<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Green News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/green http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usFri, 30 Sep 2016 11:52:07 -0700Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:52:07 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Greenhouse Gases Biggest Threat to Polar Bears: Study]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:55:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-77960094polarbears71151.jpg Greenhouse gas emissions remain the "primary threat" to polar bears, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Geological Survey. Polar bear populations will decline even if emissions are stabilized by the end of the century, the study said. Polar bears have been categorized as a "globally threatened species" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 2008. The two main threats to polar bears are melting sea ice and disappearing prey. The study concluded that polar bears would suffer whether carbon emissions grew at their current pace or peaked in 2040 and then declined. The only optimistic scenario would involve "immediate and aggressive" cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said.
Get More at NBC News

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Want to Save Coral Reefs? First, Save the Fish: Study]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 17:04:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP080816183919.jpg A new study has found that more fish may be the answer to saving coral reefs, NBC News reported. Overfishing on reefs and other threats like pollution can lead to a collapse of underwater ecosystems, so keeping fish on the reefs is crucial to their health, according to the study of 832 reefs. "The methods used to estimate reef health in this study are simple enough that most fishers and managers can take the weight and pulse of their reef and keep it in the healthy range," Tim McClanahan, WCS senior conservationist and study co-author, said in a release. "Fishers and managers now have the ability to map out a plan for recovery of reef health that will give them the best chance to adapt to climate change."
Get More at NBC News

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Stunning Historic Photos of Air Pollution ]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:36:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/air-pollution-AP7004221649_7.jpg Click to see some fascinating images of air pollution throughout the US from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[California Drivers Use Fuel Made From Trash]]> Tue, 14 Jan 2014 12:07:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/toppix-23.jpg

An innovative new fuel is now available here in Southern California.  It’s clean, cheap, and made from an unlikely source -- trash.

Trash that is thrown away generates pollution as it decomposes, releasing tons of methane gas into the atmosphere.  Cars also spew out soot and smog that pollute the air.

Now, a Southern California company has figured out a way of capturing methane that escapes from landfills and farms, and turning it into clean fuel. 

Harrison Clay, President and CEO of Clean Energy Renewable Fuels, explained how the science-fiction-turned-reality is done.

"At landfills we drill holes and wells into the landfill, we drop in slotted pipes and we vacuum and we pull the gas that’s being produced within that landfill," Clay said. "We pull that gas out and then we process it until it’s pipeline quality, which means it’s the same as what comes out of your stovetop and what you cook your food with probably every night."

This renewable gas -- called Redeem -- is heavy-duty.  It can power 18-wheelers and any natural gas vehicle.

Hugo Gonzalez fills up his trucks with Redeem near the Port of Long Beach. He is a manager for Lily Transportation.  His company invested in eight trucks that can run on natural gas.

"Fuel is one of the main costs, one of the biggest costs that we have, and switching over to CNG has saved us probably $40,000 a year," Gonzalez said.

That saving comes because Redeem is about a dollar less per gallon than diesel, thanks to state and federal clean air incentives.

California has imposed strict regulations to help reduce carbon emissions by the year 2020. Redeem burns 90 percent cleaner than conventional gasoline when used to power cars and trucks.

"You could see the difference. When you turn the truck on, you don’t see anything, you don’t smell anything.  You smell a very light scent of gas, but other than that you don’t see black smoke, you don’t see anything.  Not even when you start, when you take off from the truck," Gonzalez said.

Redeem is now being sold at some 35 clean energy stations in California – thousands of cars, shuttles and commercial  fleets are running on the fuel now.  Last year, 15 million gallons were sold, which in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, is equivalent to taking 30,000 passenger cars off the road, according to Clay.

"The largest biomethane fueling operation in the world -- and something that we expect to double, triple, quadruple in terms of volume in the coming years," Clay said.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Green Car Wash Sanitizes Without Soap]]> Mon, 05 Aug 2013 10:37:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/128401773.jpg A car wash in Arizona installed a water filtration tank allowing high levels of oxygen to sanitize the water they use to clean customers' cars — all without soap. An environmental engineer at Arizona State University is skeptical about the car wash's filtration system.]]> <![CDATA[Energy for Sale: Is It Worth It?]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 10:58:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000003170932_722x406_37270083593.jpg Door-to-door salesmen, telephone calls and direct mail, all trying to sell you electricity or natural gas. The pitches promise to save you money. They are called alternative energy suppliers. There have been more than 1,000 consumer complaints about them to Maryland and D.C. authorities so far this year, and we've been receiving emails asking whether these companies are real and are the deals worth it. CLICK HERE for a list of legitimate suppliers.]]> <![CDATA[State-of-the-Art Green Workplace Provides Lunch, Games and Slides]]> Wed, 01 May 2013 12:13:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Slide_aweber.jpg AWeber Communications headquarters in Chalfont, Bucks County, Pa. isn't your average workplace as it features video games, a pool table and even slides. NBC10's Jesse Gary reports ahead of the ribbon cutting.
Click here for information on jobs

