EPA, Army Corps Misguided


The WE Campaign


PBS on Iraq


Open Skies Deal

Open skies deal comes into effect
The "open skies" deal between the US and Europe comes into effect, aiming to open up trans-Altantic air travel.




Chipotle Heads to the Farm

[for more info, google Joel Salatin in Virginia, a hero of sustainability]

Conservation Insider Bulletin, Mar. 28

Conservation Insider Bulletin
Published weekly for the Conservation Council of North Carolina
Conservation News to Peruse & Use
Editor: Dan Besse, cib@conservationcouncilnc.org
March 28, 2008

Coastal regulators say no more sandbag extensions, this week in CIB:

--Administrative Watch: No, Really—Those Sandbags Must Go
--Judicial Watch: More Challengers to Cliffside
--Campaign Watch: Help CPAC Elect More Environmental Champions
--Errata: New CCNC Staff; Cliffside Appeals Filed

Administrative Watch: No, Really—Those Sandbags Must Go

The Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) this week gave an emphatic "no" to a petition for rulemaking which would have allowed beachfront sandbag walls to remain indefinitely in front of "viable" commercial structures. CIB congratulates the CRC for sticking to the fundamental policy which has been in place in North Carolina since 1985: When the question is between protecting the building and protecting the public beach, the public beach prevails.
The idea for two decades plus has been this: Don't build unmovable structures smack up against the moving shoreline. The idea is simple enough. Plan ahead: When the surfline moves up to your walls, you have to move it or lose it. What's so hard to understand about that?
PS: This is not about "private property rights". The private building owner does not own the public beach. They have no right to have their structure, or walls protecting it, parked on the public beach. Barrier islands are different from upland property by their very physical nature. They move in storms, currents, and changes in sea level over time. You cannot expect to have the same level of "permanence" of your property lines on what amounts to a sand bar writ large and sitting in the surf.
In other words, physical reality forces adjustment to legal theory, and absolutely trumps political dogma.Judicial Watch: More Challengers to Cliffside
The number of environmental group legal challengers of the proposed new Cliffside coal plant is up to seven. Five groups (Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center, Southern Alliance for Safe Energy, N.C. Environmental Defense Fund, and National Parks Conservation Association) asked a judge to revoke the air quality permit for the plant. Last week, two other groups (N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, and Appalachian Voices) filed a challenge of the plant's permit with an administrative law judge.

Campaign Watch: Help CPAC Elect More Environmental Champions
CCNC members: Have you checked out the new 2007 Conservation Legislative Scorecard, including the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Filthy Five"? It's online now at www.conservationcouncilnc.org, along with the Conservation Freshman of the Year and all the key conservation votes and legislator environmental voting scores from the 2007 General Assembly.
While you're there, you can act to help CCNC's Conservation PAC elect more environmental champions to the 2009 General Assembly. Click on the "Contribute NOW!" button and help CCNC "hold politicians accountable on the environment." The contributions received by CCNC for the Conservation PAC will go to help re-elect friendly incumbents and boost the chances of green newcomers.

Errata: New CCNC Staff; Cliffside Appeals Filed
It's not often—fortunately—that we make two editing errors in the same week big enough to justify immediate correction. But, ah, ahem:
Last week we welcomed the wrong Dan to the CCNC staff. Repeating our correction: The new CCNC Dan is Dan CRAWFORD, Director of Government Relations. Dan C's email address is dan@conservationcouncilnc.org.

Remember that Dan Besse, CIB editor is still cib@conservationcouncilnc.org.

We also last week noted that the first two parties to challenge the DAQ permit for Cliffside through the administrative process had filed the necessary papers with a state administrative law judge. First out of the challenge block were N.C. WARN (Waste Awareness and Reduction Network) and Appalachian Voices (not Canary Coalition as erroneously reported last week).


EcoSpot Winner


Monsanto's Right to Deceive You

A Fake Group Fights for Monsanto's Right to Deceive You

The American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, or Afact, calls itself a “grass-roots organization” that came together to defend their right to use the artificial growth hormone recombinant bovine somatotropin, also known as rBST or rBGH, in their milk production.

