The BEAT News

March 28, 2011

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Action Alert – Sign Petition to Tell Vermont Yankee to Cool It

Sign Connecticut River Watershed Council’s Cool It Entergy petition, urging Vermont Yankee (VY) to use their cooling towers more often instead of dumping heated water directly into the Connecticut River .

Thermal pollution – hot water discharges like the one at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant – pose a serious threat to river ecology and diminish its ability to provide refuge to cold water species. Heating up the river negatively affects wildlife and their habitats. It confuses, weakens, and disrupts fish, which look to changes in water temperatures to migrate or breed. Of particular concern is the impact of increased temperature on migratory fish such as American shad and Atlantic salmon.
Vermont Yankee is allowed to bypass its cooling towers thanks to a permit from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. But the permit expired in 2006, and now expert consultants have found that the studies Entergy provided the state to get that permit are based on flawed science.

In addition to letting Entergy know how much you support the increased use of the VY cooling towers, it’s also important to educate others about the harm heated water from VY is causing to the Connecticut river and the wildlife living there.

We are over half way to our goal of 500 signatures ready to be delivered to Entergy’s CEO. To really make a difference, we need a lot more people to join in.

Click here [Note: link is no longer available.] to sign on to the letter to Entergy urging Vermont Yankee to use their cooling towers;
Click here [Note: link is no longer available.] to read the reports issued by experts about the impact of heated water on the CT River.
Please consider sharing the links below with your online networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Or a personal email from you to people you think would be interested. Sample text to cut/paste into an email is provided below.
www.coolitentergy.org will direct folks to their choice of our Vermont Yankee Facebook page or the Vermont Yankee page on CRWC’s website;

Whatever ways you have at your disposal to help us spread the word on this would be greatly appreciated. Click here to request bumper stickers or postcards to be sent to you, FREE of charge.

Thanks for your support,

Angela Mrozinski
Outreach Coordinator
Ph: 413.772.2020 x204
amrozinski@ctriver.org
Connecticut River Watershed Council
15 Bank Row | Greenfield , MA 01301
www.ctriver.org


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Conservation Land Tax Credit Program

from Mass Audubon
Massachusetts is accepting applications for 2012 Conservation Land Tax Credit Program. A former Mass Audubon legislative priority and established by the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA) last year, the program offers refundable state income tax credits in exchange for conservation land donations. Qualified land donations are eligible to receive a state income tax credit of one half of the appraised value, up to a maximum tax credit of $50,000. EEA evaluates applications to ensure that the donations support regional and state long-term land conservation policies and plans and meet all other requirements in the program regulations.

Visit the state’s program website to learn more about the program and how to apply.

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Berkshire Grassroots: A List for Activists in Western Mass and Eastern NY State

Berkshire Grassroots is an email list is a medium for exchange among community members and conservation/community activists (on issues from the arts to the environment and sustainable agriculture to social services) in the greater Berkshire, MA region. The list shares ideas, events, and opportunities that can help the area prosper and become increasingly sustainable and livable.

The only rules are:

  • no commercial messages – info should relate to envi/social justice/local ag/sustainability initiatives, resources, and events in the region
  • no messages over 100K in size
  • no overuse

To subscribe visit the Berkshire Grassroots webpage.

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Comment Period for DCR Zoning Guidelines

The Land Stewardship Zoning Guidelines have recently been updated to reflect the integration of other agency planning processes, and provide expanded general management guidelines.

These updated guidelines are now available for review, and the attached notice has been published in the March 21, 2012 Environmental Monitor.

DCR will invite written comments on the draft Land Stewardship Zoning Guidelines for a period of 30 days. As such, written comments will be accepted through 5:00 PM (EST) on Friday, April 20, 2012.

Comments may be submitted two ways:

Via e-mail to DCR.Updates@state.ma.us (please put ‘Land Stewardship Zoning’ in the subject line) or;

By U.S. Mail to Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114.

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Thanks to You Strawberries are Safer

Last year, thousands of people took action to pressure California and other states to stop the use of a cancer-causing strawberry pesticide.

