International business briefs: EPA encourages energy efficiency, Campbell reappointment, NASA blows whistle on Bush, Siemens goes green, Environmental engineers honoured

As temperatures drop this autumn, the US Environment Protection Agency is encouraging Americans to save energy, reduce utility bills and protect the environment by increasing the energy efficiency of their home heating systems. The average household spends US$1,500 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. EPA estimates that if one in 10 American households used heating and cooling equipment that has been awarded with the energy efficiency Energy Star label, the change would prevent an estimated 17 billion lbs in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Australian Wind Energy Association (AusWEA) has congratulated The Hon Ian Campbell on his reappointment as Federal Environment and Heritage Minister. Ian Lloyd-Besson, President of AusWEA, said there was growing public and political awareness of the economic and environmental contribution of the wind industry in Australia. “There are many myths about wind energy and we’re actively working as an industry to ensure informed and accurate debate on Australia’s energy and environmental resources,” said Mr Lloyd-Besson. “Australia has a great window of opportunity to anchor our position as a global player in the worldwide wind energy boom, delivering dollars, jobs and environmental benefits.” The current 2% Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) by 2010, the major mechanism to support the Australian wind industry, is low in comparison with global wind energy targets.

Dr. James Hansen, a top climate scientist at NASA, told the New York Times that political interference in the flow of scientific information has become “institutionalized” under the Bush administration. Hansen’s comments, published an October edition of the Science Times, are significant because of his high position at NASA and because his work has often been cited by President Bush. “It’s something that I’ve been worrying about for months,” said Hansen, describing his decision to go public with his objections. “If I don’t do something now I’ll regret it.”

AusWEA has also welcomed the entry of the German company Siemens into the wind energy industry through its acquisition of the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, Bonus Energy. President of AusWEA, Mr Lloyd-Besson, hailed the move as another acknowledgement of the important and growing role wind energy is playing around the globe in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “This takeover is a significant step forward for the global wind turbine market, and opens up new doors for the Australian wind energy industry” said Mr Lloyd-Besson.

And finally, the re-engineering of 16,000 acres of salt ponds in the South San Francisco Bay has won the Outstanding Environmental Engineering Project award given by the American Society of Civil Engineers, San Francisco Section. The project was allegedly seen to be of such importance and long-lasting value that Environmental Engineering Award was created purely in order to honour engineering company Cargill Salt’s outstanding effort, according to one of the judges.

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