What they do not tell you is that Afact is not only an organization of dairy farmers. The group actually has close ties to Monsanto, the makers of rBGH, which is marketed under the brand name Posilac.

Monsanto and a Colorado consultant that lists Monsanto as a client helped to organize Afact. The group has also worked with marketing firm Osborn & Barr, whose founders include a former Monsanto executive.

As a growing number of consumers are choosing to buy milk that does not contain artificial growth hormones, Afact has started a counteroffensive to stop milk labels from being allowed to say they contain “no artificial growth hormone.”

Cows treated with Posilac produce about one gallon more per day than untreated cows. Certain farmers want to keep using the hormone to boost their profits, while many consumers wonder about the potential health risks to humans and cows.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared that Posilac is safe, but many other countries have refused to approve it.

Sources: New York Times March 9, 2008

Concert Tonight, 29th, Aberdeen

Home Fires Burning Continues March 29th


Veteran Song Writer
Performs in downtown Aberdeen
Admission $12. at the door. Members $10. Well behaved children welcome. Under 12, $6. Doors open at 7:15.

Reserve your seat at theroosterswife@yahoo.com

The winner of our quiz is Dennis McCracken. He correctly named the three accordian players to grace the stage of the Rooster's Wife, Scott, from Boulder Acoustic Society, Elizabeth from the Carolina Circus Clowns and Michelle who sings with Danny Daughtridge. Congratulations! Two free tickets, Mr. McCracken!

Take US 1 to Main Street, Aberdeen. Go east, through downtown, over the railroad track and up the hill. Turn left on Blue Street, and proceed to the corner of High and Blue. Come on in to hear great music. Bring your friends. And your friends' friends!

The Rooster’s Wife is a private non-profit association organized to celebrate the performing arts in Aberdeen, North Carolina. Created to serve the community by preserving our cultural heritage and presenting the talent of the next generation, the Rooster’s Wife is committed to offering affordable programs for every age to enjoy. We thank our generous sponsors for their support.

Monsanto vs. Us


Plastic Water Bottles


NC Third in the Nation, Iowa First



Environmental ScoreCard, CCNC

[note: Our own Harris Blake is among 'the filthy five']

Sierra Club Endorses Besse

Sierra Club: Besse the "champion of environmental stewardship"
I'm pleased and excited to receive the Sierra Club's endorsement for Lieutenant Governor.

In announcing their support, the Sierra Club's North Carolina Political Committee chair, Chris Dowdle, said, "Dan Besse has distinguished himself as a champion of environmental stewardship."

And I really appreciate what the Sierra Club said about why I got their support: "The Sierra Club notes that several other candidates for Lt. Governor have expressed similar commitment to key conservation issues, but chose to endorse Mr. Besse because he has a long-established record of action on environmental issues." (Emphasis added.)

In other words, I have the Sierra Club's support because I'm the environmental candidate with the record to prove it.

Getting the nod from America's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization inspired me to record my thoughts on how I got into advocacy for a clean and green environment in the first place. Our volunteer video whiz Frank has done his usual great job with that, and here's the result:

As I say in the video, this big endorsement from the Sierra Club, added to the earlier endorsement from the Conservation PAC, gives me a "clean sweep" of support from our state's citizen environmental advocates.

My thanks go to all these folks who also care deeply for our clean water and air, our green and productive land, and our people's health. I won't let you down. These are gifts that we hold in trust for out children, and their children, and all future generations.

As North Carolina's next Lieutenant Governor, I pledge to do all that I can to see that we honor that trust and meet our responsibility for our children's future.


Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse 2008

Email paid for by Dan Besse 2008.
PO. 15346
Winston-Salem, NC 27113


Hillary's Whopper


Meat Industry


Pauley Lecture, April 8

Richard Kimball, President of Project Vote Smart will give the Pilot's Sam Ragan Memorial Lecture on April 8th as part of the Ruth Pauley Lecture Series. His topic will be "Depending on the Wisdom of Strangers: The Voter's Self Defense System".