Because of you and thousands of others, Arysta LifeSciences has announced that they will suspend all sales of their toxic pesticide methyl iodide! Yesterday, the company announced “immediate suspension of product sales for all formulations of the fumigant MIDAS® in the United States.” Midas is the brand name for methyl iodide, the hazardous pesticide that the Pesticide Action Network, Center for Environmental Health, and other allies have been fighting since California approved it last year for use on strawberry fields.

A huge thank you to all of you who generously put your signatures on the many letters and petitions that led up to victory. This win is your win.

It’s not often that ordinary people like you and me (and hundreds of thousands more) can push a multinational chemical company hard enough that the company reverses a bad decision. Especially when that company is the largest privately held pesticide company in the world. And it happens even less often when regulators at the federal and state level have already signed off on that bad decision. But that’s just what happened here. Thank you!

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Thirty Companies Contribute $41 Million to Congress, Receive $10.6 Billion in Tax Rebates

A new report released Wednesday, March 21st by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) found that thirty tax dodging corporations have made campaign contributions to 524 (98%) sitting members of Congress, and disproportionately to the leadership of both parties and to key committee members. The report, Loopholes for Sale: Campaign Contributions by Corporate Tax Dodgers examines campaign contributions made by a total of 280 profitable Fortune 500 companies in 2006, 2008, 2010 and to date in 2012.

Loopholes for Sale focuses on campaign contributions by 30 companies—dubbed-the “Dirty Thirty”—that a previous MASSPIRG/CTJ study found collectively paid no federal corporate income taxes between 2008 and 2010 while receiving $10.6 billion in tax rebates and spending millions to lobby Congress. Altogether, these companies spent $41 million on campaign contributions during the four most recent election cycles, with each member of Congress receiving $58,000 on average (top recipients and donors listed below).

“These aggressive tax dodgers left nothing to chance by making campaign contributions to all but ten current members of Congress,” said MASSPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz. “The pervasiveness of that money across party lines speaks volumes about why major proposals to close corporate tax loopholes have not even come up for a vote.”

PAC contributions from these thirty corporations were most concentrated among leadership in both parties and the committees that control tax policy in both chambers of Congress. An average of $84,859 went to current members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is 66% more than the average House member, not on that committee, received. All but one Senate Finance Committee member, Maria Cantwell of Washington State, received an average of $83,209, which is 28% more than the average Senator not on that committee.

“It seems the only thing the two parties can agree on is that we shouldn’t even try to get more tax revenue from profitable corporations,” said Steve Wamhoff, Legislative Director at Citizens for Tax Justice. “Corporations’ public filings with the SEC show that even big, profitable corporations pay nowhere near the 35% statutory tax rate and some pay nothing at all, thanks to the loopholes in the tax code. It’s outrageous that lawmakers seek to reduce budget deficits by cutting health care, education, and other public investments all Americans depend on while doing nothing to end this corporate tax avoidance.”

The top five Congressional recipients of contributions since 2005 from the 30 no-tax companies were:

  • House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) – $379,850.00
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) – $336,5000.00
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) – $320,900.00
  • Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO and former House Minority Whip 2003-08) – $220,500.00

(All federal legislators from Massachusetts received contributions from the companies, with seven receiving $30,000 or more)

The top five corporate contributors since 2005 are:

  • Honeywell – $6,469,277
  • Boeing – $4,049,250
  • General Electric – $3,390,850
  • Verizon – $3,201,550
  • FedEx – $2,595,900

“We need to achieve equality in our campaign finance system. Only then can we hope to successfully fix our government’s undue favor to powerful special interests, which is on full display in our tax code, and amplify the voices of ordinary citizens in the halls of Congress. Our recommendations include passing laws which require disclosure, shareholder approval of corporate campaign expenses, addressing vast inequities in our campaign finance laws,” concluded Domenitz.

# # #

See full report at http://www.masspirg.org/reports/map/loopholes-sale

MASSPIRG Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, and educate the public.

Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), founded in 1979, is a 501 (c)(4) public interest research and advocacy organization focusing on federal, state and local tax policies and their impact upon our nation (www.ctj.org).

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Farmland Protected in Charlemont

Protected pasture along the Mohawk Trail in Charlemont

FLT is pleased to have assisted with the conservation of a 40- acre property along Rte. 2 in Charlemont. The property is a second generation farm owned by the Gould family, an important part of the landscape along the historic Mohawk Trail and has significant frontage along the Deerfield River. A former dairy farm, it has also been farmed for field crops and beef, and is currently farmed for hay and pasture.

