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Obama Signs Multifaceted Legislation Covering Land, Water, and Paralysis

Little River Canyon National Preserve will benefit. Photo Courtesy of National Parks Traveler.

WASHINGTON, D.C.- President Barack Obama has signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, incorporating 150 bills that cover legislative matters including: designating 2 million acres of new wilderness areas, authorizing the various Bureau of Reclamation water projects and water settlements, and creating The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act.

Among the president’s remarks at the signing of the bill, he said, “This landmark bill will protect millions of acres of Federal land as wilderness, protect more than 1,000 miles of river through the National Wilderness and Scenic River System, and designate thousands of miles of trails for the National Trails System.

“This legislation also makes progress for which millions of Americans have long waited on another front. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act is the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis.”

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USDA Offers Signup Extension For Floodplain Easement Assistance

Recent flooding in Bismarck, N.D. Photo courtesy of NBC News.

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Landowners across the country affected by flooding will now be granted an extended signup period until April 10 for floodplain easement assistance by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Watershed Protection component.

“President Obama wants to make sure that landowners impacted by the recent flooding in states like North Dakota and Minnesota are given ample opportunity to apply for this assistance,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement, where he added that, “This extension is part of USDA’s plan to mitigate the impact of future flooding by restoring the landscape to its natural hydrology and native vegetation.”

Up to $145 million is being made available to eligible landowners nationwide through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and includes both technical and financial assistance.

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U.S. Renewable Energy Council Joins With China In Launching Online Business Platform 

Photo courtesy of ACORE.

WASHIGNTON, D.C. - The American Council On Renewable Energy has launched a website to help U.S. companies connect with Chinese companies and institutions that are working to expand and finance renewable energy development projects in China.

“China has made clear its commitment to advance renewable and clean energy solutions for meeting its vast and growing energy needs,” said ACORE President Michael Eckhart, adding that, “this has tremendous business implications for U.S. companies who are financing or building renewable energy products and services.”

The site provides English language news updates on activities in Solar, Wind, and RE Policy. In addition, the site provides information on other initiatives underway across China, including information on regulations for doing business in China, downloadable market analyses and reports, and contact information on key industry and government decision makers.

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Scientists Using Genetically Engineered Potato Plants to Produce Base Chemicals Found in Common Household Products

The greenhouse of the Lumen building at Wageningen University. Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.

WAGENINGEN, Netherlands - Plant Research International and the Microbiology science group, both part of Wageningen University and Research Centre, have jointly developed potato plants that are capable of producing itaconic acid, a chemical ingredient used in common household products.

The itaconic acid is a vital component in products such as acrylic fibers and rubbers, reinforced glass fibers, artificial diamonds, and lenses. The acid is also used as an additive in fibers and ion exchange resins to increase their abrasion, waterproofing, physical resistance, and dying affinity, as well as improve their duration.

It is also used as a binder and sizing agent in non-weaving fibers, paper, and concrete paint. Additionally, itaconic acid is used in water treatment systems to help prevent contamination by metallic alkali.

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Eco-Trips Aide the Revitalization of Sri Lanka’s Elephant Population

Pinnawela elephant orphanage. Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

PINNAWELA, Sri Lanka - Eco-tourism in Sri Lanka is thriving, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, which in turn is also providing a much needed boost to the country’s elephant conservation and breeding projects.

“The elephant population in Sri Lanka was being decimated to near extinction by the natural loss of their habitat, the hunting due to the lucrative ivory trade, and lack of proper management,” said Dileep Mudadeniya., SLTPB Managing Director, adding “but all that is history now.

“From merely seven elephants in 1975, the Pinnawela elephant orphanage now houses 65 elephants, including several bred in captivity, under the intelligent management of the National Zoological Gardens.” The elephants roam free in the 25-acre coconut plantation where they eat grass in addition to a daily diet of coconut palm, jackfruit, and other leaves, says the bureau, adding that the baby elephants at the orphanage are bottle fed on milk by their handlers.

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