alliance-nebraska-and-oklahoma-sue-colorado-over-marijuana-legalization.html
Driven by Climate Change, 'Nuisance' Flooding to Become Commonplace in US Coastal Areas http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57789-driven-by-climate-change-nuisance-flooding-to-become-commonplace-in-us-coastal-areas.html

NOAA projects that Boston; New York City; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; and other metropolitan areas will be forced to mitigate these nuisance floods earlier than planned

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014.
Floods like this 2010 one in Baltimore will become increasingly frequent occurrences, NOAA says. (Photo: Andy Mangold/flickr/cc)

By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas—including urban centers such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Boston—will likely be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year due to dramatically accelerating sea level rise, according to a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The paper, "From the Extreme to the Mean: Acceleration and Tipping Points for Coastal Inundation due to Sea Level Rise," was published Thursday in the American Geophysical Union’s online peer-reviewed journal Earth’s Future.

Taking into account recent projections for global sea level rise as well as local factors such as frequency of storms and the settling or sinking of land, the NOAA scientists found that 'nuisance flooding'—defined by NOAA’s National Weather Service as flooding between one to two feet above local high tide—will cross a tipping point over the next several decades.

"Coastal communities are beginning to experience sunny-day nuisance or urban flooding, much more so than in decades past," said NOAA oceanographer William Sweet, who co-authored the paper. "This is due to sea level rise. Unfortunately, once impacts are noticed, they will become commonplace rather quickly. We find that in 30 to 40 years, even modest projections of global sea level rise—1½ feet by the year 2100—will increase instances of daily high tide flooding to a point requiring an active, and potentially costly response, and by the end of this century, our projections show that there will be near-daily nuisance flooding in most of the locations that we reviewed."

The NOAA team projects that Boston; New York City; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Norfolk, Virginia; and Wilmington, North Carolina will soon make, or are already being forced to make, decisions on how to mitigate these nuisance floods earlier than planned. In the Gulf, NOAA forecasts earlier-than-anticipated floods for Galveston Bay and Port Isabel, Texas. Along the Pacific coast, earlier impacts will be most visible in the San Diego and San Francisco Bay areas.

(Credit: Earth's Future)(Credit: Earth's Future)

Mitigation measures could range from retreating further inland to coastal fortification to implementation of infrastructure such as sea walls and redesigned storm water systems.

Although the 'nuisance' classification doesn't impart much urgency, Earth’s Future editor Michael Ellis points out: "The paper also raises the interesting question of what frequency of 'nuisance' corresponds to a perception of 'this is no longer a nuisance but a serious hazard due to its rapidly growing and cumulative impacts'."


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Source: www.commondreams.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:13:13 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57789-driven-by-climate-change-nuisance-flooding-to-become-commonplace-in-us-coastal-areas.html
Enbridge Line 4 Spills in Regina http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57788-enbridge-line-4-spills-in-regina.html

OTTAWA --(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014.  The Enbridge Line 4 pipeline, a 796,000 barrels per day pipeline from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, has spilled 1,350 barrels of oil at a pumping station in Regina.

Council of Canadians Regina chapter activist Jim Elliott says, "It only took 2 minutes and 26 seconds to spill 1,350 barrels of oil in the latest spill in Regina."

Enbridge's Line 1 to 4 pipelines converge at Lake Superior and from there join with Line 5 which goes around the northern shore of Lake Michigan (and under the Straits of Mackinac) and Line 6 which goes around the southern shore of the lake.

It is not clear at this point how long Line 4 will be shut down because of the leak which is now under investigation. Enbridge said in June that it was building a connection between Line 4 and Line 67 so that barrels could be diverted to Line 67 during a prolonged disruption. Line 67 also runs from Alberta to Wisconsin.

Elliott also comments, "Another day, another spill. When will this stop? This is the second spill on this line. There was a spill on January 19, 2014 at a pump station in the south east part of the city, just 2 kilometres south of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology campus." For more on that 125 barrel spill, please click here.

This may not be the last oil spill experienced by the city of Regina. It is also on the route of the proposed 1.1 million barrels per day TransCanada Energy East pipeline which would run through the Harbour Landing subdivision in the southwest area of the city.

Enbridge is also the company behind the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would move 525,000 barrels per day of bitumen from Alberta's tar sands to Kitimat to then to be transported by supertankers on the Pacific Ocean to export markets. An Enbridge Line 6B pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan in July 2010 saw diluted bitumen sink in the Kalamazoo River. More than four years later and after $1 billion spent, submerged oil still remains in the river. Just last week Enbridge agreed to pay $6.8 million to settle a class action lawsuit against them for this spill.

Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s leading social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country.

Source: www.canadians.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:09:40 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57788-enbridge-line-4-spills-in-regina.html
Chevron Halts Arctic Drilling Plans 'Indefinitely' http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57787-chevron-halts-arctic-drilling-plans-indefinitely.html

Decision 'further proof that technical challenges of drilling in icy waters, where a spill is all but inevitable.'—Farrah Khan, Greenpeace Canada

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014.
"Polar bear on sea ice. Alaska, Beaufort Sea." (Photo: NOAA Photo Library)

In a move cheered by environmental groups, Chevron has put its plans to drill for oil in the Arctic "on hold indefinitely," the energy company said Wednesday.

It had planned on drilling by 2020 in the Beaufort Sea, but in a letter to Canada's National Energy Board (NEB), Chevron cited "the level of economic uncertainty in the industry" for its decision, Reuters reports.

CBC News reports that Chevron has already spent over $100 million on exploration in the Beaufort Sea.

NEB policy is that companies engaged in drilling must be able to drill a "same season relief well" in the case of an out-of-control well—an ability, according to the Financial Times, Chevron said was "not feasible." Chevron was in the process of creating an alternate to such a relief well and have it meet approval of the regulatory body.

The Natural Resources Defense Council warned that such an alternative would set "a dangerous precedent for the Arctic," adding that there is a "lack of evidence and testing, especially in Arctic environments" that an equivalent safety measure was possible.

The suspension of the drilling plans is good news for the Arctic, Greenpeace Canada Arctic Campaigner Farrah Khan stated.

"Chevron's decision to indefinitely halt its Arctic oil drilling plans is further proof that technical challenges of drilling in icy waters, where a spill is all but inevitable, push costs far too high to be viable, especially with volatile oil prices," Khan stated.

Miyoko Sakashita, Oceans Director with the Center for Biological Diversity, welcomed the news as well, stating: "The Arctic should be off limits to oil drilling. It's too hazardous to drill in the frozen, stormy waters—and an oil spill would destroy pristine habitat for bowhead whales, polar bears, and ice seals."


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Source: www.commondreams.org



shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:03:29 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57787-chevron-halts-arctic-drilling-plans-indefinitely.html
Wealth Gap Between Rich and Poor Americans Highest on Record http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/57786-wealth-gap-between-rich-and-poor-americans-highest-on-record.html

New analysis from Pew Research Center finds that economic gains of the wealthiest continue to soar as the middle-class and low-income families face chronic stagnation

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014.
"The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families' wealth," Pew Research Center finds. (Photo: Eli Christman/flickr/cc)
"The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families' wealth," Pew Research Center finds. (Photo: Eli Christman/flickr/cc)

The gulf between rich and poor people in America has hit a new record.

An analysis released Wednesday by Pew Research Center finds that the wealth gap between the top 21 percent of families and everyone else is the widest since the Federal Reserve began collecting such income data 30 years ago.

Last year, the median wealth of upper-income families ($639,400) was almost seven times that of middle-income families and nearly 70 times that of lower-income families.

Measured as the "difference between the value of a family’s assets (such as financial assets as well as home, car and businesses) and debts," wealth is an "important dimension of household well-being because it’s a measure of a family’s 'nest egg' and can be used to sustain consumption during emergencies (for example, job layoffs) as well as provide income during retirement," the report notes.

"The latest data reinforces the larger story of America's middle-class household wealth stagnation over the past three decades," the report states. "The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families' wealth, and the economic 'recovery' has yet to be felt for them."

The findings follow another Pew analysis published last week which finds that U.S. wealth inequalities along racial lines have dramatically worsened since the Great Recession, with the gap between white and black people at its highest in 25 years.

According to that study, which also looks at Federal Reserve data, in 2013 white household wealth was 13 times that of black households and 10 times that of Hispanic households.


