Rachel's Precaution Reporter #100

"Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007.............Printer-friendly version
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Table of Contents...

Preaching the Precautionary Principle
  Carolyn Raffensberger is challenging farmers to "change the story
  of agriculture." This can be done through use of the Precautionary
  Principle, an idea that Raffensberger shared Saturday with farmers
  from around the country recently at "The Grain Place" in Marquette,
  Nebraska. "The ethical way of proceeding is to prevent suffering, not
  just to fix it afterwards," Raffensberger said.
The Year of Emotionally Driven Pesticide Issues
  The embattled pesticide industry's perspective: "Precautionary
  principle-based proposals continue to be introduced in state
  legislatures along with bills for 'toxic reduction,' local authority,
  biomonitoring and 'sustainability.' Such bills are driven by an active
  and vocal minority and have generally lacked any scientific
Toxic Chemicals Inside Us Are a Nightmare We Can End
  Hazardous substances found in citizens of Maine should arouse
  government to remove the health threats.
British MPs Call for Ban on Development Near Power Lines
  Members of the British Parliament have called for a precautionary
  approach to development near high-voltage power lines because of
  evidence linking power lines to leukemia in children.
Australians Call for Precaution To Protect Whales
  "We should really give whales the benefit of the doubt and take
  greater care of them, including timing (testing) so it won't have any
  impact," Councillor Ermacora said.
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Rebuffs Plea for Precaution
  "As for the city's plea for the lab to adopt the precautionary
  principle, the DEIR [draft environmental impact report] says following
  existing laws and regulations are adequate mitigations.... While
  acknowledging new programs will lead to significant increases in the
  amounts of dangerous materials stored and created on site, the lab
  contends existing rules and laws cover the dangers."
Waterloo Moraine Is Too Valuable To Be Developed
  Professor calls for use of precautionary principle to protect
  unique geographic features near Waterloo in Ontario.


From: The News Register (Aurora, Nebraska), Jul. 24, 2007
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Raffensberger hoping to help change the story of agriculture

By Jonna Michelle Huseman

Farmer and environmentalist Carolyn Raffensberger is calling all

She is calling them to change the face of cancer, to battle the
struggles of autism and to beat diabetes head on.

Most of all, Raffensberger is challenging farmers to "change the story
of agriculture." All of this can be done, according to Raffensberger,
through use of the Precautionary Principle, an idea that Raffensberger
shared with farmers from around the country Saturday afternoon at "The
Grain Place." "The ethical way of proceeding is to prevent suffering,
not just to fix it afterwards," Raffensberger said.

Developed in Germany by local citizens who were concerned that the
Black Forest was drying, Raffensberger said that when applied to
farming, the Precautionary Principle, which suggests that humans
prevent suffering, can be life-changing.

The principle of which Raffensberger speaks and lives by has already
changed her life.

The idea of preventing harm first entered Raffensberger's world when
she was a child.

Her father, a doctor in Illinois, saw a steady increase in birth
defects and brain tumors in children.

"He was convinced that they were related to the environment,"
Raffensberger said.

Touched by her father's concern for human life, Raffensberger has
devoted her life to helping society through her unique farming

Today, Raffensberger works with doctors and other health professionals
and said the increase in debilitating diseases has only gone up since
she was a child.

Raffensberger used breast cancer as a prime example and said the women
of her mother's generation had a one in 25 chance of getting breast
cancer. She herself faces a one in seven chance and her daughter's
generation of women will face a one in three chance of getting breast

"Health statistics across the country are going the wrong way,"
Raffensberger said. "The genetics have not changed since my mother's
generation." Raffensberger attributes such numbers to the environment
and believes that diseases like breast cancer can be prevented by
looking for alternative methods of farming.

"The old way of doing business was just to do a cross benefit analysis
and a risk assessment," Raffensberger said, explaining that it was
acceptable for some women to have breast cancer or some children to
suffer from autism as a result of these "practical" farming methods.