The lecture will be at 7:30 PM in Owens Auditorium on the Sandhills Community College campus in Pinehurst. Admission is free and open to the public with no tickets required. For additional information, call 910-245-3132 after 6:00 PM.


Krugman on Bailouts



Glacier Melt Doubled

Glaciers suffer record shrinkage
The rate at which some of the world's glaciers are melting has more than doubled, new data says.



They Can Do It

The dog, cat and rat

This is a video of a homeless guy in Santa Barbara and his pets. You can see these guys every week working State St. for donations.
The animals, as you can see, are pretty well fed, and I can attest to how mellow they are. They are a family.
The man who owns them rigged a harness up for his cat so she wouldn't have to walk so much (like the dog and himself). At some
juncture the rat came along, and as no one wanted to eat anyone else, the rat started riding with the cat and often, on the cat!
The dog will stand all day and let you talk to him and admire his
altruistic, we-are-one personality for a few chin scratches.
The Mayor of Santa Barbara filmed this clip and sent it out as a
Christmas card.


Conservation Insider Bulletin, Mar. 14

Conservation Insider Bulletin
Published weekly for the Conservation Council of North Carolina
Conservation News to Peruse & Use
Editor: Dan Besse, cib@conservationcouncilnc.org

March 14, 2008

There are actions on water, energy, and air to examine, from Raleigh to Washington, this week in CIB:

--Administrative Watch: Graywater Use OK'd; Utilities Told to Limit Wasteful Payment Plan

--Nuclear Update: Ambush at NLC; The Water Gap; $17 Billion

--Washington Watch: EPA Announces New Ozone Standards

Administrative Watch: Graywater Use OK'd; Utilities Told to Limit Wasteful Payment Plan

Graywater Use OK'd: There's nothing like a little historic drought to push state officials into reconsidering rules that prohibit water use efficiency measures. Here's one: reuse of "gray water"—tap water that's been used for some types of washing purposes (not sewer or laundry water). Bath and dishwater, says Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources secretary Bill Ross, should be fine for trees and flowers. Officials anticipate "tweaking" state health rules to make that official sometime this spring. More systematic graywater reuse plans should be a part of longer-term state water use efficiency planning. (News & Observer, 3/12/08.)

Utilities Told to Limit Wasteful Payment Plan: Meanwhile, over at the N.C. Utilities Commission, Progress and Duke have been told to stop signing up new customers for their "balanced" or "fixed" payment plans. These plans permit customers to pay a flat monthly fee regardless of actual usage. About 170,000 households had signed up for the plans. Analysis showed that the Duke customers increased their electric use by almost 10 percent over three years; Progress customers, by 8.6 percent.

And this makes sense for our state at a time when we're trying to encourage energy efficiency? Not. The state Attorney General's office didn't think so either, and urged the Utilities Commission to abolish the programs altogether. The Commission split the difference (is that a pattern?) and permitted the utilities to maintain the plans for existing customers but not add new ones. (News & Observer, 3/14/08.)

Nuclear Update: Ambush at NLC; The Water Gap; $17 Billion

Ambush at NLC: Pro-nuclear power officials ran a surprise attempt to revise the National League of Cities' (NLC) policies on nuclear power at the NLC's annual Washington conference this week. The topic was not on the agenda for the NLC Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Policy & Advocacy Committee's spring policy discussion. However, with less than an hour to go in the scheduled discussion, a handful of officials launched a clearly coordinated attempt to return the issue to the committee's 2008 work plan. They wanted the NLC to move to an stance of aggressively supporting new nuclear power construction. The effort did not succeed for the time being. However, it displayed the nuclear industry's current full-court press to generate public backing for revival of the moribund nuclear construction program.

The Water Gap: The "nuclear revivalists" have yet to explain where they will find the massive amounts of cooling water needed for their proposed new units in the Carolinas. As previously noted in CIB, water supplies have already come close to critically low levels for both Duke's McGuire and Progress' Harris plants this winter. As the historic drought continues, next summer's likely cooling water gaps are enough to worry even ardent nuclear backers. And those are existing plants, not new ones.

