Almanack Contributor John Warren

John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.


Friday, December 5, 2008

‘I Have 18,000 acres in the Adirondacks;I’ll fly some of these cats up there in my private jet’

“I have 18,000 acres in the Adirondacks,” she said. “I’ll fly some of these cats up there in my private jet.”  That was the quote that lead me to an interesting post over at the Huffington Post by Laurence Leamer. At first I though the quote was about people – you know, like “hey, look at those hep cats – let’s fly them up to the Adirondacks on my private jet.” I was wrong – the cats were not hipsters, they were cats, feline.

The whole post is worth a read because it discusses the outrageous beliefs the wealthiest among us often have or condone. It’s not that they are the only ones – I hear the same kinds of idiocy from some of my neighbors – but it’s startling how public it is in the circles of the supposedly educated and cultured rich. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Discussion: An Adirondack Green New Deal

At the end of last month’s global warming conference a few participants were standing around talking philosophically about how to position the Adirondacks as a leader in the future green economy.

One local planner saw abandoned DOT lots along the Northway becoming park n’ rides, linked to local communities by bike and hiking paths, others envisioned them as green centers that connected mass transport, local information centers, and charging stations for locally produced energy. Someone else suggested painting a green stripe across every roadway that enters the Adirondacks – an unambiguous sign that you are entering a region where economics and the environment live hand and hand. Redraw the Blue Line as a Green Line.

SUNY Albany History Professor Lawrence S. Wittner, in a recent article at the History News Network, suggested that cuts in programs for education and healthcare proposed by Governor Patterson is the wrong way to climb out of our current economic recession. He pointed to the the inequities Adirondackers, and all New Yorkers, face:

The major reason the New York State budget is out of balance today—and has been intermittently for decades now—is that, for the last thirty years, the state has been cutting the tax rate for the top income New Yorkers. Specifically, driven by the desire to create a “business-friendly environment” in New York State, successive governors have succeeded in gradually lowering the tax rate for people in the top income bracket from 15.38 percent to 6.85 percent.

Thus, today, despite its liberal image, New York has a rather flat income tax rate, ranging from a low of 4 percent to a high of 6.85 percent… One of the state’s highly-respected think tanks, the Fiscal Policy Institute, estimates that a very small, temporary increase in the tax rates on the highest-income New Yorkers could yield as much as $7 billion per year—more than enough to cover the state’s projected fiscal woes.

Witner argues nothing less then that “government spending—and particularly spending that is funded by taxes on the wealthy—can also help to jump start the economy.” Witner connects his plan with the New Deal plans of FDR, which began with New York:

During the first years of the Great Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt served as governor, New York was one of the incubators of the New Deal’s Keynesian approach. A staunch backer of unemployment insurance, Roosevelt became the first governor in the nation to demand state aid for relief. Moreover, New York’s Temporary Emergency Relief Administration served as the first state relief agency in the country. Governor Roosevelt was also a keen advocate of expanding New York State’s investment in public power programs and of having the state buy up abandoned farms for the purpose of reforestation. In New York City, too, the municipal government reacted to the Great Depression by investing heavily in upgrading the city’s infrastructure. It established new (and free) city colleges like Brooklyn College (in 1930) and Queens College (in 1937), and opened its first city-owned subway line (in 1932).

So folks, if we need a New Deal, and we want it to be a Green New Deal led by our region – what proposals do you have?

What projects, small and large, can we do locally and regionally to advance a Green New Deal?


Monday, December 1, 2008

John Sheehan Responds to Attacks by Todd Shimkus

If you missed last week’s debate at the economic development symposium on the Northern Forest region at the Rockefeller Institute in Albany, you can see it the way it happened on YouTube here. The discussion featured Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal; Todd Shimkus of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce and Joe Short of the Northern Forest Center in New Hampshire.

The Northern Forest is a 70-million-acre swath of very big forests and very small towns ranging from Tug Hill, eastward through the Adirondack Park, northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire and to the coast of Maine. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Adirondack Photo Archive

Google and LIFE Magazine have teamed up to present the magazines photo archive online. Strangely, a search for Adirondack turned up next to nothing; a search for Adirondacks turns up a few more, including this shot of Albert Einstein on his sailboat at Saranac Lake 1936.  Additional search for specific places turned up a number of interesting photos like these from the Trudeau Sanatorium and these photos of the Governors Conference held at Lake George in 1954, 

The search problems and so far small number of local images aside, the archive does include iconic images taken by famous photographers like Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks, and Dorothea Lange. The project is similar to “The Commons” launched by Flickr which now includes photos from the Library of Congress. LIFE has said that as many as 97 percent of the photographs have never been seen by the public before.


