New web addresses protested – some on environment-related grounds

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is planning to expand internet addresses by allowing the part after the dot to be almost anything you want it to be, provided you pay the appropriate large fee. So .com, .net., and many more could expand to .cheese, .basket, and .unitedkingdom. All this may start coming into effect within the next few months. If you think it is difficult now to remember whether to find your Gallon Environment Letter at or just wait until you could also realistically try or gallonletter.boozydrink! (By the way, you can find GallonLetter at both and

But, more seriously, there is a complication to this expansion of what are called Top Level Domains. Some countries do not like the way in which the names of their environmental treasures might be expropriated. Among the battles currently raging:

.amazon, proposed by the retailer of the same name, opposed by Brazil and Peru, who believe the name belongs to their riverine treasure.

.africa, proposed by  DotConnectAfrica Trust, an independent non-profit, non-partisan organisation incorporated specifically to sponsor, establish and operate the proposed new Top Level Domain .africa, opposed by the African Union Commission, the Government of Comoros, the Government of Kenya, the Government of Cameroon, and many more African governments.

.swiss, proposed by Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. and opposed by the Government of Switzerland.

.patagonia, proposed by your ‘friends’ at Patagonia, Inc. and opposed by the Governments of Argentina and Chile.

.charity, proposed by Corn Lake, LLC and by Spring Registry Limited and opposed by the Government of Australia.

.news, proposed by Amazon and opposed by the Government of Australia.

.green, proposed by United TLD Holdco Ltd., Top Level Domain Holdings Limited, and Afilias Limited, and opposed by the Government of the Czech Republic (God bless them!).

.bio, proposed by STARTING DOT and opposed by the Government of France.

It is a long list and we have only given some examples but you get the idea. Maybe we should have tried to register .gallonletter, though it is doubtful that our revenues could have supported it! But there are lots of companies and organizations trying to make a buck out of the new top level domains and a goodly number of governments, which are the only organizations allowed to object, suggesting that many of these web addresses should be somewhat more in the public domain.

The current issue of Gallon Environment Letter discusses whether natural objects, especially natural beings, should be available to all for private profit, or whether there should be rules that prohibit  use of the contents of the Global Commons, things like the likeness of the gecko, for private profit without appropriate compensation, just as you cannot use the image of the editor of Gallon Environment Letter for private profit without his consent (and compensation, he hopes!). We expect this to be a controversial topic!

You can find the list of controversial proposed new top level domains at

You can receive your own personal copy of Gallon Environment Letter, monthly edition, by sending an email with  Add GL in the subject line and your email in the main body of the message to This month only you will receive the current issue and a full year of the free Honoured Reader edition if you send the message by May 15th, 2013.

Sustainable fisheries: filling some knowledge gaps

A recent article by scientists from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington in the open access online journal PLOS ONE helps to illustrate, at least in a general way, how little we know about maintenance of sustainable fisheries.

The research reviewed groundfish stocks in three fisheries: Alaska, British Columbia, and the U.S. West Coast. Groundfish are fish that live on or near the bottom of the water body which they inhabit. On the Pacific coast of North America they include such species as pacific cod, lingcod, halibut, and many more. In each of the studied fisheries fishers are, in most years, taking significantly less than the Total Allowable Catch, meaning that stocks are exploited at levels below their maximum sustainable yield. Potentially this means a loss of economic benefit and food resources that the fishery could provide.

Fish stocks that rarely exceed TACs and that are often fished at well below TACs provide a useful environment for evaluating the impact of potential conservation measures. The researchers studied various tools for limiting catches:

  • individual quotas;
  • the use of harvest control rules ;
  • marine reserves;
  • seasonal closures;
  • bycatch constraints; and
  • gear type.

The first three of these fishery management tools were found to have little effect on the status of stocks. Overall the researchers found that there is no single effective management measure for meeting conservation objectives. If scientifically established quotas are set and enforced, a variety of means can be used to ensure that exploitation rates and biomass levels are near to or more conservative than management targets.

As GallonDaily views it, the implication to be drawn from this research is that there is probably no one right answer for maintenance of sustainable stocks in fisheries. A number of tools are available and it may well be most appropriate for local decisions to be applied in selection of methods to keep a particular fishery in sustainable management.  Critics who promote a single tool as the answer for sustainable fisheries may not be promoting the best path for a sustainable fishery.

Effects of Management Tactics on Meeting Conservation Objectives for Western North American Groundfish Fisheries. Michael C. Melnychuk, Jeannette A. Banobi, Ray Hilborn.