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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:00:30 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/57786-wealth-gap-between-rich-and-poor-americans-highest-on-record.html
NY Medical Marijuana Draft Regulations Released – Regulations Do Not Include Provision for Emergency Access http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57771-ny-medical-marijuana-draft-regulations-released-regulations-do-not-include-provision-for-emergency-access.html Friday, Dec. 19: One Week After Death of Eight Year Old Donella Nocero, Patients and Caregivers to Rally Outside Governor Cuomo’s NYC Office to Demand Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana

New York –(ENEWSPF)—December 18, 2014. Today, the NY Department of Health released the draft regulations for the medical marijuana program. While full analysis of the regulations is still underway, an initial review suggests New York will be one of the more restrictive programs in the country, which could inhibit patients from obtaining the relief they need. For instance, the draft regulations restrict the number of brands of medical marijuana to five initially without any clear rationale. There are dozens of therapeutic strains of medical cannabis, each having benefits for particular conditions. Had such a restriction been in place in a state like Colorado, it very well may have prevented the development of marijuana strains beneficial to some children with epilepsy. Such a provision could prove to be a deterrent to industry groups. Patients and doctors deserve the flexibility to find which medicine works best.

Absent from the draft regulations is any provision for emergency access to marijuana for those patients who cannot wait for the system to come online in January 2016. Patients, family members and activists will gather outside Governor Cuomo’s New York City Office tomorrow to urge the Governor to establish an emergency access program for medical marijuana.

The rally comes one week after the death of Donnella Nocero, an eight-year old with brain cancer, who could have benefited from medical marijuana. Several other children, who had life-threatening seizures that could have been treated with medical marijuana, have died since the bill was signed into law in July. Since July, advocates have pressured the Cuomo Administration to create an interim emergency access program for patients who may not survive the eighteen months or longer that the Governor has said he needs to get the full medical marijuana program up and running. 

As part of a campaign known as #MyHolidayWish, families and patients are asking Governor Cuomo to show mercy and grant their holiday wish of emergency access to medical marijuana to stop the suffering and save the lives of their loved ones. Currently, these families are forced to break the law, move to a state where medical marijuana is legally available, or watch their loved ones suffer knowing that there is a medication that could help them. Patients and families will joined by HIV/AIDS activists, who understand too well the deadly cost of delaying access to potentially life-saving medication.

New York passed a medical marijuana bill that Governor Cuomo signed into law in July, but the Administration has said the program won’t be up and running until at least January of 2016. In July, Governor Cuomo issued a letter to the Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker urging him to do everything possible to expedite access to medical marijuana for children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.  More than 140 days later, the Administration has made little progress in finding a solution, and no patients have yet received emergency access. Draft regulations, released today, contain no provision for emergency access.

The Compassionate Care NY Rally and Press Conference will take place on Friday, December 19 at 11:00 AM, at 633 Third Ave., New York NY.

Families and Patients participating include:   

Maryanne Houser and her daughter Amanda from Suffern, NY. Amanda, who suffers from Dravet’s syndrome, a severe form of intractable epilepsy, stood next to Governor Cuomo when he signed the medical marijuana bill into law.

Missy Miller, her daughter Katy, and her son Oliver from Atlantic Beach. Oliver, who suffered a stroke in utero, has a severe seizure disorder.

Amy Piperato, MD, from Thiells. Dr. Piperato is physician and parent to a child with Dravet’s syndrome.

Roza and Tariq Kessaci from Scarsdale, whose sister Mellina needs emergency access to medical marijuana to control her life-threatening seizures.

Wanda Hernandez, Leader from VOCAL New York and person living with HIV/AIDS.

For months, patients and caregivers have been asking Governor Cuomo to take action to grant emergency access to critically and terminally ill New Yorkers. In a letter to Acting Commissioner Zucker in late July, Cuomo himself acknowledged the need to expedite access to children with treatment-resistant epilepsy. While the Administration has suggested that a very limited number children may be eligible for medicine through a pilot program, hundreds more children and other critically ill patients will continue to suffer. Some will die needlessly.

The Governor has several options for helping these critically ill patients. More than one company has said that they could get medical marijuana into the hands of the neediest patients within 90 days. The Administration could work with these companies, fast-tracking a producer in New York. The Cuomo Administration could also offer patients who acquire medical cannabis from other states assurances that they will not be arrested or penalized for using medical marijuana to try and save their or their love one’s life. They could use their considerable resources, power and talents to come up with other creative ideas to help save lives.

Frustrated with bureaucratic delays, patients and family members are asking Cuomo to use his authority to insure that no more families, who could be helped by medical marijuana, spend the holidays worrying about the death of a child or loved one.

