AmeriScan: January 17, 2000

U.S. POPULATION MAY DOUBLE THIS CENTURY

WASHINGTON, DC, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - The U.S. population could more than double in this century, according to national population projections to the year 2100 released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Bureau projects the nation's resident population - 273 million on July 1, 1999 - could reach 404 million in 2050 and 571 million in 2100. These results are based on middle level assumptions regarding population growth during the century. "Even though childbearing levels in the United States remain quite close to the level needed only to replace the population, the increasing number of potential parents and continued migration from abroad would be sufficient to add nearly 300 million people during the next century," said Census Bureau analyst Frederick Hollmann. "Because the Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the U.S. are younger than the nation as a whole and because they continue to receive international migrants, these populations will become increasingly prominent."

The data also show lowest and highest alternative projections. The lowest series projects population growth to 314 million in 2050 and then decline to 283 million in 2100. The highest projects 553 million people in 2050 and 1.2 billion in 2100. The projections do not take into account possible future changes in the way people report their race and ethnicity and, because of the length of time covered and other uncertainties, they are considered less reliable for the latter part of the century. More information is available at: http://www.census.gov

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RAPID EVOLUTION MAKES INVASIVE SPECIES MORE DANGEROUS

SEATTLE, Washington, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - Evidence from the accidental introduction to the Americas of an Old World fruit fly from Europe, which has exhibited one of fastest evolutionary changes ever recorded, may force scientists to consider evolution as a strategy of invasive species. Writing in last week's issue of the journal "Science," a team of researchers report that the fly, Drosophila subobscura, has evolved a new wing size pattern in less than two decades. In the process, D. subobscura seems to be replacing native fruit flies in the Pacific Northwest. "Humans are introducing plants and animals all around the globe and, in many cases, those introductions are wreaking havoc on native populations," said Raymond Huey, a University of Washington evolutionary biologist and lead author of the study. "The dynamics of invasions become much more complicated if the invaders evolve rapidly. It is very likely that introduced invading species are evolving, and scientists typically have not appreciated how fast evolution can occur in an introduced species. This probably means native populations will be changing as well in response to introduced species."

"This observation of very rapid evolution may prod ecologists to realize that invading species are not set in stone but can evolve quickly in response to their new environment, thereby changing the dynamics of their interactions with native species," Huey said. "Previously, scientists studying invasions have largely assumed that evolution can be ignored because it was thought to occur so slowly relative to the dynamics of invasion. This study shows that an invader can in fact evolve very quickly, in just a few years, and potentially have a big impact."

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TWO HAWAIIAN CAVE SPECIES LISTED AS ENDANGERED

HONOLULU, Hawai’i, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has listed two small, blind Hawaiian cave animals - the Kauai cave wolf spider and Kauai cave amphipod - as endangered. The two species exist in a predator-prey relationship in a handful of moist lava tubes and crevices in the Koloa lava flows in southeastern Kauai. The Kauai cave wolf spider is a small sightless hunting spider adapted to life in the lava tubes. Instead of building webs, it chases and grabs its prey. Three populations of the Kauai cave wolf spider are known to exist. The Kauai cave amphipod is a sightless landhopper that resembles a shrimp. It feeds on the decaying roots of surface vegetation that reach into the cave system, as well as rotting sticks, branches, and other plant materials. The amphipod, believed to be the primary prey of the Kauai cave wolf spider, is known from just five populations.

"Both of these Kauai cave species are fascinating examples of adaptation to their habitat," said Anne Badgley, USFWS Pacific regional director. "Both were discovered in 1971 in subterranean areas not originally expected to provide habitat for any cave animals. By working with others, including private landowners, we hope to ensure their continued survival." The two species are found only on private lands. The USFWS has been working with the Kukui‘ula Development Corporation since 1995 to help restore and protect two caves on the company’s property that provide habitat for the species. The agency hopes to undertake similar partnerships with other private landowners.

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PERMITS ISSUED TO SHOOT PROBLEM WOLF IN WYOMING

LAKEWOOD, Colorado, January 17, 2000 (ENS) The USFWS has issued permits to two landowners in Wyoming that will allow them to shoot a problem wolf on their property. Under extraordinary circumstances and as part of the nonessential experimental population rule under the Endangered Species Act, the USFWS can issue a special permit allowing a landowner to assist the agency in controlling chronic problem wolves. During 1999, there were a series of wolf attacks on livestock and pets on private property in Wyoming. Despite intensive efforts over many months, the USFWS was unable to prevent the attacks. Because of the unusual circumstances associated with wolf depredations in this area, the USFWS requested the assistance of the two landowners in removing the wolf most likely responsible for the killing of their pets and livestock.

