A recently released study has found fewer ducks and geese are dyingbecause of lead poisoning. The finding comes less than a decade aftershotgun shells containing lead pellets were banned. The Great LakesRadio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
A recently released study has found fewer ducks and geese are dying because of lead
poisoning. The finding comes less than a decade after shotgun shells containing lead
pellets were banned. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports.
Shotgun pellets sink to the bottom of waterways where ducks forage. So, ducks can
ingest lead pellets. In 1991 lead shot was banned. Hunters now use non-toxic shot. In
recent years researchers examined thousands of ducks to see if the ban helped. Stephen
Havera is a senior research scientist at the Illinois natural history survey. He says the
study found fewer birds have lead poisoning.
“Our estimate was that about 64-percent of the pellets that would
have been consumed that would have been toxic are non-toxic shot.”
After a century of using lead shot… researchers say the pellets are still in the
environment… but each year they sink deeper in the muck of the wetlands… making it
harder for waterfowl to reach them.
For the GLRC, this is Lester Graham.
A new study finds soot from coal burning power plants is cutting shortthe lives of thousands of people in the region. The Great Lakes RadioConsortium’s Lester Graham reports:
A new study finds soot from coal burning power plants is cutting short the
lives of thousands of people in the region. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester
The study finds fine particles from power plant smokestacks are causing
early deaths for more than 30 thousand people nationwide. Midwest and Great Lakes
cities such as Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis are listed among the top ten metropolitan
areas with the worst health impacts from power plant soot. Cities near power plants fared
the worst in the study. The study also confirmed earlier findings that power plant
emissions increase asthma attacks- and it found the soot might cause complications for
people with other respiratory or heart diseases. The Clean Air Task Force, which
commissioned the study, says two-thirds of the early deaths could be avoided
if Congress closed a loophole that currently allows the oldest, dirtiest power plants to
operate without complying with the most protective emissions standards.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
An international panel of experts recently announced that man-madepollution is having a much greater effect on global warming thanpreviously suspected. Despite that, the issue of global warming hasreceived very little attention during the presidential campaign. ButGreat Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston says weshouldn’t be looking to the men who would be president for leadership onthis hot issue:
An international panel of experts recently announced that man-made pollution
is having a much greater affect on global warming than previously suspected.
Despite that, the issue of global warming has received very little attention during the
presidential campaign. But Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston
says we shouldn’t be looking to the men who would be President for leadership on this
It was predictable enough. Democratic Presidential Candidate Al Gore managed to give
the perception of being green, without ever really trying the color on. As a senator, Gore
penned the best-seller Earth in the Balance that won him a reputation for being an
environmental visionary. But during his eight years in the White House, Gore has
done little to put his thoughts into action. The Clinton-Gore administration’s record on
climate change is particularly poor. In 1997, the world’s leaders gathered in Kyoto, Japan
to sign an international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon
dioxide the primary cause of global warming. Three years later, the U.S. still hasn’t
ratified the agreement, which is referred to as the Kyoto Protocol.
But Gore still wants us to believe he’ll be the environmental
president. Last week he personally contacted the president of
Colombia and told him he was concerned about the effect that plans to
drill for oil in the rainforest would have on local tribes. That’s
tough talk from a man whose family holds about a half a million
dollars of stock in a U.S. based company involved in the project.
Republican George Bush is even worse. When David Letterman recently
grilled him about air pollution. Bush’s big commitment was to say,
“sooner or later we’re going to have to make a significant change.”
That’s a strong statement from the governor of Texas. According to
the EPA, Texas leads the nation in the number of industrial plants
violating clean air rules.
So the winner is – neither one. But then again, I didn’t expect there
to be a winner. The very nature of government forces leaders to
compromise their values until there’s virtually nothing left.
But it doesn’t really matter on the grand scale of things. The United
States may be the most powerful nation in the world, but according to
the U.S. Institute for Policy Studies, 51 of the top 100 economies
are companies – not countries.
Which is precisely why a recent announcement by seven of the world’s
major corporations was so significant. They’re voluntarily committing
to make significant reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions
ahead of any government requirements. The companies have pledged to
reduce their combined emissions more than 20% below 1990 levels. This
announcement follows on the heels of similar ones made earlier this
year by Polaroid, Johnson & Johnson and IBM. They’ve all promised to
cut emissions by 25% below 1994 levels.
