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Down To Earth

Glowing walls, big ag, and a shady mining company - Thursday news bites

In mid December we brought you the story of ASARCO, the American Smelting and Refining Company LLC, and the bankruptcy reorganization that resulted in $1.79 billion being awarded to fund environmental cleanup and restoration.  Now comes news that, Grupo Mexico, the company that bought ASARCO in 1999 may have "maneuvered Asarco into bankruptcy in an attempt to evade its environmental responsibilities," this according to the Tacoma News Tribune.  “Grupo Mexico tried to use a bankruptcy court to avoid Asarco’s cleanup responsibilities, and they almost got away with it,” charged Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell. 

Some are calling this a wake-up call for federal regulators and Congress, while others, including Sen. Cantwell, are saying that, "another company almost certainly will try to manipulate the bankruptcy system the way they charge that Grupo Mexico did."  Read more from the  News Tribune HERE. And we'll be sure to stay on top of this story. 

Are you ready for light-emitting wallpaper?  In a story that recently appeared in the London Times, a London government body that supports low-carbon technology said light-emitting wallpaper may begin to replace light bults by 2012.  According to the story, "a chemical coating on the walls will illuminate all parts of the room with an even glow, which mimics sunlight and avoids the shadows and glare of conventional bulbs.  Although an electrical current will be used to stimulate the chemicals to produce light, the voltage will be very low and the walls will be safe to touch. Dimmer switches will control brightness, as with traditional lighting."  We wonder what Thomas Edison would think?  Read more of this story HERE. 

Make sure you're not eating when you read this: researchers say the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals has led to a plague of drug-resistant infections that killed more than 65,000 people in the U.S. last year -- more than prostate and breast cancer combined. And in a nation that used about 35 million pounds of antibiotics last year, 70 percent of the drugs -- 28 million pounds -- went to pigs, chickens and cows. Worldwide, it's 50 percent. "This is a living breathing problem, it's the big bad wolf and it's knocking at our door," said Dr. Vance Fowler, an infectious disease specialist at Duke University. "It's here. It's arrived."  Also arriving is the battle over this issue that is starting to gain steam in D.C.  Lawmakers are fighting for a new law that would ban farmers from feeding antibiotics to their animals unless they're sick.  And as expected, this move is backed by strong convictions and big money on both sides.  "Chaos will ensue," said Kansas Republican Congressman Jerry Moran.  Moran is backed by the usual suspects, an array of powerful interests, including the American Farm Bureau, the National Pork Producers Council, Eli Lilly & Co., Bayer AG, Pfizer Inc., Schering-Plough Corp., Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto Company.  Read more of this story HERE. 

Down To Earth

The DTE blog is committed to reporting and sharing environmental news and sustainability information from across the Inland Northwest.