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 Spring 2011

Newsroom

 

 

A New START for a Safer World
UCS plays key role in weapons treaty

On December 22, the United States took an important step toward improving global security when the Senate, in a 71–26 vote, approved the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The treaty, which went into effect on February 5, requires the United States and Russia to reduce their arsenals of deployed strategic nuclear warheads by approximately one-third, and their strategic bombers and land- and sea-based missiles by about half. The two countries currently possess roughly 95 percent of the world’s 20,000 nuclear weapons.

UCS played a major role in securing Senate approval of the treaty. Throughout the year, our staff met with key senators, their staffs, and administration officials to explain how the treaty would improve security worldwide. We also launched an extensive print and radio advertising campaign in key states to raise public awareness of the treaty, and mobilized thousands of citizens to call for ratification through letters and phone calls to, and meetings with, their senators, and letters to the editors of their local newspapers.

The bipartisan approval of New START gave a needed boost to our campaign to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons. We are now working to build support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (which would ban explosive testing of nuclear weapons), further cuts in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, and procedures to reduce the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch.

 

FDA Confirms Overuse of Antibiotics
UCS landmark findings confirmed

Data released in December by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirm what UCS has been saying for years: American livestock and poultry producers are using massive amounts of antimicrobial drugs. This contributes to the rise in antibiotic resistance, making it increasingly difficult to treat disease in humans.

In 2001 UCS released the groundbreaking report Hogging It, which calculated that 25 million pounds of antimicrobials were used every year in the cattle, swine, and poultry sectors for non-therapeutic purposes, such as promoting growth and preventing disease caused by the crowded, unsanitary conditions in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). The livestock industry has claimed for years that our estimates were much too high, yet the FDA found that nearly 29 million pounds of antimicrobials were sold in 2009 for both therapeutic and non-therapeutic use in farm animals.

The FDA’s findings lend strength to our efforts to reduce the amount of antibiotics used in animal agriculture—about eight times more than the amount used for human medicine—and ensure that these vital drugs remain effective in the fight against disease.


Nuclear Power’s True Cost
UCS shows subsidies shift costs and risks to the public

Because nuclear reactors generate little to no heat-trapping pollution, the nuclear power industry is calling for unprecedented public investment in new nuclear power plants as a solution to global warming. Its argument is based on questionable environmental and energy-security claims and highly optimistic cost projections that often exclude the array of public subsidies nuclear power has received since its inception.

Without a comprehensive accounting of these subsidies, it is difficult to make wise energy decisions, so UCS commissioned the first such accounting—one that considers every stage of the fuel cycle, from plant construction and uranium mining to plant decommissioning and the disposal of radioactive waste. The resulting report shows that giving even more subsidies to this mature industry would further mask its true costs and risks, while shifting more of the burden to U.S. taxpayers. In addition, it would provide nuclear power with an unfair competitive advantage over solar and wind power, which can reduce global warming emissions faster and more cost-effectively, with less risk.

Read Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies.

 

Reducing Big Polluters’ Climate Footprint
UCS pushes states to follow EPA guidance

In January, a new program under the Clean Air Act went into effect that will protect public health and the environment by reducing heat-trapping pollution from the largest stationary sources: power plants, industrial boilers, and oil refineries. These facilities, whether newly constructed or undergoing major modifications, will now have to obtain state air pollution permits for their global warming emissions. In issuing the permits, states must consider the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) “best available control technology” (BACT) guidance. This guidance emphasizes energy efficiency measures that are practical and cost-effective to implement, saving plant operators money over time (through reduced fuel costs).

More than 22,000 UCS members wrote to their governors asking them to work together with the EPA to ensure plants in their states comply with the new permitting requirements and use the BACT guidance to reduce emissions as much as possible. We will continue to monitor state compliance while working hard to ensure that other upcoming EPA rules to curtail global warming emissions are strong.


UCS Says “Ship It Green!”
Campaign calls for cleaner trucks

Last fall, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed the first-ever federal regulations for medium- and heavy-duty truck fuel economy and tailpipe emissions. To raise public awareness and build support for these rules, we launched our “Ship it green!” campaign during the holiday season.

Thousands of UCS activists printed “Ship it green!” labels from our website and placed them on packages, letting shippers and recipients alike know that consumers want cleaner trucks to play a part in reducing America’s oil dependence and global warming pollution. Supporters also typed this message in the shipping instruction fields of online orders.

During the EPA and DOT’s public comment period, more than 11,000 activists urged the agencies to pass the strongest possible rule. UCS research has shown that increasing medium-duty truck fuel economy to approximately 16 miles per gallon (mpg) and heavy-duty truck fuel economy to approximately 10 mpg could save one million barrels of oil a day in 2030 compared with today’s trucks. The new rule is a critical first step toward meeting this goal.

 

 

A Cozy Little Get-together

Climate scientists including former UCS staff member Melanie Fitzpatrick (left) take a break from their research in Antarctica to play our Cool It! card game. (Go to our publications page to order your copy!)

 

 

The Crossroads of Science and Advocacy
Where UCS enhances the voices of experts

As part of our ongoing efforts to expand support for science-based policies that protect our health and environment, UCS organized several symposia and special events at scientific society gatherings last winter. For example, at the American Public Health Association meeting we discussed the essential role environmental health professionals can play in defending the EPA’s ability to regulate harmful pollutants.

UCS Senior Scientist Francesca Grifo moderated an American Geophysical Union (AGU) symposium examining the ways in which institutions can support scientists as they become increasingly subject to public scrutiny. We also encouraged AGU members attending a speech by the president’s science advisor to wear stickers urging the administration to release its long-awaited scientific integrity guidelines, which earned coverage in Science magazine and on National Public Radio.

Finally, UCS hosted a well-attended American Economic Association reception at which Lord Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, spoke of the seriousness of global warming and the economic benefits we could reap by addressing the problem. To bring UCS to your scientific society, email sciencenetwork@ucsusa.org.

 

 

Thanks for Another Good Year
Our annual report documents the impact of your donations 

We encourage you to read our 2010 annual report and review the important victories we achieved with your help last year—including successes in our efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, promote saner nuclear weapons policies, shape a cleaner and more sustainable energy future, and ensure a safer food supply. The annual report also summarizes our audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, which demonstrate our commitment to sound management.


Read the UCS 2010 annual report.