Now, she is asking farmers throughout the country to look for
different alternatives and experiment with different ways of growing

"Rather than go ahead and evaluate the risk of this particular
pesticide, what we do is evaluate all of the possible alternatives,"
Raffensberger said.

She also encouraged new ways of creating hybrid crops and called the
Vetter's "Grain Place" farm a model for farmers around the world.

Though her words were encouraging, Raffensberger admitted that she
understands first-hand how difficult change can be. She and her
husband own farms in North Dakota and Iowa and sometimes receive
negative feedback regarding the Precautionary Principle method, the
main one centering around the fact that the Precautionary Principle
has not yet been scientifically proven.

But, Raffensberger believes there is hope, especially through
America's Midwest farmers who she calls innovative and creative.

And aside from applying the Precautionary Principal to farming,
Raffensberger encourages all persons to apply it to their daily lives,
in an effort to care for future generations.

"The Precautionary Principle and preventing harm to the commons is a
key task of everyone," she said.

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From: Lawn & Landscape Magazine, Jul. 16, 2007
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By RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)

Though we are just past the halfway mark in 2007, it is not too early,
from a state and local policy perspective, to label this as the year
of emotion. What does that label mean in practical terms? In state
houses, county board rooms and town halls emotionally-driven public
policy has trumped science and fact this year with respect to
pesticide and fertilizer availability for professionals and
homeowners. While momentum against science-based policy making has
been building steadily for about three years, it is safe to say 2007
will be remembered as the year emotion and political expediency
eclipsed science and common sense.

State Issues

As of this writing, nine state legislatures are still in session and
RISE has been tracking some 521 bills in 41 states -- with focus on
more than 200 bills with the potential to impact pesticide and
fertilizer availability and use. Precautionary principle-based
proposals continue to be introduced in state legislatures along with
bills for "toxic reduction," local authority, biomonitoring and
"sustainability." Such bills are driven by an active and vocal
minority and have generally lacked any scientific foundation.

This year saw much "feel good" legislation addressing a phantom
problem and will ultimately have little or no measurable impact. Good
examples are state proposals to restrict or ban phosphorus fertilizers
or regulate their content in Florida and Wisconsin -- other sources of
phosphorus in water have not been considered, nor has the biological
plausibility of asserted "harms." Even state-specific university turf
research is being deliberately ignored.

On the pesticide front, the eastern United States has seen the most
action with Connecticut expanding its ban on school pesticide use to
include playgrounds and playing fields for grades kindergarten through
eighth grade. New York, Rhode Island and Washington contemplated
similar bills for day care centers and schools.

Lawn and landscape professionals will continue to see proposals
impacting product choice for the remainder of this year and into 2008
in -- New York, Minnesota, Oregon, Maine, Tennessee, Connecticut,
Massachusetts, New Jersey, California and Washington.

Local Issues

While many in the U.S. lawn and landscape industries continue to
monitor Canadian bans and restrictions on product use, Canadian-style
local proposals are here in the lower 48 and have morphed into all
sorts of policies. The village of Schaghticoke, N.Y., earlier this
year passed an ordinance requiring a fee and permit for each and every
pesticide application, even though such laws are illegal because the
state has a pesticide preemption law. Westchester and Suffolk
Counties in N.Y. continue to contemplate bans on phosphorus and
nitrogen fertilizers used on lawns despite university research
specific to their geography showing such bans are unnecessary. The
debate about the benefits of urban turf has been mostly one-sided at
the local level with detractors winning the day.

What Can You Do?

Given the number of state bills and the possibility of local policies
in some 85,000 municipalities, everyone in our industry needs to
actively monitor what is happening where they live and operate. One
good first step is to get to know your local elected officials and
their voting records; another good step is to become aware of your
town and county meeting agendas and plan to attend periodically during
the year. Also, contact RISE when you learn about a state or local
proposal with the potential to impact your product choice.

