Environmental groups have been critical of the White House for not going far enough in requiring the auto industry to make light duty trucks, such as SUV ’s, more fuel-efficient. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham has this report:
Environmental groups have been critical of the White House for not going far enough in
requiring the auto industry to make light duty trucks, such as SUV’s, more fuel-efficient.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
Many of the big environmental groups said the Bush administration’s plans to increase
the fuel economy standards for SUV’s by a mile-and-a-half a gallon wasn’t enough. The
environmentalists say the proposed standards will do almost nothing to make the nation
less dependent on foreign oil. Chris Struve is a market analyst for Fitch Ratings. He says
if the environmental groups want real results, they should turn their attention from trying
to regulate the auto industry’s behavior and instead try to change public opinion:
“It all comes down to consumer preference and frankly the U.S. consumer has
not demonstrated that they have a concern for fuel economy and until the
environmentalists can demonstrate otherwise, I think, you know, you’ve got to be very
careful what you do.”
Struve says few environmental groups are willing to push the hot button issues that would
change consumers’ behavior, such as higher gasoline taxes to make drivers think before
they buy a gas-guzzling vehicle.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
Growing numbers of Canada geese are taking up residence in the Midwest instead of migrating in the spring and fall. As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Annie MacDowell reports, government officials and environmental groups are coming up with creative ways to control the growing population:
Growing numbers of Canada Geese are taking up residence in the Midwest instead of
migrating in the spring and fall. As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Annie
Macdowell reports – government officials and environmental groups are coming up with
creative ways to control the growing population:
Canada geese are becoming a familiar sight on front lawns and in retention ponds across
the Midwest. Goose excrement is a nuisance to residents and bacteria in their feces can
make people sick. Vid Rapsys owns an Illinois franchise of the “Geese Police.” This
special force uses border collies to gather and frighten geese away from private property
without hurting them.
“Tell the dog to come by while it’s in the water. It’s going to swim in a clockwise motion
around the geese in the water. The geese become very unnerved when animals come in
the water after them. Especially animals that looked like they were stalking them on land
and now there’s someone after them in water.”
But Rapsys adds the Border collies don’t offer a permanent solution. Usually the birds
just fly a couple of miles away and settle in someone else’s lawn or pond. More
permanent options involve shaking goose eggs or covering them with vegetable
oil, which stops the growth of the embryo. But aside from killing geese during hunting
season, people are not allowed to harm a Canada goose. They’re protected by a law
written in the early 1900s.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Annie
Children who grow up in the inner-city often don’t know how the food on their tables is grown and harvested. A program at a farm has helped hundreds of kids in the Midwest learn about agriculture. Organizers hope the kids also learn a little about themselves in the process. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman has this story:
Children who grow up in the inner-city often don’t know how the food on their tables is grown
and harvested. A program at a farm has helped hundreds of kids in the Great Lakes region learn
about agriculture. Organizers hope the kids also learn a little about themselves in the process.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman reports:
Rockford, Illinois is a sprawling industrial center of 150-thousand. The aging rust belt city
battled a weak manufacturing economy. Its crime rate is higher than Chicago’s. And it’s where
11-year-old Astarte Goodwin spends most of his time.
“It’s not a bad neighborhood. It’s a pretty good neighborhood. As long as I don’t start trouble
nothing with the neighbors”
Astarte is part of a program called “Roots and Wings”.
It’s a joint project between a Rockford community center and the Angelic Organics Farm in
nearby Boone County. The kids visited the farm once a week this summer to learn the basics of
growing vegetables and working with animals.
The kids in the “Roots and Wings” program are all considered “at-risk”. They’re from low-
income families. Many of their parents are having problems with drugs and alcohol. Some of
their parents are in jail.
Barb Verni-Lau is a child and family advocate at the Northwest Community Center in Rockford.
“They have a harder time in life. They don’t usually come from two-parent families. And I think
the single-parent families that I have, the mothers are struggling hard.”
Under Barb’s leadership, the kids have been growing a vegetable garden on the grounds of the
community center. They’re using techniques they learned out at the farm.
Tadrick Tate is ten years old.
“Worms are good for plants because they, like, soften the soil and stuff. And they help the
But Tadrick and the other kids are learning about more than just worms and plants. The “Roots
and Wings” program is helping the kids’ social, emotional and educational growth. That’s
according to Mary Solan-Goers, a social worker at a nearby middle school. She says grades and
attendance are up.
“A lot of the skills that they learn in school come alive when they’re gardening. And I think
there’s a lot of pride in seeing something that they planted and watch it grow and develop. And
sometimes you have to deal with some things live and some things die and then seeing the beauty
of this and how they all work together to create this lovely garden. So I think there’s a lot of pride
goes with that.”
“To The Pumpkins!”
Out at the farm, Tom Spaulding has been showing the kids the finer points of growing vegetables.
The Angelic Organics Farm holds educational programs for children and adults. Spaulding says
the programs help people connect with nature, the earth, and the things that sustain life.
“The soils and the plants and the animals that are around us, the ecosystem that we live with.
so fundamental and so basic sometimes we overlook it. You know, there’s so many kids that
come here who they just don’t want to leave. They get so enthused and awestruck while they’re
here. So I see it everyday when there’s a group here, how separated we’ve become from what our
own sustenance is a lot of times. The closest many of us get anymore to food is just the
More than 12-hundred kids from Rockford, Chicago and Milwaukee have visited the farm over
the past few years. Spaulding says he hopes the kids’ experience on the farm will have lasting
“Hopefully on a basic level it connects them to life, to what it means to be alive and to what it
means to be a healthy person, to have positive relationships with those around you, that we’re
embedded in systems of relationships with people and the earth. And they learn a lot while
they’re here about what creates a healthy ecosystem, about what creates a healthy farm, what
creates healthy relationships between people. So hopefully they carry those into other
At the Northwest Community Center, it’s time to harvest the vegetables. Astarte Goodwin’s
hands are covered with dirt as he works in the garden the kids have tended all summer long.
