Environment & Weather
Sandy Survivor Shares Tips PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 05 November 2012 16:33
No. 1 Best Investment is a Generator, He Says
By: Louis Scatigna

I live in Jackson, N.J., about 10 miles inland, and did not get the devastating storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. And yet, I have never experienced such a catastrophic weather event.

High winds brought down thousands of trees, taking out power lines and crashing into homes. The destruction here is something I never imagined I would see.

The Mantoloking Bridge, where the sea came into the bay, is where I crab all summer. It's now crumpled in the water, surrounded by flooded homes. It’s heartbreaking to see images of the place you love destroyed.

Since most homes did not have power or internet immediately after the storm, we did not get to see the images of ravaged iconic Jersey Shore towns like Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Manasquan, Mantoloking, Atlantic City and Asbury Park. Local residents are shocked at the extent of the devastation revealed in newspaper photos. Entire shore towns are gone; there is nothing left.

People are starting to lose it by the day; they’ve never gone so long without power. People in New York are eating from Dumpsters. The lines for gas, if you can find it, are miles long. A few more days like this and I worry civilization will start to break down.

Thankfully, my family is OK. I'm nutty about preparation, so we have everything we need. It is so important to be prepared for disaster.

Since I had a generator and plenty of fuel, the loss of power was tolerable. I was able to run my refrigerator and freezer, charge my cell phone and iPad, light my house and watch DVDs on the flat screen. The biggest complaint from those without generators has been boredom.

My 4G iPad was a lifesaver. I was able to tune into local radio stations and keep up with the news; view pictures and videos of the devastation; and play games to pass the time.

Water is worth its weight in gold during a crisis, you can never have too much. Canned food, candles, flashlights and batteries are other must-have prep items.

It is very difficult to get gasoline as many stations have no power or have not had any gas delivered. There are mile-long lines at the stations that do have power and gas. The traffic around them is incredible -- it’s a wild scene!

Why did so many people have so little gas that they would line up for hours to fill their tank? Because they did not prepare for the major disaster that had been forecast for the greater part of a week. My three cars are all full because I filled up BEFORE the storm.

The Jersey Shore will come back, but it will take a very long time. I feel a profound sadness seeing the beautiful shore destroyed and witnessing the suffering of those who have lost everything.

Please use this tragedy to prepare your family for disaster natural or man made. The best investment you can make is a generator. Buy one BEFORE a crisis hits.

About Louis Scatigna

Louis Scatigna is a Certified Financial Planner, national radio talk show host and author of The Financial Physician: How To Cure Your Money Problems and Boost Your Financial Health (www.thefinancialphysician.com). Lou is a regular guest on both national and local television programs and has been quoted in hundreds of publications and Web sites. He also provides additional comments and advice on his daily blog.

 
Coast Guard senior leaders assess Hurricane Sandy damages over East Coast; reconstituting the port of New York and New Jersey is the highest priority PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by United States Coast Guard   
Thursday, 01 November 2012 15:52

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, Atlantic Area commander, and Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, director of Operational Logistics, conducted an over-flight of the New Jersey coastline, New York Harbor and Long Island Wednesday to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Currently, the Coast Guard's top priority is to get the port of New York and New Jersey back to full operations. Their assessment included evaluating impacts to the marine transportation system and Coast Guard facilities. The Coast Guard enables a safe, efficient, and navigable waterway for domestic commerce, international trade and national defense.

"The United States is a maritime nation and we rely heavily on the ports for commerce - 95 percent of our goods come to us by way of sea. Just about everything you purchase on an average trip to store, from yesterday's Halloween candy to the shirt on your back, most likely came through a seaport somewhere at sometime.  The port of New York and New Jersey is vital to our nation's economy and we are doing everything humanly possible to get the port back to full operations.  This is an all-hands on deck evolution," said Parker.

The service's priorities are safety of life, to restore the marine transportation system, specifically in New York and New Jersey and rapid reconstitution of operations in the affected areas. Coast Guard crews continue to conduct assessments to ensure ports are safe and ready for business.

Coast Guard operations continue despite some service shore infrastructures sustaining flood damage, limited communications capacity and power outages.

As the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander, Parker serves as the operational commander for all Coast Guard missions within a geographic region that ranges from the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf and spans across five Coast Guard Districts and 40 states.

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Governor Quinn Announces Completion of Hofmann Dam Removal PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Erin Wilson   
Monday, 29 October 2012 14:09

Dam removal on Des Plaines River, Chicago River and other waterways will improve aquatic habitat and remove dangerous impediments to paddlers

RIVERSIDE, IL – Governor Pat Quinn today moved forward with a major initiative that will significantly improve the health of Illinois waterways by removing or modifying 16 low-head dams throughout the state over the next several years. At an event in Riverside, the governor announced the completion of the Hofmann Dam removal. The dam removal initiative is the latest by Governor Quinn to protect the environment and preserve Illinois’ natural resources.

“Free-flowing rivers benefit all of Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “Removing these dams will improve waterways across our state, making them safer for kayakers and paddlers who use them for exercise and recreation, and for anglers who enjoy fishing in these rivers. This dam removal initiative will improve conservation, water quality and outdoor recreation in Illinois.”

The Illinois Dam Removal Initiative will invest nearly $10 million to remove 12 dams in Cook County on the Des Plaines and Chicago Rivers, including the three that have already been removed.  Those projects included removing the Hofmann, Fairbank and Armitage dams in Riverside, which is helping to restore the Des Plaines River to a more free-flowing channel.  Removing these dams increases the diversity of fish and aquatic life, as well as eliminating dangers for undercurrents that were a threat to paddlers and fishing enthusiasts.

The removal of the three Des Plaines River dams, combined with the remaining nine removal projects planned in Cook County, are being funded through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program. These dams are targeted for removal over the next two years. The dams being removed or renovated have no benefit to plants and animals that inhabit the rivers or to people who use waterways for recreation. In addition, four other dams on the Vermilion River and Fox River will be modified or removed as part of the initiative.

“Removing dams improves water quality, aquatic habitat and recreational safety,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller. “It also addresses the issue of dealing with crumbling and aging infrastructure, which would be much more expensive to repair or replace. These dams no longer serve their original purpose and removal or modification will save the state and local communities’ money in the future.”

Important factors that were considered in removal of the Hofmann Dam included the distribution and type of vegetation that occurs on exposed stream banks, the effects on local infrastructure and community support.  The project was implemented under an agreement between the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).  The IDNR agreed to acquire all necessary rights of way for the project.

“The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is the property owner of much of the land along the Des Plaines River, and we have been strong supporters of the removal of the Hofmann Dam since day one,” Arnold Randall, Forest Preserve District of Cook County General Superintendent said. “Our mission is to maintain and preserve the natural lands of this County for the pleasure, recreation and education of the public. The Hofmann Dam removal project, and others like it, can help us do just that.”

The areas extending upstream from Hofmann Dam will see the most direct physical benefit from the improvements. The upstream reach and river channel have been converted from a slow-moving, deeper pool habitat to a free-flowing stream habitat. The most important benefits include enhanced drainage system at nearby Swan Pond Park to prevent entrapment of fish, increased fish passage, restoration of the natural flow of the river and improved public safety.  More than 15 miles of the Des Plaines River, upstream of the previously existing dam, has been opened to all fish and other aquatic species and a significant increase in biodiversity will be gained.

“It’s time for these dams to be removed to protect waterway users and aquatic species alike,” said Margaret Frisbie, Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director. “When we eliminate these barriers we open miles and miles of the river system which is critical to restoring its health. ‘Friends’ has been working on dam removal with Governor Quinn from the beginning. I want to thank the Governor for once again being a champion of Rivers in Illinois.”

Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program is the largest in Illinois history, supporting an estimated 439,000 construction jobs. The program, which aims to modernize Illinois’ infrastructure, began in 2009.

Remaining dam removal projects include:

The North Branch of the Chicago River -- Remove or modify four low head dams and free up 55 miles of waterway from downtown Chicago to the north.  Partners include the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the Chicago Park District and other non-governmental organizations.  Total cost estimate:  $3,500,000.

·         Tam O’ Shanter Dam - Removal

·         Chick Evans  Golf Course Dam - Removal

·         Winnetka Road Dam - Removal

·         North Branch Dam at River Park - Modification

The Des Plaines River -- Remove or modify eight low head dams and free up 32 miles of waterway for paddlers and fish passage. Partners include the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Total costs estimate:  $6,000,000.

·         Dam 1 -  Removal

·         Dam 2 - Removal

·         Dam 4 - Removal                       

·         Dempster Street Dam - Removal

·         Touhy Ave Dam - Removal

·         Armitage Dam - Removal (work complete)

·         Fairbank Road Dam - Removal (work complete)

·         Hofmann Dam - Removal (work complete)

Other dams being considered for removal or modification under the initiative include:

·         Blackberry Creek Dam (Yorkville, Fox River) - Removal

·         Vermilion River Dam (Danville, Vermilion River) - Removal

·         Ellsworth Park Dam (Danville, Vermilion River) - Removal

·         Buzzi Unicem Dam (Oglesby, Vermillion River) - Additional modification

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Going ‘Green’ is Good for Your Business, Exec Says PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 13:16
Tips for Companies Trying to Clean Up Their Act

Despite pressing economic worries, the environment remains a top concern for consumers the world over. And that means environmentally-friendly business practices are as necessary for the bottom line as they are for the planet, says Joe Veilleux, president of Euromed USA (www.euromedusa.com).

“Being a producer of natural ingredients for pharmaceuticals and health supplements, we’ve always held environmentalism as a major company value,” says Veilleux, a registered pharmacist.“We’re glad to see that, even when people face unemployment and other economic hardships, they’re still committed to green practices.”

Recent polls, including BCG’s annual International Global Green Consumer Surveys taken throughout the recession, reveal an unwavering commitment to environmentalism, he says.

“Even at the height of the recession in 2008 and 2009, more than a third of consumers said they were willing to pay a little more for products that are better for the environment,” Veilleux says. “A majority said they consider a company’s environmental credentials when making purchasing decisions.”

Euromed recently earned “green” ISO 14001 certification for its Barcelona factory by meeting stringent criteria established by the world International Standardization Organization, which sets standards for sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.

“In the five-year process of re-engineering our factory to meet the ISO 14001 criteria, we learned a lot that can benefit other companies,” Veilleux says. “Some of the steps we took cost little to nothing; others were, frankly, expensive. But all companies today need to be aware that consumers are looking at what they’re doing to – and for – the planet, and they’re making buying decisions based on that.”

These are some of the initiatives undertaken at Euromed Barcelona, which manufactures herbal extracts and natural active substances for customers in the United States and Europe.

• Recycling biomass – the company’s manufacturing waste product. We’ve found different ways to recycle the post-extraction biomass, depending on the product involved, Veilleux says.  “Much of the residue is sent to companies that specialize in creating bio-gas – specifically, methane, which is used to generate power,” he says. “However, the residue left from milk thistle has such a high nutritional value, it’s actually used to feed farm animals. We ship the waste product to a company that dries it out and cleans it before it’s added to feed for pigs, chickens, cows, and the like. The biomass is given away for free, he adds.

• Wood pallets become compost. At Euromed, wooden pallets are reused until they can’t be used any longer. “At that point, they’re sent to recycling facilities, which use them in composting products,” Veilleux says. This step was easily accomplished by working through waste management companies.

• Printer toners get refilled. Empty toner cartridges are shipped to the company’s supplier, where they’re recharged and returned for use. If not for recycling, the toner cartridges would be deposited in landfills.

• Cleaner air and water. The company purchased new equipment to accomplish these goals, including on-site wastewater treatment and water purification plants, and equipment to decrease atmospheric emissions.

All totaled, Euromed spent $1 million to $2 million to upgrade its factory. It was money well spent, Veilleux says.

“We’re excited about the certification because it verifies that we’re one of the world’s leaders in environmentally friendly production,” he says. “That’s very important to us -- we rely on plants, the Earth’s natural, renewable resources,not only for our business but for our personal health.

“We have a special interest in making everyone aware of how vital it is that we all take steps to prevent environmental damage.

About Euromed USA

Euromed USA supplies standardized botanical and herbal extracts and natural active substances for use in the pharmaceutical, health food and cosmetics industries. By extracting the necessary chemicals, the company can guarantee its products meet the precise chemical specifications necessary. Euromed was founded 40 years ago. Its parent company is the 100-year-old Rottapharm-Madaus corporation based in Italy.

 
Governor Quinn Launches $1 Billion Clean Water Initiative PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Erin Wilson   
Friday, 19 October 2012 07:22

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Joins Governor on 40th Anniversary of Clean Water Act to Announce Major Water Infrastructure Overhaul 

CHICAGO – October 18, 2012.  Governor Pat Quinn was joined by United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, labor leaders, environmental activists and local government officials today to launch the governor’s $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative, which will overhaul Illinois’ aging water infrastructure.

Announced today on the shore of Lake Michigan, Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, protect public health, and drive community and business growth across Illinois. Today’s announcement delivers on Governor Quinn’s commitment –made during his State of the State address earlier this year- to rebuild and repair Illinois’ aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

“On this anniversary of the landmark Clean Water Act, we renew our commitment to ensuring that every resident in Illinois has access to safe, clean water,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois is defined geographically and historically by waterways. Our Clean Water Initiative will put thousands of Illinoisans back to work, protect and improve our drinking water, and preserve this precious, irreplaceable resource for future generations.”

“Today, as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, I’m proud to join Governor Quinn and others to launch the Illinois Clean Water Initiative to repair and rebuild Illinois’ aging water infrastructure,” said Administrator Jackson, who was named in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” list in 2010 and 2012. “This historic commitment will keep water resources clean and safe, protect the health of Illinois families and create thousands of jobs, showing yet again how an investment in clean water is an investment in both our health and our economy.”

Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, including 9,700 construction jobs; 4,600 indirect jobs in supplier industries (mining, manufacturing and services) and 14,300 jobs supported by growth in related businesses, according to Associated General Contractors. Pipefitters, plumbers, operating engineers, carpenters, electricians, ironworkers and others will go to work replacing broken water mains, building treatment plants, upgrading sewers and cleaning up environmental threats. The Administration expects to use the winter months to drive applications into the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency so projects can begin next spring.

The Clean Water Initiative will allow the state to meet the high demand by local governments for safe drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure funding. The IEPA reports that more than 350 local governments have already expressed need for the program. Currently, many Illinois residents are receiving water through aging water mains that are nearly a century old and scores of wastewater treatment facilities are in dire need of repair.

“Many of us often take for granted how much infrastructure and government investment goes into providing a reliable water source to millions of homes in Illinois,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Upgrading this infrastructure through Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative will not only improve public health, but it will create thousands of good-paying jobs in Illinois. Today’s announcement is a reminder of how successful the Clean Water Act has been over the last 40 years in ensuring that the water we use in our daily lives is safe and clean.”

“Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative adds the muscle of the state of Illinois to the skilled muscles of Illinois working men and women to build a water system that will serve Illinois residents for decades,” said Thomas Villanova, president of the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 100,000 union workers. “This will put thousands of our members to work in the coming years and that is good for every worker trying to put food on the table.”

The Clean Water Act - enacted in 1972 - fortified federal-state partnerships to tackle polluted lakes and rivers by funding construction of sewage treatment plants, toughened penalties on polluters, and provided new protections to watersheds, waterways and wetlands. Building on that progress, the Clean Water Initiative will fortify state-local partnerships to tackle the state’s crumbling water infrastructure, protect public health and ensure access to clean drinking water in communities across Illinois.

“Safe and plentiful drinking water is an absolute essential for local communities. At a time when local revenues are flat, the availability of low interest loans for critical investments in our local water infrastructure is extremely beneficial to the health and welfare of Illinois communities,” said Larry Frang, executive director of the Illinois Municipal League.

“The Illinois Clean Water Initiative invests in a better Illinois future by advancing clean-up of our lakes and rivers and protecting vulnerable groundwater resources,” said Howard A. Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “These clean water infrastructure investments will help our communities achieve upgraded systems for safer drinking water and recreational enjoyment.”

Governor Quinn has directed the IEPA and Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) to expand the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program to $1 billion in long-term, low-interest loans to local governments for drinking water and wastewater systems. Since the SRF’s inception in 1989, IEPA has lent $4.3 billion to 472 local Illinois communities. There has never been a defaulted loan during the program’s history.

The SRF is funded with annual federal grants, a one-time infusion in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funds, a federally required state match, plus the principal and interest from loan repayments. No new state tax dollars will be used for the project. Needed equity will be provided by the existing loan portfolio and future federal capitalization grant dollars.

To learn more about the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.

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