$17 Billion: Of course, one need not look to new factors such as water shortages to be wary of new nuclear construction. Old-fashioned sticker shock can suffice. Progress Energy this week told Florida state regulators that its proposed two new nuclear units there would cost $17 billion—enough to raise the rates of its Florida customers by three to four percent a year for the next ten years. The reactors that Progress is planning to use in Florida are the same model that the company wants to install at its proposed new Harris unit. Oh boy!: Plants that make Cliffside, at a mere $3 billion, look cheap. (News & Observer, 3/11/08.)

Washington Watch: EPA Announces New Ozone Standards

In a decision guaranteed to make all sides unhappy, the Environmental Protection Agency this week announced new standards for ground-level ozone. Without going into the parts per million standard in sleep-inducing detail, CIB will note simply that the standards are stronger than the current rule, tougher than industry wanted, and weaker than environmental groups or public health advocates sought. Expect legal challenges all 'round. Environmental advocates will point out that EPA's own health experts recommended tougher limits.

Even if the new standards are not overturned or postponed by the courts, it will be some time before EPA formally designates "nonattainment" areas—local regions which do not meet the new limits and for which states must prepare cleanup plans. An early look at North Carolina monitoring records indicate that 14 counties would currently be found in violation. They're found in the mountains, Charlotte region, Triad, and Triangle. Mecklenburg and Rowan counties top the list, with measures that exceed even the current weaker standard.

By any measure, there's cleanup work to be done.


More on Moratorium


Obama's Mom


To the Clinton Campaign



To Save Wild Bees

Look at this beautiful new comb. You can really see the bee space. From a hive of wild bees in Raleigh.


Don't Eat What Won't Rot

[if a microbe shuns your food, why would YOU eat it?]


Global Food Prices



Viable Third Party?



How Humane Can We Be?


We have learned to raise more animals in less space by confining them in ever-smaller cages. Some now say we are confining animals in cages that are simply too small. This leads us to ask: “How small is too small?”

This Saturday at 9am Pacific, the Food Chain with Michael Olson hosts Anita Mengels from Californians for Sound Farm Animal Agriculture and Paul Shapiro from the Humane Society’s Factory Farming Project for a conversation about the economies and ethics of confining farm animals.

Log on the Food Chain page at www.metrofarm.com to listen on your radio, computer or IPOD.

Topics include the evolution of animal agriculture from farm to factory; the ethics of raising animals in cages; and who, or what, should govern the size of those cages.
Question of the Week: How humane can we be to farm animals?

Rooster's Wife Calendar of Concerts

Roster's Wife Concerts, Aberdeen

Mark your calendars for these upcoming events you won't want to miss:
April 19th Santa Cruz River Band 8p.m. At the corner of Blue and High

May 3rd Bill Staines 8p.m. At the corner of Blue and High

May 11th Summer on the Porch opens with the Near Misses 6 p.m.

May 25th The Wiyos ! April Fools on the Porch 6 p.m.

June 8th Doug and Telisha Williams return ! Jeff and Vida open . 6 p.m.

June 22nd Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade, with Victoria Vox starts at 6 p.m.

Go to www.theroosterswife.org for the whole summer schedule .

See Lobby Day Info


Local Poultry Processing Plant

Wednesday, April 2, 2008: Grand Opening Ceremony and Tour

for the new

Chaudry Halal poultry processing plant
Siler City 2:00-5:00 pm

Program begins at the Carolina Stockyard Auditorium
260 Stockyard Rd., Siler City

Participants will rotate through educational programs and a tour of the new plant.

Opening Comments:

- Chatham County Center of NC Cooperative Extension

- NCSU Extension Administration

- NCSU Poultry Science Department

- Growers' Choice

- American Livestock Breeds Conservanc


Educational Program:

- Grower Guidelines for Poultry and Fowl Processing, Debbie Roos, North Carolina Cooperative Extension and Judy Lessler, Growers’ Choice

- On-farm Biosecurity, Dr. Donna Carver, NCSU Extension Poultry Veterinarian

- Tour of new poultry plant

Please RSVP by calling Cooperative Extension at 919-542-8202.