Related Material: 

Channel 4, WIVB

Niagara Falls girl loses battle to cancer, Al Vaughters, December 12, 2014, http://wivb.com/2014/12/12/niagara-falls-girl-loses-battle-to-cancer/

Buffalo News

Donella Nocera loses cancer fight amid medical marijuana struggle, Aaron Besecker, December 12, 2014, http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/niagara-falls/donella-nocera-loses-cancer-fight-amid-medical-marijuana-struggle-20141212

Channel 2, WGRB

Family Grieving Loss of Little Girl, December 14, 2014, http://www.wgrz.com/story/news/local/niagara-county/2014/12/13/girl-dies-while-family-awaits-medical-marijuana-treatment/20377639/

Source: www.drugpolicy.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:26:28 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/57771-ny-medical-marijuana-draft-regulations-released-regulations-do-not-include-provision-for-emergency-access.html
Human Rights Watch: Obama’s New Approach to Cuba http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/57768-human-rights-watch-obama-s-new-approach-to-cuba.html Old Policy Counterproductive for Human Rights

New York--(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014.  President Barack Obama’s historic decision to overhaul US policy toward Cuba is a crucial step toward removing a major obstacle to progress on human rights on the island, Human Rights Watch said today.

Obama announced that the US would normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease restrictions on travel and commerce with the island. The president called on Congress to consider lifting the economic embargo that has been in place for more than 50 years. 

“It’s been clear for years that US efforts to promote change in Cuba through bans on trade and travel have been a costly and misguided failure,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than isolating Cuba, the embargo has isolated the United States, alienating governments that might otherwise speak out about the human rights situation on the island.”

The UN General Assembly has repeatedly called for an end to the US embargo. In October 2014, 188 of the 192 member countries voted for a resolution condemning the policy.

Despite some positive reforms in recent years, the Cuban government continues to engage in systematic abuses aimed at punishing critics and discouraging dissent.

In 2010 and 2011, Cuba’s government released dozens of political prisoners on condition that they accept exile in exchange for freedom. Since then, the Cuban government has relied less on long-term prison sentences to punish dissent and has relaxed draconian travel restrictions that divided families and prevented its critics from leaving and returning to the island.

Nevertheless, the Cuban government continues to repress individuals and groups who criticize the government or call for basic human rights. Arbitrary arrests and short-term detention have increased dramatically in recent years and routinely prevent human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others from gathering or moving about freely. Detention is often used pre-emptively to prevent people from participating in peaceful marches or meetings to discuss politics. Detainees are often beaten, threatened, and held incommunicado for hours or days.

The government controls all media outlets in Cuba and tightly restricts access to outside information, severely limiting the right to freedom of expression. Only a very small fraction of Cubans are able to read independent websites and blogs because of limited access to – and the high cost of – the Internet.

“The embargo has imposed indiscriminate hardship on Cubans, but done nothing to end abuses,” Vivanco said. “The Obama administration should make human rights a focus of its Cuba policy but look for more effective ways – including working with other democracies in the region – to press the Cuban government to respect fundamental rights.”

Source: www.hrw.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:26:39 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/57768-human-rights-watch-obama-s-new-approach-to-cuba.html
Rising Air and Sea Temperatures Continue to Trigger Changes in the Arctic http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57765-rising-air-and-sea-temperatures-continue-to-trigger-changes-in-the-arctic.html Arctic is warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth
Polar bears depend on sea ice for dens, food and mating. The loss of sea ice is affecting some polar bear populations and health. (Credit: Kathy Crane, NOAA)Polar bears depend on sea ice for dens, food and mating. The loss of sea ice is affecting some polar bear populations and health. (Credit: Kathy Crane, NOAA)

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--December 18, 2014.  A new NOAA-led report shows that Arctic air temperatures continue to rise at more than twice the rate of global air temperatures, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. Increasing air and sea surface temperatures, declining reflectivity at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, shrinking spring snow cover on land and summer ice on the ocean, and declining populations and health of some polar bear populations are among the observations released today in the Arctic Report Card 2014.

“Arctic warming is setting off changes that affect people and the environment in this fragile region, and has broader effects beyond the Arctic on global security, trade, and climate,” Craig McLean, acting assistant administrator for the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, said during a press conference today at the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. “This year’s Arctic Report Card shows the importance of international collaboration on long-term observing programs that can provide vital information to inform decisions by citizens, policymakers and industry.”

