For immediate release - 6 December 2012
UK alleges it will address drivers of climate change - but aims to subsidise a massive expansion of wood-based biomass industry
Doha, Qatar - As negotiations failed to finalise an agreement on a controversial forest policy called REDD+  during the ongoing UN Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Doha, Qatar , forest groups published a letter challenging claims that the drivers of forest change are being addressed by countries within the REDD+ negotiations.
Negotiations on REDD+ turned sour in Doha as developing countries realised they can expect very little funding for this highly controversial forest scheme over the coming years. "The REDD honeymoon is obviously over" states Simone Lovera, executive director of the Global Forest Coalition, who followed the talks.
Furthermore, at the same time that REDD+ is being promoted within the UNFCCC to supposedly protect forest carbon, there is a massive expansion of the biomass industry underway, which will generate increased international trade in wood. This is being actively supported by governments such as that of the UK, and will dwarf any attempts made to protect forests within the UNFCCC.
Last week, the UK presented a 'new' forest-related funding scheme, which supposedly aims to address the drivers of forest loss . The £300 million funding refered to, however, is not new funding, but money already pledged under existing schemes . In addition, these funds will not stop deforestation or forest degradation: the UK government appears to be unable to see past false private sector greenwashing schemes, like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil , which promotes the continued expansion of commodity production and industrial plantations. Certification schemes such as this do not address the real drivers of deforestation. In addition they do nothing to prevent conflict over forest land with indigenous peoples or address the massive carbon emissions generated by peatland destruction for oil palm plantations .
At the same time energy companies such as RWE, Drax and E.On - all of whom are converting coal-fired power station capacity in the UK, to create the world's largest wood-burning biomass power stations - are massively increasing imports of wood pellets.
In a public letter released today , the Global Forest Coalition  reveals that Europe's single biggest carbon emitter , energy giant RWE, plans to increase pellet production for their power stations in the UK and elsewhere in Europe from 3 million to 6 million tonnes a year - with each tonne of pellets requiring 2 tonnes of fresh wood. One-fifth of wood pellets produced globally are now burned in RWE power stations. Global Forest Coalition is calling on RWE, to cease all investments in biomass and drop its false greenwash claims about wood-based bioenergy.
This massive and escalating increase in demand for wood for bioenergy, which is forecast to attract a total of around £3 billion in subsidies in the UK in the future  will lead to the acceleration of forest destruction in the southern US and British Columbia especially , the main regions from which RWE is currently sourcing its pellets .
RWE's actions also demonstrate the dubious role commodity certification schemes are likely to play in allowing further forest destruction. As the letter to RWE explains, RWE's own sustainability label - the Green Gold Label - is not an independent certification scheme, but is in fact closely connected to RWE.
Similarly, in the US, in Columbus, Mississipi, KiOR has spent more than US$200 million on a plant that is supposed to mix shredded wood waste with a patented catalyst, powdered to talcum-like consistency , ignoring the health impacts  of this biomass-based process. GFC's North American focal point Anne Petermann of the Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign  adds:
"Expansion of wood-based bioenergy will lead to further destruction of biodiverse native forests in the US South and elsewhere as they are replaced with monoculture tree plantations. This could even include highly destructive genetically engineered tree plantations if they are legalized. Any scheme to address climate change that advances the conversion of carbon-rich forests to carbon-poor plantations is absurd and bound to fail."
As an alternative to REDD, GFC strongly supports holistic, non-market based and non-private sector driven approaches to rights-based forest conservation for climate change mitigation and adaptation purposes, as proposed by countries like Bolivia and Indigenous Peoples' themselves. European countries, and especially the UK, need to review the ways in which they aim to address the drivers of forest loss: their escalating demand for wood including for energy constitutes one of the biggest pressures driving forest loss around the world.
Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch: +44-131 623 2600
Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project: +1 802 578 0477
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in Developing Countries. For more information about REDD+ see: http://www.criticalcollective.org/publications/redd/
 UNFCCC's 18th Conference of the Parties, Doha, Qatar, 26 November-7 December 2012.
 See: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn12_152/pn12_152.aspx (especially footnotes 3-5)
 The UK government's support for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is outlined here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/10/30/sustainable-palm-oil/. However, certification does address the underlying drivers of deforestation as explained here: http://www.foei.org/en/media/archive/2009/certified-palm-oil-not-a-solution.
 For an overview of the UK's involvement in the biomass trade, and the impacts of that trade on Indigenous Peoples and forests, see Sustainable Biomass: the Modern Myth, Biofuelwatch, September 2012, http://globalforestcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Biofuelwatch-Biomass-Myth.pdf.
 The letter from Global Forest Coalition to RWE can be downloaded at: http://globalforestcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/GFC-letter-to-RWE-FINAL.pdf
 Global Forest Coalition is a coalition of 54 NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' organisations from 39 countries, striving for rights-based, socially just forest policies. See: http://www.globalforestcoalition.org
 This figure is based on projected futue biomass capacity in the UK (see http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/maps/uk-biomass.html) and government proposals for long-term biomass subsidies (see http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/consultation/ro-banding/5936-renewables-obligation-consultation-the-government.pdf).
 Reports from Dogwood Alliance and Greenpeace Canada have published evidence showing that demand for industrial biomass is already significantly increasing pressures on forests in both regions.
 RWE has been investing in new-build biomass power stations and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants in the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands and countries like Brazil, Central and West Africa are seen as important future suppliers.
 Fuel From Waste, Poised at a Milestone:
 Health Impacts of Pollution from Biomass Incinerators: http://saveamericasforests.org/Forests%20-%20Incinerators%20-%20Biomass/Documents/Briefing/Presentations/Pollution_files/frame.htm
For Immediate Release: December 1, 2011
Contact: Severn Williams, 510-336-9566, firstname.lastname@example.org
Request Made to Department of Fish and Game and National Marine Fisheries Service for Higher Flows on the Eel River
Promising Salmon Run Needs Sufficient Water to Thrive
North Coast, Calif. With all signs pointing to a promising spawning year for imperiled salmonids on the Eel River, watershed advocacy group Friends of the Eel River (FOER) releases the following statement:
FOER recently sent a request to the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service to authorize the release of blockwater from Lake Pillsbury into the Eel River. Blockwater is held in the reservoir and released to assist in fish migration and survival when DFG and NMFS agree to do so. Our request was made in support of what may be the largest run of migrating salmon that have returned to the Eel River in decades. To date, CDFG and NMFS have never authorized the release of blockwater.
While this years increase in chinook salmon numbers is very good news, it poses new and different challenges when it comes to ensuring a successful migration and spawning season.
Although within the legal requirements to prevent jeopardizing Eel River chinook, releases from the Potter Valley Project into the Eel this fall have generally been at the lower end of the range of flows specified for this time of year. The best available scientific information strongly indicates that higher flows generally provide better migration and spawning conditions.
Agency representatives have stated their concern that releasing more water into the mainstem Eel could make it difficult for fish to find their preferred tributaries. While we share concerns for the once-robust Tomki Creek population of chinook, a sharp decline in returns to Tomki Creek was already evident in 2010. Meanwhile, in 2011, independent observers have confirmed that chinook have moved into the South Fork Eel and Van Duzen rivers.
