Study finds mercury emitted into atmosphere transforms, enters food chain

January 8, 2012

Mercury released from Ohio River Valley industries is damaging the brains of children around the world.

That's a conclusion that can be drawn from a University of Washington (UW) study published online Dec. 19 in the journal Nature Geoscience, which concludes mercury in the upper atmosphere can circulate for "long periods of time" before falling back to the Earth's surface.

“Much of emitted mercury is deposited far from its original sources,” the paper's lead author Seth Lyman said in a UW news release. “Mercury emitted on the other side of the globe could be deposited right at our back door, depending on where and how it is transported, chemically transformed and deposited.”

Indictments issued against former IURC chair for official misconduct

December 15, 2011

While citizen advocates hail indictments charging Gov. Mitch Daniels's chief utility regulator with official misconduct, they say David Lott Hardy is but a symbol of rampant corruption during the outgoing governor's two terms. A Marion County grand jury on Dec. 12, 2012, indicted the former chair of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) on three felony counts in cases concerning Duke Energy Corp.

"Although assaults on democracy are bipartisan and in Indiana date back to the Bayh administration, Mitch Daniels has taken crony capitalism to new heights," ValleyWatch's John Blair said in a statement issued to The Bloomington Alternative. "It seems there is nothing he won't do to enrich his corporate friends at the expense of taxpayers and ratepayers. And although he must share the blame with his appointed IURC, which is still inherently corrupt, it is clear the problem here runs to the top of the Daniels administration."

Former Salt Lake mayor says Democrats, Republicans sustain corrupt system

December 14, 2011

Americans who feel betrayed by timid, capitulatory leadership from Democrats like President Barack Obama and Indiana Senate candidate Joe Donnelly now have a candidate to consider at the presidential level. On Dec. 12, 2011, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced his candidacy on the Justice Party ticket and the next day laid out a cogent progressive agenda on Democracy Now!

"Although hailing from a solidly red state, Anderson has been known as one of the most progressive mayors of any major U.S. city in recent years," host Amy Goodman said in her introduction to the report. "During his two mayoral terms from 2000 to 2008, Anderson was an outspoken champion of LGBT rights, environmental sustainability and the antiwar movement in opposition to the Iraq War."

December 2, 2011

ASHEVILLE – Following up on the White House demonstrations to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, Bill McKibben, founder of, is already hard at work on the next stage of the movement to rein in reliance on fossil fuels.

On a three-state speaking tour, he is calling for a constitutional amendment to undo the damage the Supreme Court did when it declared corporations as persons and campaign contributions as speech. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more money last election cycle than the Democratic and Republican national committees combined – and 97 percent of that went to climate deniers, he told an audience in Asheville on Nov. 30. The climate change movement has to figure out how to break “the corporate power dominating our political lives.”

November 5, 2011

According to the scientific secretary for the European Committee on Radiation Risks (ECRR), when senior employee of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission the late Professor John Goffman resigned from his post, he said, “The nuclear industry is waging a war against humanity.”

Pediatrician Helen Caldicott, one of the world’s most important authorities on the health effects of ionizing radiation and the world’s leading spokesperson for the antinuclear movement, would agree. Caldicott is also the cofounder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and the 2003 winner of the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize. She recently established the Nuclear Policy Research Institute.

September 27, 2011

While brainstorming with editors at NUVO for the Sept. 28 cover story on the Newport prairie controversy, I told them I love covering small-town power struggles because public officials inevitably shoot from the hip. They seldom display the political savvy of, say, a deputy director at a major state agency. By the time I had finished my reporting, the point was proven, in spades. Ditto the argument that citizen input into our democratic process has become little more than a sham.

Jack Fenoglio, for example, is president of the Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority and a lifelong member of the Izaak Walton League, a conservation group whose National Director Clara Walters lives in Clinton. She has organized national support for preserving a 336-acre black-soil prairie restoration on the Newport site. When I asked Fenoglio to square his opposition to the preservation with that of the organization, he minced no words.

"The prairie issue really started with one man who kind of led the project when he was working for Mason and Hanger," the retired metallurgical engineer said. "And he has got everybody else on the bandwagon to one degree more or less. But I think a lot of the rank and file members of all these organizations that he has brought to the table probably wouldn't recognize prairie grass if they saw it."

September 9, 2011

West-central Indiana business and government officials made no mystery of their plans for the Newport Chemical Depot (NECD) from almost the moment they learned it truly would be theirs. In the summer of 2008, as the U.S. Army finished eliminating the 1,269 tons of VX nerve agent that had been manufactured and stored there for a half century, the locals declared their priorities in a Terre Haute Tribune-Star article.

“The thing that is the immediate impact is the job loss,” Ed Cole, director of the Economic Development Council of Vermillion County and point person for the Vermillion Chemical Depot Local Reuse Authority (LRA), told the newspaper in July that year. "It is just going to be a tremendously bad hit for us."

August 26, 2011

Tim Maloney wasn't alone when he objected to the U.S. Army's October 2010 finding that a reuse plan for the Newport Chemical Depot would have no significant environmental impact on the Vermillion County environs. That the plan offered no protection for a rare and endangered black-soil prairie on the base wasn't even the most confounding aspect. Proposed by a local reuse authority empowered to determine the 7,100-acre base's future, the plan called for a coal-liquefaction plant on land that had been maintained largely in agricultural and natural states.

The Army's determination that a coal plant would produce no adverse environmental impacts was one of several issues the Hoosier Environmental Council's (HEC) senior policy director said rendered it "inadequate" under federal law. "This would be a major industrial facility, with potential impacts to air quality, water quality, disturbance or destruction of forest, wetlands, and prairie, and dramatic change in the nature of the property," Maloney wrote in Dec. 18, 2010, comments. He called on the Army to complete a full environmental impact statement for Newport.

August 22, 2011

Citizens Action Coalition

Today, in a letter to Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Chairman James Atterholt, the Citizens Action Coalition raised concerns with respect to the commission’s apparent lack of engagement to date, at least publicly, in the proposed merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy. CAC also submitted a public information request seeking any communications regarding the proposed merger between and among officials of both Duke Energy and Progress Energy with the IURC and other State agencies.

“We find it difficult to understand why the commission has not already begun a public investigation into the consequences of this proposed merger on the customers of Duke Energy Indiana,” stated Kerwin Olson, interim executive director of CAC. “Especially considering the recent behavior of Duke Energy not only with inappropriate communications with the commission, but also with the gross mismanagement of the problem-plagued Edwardsport IGCC.”

August 6, 2011

We gnomes always try to protect the natural treasures of Mother Earth. That's what gnomes do. But we're a little and old-fashioned, and our enemies have outgrown us. Many of those who exploit Mother Earth for valuable resources have grown to be such huge, powerful, greedy giants that they can slap aside anyone – even national governments – who try to restrain them. Agencies that were created to regulate them, such as the EPA, have been overwhelmed and neutered by their power.

That's why some of us gnomes have been discussing the need for an International Environmental Court to deal with global crimes against Mother Earth – the really brutal, heinous crimes, which are the moral equivalents of rape and murder. Two that certainly reach that level of depravity are mountaintop removal coal mining and gas fracking.

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