Each of us has a role to play in balancing the public debate and
ensuring science and not emotion drives good public policy. Drop us an
e-mail at grassroots@pestfacts.org or contact Elizabeth Grotos, RISE
grassroots manager at egrotos@pestfacts.org.

Copyright 1997-2007, GIE Media, Inc.

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From: Maine Sunday Telegram, Jul. 22, 2007
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By Nancy Ross

[Nancy Ross, an associate professor of environmental policy at Unity
College, is on the steering committee of the Alliance for a Clean and
Healthy Maine (www.cleanandhealthyme.org).]

Toxic chemicals lurk within innocent people. This isn't the
tagline of a horror movie or summer science fiction.

It's "Body of Evidence," an analysis by the Alliance for a Clean
and Healthy Maine of pollution in the bodies of 13 Mainers who
generously consented to publicize the results.

The 71 chemicals the study measured don't come from terrorist
poisonings or toxic spills. Much worse. They're in everyday
household products and in our food, air and water.

Phthalates in perfume and baby toys: Phthalates are used to
soften plastics, including baby toys. They also permeate
personal care products, labeled as "fragrance" in perfume, hair
spray, deodorant, nail polish and soap. Minute levels of
phthalates have been statistically linked to sperm damage in
men and genital changes in fetuses.

"Body of Evidence" found that frequent perfume users Vi
Raymond of Winthrop, Hannah Pingree of North Haven and
Paulette Dingley of Auburn had twice the national median level
of phthalates.

Brominated flame retardants in dust: These retardants, called
PBDEs, are added to TV and other electronic casings and to
upholstery, curtains and other fabrics. From there they leach
into air, food and household dust -- and into people and
wildlife. Studies in lab animals show harm to memory, learning
and behavior from low levels of PBDEs.

Lauralee Raymond, Vi's daughter, also from Winthrop, and Bette
Kettell of Durham had total PBDE levels above the median found
in 62 women from California and Indiana.

Mercury in fish: Mercury comes in products like fluorescent
bulbs and thermostats, but most mercury in Maine arrives
airborne from coal-fired power plants. It's washed into streams
and lakes and builds in the food chain -- with exposures
highest for people who eat lots of fish such as tuna.

Mercury hurts brains, particularly developing brains of fetuses
and children. Even at low levels, exposure in the womb leads to
deficits in memory, attention and motor control.

Pingree, Lauralee Raymond and Elise Roux of Windham, all of
childbearing age and frequent eaters of fish high on the food
chain, had mercury levels twice the national median.


In the environmental policy classes I teach, the first question
students ask when we look at toxics in everyday products is
"How can I lower my risk?"

It's a teachable moment. Sure, you can search the Internet for
deodorant without phthalates and stop eating big fish, but how
do you avoid household dust?

After reflection, students usually argue for an approach known
as the precautionary principle: We don't know for sure the
effects of toxic chemicals in our bodies. But we do know that
what we don't know can hurt us. And we shouldn't have to live in
a world any more dangerous than it has to be.

Maine families have thousands of chemicals to worry about aside
from those sampled in "Body of Evidence" -- chemicals whose
effects on human health are suspect or unknown. The solution
to toxic chemicals in our bodies and our children's bodies isn't
careful consumption. This is the time and place for government
action to protect us.


Unfortunately, the federal regulatory system treats chemicals as
innocent until proven guilty. In 30 years, only six chemicals have
been banned of the 80,000 in use in homes and workplaces.
Only 10 percent have been tested for safety.

If the feds can't do it, you may ask, how can the states?

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said the states are
laboratories of democracy. That was good advice 75 years ago
and it's good policy today.

California requires labeling of carcinogens. Washington State has
phase-out plans for chemicals with long lives in the environment
and humans.

Maine's record on toxic-chemical reduction to date is good.
We've banned many products containing mercury, lead and
arsenic. A new law requires safer alternatives to PBDEs. A
Governor's Task Force on Safer Chemicals will make
recommendations this fall on a comprehensive chemical policy.

