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Enviro-Newsbrief January 21, 1999 The following is a daily update summarizing news of interest to EPA staff. It includes information from current news sources: newspapers, newsletters, and other publications. For more information, contact the EPA Headquarters Information Resources Center at (202) 260-5922, or e-mail LIBRARY-HQ. **Viewpoints expressed in the following summaries do not necessarily reflect EPA policy** A searchable archive of past Enviro-Newsbriefs can be found on the EPA web site at the following URL: http://www.epa.gov/natlibra/hqirc/enb.htm ** POLYSTYRENE ** Walking on Eggshells, Polystyrene People Make a Comeback. The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 1999, ppA1,A8. The polystyrene industry is experiencing a revival after suffering an enormous image crisis in the late 80's due to pressure from environmentalists. The ultimate blow came when McDonald's stopped using polystyrene clamshell boxes for its hamburgers in 1990. The mass exodus from polystyrene food containers to paper containers such as cups is beginning to reverse a bit, thanks to its lower costs and better insulating abilities. The industry still has to work to combat image problems, however. "People use our products," said Mike Levy, director of the Polystyrene Packaging Council. "But they don't like them very much." One way that the negative environmental image is being countered is by printing environmental information about polystyrene on the products themselves or displaying it at the point of sale. Egg cartons sold at D'Agostino Supermarkets in New York include information on the environmental benefits of polystyrene: no CFCs are used, fewer raw materials are required, and the egg cartons are recyclable. At the Jamba Juice Co. on the West Coast, where polystyrene cups are used for smoothies, a pamphlet is displayed called "Who Is Polly Styrene?" that discusses the case for polystyrene. Environmentally-concerned consumers still tend to prefer paper for its biodegradability. The polystyrene industry is responding by creating a cup made from foam that looks like a normal paper cup. The cup is thin and has a rolled lip and a side seam. The cups, produced by Tenneco Inc., cost less than paper cups, and don't require "double-cupping," according to John Zinsel, who owns three coffee and tea shops in New Orleans. Borders Group bookstores began shipping books and CDs in foam peanuts in 1996, because it saved them over $1 million each year from the paper padding that they had been using. Virginia Lyle, environmental affairs manager at Free-Flow Packaging International Inc., was responsible for educating Borders' employees about polystyrene packing materials and convincing them that polystyrene peanuts were not so bad. The industry now has global sales of about $8.5 billion each year. It had suffered a sales drop of 15% after the McDonald's public switch away from the material. Sales are expected to rise 3.4% a year through 2002. McDonald's is planning to return to clamshell burger boxes this year, although it is going with a material made by Earth Shell Corp. The boxes are made from limestone, starch, and other materials. ** SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHING ** Medical Journals Give New Meaning to "Political Science." [Editorial]. The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 1999, pA18. Hudson Institute fellow Michael Fumento uses the recent firing of George Lundberg, editor of the _Journal of the American Medical Association_ (JAMA), to explore what he sees as "the politicization of science and medical journals." Lundberg was fired after "inappropriately and inexcusably" interjecting the journal "into a major political debate that has nothing to do with science or medicine," in the words of the Vice President of the AMA. Lundberg had published a Kinsey Institute study measuring how many college students considered oral sex to be "sex." Fumento says that the JAMA affair is just one among many instances in which journals - "almost certainly quite intentionally" - publish scientific studies that are meant to have a political effect. In particular, he focuses on "bogus" environmental studies that "end up costing the nation vast sums of money for environmental studies and regulations." The author highlights a 1996 study reported in the journal _Science_ that linked pesticides to hormone disruption. The study (and a book, _Our Stolen Future_) led Congress to direct the EPA to begin screening pesticides for hormonal effects. Fumento writes, "Science's editors were apparently untroubled by the study's highly unusual methodology. Not only did it not employ live animals, it didn't even use animal cells. Instead the researchers gave their chemical cocktail to yeast - great for baking and brewing but a questionable surrogate for humans." The study was also funded in part by the W. Alton Jones Foundation, whose director, John Peterson Myers, coauthored _Our Stolen Future_. Devra Lee Davis, an epidemiologist at the World Resources Institute, is also criticized by Fumento for her study linking a reduction in the birth rate of males and man-made chemicals. The study was published in JAMA last April under Lundberg's editorship. A 1993 _New England Journal of Medicine_ study on particulate air pollutants and mortality rates from respiratory diseases led to unnecessary EPA regulations on small particulate matter, according to Fumento. Fumento concludes, "... the role these journals play is so incredibly important, the cost of malfeasance so terribly high, that politics must not be allowed to worm into the science. 'Everybody does it' is no more an excuse for our scientific gatekeepers than for our president." ** GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE ** Clinton Proposes Fund to Help Cut Greenhouse Gases, Air Pollutants. Daily Environment Report, January 21, 1999, pA-2. The White House announced yesterday that the president's budget proposal for FY 2000 will include a fund aimed to reduce the emissions of both greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. The fund, called the Clean Air Partnership Fund, was announced in the president's State of the Union address on January 19. The EPA would administer the fund, which would be used to provide grants to state and local governments. The grants would be used for voluntary projects to curb emissions. The White House said the fund would "stimulate cost- effective pollution control strategies, spur technological innovation, and leverage substantial non-federal investment in improved air quality." The budget is also expected to include tax incentives for climate change related action. The president called on Congress "to reward companies that take early, voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gases" in the State of the Union address. Some tax breaks will be proposed for consumers who purchase cars, houses, appliances, etc., that are energy-efficient. The president's budget proposal is due on February 1.
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