The agencies position on the use of the Eel River blockwater appears to be that higher flows within the recommended range would be harmful to Eel River chinook. If thats true, then the agencies should clarify the recommended flows, and should come forward with the evidence that shows harm to Eel River chinook from the higher flows that previous studies support.
It defies common sense to imagine that water must be held back within a human-engineered system in a watershed that has traditionally supported salmonid runs that number in the hundreds of thousands. Until PG&Es Potter Valley Project was built in 1908, salmon and steelhead thrived in the Eel River with the benefit of ample cold headwaters. Current releases into the Eel do not even approximate the natural flows in this river in terms of volume, nutrient transport, or gravel bed load moving capacity.
If water is not available for salmon to continue upstream, they will spawn in the mainstem in areas that can more easily be washed out when flows later increase. Ensuring that flows remain at a brisk pace throughout salmon and steelhead runs will help these fish to either continue their journey upstream or identify sheltered areas on the mainstem in which to build their redds (egg nests).
One official in the region recently criticized FOER for requesting an increase in flows on the Eel River while expressing concerns about releasing too much water into the Russian River. The comparison regarding appropriate releases of water into these rivers is misinformed at best, if not outright misleading. The Russian River is an over-watered system in which unnaturally high flows overwhelm threatened salmon. The Eel River is systematically deprived of the minimal flows required to support migrating fish. The source of both of these problems is the same: PG&Es outdated Potter Valley Project and mismanaged flow regimes.
For all of these reasons, Friends of the Eel River once again requests that PG&E release higher flows from its Potter Valley Project into the Eel River. As 2011 appears to be one of our best opportunities to bolster recovering chinook, coho, and steelhead populations, it is in everyones best interest to ensure a very successful spawning year.
About Friends of the Eel River (www.eelriver.org)
Friends of the Eel River (FOER) is an environmental advocacy organization with more than 2,200 members. The organization strives to restore the Eel River and its tributaries to a wild and natural state of abundance. FOER works with scientists, fisheries experts, sport fishing alliances, river recreationalists, and concerned citizens to advocate for an increase in flows to the river that would enable native salmon and steelhead to once again thrive in the watershed.
For Immediate Release
November 29, 2011
NCAI Expresses Support for Interiors Proposed Leasing Reforms for
Tribal Lands and Renewable Energy Development
Organization calls for implementation of proposed reforms to jumpstart tribally
driven renewable energy and economic development
WASHINGTON, DC The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) welcomed Mondays news from the Department of Interior (DOI) regarding proposed reforms to outdated lease regulations obstructing tribal economic and renewable energy development. The proposed lease reforms would streamline the leasing process on tribal lands and clear the way for tribally driven renewable solar and wind energy projects. This simple regulatory change promises to directly stimulate economic growth in Native communities and benefit the American economy.
The federal government has heard the message of tribal nations to remove barriers stifling tribal economic and renewable energy development. Until these reforms are enacted though, tribes will continue to wait excessive lengths of time to permit a renewable energy project or approve a mortgage, said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI. We dont have time to wait; were ready to strengthen our economies now and jumpstart the clean energy economy in Indian Country. This is something the entire country can get behind and there should be no hesitation.
The proposed rule would modify regulations governing the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) process for approving surface leasing on lands the federal government holds in trust for tribes and individuals. Interior serves as the trustee for tribal lands and is responsible for approximately
65 56 million acres in Indian Country. The Department of Energy estimates Indian lands contain significant renewable energy potential enough to meet 32 percent of the nations energy needs with wind power and 2 times the entire countrys energy needs with solar power.
Although great potential exists, very few tribally owned renewable energy projects have moved forward because of the disproportionate review processes tribes are subject to. The new regulations impose timelines on the Department for reviewing leases - up to 30 days for residential leases, and up to 60 days for business leases and wind and solar energy leases. The proposed regulations distinguish between residential, business, and wind and solar energy leases, and establish separate processes for review.
In a statement released on Monday, the Department of Interior described the existing regulations, adopted in 1961, as an antiquated, one-size fits all; approach to processing all surface leases. Under the current system, which lacks a defined process or deadlines, it is not uncommon for a simple mortgage application to languish for several years waiting approval from the federal government.
These reforms signal a positive step toward what NCAI President Keel called for in the annual State of Indian Nations Address in January of 2011. During the national address Keel called for the federal government to clear the way for [tribes] to expand economic opportunity so that we might compete clear the way for us to develop energy on our own lands, build commerce and create jobs, so that we might contribute more the economy of America. We can create more opportunity for energy independence, and a larger recovery.
There will be a 60 day comment period on the proposed regulations.
Navajo Memory Complements Science in Study of Climate Change
Redsteer discusses her work Friday, Oct. 21 at the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in
One third of the Navajo Nation is sand dunes, much of it stabilized to varying degrees by vegetation that holds moisture and provides livestock range. Some of the dunes are very old; others date from the 1950s, when drought and wind mobilized sediment from floods on the
Dune mobility can threaten roads and buildings, as well as the livestock raising vital to the Navajo economy and indispensable to its culture. It is one of many signs of the regions increased aridity. Redsteer and the USGS Navajo Land Use Planning Project, under license to and in collaboration with the Navajo Nation, are mapping the areas geology and documenting its changes to help Navajo leaders plan for the challenge.
In addition to using ground-based lidar measurements, meteorological monitoring, GPS and aerial and satellite imaging, Redsteer drew on more than 70 elders living in the southwestern Navajo Nation to record observed changes in land use practices, as well as weather, vegetation, location of water sources and the frequency of wind and dust storms. The interviews helped corroborate USGS science.
Old men told me that they had seen grass grow in areas where no grass grows now, Redsteer said.
We have aerial photographic surveys of the study area from 1934 and from 1954, but between those years there were big changes. Our interviewing not only provides another line of evidence, but it also fills in a lot of the data gaps.
Redsteers work also points up the vulnerability of indigenous people who live on land she calls just on the edge of being habitable.
The annual moisture here has historically been just enough to get by. When there is even a small change, there is a huge effect, she said.
John Leeper, director of the Navajo Water Management Branch of the Navajo Nation in
The Navajo Nation is intended to be a permanent homeland for the Navajo people, he said. However, much of that homeland may be in jeopardy if these trends can not be successfully mitigated. Not only has Margarets work identified and documented the current trends, her work also gives us perspective on the steps that can, and must, be taken to reverse many of the most damaging of these trends. Her work will help to ensure that the Navajo people will be able to find their livelihoods here long into the future.
As part of their work, Redsteer and the USGS have conducted pilot studies of mitigations to dune movement, such as placing 2m by 2m PLA sand barriers to stabilize dunes and seeding dune areas to encourage vegetation.
If were going to do research for peoples benefit, we have to try to see what kind of solutions there are, she said.
Redsteers research in the Great Falls dune area is described in the USGS fact sheet Monitoring and Analysis of Sand Dune Movement and Growth on the Navajo Nation, available online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3085/fs2011-3085.pdf.For more information on the SEJ conference, go to http://www.sej.org/.
CALIFORNIA TRIBE HELPS RED CROSS AID MONTANA TRIBES AFFECTED BY FLOODING THROUGH MAJOR GIFT
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Makes $200,000 Donation to the American Red Cross of Montana to Aid Tribes Recovering from Floods
San Manuel Tribal Nation (Near Highland, Calif.) June 28, 2011 The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced today that it has made a $200,000 charitable contribution to the American Red Cross of Montana for its ongoing relief efforts to assist American Indian communities, which have been directly affected by late spring flooding along the Little Bighorn and Missouri Rivers.