Your support of a solution can make it happen. Call on your
state legislators (federal, too):

** To require safety of all chemicals;

** To require full health and safety information for all chemicals;

** To support research and development of safer alternatives.

These policies will not only end our toxic nightmare but provide
incentives for a "green chemistry" marketplace to flourish.

Copyright 2007 Blethen Maine Newspapers

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From: eGov Monitor (London, UK), Jul. 20, 2007
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MPs [Members of Parliament] have urged the Government to ban new homes
and schools within 60m of existing high voltage overhead power
transmission lines.

That call has come from a cross-party group of backbench MPs who have
published a report considering the association between overhead power
lines and the risk of childhood leukaemia.

The MPs' report also makes a case for a moratorium on building new
homes and schools within 30m of lower voltage overhead power lines.

The report was published following the setting-up of a parliamentary
commission on childhood leukaemia and electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

Dr Howard Moate, the Dartford Labour MP who chaired the group, said
the Government should act on their advice and adopt the precautionary
principle in this instance.

He said: "The most recent scientific research has indicated that there
may be a link between childhood leukaemia and proximity to electricity
pylons. It would be wrong to wait any longer before taking action."

Earlier this year a joint Government/industry working party (the
Stakeholder Advisory Group on EMF) failed to decide whether a
moratorium on development near power lines could be justified.


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From: The Standard (Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia), Jul. 20, 2007
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By Shane Fowles

Seismic testing should be banned from Logans Beach around key calving
times, according to a Warrnambool councillor.

Cr [Councillor] Jacinta Ermacora called for stricter controls on
offshore seismic exploration following a lack of southern right whales
at the key habitat this season.

Their absence heightened speculation about the effects of seismic
testing, with Santos exploring as close as 14 kilometres off the coast
in May and June. Cr Ermacora called for the precautionary principle to
be used while scientific data on the issue was inconclusive.

"We should really give whales the benefit of the doubt and take
greater care of them, including timing (testing) so it won't have any
impact," Cr Ermacora said.

"It makes sense from a planning perspective...to check the testing
against environmental, heritage and safety concerns. We have to be
responsible in all our actions in relation to the whales _
particularly now the council has a provision
to protect them."

Santos has argued there was no proof seismic testing affected whales
and work halted immediately if any were seen in the area.

However, with no sightings of the threatened species this year, the
city council resolved to examine the limited research on the subject.

"The whales add a valuable dimension in attracting tourists to
Warrnambool," economic development director Bill Millard said.

"If any external impacts has the potential to jeopardise it, we
should develop our own views on that."

Cr Ermacora's call came as the Federal Government improved guidelines
for protecting whales in areas of gas and oil exploration.

A key plank of the new policy backed her recommendation to plan
seismic operations around important areas, like Logans Beach.

"In these biologically important habitats operators are encouraged to
operate at times of year that will avoid overlap with the presence of
whales," it reads. The revised guidelines also indicated baleen
whales, like the southern right
species, were likely to be sensitive to sounds generated by seismic

However, the extremely limited data did not allow easy conclusions to
be drawn, with no research at all done on the impact on southern

A typical seismic survey may involve many hundred thousand signals
spread during several weeks of parallel passes.

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From: The Berkeley (Calif.) Daily Planet, Jul. 13, 2007
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By Richard Brenneman

The UC [University of California] Regents are scheduled to approve two
key environmental documents Monday, setting the stage for a major
expansion at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The most significant is the environmental impact report (EIR) for the
lab's master plan for the next 18 years. The two other environmental
documents pave the way for demolishing the Bevatron and building a
25,000-square-foot guest house for visiting experts and researchers.

First on the agenda of the board's Committee on Grounds and Buildings
Monday meeting is the final draft of the lab's Long Range Development
Plan 2025 (LRDP).