Waterwise Workshop, Early April



Dan Besse for Lt. Gov.

[a quick illustration about what Dan has already done for NC]


Forbidden Fruit--- and Vegetables

March 1, 2008, New York Times
Op-Ed Contributor

My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)
Rushford, Minn.

IF you’ve stood in line at a farmers’ market recently, you know that the local food movement is thriving, to the point that small farmers are having a tough time keeping up with the demand.

But consumers who would like to be able to buy local fruits and vegetables not just at farmers’ markets, but also in the produce aisle of their supermarket, will be dismayed to learn that the federal government works deliberately and forcefully to prevent the local food movement from expanding. And the barriers that the United States Department of Agriculture has put in place will be extended when the farm bill that House and Senate negotiators are working on now goes into effect.

As a small organic vegetable producer in southern Minnesota, I know this because my efforts to expand production to meet regional demand have been severely hampered by the Agriculture Department’s commodity farm program. As I’ve looked into the politics behind those restrictions, I’ve come to understand that this is precisely the outcome that the program’s backers in California and Florida have in mind: they want to snuff out the local competition before it even gets started.

Last year, knowing that my own 100 acres wouldn’t be enough to meet demand, I rented 25 acres on two nearby corn farms. I plowed under the alfalfa hay that was established there, and planted watermelons, tomatoes and vegetables for natural-food stores and a community-supported agriculture program.

All went well until early July. That’s when the two landowners discovered that there was a problem with the local office of the Farm Service Administration, the Agriculture Department branch that runs the commodity farm program, and it was going to be expensive to fix.

The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on “corn base” acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with the commodity program.

I’ve discovered that typically, a farmer who grows the forbidden fruits and vegetables on corn acreage not only has to give up his subsidy for the year on that acreage, he is also penalized the market value of the illicit crop, and runs the risk that those acres will be permanently ineligible for any subsidies in the future. (The penalties apply only to fruits and vegetables — if the farmer decides to grow another commodity crop, or even nothing at all, there’s no problem.)

In my case, that meant I paid my landlords $8,771 — for one season alone! And this was in a year when the high price of grain meant that only one of the government’s three crop-support programs was in effect; the total bill might be much worse in the future.

In addition, the bureaucratic entanglements that these two farmers faced at the Farm Service office were substantial. The federal farm program is making it next to impossible for farmers to rent land to me to grow fresh organic vegetables.

Why? Because national fruit and vegetable growers based in California, Florida and Texas fear competition from regional producers like myself. Through their control of Congressional delegations from those states, they have been able to virtually monopolize the country’s fresh produce markets.

That’s unfortunate, because small producers will have to expand on a significant scale across the nation if local foods are to continue to enter the mainstream as the public demands. My problems are just the tip of the iceberg.

Last year, Midwestern lawmakers proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would provide some farmers, though only those who supply processors, with some relief from the penalties that I’ve faced — for example, a soybean farmer who wanted to grow tomatoes would give up his usual subsidy on those acres but suffer none of the other penalties. However, the Congressional delegations from the big produce states made the death of what is known as Farm Flex their highest farm bill priority, and so it appears to be going nowhere, except perhaps as a tiny pilot program.

Who pays the price for this senselessness? Certainly I do, as a Midwestern vegetable farmer. But anyone trying to do what I do on, say, wheat acreage in the Dakotas, or rice acreage in Arkansas would face the same penalties. Local and regional fruit and vegetable production will languish anywhere that the commodity program has influence.

Ultimately of course, it is the consumer who will pay the greatest price for this — whether it is in the form of higher prices I will have to charge to absorb the government’s fines, or in the form of less access to the kind of fresh, local produce that the country is crying out for.

Farmers need the choice of what to plant on their farms, and consumers need more farms like mine producing high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables to meet increasing demand from local markets — without the federal government actively discouraging them.


They Really Are Better