This project is an excellent example of how important the state Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program is to families trying to negotiate the difficult process around generational transfers. Following the death of Albert Gould, the land was inherited by his six children, who wanted to keep the land in agriculture, but weren’t sure how to manage the transfer so that it would be affordable and fair to all of the siblings. More…

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Legislature Delays on Bottle Bill Again

While it may be the first day of spring on the calendar, the Legislature stopped the clock today when the massively popular Updated Bottle Bill was stalled once again. The Joint Committee on Telecom, Utilities and Energy, chaired by Rep. John Keenan of Salem and Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield, ‘extended’ their review of the Bottle Bill until 6/15/12, almost one full year after the public hearing where it was considered, and just weeks before the end of the session.

“This popular measure, which would increase recycling and reduce litter, has been ‘extended’ for over a decade,” commented Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “This bill, supported by 77% of the public, 207 cities and towns, and hundreds of small businesses, has been bottled up way too long.”

Eva Valentine, president of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts said, “Our membership is profoundly disappointed by a process which is dragging out and deferring action on such an important bill.”

The campaign for the updated bottle bill includes over 90 organizations, among them the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT), the Mass Municipal Association, Mass Audubon, and many more. In addition, 350 businesses and 207 cities and towns have all passed resolutions in support. “The delay follows 14 years of inactivity on the bill as corporate special interests have repeatedly derailed the democratic process on Beacon Hill. The good weather brings us outside, only to be reminded of the litter and waste that clutters our neighborhoods and parks because the legislature has failed to vote on this bill,” said James McCaffrey, Director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club.

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Rare Corpse Flowers About to Flower at Darrow

Unseasonably warm temperatures across the Northeast have spurred many flowering plants—from Washington D.C.’s renowned cherry blossoms to the forsythia in Central Park—to blossom early this year. Darrow School’s famous corpse flowers are no exception, and are expected to be flowering within the next week.The corpse flower is an Indonesian plant, also known as the konjac arum (Amorphophallus konjac). It boasts the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, and the third largest flower of all known plants. The konjac arum gets its name from its distinctive odor, which many liken to the smell of rotting meat. The corpse flower, a relative of the calla lily and the jack-in-the-pulpit, grows wild in the rainforests of southeast Asia from a large underground corm. The plant first flowered in cultivation in London in 1889. Fewer than 50 of the largest variety of corpse flower, the titan arum, are known to have bloomed in the United States, with the smaller konjac arum, typically found only in botanical gardens, museums, and private greenhouse collections.The large green bud of the konjac arum grows at a rate of about an inch per day, until it finally blooms into a central stem that can reach up to four feet tall, as well as a huge, purplish-brown blossom that resembles an asymmetrical collar. Its powerful fumes, which last for days, help to attract pollinating insects. After about a week, the plant wilts and goes dormant for its next phase, a branching, treelike structure.“The corpse flower is a rare plant that is challenging to grow, and four are in florescence now, which has never happened before at Darrow” notes Craig Westcott, director of Darrow’s Samson Environmental Center (SEC), which houses the plants. “It wouldn’t be possible in this region without a facility like the Samson Environmental Center and the careful attention of both students and faculty. It’s a real triumph for us as a secondary school, and yet another visible symbol of Darrow’s commitment to global education and to environmental stewardship and preservation.”Built in 1988, the SEC features many green-design elements, from photovoltaic panels to wind turbines, and is the destination for more than 500 visitors annually from schools, civic and municipal organizations, urban planning firms, and the general public. The SEC also houses the Living Machine™, an innovative wastewater treatment facility that uses a natural ecosystem to clean wastewater from campus dorms and buildings before returning it to the Hudson River watershed.

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Invasive Species: There’s an App for That!

from The Trustees for Reservations
Find out about a cool new app for mapping invasive species in Massachusetts.

Help beat invasives >>

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Template for Construction Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans Available Online

from Water Headlines for the week of March 20, 2012
EPA has posted a new template for construction operators to use in developing stormwater pollution prevention plans, which are site-specific documents required as part of EPA’s new 2012 Construction General Permit. The template is designed to help construction operators develop a stormwater pollution prevention plan that is compliant with the minimum requirements of the new permit. The template allows operators to customize the document to the needs of the site, and includes tables and other fields that are easy to fill out. For questions about the template, or the permit in general, please send inquiries to CGP@epa.gov.