Initially damage affecting the Crow Indian Reservation grew to include more than one Indian tribe and reservation, including the Fort Belknap Indian Community, and Rocky Boy and Fort Peck Indian Reservations. In response the American Red Cross of Montana was called into action to provide emergency relief through shelter operations, mass care, and feeding. They remain ready to assist all who need help in the coming weeks.
San Manuels contribution is intended to support recovery and clean up efforts which continue to be hampered by a limited availability of funds and potential for more flooding as winter snows melt. In the near term, funds will be used to secure on-going shelter and the necessities of daily living for families displaced from their homes.
San Manuel recognizes that our brothers and sisters in Montana are facing a difficult period of recovery and want them to know that we stand by them through this process, said San Manuel Chairman James C. Ramos. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the American Red Cross. They have the capability, organization and expertise to mobilize quickly and effectively when disasters strike anywhere in the world.
Within the last week, Red Cross focus has shifted to damage assessment and clean-up in rural areas, with 301 people qualifying for individual client assistance owing to insurmountable structural damage to homes. Also during this time, the Red Cross has distributed 2,544 clean-up and family kits to aid others currently able to restore homes to livability.
But the need for ongoing support remains, with hundreds of reservation homes badly damaged or destroyed by flooding, and many residents still displaced.
Over the course of a five-week period,the American Red Cross of Montana lists 3,111 night stays for families and individuals affected by flooding. Also during this time, the organization count16,797 meals and 30,511 snacks served to help those in need of assistance meet basic needs.
At one point during the operation, we had 330 Crow people in our care under one roof, and were the largest Red Cross shelter in the national system during a year of nationwide storm devastation, said Rod Kopp, CEO of the American Red Cross of Montana. We did, and still do, take that responsibility seriously and pledge to help people get back on the road of recovery and a renewed quality of life.
San Manuel has a long history of working with the American Red Cross following natural disasters and emergencies in its home state of California and beyond. San Manuel has provided funds to the American Red Cross Inland Empire Chapter to support southern California communities swept by wildfires in 2003 and 2007 and recently with floods near its San Bernardino area reservation in late 2010. In the same year San Manuel contributed $1.7 million to the Red Cross Haitian earthquake relief and $320,000 to the organization to assist tribes in Nebraska, South Dakota and Arizona with their emergency relief efforts in response to 2010 winter storms.
Residents in need assistance are asked to call the American Red Cross at 1-800-ARC-MONT.
About the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians is a federally recognized American Indian tribe located near the city of Highland, Calif. The Serrano Indians are the indigenous people of the San Bernardino highlands, passes, valleys and mountains who share a common language and culture. The San Manuel reservation was established in 1891 and recognized as a sovereign nation with the right of self-government. Since time immemorial, the San Manuel tribal community has endured change and hardship. Amidst these challenges the tribe continued to maintain its unique form of governance. Like other governments it seeks to provide a better quality of life for its citizens by building infrastructure, maintaining civil services and promoting social, economic and cultural development. Today San Manuel tribal government oversees many governmental units including the departments of fire, public safety, education and environment.
ELEPHANT AID INTERNATIONAL LAUNCHED TO IMPROVE ELEPHANT WELFARE WORLDWIDE
HOHENWALD, Tenn., (November 8, 2010) Carol Buckley, co-founder and former CEO and president of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, has launched a new nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the welfare of elephants worldwide.
Elephant Aid International (EAI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, will develop programs to initiate widespread change in the care and management of elephants. EAI will take a hands-on approach to working with mahouts (elephant trainers), tourist facilities, elephant welfare groups, researchers and government officials to improve elephant welfare in captivity and the wild, as well as improving the lives of the people who care for them.
EAIs first projects will take place in Thailand , India and Nepal over the next year, including:
- Mahout workshops: instruction in the use of positive reinforcement and a more humane approach to elephant management.
- Elephant foot care course: instructing mahouts in proper foot trimming techniques to help improve foot health and eliminate life-threatening osteomyelitis (bone infection).
- The development of government-mandated elephant care centers (sanctuaries) in India .
EAI has pioneered a new system, Compassionate Elephant Management, which will eliminate antiquated, dominance-based training and result in improved elephant welfare.
Asia is primed for change but, for now, local leaders are unclear how to proceed, said EAI President and CEO Carol Buckley. New legislation in India that bans elephants in circuses and zoos, coupled with the requests that EAI has received to assist with educating mahouts in Thailand and Nepal , provides us the opportunity to directly influence the welfare of elephants.
Not only will EAI help elephants in need, she added, the care centers we develop will be a model for a country struggling to develop solutions for its elephant welfare problems.
EAIs work is based on understanding the culture and traditions of the countries in which it works, and respect for the men and women who live and work with elephants. EAI will seek to improve the standard of living of mahouts, their families and communities by:
- Removing begging elephants from the streets of Asia and exploring alternative revenue generating sources.
- Helping to improve sanitation and living conditions for mahouts, their families and their villages.
Elephants in Asia were once revered members of multigenerational tribal families. Entire villages devoted themselves to their care. Mahouts were respected members of society and handed down their traditions from father to son.
Today, however, because there is not enough work to keep elephants employed, they have become an exploited commodity. Businessmen buy them to work in illegal logging operations, tourist camps and street begging, and hire untrained boys to manage them. There are only fragile fragments remaining of the mahout-elephant traditions that have survived for thousands of years.
With our years of experience in elephant care, sanctuary development, elephant rescue and rehabilitation and development of positive elephant management systems, EAI has been invited to collaborate with other organizations in Southeast Asia to improve elephant welfare, said Buckley. These projects will be the first in a series that EAI will undertake over the coming years. As our projects become self-sustaining, we will continue to take on new and groundbreaking initiatives, expanding our efforts to improve elephant welfare around the globe.
For more information on EAI, log on to http://www.elephantaidinternational.org.
About Elephant Aid International
Elephant Aid International (EAI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was established to raise global consciousness about the lives of elephants both in captivity and in the wild. With the combined efforts of international scientists, veterinarians, mahouts (elephant handlers), elephant caregivers and elephant welfare supporters, EAI is helping to change how the public relates to elephants; how mahouts and elephant caregivers train elephants; and how captive elephants are cared for worldwide. EAI is also helping to improve the social status of mahouts through education and job advancement. By providing education and hands-on assistance, EAI is working to end the worldwide suffering of elephants one elephant at a time. Learn more at http://www.elephantaidinternational.org.
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EXPERTS: NO GOOD CANDIDATES EXIST FOR CURRENT NUCLEAR REACTOR LOAN GUARANTEE BAILOUT FUNDS, MUCH LESS TRIPLED AMOUNT UNDER OBAMA BUDGET PLAN
"Ugly" Field of Four Bailout Candidates Present Huge Taxpayer Risks With Rising Cost Estimates, Delays, Flawed Reactor Designs, and Credit Downgrades; January One of Worst Months Ever for Industry.
WASHINGTON, D.C. //February 3, 2010//What if the federal government held a beauty contest for taxpayer-backed nuclear reactor loan guarantee bailouts ... and no reactor project "beauties" could be lined up for the runway?