Trump golf club found guilty of misleading claims

Scotland is permitting wind turbines close to a golf club owned by Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd. Yes, it is that Trump and he has been campaigning relentlessly against the proposed windfarm.

One of the campaign activities has been an advertisement that appeared in various publications stating “Is this the future for Scotland?” and featuring an image of wind turbines overlooking a motorway that was labeled “Image taken in California (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)”. Underneath text stated “Tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy!

Various people, including a Member of the Scottish Parliament, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority claiming that the argument “Tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy” could not be substantiated and that the image of the wind turbines overlooking an American freeway was misleading because it was not representative of any proposed windfarm in Scotland. The Authority banned any republishing of the advertisement, told Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd not to make claims unless they could be substantiated with robust evidence, and not to use misleadingly imagery.

The issue for GallonDaily is not that a Trump company got caught with misleading advertising against a windfarm but that the ASA took action on an advertisement which was not trying to sell product, at least not directly, but was engaging in more of a political debate. Imagine if all of those who make outrageous claims against climate change or any other pro-environment initiative were also to be found guilty of misleading advertising. If Canada had an Advertising Standards Authority similar to that in the UK, maybe even oil sands development could be shown to be not entirely “ethical”.

You can read a full report of the ASA decisions on the Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd case at

Environmental charity turns to Ebay auction for fundraising

An Ebay offer to host fundraising auctions for charitable causes has attracted the attention of folks at the US-based Sierra Club Foundation. The offer has been around for a while but we have not previously seen too many environmental groups taking advantage of it. As one who formerly had fundraising management responsibility at a Canadian environmental group, GallonDaily’s editor sees this use of auctions for fundraising as a worthwhile, though perhaps currently rather small, initiative.

The Sierra Club Foundation auction currently lists thirteen items ranging from an autographed poster for the movie Bridesmaids at $41 to a 7 night stay at a luxury villa in Manzanilla, Mexico, for $5,500 (both prices in USD with the auction listing price at the time GallonDaily published this article). Half of the items are under $200.

Auctions for environmental causes need to be handled with some care. It would not be supportive of the auction cause to fundraise through sales of unnecessary or non-environmental products. Sierra Club Foundation seems to have managed this quite well with most of the items falling into categories that could be found on Gallon Environment Letter’s list of environmentally preferred Christmas gifts, though the three travel items might be considered more distant than is environmentally preferred and one of the items makes a waste reduction claim that GallonDaily suspects may not be supported by a proper LifeCycle Analysis. If all of the listed items sell at their current price Sierra Club Foundation’s coffers will be enriched by almost $12,000.

To review the Sierra Club Foundation fundraising auction on Ebay, visit . If you get there before this Sunday evening, April 28, you will be able to bid on the items.

London UK removes diesel cars from green vehicle benefit

Until this week diesel automobiles were considered green vehicles that were exempt from (actually, received a 100% rebate of) central London’s Congestion Charge scheme. This was based on their status as low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles. However, sales of diesel cars in the London area have increased from around 10% to around 50% over the last decade and the city government is now removing diesel cars from the list of exempt vehicles, based on the fact that even most current diesel cars emit about 22 times as much particulate matter as the equivalent petrol car.

In effect, only full electric cars and some, but not all, plug-in hybrids will now qualify for the London Congestion Charge discount. Theoretically, diesel cars with very low carbon emissions and very clean air emissions would still qualify for the discount but, as far as GallonDaily has been able to determine, there are no diesel cars on the market or in the pipeline that meet the requirements. Owners of diesel cars already registered as green vehicles will be given a “sunset period” of three years before they have to pay the congestion charge.

Although diesel cars have never been considered green vehicles in most Canadian situations, this change in London’s rules may have some long-term implications for North American car buyers:

  • expansion of production and marketing of diesel cars may slow down on a global scale, at least in developed countries
  • other European incentives for diesel cars may begin to disappear, further reducing production of diesel cars
  •  development of much cleaner diesel cars may accelerate, though some observers expect that increased use of catalytic converters on diesel automobiles is likely to be expensive and will reduce fuel efficiency
  • London has dramatically demonstrated the ability of financial incentives to influence the market, in this case by creating a huge market for diesel cars in the London Congestion Zone.
  • just because governments label something as green does not mean that it is or that the government-provided benefit is here to stay. These rules in London, which saved owners of diesel cars who drive in Central London a daily charge of about $13.50, were changed after a 12 week consultation period and will affect the car owners after June 2016, at which time most recently purchased diesel cars will still be on the road and performing well.

