A new, national effort to protect aquatic species and habitats could bring needed cooperation between state and federal agencies. Individual states aren’t able to deal with the problems themselves, but say the newly-formed coalition of partners might help. The GLRC’s Kaomi Goetz reports:
A new, national effort to protect aquatic species and habitats could bring
needed cooperation between state and federal agencies. Individual states
aren’t able to deal with the problems themselves, but say the newly-
formed coalition of partners might help. The GLRC’s Kaomi Goetz
The goal of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan is to clean up the
nation’s rivers, lakes and coastal areas. It also seeks to protect the more
than 800 different kinds of native fish from extinction. The plan is based
on an earlier successful model focused on the nation’s waterfowl.
Federal agencies, industry, tribal and non-profits groups have signed on.
So have several state Department of Natural Resources. Gary Whelan is
with the Michigan DNR, one of the agencies that’s signed on.
“When you’re trying to deal with things like water quantity in a system, and you
have a 100 dam owners you’re trying to communicate with, a couple
(state) agencies can’t possibly do that, nor do we have the financial
resources so you really need a broad-based coalition of people.”
Whelan says the initiative will mean a lot more money for states to
address water quality problems and fish habitat.
Organizers are creating a national board to coordinate all the efforts.
A recent study finds that the benefits of eating fish could outweigh the harmful effects of slightly elevated levels of mercury in the body. The GLRC’s Christina Shockley reports:
A recent study finds that the benefits of eating fish could outweigh the
harmful effects of slightly elevated levels of mercury in the body. The
GLRC’s Christina Shockley reports:
Mercury from air pollution falls into the water and accumulates in fish.
The toxin can cause health problems and birth defects.
John Dellinger is from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. He
spent 12-years looking at Native Americans, who tend to eat 10 times
more fish than the average American. He says participants had higher
than average levels of mercury in their bodies, but reported few cases of
illness or infection. Dellinger says one reason could be they types of fish
“They’re eating primarily a wide variety of fish, and predominantly a
moderate size fish. This is different than the sport fishing person who
goes out on the Great Lakes and is going for the really big fish.”
Dellinger says big fish tend to contain more mercury. He says it’s not
known exactly how much mercury is harmful, but the federal
government says women of child-bearing age, and children, should eat
only two servings per week of fish that are low in mercury.
Ten states are suing the U.S EPA over emission standards for power plants. Part of the lawsuit is aimed at air pollution that might lead to global warming. The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
Ten states are suing the U.S EPA over emission standards for power
plants. Part of the lawsuit is aimed at air pollution that might lead to
global warming. The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
The Clean Air Act tells the EPA to revise emission standards for new
pollutants every eight years. The federal agency put out updated
regulations earlier this year, but some states argue the EPA failed to
regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
CO2 is believed to contribute to global warming. Wisconsin Attorney
General Peg Lautenschlager says there’s a scientific consensus that
increasing global temperatures will cause many problems with storms,
pollution and agriculture.
“So from that standpoint we think that the CO2 emissions issue particularly is
one where we need to get up to speed in the United States.”
The EPA defends its climate protection programs and says it’s following
President Bush’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases.
The sound of train horns is loud and makes your cover your ears.
Now, there is a different kind of horn, the wayside train horn, that could make all that sound a little less noisy. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation)
The sound of a train blowing its horn is an unavoidable part of life in many communities. One town is taking steps to make trains a little less intrusive on the lives of people who live near the tracks. The GLRC’s Chris Lehman reports:
The sound of a train blowing its horn is an unavoidable part of life in
many communities. One town is taking steps to make trains a little less
intrusive on the lives of people who live near the tracks. The GLRC’s
Chris Lehman reports:
About 80 freight trains roll through this crossing every day. They’re not
(Sound of train horn)
That’s what a Union Pacific locomotive sounds like as it rolls through
this city in northern Illinois.
Now, here’s a different kind of train whistle:
(Sound of a wayside train horn)
That’s something called a wayside horn. The City of DeKalb is seeking
permission to install these horns at four of the seven street crossings
along the main Union Pacific east-west tracks through the city. The
other streets would have upgraded crossing gates. The goal would be to
eliminate the need for most engines to blow their horns as they pass
The wayside horns themselves aren’t much quieter than a regular train
horn. After all, they’re not supposed to be quiet. Cars and pedestrians
would still be warned about oncoming trains. The difference is that a
train sounds its horn as it approaches the crossing.
The wayside horn stays at the crossing. The theory is that a wayside
horn directs its sound down the street…it’s not the indiscriminate
blasting that interrupts people who live in houses that happen to be near
the tracks but nowhere near a crossing.
(Sound of walkie-talkie)
DeKalb City Engineer Joel Maurer recently set up a wayside horn and
walked through a residential neighborhood to test the theory. This is
what a wayside horn sounds like a block away from the tracks, but on the
same street as a crossing:
(Sound of wayside horn)
Now, this is what a wayside horn sounds like a block away from the
tracks, but on a street where there isn’t a crossing. You’ll have to listen
(Sound of walkie-talkie, then faint sound of horn)
If you’re having trouble hearing it…well, that’s kind of the point.