The agency says it spent hundreds of hours last year trying to capture the wolves believed to be causing the problem. The permits, effective Friday, allow the specified landowners to kill one wolf on either property. Each permit is restricted to that individual’s respective private property. As repeated searches of this area have not documented an active wolf pack, it is likely that if a wolf were shot, it would probably be the wolf that preyed on livestock and pets. If no further livestock or pet attacks occur by March 1, the permits will be terminated, to allow any new wolves that move into the area a chance to select a den site and raise pups. The USFWS’s wolf management program recognizes that scientific and regulated removal of occasional problem wolves increases local tolerance of the majority of wolves which do not prey on livestock.

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STARTER KIT HELPS GOVERNMENTS BUY GREEN

WASHINGTON, DC, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - Under a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Association of Counties (NACo's) has developed the "Environmental Purchasing Starter Kit" to help local governments set up a cost effective environmental purchasing program. The kit is designed for purchasing agents, county and city managers, recycling coordinators, local elected officials, product users and vendors. The kit includes: case studies on energy efficiency and pest control; a sample purchasing resolution; a glossary of environmental purchasing terms; and a baseline survey for internal local government use.

To assist federal agencies in making their purchasing practices more environmentally friendly, EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program has created a variety of resources. Later this year, the EPP Program will be releasing several Internet tools to help users with all levels of environmental purchasing experience. The tools will include a database of environmental information for products and services, an interactive general training tool, a "How to do EPP" tutorial and a Promising Practices Guide for "greening" contracting practices. The Starter Kit is available at NACo's web site at: http://www.naco.org/programs/environ/purchase.cfm. When the EPA tools are released, they will be available at: http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/epp.

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WATER AGENCY SEEKS PROTECTION FROM ENVIRONMENTAL PROSECUTIONS

LACEY, Washington, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - A Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) proposed by the Tacoma Water Department for their water withdrawal and timber management operations in the Green River watershed has been released by the USFWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), private companies whose normal operations could result in the killing or harm to a federally listed species may enter into an agreement called an HCP. HCPs protect companies from legal action over harm to wildlife and habitats, in exchange for a promise of environmental protections. The proposed HCP would allow Tacoma Water to avoid penalties if certain federally protected species are harmed. In exchange, the company would protect river flows, streams and streamside riparian zones, and both live and dead trees.

Tacoma Water has requested a permit allowing its water withdrawal and timber management operations to potentially harm the following listed species: gray wolf, bald eagle, marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, grizzly bear, bull trout and Puget Sound chinook salmon. The company is also seeking coverage for 25 additional species not now listed under the ESA, which would become effective upon any future listing. If approved, Tacoma's HCP would be in effect for 50 years. It would cover timber management on 14,888 acres. Public comment will be accepted from January 14 to March 14, 2000. For copies of the documents and additional information contact: Tim Romanski, USFWS, 510 Desmond Drive, S.E., Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503, Tel: 360-753-5823; or Mike Grady, NMFS, 510 Desmond Drive, S.E., Suite 103, Lacey, Washington 98503, Tel: 360-753-6052.

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INNOVATIVE FUME HOOD SAVES ENERGY, PROTECTS WORKERS

BERKELEY, California, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - An advanced, energy efficient laboratory fume hood technology developed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) could save significant energy and money for labs across the country. Fume hoods are used in research facilities to contain and exhaust hazardous fumes created by industrial processes or laboratory experiments. The fumes are drawn out of the hood by fans through a port at the top of the hood. "Fume hoods typically require large exhaust flows and are usually never turned off, so they use a tremendous amount of energy both in fan power and in heated and cooled room air," said Geoffrey Bell of LBNL’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division. "The new fume hood technology uses only 30 percent of the airflow of standard laboratory fume hood installations."

fume hood

The advanced fume hood continues to protect workers while saving energy (Photo courtesy LBNL)

The LBNL design uses small supply fans at the top and bottom of the hood’s face to push air into the hood and into the user’s breathing zone. This sets up a divider of air that prevents fumes from reaching the user standing in front of the hood, allowing the exhaust fan to operate at a much lower flow. Because less air is flowing through the hood, the building’s environmental conditioning system can be downsized, saving energy and initial construction costs. "We estimate that in California alone, the efficient technology could save 360 gigawatt-hours (GWh or billion watt-hours) of energy per year," said Dale Sartor of LBNL. That translates to a conservative estimated annual cost savings of $30 million. Nationwide, the total savings is estimated to be ten times higher.