Compare all this with the Kyoto agreement which the government has
yet to ratify. It’s only asking for a reduction of 6% in carbon
dioxide emissions below 1990 levels. So Bush or Gore? It doesn’t
really matter. They’re both fiddling around while the planet slowly
The U.S. EPA estimates that in the Midwest there are more than50-thousand brownfields – polluted sites where the company that did thepolluting has either gone bankrupt or has simply abandoned thelocation. Next week, Ohio voters are being asked to approve a ballotissue that would let the state borrow millions of dollars… forbrownfield clean-up projects and for preserving greenspace. The issuehas sparked something unusual – a split among major environmentalgroups. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bill Cohen filed thisreport:
The U.S. EPA estimates that in the (Midwest/Great Lakes states)… there
are more than 50-thousand brownfields… polluted sites where the
company that did the polluting has either gone bankrupt or has simply
abandoned the location. Next week, Ohio voters are being asked to
approve a ballot issue that would let the state borrow millions of
dollars… for brownfield clean-up projects and for preserving
greenspace. The issue has sparked something unusual – a split among
major environmental groups. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bill
Cohen filed this report.
With video of a babbling brook… a TV commercial is asking Ohioans to vote yes on this
ballot issue. If passed, the issue would give Ohio the green light to borrow 400 million
dollars and spend it two ways — first…. helping communities buy land for parks, nature
preserves, bikeways, and walking trails. And second, paying to clean-up the polluted
industrial sites called brownfields. State legislators are the ones who’ve put the plan onto
the ballot…..and it also has the backing of several activist groups – for example, the
National Wildlife Federation, the League of Ohio Sportsmen, and the Ohio
Environmental Council. Jack Shaner speaks for the council.
“If ever there was a state that needed an environmental cleanup program, it’s the state of Ohio. We rank near the bottom in public access to public lands. We’re third in the nation for toxic releases. Only a little more than half of our rivers and streams are fishable and swimable. You know, it’s 4 million dollars before the voters this fall, we probably need more like 4 billion dollars.”
Just about every Ohio environmental group likes half of the ballot issue, the greenspace
part. But, on the brownfields part, there’s disagreement. The Ohio Sierra Club is
refusing to endorse the ballot measure. The group is staying neutral because it worries
that the way future brownfields will be cleaned up….is the same way they’ve been
cleaned up in the past. Sierra Club leader Mark Conte says there are two drawbacks that
muddy the waters.
“A lot of time with brownfield projects in that program the public is not notified that the cleanup is going to take place or how that cleanup will take place. Nor is there a chance for the public to comment on how that cleanup takes place. In a lot of cases there are weekend clean up standards. For example, in some sites the redevelopment does not have to clean up the groundwater contamination that might be in the site.”
Another major environmental group has so many questions about the brownfields part of
this ballot issue, it is actually calling for a NO vote. Citizen Action often sees the Ohio
EPA as an ally for polluting industries….so the environmental activists don’t trust the
state EPA to do the clean-ups right. Sandy Buchanan heads the Ohio group:
“We are very concerned that the money that the tax payers are being asked to spend will be used to try to put a coat of whitewash over the Ohio EPA. An agency that is suffering from dry rot, an agency that has serious enforcement problems. Particularly in the brownfields cleanup area, which this money is supposedly going to go for.”
The Environmental Council agrees with Citizen Action that the Ohio EPA could do a
better job…….but that’s why the council’s Jack Shaner says voters should approve the
ballot issue, not reject it.
“The more you have idle, abandoned, old former industrial sites, contaminated sites dotting the inner city, the more and more it’s going to push sprawl into the countryside. Eat up that valuable farmland. So it makes sense to redevelop the inner city. Ohio’s current program is not a good one, is not effective. Even businesses don’t use it. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves. We’ve got to fix that program. But it’s going to take not only a fix, it’s going to take money.”
Unlike critics of the ballot issue…the environmental council and other backers have some
big names and the money to publicize their side of the story. In fact, two of Ohio’s most
popular politicians are leading the vote yes drive – Governor Bob Taft, a republican,
and former Senator John Glenn, a democrat. The issue also has the support of Ohio
manufacturers. Greg Vergameni helps lead their trade association. He says cleaning up
brownfields will open up cheaper inner city sites for industry.
