Sierra Magazine

Lay of the Land

Assault on Environmental Regulations | The Power of Protest | Power Plant Emissions | Golden Eagles and the Arctic Wildlife Refuge | Hear-No-Evil Department | Bold Strokes |WWatch | Updates


Ignorance Is Bliss? The American public may be concerned about a potential terrorist attack on our nuclear facilities, but the members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission apparently aren’t. In December, the commissioners voted unanimously not to consider terrorism-related threats when issuing licenses for nuclear power plants. The possibility was deemed too "speculative" to be included in analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act for five operating reactors and two proposed facilities. (See "Lay of the Land," March/April 2003.)

No More Percs In December air-quality officials in the Los Angeles area passed the nation’s first ban on perchloroethylene, the smelly solvent used in dry cleaning. Perc, as it’s more commonly known, is a likely carcinogen and one of the most abundant toxic air pollutants in the region, where 850 tons are released annually. It’s also not necessary. A group of local dry cleaners surveyed last fall confirmed that switching from perc to "wet cleaning"–a nontoxic, water-based alternative–was cheaper and equally effective. (See "The Hidden Life of Laundry," September/October 2002.)

Port Plan Deep-Sixed Visions of massive cargo ships, 50-foot-deep gashes in the seabed, and water too dirty for fish and shellfish drove Rhode Island residents on a nine-year campaign to oppose building a deep-water containerport on Narragansett Bay. In January, newly sworn-in governor Don Carcieri halted the development plans, citing environmental, economic, and quality of life issues, including noise and traffic. (See "The Sierra Club Bulletin," May/June 1999.)

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