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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

News Follow-up

Air Date: Week of

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New developments in stories we’ve been following.


[MUSIC: News Update Theme]

CURWOOD: Time now to follow-up on some of the news stories we've been tracking lately.

The Bush administration has announced an initiative to reduce harmful emissions from diesel school buses across the country. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 440,000 public buses make the trip to school every day. And an average American child spends an hour and a half of each day riding a bus. The EPA program will focus on replacing old buses, installing pollution controls on newer ones, and reducing the time that buses spend idling. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman says that's a significant problem.

WHITMAN: School buses tend to sit outside the schools before dismissal. And they'll be idling for an hour or longer. We want to get everyone on the program, and train people so that we have reduced the amount of idling by half an hour a day by 2005.

CURWOOD: The goal is to replace or retrofit every school bus in the country by the year 2010. Officials and environmental health advocates applauded the announcement, but said more money is needed to make the commitment a reality. The EPA estimates cleaning up all public school buses will cost over $9 billion dollars.


CURWOOD: We have a couple of updates from the endangered species front. First, the environmental group, Defenders of Wildlife, has filed an intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The group disputes a recent decision by the agency to downgrade the gray wolf from endangered status to the less protective threatened category in most parts of the country.

The Fish and Wildlife Services says the species has recovered from a few hundred animals in 1974 to more than 3,000 today. Wolves in the Southwest will get to keep their endangered status. But Defenders of Wildlife claims that's not good enough. Nancy Weiss is with the group.

WEISS: In most part of the country where the gray wolf used to reside, there are still not yet wolves. Many of those areas still have suitable wolf habitat. And yet, the Service is declining to venture into those areas as further wolf recovery zones.

CURWOOD: Under the regulation change, any wolf that naturally migrates to an area such as the Northeast, where there currently are no wolves, would not be considered endangered. The Fish and Wildlife Service has 60 days to reconsider its reclassification of the gray wolf before the environmental group takes its case to court.

Meanwhile, court verdicts in Florida have ruled in favor of the endangered manatee. The slow-moving aquatic animals are often injured or killed by boat propellers. Recently, both federal and state judges ruled that setting speed limits for boats is a legal way to protect the manatee. Since the ruling, the Fish and Wildlife Service has posted 500 speed limit signs throughout Florida waterways, and issued 600 tickets to speeding boaters. Not everyone is happy with the low speed zones. And Christine Eustis of the Fish and Wildlife Service says the agency recently discovered some vandalism.

EUSTIS: We did have a case, and these were state signs, eight state signs, that were cut down from their postings. And we were really worried people were going to be out there on the water and not see the postings and get hurt. But I think the majority of people really are appreciative and want to protect manatees.

CURWOOD: Meanwhile, several independent boaters have filed a complaint in court against the speed zones, which they claim are unnecessary to protect the manatee.


CURWOOD: And finally, concern over SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, has prompted a health conscious fashion trend. SARS is the pneumonia-like illness that spread from China to many countries of the world.

Now a doctor in Cleveland has designed silk ties and scarves with special air filtration linings so they can double as protective masks. These exquisite fashion statements can be yours for just 40 dollars each. And that's this week's follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.


CURWOOD: And you're listening to NPR's Living on Earth.

ANNOUNCER: Funding for Living on Earth comes from The World Media Foundation. Major contributors include The Ford Foundation for reporting on U.S. environment and development issues, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for coverage of Western issues. Support also comes from NPR member stations and The Noyce Foundation, dedicated to improving math and science instruction from kindergarten through grade 12, and Bob Williams and Meg Caldwell, honoring NPR's coverage of environmental and natural resource issues, and in support of the NPR President's Council.



FBS clothing, LTD: Clothing with filtration material


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