Monday, November 24, 2008

5 Questions: Ecology Minister Katharine Preston

I asked Katharine Preston of Essex five questions about her Ecology Ministry. Katharine came to the North Country almost four years ago from the Boston area but she has been coming to her family’s camp in the High Peaks for almost 60 years. You can reach her at [email protected]

AA: What is an “ecology ministry”?

KP: An Ecology Ministry is a lay ecumenical ministry of creation awareness and care with particular concern for the social justice ramifications of climate change. I am particularly influenced by reputable science, a more inclusive understanding of God’s love for all of creation (not just humans) and the compassion for justice modeled by Jesus. I seek to help others sort through the prophetic and pastoral implications of this.

AA: What is your background?

KP: I received a Master of Divinity degree in May, 2000 from Andover Newton Theological School, in Newton, MA, where I studied and explored the integration of ecological concepts with theology, ethics, biblical studies and pastoral counseling. I also hold a Master of Forest Science from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and spent 20 years working for government, non-profits and academia in the environmental field.

AA: What denomination is your ministry?

KP: I like to think of it as non-denominational, as we are all in this together and such divisions seem superfluous to me, given the peril of the planet.

AA: What does your ministry look like (congregation, building)?

No congregation or building. The ministry is my work: guest preaching, workshops and writing.

AA: What are most pressing issues facing faith based communities with regards to ecology?

The same as the rest of the human community and the planet: climate change. For the record – this is intimately tied up with the economic crisis. The two “ecos” are interrelated. An integrated response, such as a “Green New Deal” will be the most successful on all fronts.

The warnings from scientists and environmentalists seem to have had little effect toward transforming the consciousness of humans as to the changes needed. As communities of faith, we bring an indispensable and strong moral authority to the table. Although there are differences in theology and worship, all major religions agree on certain moral tenants such as the sacredness of the earth and concern for the less fortunate. We need to work together to help.

There is a lot to be done, and not much time before the planet as we know it is radically changed. In the north country, there are things we will be very sad to see go, like snow cover for half the winter or maples trees. But for others, it is already a matter of life or death.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bringing In Our Climate Change Friends

One of the interesting things to come out of this morning’s presentations was the idea that we need to involve all residents. In particular for municipalities that means fire, ambulance, police, and highway departments. After all, they, along with the local library and town hall, are often one of the single biggest energy users in many small towns. I’m afraid that aside from planning departments and some local government types, these folks have been absent from our discussions over the last day and half – that’s a testament to the need for better local education.

One of the things that really struck me came from Rhett Lamb, the Planning Director of the City of Keene, NH when he said “historic preservation people are our best friend.” It makes perfect sense. The carbon footprint of an old building must be better then starting from scratch, even with the cost of efficiency retrofits. The last thing we want to do is tear down old buildings and send them to the landfill, when we could reuse them and refit them with new technologies.

Check out the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s blog post “Combining Sustainability with Historic Conservation: the English Experience.” Here is quite a sentence:

Decades of neglect and little investment leads to slum clearance and wholesale redevelopment, while whole life costing tied to embodied carbon modeling has been using carbon calculations (15-20 years) assigned by bankers and investors that are likely less than the true value of our material culture. In terms of ecological sustainability, models suggest that melting ice caps will cause a breach of the Thames and catastrophic flooding of London.

Now that’s something historic preservationists need to be concerned with. The National Trust has been evaluating their properties with regards to climate for a number of years. Here’s more:

In England, they are specifically identifying impacts to their properties from warmer temperatures, drought, coastal erosion, storms, flash floods and heavy rainfall. At Stourhead in Wiltshire, for example, a very wet summer followed by a crisp, frosty winter led to a “soup of green algae” in their bucolic lake. It should be noted though that it wasn’t climate change alone that caused this algal bloom. The nitrogen run-off from synthetic fertilizers used in the region combined with the unusual rainfall have presented the perfect conditions for the algae growth – a sort of one/two whammy from human impact. One of the most arresting images, was the slide of historic cottages dropping off the side of cliffs in Cornwall as coastal erosion overwhelms the coastline. Again and again, Sarah showed devastation at their properties which may have been caused by increased rainfall but was often exacerbated by irresponsible land use.

