Members of the US Chamber of Commerce are debating whether green investments will create as many jobs as supporters claim. (Photo courtesy of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
One of the big buzzwords surrounding the 870-billion dollar stimulus package signed by President Obama is green jobs. Tamara Keith found now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is interested in green investments — sort of:
One of the big buzzwords surrounding the 870-billion dollar stimulus package signed by President Obama is green jobs. Tamara Keith found now the US Chamber of Commerce is interested in green investments — sort of:
In the past, the Chamber has ridiculed all things environmental. But, its members want to catch this green wave. A recent panel discussion revealed some of the business leaders are optimistic about the stimulus package’s green investments. Mark Santacrose is CEO of TectaAmerica Corp. It installs environmentally friendly roofing.
“We’ve lost over 900,000 jobs in the broader construction industry in the last year. Investment in green will have a big impact.”
The energy industry wants in on stimulus funds too. Mary Miller is a vice president at the Edison Electric Institute:
“The more efficient use of energy has invaluable benefits to consumers, the economy and our country.”
But, an economist on the panel was not as thrilled. He told Chamber of Commerce members that spending on green jobs will mean fewer jobs would be created overall.
Thirty years ago this month (November 10th), the iron ore carrier the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior. 29 men died. The lake carrier was caught in one of the worst storms recorded on the Great Lakes. In the years since the Edmund Fitzgerald went down, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson has talked with those connected with the ship:
Thirty years ago this month (November 10th), the iron ore carrier, the Edmund Fitzgerald, sank in
Lake Superior. 29 men died. The lake carrier was caught in one of the worst storms recorded on
the Great Lakes. In the years since the Edmund Fitzgerald went down, the Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Mike Simonson has talked with those connected with the ship:
Like the folk song relates, the November gales came early on Lake Superior in 1975. A storm
more fierce than even the most experienced lake carrier crews had ever seen hit the eastern side
of the lake. That night, Captain Dudley Paquette was shipmaster of the lake carrier Wilfred
“We were really out right in the middle of the lake. Just huge seas, 30-35 foot seas. I was
completely awash and I was on a super ship. I was registering 70, 75 knots steady with gusts to
100. Huge seas, I was completely awash. Water was flying over the top of my bridge.”
Like the carrier Wilfred Sykes, the Edmund Fitzgerald was a big ship, but early in the night the
captain saw ominous signs of trouble. The topside fence rails had snapped. The vents were torn
off. The radar was out. And the Edmund Fitzgerald’s Captain, Ernest McSorley had all the bilge
pumps on, trying to keep the ship from swamping.
Thom Holden is the curator of the Army Corps of Engineers Marine Museum. He says Captain
McSorley was in radio contact with Captain Jesse Cooper of the nearest ship, the Arthur
“The topside damage was an earlier report. After suffering this damage that Captain McSorley
did contact Cooper and ask him to shadow him down the lake. It was really several hours later
that what could be the last transmission from the Fitzgerald was received. Essentially Captain
Cooper or the mate asked McSorley how he was doing, how the vessel was riding. He said
‘We’re holding our own, going along like an old shoe.'”
In an interview from his retirement home in Florida, Arthur Anderson Captain Jesse Cooper said
the memory of that night still haunts him. He says Captain McSorley didn’t let on that his ship
and crew were in danger.
“I think he knew he was in trouble but he couldn’t spread the word because it would panic the
crew. (Simonson): How do you think he knew he was in trouble? (Cooper) What the hell would
you think if you had a hole in your bottom and were taking in more water than you could pump
At 7:10 that evening, the Fitzgerald disappeared from radar as it sailed into a snow squall only a
few miles from the safety of Whitefish Bay.
“My gut feeling was I knew she was gone when I couldn’t see her on the scope. Turning around,
I hated the thought of going back out in that sea.”
Radio communication from that night was recorded by the Coast Guard at Sault St. Marie
Michigan. The Coast Guard was asking captains to turn back into the storm and search for the
Fitzgerald. You’ll hear a distressed Captain Cooper answer the call.
“(Coast Guard:) Think there’s any possibility that you could turn around do any searching, over?’
(Cooper) ‘Oh God, I don’t know. That sea out there is tremendously large. If you want me to, I
can but I’m not going to be making any time. I’ll be lucky to do two or three miles per hour going
back out that way, over.’ (Coast Guard:) It looks like with the information we have that it is fairly
certain that the Fitzgerald went down. We’re talking now a matter of life and death and looking
for survivors that might be in life rafts or in the water. We can only ask the masters to do their
best without hazarding their vessels.'”
The U.S. Coast Guard rescue vessel Woodrush had left the Duluth port but it took 21 hours to
arrive on scene. Captain Jimmy Hobaugh says a life ring from the Fitzgerald popped up as they
“Of course we searched for the three full days and it was rougher than you can imagine. No
matter how I turned the ship, we were taking green water over the top. If there had been someone
there, I’m positive that my crew was good enough that we would’ve got ’em.”
None of the men’s bodies were recovered.
