Good News/Bad News November 21, 2002

The oil spill pretty much took all the enviro headlines this week, so we're facing a skimpy little column. But we persevere! We have some good news, some bad news, and even a little something about a nuclear leak in Japan that got little to no press in the States.

Bad News

Yeah, so 5.6 TONS of radioactive water leaked from a reactor in Fukui Prefecture, Japan, this week. But apparently warning the public of the leak, which lasted for THREE DAYS, was "unnecessary" because it didn't affect the power output of the plant. And the waste? Oh, it was very low radioactive waste, so 5.6 tons of it shouldn't affect you too much.

There were bunches of stupid decisions this week in the U.S. First off, the stupid Cosmetic Ingredients Review panel has decided that phthalates are safe as used, despite mounting evidence that they cause birth defects.

Then the stupid federal court decided to allow the Navy limited tests of their deadly new sonar, despite conclusive evidence that it essentially causes sea animals' heads to explode.

And finally, stupid Bayer is going to fight any attempts to limit the amount of antibiotics it can inject into its chickens. This is being proposed because if bacteria become immune to these antibiotics, which WILL happen if they are overused, then basically we're all gonna die. Free market, ho!

The Bush Administration is facing yet another charge of contempt. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club urged a federal judge to hold Dick Cheney in contempt for his refusal to release his energy papers. It may work for manatees, Dick, but not for energy...

Surprisingly, we have a decent amount of Good News this week.

Nancy Pelosi, despite having already rolled over on a pledge to stand up to the Bush Admin., has, at least in the past, stood up for environmental causes. We'll see if her beliefs can withstand the mighty power of the neocon juggernaut.

Maybe our cynicism guard has been weakened, but we're putting this in the good news section -- biotech companies this week have agreed to regulate growing some corn crops. It's purely motivated by self-interest, of course, but at least these companies (unlike Bayer) realize that if insects become resistant to their pesticide-containing crops, they're going out of business. Which, in our humble opinion, would be a mixed blessing. Organic food vs. being ruled by a race of SuperBugs. Huh....

And as ProdiGene nears a meager concession for its ProdiGious soybean contamination problem, even companies that regularly use GM ingredients in their products speak out against pharma-foods.

For better or worse, President Bush's energy bill is on hold until the Republican Congress takes over next year. Democrats say that they'll still fight against drilling in Alaska, but then, Democrats say a lot of things, don't they?

And this isn't so much EnviroNews, or Good News, as it is Weird News. There's this tree-sit protest going on in Southern California, where a sitter has apparently been hired to protect a 400-year-old oak tree. Jeez, is this a paying job now? Sign us up! We could certainly use a little R 'n' R in a peaceful old oak tree!

Matt Wheeland puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like anyone else.


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