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Volume 15, Issue 46 ~ November 15 - November 21, 2007

Way Downstream

Across Maryland, the gears began turning last week to bring us cleaner cars. Passed last spring, Maryland Clean Cars Act of 2007 directs Maryland Department of the Environment to adopt California’s strict vehicle emissions standards. But before California can enforce its law, the EPA has to allow it to override the federal Clean Air Act. This month, the Golden State — with Maryland and 13 other states (Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, , Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) — filed two legal actions to force the EPA to grant California permission to enforce its air-pollution regulations.

The California-based laws require reductions in fleet-average greenhouse-gas emissions for most new passenger vehicles beginning with 2009 models. Maryland should have its regulations in place by year’s end …

In Edgewater, the Lost Towns museum exhibit at Historic London Town and Gardens gets $50,000 thanks to a Congressional vote to help preserve priceless archaeological artifacts excavated at the site of London Town, a 1683 English settlement. You’ll see the exhibit at Historic London Town and Gardens’ new visitors’ center, museum and archaeology lab. “The historic treasures excavated at London Town are preserved for county residents and visitors to appreciate for generations to come,” said Congressman Steny Hoyer, who helped bring home the bacon …

In Maryland, Thanksgiving cooks who cleave to tradition can buy, cook and eat locally raised turkey. Last year, 730,000 turkeys — weighing in at 25.5 million pounds — were raised in a state where chickens rule as the dominant crop. For a Maryland-grown turkey, go to and click first on Maryland Products, second on Turkey Farms …

Across the nation, Thanksgiving cooks get free advice on which wines to uncork and how to fashion napkin rings from fresh herbs. Wine authors Leslie Sbrocco and Christine Ansbacher plus entertaining expert Diane Phillips volunteer insights to help you serve a flawless holiday dinner.

Bay Weekly got this advice early: Though cabernet and chardonnay are Thanksgiving standbys, “I would recommend a dry Riesling,” says Ansbacher. “With all the highly-seasoned foods — sage and sausage stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes with garlic — Riesling can be a firefighter to hose down and refresh your mouth, and it peps up the mild-mannered turkey.”

Chat with experts at Turning Leaf Vineyard’s Thanksgiving Tips toll-free hotline from 3pm to 8pm Mon. Nov. 19 through Wed. Nov. 21. Recorded tips offered through Nov. 23: 866-99-tleaf.

In Michigan, Christmas will be green as well as merry in the city of Mason, which pledged to replace its incandescent holiday lights with energy-efficient LED Christmas lights. In years past, the community tree shone with some 500 C7 and C9 incandescent bulbs, burning an average of 6.5 watts per bulb and consuming 3,276 kilowatt hours of electricity at a cost of $327 per season. About a quarter of the lights would burn out before Christmas Day. This season, 1,200 C7 style multi-colored LED lights — at .08 watts per light — will use only 870-kilowatt hours of electricity at a cost of $87 and will burn more than 200,000 hours …

Our Creature Feature comes from Australia, where researchers are decoding the communication of whales with microphones hung from buoys along migration route of humpbacks, at 50 feet one of the world’s biggest creatures.

Those wops, thwops, grumbles and squeaks mean something distinctive in the world of whales. A purring noise from an adult male probably is a pick-up line. A wop sound from a female is a warning to her calf. Thus far, researchers have monitored over 600 separate sounds, far more than expected. “They’ve been separated from terrestrial mammals for a long, long, long time, yet still seem to be following the same basic communication system,” University of Queensland researcher Rebecca Dunlop told Reuters.

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