Among the crew of 29 was Third Mate Michael Armagost of Iron River, Wisconsin. His widow
Janice says the families of the 29 men who went down with the Edmund Fitzgerald struggle with
“Nobody realizes that there are survivors. I mean, my kids’ father is on that ship and my
husband’s on that ship. And people just think of it as a shipwreck that happened so long ago, and
The families of the crew of the ship now say all they want is the final resting place of their loved
ones to remain undisturbed by divers. Only the bell of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was
recovered and placed in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Michigan ten
Spotted salamanders - adult and baby. Volunteers collected 14 species of reptiles and amphibians from a half-acre wetland in Ann Arbor, MI. (Photo by David Mifsud)
Baby frogs poised to leap from a volunteer's bucket at the new man-made wetland. (Photo by Rachel Osborn)
One of several rare hybrid salamanders found at the original wetland site by herpetologist Dave Mifsud. The salamander was first thought to be the state endangered small-mouthed salamander. Genetic testing found the salamander was a hybrid of the Jefferson salamander and blue-spotted salamander. (Photo by David Mifsud)
A lot of new shopping centers and subdivisions have wetlands
at their edges. Sometimes those wetlands are as new as the buildings next to them. Developers often build new ponds when they drain and fill existing wetlands. But experts point out that many man-made wetlands can’t match up to the ecosystems that evolved over hundreds or thousands of years. One group of people is trying something it hopes will be more successful: they’re moving a wetland, piece by little tiny piece. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca Williams has the story:
A lot of new shopping centers and subdivisions have wetlands at their edges.
Sometimes those wetlands are as new as the buildings next to them.
Developers often build new ponds when they drain and fill existing wetlands.
But experts point out that many man-made wetlands can’t match up to the
ecosystems that evolved over hundreds or thousands of years. One group of
people is trying something it hopes will be more successful: they’re moving
a wetland, piece by little tiny piece. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Rebecca Williams has the story:
Making a new wetland might not seem that hard. You need certain things – a
big hole in the ground, water, plants, some frogs, some snakes. But wetland
ecologists will tell you that it’s hard to get a man-made wetland to be a
replica of a natural one.
But this group of people is giving it a try. Volunteers are leaping after
baby frogs and snakes at the edge of a wetland in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“He’s fast, look at him go!”
They’re scooping the animals up and putting them in buckets to move them to
a new manmade wetland. The original wetland is small – just half an acre –
but it’s teeming with life. It’s also sitting right where a new high
school is going to be built.
Saving the frogs and snakes and newts is turning out to be a lot of work.
The group’s caught about five thousand adults and babies in all during the last five
Dave Mifsud is a herpetologist; he studies amphibians and reptiles. He’s
in charge of the rescue. Mifsud surveyed the site last year and was
impressed that such a small wetland could hold so many species. He asked
the school district to let him lead a rescue.
“When I first proposed the idea, I was hesitant because whenever I’ve
suggested it in the past, it’s been received with laughs or a blatant no.”
Mifsud says in most construction projects, time means money. He says it’s
hard to get anyone to agree to wait while animals are moved. So, he was
surprised when school officials agreed to the rescue. Mifsud says the
school’s also trying to make the new wetland as much like the original as
possible. They’re moving water, soil, and plants from the old wetland to the
Randy Trent directs the school district’s environmental services. He says
instead of seeing Mifsud’s proposal as a headache, the school thinks of it
as a way to balance development and conservation.
“It gives us an opportunity to let our students have the history that’s
going on at this site as something to learn from.”
But critics are asking just what the school district is teaching by building
over an irreplaceable site. Ann Arbor resident Alan Pagliere is a vocal
critic of the district.
“There’s going to be a legacy left, there’s going to be a lesson taught, and what are those? You
certainly can’t teach a lesson about the environment by destroying wetlands, but clear-cutting landmark trees. These are decisions that are going to be with us for decades and the people
who are making the decisions will be gone when their terms are over.”
Pagliere says the school should preserve the existing wetland as a living
classroom instead of spending taxpayer money to destroy it and build a new
The animal rescue has its skeptics too. Jim Harding is a wildlife biologist
with Michigan State University. He says moving amphibians and reptiles is
“An adult frog or adult salamander already has its idea of where home ought
to be; we have anecdotal reports of building new ponds for salamanders
and having them return in the spring to the old site which is now a parking
(sound in, back with frogcatchers)
“Oh, I think that was mud.”
“It’s mud, it’s okay… if you’ve got the tadpoles, you can actually just dump them right on the edge.”
But herpetologist Dave Mifsud says he’s giving the frogs and toads a
fighting chance. He says the tadpoles he’s released will think of the new
pond as home. He’s also put up fences around the woods near the new pond. He
hopes they’ll direct the adults back to the new pond in the spring.
“Let’s start releasing the frogs along the edges…”
The frog-catchers’ buckets are loaded with baby frogs. Dave Mifsud’s taking
the cover off his bucket and coaxing frogs out into their new environment.
(Sound of tapping on bucket)
“Come on guys. You’ve been trying to get out of the bucket this whole time. Ah, this is the best part for me! Come on! You’re lucky if…in all my years I’ve seen maybe a handful of spring peeper babies. The fact that we were able to save these guys is incredible.”
Mifsud says it’ll be an uphill fight to make large-scale amphibian rescues
more common, but he says he isn’t known for keeping his mouth shut when it
comes to watching out for anything that leaps or slithers.