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NEW MICROTURBINE COULD COMPETE AGAINST FUEL CELLS

TULSA, Oklahoma, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - Williams Distributed Power Services says it has developed an integrated power generation package that provides many of the benefits of fuel cells, but at a lower cost. The Williams Energy Conversion Unit is designed to generate, store, condition and deliver "high quality electricity with remarkable simplicity and minimal environmental impact to commercial and industrial users," says the company's Mory Houshmand. "We are generating, storing and dispatching electricity in a way that has never been done before," Houshmand adds. "The technology imbedded in the power storage and management component used in this hybrid system is not unlike fuel cells."

Houshmand claims that the Williams ECU offers power storage options that are not available in any current fuel cell technology. The unit will be marketed as a practical and proven stationary fuel cell, without the complexities and expenses of adding and operating a fuel reformer. Most fuel cells require a reformer to convert hydrocarbon fuels into hydrogen, which then is combined with oxygen to create electricity. The Williams ECU converts fuel directly into electricity in a low emission microturbine. An energy management device stores and conditions the power before it is delivered as high quality, reliable electricity. A prototype has been operating near Denver for the past several months. Untreated gas from a wellhead is transferred to the unit and converted into stored electricity, providing reliable power to a pump at significant savings. Additional units will be installed in the U.S. and international markets during the next few months.

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PHILADELPHIA LAUNCHES GREEN CITY INITIATIVE

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - Federal, state and city officials, along with the environmental group Global Action Plan, have launched a new initiative to help Philadelphia's residents make their neighborhoods cleaner and more livable. The EPA, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia announced the project last week. Through the partnership, EPA will work at the community level to help families identify common sense steps they can take to clean up their environment and protect their children's health. "Urban livability is a top priority for EPA, and community awareness is essential to any long-term effort to improve the quality of life here and in other cities," said EPA Regional Administrator Bradley Campbell.

"When people talk about saving the environment, we often think of farmland and open spaces. But it's just as important to clean up our neighborhoods and cities. Our legacy for our children must include providing them with a healthy environment and teaching them how to maintain it," said State Senator Allyson Schwartz. "One of the most critical issues of the new millennium is environmental awareness and lifestyle changes are needed by every individual to protect our most precious resource, the environment," said State Senator Shirley Kitchen. "It is through these behavioral changes that we may ensure a future for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren." The program is looking for interested city residents to participate. More information is available at: www.epa.gov/region03/greenkit or www.globalactionplan.org

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LOG ON TO LOGGERHEAD MIGRATION

BAJA, California, January 17, 2000 (ENS) - Yamilet, a loggerhead sea turtle satellite-tagged by researchers in Baja in March 1999, has since swum 3,000 miles - almost halfway to Japan. She is now about 400 miles north of Honolulu, Hawai’i, with more than 4,000 miles to swim before she reaches Japan. Yamilet is helping scientists better understand the mysteries of sea turtle migrations, says science director of Wildcoast and project leader Wallace Nichols and his Mexican colleagues Antonio and Bety Resendiz. Wildcoast is an international conservation team working to preserve the endangered marine species and coastal wildlands of the Californias.

Baja Californian fisherman Guillermo Murillo accidentally captured Yamilet and gave the turtle to the researchers. The team named the animal Yamilet after Murillo's daughter, and released her into the ocean with a satellite transmitter on her back. In 1999, Nichols and Resendiz tracked a turtle named Adelita from Mexico to Japan, joined by millions of people around the world on the Internet. "Yamilet is reinforcing what Adelita taught us about loggerhead migration - their tracks are remarkably similar, both spatially and temporally," Nichols explained. Loggerhead sea turtles are born in Japan and swim to Baja to feed. At 20 to 30 years of age they return to Japanese beaches to reproduce - a 15,000 miles round trip journey. Accidental catch in nets and on hooks makes the trip treacherous. The recent closure of long line fishing activities north of Hawaii makes one segment of these turtle's path a bit safer. But Yamilet "still has a long way to go," said Nichols. To follow Yamilet’s path, go to: http://www.cccturtle.org/sat14.htm