According to experts from around the United States, that is precisely the situation the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) faces today with the extraordinarily weak crop of four reactor project candidates vying for loan-guarantee bailouts. The four proposed projects at the top of the list for $18.5 billion in federal bailout support are: the Southern Company's Vogtle reactors in Georgia (widely believed to be the current front runner); the NRG reactor project in Texas; the VC Summer reactors in South Carolina; and the Calvert Cliffs reactor in Maryland.
The local experts are far from being alone in their negative assessment of the viability of the four bailout candidates. According to the independent Taxpayers for Common Sense, the four finalists all exhibit some combination of "rising cost estimates, delays related to reactor designs, and credit downgrades." Making matters even worse: The four deeply flawed reactor projects are reputed to be the best of the options available, which means that there are no viable candidates in the pipeline to justify the tripling to $54 billion in nuclear reactor bailouts proposed under the White House budget released this week.
This is the latest bad news for the setback-plagued nuclear power industry, which is coming off of one of its worst months ever in January 2010, including: a major court room squabble between NRG and the City of San Antonio over a surprise $4 billion estimated cost increase for two proposed reactors in Texas; the rejection of $1 billion in rate increases by Florida regulators that has caused the two state utilities to announce a slowdown on their nuclear projects; and a growing scandal in Vermont over carcinogenic tritium leaks into the water supply that threaten to derail state approval of the extension of the Vermont Yankee reactor.
Sara Barczak, a program director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, addressing the proposed Vogtle reactors in Georgia, said: "It is difficult to fathom how the Vogtle project, which was a poster child for cost overruns in the original nuclear 'boom' and bust in the United States, could be the front runner for taxpayer-backed loan guarantee bailouts. Vogtle's proposed Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design is not even approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as safe from hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. In fact, even if Vogtle got the loan guarantee go-ahead tomorrow, it could still face years of costly delays in order to make the reactor design safe or to gain license approval. This situation puts taxpayers squarely behind the eight ball in terms of increased risk from the very outset."
Barczak continued: "The bottom line here is that extremely powerful and financially savvy utilities, such as the Southern Company, have already found a way at the state level to shift the risk to those who can least afford to pay for costly new reactors and now they're hoping for even more handouts -- this time at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer. How much more burden can be piled on to the shoulders of hard working families and small businesses in Georgia?"
Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, addressing the embattled NRG reactor project in Texas, said: "The fact that NRG's South Texas Project is considered a leading candidate for loan guarantees shows just how flawed the selection process is. This project may very well be doomed at this point, given the enormous recent cost increase of $4 billion that was kept from the San Antonio City Council, and the resulting legal wrangling between the utilities proposing to build the project."
Hadden continued: "The South Texas Project is a perfect example of how the hope of loan guarantees is the only thing propping up reactors that otherwise would not be built. Even with the loan guarantees, the San Antonio City Council has signaled to their municipal utility that ratepayers can't afford the increasingly expensive energy from the reactor. NRG said they would not proceed with the reactor without the loan guarantees. If anyone can explain why sinking billions of taxpayer dollars into such a risky project makes any sense at all, it would be interesting to hear it!"
Tom Clements, Friends of the Earth, addressing the proposed VC Summer reactors in South Carolina, said: "The VC Summer project is ripe for major delays and huge cost overruns. The NRC has confirmed that the AP1000 reactor design as currently being reviewed is not 'certified' safe, contrary to claims by the utility SCE&G. Key reactor components, including the reactor pressure vessel, will have to be made overseas, and 90 percent of the uranium for fuel would come from foreign sources, belying the notion of 'home-grown power,' as is now incorrectly being touted by some SC politicians. The approval by the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) for the project in February 2009 and the law forcing rate payers to pay in advance (even if the project fails) is being challenged by Friends of the Earth before the SC Supreme Court, with a hearing likely in March 2010."
Clements added: "SCE&G, which is a small utility with limited assets, has low-balled the reactor cost, still claiming that its 55 percent share of two units would include a gross construction cost of about $6.3 billion, for a total cost of about $11.5 billion for the two units, well below the estimated cost of other reactor projects. SCE&G has admitted in quarterly filings with the SC PSC that the cost had at one point increased $500 million. The PSC made it clear in a January 2010 ruling that, although it allowed an 18-month construction delay in its original decision, it will restart the delay clock every time SCE&G requests a new schedule for construction milestones. This, coupled with an almost-certain delay in issuance of a license by the NRC, is a warning sign that the project is facing great schedule and cost uncertainty."
Michael Mariotte, executive director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, addressing the proposed Calvert Cliffs reactor in Maryland, said: "The proposed EPR reactor at Calvert Cliffs is the most expensive reactor design ever put forward for the U.S. Constellation Energy admits costs of $10 billion (not including financing) for Calvert Cliffs, whereas PPL Electric Utility projects a cost of $13-15 billion, including financing, for an identical reactor in Pennsylvania. PPL's estimate works out to approximately $9,000 per kilowattabout double the cost of wind power along Maryland's Atlantic coast."
Mariotte added: "Serious questions remain about the unprecedented level of foreign involvement in Calvert Cliffs. UniStar Nuclear is a 50/50 project of Constellation Energy and the French utility, Electricite de France (EdF). EdF is the largest single shareholder of Constellation (about 9 percent) and has recently purchased 49.9 percent of Constellation's existing reactors. Most of the construction money will go to EPR manufacturer Areva. Both EdF and Areva are 85 percent or more owned by the French government. UniStar Nuclear hopes to complement the loan guarantee with financing from the French government's Export-Import Bank. The NRC Commissioners have ordered that hearings on the foreign involvement issue be held before an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. This foreign control is pertinent since Areva's first EPR construction Olikulioto-3 in Finland is well over three years behind schedule and 75 percent over budget. The second EPR, being built by EdF at Flamanville, France, is at least 20 percent over budget after only two years of construction."
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: OPPOSITION TO THE NUCLEAR BAILOUT
Widespread opposition has emerged to proposals to award currently authorized taxpayer-backed loan guarantee bailouts, as well as President Obama's proposed $54 billion tripling of such bailouts.
As the Center for American Progress pointed out yesterday:
"One down side of the president's budget is that it includes a misguided expansion of nuclear loan guarantees. The Obama administration proposes to triple funds for nuclear loan guarantees from $18.5 billion to $54 billion. This huge growth exposes taxpayers to billions of dollars of potential liability if the nuclear debtors default on their loans. The Congressional Budget Office found that nuclear investments are very risky, stating, 'CBO considers the risk of default on such a loan guarantee to be very highwell above 50 percent.' Even if this risk factor is cut in half, one in four nuclear power plants would default on their loans due to cost overruns or other factors, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab. And there are already indications that this could occur. Taxpayers for Common Sense found that none of the four "top-tier" project proposals for the existing loan guarantee program inspire confidence. All have "rising cost estimates, delays related to reactor designs, and credit downgrades." The proposed tripling of the nuclear loan guarantee program burdens taxpayers with additional financial risk."
In a Monday article titled Obama's nuclear loan guarantees draw opposition, USA Today wrote:
"In a letter to Obama, four groups -- the National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the George Marshall Institute and the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center -- oppose an expansion of loan guarantees for new nuclear plants: 'With hundreds of billions in bailouts already on the shoulders of U. S. taxpayers, the country cannot afford to move forward with a program that could easily become the black hole for hundreds of billions more.' ...