Calling for 884,000 square feet of new buildings and up to 500 new
parking spaces and 860 new employees, the document also spells out the
planned demolition of 272,000 square feet of existing buildings.

While the regents will vote on a full EIR for the LRDP, the documents
for the guest house consist of an environmental initial study coupled
with the declaration of no significant environmental impacts.

Construction on the guest house, a $10.9 million hotel-style building
with 73 beds in 60 rooms, could begin in December, with completion
planned for March, 2009.

A third environmental document has been completed by the lab, but
isn't on the agenda -- the final EIR on demolition of the lab's
51 and the Bevatron, the world's first large-scale atomic particle

All three documents are posted at the lab's website,
www.lbl.gov/Community/env-rev-docs.html, and the full LRDP EIR is
posted at ww.lbl.gov/Community/LRDP/index.html.

The committee meeting is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on the UC Santa
Barbara campus.

Comments, responses

A large part of the LRDP final EIR is composed of critical comments
from the city, community organizations and members of the public
concerned about the impact of both the lab's massive expansion and its
cumulative effects when added to UC Berkeley's own plans for the
nearby southeast campus.

One issue complicating site development is the presence of toxic
compounds in the soil and groundwater created by past activities at
the lab.

Listed contaminants include volatile and semivolatile organic
compounds, "very small amounts of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons,"
hazardous metals and tritium, a radioactive isotope of the gaseous
element hydrogen.

In response to concerns by the East Bay Municipal Utility District
about possible exposures during installation of underground utilities
at the site, the document promises that all the contamination sites
are documented, and precautionary measures would reduce any possible
exposures to less than significant levels.

The document contains two letters outlining City of Berkeley concerns:
a 29-page summary from City Manager Phil Kamlarz and a nine-page
letter from Public Works Transportation Division Principal Planner
Matt Nichols detailing the specifics of city transportation concerns.

One overarching city concern is having to deal with two separate LRDPs
involving developments with concentrated impacts on one finite area of
the city.

A city lawsuit is already underway and linked with actions filed by
neighbors and environmentalists challenging the regents' adoption of
the final EIR for the university's Southeast Campus Integrated
Projects, which will add another third-of-a-million square feet of
construction immediately downhill from the lab.

While the lab's EIR insists the lab and the university are separate
entities, the city has raised questions, and the lab acknowledges that
both UC Berkeley and the lab -- a U.S. Department of Energy complex
operated under contract by UC -- share staff and some of the same
facilities. The lab also owns two buildings on campus, the Calvin and
Donner labs.

But lab officials insist that two separate LRDPs are appropriate, and
contend that nothing in the California Environmental Quality Act says

Multiple concerns

Some of the questions raised by the city concern one site designated
as a city landmark and buildings considered eligible for landmark

The Bevatron building, which housed the world's first large-scale
particle accelerator, was rejected as a landmark by Berkeley's
Landmarks Preservation Commission, but commissioners did give
recognition to the site itself. Two other buildings considered
candidates were already covered in the lab's existing LRDP 2006, lab
officials contend.

As for the city's questions about the lab's impacts on a potential
designated cultural landscape, the report contends that developments
will respect the landscape and protect views to the maximum extent

While the report acknowledged the city's contention that a
catastrophic earthquake could lead to prolonged road closures, it said
that "LBNL has in place policies and procedures" to maintain staff
health and safety and "manage traffic through the hill site."

The university rejected outright the city's contention that
"significantly increasing the population in a high-geologic hazard
area cannot be mitigated to a less than significant level solely
through engineering."

As for the city's plea for the lab to adopt the precautionary
principle, the DEIR states following existing laws and regulations are
adequate mitigations.

Declaring the lab isn't covered by the city's Manufactured
Nanoparticle Disclosure Ordinance, which requires reports on
facilities making or using the microscopic technology, the lab
"intends to provide on-going information of interest to the City in
regard to the Lab's work" in the nano realm.