McLean joined other scientists to release the Arctic Report Card, an annual update provided since 2006, that summarizes changing conditions in the Arctic. Some 63 authors from 13 countries, United States and other nation’s federal agencies and academia contributed to the peer-reviewed report. This year’s report features updates on key indicators as well as a new report on the status of polar bears. Major findings of this year’s report include:

As sea ice retreats in summer, more sunlight reaches the upper layers of the sea, triggering increased blooms of phytoplankton such as here in the Bering Sea this fall. (Credit: NASA)As sea ice retreats in summer, more sunlight reaches the upper layers of the sea, triggering increased blooms of phytoplankton such as here in the Bering Sea this fall. (Credit: NASA)

Air temperatures: The jet stream pattern during early 2014 sent extreme cold air southward into eastern North America- and central Russia and extreme warm air northward into Alaska and northern Europe. Alaska recorded temperature anomalies more than 18 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) higher than the January average. 

Snow cover: Snow cover across the Arctic during spring of 2014 was below the long-term mean of 1981-2010, with a new record low set in April for Eurasia and North America’s June snow extent the third lowest on record. Snow disappeared three to four weeks earlier than normal in western Russia, Scandinavia, the Canadian subarctic and western Alaska due to below average accumulation and above normal spring temperatures.

Sea ice: The extent of sea ice in September 2014 was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. The eight lowest sea ice extents since 1979 have occurred in the last eight years (2007-2014). At the time of maximum ice extent in March 2014, there had been a modest increase in ice thickness and age relative to the same time in 2013. Despite this, there is still much less of the oldest, thickest (greater than 13 feet or 4 meters) and most resilient ice than in 1988, when the oldest ice made up 26 percent of the ice pack compared to 10 percent this year.

Arctic Ocean temperature: As sea ice retreats in summer, sea surface temperature (SST) in all the seas of the Arctic Ocean is increasing. The most significant linear trend is in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, where SST is increasing at a rate of 0.9 degrees F (0.5 °C) per decade. In August 2014, in the Laptev Sea, north of Russia, and in the Bering Strait region, SST was as much as 7.2°F higher than the 1982-2010 average, while SST in the Barents Sea, north of Norway, was about 7.2°F lower than it was in 2013 but close to the 1982-2010 average.

Greenland ice sheet: Melting occurred across almost 40 percent of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet in summer 2014; for 90 percent of the summer the extent of melting was above the long-term average for the period 1981-2010; and the number of days of melting in June and July exceeded the 1981–2010 average over most of the ice sheet. In August 2014, the reflectivity (albedo) of the ice sheet was the lowest observed since satellite observations began in 2000. When less of the sun’s energy is reflected by ice, melting increases. The total mass of the ice sheet remained essentially unchanged between 2013 and 2014.

Arctic Ocean productivity: Declining sea ice is leading to an increase in sunlight reaching the upper layers of the ocean, setting off increased photosynthesis and greater production of phytoplankton, tiny marine plants which form the base of the food chain for fish and marine mammals. The timing of phytoplankton blooms throughout the Arctic Ocean is also being affected, with more frequent secondary blooms during the fall. In June, July and August 2014 the highest primary production - occurred in the Kara and Laptev seas north of Russia.  

Vegetation: On land, peak tundra greenness, a measure of vegetation productivity and biomass, continues to increase. Between 1982 and 2013, the tundra biomass has increased by 20 percent. However, tundra greenness integrated over the entire summer shows a browning trend occurring in Eurasia, where summer air temperatures have also been decreasing.

The extent of sea ice in September 2014 was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. (Credit: NOAA)The extent of sea ice in September 2014 was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. (Credit: NOAA)

“The Arctic Report Card 2014 presents observations vital for documenting the state of the Arctic environmental system, understanding the complex interactions and feedbacks within the system, and predicting its future,” said Martin Jeffries, Ph.D., principal editor of the 2014 Report Card, and Arctic Science Advisor and Program Officer for Arctic and Global Prediction, Office of Naval Research. “Observing, understanding and predicting are essential elements of the Arctic Research Plan of the Inter-agency Arctic Research Policy Committee and the implementation of the U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic Region.”

A special essay in this year’s report card, written by the Norwegian Polar Institute and Polar Bears International, assesses polar bear populations in some areas where good long term data are available. The most recent data shows that a population decline in western Hudson Bay, Canada, was due to earlier sea ice break-up, later freeze-up and, thus, a shorter sea ice season. Polar bears depend on sea ice to travel, hunt, and mate, and in some areas, to den. Data shows that polar bear numbers had stabilized in the southern Beaufort Sea, after about a 40 percent decline since 2001. Polar bear condition and reproductive rates in the Chukchi Sea have been stable for 20 years, where sea ice is also declining though not as rapidly as in the southern Beaufort Sea.