At the conservative Heritage Foundation, David Kreutzer, a senior policy analyst in energy economic and climate change, warned against expanding loan guarantees in a recent post: 'This authorized $18.5 billion in loan guarantees will help build a handful of new nuclear reactors but any expansion of subsidies, tax credits or loan guarantees is a bad idea for taxpayers, consumers and long-term industry competitiveness. Continuing subsidies reduce the incentive to contain costs, create government dependence and stifle competition and technological development within the nuclear energy industry.
Another scholar, economist Dr. Mark Cooper at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, authored a report in June that found it would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors than it would to generate the same electricity from a combination of more energy efficiency and renewables.
Peter Bradford, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, writes ...: 'Of 26 new nuclear reactor license applications submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2007, nine have been canceled or suspended indefinitely in the last 10 months. Ten more have been delayed by one to five years. The Tennessee Valley Authority has canceled plans to revive a partially built unit.'"
For additional background on the huge risks facing U.S. taxpayers from increased loan-guarantee bailouts for the nuclear power industry, see http://tinyurl.com/yzdm6f6 and http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Press-Update.html?form_id=8&item_id=155.
CONTACT: Leslie Anderson, (703) 276-3256 or email@example.com.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio recording of the news event will be available on the Web as of 5 p.m. EST on February 3, 2010 at http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Podcasts.html.
FROM THE MOBILIZATION FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE
For Immediate Release 22 September 2009
Actions Spreading Across the U.S. Against Corporate-Driven Climate Policy
Pittsburgh, PA--As groups protest the Pittsburgh International Coal Conference days before the G-20 arrives in the city, additional actions against U.S. climate policy and the fossil fuels industry took place on both the east and west coasts.
In New York City, Climate SOS, New York Climate Action Group and Rising Tide North America protested what they called "a greenwashed U.S. climate agenda" at the opening of NYC Climate Week. Activists distributed their version of the ACESA (American Clean Energy and Security Act) bill to event attendees and media in the form of fake $2 trillion bills  which subtly depict a collusion of prominent Green NGOs (NRDC, the Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund among others) with corporate backers of the bill (BP, Shell, Dow, and others). Climate SOS organizers Dr. Rachel Smolker and Dr. Maggie Zhou engaged ceremony patrons with a pointed critique of the bill's corporate-friendly implications.
Meanwhile on the west coast, the Mobilization for Climate Justice also took action in San Francisco against the corporate-driven U.S. climate bill. Activists blocked four lanes of traffic with a parachute-shaped banner which read "Climate Justice or Climate Chaos." "If Congress wants to protect the public interest, they would never consider adopting the current climate bill (ACESA) that was written by big oil and energy corporations in the first place," said Carla Pérez of the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project. "Cap and Trade legislation coupled with direct subsidies to oil, coal, nuclear, bio-fuels and incinerator industries will only serve to add hundreds of toxic smokestacks in our backyards, she added."
Back in Pittsburgh, climate activists met in Schenley Park to set up the climate convergence--a space to talk about issues related to climate change and climate justice. Part of this effort includes the New Voices on Climate Change program of Global Justice Ecology Project. Anna Pinto, from CORE in India, who came to the U.S. for a speaking tour as part of the New Voices on Climate Change program  , explained why opening space to discuss climate justice is so important. "Climate justice is not abstract. It's practical, it's about survival. It's about need against greed," Ms. Pinto explained. "Is it worth it to have three cars today to have your children die of horrible diseases tomorrow? Both the United States and Indian governments are pandering to the greed of industrialists and financiers rather than enabling ordinary people to provide for their needs," she concluded.
Indigenous Environmental Network's Jihan Gearon, another New Voices on Climate Change participant, added her view on the centrality of climate justice within the discussion of climate change in the U.S. "From extraction to transportation to refinement to distribution to consumption to storage, Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately impacted all along this road of destruction. The end result is contaminated and diminished food and water resources, forced removals, increased rates of illness and gridlocked economies," she explained.
"Global warming and climate change pose yet another serious threat. The land of the Indigenous people in the arctic is literally melting under their feet, disrupting the lifecycles of the plants and animals they depend on, and forcing coastal and island communities to abandon their homes and traditional lands. What happens to a culture when the land and environment it stems from no longer exists? Even more frightening is that the proposed solutions to climate change, such as carbon trading, nuclear power, and 'clean' coal technologies, will only exacerbate the problems we face," she added.
The repression experienced by indigenous and marginalized communities around the world due to climate change and the fossil fuel economy is today being echoed in Pittsburgh as a result of the same G-20 countries that are the main drivers of climate change. Activists with the Three Rivers Climate Convergence and Seeds of Peace have been harassed and arrested numerous times over the past few weeks in the build up to the G-20 meetings later this week.
Protests across the U.S. demanding real, effective and just action on climate are expected to continue throughout the fall, to culminate on November 30th with massive non-violent civil disobedience actions nationally and internationally.
November 30th is significant as it is both the tenth anniversary of the historic shutdown of the WTO (World Trade Organization) meetings in Seattle and exactly one week before the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, where world leaders will meet to hammer out a new global agreement on climate.
Activists are joining together around the world to ensure that any new agreement on climate is devoted to real and just action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and not focused on corporate-controlled, profit-oriented false solutions to climate change. Massive protests are being organized by the international network Climate Justice Action to occur during the UN meeting in Copenhagen, which some activists have begun to call "CorporateHaven" due to the overwhelming influence of industry in the climate debate.
Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project +1.802.578.6980
Ananda Lee Tan, Mobilization for Climate Justice West Coast +1.415.374.0615/+220.127.116.1156
Hallie Boas, New Voices on Climate Change Coordinator +1.415.336.6590
Rachel Smolker, Climate SOS +1.802.735.7794
Abigail Singer, Mobilization for Climate Justice Co-Coordinator +1.828.280.3462
 The New Voices on Climate Change speaking tour is co-sponsored by Global Exchange, Speak Out and the Mobilization for Climate Justice. Its goal is to highlight and amplify the voices of people and communities impacted by climate change, the fossil fuel industry and profit-driven false solutions to climate change.
For Immediate Release 15 September 2009
New Voices on Climate Change North American Tour Launched
Burlington, VT--Global Justice Ecology Project's New Voices on Climate Change fall tour was launched on Monday, September 14th at the University of Vermont. The tour will travel from New England, to the G20 in Pittsburgh, to Appalachia, the midwest, southeast, Quebec and the final leg of the fall tour will culminate on November 30, 2009 in the West Coast. November 30th is the 10th anniversary of the WTO Shutdown in Seattle, and is a key organizing date for climate actions around the world this year.
The New Voices tour is co-sponsored by Global Exchange, Speak Out and the Mobilization for Climate Justice.
Hallie Boas, Coordinator of New Voices on Climate Change stated, "We launched the New Voices tour to raise awareness about the root causes and implications of human-induced climate change." She continued, "The tour is intended to inspire and empower audiences to be aware of real community based solutions to climate change already being implemented all over the world and to build the U.S. movement for climate justice, while educating people about the particularly pivotal role of U.S. climate policy in preparation for the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark this December."
The first speaker on the tour is Anastasia Pinto , Executive Director of CORE (Center for Organizing, Research and Education) in India. Ms. Pinto is traveling throughout the northeast U.S. and speaking on climate change, gender justice and Indigenous rights. Her tour will finish at the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh, September 24-25.
