Friday, January 07, 2005

Arizona companies fined for polution, meanwhile grouse doesn't get protection.

Chemical spill nets fine from state TUCSON - The Tucson branch of a hazardous-waste company has been fined $80,000 by state regulators for a chemical spill in 2001. Envirosolve is a hazardous-waste management and transport company based in Tulsa, Okla., with transfer facilities in Phoenix, Albuquerque and elsewhere throughout the West and the Midwest. The Tucson facility closed in September 2002, about a year after it illegally released 458 pounds of chromic and sulfuric acid into its parking lot, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality officials said Wednesday. Arizona Water Co. fined $45,000 PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Water Co. will pay a $45,000 fine to settle allegations that it violated hazardous waste laws, the Department of Environmental Quality said. ADEQ inspectors found last January that hazardous wastewater was illegally dumped directly into soil at the company's Eloy plant. They also found lead-containig waste that wasn't properly identified and other labeling problems, the agency said. The regulators issued a violation notice in Febuary. Senator: Sage grouse won't be federally protected PHOENIX (AP) -- The sage grouse - a large game bird that looks like a cross between a chicken and a quail - will not be protected under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday. ...Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams said in a written statement that he is convinced the agency did a vigorous review of the grouse and its habitat and does not believe that it should be listed as endangered. He did say, however, that continued conservation efforts should be done to protect the bird. Listing the bird as endangered would have placed restrictions on grazing, oil and gas leasing and hunting across 150 million acres of sagebrush habitat in 11 Western states. Federal protections could have had far-reaching consequences, particularly on Bush administration plans for more domestic energy production using public lands. ...The number of sage grouses declined to as few as 142,000. There may have been as many as 16 million of the chicken-like birds in the Western United States and Canada at one time, the government estimates. The large game bird is brown, black and white and has a mustard-colored pouch on its throat. It has a long, pointed tail and weighs up to eight pounds. Its habitat sits atop some of the nation's richest natural gas fields in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Loss of habitat is identified as the biggest threat to the ground dweller. Urban sprawl, traffic, communication towers, and oil and gas exploration disrupt the bird's breeding instincts or provide lookout perches for predators. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the decision about whether the bird needed federal protection after years of pressure from conservation groups. The decision is expected to benefit natural gas and oil producers but anger environmentalists. ...Environmentalists say that not listing the species means that damaging activities will be allowed to continue in much of the bird's habitat, to the detriment of sage grouse and scores of other wildlife species.

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