For additional information on stormwater pollution prevention plans for construction activities and to view a copy of the template: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/swppp.cfm.
For additional information on EPA’s 2012 CGP: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/cgp.cfm.

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EPA Releases Document for Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds

from Water Headlines for the week of March 20, 2012
EPA recently released a new technical document titled “Identifying and Protecting Healthy Watersheds: Concepts, Assessments, and Management Approaches.” This document provides state water quality and aquatic resource scientists and managers with an overview of the key concepts behind the Healthy Watersheds Initiative. The initiative is intended to preserve and maintain natural ecosystems by protecting our remaining healthy watersheds, preventing them from becoming impaired and accelerating our restoration successes. The initiative encourages states to take a strategic, systems approach to protecting healthy watersheds and preventing future water quality impairments.

This document provides examples of approaches for assessing components of healthy watersheds, integrated assessment options for identifying healthy watersheds, examples of management approaches and assessment tools and sources of data. The document is available at http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/watershed/index.cfm.

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EPA Initiates Website to Mark 40 Years of the Clean Water Act

from Water Headlines for the week of March 20, 2012
2012 is the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource. This year EPA and others will highlight the tremendous progress in reducing pollution since 1972, the many milestones along the way, the ways that the job is far from over and the tough challenges we face today and in the future. EPA has set up a webpage – www.epa.gov/cleanwater40 – as the central location for information, activities, news and networking. You can also find the Office of Water on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EPAWaterIsWorthIt.

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EPA Water Monitoring Equipment Available

The EPA has announced the 2012 Volunteer Monitoring Equipment Loan Program, open to organizations in New England for which volunteers conduct water monitoring. This is the 7th annual round to provide support for groups providing valuable information on conditions of our waters.
Criteria for applicants and conditions of equipment loans can be found here.

Please contact Maureen at hilton.maureen@epa.gov or 617-918-8608 for further information.

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Legislative Priority Update

from Mass Audubon

Joint Rule 10 – Rule requiring that all matters referred to joint committees be reported out of committees by the last Wednesday in June of the first annual session.
Joint Rule 10, March 21st of this year, is a major milestone in the Massachusetts two-year legislative cycle. It’s the date by which all committees, including the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, must decide if they support a bill and want to move it forward, or if a bill should be tabled for the rest of the session.
Here’s an update on our legislative priorities:

  • An Act to Sustain Community Preservation (HB765, Representative S. Kulik; SB1841, Senator C. Creem): approved by the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses and now before the House Committee on Ways and Means. Needs to pass both the House and Senate.
  • Bottle Bill (HB890, Representative A. Wolf): the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy requested an extension of Joint Rule 10, asking to have until June 15, 2012 to act, essentially kicking the can down the road. The campaign for the updated bottle bill includes over 90 organizations, including Mass Audubon. In addition, 350 businesses and 207 cities and towns have passed resolutions in support.
  • An Act Relative to Comprehensive Land Use Reform (SB1019, Senator J. Eldridge): the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government has requested an extension until April 4, 2012.
  • An Act Relative to Sustainable Water Resources (SB349, Senator J. Eldridge; HB255, Representative F. Smizik): the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture has sent this bill to study, tabling it for the session. We are working on these issues through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Sustainable Water Management Initiative, which is wrapping up shortly.
  • An Act Relative to the Protection of Old Growth Forests and Forest Reserves (HB236, Representative S. Kulik: approved by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and now before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Other bills we’re tracking:

  • An Act Relative to Land Taking Regulations (SB1854, Senator H. Chandler): the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture has requested an extension until June 15, 2012 to further review and revise this legislation, which as drafted guts the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. Look for more on this shortly. It’s critical that the environmental community work to ensure that the legislature does no harm to the Endangered Species Act.
  • An Act relative to Standing to File Certain Appeals in the Superior or Land Court (SB841, Senator M. Rodrigues): the Joint Committee on Judiciary has requested an extension until April 27, 2012 to review this bill. Mass Audubon opposes this legislation because it would further limit standing in a state with some of the strictest standing requirements in the nation. For more, read our testimony.
  • An Act relative to the Use of Off-highway and Recreation Vehicles (SB1996, Senator M. Rodrigues): the Joint Committee on Transportation has revised and given a favorable report of this bill. The sections of the bill Mass Audubon opposed, including granting an exemption from registration to anyone riding their own vehicle on their own land, were not included in the redraft. More on this bill if it moves forward in the Senate.