"Climate change and false solutions to climate change are having an especially great impact on women and indigenous peoples in the so-called developing world, including my home country, India," stated Ms. Pinto. "If we are going to have any hope of stopping the climate crisis, we must join together to take strong action," she concluded.
Other sections of the tour feature Jihan Gearon  from the Indigenous Environmental Network Faith Gemmel,  an indigenous organizer for REDOIL, Camila Moreno,  from Terra de Direitos, a Brazilian NGO, and the final speaker of the fall tour is Fiu Mataese Elisara,  an indigenous Samoan activist.
Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project stated, "There are actions planned around the U.S. and all over the world on November 30, the day the tour ends. This is also one week before the beginning of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. World leaders are gathering there to discuss creating a new global agreement on climate change. People are mobilizing globally to demand these meetings take real steps toward dealing with the climate crisis and do not merely focus on pro-corporate, profit-oriented false solutions. The New Voices tour is part of this mobilizing process to ensure that the Copenhagen climate talks must not become the CorporateHaven climate talks," she continued.
FOR INTERVIEWS PLEASE CONTACT:
Hallie Boas , Global Justice Ecology Project (West Coast Desk), New Voices Coordinator, +1.415.336.6590
Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project Co-Director, +1.802.482.2689/mobile: +1.802.578.6980
Reede Stockton, Global Exchange, International Climate Equity Campaign Manager, +1.415.575.5559
For more information please visit New Voices on Climate Change.
NOTES to Editors:
 Anna Pinto is the Secretary and Programme Director of CORE (Centre for Organisation, Research and Education), an indigenous peoples' policy research and advocacy organization based in the North East of India. Anna has been an active member of the Indian Women's Movement for over two decades. She will speak about the intersection between climate change, gender issues and indigenous rights. Anna will tour the Northeast U.S. in September to help mobilize participation in actions and events that will take place in Pittsburgh during meetings of the G-20. While the leaders of the twenty richest countries meet about the financial crisis and the climate crisis, activists representing diverse movements will convene in Pittsburgh to expose the common root causes of the financial crisis and the climate crisis and link them to war as well as the other crises we face: including food, water and biodiversity. For more on Anna
 Jihan Gearon, is Diné (Navajo) and African American. She is Tódích'ií'nii (Bitter Water) clan, and her maternal grandfather is Tl'ashchí'í (Red Bottom People) clan. Jihan's family is from the community of Old Sawmill and she grew up on the eastern part of the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Jihan is the Native Energy Organizer at the Indigenous Environmental Network, a member of the Steering Committee of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative and on the Coordinating Committee of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. Jihan will be speaking about the impacts of climate change and fossil fuels on poor communities and communities of color in the United States; and about the intersection between the financial crisis and the climate crisis and connections with the struggle for environmental justice in the U.S. She will be speaking in the industrial Midwest on a tour beginning in Pittsburgh during the G-20 talks at the end of September and ending in Detroit one week later. For more on Jihan
 Faith Gemmill is a Pit River/ Wintu and Neets'aii Gwich'in Athabascan from Arctic Village, Alaska, and is a campaign organizer for REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands). Faith previously worked on behalf of the Gwich'in Nation for over ten years as a representative, public spokesperson and Gwich'in Steering Committee staff to address the potential human health and cultural impacts of proposed oil development and production of the birthplace and nursery of the Porcupine Caribou Herd which is located within the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Faith continues as a public spokesperson, press and tribal liaison and human rights advocate with the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC). She will be touring through mountaintop removal coal mining country in the Appalachians to build bridges between the communities suffering from coal mining and those suffering from oil extraction. For more on Faith
 Camila Moreno is a lawyer and researcher with Terra de Direitos, a Brazilian NGO working on peasant and indigenous land rights. She has worked for years in support of the struggles of indigenous and peasant movements in Brazil. Camila will be speaking about the links between deforestation and climate change and the impacts on forest dependent indigenous communities, as well as the impacts of monoculture tree plantations (including genetically engineered tree plantations) developed for the production of agrofuels (biofuels). She will be touring through the Southeast U.S. during the first week of November to speak to communities where genetically engineered eucalyptus tree plantations have been proposed for the manufacture of cellulosic ethanol. For more on Camila
 Fiu Mataese Elisara-La'ulu is the Executive Director of the Ole Siosiomaga Society (OLSSI). He came to the organization after spending over eight years (1993 - 2001) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Samoa, six and a half of those years as Assistant Resident Representative (1996 - 2001). Fiu was given overall responsibilities for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and environmental programmes throughout much of his eight years with UNDP Samoa, and was closely involved with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and other environmental partners, including OLSSI, in the implementation of environment programe around Samoa and the Pacific Island countries. For more on Fiu
STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign
For Immediate Release 11 June 2009
Government Set to Approve Planting of a Quarter Million Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Trees in U.S. South
Hinesburg, VT, U.S.--The U.S. government is set to approve  a request from ArborGen, the genetically engineered (GE) tree research and development giant, for permission to plant 260,000 GE cold tolerant eucalyptus trees in 29 "field trials" across seven southern U.S. states. Approval of such a large-scale planting of these dangerous flowering GE forest trees in the U.S. is completely unprecedented. The GE eucalyptus, to be planted in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, would be allowed to flower and produce seeds, enabling them to potentially escape into native ecosystems and forests.
The STOP GE Trees Campaign, an international alliance of organizations that has banded together with the goal of globally banning the open-air release of genetically engineered trees, this week issued an "Urgent Action Alert" about ArborGen's potentially disastrous plans, with information about how the public can make comments to the government to help stop this large-scale release of GE trees.
"This is absolutely unprecedented--the government wants to approve the mass release of 260,000 flowering GE forest trees in so-called "field trials," stated Dr. Neil Carman who works with the Sierra Club in Texas. "You cannot call over a quarter of a million trees over 330 acres "field trials." These are experimental forests being planted outdoors under the disguise of "field trials" as a loophole. The government must produce an Environmental Impact Statement to carefully review all of the potential environmental threats from this large-scale GE tree release," Dr. Carman continued.
Eucalyptus are internationally known for their devastating impacts--from invasiveness to wildfires to their ability to worsen droughts. Massive wildfires in Australia earlier this year were fueled by eucalyptus, which contains a highly volatile oil. These wildfires moved at 100 km/hr and killed 173 people, who literally did not have time to escape. Additionally, eucalyptus grandis, one of the species in the GE eucalyptus hybrid, is also a known host to Cryptococcus gattii, a fungus that can cause fatal fungal meningitis in people and animals that inhale its spores. C. gattii was recently found in the U.S. 
"In Brazil, eucalyptus plantations are known as 'green deserts' because they do not allow anything else to live," stated Camila Moreno, an attorney and Global Justice Ecology Project staff consultant in Brazil. "No understory plants, no wildlife, no communities--only eucalyptus trees can survive there. They are a disaster for Brazil, which is why there exists a large social movement against eucalyptus in Brazil and many hectares of plantations have been destroyed by communities," Moreno continued.
