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Bridge Owner Sues U.S., Canadian Officials

DETROIT, March 24 (UPI) — The owner of the Ambassador Bridge says U.S. and Canadian officials have acted illegally in preventing it from building a new bridge over the Detroit River.

The Detroit International Bridge Co. wants to build a twin bridge to replace its aging Ambassador Bridge.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court, the bridge company accused government officials in both countries of stalling the replacement plan in favor of a plan to build a publicly owned bridge about two miles from the Ambassador, the Detroit News reported Wednesday.

The plan for the publicly owned Detroit River International Crossing is backed by the state of Michigan and the U.S. and Canadian governments, and has received environmental clearance from the U.S. Coast Guard.

A spokeswoman for the Coast Guard, which is named in the lawsuit, said she could not comment on pending litigation. Canadian officials and officials for the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, also named in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Homes & Buildings, Other0 Comments

Pesticides Linked to Developmental Delays

NEW YORK, March 22 (UPI) — Exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos — banned for use in U.S. households — is associated with early childhood developmental delays, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health examined the association between exposure to the pesticide and mental and physical impairments in children in low-income areas of New York neighborhoods in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan.

Chlorpyrifos was commonly used in these neighborhoods until it was banned for household use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2001, but it is still used as an agricultural pesticide on fruits and vegetables.

After controlling for building dilapidation and community-level factors such as percentage of residents living in poverty, the research indicates that high chlorpyrifos exposure was associated with a 6.5-point decrease in the Psychomotor Development Index score and a 3.3-point decrease in the Mental Development Index score in 3-year-olds.

The findings are published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Ailments & Diseases, Children’s Health & Parenting, Farming & Ranching, Food Quality & Safety1 Comment

Greenpeace Activists Heckle Canadian Politician Michael Ignatieff

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 17 (UPI) — Activists disrupted a speech by the leader of Canada’s Liberal party, protesting his position on development of the country’s oil sands, authorities said.

Tarsands are a mixture of sand or clay with a heavy form of crude oil, which can be extracted.

Michael Ignatieff was addressing a town hall meeting at the University of British Columbia when Greenpeace protesters started chanting and displaying signs, Canwest news service reported Sunday.

About a dozen activists began chanting “When I say ‘Stop the,’ you say ‘Tarsands’; Stop the Tarsands!” Canwest said.

The protesters said they want the Canadian government to halt development of Alberta’s oil sands, they said. Ignatieff, whose speech was halted for about two minutes, seemed not bothered by the protest, the report said.

“One of the key things about politics, one of the key things about Canada, is that we can’t pick and choose which facts we like. The tarsands are a fact of our national lives. We have one of the largest proven carbon oil reserves in the world,” he said.

“If you’re asking me to shut down the tarsands, it’s not in my power to do so, and frankly, it’s not in the national interest of our country to do so,” he added while the audience of about 400 applauded, Canwest reported.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Politics0 Comments

Clean Technology Projects Get $2 Billion in Tax Credits

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) — Tax credits of $2.3 billion will be awarded for new, clean-technology manufacturing jobs, U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday.

The tax credits, available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, will enable creation of more than $7 billion in new manufacturing projects and create tens of thousands of jobs, Obama said in remarks at the White House.

“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” Obama said. “The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.”

Obama said 183 projects in 43 states are eligible for the credits, worth up to 30 percent of each project.

This effort, along with other Recovery Act investments, will drive growth in the renewable energy and clean technology manufacturing sectors, Obama said, giving the United States the ability to take global leadership in these markets.

While welcoming a global competition to develop clean energy jobs, Obama said, “I don’t want America to lose that competition.”

The tax credit awards also will give a “much needed boost to the manufacturing sector” buy building new plants or rehabilitating old ones, he said.

“This is good for middle class families, good for our security and good for our planet,” Obama said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Policies & Solutions, Policy, Law, & Government, Politics, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

Plastic Bags Recycled into Batteries at Argonne National Laboratory

ARGONNE, Ill., Dec. 22 (UPI) — Plastic bags found in abundance at grocery stores could be recycled into carbon nanotubes, a component in lithium ion batteries, an Illinois scientist said.

Vilas Pol, of Argonne National Laboratory 25-miles southwest of Chicago, developed the process as a way to turn plastic waste into an energy resource, the Southtown Star reported Tuesday.

With cobalt acetate as a catalyst, plastic bags were heated to 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit, which caused the carbon in the plastic to grow as nanotubes on the cobalt particles, Pol said, noting the process could be used on plastic water bottles and plastic cups.

The cobalt acetate, which is relatively expensive, could be recovered when the batteries were recycled, Pol said. Performing the process without cobalt acetate yields carbon spheres that could be used in printer ink.