We track several hundred bills covering a broad range of environmental topics. Bills that would divert Community Preservation Act Funds, call for payment in lieu of taxes programs for nonprofit landowners, and undo the Wetlands Protection Act have all been sent to study and are no longer in play for this session.

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Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program (AEEP)

from the Mass Forest Update

The purpose of AEEP is to support agricultural operations that are looking to install conservation practices that prevent pollution of water, ensure efficient use of water, as well as address impacts on air quality.

AEEP is a competitive, re-imbursement grant program that funds materials and labor up to $25,000 or 90% of project costs. Practices funded include those that prevent pollution of water, ensure efficient use of water, and address agricultural air pollution.

Reimbursement grants will be awarded on a competitive basis. Persons submitting successful proposals will be required to sign a contract with Agricultural Resources. All projects must be completed by June 30, 2013, subject to Department funding sources. Satisfactory receipts for costs of approved materials and labor must be submitted to Agricultural Resources.
AEEP grant applications are available at www.mass.gov/agr/programs/aeep.
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Ag-Energy Grant
The purpose of the MDAR’s Ag-Energy Grant is to assist agricultural operations in an effort to improve energy efficiency and adopt alternative clean energy technologies to become more sustainable and the Commonwealth can maximize the environmental and economic benefits from these technologies. Reimbursement grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis. All projects must be completed by June 30, 2013.

Projects with a primary focus to improve air and water quality and to conserve water should apply to AEEP as above.

Though all farm related energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that meet Ag-Energy Program requirements will be considered, higher priority project proposals should focus on either of two (2) specified categories and respective technologies listed:

Energy Efficiency:

  • Dairy – Plate/Coolers, Heat Recovery and VSD Vacuum Pumps
  • Greenhouse/Nurseries – Thermal blankets, roof venting modifications to eliminate mechanical ventilation needs, efficient heating distribution modifications – e.g. bench/soil in combination with staged control, electronic controls
  • Higher Efficiency Advanced Low Emissions Indoor Furnaces or Boilers – Condensing type, central or unit heater utilizing conventional fuels, maple sap evaporator wood furnaces
  • Other Technologies – High efficiency refrigeration, optimally with heat recovery, Reverse Osmosis equipment for maple sugaring operations, process heat recovery, energy efficient Technologies advancing urban food gardens

Renewable Energy: All Sectors

  • Photovoltaics
  • Wind
  • Solar Thermal
  • Geothermal
  • Bio-fuel crops for those shown to be grown on marginal soils or used in crop rotation
  • Bio-fuel Production provided demonstration of all federal, state and local process permits and approvals are identified and will be provided as part of the project installation, including but not limited to product pre- and post- storage, hazardous materials, and process effluents
  • High Efficiency Advanced Gasification Biomass thermal boilers or furnaces intended for indoor use only, utilizing wood pellets, wood chips or kernel corn, meeting all current federal, state and/or local construction, emission and efficiency standards, and regulations and certified for MA installation
  • Advanced biomass (gasification) Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWB), meeting all current federal, state and/or local construction, emission and efficiency standards, and regulations Requirements that must be met include a demonstration that the OWB system shall:
  • Renewable Technologies advancing urban food gardens

Ag-Energy Grant applications are available at www.mass.gov/agr/programs/aegp.
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Someone’s Going to Have the Best Summer Ever!

What if you could spend your summer hiking, biking, climbing, rafting — and get paid for it? There’s still time to apply for the Sierra Club’s Best Internship on Earth, an incredible opportunity to spend June, July, and August exploring the great outdoors and documenting your journey for the Sierra Club and The North Face.

As the 2012 Outdoor Youth Ambassador (aka “intern”), you’ll get a $2,000 gift certificate from The North Face and we’ll cover all travel expenses and pay a generous stipend. The application deadline is April 2. Once you’ve applied, tell everyone you know to watch your video and vote!

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