09/1999 News Briefs

Published September 1, 1999

Power Line Scare Was Faked

The scientist who issued the 1992 report linking electromagnetic fields with childhood leukemia and other diseases faked his data, according to the federal Office of Research Integrity. The investigation, launched as a result of a whistleblower complaint, was said to have found that the scientist, Richard Liburdy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, discarded data that did not support his conclusion. Liburdy has since resigned from the laboratory but insists his conclusions “stand as published.”

EPA Admits Gasoline Additive Harmful

Faced with a report from her own blue-ribbon panel concluding that the gasoline oxygenate MTBE is a harmful water pollutant, EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner called for a phase-out of the additive she had staunchly defended for years. Pressure to phase out the chemical has mounted since the release of an earlier National Research Council report finding that oxygenates in gasoline do little to reduce air pollution.

Sail a Bus to Work

Ferries, such as those that move commuters to and from work across Washington State’s Puget Sound, are 10 times more polluting than automobiles and 13 times more polluting than buses, according to a report by the San Francisco-based anti-transportation group, Bluewater Network. The report did not address the difficulties standing in the way of driving cars and buses over water.

Forest Service Stiffs Schools

“I hope the administration is not so arrogant as to presume Washington knows better than our rural areas what is best for their children, their families, and their communities,” said Robert Goodlatte (R-Virginia), referring to the Clinton-Gore administration’s threat to veto a bill that would restore funding to schools in forest towns decimated by Forest Service policies. Since rural communities in National Forests cannot tax their dominant landowner, the federal government, the Forest Service has, since 1908, funded schools in these communities with 25 percent of National Forest revenue, primarily derived from lumbering fees. Under pressure from anti-lumbering groups, the Forest Service has cut lumbering by 75 percent in recent years. The resulting loss of revenue has wreaked economic havoc in forest towns and has meant cuts in school classes, staff sizes, salaries, and extracurricular activities.

Ted Turner Turns Oil Baron

Ted Turner, anti-development activist and multi-millionaire owner of CNN and the Atlanta Braves, is going into the oil-drilling business, according to a report in Forbes magazine. When Turner bought his 578,000-acre Vermejo Park Ranch three years ago, he swore to leave the land in its natural condition for the bison and his ecotourists friends to roam. However, when PennzEnergy Co. offered Turner the opportunity to buy the mineral rights–and thus prevent drilling–or accept a 3 percent royalty on the oil pumped, he decided to take the money. The company has now announced plans to drill about 500 wells, build roads, and install pipelines on Turner’s property, said Forbes. Turner is expected to net over $80 million in the deal.

EPA Supports Cockroach Comic Book

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a grant for $24,192 to the Chicago-based Business and Professional People for the Public Interest. Among the organization’s key projects is a comic book that teaches residents of Chicago neighborhoods “appropriate techniques for controlling cockroaches in their homes.”