Yet to be determined is how to collect enough bags to make the project cost efficient, Pol said. Recycling programs find the bags difficult to collect because they often get swept up in air currents, causing a problem for curbside collectors and recycling centers.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumer Products, Consumer Waste, Electronic Waste, Electronics, House & Home, Packaging, Recycling, Recycling & Waste, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

Top Politicos Arriving at Climate Summit

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 16 (UPI) — Leaders and lawmakers from around the globe began arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark, to attend the final days of the U.N.-sponsored climate change summit.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., co-author of climate change legislation pending in the upper chamber, was the first high-level U.S. politician to attend the talks, The Boston Globe reported. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to meet with negotiators Thursday and President Barack Obama was scheduled to arrive and speak on Friday.

Before leaving, Kerry told the Globe he may agree with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that a deal may be struck over one of the most contentious issues facing climate change negotiators: long-term financing for developing nations to help them adapt to global warming and move to more eco-friendly technologies.

The “makings of a deal” existed at the summit, Kerry said, adding, “today (Wednesday) is going to be quite critical.”

Kerry said he wanted to assure world negotiators that the United States was serious about reducing its emission output.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who arrived at the conference Tuesday, said the gravity of the talks couldn’t be overstated, The Times of London reported.

“It is an uphill struggle, there is a huge amount to be done” in negotiating a climate change treaty, he said.

If a deal can be stuck that results in jobs in Britain, it would be worth the effort, Brown said.

“But I also think our children, growing up, going to school every day, I don’t want them to live in a world of floods, of droughts, of extreme weather,” he said. “It is really important; therefore, for Britain that we get this deal … .”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Global Warming & Climate Change, International Relations & Treaties, Politics0 Comments

H1N1 Infants Vaccine Recalled

ATLANTA, Dec. 15 (UPI) — About 800,000 doses of H1N1 flu vaccine for infants made by Sanofi-Aventis are being recalled, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the shots from the French drug maker may have been slightly under-strength. Most of them are presumed to have been administered already and parents are not being urged to contact their doctors, The New York Times reported.

“We think children who got the vaccine are fully protected, assuming they got the two shots we recommend for that age,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the thimerosal-free vaccine, meant for children 6-to-36 months old, was fully potent when released but had dropped 12 percent during follow-up testing, the Times reported.

The recall of the prefilled syringes, which were released a month ago, is voluntary. Doctors are being told to return any supplies they have left.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Children’s Health & Parenting, Human Health & Wellness, Medicine & Pharmaceuticals0 Comments

Obama Seeks Incentives for Home Energy

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — President Barack Obama Tuesday called on Congress to provide temporary incentives for U.S. homeowners who invest in energy-efficient retrofitting.

“The simple act of retrofitting these buildings to make them more energy-efficient … is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest things we can do to put America back to work while saving money and reducing harmful emissions,” Obama said during a visit to a Home Depot in Alexandria, Va., while ticking off retrofitting examples such as installing new windows and doors, insulation, roofing, correcting ceiling leaks and modernizing heating and cooling equipment.

He also noted energy-related investments made under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act put the nation on a pace “to upgrade the homes of half a million Americans by this time next year … boosting the economy, saving money on energy, creating clean energy jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

And there’s another reason to retrofit, Obama said to some chuckles — insulation is sexy.

“Here’s what sexy about it: saving money,” he said. “You put in the insulation, you — you weatherize your home now, you will make up that money in a year or two years or three years, and then everything after that is just gravy.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Buildings, Consumer Products, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency & Weatherization, Homes & Buildings, House & Home0 Comments

New Construction Projects Surround Beijing

New Construction Projects Surround Beijing

New construction projects and new electricity pylons ring the outskirts of central Beijing on November 26, 2009. The development of China’s capital continues to proceed at a rapid pace, and the vast expansion of Beijing has created a multitude of environmental problems for the city, including air and water quality issues, as well as energy shortages. UPI/Stephen Shaver

Date Taken: November 25, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Homes & Buildings0 Comments

Invention Alerts to Home Dust Dangers, Monitors Air Quality

TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 24 (UPI) — Israeli researchers say they have developed a tool to warn of invisible dangers lurking in the dust found in homes.

Eyal Ben-Dor and Sandra Chudnovsky of Tel Aviv University in Israel said the sensor — called Dust Alert — is a portable chemical analyzer called a spectrophotometer that functions much like a chemistry lab and could help families and authorities monitor the quality of a home’s air.

“It works just like an ozone meter would,” Ben-Dor said in a statement. “We’ve found through our ongoing research that some simple actions at home can have a profound effect on the quality of air we breathe.”

He suggests the tool could accurately forecast the health of a home or apartment for prospective home owners.

“If somebody in your family has an allergy, poor air quality can be a deal breaker,” Ben-Dor said.

The findings have been published in Science of the Total Environment, Urban Air Pollution: Problems, Control Technologies and Management Practices.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Homes & Buildings, Other, Ozone1 Comment

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