For more information about the end of the green benefit for diesel cars in London visit

Group targets “dirty dozen” pesticide residue fruits and veg

The Environmental Working Group, a US environmental and consumer group, recently published and obtained widespread publicity for its 2013 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. The publication is based on test results from the US Department of Agriculture and the  US Food and Drug Administration.

The data may serve to scare consumers away from certain fruits and vegetables, those found with higher levels of pesticide residues, or cause them to switch to organic produce, but even EWG states

  • The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables.
  • We definitely recommend eating produce from the Dirty Dozen™ list rather than other, less-healthy foods or snacks such as fat-, sugar- or additive-laden processed products.
  • 99 percent of samples meet legal limits, but legal isn’t always safe.
  • Buy organic whenever possible. Not only is it smart to reduce your exposure to pesticides, but buying organic sends a message that you support environmentally friendly farming practices that minimize soil erosion, safeguard workers and protect water quality and wildlife.

There is no debate about the data, though there is considerable debate about its interpretation and whether the residue levels detected are harmful to humans. EWG’s states that its objective in publishing this report is to use the power of information to “ensure that food and consumer products are free of harmful chemicals”.

GallonDaily supports the objective of reducing exposure to harmful substances  and recognizes that government regulatory standards may be inadequate to reduce exposure risks to virtually zero. However, targeting the fruit and vegetables, which everyone acknowledges are beneficial, is in our view too simplistic an approach for challenging the government to strengthen pesticide regulations. The EWG “Dirty Dozen Plus™” list cannot help but deter consumers from purchasing produce in categories identified for the list by the EWG. That is not, in our opinion, a desirable objective.

For this reason, GallonDaily will not reproduce the list in this column but will refer you to the EWG website at if you must read it. Two things to remember:

  1. the EWG’s report is based on US data which may be applicable to Canada only to the extent that US produce is available in Canada, and
  2. virtually all the produce tested in the US meets government standards for pesticide residues.

The legitimate debate is around whether or not those standards are sufficiently strict.

Organic fertilizer fraud: US courts get tough

GallonDaily and our sister publication GallonLetter get lots of questions about organic food and how do we know that it is really organic when it looks just the same as conventionally produced food. Of course organics is only one of many areas where consumers have to rely on producer honesty and government enforcement to ensure that what they are sold is the same as what is delivered. Two recent cases show that at least the US government is prepared to get tough, really tough, on mislabeling of organic food ingredients.

One fertilizer retailer, a Canadian fellow operating in California, was sentenced to 364 days in prison, fined of $125,000 and ordered to serve six months of community confinement with 1,000 hours of community service related to organic production, for selling fertilizer that he claimed was approved for use in organic agriculture when in fact it contained an ingredient prohibited from organic agriculture. Only ingredients on approved lists are allowed by US Department of Agriculture to be used in organic farming.

Another retailer was sentenced to  6 ½ years in prison, three years of supervised release, forfeiture to the United States of his 2006 Chevrolet Silverado, 2005 Mini Cooper, and 2004 Porsche Cayenne, and ordered to pay a personal money judgment of $9 million for essentially similar offences. Additionally, the retailer will owe restitution to victims in an amount that remains to be determined by the court.

These are not trivial penalties. US courts appear to be throwing the book at people who exploit the challenges of ensuring that organic food is in fact produced through organic farm practices. GallonDaily approves.

The two cases are reported at


New York City demonstrates progress in lowering carbon emissions

The City of New York has pledged to cut GHG emissions from municipal sources by 30% of 2006 levels by 2017. That was a very aggressive target when it was launched in 2007. Much of this reduction is expected to be achieved through enhanced energy efficiency in more than 4,000 municipally-owned buildings. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also challenged the private and institutional sectors to match the 30X17 goal and voluntarily reduce their GHG emissions, measured, sensibly in GallonDaily’s opinion, as emissions intensity per square foot or per person, by 30 percent over 10 years.

Mayor Bloomberg announced last week that ten major private sector employers in New York City have also signed up for the Mayor’s Carbon Challenge. The companies are American International Group, BlackRock, Bloomberg LP, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Google, JetBlue Airways, JPMorgan Chase, and PVH, a major apparel company with brands such as  Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Van Heusen, Izod, Arrow, G. H. Bass and Geoffrey Beene.

As regular readers will know, GallonDaily is generally not very impressed by commitments and promises. Actual achievements are of much greater interest. However, the NYC Mayor’s Carbon Challenge is already demonstrating that initiatives of this kind can produce impressive results. The Carbon Challenge’s 17 participating universities have, in the last three years, measured an overall reduction of nearly 13 percent in GHG emissions and the eleven largest hospital systems have measured an average reduction of 6 percent of emissions. Four of the universities and one of the hospitals have already met their 30% carbon reduction goals.