“We’re trying to make the community better. Because before, all this used to be was a pile of
junk. I mean, I shouldn’t say that, but, but you know people used to throw chip
bags, pop cans, pop bottles, dirt. This just used to be a dirt yard.”
But the children in the Roots and Wings program have done more than simply clean up a plot of
land in a Rockford neighborhood. Because of their hard work, they’re taking home fresh
vegetables for their dinner table. They’re also taking home a feeling of accomplishment. The
kind of accomplishment that comes with knowledge and responsibility.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.
Keeping track of polluters in a country as large as Canada poses a serious challenge. Truckloads of hazardous waste cross the border with the U.S. every day, logging companies work near protected wildlife, and smoke from factories fills the air; but the Canadian government has a new weapon in the fight against polluters. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports on Canada’s growing team of environmental spies:
Keeping track of polluters in a country as large as Canada poses a serious challenge. Truckloads
of hazardous waste cross the border with the U.S. every day. Logging companies work near
protected wildlife. And smoke from factories fills the air. But the Canadian government has a
new weapon in the fight against polluters. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly
reports on Canada’s growing team of environmental spies:
“We’re just coming up to this facility on the right-hand side here now.”
Brad May slows down and scans the area surrounding a squat concrete building. It’s owned by a
company that was once under suspicion for illegal dumping. We’ve come here so that May can give
a sense of what happens when he places a company under
“As you can see, its a fairly old factory in a fairly industrial area in the north of Toronto
involved in the recycling and reconditioning of containers used for paints and coatings and
lubricants and that sort of thing.”
May pulls into a nearby driveway obscured by weeds. As he sips a cup of coffee, he looks like a
typical investigator – right down to the khaki uniform. The guy in the back seat, however,
probably wouldn’t get a second look. He’s wearing jeans and
a plaid shirt. And he lets May do most of the talking. His name is Mark Pomeroy. And, not
surprisingly, he’s the spy. Out on surveillance, he doesn’t have much to say. But he does point
out an 18-wheeler that’s
parked a shipping container in front of the building.
“You’ll notice here you have a container and the container has various bunch of
numbers on it. That’s very good information. What shipping line did it arrive from, who’s hauling
it as far as the carrier is concerned and you can find out if the items they’re receiving would
indeed be something we’d be interested in looking at as far as a potential violation is
Pomeroy searches for trends in industries where there’s an incentive to pollute.
For instance, if the price of pork drops, he’ll watch for hog farmers looking for a cheap way to
dump their manure, or mechanics might be offering great deals on freon, a highly regulated
chemical that’s used in
old air conditioners. That could prompt a visit to some local garages in search of illegal
imports. A lot of times, Pomeroy teams up with customs officers, the police and
Environment Canada investigators.
He says his job is different than that of a typical officer. He tries to anticipate the next
wave of environmental crime.
“Whereas they might focus on one specific case, intelligence would look at that and say, you’re
dealing with this type of a problem, is that prevalent with these types of companies…which in turn would say, okay inspections, don’t just
focus on this particular company. Look at A,B,C,D companies also.”
Here in his office, Pomeroy locks the door before he settles into a comfortable chair.
There’s a bit of a James Bond feeling here.
Secrecy is highly valued.
There’s even white noise piped throughout the building, to reduce the chance of being overheard.
As he talks about whistleblowers and anonymous tips, it’s clear that Pomeroy loves his job.
“I like law enforcement. I find it kind of a stimulating challenge to see somebody who thinks
they’re so smart that they’re doing this and they’re getting away with it, and it’s very gratifying to
actually go after that type of a person, exposing them and if it’s a violation, prosecuting
Pomeroy is one of six environmental spies in Canada and part of the only environmental
intelligence unit in the world.
The unit was created in 1998 to improve enforcement of the new laws enacted under the
Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
It’s a big job, but for Pomeroy, the best part is when he’s working in the field.
He cultivates informants – looking for internal whistle blowers and unhappy competitors. And
he’ll trail suspicious cars and conduct drive-bys on companies to gather information. Pomeroy
says his main goal is to find the big fish operating in the shadows of an industry.
“The big thing for an intelligence officer is to look at the unknown community. Are there people out there
who have never come forward and gone through the process of registering with us or gone
through the licensing or noticing permits? It’s up to me to see if they are actually out there
are they circumventing our regulations.”
But Pomeroy has been hampered by the fact that he’s the only environmental spy in the province
That’s soon to change. He’ll be joined by a second spy as Environment Canada doubles the size
of its intelligence unit.
That’s welcome news for environmentalists like Jerry DeMarco. He’s the managing lawyer with
the Sierra Legal Defense Fund. And his group argues that the Canadian government is not
enforcing its own environmental laws.
The group filed a complaint under the North American Free Trade Agreement. And an internal
government report backed up their claims.
DeMarco says the new officers are arriving at a crucial time.
“They need more resources for two distinct reasons. One is they haven’t had enough to enforce
the laws that do exist and also there’s been the passage of several new laws and regulations in
past few years that also require enforcement staff.”
For instance, Canada is adding new chemicals to its list of toxic substances. That’ll mean more
work for the investigators who track them.
Mark Pomeroy acknowledges it’s still a fledgling operation. And he’s spending much of his time
building trust – with industry sources, law enforcement, and even environmental groups,
but he’s confident that trust will translate into valuable information – which will make it
for companies that continue to break the law.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly.