LEGISLATIVE GREEN UPDATE: Once again we welcome Adam Snyder of Conservation Alabama for a biweekly update regarding the status of ecorelated bills under consideration in the current session of the Alabama legislature. Despite 85 percent support and not a bad mark on the stellar track record of the Forever Wild program, the Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) strikes back, attempting to kill Forever Wild. First, after a House committee approved the bill to reauthorize Forever Wild for another 20 years, ALFA dropped two resolutions requesting a temporary committee to study the “operation and effectiveness” of the state land protection program. Now, ALFA is mounting a vicious campaign on talk radio and at the statehouse to put an end to the funding of the popular program. On March 31, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a public hearing on SB140, the Senate version of the bill to extend Forever Wild until 2032. Heavy attendance from both the pro- and anti-Forever Wild camps is expected.
In new legislation, the Alabama AARP has worked with several House members to introduce a bill to require the Alabama Department of Transportation to consider all users—from pedestrians and cyclists to mass transit riders and motorists—when designing new roads and retrofitting existing highways. The consideration of all users is called “complete streets” and is growing in popularity across the country.
Furthermore, both the House and Senate versions of a bill that would give the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) authority to regulate coal ash as solid waste are awaiting a vote by their respective chambers. Currently, coal ash is exempt from any ADEM regulatory control, making Alabama the only state that doesn’t have disposal rules on coal ash.
Finally, several Birmingham-area legislators introduced a resolution last week urging Congress to stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency from administering any rules related to greenhouse gases. This resolution was not origi nated in Alabama but is being pushed nationally by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think-tank that touts limited government, free markets and federalism.
You can follow legislation related to the environment each week on Conservation Alabama’s Hot List at conservationalabama.org.
STORM WATER CONTROVERSY: Three area environmental groups filed a motion in Montgomery last week to help defend ADEM’s storm-water program for small cities from a permit appeal filed by the Business Alliance for Responsible Development (BARD). The Alabama Rivers Alliance, Black Warrior Riverkeeper and the Cahaba River Society (CRS)—represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center—say that BARD’s action is a “delaying tactic aimed at keeping local and state storm-water controls weak and ineffective.” According to a news release from the SELC and CRS, “Without adequate programs to control polluted runoff from development and urban uses, downstream communities and businesses will continue to shoulder the high costs to clean drinking water and repair flood damages.” Under the federal Clean Water Act, ADEM is required to set up a permitting program for small cities to control their polluted storm-water runoff. To read the release, visit www.southernenvironment.org. According to the BARD web site, the business group is a centrist alternative to development at any cost on one hand and what it calls “anti-growth advocates who use the mantle of the environmental movement to disguise their true objectives” on the other. Learn more about the group at www.bardonline.org.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: “Lay
off those food additives, kiddo, and you won’t have to take your meds,”
according to food writer Kristin Wartman in her post “ADHD: It’s the
food, stupid,” posted at www.grist.org
on March 28. According to Wartman, who cites the Centers for Disease
Control, “Over 5 million children ages four to 17 have been diagnosed
with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the United States, and
close to 3 million of those children take medication for their
However, Wartman reports, a new study published in The Lancet last month
found that many children experienced a significant reduction in
symptoms with a restricted diet alone. According to Wartman, the study
found that in 64 percent of children with ADHD, the symptoms were caused
by food. This is good news, Wartman says, for parents and children who
would like to avoid the side effects associated with some of the drugs,
like Ritalin, used to treat ADHD, and bad news for the pharmaceutical
industry. Read more of Wartman’s writing at
IT’S A GREEN WORLD: World of Green is an online shopping site that calls itself a source for “green” food, beauty, fashion, and other products. According to a release from World of Green, the site has partnered with the non-profit Millions from One to build a water well in India. The well would be designed to provide water to a large community for up to 30 years. According to World of Green, those who make at least a $10 donation toward the well’s construction will receive a recycled leather bracelet. For information, visit www.worldofgreen.com. Learn more about Millions from One at www.millionsfromone.com.
MORE GREEN SEX: I periodically manufacture one of these “green sex” items just to be sassy. This time I found a post called “6 Tips to Have a Green Sex Life” at www.thenewecologist.com. Visit the web site if you want all the details, but you and your current sexual partner are on pretty solid ground green-wise if you ball with the lights off, do it in the shower, use sex toys manufactured without pesticides and use natural sexual stimulants (e.g., ginseng). Oh, by the way, green lovers are advised to use “natural fertilizers” (I won’t try to explain that one; again, if you want more, go to the web site).