While acknowledging new programs will lead to significant increases in
the amounts of dangerous materials stored and created on site, the lab
contends existing rules and laws cover the dangers.

Response to concerns over nanotech in a letter from Pamela Shivola,
the EIR replied that the lab has safely worked with nano-sized
bacteria and viruses.

Responding to her concerns about the BP-funded Energy Biosciences
Institute, which will be included in the Helios Building described in
the EIR, the document states that a separate, full environmental
review will be prepared for that building. The structure will also be
built so that it won't disturb an existing underground plume of
tritium in the area, according to the LRDP EIR.

Other worries

In responses to concerns that the large number of faults in the lab
area might trigger quakes, the report contends that the only likely
surface rupture would come from the Hayward Fault itself, which is
located south of the lab buildings, offering reports by the state
Geological Survey as support.

Several hundred area residents signed petitions from the Preserve the
Strawberry Creek Watershed Alliance, which has called for a moratorium
on building in the canyon and warned of the reported dangers of

Among the measures urged by the Sierra Club were: Leaving stands of
trees intact and preserving the natural corridor of Strawberry Creek
(a plea seconded by the Urban Creeks Council); minimizing truck
traffic during construction by relocating excavated topsoil locally;
using biodiesel-powered new construction equipment; shifting research
toward peaceful uses of technology; disallowing any net gain in
parking, and installation of a funicular railway to reduce car use.

Gene Bernardi, a frequent lab critic, offered the simplest solution:
Close it down, clean up the toxics and let the radioactivity decay in

Ignacio Chapela, a UC Berkeley microbial biologist and an outspoken
critic of the BP project, decried the lab's increasing emphasis on
creating genetically modified organisms in search of new fuel
sources -- research he said would created transgenic organisms which
threatened "the entire canyon and the city and bay below."

Chapela also said construction of the new buildings would interfere
with the use of the canyon and environs for teaching by university

The report rejected his worries about genetically modified organisms,
and said his concerns about the use of the canyon for teaching weren't
relevant to the EIR itself.

Significant Error

One obvious error in the document came in a response to a letter from
Wendy Markel, president of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage

Joining with the Berkeley Planning and Landmarks Preservation
commissions plea to locate development elsewhere than in the hills,
Markel asked what university property in Richmond could serve as an
alternate location.

"Is any of the university property in Richmond contaminated?"" she

In response, the EIR noted that the university's Richmond Field
Station "has a history of soil and groundwater contamination," adding
that "UC Berkeley is working with the California Regional Water
Quality Control Board to implement a cleanup and restoration plan" for
the site and adjacent marshland.

In fact, the water board was ousted from its oversight of the field
station two years ago after community protests and intervention by the
Richmond City Council and Assemblymember Loni Hancock.

The site is currently under the jurisdiction of the state Department
of Toxic Substances Control, which recently issued letters declaring
that the university had illicitly disposed of thousands of truckloads
of contaminated soil when the water board was in charge.

The university had argued against a change of oversight agencies, with
two officials insisting the school had been doing an adequate job.

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From: The Record (Waterloo, Ontario), Jul. 23, 2007
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By Gordon Nelson

[Gordon Nelson is a distinguished professor emeritus of the University
of Waterloo, with four decades of experience in land use,
environmental and heritage analysis and planning. Second opinion
articles reflect the views of Record readers on a variety of topices.]

I am opposed to the proposals for the westside moraine subdivision in
Waterloo because they threaten the vital ecological and social
services this natural system brings.

Looking at the big picture, the moraine provides a range of benefits
including water quality and quantity, the conservation of forests,
woodlands and species at risk, outstanding natural beauty, and wide
ranging educational opportunities.

The economic worth of similar woodlots has been determined in places
like New York City, where the focus is on the value of trees in an
intensely populated area. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated
the study indicating that the city's approximately 600,000 trees were
worth an estimated $122 million, it was recently reported. That breaks
down to $11 million for filtering air pollutants, $28 million in
energy conservation, $30 million for containing storm water run-off,
and $53 million for their esthetic benefits.