Now, here’s what a train horn sounds like at that same street corner:
(Sound of train horn)
The City’s tests found that in areas a block or more away from the tracks,
the wayside horns measured some ten decibels lower than train horns,
but the wayside horns won’t make a difference in just residential
Jennifer Groce is director of Main Street DeKalb, a downtown advocacy
organization. Her office is about a block from the tracks. She says she’s
looking forward to the switch to wayside horns…
“Any help to help deafen the sound a little bit is definitely an
improvement to what we have now. With 80 trains a day, it’s a huge
influence on our businesses. We talk with all different kinds of people
throughout the day, and you can hear us on our phones, you can hear that
train, all the time. It’s a great factor for us to be able to deafen it a
little bit. Especially for the residents that are down here and have to
hear it. A lot of times we can’t open our windows, you can’t
have your car window rolled down…so to be able to stand here freely
without having to plug your ears, is a very nice thing.”
It could be a while before Groce can unplug her ears, though. The City
has to get the wayside horn plan cleared by a web of state and Federal
agencies, but DeKalb does have precedence on its side. Wayside horns
have been installed in about 60 communities nationwide, with the highest
concentration in the Midwest. Some towns have banned train whistles
altogether. But new, stricter Federal regulations now make that all but
impossible in many locations. That might make the wayside horns ever
Across the country, nursing homes destroy thousands of dollars in medicine at each facility every day. The medicine is still good. But destroying the drugs has been the traditional way to keep prescription medication out of the wrong hands. A new federal directive might encourage more nursing homes to recycle unused medicines for the use of the poor. The GLRC’s Lisa Ann Pinkerton reports:
Across the country, nursing homes destroy thousands of dollars in
medicine at each facility every day. The medicine is still good. But
destroying the drugs has been the traditional way to keep prescription
medication out of the wrong hands. A new federal directive might
encourage more nursing homes to recycle unused medicines for the use
of the poor. The GLRC’s Lisa Ann Pinkerton reports:
In her nursing home room, Genevieve Barns gazes out the window. A
black rosary is draped over her lap. She’s 94 and an oxygen
concentrator, bubbles behind her to help her breathe. She says even this
late in life she’s still abiding by her mother’s lessons.
“It’s a matter of how we were raised, you never wasted anything.”
Barns was on a common medication called Mucinex, to keep her
throat clear, but her doctor took her off of it. Normally, her unused
Mucinex would be sent back to the pharmacy for destruction, but Barns’
nursing home contributes it to a so-called ‘drug repository.’ Barns says it
was a simple choice to give medicine she can’t use to needy seniors.
“Well, everything is so expensive, and when you waste… you’re just
squandering things that should be used by someone.”
Four years ago, Ohio became the first state to recycle sealed, unused
medicine to seniors in need. Ever since, its two drug repositories have
struggled to get more participation. The drugs can’t be redistributed until
there’s enough of any one drug to make a 30 day supply. Then it’s made
available to seniors who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
At Genevieve Barns’ nursing home, the administrator, Denise Day,
collects the drugs in a blue plastic tote…
“We don’t have a huge cliental in this building at this time, but the
amount of medications that get sent back is still quite incredible.”
The bin in Day’s office is filled with pills and bottles sealed in their
packaging. She says what’s here comes from patients covered by
Medicaid; unused medicines covered by Medicare or private insurance
must to go back to the pharmacy for incineration before patients can get
their refund. Day says still, about 2-thousand dollars worth a month,
from just 34 patients, are recycled by the group called Serving Our
Its director, Susan Daugherty, says if every nursing home in her county
donated from just half their patients, the results would be astounding.
“Honestly we could meet and probably exceed the need of older adults
who’ve needed access to drugs that are common to the aging
populations. It could do a whole lot of good with a whole lot of waste.”
The drugs in this region are taken to Buderer Pharmacy. It’s become the
local drug repository. In the backroom shelves of medication go all the
way to the ceiling.
Matt Buderer is the pharmacist. He says the drugs are checked for their
expiration dates and whether they’re eligible for donation.
“And then what we want to do is take these drugs and poke them out of
this thing into a bottle. Making sure that what goes on the bottle is the
lot and expiration date.”
Seniors who’ve signed a waiver and received a card from Serving Our
Seniors can then buy any medication for a flat fee of 7 dollars and 40
“You can dispense one tablet. You can dispense 15. You can dispense a
billion for $7.40.”
Ohio’s not the only state with a drug repository program. At least
nineteen other states have mimicked the idea. Some states have had
more success than others.
In North Carolina the Board of Pharmacy says it recycles 5 to 6 million
dollars of drugs paid by tax payers every year. That’s a lot more than
Buderer says his state could be matching those numbers, if only there
were more participation.
“There’s good public knowledge out there that large quantities are picked
up daily and incinerated that could be used. So I’m sure that a large
institutional pharmacy knowing that… certainly isn’t saying ‘well, we
Buderer says liability is often the reason given for not participating in
the drug repositories. The state’s largest nursing home corporation and
wholesale pharmacy. Both declined to comment for this story.
But now, there might be a bigger incentive. In April, the federal government
announced it will hold nursing home facilities financially accountable for
medicines going unused by patients. The states can still redistribute medicines,
as long as documents show the federal government isn’t paying for the same item
twice, and this acknowledgement of waste with in the system, might just be the
national push drug repositories need to move into the mainstream.