“The upfront cost will be a lot less. Instead of going out buying land, building new manufacutiing plants. They can go into a spot that already has some structure there. And as long as it’s a clean site, I can see some economic growth there.”
While Ohio’s environmental movement is split over whether this ballot issue merits
support……it appears it will pass. Jack Shaner of the environmental council says it’s
about the best thing environmental activists can realistically expect from state
“If were are to wait for every jot and tittle to be squared away, and the perfect plan crafted, we’ll be into the 22nd century, we can’t afford to wait.”
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Bill Cohen in Columbus.
Al Gore and Joe Lieberman look toward November
With the presidential elections just around the corner, many votersstill have not made up their minds about which candidate they’llchoose. One issue upon which they have a fairly clear choice— at leastamong the major party candidates— is the environment. In the second ofa two part series, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Grahamreports on the environmental views of Democrat Al Gore:
With the presidential elections (one week) away, many voters still have not
made up their minds about which candidate they’ll choose. One issue upon
which they have a fairly clear choice —at least among the major party
candidates— is the environment. In the second of two parts, the Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports on the environmental views of
Democrat Al Gore.
As the number two man in the Clinton administration, Al Gore’s reputation as
a green candidate has been damaged. Gore’s book on the environment, Earth in
The Balance, was hailed by environmentalists when it was first released. But,
now, almost a decade later many of those same environmentalists have been
disappointed by his lackluster support of their issues while serving as
Vice President. Gore’s been almost silent during the campaign on what could
have been a keystone issue for him. It was only a few weeks ago, during the
second presidential debate that many voters got their first real view of Al
Gore’s environmental positions.
Gore-1 “I’m really strongly committed to clean water and clean air and
cleaning up the new kinds of challenges like global warming. I— he’s right
that I’m not in favor of energy taxes. I am in favor of tax cuts to
encourage and give incentives for the quicker development of these new kinds
In a recent talk before a group of environmental journalists, Gore advisor
Katy McGinty went even further, comparing the record of her candidate with
that of Republican George Bush.
“The records, the plans, the proposals, the commitments are clear.
rhetoric aside, the reality is that al gore has been a lifelong committed
servant to public health protections and the environment. George Bush has
put the polluters above the people, the special interests before the common
interests. In Al Gore’s hands the environment has been and will be safe.”
And McGinty says under a President Gore, the environment would become even
safer. Gore, she says, wants the US to lead the way in reducing the
pollution that causes global warming. He wants the government to help the
Big Three auto manufacturers build cars that pollute less– or not at all.
He wants the government to preserve big tracts of land for wildlife. Gore
believes the federal government can and should lead the way in protecting
However, George Bush uses those kinds of ideas to draw a line of distinction
between himself and Al Gore. Bush says Gore’s plans show he wants the
federal government to take an activists role in restricting pollution and
protecting the environment. Governor Bush says more of the decisions should
be made at the state and local levels.
Christopher Demuth is George Bush’s environmental advisor. Demuth also
spoke to the gathering of environmental journalists. He told them Al Gore is
a romantic environmentalist.
“Romantic environmentalism consists largely of denying the reality
of practical policy— policy making. It’s modus operandi is the dramatic
claim of impending catastrophe and the moralistic attack on anyone who makes
a compromise in the pursuit of environmental progress.”
In contrast, Demuth says Governor Bush is a practical environmentalist who
compromises when it makes sense.
Vice-president gore, though, says the Bush campaign is framing the issue in
the wrong way.
“I think that holding on to the old ways and the old argument that
The environment and the economy are in conflict is really outdated. We have
to be bold. We have to provide leadership. Now, it’s true that we disagree
on this. The Governor said he doesn’t think this problem is necessarily
caused by people. He’s for letting the oil companies into the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge. Houston’s just become the smoggiest city in the
country and Texas is number one in industrial pollution. We have a very
different outlook. And I’ll tell you this, I will fight for a clean
environment in ways that strengthen our economy.”
