Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vermont Environmental News, June 24, 2010

CVPS Solar Array Goes Online in Rutland | WCAX.COM
Central Vermont Public Service flipped the switch on a new solar array in Rutland Tuesday.

Governor Jim Douglas and CVPS President Bob Young unveiled the Renewable Energy Education Center along Route 7. The park has 264 solar panels. The $400,000 dollar project is expected to provide enough energy to power ten homes.
Vermont Supreme Court to Hear Milton Salvage Yard Dispute | The Burlington Free Press
The Vermont Supreme Court is due today to hear oral arguments in a long-running dispute over a Milton salvage yard.

A Chittenden Superior Court judge last year rejected efforts by ABC Metals Recycling to obtain permits that would enable the business to continue operating on Shirley Avenue in Milton.

ABC Metals has operated there at least since 1970. Owners Gilbert and Blanche Rhoades let their permits lapse about 2001, according to court papers. Neighbors of the salvage yard complained of noise, fears of groundwater contamination and a large number of tires on the site.
Justices Back Monsanto on Biotech Seed Planting | NYTimes.com
In its first-ever ruling on genetically modified crops, the Supreme Court on Monday overturned a lower court’s ban on the planting of alfalfa seeds engineered to resist Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
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The decision was a victory for Monsanto and others in the agricultural biotechnology industry, with potential implications for other cases, like one involving genetically engineered sugar beets.

But in practice the decision is not likely to measurably speed up the resumption of planting of the genetically engineered alfalfa.

A federal district judge in San Francisco had ruled in 2007 that the Agriculture Department had approved the genetically engineered alfalfa for commercial planting without adequately considering the possible environment impact, as required by federal law. The judge vacated approval, known as deregulation of the crop, and also imposed a nationwide ban on planting those seeds. The ban was later upheld on appeal.

But the Supreme Court, in a 7-to-1 decision, said the lower court judge had gone too far, ruling that the national ban prevented the Agriculture Department from considering a partial approval. That avenue, the court said, would have allowed some of the alfalfa to be grown under certain conditions; for example, isolating it from conventional alfalfa.
Colchester Selectboard takes Comments on Bike-path Proposal | The Burlington Free Press
Some Colchester residents objected Tuesday to a plan to remove more than 100 trees along the route of a proposed bike path on Holy Cross Road.

The Colchester Selectboard held a public hearing Tuesday night required under state law about the proposal to remove the trees.
Mount Snow Plans to Make More Powder | WCAX.COM
A southern Vermont ski area is hoping to install an inflatable dam to help make snow during the winter months.

Mount Snow ski resort in West Dover has long struggled with a lack of water for snowmaking.

The resort presented a plan Tuesday to install an inflatable dam on nearby Cold Brook. Several other Vermont ski areas already use similar structures to collect water for snowmaking.

Resort officials say the dam would be removed after each ski season and would take less than ten minutes to deflate.

The plan is now before the Agency of Natural Resources.
NY Exhibit Imagines Utopian, Green Cities in 2030 | WCAX.COM
In New York City, a two-mile stretch of the FDR Drive parkway is torn down to open lower Manhattan for parks and plazas. In Jakarta, Indonesia, bike taxis are re-engineered to be lighter and easier to steer.

These cities and eight others are featured in an exhibit on environmentally friendly transportation opening Thursday in New York.

The exhibit is titled "Our Cities Ourselves." It's at the Center for Architecture in Greenwich (GREN'-ich) Village through Sept. 11 before traveling to the other cities.
Advocates Threaten Lawsuit Over Federal Reaction to Bat Catastrophe | WCAX.COM
An advocacy group alarmed over the mass die-off of bats with white-nose syndrome is threatening to sue the Department of Interior.

White-nose is estimated to have killed more than a million bats in 14 states since it was first noticed in New York in 2006. The syndrome is named for the sugary smudges of fungus on affected bats.

The Center for Biological Diversity earlier this year asked for endangered species protection for two bat species hit hard by white-nose - the eastern small-footed bat and the northern long-eared bat. Now the Vermont-based group says it will sue the federal agency in 60 days if it fails to respond to the call for stronger protections.
Prime Agricultural Soils In Jeopardy? | UVM Extension New Farmer Project
Protecting farmland forever is possible in Vermont with off-site mitigation funds set aside through the Act 250 process. Act 250 was designed to foster a delicate balance between development and agriculture. Off-site mitigation fees are imposed on developers who undertake projects that involve the disturbance of primary agricultural soils. The fees are placed into a fund that backs the purchase of conservation easements for farms in other locations with prime agricultural soils. Off-site mitigation fees, in most cases, must cover the purchase of conservation easements for at least twice the acreage of soils that are being disturbed in the development project.
An Eco-Friendly Floor Finish – from cows | CSMonitor.com
Andrew Meyer believes that he's found a "whey" to help Vermont's dairy farms by turning a cheesemaking byproduct into an eco-friendly wood finish.
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Like other water-based substitutes for traditional (oil-based) polyurethane, Vermont Natural Coatings' (VNC) PolyWhey dries fast and emits no toxic fumes. It releases very low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), about one-quarter the amount released by some polyurethanes. Unlike other waterborne finishes, its hardness makes it a viable option for professional-grade work, experts say.