"ArborGen and their corporate owners, International Paper, Mead Westvaco and Rubicon  could not be more irresponsible. The large-scale planting of these GE eucalyptus would spell disaster," added Danna Smith, Executive Director of the North Carolina based Dogwood Alliance. "Already millions of acres of land in the South have been converted to pine plantations. We cannot afford to lose any more of the precious native forests of the South--and especially not to eucalyptus plantations, which could make kudzu  look tame by comparison," she continued.
Official comments on the government's plans to approve the planting of 260,000 GE eucalyptus trees are being accepted until 6 July 2009 at 5 pm eastern U.S. time. Also as a Public Service, the STOP GE Trees Campaign has created a sign-on Comment Letter demanding rejection of ArborGen's request to which members of the public can add their name. That Comment Letter with signatures will be submitted to the government.
Contact: Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, +1-802-482-2689 office/+1-802-578-6980 mobile
Dr. Neil Carman, Sierra Club, +1-512-472-1767 office
Brian Tokar, Institute for Social Ecology, +1-802-229-0087
 On June 3, 2009 the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued their draft environmental assessment (EA) regarding ArborGen's request to plant 260,000 flowering GE eucalyptus trees over 330 acres in seven states. In the EA, APHIS recommends approving the request. For details see http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2008-0059
 ArborGen is jointly owned by International Paper, Mead WestVaco and Rubicon LTD. All three are timber product corporations. IP and Mead WestVaco are based in the U.S. and Rubicon is based in New Zealand. The three joint partners fund ArborGen's activities. http://www.arborgen.co.nz/business.htm
 Links and information on Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) and its control: http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/kudzu.shtml
For Immediate Release 8 May 2009
Joint Release from Global Forest Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign
Field Trial of Dangerous Genetically Engineered Trees Begins in Belgium
GE Poplars Risk Contaminating European Forests with Climate-Destructive Traits
Amsterdam, The Netherlands--Organizations internationally are condemning the planting of a highly controversial field trial of GE poplar trees on 6 May by The Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB). The poplars, planted in the Belgian countryside, have been genetically engineered for altered lignin content specifically for the production of agrofuels (industrial-scale biofuels). 
"Genetically engineered low-lignin poplar trees are a disaster waiting to happen," stated Dr. Miguel Lovera in Paraguay, chairperson of the Netherlands-based Global Forest Coalition. "Poplars include thirty species that grow in a range of climates from subalpine in Northern Europe and Canada to subtropical areas in the south. They can spread their pollen and seeds for up to hundreds of kilometers. They can even spread asexually, through vegetative propagation, and can re-sprout from the stump if cut down. Contamination of native poplars in The Netherlands and throughout Europe would be both inevitable and irreversible if GE low-lignin poplar plantations are developed," he added.
"Agrofuels made from food crops have been widely condemned due to their impacts on the global food supply," added Nina Holland, of the Belgium-based Corporate Europe Observatory. "However, manufacturing agrofuels from non-food crops like GE trees is not the answer. Non-food agrofuels will still monopolize land to grow the feedstocks--displacing agriculture and lopping down forests to free up the massive amount of land needed to produce the necessary quantities of fuel. We have to reduce fuel consumption. There is simply no way to sustainably replace the huge amount of transport fuel we currently use in Europe," she continued.
The role of healthy forests in mitigating climate change cannot be underestimated. The escape of low-lignin GE poplar pollen and seeds into forests could cause devastating impacts including increased forest mortality since lignin is largely responsible for insect and disease resistance in trees. Additionally, studies have found that low-lignin GE poplars store 30% less plant carbon as well as 70% less carbon in the soil.  They also rot much more quickly, rapidly releasing their carbon into the atmosphere. This combination of destructive impacts indicates that GE poplars are yet another false solution and cannot be part of the fight against global warming.
"It is patently absurd to state that GE low-lignin poplars developed to produce agrofuels can be part of the solution to climate change," argued Anne Petermann, Executive Director of the U.S.-based Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the international STOP GE Trees Campaign. "Not only are GE trees themselves destructive to the climate, the entire notion of using wood to manufacture liquid fuels is ludicrous. As we point out in the report, 'GE Trees, Cellulosic Biofuels and Destruction of Forest Biological Diversity', we need to be stopping the tremendous carbon emissions caused by deforestation, not creating a massive new demand for wood."
Dr. Miguel Lovera, Global Forest Coalition, +595-21-663654 (Office in Paraguay) +257 20993704 (mobile) Dutch, French, Spanish and English
Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory, +32 -(0) 2 89 30 930 (office), +32 -(0) 497 389 632 (mobile) Dutch and English
Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, +1-802-482-2689 (office), +1-802-578-0477 (mobile) English
 In May 2008 VIB's field trial permit was rejected by the Belgian Ministers for Public Health as well as Climate and Energy. After VIB fought the decision, it was suspended in December 2008 by the Belgian Council of State and in February 2009, it was announced that the field trial would be allowed.
 "Unregulated Release of GM Poplars and Hybrids", a report submitted to the USDA APHIS in response to a permit application from Oregon State University for field tests of low-lignin GE poplars, August 2007.
 The STOP GE Trees Campaign includes 136 organizations from 45 countries who have joined together to demand a global ban on the release of GE trees into the environment. The Southern Hemisphere Coordination point of the STOP GE Trees Campaign, World Rainforest Movement, has created an inventory of GE tree research and development around the world.
Press Release 6th April 2009
Global Civil Society Opposes Charred Earth Policy
147 organisations from 44 countries warn against 'biochar' (large-scale charcoal) as a dangerous new false solution to climate change
An international declaration was today launched by 147 organisations opposing the growing hype and political support for Biochar. The groups signing the declaration "strongly oppose the inclusion of soils in carbon trade and offset mechanisms, including in the Clean Development Mechanism. The groups further assert that, "the biochar initiative fails to address the root causes of climate change. 
Those issuing this warning range from small farmers associations and forest protection groups to international environmental networks and human rights advocates. Further organizations are being invited to sign the declaration.
This International declaration Biochar, a New Big Threat to People, Land and Ecosystems has been launched as UN and government delegates are meeting in Bonn this week to discuss a post-2012 climate change agreement. One of the proposals  which they will be discussing is to allow carbon credits for using charcoal as a soil additive in the hope that this will create a permanent 'carbon sink' and help to reduce global warming, and reclaim degraded soil. They will also discuss whether to generally include agricultural soils into carbon trading.
Civil society groups have called for caution on Biochar in view of serious scientific uncertainty. Many share concerns that this technology would lead to vast areas of land being converted to new plantations, thus repeating the unfolding disasters which agrofuels cause. They point out that large scale financial incentives for biochar or other soil sequestration could result in large scale land conversion and displacement of people.
Helena Paul from EcoNexus states: Including biochar and agricultural soil in carbon markets would turn soils into a commodity that could be sold to offset pollution elsewhere. It would endanger smallholder farmers and indigenous peoples who cannot compete with governments and large companies and who are at risk of being displaced if the ground is literally sold out from under their feet.
Stella Semino from Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Argentina adds: The idea that charcoal will rescue a burning planet is absurd. Some biochar proponents call for quantities of charcoal which would require over 500 million hectares of industrial tree and crop plantations. We know already that industrial agriculture and tree plantations are a major contributor to climate change and displace people and biodiversity. We need to protect ecosystems, not grow vast new monocultures and burn them! This is a farce.
Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch states: Large-scale support for biochar is premature and dangerous. Claims that biochar is retained permanently in soils and increases fertility are based on Terra Preta soils in Amazonia, which were made by indigenous peoples hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Those farmers used biodiverse organic residues and compost, as well as charcoal. Modern biochar is not the same. Some companies are making biochar out of municipal waste and tyres, others promote using biochar to scrub flue gases from coal burners and then using this combination as a fertilizer. Some plan to use giant microwave ovens to char trees justifying this by pointing to ancient Amazonian soils is absurd. 
Rachel Smolker (U.S.): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel +1 802-482-2848 or +1-802-735-7794
Almuth Ernsting (UK): email@example.com
- Tel 0044-1224-324797
Helena Paul (UK): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel +44(0)207431-4357
Stella Semino (Denmark): email@example.com
- Tel +45(0)463-25328
 The declaration and organizations can be found at http://www.regenwald.org/international/englisch/news.php?id=1226 . Further Organizations wishing to add their name to the declaration should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
 The governments of Belize, Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Micronesia, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, have called for the inclusion of biochar into the Clean Development Mechanism, i.e. into carbon trading. This is also supported by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
 For further information and references regarding biochar, see Biochar for Climate Change Mitigation: Fact or Fiction? http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/docs/biocharbriefing.pdf
For Immediate Release 1 April, 2009
FOREST CAMPAIGNERS REJECT PRINCE CHARLES' RAINFOREST SPECULATION PLANS
The Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide network of environmental organizations and Indigenous Peoples Organizations, have publicly rejected the plans of the Prince of Wales to finance rainforest protection with a system of bonds that are to be paid back with funding derived from carbon markets. The Prince launched his idea at a meeting with G20 Heads of State in St. James Palace today.
"It appears that the Prince has not read any newspapers in the past year," responded Dr. Miguel Lovera, the chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition. "Carbon markets have proven to be a highly unreliable source of funding for environmental protection. The last thing forests and forest peoples need is yet another form of financial speculation."
The members of the Global Forest Coalition are greatly concerned about the negative impacts the inclusion of forests in carbon markets will have on Indigenous Peoples and other forest dependant peoples.
Already the UN's newest market based mechanism for using forests as carbon offsets, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), has been controversial due to its predicted impacts on forests and Indigenous Peoples' rights. 
"Indigenous Peoples have proven to be capable of conserving and restoring their forests; but since we do not destroy forests, we will not be able to sell projects to reduce deforestation on the carbon market," states Marcial Arias, policy advisor of the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest and Latin American Indigenous peoples' focal point of the Global Forest Coalition, who is attending the climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany  this week. "Instead, we are already seeing how Indigenous Peoples are being forcibly displaced from their land by carbon traders who want to use their lands to establish monoculture tree plantations."
Mr. Arias further added that Indigenous Peoples in developing nations have deliberately been selected to become part of the carbon market (developing nations are excluded from many of the schemes) because the legal protection and land appeal mechanisms in those countries are less likely to interfere with the development of the market based mechanisms.
Global Forest Coalition supports the position of the participants in the UK Climate Camp,  who are in the streets of London to oppose carbon markets. "Carbon markets favour a handful of polluters only. In terms of mitigating climate change, carbon markets have proven to be a waste of time and money. The climate crisis is escalating so rapidly that we need both an immediate halt to deforestation AND a clear commitment of the developed country members of the G20 to take the lead and commit to the necessary reduction of at least 80% in their greenhouse gas emissions--with no carbon offsets," adds Anne Petermann, North American focal point for the Global Forest Coalition and executive director of Global Justice Ecology Project.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Miguel Lovera: (in Asunción, Paraguay): +595-991-216536
Marcial Arias (in Bonn, Germany): +507-67807457
Anne Petermann (in Vermont, U.S.): +1-802-482-2689 (office) +1-802-578-0477 (mobile)
 "Protest Manifests as Indigenous Rights are opposed by U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand at UN Climate Conference" http://globaljusticeecology.org/connections.php?ID=229
 The 'Bonn Climate Change Talks' is the first of three planned negotiating sessions before the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Conference Of the Parties 15, in Copenhagen this December. http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/bonn_09/items/4753.php
(Washington, D.C. September 17, 2008) Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), George Voinovich (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have introduced bipartisan legislation to boost funding for the conservation of migratory birds. The Senate bill, S. 3490, reauthorizes the existing Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA), but at significantly higher levels, to meet the growing needs of our migrants, many of which are in rapid decline. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) have introduced similar bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5756, in the House of Representatives.
Marylands natural treasure, our environment, is a lure for millions of human tourists and avian visitors each year. For nearly a decade, federal investment in habitat protection, education, research and monitoring of neotropical migratory birds has been vital to the well-being of our ecosystem and our economy, said Senator Cardin.
Staff of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report that they receive many more requests for high quality conservation projects than they can provide grants for. NMBCA currently provides a maximum authorization of $6 million per year; last year Congress appropriated $4.5 million, a $500 thousand increase from the previous year. Under the new law, that amount would increase to $20 million by 2015. Grants require matching funds from other non-federal sources. Thus far, more than $21 million from NMBCA grants has leveraged over $95 million in partner contributions. FWS lists 341 migratory bird species that can benefit from the program: http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NMBCA/BirdList.shtm.
For Immediate Release- February 28, 2008
Contacts William Craven, cell: 415.407.3426
NEW YORK As Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD) released fourth quarter earnings expected to show a 47% loss for the fiscal year, forest advocacy group ForestEthics delivered to investors a memo urging the company to consider a novel step toward revitalizing their struggling brand: environmental responsibility.
The memo outlines how an embrace of environmentally friendly practices can provide Sears with much-needed good news following a series of financial, retail, product, and customer service mishaps.
The delivery of the memo also coincides with a meeting of shareholders in ESL Investments, the hedge fund founded by Sears Chairman Edward Lampert. ForestEthics hopes these large investors will consider the benefits of change at a time when the policies that made Sears successful in the 20th century appear outdated and wasteful in the 21st.
Time and time again, weve seen what a significant impact adopting environmental standards can have on a major corporation, said Ginger Cassady of ForestEthics. It wont solve all of Sears problems, but it can help reinvent their brand while protecting forests.
The catalog practices of Sears (and SHC subsidiary Lands End) are having a devastating effect on our last remaining Endangered Forests, including the Canadian Boreal. The Boreal is logged at a rate of two acres a minute, 24 hours a day. In addition to serving as a critical line of defense against global warming, and as Earths most accessible source of freshwater, the Boreal is home to hundreds of First Nations indigenous communities and provides critical habitat for species of songbirds and caribou.
ForestEthics memo suggests six areas where Sears has an opportunity to show its commitment to employees, shareholders, customers, and the environment: the size of its climate footprint; the amount of recycled fiber in its catalogs; reduction in paper use; zero paper sourced from Endangered Forests; minimal use of precious natural resources in its paper production; and use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) fiber.
The memo also cites a recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit indicating that companies that saw their share price rise by at least 50% in the last three years place a greater importance on social and environmental goals than companies with share prices that have declined by more than 10%.
ForestEthics, a nonprofit with staff in Canada, the United States and Chile, recognizes that individual people can be mobilized to create positive environmental changeand so can corporations. Armed with this unique philosophy, ForestEthics has protected more than twelve million acres of Endangered Forests. Visit www.ForestEthics.org or www.catalogcutdown.org for more information.