The National Trust is taking direct action to mitigate these impacts, wherever it is reasonably possible. These efforts include:

1. Reduce emissions of greenhouse gases: Changing to low energy lightbulbs including the ubiquitous CFLs. But they’ve gone one step further by working directly with light bulb manufacturers to develop new low energy bulbs for their historic fixtures.

2. Improve energy efficiency of their buildings: Here, because of their massive landholdings, they are actually able to use their own sheep to produce thermafleece for insulation, for example.

3. Reduce carbon footprint: They are evaluating their fuel sources, changing to more efficient boilers (often developed by German companies) and avoiding the use of electricity from non-renewable resources.

4. Generate energy on site: They have begun using thermal and photovoltaics at many of their sites including directly on the roofs of some of the Grade 2 listed buildings. And on support buildings of lesser importance at some of their sites, they have begun installing the PV slates.

5. Reduce embodied energy: In an effort that Sarah calls “slow conservation” (which she compared to the “slow” food movement) they are looking to building new construction in ways more sympathetic to the environment.

In order to adapt to these climate induced changes, the National Trust is looking at short, medium and long term adaptations such as installing larger gutters, going back to traditional practices (these were often done for good reason) and most importantly, managing properties better with cyclical maintenance programs.

There is a lot more. Check it out before you give Adirondack Architectural Heritage a call.

More this afternoon.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Adirondack Greeenhouse Gas Inventory Results

I’m back at the Wild Center climate conference today. One of the highlights of this morning was hearing from the 80-year-old town supervisor of the Town of Franklin on that tiny town’s climate program. Another was a presentation from the City of Keene, New Hampshire about a climate program they established in 1999 that is really bearing tremendous fruit in financial savings, and raised awareness of the public and local officials.

The highlight of the morning was one of the shortest presentations on the results of a year’s worth of research (supported by the Wild Center and the Association to Protect the Adirondacks Energy $mart Park Initiative) to establish a baseline of just what exactly our region’s greenhouse gas emissions are. I will post a link to the full draft asap.

Compared to the rest of the United States, we look pretty good, but there is some question about whether or not our actual impacts are reflected in the study. We know what we’re doing here for instance, but what about the impacts of goods and service that originate outside the blue line but are consumed here?

Here is what the study found with regard to where our biggest emissions are coming from:

38% Transportation – this category well outpaces the national average of 28%. Obviously, our geographic situation makes this one of our more difficult areas. Denser development, focused public transportation programs, and walkable, skiable, and bikeable hamlets could all help in this area, as would converting municipal fleets to biodiesel and hybrid / electric.

29% Residential – we are much higher than the national average (17%) mainly because of the high use of bulk fuels, very dirty and inefficient electric heating, and old housing stock. This makes us a perfect candidate for weatherization programs, which, due to our cold climate would improve the payback.

21% Industrial – a large portion of this comes from one plant, the International Paper plant in Ticonderoga. we are below the national average in this category (29%) for obvious reasons. It should be noted again, that this does not reflect industrial operations carried on outside the Blue Line that are consumed here.

Our per capita greenhouse gas emissions are, as expected, high for the rest of the world, but lower than the national average:

US 23.6 metric tons per year
ADK 17.5
Germany 12.3
UK 11.1
France 8.7
China 3.9
India 1.8

Another interesting fact is that it’s believed that about 25% of our emissions are sequestered in the great carbon sink that the Adirondack forest provides. One commenter went so far as to say that the Adirondacks “should be receiving carbon offsets.”

More to come.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Study on Climate Impacts on Adirondacks Released

Here is a press release from the Wild Center on the report on Adirondack climate change impacts which was first posted here at the Almanack earlier today. I’ve been live blogging the Wild Center’s climate conference today and will continue tomorrow – you can read all the posts here (start from the bottom).

From the Wild Center: An advance edition of a sixty-two page report detailing potentially radical shifts in the ecology and economy of the Adirondack region was released today as part of a climate change conference held at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The document was produced by the Wildlife Conservation Society, and authored by Jerry Jenkins, with support from The Wild Center and The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

The report analyzed data from the Adirondacks and looked at projected changes based on a range of peer-reviewed climate change models. The report states that even if fossil fuel use were immediately reduced, the upstate New York region would still experience a warming of about six degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. The report details a recent rise in temperatures in the Adirondacks. Highlights of the report include: » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Alternative Fuels and Small Scale Power Generation

First a note – the Jenkins report I mentioned in my first post here is now available at http://www.usclimateaction.org/userfiles/JenkinsBook.pdf – it’s a must read for its unique insight to the climate change challenges we have here in the Adirondacks.

Now for an update. I decided to sit in on the Alternative Fuels and Small Scale Power Generation workshop. There were about 30 people in the group and I was surprised how smoothly the discussion went. There were folks from all walks of Adirondack life: state, county, and town and village government, planners, builders and developers, educators and students, green business professionals, and simple residents with an interest. Among the groups who were represented (well actually not represented, but folks from these organizations were in attendance): the Adirondack Park Agency, St. Lawrence University, Paul Smiths, SUNY-ESF, Lake Placid High School, Houghton College, Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, and many more.

We heard first from Amanda Lavigne of St. Lawrence University who provided us with lots of background information. We then characterized the problem as “what alternative fuels and power options are available to Adirondack Park residents that can reduce the rising economic impacts of home heating and transportation while minimizing carbon emissions and the impacts of climate change.”

Finally, we made a list of potential priorities including things like broadly incentivising alternative energy, creating a clearinghouse for information and technical assistance, encouraging appropriate scale local energy production for local consumption in a decentralized distributive manner, and many more.

Tomorrow we’ll be focusing on laying out a one year action plan for our group, and then we’ll be bringing it together with the rest of the other groups Wednesday afternoon.

More tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Future Paths to Mitigating Global Warming

Carter Bales, Co-Chair of the American Response to Climate Change National Conference, just gave a talk on what a national approach to greenhouse gas reductions might look like. “It’s difficult to be optimistic,” Bales said, noting also that it would require “a mobilization of the nation not seen since World War Two.” He said that provided the misinformation campaign of the Exxons and the coal producers fails, and the new Obama administration is serious, there “could be legislation may by 2011″ and it may become effective by 2015.” “There is hope” he said, “but time is not our friend.”

Generally speaking Bales said a four pronged action plan was necessary:

1 – a cap on carbon emissions
2 – raising efficiencies
3 – supporting deployment of new technologies and solutions
4 – addressing sections of the economy not included in the carbon cap (like ag and forestry)

Bales laid out five areas where differences could be made:

Building and Appliances (advanced lighting, electronic equipment, building shell / green building improvements). He called for a “new generation of appliances using half the energy of today.”

Transportation (biofuels, fuel economy improvements, advanced propulsion systems). Bales said gas would be $14 gallon if not for “peace keeping” and subsidies.

Industry (recovery of non CO2 green house gases from industrial processes, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency). Bales said that carbon capture and storage is “a complete nightmare, it either isn’t going to happen or it isn’t going to happen for a long time.”

Carbon Sinks (Afforestation of underutilized pasture and crop land, better forest management, alternative agricultural practices such as winter cover crops, conservation tillage). Bales noted that our carbon emissions in the US average about 20 tons per person; in India, it’s 1.5 tons per person. He also noted the important role of forested areas as carbon sinks. Guyana, he pointed out, has negative carbon emissions per person thanks to their large rainforest. “We should be paying Guyana to keep its rainforest standing,” he said adding that it would cost less than $5 a per ton of carbon emissions.

Power (expanding low carbon generation including carbon capture and storage for coal, developing wind and solar, and improving power plant efficiencies). “Natural gas is at best a transitional strategy,” he said, adding that “without fixing our power generation you’re not going to fix the problem.”

Bales also suggested a number of economic benefits from the transition to a low carbon economy:

1 – many existing industries (such as energy services) will boom especially as off-shoring is reduced and local production and servicing comes to the fore.

2 – new industries and businesses will form (particularly around efficiency retooling and green technologies).

3 – energy efficiency will save money for consumers directly.

4 – “peaking power” used at times of peak power demand will be reduced (“peaking power” is dirtier and more expensive)

5 – economies in rural areas (!!) will benefit from renewable energy technologies including wind and biomass.

One important thing for our region that Bales said was that there needs to be discussions on putting a value on standing carbon sinks like the Adirondack forests.

So far the conference is going well and putting together an Adirondack Climate Action Plan looks closer to reality then ever before. This afternoon smaller groups will meet and workshop over the following topics:

Energy Efficient Buildings & Contractor Preparedness
Alternative Fuels & Biofuels, Small Scale Power Generation
Local ‘Green’ Economic Development and The role of Government
Natural Ecosystems and The Role of Adirondack Lands and Forests in Carbon Mitigation

So many questions are going through my mind that it’s difficult to decide on which session.

What are the plans for getting the big real estate developers on board? After all, construction is a huge segment of our economy.

Does small scale power generation mean a distributed network? Small scale solar, water, and wind everywhere? Does it mean the kind of industrialization of our mountaintops and ridges like that proposed for the wind project in Johnsburg?

How does the tourism industry get on board? Does green economic development mean finally capitalizing on the Adirondacks potential as a green tourism destination?

Does the Adirondack sink mean that money will flow from government and industry coffers into the region in the future? Aren’t we in the Adirondacks like Guyana, at least a little bit?

So many questions, and I can only get to one workshop.

More at the end of the day.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Live Blogging the Wild Center Climate Conference

A first for the Almanack. Today and tomorrow I’ll be attending the Wild Center’s climate change conference here in Tupper Lake and blogging what I hear, see, and learn.

Just pulling into the Wild Center from my drive over I was heartened to see a line of hybrids – mostly Toyotas, but a few Hondas as well – it’s clear that the crowd that has gathered here is already in the choir.

The sense so far from the speakers has been that the challenge of checking human-made global warming is daunting, depressing, lacking inertia, distracted by economics and politics, but doable. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 17, 2008

OPINION: This Thanksgiving Eat A Local Turkey

Years ago, you simply didn’t see wild turkeys unless you were lucky. The birds were abundant in New York forest in colonial times but by the early 1800s had been all but hunted out. According to SUNY-ESF:

Reports indicate that wild turkeys were abundant in New York State during the 1600’s. However, the combination of uncontrolled hunting and the intensive clearing of forests resulted in the demise of native populations. In 1844, the last recorded observation of native wild turkeys came from extreme southwestern New York State.


For over a century, the wild turkey continued to be absent from the New York landscape. However, in the late 1940’s, wild turkeys had moved northward from Pennsylvania and were reported again in southwestern New York. Wild turkeys were re-established in New York by 1957, but occupied only the extreme southwest portion of the state. During the same year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation began relocating birds to areas of the state that were capable of sustaining wild turkey populations.

The return of the wild turkey to New York State is truly a success story in the field of wildlife conservation. Wild turkey populations in New York have increased dramatically from an estimated 2,000 in 1959 to over 65,000 in 1990.

Today, it seems turkeys are everywhere. A recent National Wildlife Federation report pointed to the influx of turkeys into suburban areas from Boston to Schenectady County (along with fishers and bears). The population boom means that now is the time to shift toward eating local birds rather then having artificially raised commercial turkeys shipped across the country to your Thanksgiving table. Not enough meat you say? Nonsense. A mature gobbler can stand weigh in at 24 pounds (and stand 4 feet with a 5-foot wing span). The National Wild Turkey federation has a variety of recipe ideas on their website.

If you are not into hunting and don’t know a turkey hunter, try out a local farm-raised bird. At Harvest Hill Farm in Willsboro – (518) 963-1127 – Michael and Laurie Davis sell all-natural pasture raised turkeys (reserve early). At Windswept Meadows Farm in Watertown – (315) 788-1933 – Thomas & Delta Keeney are 3rd generation farmers who plants food crops specifically for turkeys.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Top Ten Adirondack Books

I have a number of books that publishers have sent me for reviews and those will be on the way, but in the meantime, I thought I would take a look at what folks interested in the Adirondacks are reading. So here is what I discovered, the top ten Adirondack related books on Amazon:

#1 – Peter Bronski, At the Mercy of the Mountains: True Stories of Survival and Tragedy in New York’s Adirondacks

#2 – Anne LaBastille, Woodswoman: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness

#3 – Bill McKibben, Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America’s Most Hopeful Landscape:Vermont’s Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondacks (Crown Journeys)

#4 – Barbara McMartin, 50 Hikes in the Adirondacks: Short Walks, Day Trips, and Backpacks Throughout the Park, Fourth Edition

#5 – Tony Goodwin, Adirondack Trails High Peaks Region (Forest Preserve Series, V. 1)

#6 – Jerry C. Jenkins, The Adirondack Atlas: A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park

#7 – Carl Heilman, The Adirondacks

#8 – Ralph Kylloe, Adirondack Home

#9 – Paul Schneider, The Adirondacks: A History of America’s First Wilderness

#10 – Philip G. Terrie, Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks (A New Edition)


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Some News Items for Adirondack Hunters

A hat tip to ADKhunter.com for these news items for Adirondack hunters:

Peter Schoonmaker, author of Seasonal Drift: Adirondack Hunts & Wilderness Tales, has an article in North American Whitetail Magazine about legendary New York deer biologist and researcher C.W. “Bill” Severinghaus.

Old Hunting Camp Photos, Film, & Video Wanted: Local film company On Track Production will be producing a documentary on Adirondack Deer Camps for Mountain Lakes PBS. If you have old home movies or photos of Adirondack hunting camps, contact them or adkhunter.com.

Donate Your Deer Hide: A Saratoga-area synagogue is looking for deer hide donations to make into a parchment Torah scroll. Any size hides in good shape can be used. Contact Rabbi Linda at 518-587-0160.


Monday, October 27, 2008

ADK Vows to Fight Bush’s Latest Attack on Clean Air

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has vowed to vigorously oppose the Bush administration’s efforts to reinstate a federal regulation that would expose the environment to mercury contamination.

In February, a federal appeals court ruled that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) conflicted with the clear language of the federal Clean Air Act, which requires power plants to install the best technology available to reduce mercury emissions. Now, the administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse that decision.

CAMR, a cap-and-trade program, allowed polluters to buy pollution credits and emit mercury without pollution controls, which in turn resulted in regional mercury “hot spots.” Two recent studies have linked coal-fired power plants to mercury hot spots in the Adirondacks and Catskills.

ADK has joined with more than a dozen states, leading medical, health care and public health groups, and several prominent national environmental advocacy groups to challenge CAMR. In January 2007, ADK filed a brief with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asserting that CAMR was an illegal attempt to weaken the strict mercury emission controls in the Clean Air Act.

Last Friday, acting Solicitor General Greg Garre filed a petition asking the high court to restore the EPA mercury rule. The power industry is also seeking a Supreme Court review of the case.

In enacting the Clean Air Act, Congress provided for strict limits on mercury emissions through the installation of maximum achievable control technology, which Congress made applicable to all coal-burning power plants. By contrast, the EPA administrative rule would have delayed for two decades the elimination of airborne mercury emissions as a source of mercury toxins in the Northeast.

Furthermore, the contested rule would have allowed many of the worst polluters to buy “pollution rights,” continue to release mercury up their smokestacks and perpetuate mercury hot spots in New York and the Northeast.

The Adirondacks and Catskills are downwind of numerous coal-burning power plants, whose mercury emissions contribute significantly to mercury pollution in these regions. A 2007 independent study by Charles Driscoll and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation estimated that mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are responsible for 40 percent to 65 percent of mercury deposition in the Northeast.

Current levels of mercury deposition in the Northeast are four to six times higher than the levels recorded in 1900. Ninety-six percent of the lakes in the Adirondack region and 40 percent of the lakes in New Hampshire and Vermont exceed the recommended EPA action level for methyl mercury in fish. Because of high mercury levels in fish from six reservoirs in the Catskills, state health officials have warned that infants, children under 15 and women of childbearing age should not eat any fish from these reservoirs.

A long-term study by the Wildlife Conservation Society, released earlier this year, confirmed that human-generated mercury emissions are degrading the health and reproductive success of loons in the Northeast. High mercury levels have also been recorded in eagles, songbirds, otters and other animals in the Northeast.



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