Early in his campaign Gore was criticized for allowing environmental
compromises during the Clinton administration. Some environmental groups say
Gore backed away from his earlier positions on the environment. However… in
the general campaign… many of those groups have put aside their differences
with Al Gore… and now support his candidacy. They say that even if Gore only
lives up to half of his promises, he’ll do more for their issues than a Bush
White House ever would.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
George Bush and Dick Cheney look toward November
With the presidential campaign nearing an end the airwaves are filledwith ads rich in impressions, but short on substance. This can leavevoters scratching their heads and wondering what the candidates reallybelieve, but both Al Gore and George Bush do have positions on theenvironment. In the first of a two-part series the Great Lakes RadioConsortium’s Lester Graham reports on the environmental views ofRepublican George Bush:
With the presidential campaign nearing an end, the airwaves are filled with ads rich in
impressions, but short on substance. This can leave voters scratching their heads and
wondering what the candidates really believe. But both Al Gore and George Bush do
have positions on the environment. In the first of a two-part series, the Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports on the environmental views of Republican
It’s rare that George W. Bush talks about the environment, but when he does,
He compares himself to most other republicans, who believe in fewer federal
mandates on environmental issues. And… he says state and local governments
should have more control over the rules and regulations that affect
business. During the second presidential debate, Bush explained himself this
way: he believes the federal government should set standards for the
environment, but not dictate how states and businesses reduce pollution…
“It starts with working in a collaborative effort with states and
local folks. You know, if you own the land, everyday is earth day. And, uh,
people care a lot about their land and care about their environment. Not all
wisdom is in Washington, D.C. on this issue.”
Bush says this struggle between federal and local control is the fundamental
difference between his approach and Democrat Al Gore’s approach to
In a recent debate between environmental advisors for the bush and gore
campaigns, Christopher de-Muth spent a great deal of time trying to place
his candidate’s views into a historical perspective. De-muth, who advises
George Bush, says there are major differences between the environmental
philosophies of Bush and Al Gore. Demuth says Gore’s is a pie-in-the-sky,
impractical view, while Bush’s is one that considers political realities and
“George Bush is a practical environmentalist. Al Gore is a romantic
environmentalist. We are today in the world of practical environmentalism
and romantic environmentalism of the Gore variety is increasingly out of
step with politics and economics, dysfunctional and counter-productive.”
De-muth says as governor of Texas, George Bush has dealt with environmental
problems by devising practical compromises. And he says Bush has also worked
with businesses to find the best ways to reduce pollution. And while Bush
has been doing all that, says de-muth, his opponent, Al Gore, has been
preaching a different view of the environment… one that speaks of impending
catastrophe, and that becomes self-righteously indignant toward anyone who
suggests a compromise.
Many environmentalists have questioned governor Bush’s record in Texas. They
say pollution has gone nearly unabated… and that the governor has appointed
big industry employees to head up the state’s regulatory agencies. But
George Bush says he is an environmentalist… or more precisely a
conservationist. He says he wants to protect the environment just as much as
“I think both of us care a lot about the environment. We may have
different approaches. We may have different approaches in terms of how we
deal with local folks.”
But the Gore camp says the differences between the two candidates are not
just a simple matter of different approaches. Katy McGinty is Al Gore’s
chief environmental advisor. She scoffs at Bush’s statements that he wants
to protect the environment.
“Governor Bush would have us believe that he too is an
environmentalist. He just has a different approach, a different philosophy.
Bunk! No one holds a candle to Al Gore when it comes to thinking of and
pursuing new and innovative strategies on the environment, reinventing the
way we achieve environmental progress.”
Bush’s environmental advisor says McGinty’s claims that George Bush is not
an environmentalist at all is the kind of condemnation typical of romantic
environmentalists. Christopher de-muth says that’s something governor bush
has overcome because of his political experience in Texas.
“I know that he feels the tug of romantic environmentalism, that
He is in his personal life a strong conservationist, but he has been the
Governor of a large, urbanized, industrialized state, which has a lot of
Pollution control challenges and where he has had to face the practicalities
On a day to day basis for several years.”
De-muth says if elected to the white house… George Bush would deal with
environmental issues much as he has in Texas… finding a balance between the
economic interests of industry and environmental protection… and making most
of the decisions on how to strike that balance at the local level.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
For perhaps the first time ever, scientists have looked at whatenvironmental indicators are being collected for Lake Michigan. Theysay the results of their inventory are not good. And they say the otherlakes are likely facing similar problems. The Great Lakes RadioConsortium’s Dale Willman reports:
For perhaps the first time ever, scientists have looked at what environmental indicators
are being collected for Lake Michigan. They say the results of their inventory are not
good. And they say the other lakes are likely facing similar problems. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Dale Willman reports.