The moraine forest also assists with the control of soil erosion,
sedimentation and pollution. As well, there is a scientific value in
protecting the area's diverse species and monitoring climate change --
which is not so easily done in the "heat island" of urban

Another big value is community education. With rising urbanization,
people spend much of their lives in cities distant from nature. Such
separation means less understanding of the ecological services
performed by areas such as the moraine. This applies especially to
young people, and notably to low-income urban youth.

The moraine could also be a place where immigrants from other lands
learn to appreciate and conserve forests and natural systems. Future
cities need to include large natural areas so people understand and
support the diverse environments necessary for their well-being.

These values have also been recognized in West Vancouver, where a
large forested area was protected for water supply and conservation

In Ottawa, forest and natural area values led to the creation of
nearby Gatineau Park, and in Toronto, the Oak Ridges moraine is
protected by provincial law for similar reasons.

Other communities such as Hamilton, St. Catharines and Owen Sound
benefit from the forests and natural areas of the Niagara
Escarpment.These examples offer lessons for Waterloo. The services
provided by the Oak Ridges moraine to Toronto parallel those of the
westside moraine to us.

And New York is instructive in another way. With rising growth and
demand, plans were made to upgrade water supply and treatment
facilities at projected costs of hundreds of millions of dollars. This
high price tag led to studies into the cost of agreements for
protective land use practices in the Upper Hudson Valley, the long-
time source of the city's water supply. All this led to new agreements
with rural landowners and a decision to go with the traditional
sources, saving vast sums for the city and its people.

Forests, woodlands and natural areas are vital symbols of the image
and livability of a city. It's better to envision the moraine in
future as a landscape of forests, farms, hiking paths and other

This could be accomplished by a mix of public protection, easements
and other agreements to encourage willing owners to allow citizens to
benefit, enjoy and learn from these uncommon lands.

The technical improvements generated for these subdivision proposals
could be less successful than expected by experts. Some ground water
wells in the region have already been damaged or lost to unanticipated
industrial and other pollution. It seems wise to base the subdivision
decision on a precautionary principle, knowing that faulty decision
now could have costly, long-term consequences for the city and region.

Objections will be raised to my position by people arguing that these
proposals should proceed because the city committed these lands to
development in the 1990s. and that the developers have subsequently
invested in their plans. But these approvals were given before science
and society gained a greater understanding of the vital services that
areas such as the moraine perform for us.

Buying out the investment of the developers would likely be
considerably less costly than the ecological and social services
foregone with such development.

The city and the region should not be in a rush to decide until some
pending relevant studies have been completed and made available to the
public. Of potentially special importance is an Ontario Ministry of
the Environment review "to determine if there is a need to develop
provisions to protect ground water and source water of the Waterloo
moraine beyond those already provided for in existing policies and

A focus solely on water does not, however, comprehend the range of
other ecological and social benefits the westside moraine offers to us
and those who will follow.

Copyright 2007

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  Rachel's Precaution Reporter offers news, views and practical
  examples of the Precautionary Principle, or Foresight Principle, in
  action. The Precautionary Principle is a modern way of making
  decisions, to minimize harm. Rachel's Precaution Reporter tries to
  answer such questions as, Why do we need the precautionary
  principle? Who is using precaution? Who is opposing precaution?

  We often include attacks on the precautionary principle because we  
  believe it is essential for advocates of precaution to know what
  their adversaries are saying, just as abolitionists in 1830 needed
  to know the arguments used by slaveholders.

  Rachel's Precaution Reporter is published as often as necessary to
  provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the subject.

  As you come across stories that illustrate the precautionary 
  principle -- or the need for the precautionary principle -- 
  please Email them to us at rpr@rachel.org.

  Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
  Tim Montague   -   tim@rachel.org

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Environmental Research Foundation
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