06/1999 News Briefs

Published June 1, 1999

EPA Accused of Financial Mismanagement

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General issued a 76-page report accusing the agency of mismanaging taxpayer funds and improperly awarding non-competitive grants to the Center for Chesapeake Communities, according to a report in Earth Times. The organization has already received nearly $400,000 from EPA and has requested another $350,000. Earth Times found the grants to be particularly suspect because the Center’s work appears merely to duplicate the efforts of a long-standing Chesapeake Bay program that involves over 1600 state and local governments and is also funded by EPA .

Gore Seeks Funding for Continuous-coverage Earth Cam

The Chicago Sun-Times recently asked whether a $74 million NASA project, initiated by Vice President Al Gore, is much more than an expensive screen saver. The project, for which contracts have already been let, will put a satellite into sun orbit, primarily for the purpose of beaming back continuous, live pictures of the sun side of Earth for publication on the Internet. Gore’s project comes at a time when the space agency’s resources are severely strained, and many projects have been delayed.

CO2 and Warming: Which Causes Which?

Swiss and American researchers have reported a relationship between rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide and periods of warming. But the relationship is not what we have been led to believe. Studying Antarctic ice core samples dating back 400,000 years, scientists found atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide increased after periods of warm weather–not before. Levels of the gas in Earth’s atmosphere are never stable and are subject to wide swings.

Park System must Pony up $12.7 Million for Private Island Taking

The National Park Service has been ordered by a federal court to pay 84-year old Francis Gherini $12.7 million for Santa Cruz Island. The service took over Gehrini’s island about 20 years ago through the power of eminent domain. However, they refused to pay him fair market value for the island, located approximately 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles. During Gherini’s long battle for appropriate compensation, Congress proved to be of little help–it approved the Park Service’s taking of the land in 1996.

Hungry Cougars like Sheep, ESA-listed or Not

California environmentalists want the big-horn sheep added to the Endangered Species list. Sheep numbers have been falling dramatically since the hunting of cougars was banned a number of years ago. It turns out that cougars consider the big-horn sheep to be something of a delicacy . . . and it is highly unlikely that the big cats will recognize their meals’ new status if the sheep are listed.

Are We Getting All the Government We Pay For?

The cost of being regulated is going up, according to the University of Florida’s Chemically Speaking. Chemical manufacturers pay fees to the Environmental Protection Agency so the agency can conduct tests to set tolerance levels for their products. The agency has announced plans to raise those fees from the current $65,600 to $650,000.

Following the Environmental Movement’s Money Trail

The Capital Research Center has begun a project to track the funding of grassroots environmental organizations. The group’s Web-based Green Watch Database can be searched by state or by organization. Eventually, Green Watch expects to make available each group’s 990 tax forms. Point your Web browser to www.capitalresearch.org/GreenWatch/GW_Welcome.htm.

Geyser Microbes Get Reprieve

A deal between a biotechnology company and the U.S. Park Service was suspended by federal court Judge Royce C. Lamberth until an environmental impact assessment can be made. The deal would have allowed the company to pay the Park Service for the right to search for microbes in the geysers of Yellowstone National Park. A report by Andrew Pollack in The New York Times said the contract with Diversa Corporation would have paid the Service $100,000 over five years, plus 0.5 to 10 percent royalties on any commercially successful discovery.

Proposed EPA Rule Takes Aim at Agriculture

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced in the Federal Register a proposed rule to eliminate the tolerances (that is, ban the use) of a wide variety of agricultural pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. The agency is acting under the Food Quality Protection Act. Under the Act, the agency will be reviewing the tolerances of hundreds of agricultural chemicals over the next few years.