Scientists use indicators, such as water quality and toxin levels, to gauge the overall
health of the Great Lakes. So workers with the Great Lakes Commission tried to
come up with a complete list of those indicators. Ric Lawson says they found two
problems. First, some much needed indicators are apparently not being collected…
“Terrestrial and aquatic habitat, amphibian diversity and abundance is, is
very unknown, and the deposition of air toxins.”
The second problem is, no one knows for sure who’s collecting what. Although this
inventory just involved Lake Michigan, Lawson says the other lakes face similar
problems. So the researchers are calling for a centralized location for data collection, and
better coordination between monitoring programs. For the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium, I’m Dale Willman.
Environmental monitoring is an important way scientists can gauge thehealth of the Great Lakes. Yet according to a new study, the monitoringof at least one of the lakes is not being done well enough. The GreatLakes Radio Consortium’s Dale Willman reports:
Environmental monitoring is an important way scientists can gauge the health of the
Great Lakes. Yet according to a new study, the monitoring of at least one of the lakes is
not being done well enough. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Dale Willman
Monitoring an ecosystem such as the Great Lakes means collecting data for a
number of indicators over a period of time. Scientists then use that data to
determine the system’s health…
“It gives us baseline information so that we know if a change has taken place in
the environment, and helps us to identify what the source of that change is.”
Ric Lawson is part of a team that attempted to do a complete inventory of indicators
for Lake Michigan. He says they had two major problems – the first is that some
observations simply are not being made. But perhaps most importantly, he says,
those that are being made are not being collected all in one place, so people can find
them. And the other lakes apparently face the same problems. The researchers are
recommending that a central data collection point be established.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Dale Willman.
The sinking of military ships – both in peacetime and in war creates amyriad of problems. In addition to the strategic loss, they often posesignificant environmental threats. The sinking of the Russiansubmarine, Kursk, and concern over its nuclear reactor is a recentexample of this. But as Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentatorSuzanne Elston has discovered, a new project plans to deliberately sinka Canadian naval vessel in Lake Ontario to help improve the marineenvironment:
The sinking of military ships – both in peacetime and in war – creates a myriad of
problems. In addition to the strategic loss, they often pose significant environmental
threats. The sinking of the Russian submarine, Kursk, and concern over its nuclear
reactor is a recent example of this. But as Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator
Suzanne Elston has discovered, a new project plans to deliberately sink a Canadian naval
vessel in the Lake Ontario to help improve the marine environment.
The project gives a whole new meaning to the old phrase, ‘turning
swords into ploughshares.” A group of scuba divers wants to sink an
old naval vessel and turn it into a multi-purpose artificial reef.
The decommissioned naval destroyer Nipigon will provide a habitat for
fish and aquatic vegetation, a hotspot for anglers and an interesting
site for scuba divers. The vessel will also become an underwater
classroom for marine archeology and environmental studies students,
as well as a research site for biologists and ecologists. The Nipigon
will even provide an interesting underwater location for movie and
What’s nice about the plan is that the wreck site will be free and
open to everyone. And although the Nipigon is A Canadian ship, going
down in Canadian waters, the project is gaining international
attention. In fact, much of the funding comes from Project AWARE – a
California based scuba association dedicated to preserving the
It may seem ironic that this project falls so closely on the heels of
the Kursk sinking. So much international attention has been focused
on the possibility of raising the radioactive ship and her dead crew.
But while The Nipigon will be the first Canadian warship to be
deliberately sunk in the Great Lakes, there have already been several
successful sinkings off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Last year
the Canadian warship Yukon was decommissioned and bought by a San
Diego based group. It was sunk off the coast of California in June.
Right now, the only hold-up to the Nipigon project is red tape. Once
the ship is decommissioned and any environmental hazards such as fuel
oil are removed, it can then be sold and shipped up the St. Lawrence
to Lake Ontario. Then the fun part begins. A demolition expert will
carefully set charges above and below the waterline and then, boom.
Down she goes. So if all goes well, this newest Great Lakes
attraction will be open about this time next year. Anyone for a swim?