In 2006, NOAA’s Climate Program Office introduced the State of the Arctic Report which established a baseline of conditions at the beginning of the 21st century. It is updated annually as the Arctic Report Card to document the often-quickly changing conditions in the Arctic. To view this year’s report, visit http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on TwitterFacebookInstagram and our other social media channels. Visit our news release archive.

Source: noaa.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:11:59 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57765-rising-air-and-sea-temperatures-continue-to-trigger-changes-in-the-arctic.html
EPA Announces 2014 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57761-epa-announces-2014-annual-environmental-enforcement-results.html WASHINGTON – (ENEWSPF)—December 18, 2014. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released its annual enforcement and compliance results reflecting a focus on large cases driving industry compliance and that have a high impact on protecting public health and the environment.

“By taking on large, high impact enforcement cases, EPA is helping to level the playing field for companies that play by the rules, while maximizing our ability to protect the communities we serve across the country,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Despite challenges posed by budget cuts and a government shutdown, we secured major settlements in key industry sectors and brought criminal violators to justice. This work resulted in critical investments in advanced technologies and innovative approaches to reduce pollution and improve compliance.”

In fiscal year 2014, EPA enforcement actions required companies to invest more than $9.7 billion in actions and equipment to control pollution and clean up contaminated sites. EPA’s cases resulted in $163 million in combined federal administrative, civil judicial penalties, and criminal fines. Other results include:
· Reductions of an estimated 141 million pounds of air pollutants, including 6.7 million pounds of air toxics.

· Reductions of approximately 337 million pounds of water pollutants.

· Clean up of an estimated 856 million cubic yards of contaminated water/aquifers.

EPA pursues high impact cases that drive compliance across industries:

· Lowe’s Home Centers agreed to a corporate-wide compliance program ensuring contractors nation-wide follow laws to protect children from dangerous lead paint exposure.

· The nation’s second largest natural gas producer, Chesapeake Appalachia, agreed to restore streams and wetlands damaged from its operations and implement a comprehensive plan to comply with water protection laws.

EPA holds criminal violators accountable that threaten the health and safety of Americans, while directing funds to affected communities:

· EPA’s criminal program generated $63 million in fines and restitution, secured $16 million in court-ordered environmental projects and sentenced defendants to a combined 155 years of incarceration.

· After EPA pursued the case, Tonawanda Coke was found guilty and required to pay a $12.5 million criminal penalty and to fund $12.2 million in community service in New York, for releasing benzene from its facility into neighboring communities.

EPA enforcement work reduces pollution in the sectors that impact American communities the most:

· Settlements with Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Electric Power Company are cutting coal fired power plants emissions, requiring companies to control pollution and conduct innovative mitigation projects that promote renewable energy development and protect clean air for local communities.

· We’re reducing dangerous air toxics released from industrial flares at refineries and chemical plants, requiring companies like Shell and DuPont to implement monitoring and pollution control technologies. These efforts are equipping minority and low-income communities with monitoring data, while reducing toxic air pollution for residents living near the facilities.

· EPA is working closely with cities such as East Bay MUD (California), Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (Illinois) and Miami-Dade County (Florida) to cut discharges of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater through integrated planning, green infrastructure and other innovative approaches.

EPA ensures companies and federal facilities take responsibility and clean up toxic pollution they create.

· Polluted sites across the country are being cleaned up while EPA conserves and recovers federal funds. This year, settlements will result in more than $453.7 million in commitments from responsible parties to clean up Superfund sites, and return $57.7 million to the Superfund trust.

· When abandoned munitions posed an imminent and substantial endangerment at the Camp Minden, Louisiana site, EPA acted to ensure proper cleanup and accountability by the U.S. Army.

Major cases developed in 2014, but not included in fiscal year 2014 statistics demonstrate EPA’s ongoing commitment to tough enforcement:

· A settlement with Hyundai-Kia netted a $100 million fine, forfeiture of emissions credits and more than $50 million invested in compliance measures helps level the playing field for car companies that follow the law, and helps reduces greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.

· The largest cleanup settlement in American history, with Anadarko and Kerr McGee, will put more than $4.4 billion into toxic pollution cleanup, improving water quality and removing dangerous materials in tribal and overburdened communities.

· A settlement with Alpha Natural Resources, one of the country’s largest coal companies, requires it to protect water quality in communities near their coal mining operations in five states.

More information about EPA’s Fiscal Year 2014 enforcement results: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-annual-results-fiscal-year-fy-2014

Source: epa.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:58:26 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/57761-epa-announces-2014-annual-environmental-enforcement-results.html