GallonDaily commends the New York City approach to other municipalities. Taking the lead itself, and with a matching challenge to the private and non-profit sector, New York is showing that climate change can be addressed, at least to a significant extent, without a huge cost to the economy and without punitive regulations.

The announcement of companies joining the New York City Mayor’s Carbon Challenge is at

More on the success to date of the carbon challenge, and links to much more information about the Carbon Challenge, can be found at

Pressure on major US retailers to get rid of toxic substances in household products

A very large coalition of Public Health Organizations, Health Care Providers and Research Institutions, Nursing Organizations, Learning and Developmental Disabilities Organizations, Labor Organizations, National Environmental Organizations, Environmental Justice Organizations, State Advocacy and Community Organizations, and others, known as the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition, is pressing the largest retailers to identify whether a specific list of hazardous chemicals are in the products they sell, and if so, to develop a plan to remove them. The Coalition says that the chemicals, called The Hazardous 100+, have been linked to cancer, asthma, hormone disruption, developmental disabilities and other health problems. It claims to have the support of organizations representing over 11 million Americans for this campaign.

The retailers targeted include Walmart, Kroger’s, Safeway, Home Depot, and Best Buy. The Coalition states that the chemicals, which include formaldehyde, Bisphenol A, flame retardants, parabens, phthalates, and many more, appear in a range of products, from cosmetics and hygiene products, to soaps, flooring and furniture. Most of the chemicals have been identified by federal, state or international authorities as having health or environmental concerns.

The Coalition says that there is no functioning regulatory system for the chemicals that end up in homes and workplaces through their presence in consumer products.

The Coalition’s announcement can be found at

and the campaign site, including a list of the Hazardous 100+ list, is at

St. Albert: A good model for municipal environment reporting

The City of St. Albert, with a population of about 61,000 adjacent to Edmonton, Alberta, yesterday published its ninth annual environment report. St. Albert is not the only Canadian municipality to publish an annual environment but its comprehensive approach almost certainly makes it one of the leaders in this field.

Annual municipal environment reports are still unusual in Canada but, just as with environmental reports from business, the St. Albert model shows how useful they can be:

  • keeping pressure on advancement of key municipal priorities
  • encouraging citizens to do their part to protect and enhance the environment
  • reducing wasteful consumption of resources
  • establishing a green and more environment friendly image for the city
  • assisting business environment and sustainability initiatives

The current St. Albert environment report, for the year 2012,  highlights a number of achievements including:

  • The City has met and exceeded its 2020 waste diversion target of 65% and the per capita waste production target of 125 kg per person per year. In 2012, the City of St. Albert generated 112 kg per person per year of waste (down from 137 kg per person per year in 2011). Residents also diverted 67 per cent of waste of all household waste away from the landfill using the recycling and organics program (up from 58% in 2011).
  • St. Albert has received approval for an Air Quality Monitoring Station, which will be operational in 2014. The station will help provide a better understanding of the air quality in our city.
  • The Sturgeon River State of the Watershed Report was completed in 2012 which summarizes the current knowledge of the watershed. It provides an assessment of its health which will serve as a benchmark in which future activities can be assessed against. The watershed received an overall grade of “fair”, and the report provides several recommendations for its protection.
  • The City developed the Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Plan, which is a long-term strategic plan that is linked to the water conservation targets from the City’s Environmental Master Plan. The plan sets short- to long-term recommendations for water conservation.
  • Residents continued to reduce the amount of water they used in 2012. Water consumption per capita reduced another five litres per person per day to 257 litres per person per day. The 2020 goal is 200 litres per person per day.
  • The City continues to work with the Partners for Climate Protection and is focused on completing milestone three, which is the creation of a Corporate and Community Greenhouse Gas Action Plan. This has been listed as a Council priority for 2013 in order to reduce non-renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The City’s Public Works department received ISO 14001 Certification which is an international standard for environmental excellence. Public Works now joins St. Albert Transit as the two City departments to have ISO certification.
  • The City of St. Albert won the 2012 Municipal R’s of Excellence award from the Recycling Council of Alberta in recognition of an innovative and successful waste reduction program. The provincial award is handed out to one municipality per year.

The St. Albert 2012 Report on the Environment, in a very easy to read and attractive format that would also be a good model for small and medium sized businesses and with links to other St. Albert municipal environment initiatives, can be found at