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Junkyard Trash Turns to Art]]> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 10:42:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/ben+in+trash.JPG With his castoff treasures rattling in the cart, Ben Cowden wheeled back toward his art studio in San Francisco's Recology Recycling Plant to continue work. Joe Rosato Jr. reports on a man who turns others trash into treasure. Read the full story here.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Cemetery for Green-Friendly Burials]]> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 08:17:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/meadow.jpg A cemetery in Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, has become environmentally friendly for burials.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baxter Brewing Company Goes Green]]> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 11:49:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/baxter-brewing.jpg Luke Livingston, president and founder of Baxter Brewing Company, talks about ways in which he is expanding his business sustainably, with the help of John Rooks, president of The SOAP Group.]]> <![CDATA[San Juan Capistrano Courts Cliff Swallows]]> Tue, 19 Mar 2013 21:08:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/missioncliffswallow.jpg

As they do each year on March 19, hordes of people have flocked to San Juan Capistrano, necks craned hopefully to the sky.

They're eager to witness the annual return of the cliff swallows to the seaside city's historic mission after the birds' migration from South America.

But the swallows – the subject of a yearly celebration and a huge tourist attraction for the south Orange County city – haven't come around in recent years.

The mission is trying to change that, saying it's taken on a goal matching the title of a 1940 classic song associated with the city: "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano."

Last year, cliff swallows expert Charles Brown, a biology professor at University of Tulsa, helped the Mission San Juan Capistrano install speakers that play a recording of the birds' courtship calls. The speakers are placed behind the statue of Father Junipero Serra, who founded the mission in 1776.

The mission began playing the sharp, squeaky vocalizations this year on March 1.

Listen: Recording of cliff swallows being played at Mission San Juan Capistrano

"I think that eventually we'll get them back," Brown told NBC News, speaking about the project. "It may not be this year; it may not even be next year. But if we keep trying long enough, some individuals will come by, they'll see the mission and they will realize that it's a good place to nest, as they did in the past."

Last year, a number of swallows flew in to investigate the sounds, and the birds were spotted feeding overhead. Still, they nested on nearby freeway overpasses – and as far away as a high school in Palm Desert. The birds also made a home at Xavier College Preparatory High School, nearly 100 miles east of San Juan Capistrano, in 2011.

In 2010, the birds flocked inland as well, to the Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills.

Yet each year, the birds are still expected to darken San Juan Capistrano skies on March 19, or St. Joseph's Day. The mission rings its historical bells, and hundreds of schoolchildren and tourists learn about the history of the grounds and, of course, the swallows.

This year, the city's 55th Annual Swallows' Day Parade, which attracts thousands of tourists, is on Saturday.

A number of changes have prompted the swallows to alter their centuries-long destination for spring and summer months, according to Brown.

The birds are attracted to grasslands and prairies – the kind of landscape that once surrounded the mission, he said.

The mission's Great Stone Church, itself likely appeared to swallows as a huge cliff – perfect for making mud nests, as shown above.

But now the mission is just one of many big structures in the urbanized area, and the birds have been known to nest elsewhere nearby – under freeway overpasses and the like – or go much farther away.

Surprisingly, the planting and growth of trees in the area has also contributed to the swallows' failure to return to the mission, Brown said. Swallows tend to avoid trees, preferring open spaces.

They birds have been seen in increasing numbers in Great Plains states, while coming in lower populations to Southern California, Brown said.

He said it's possible urbanization and the changing features of the region may affect the birds' possible return.

"Eventually, the Southern California landscape may be just inappropriate for this particular species," Brown said.

Related: Swallow study suggests link between shorter wingspan and reduced roadkill

At the same time, preservation work done in recent years to stabilize the church's crumbling walls required old swallows' nests to be removed. Bird sightings have been rare since.

Nonetheless, St. Joseph's Day and the idea of the swallows remain a big draw for tourists coming to Mission San Juan Capistrano, considered the "jewel" of the state's 21 Spanish colonial-era missions.

Rafael Gutierrez, the mission's bellringer and an employee for 47 years, said the day is about history, not just about hoping the swallows return.

"Siempre viene, no muchos, pero viene," he said, meaning "they always come, not many, but they come."

When they've come in past, the swallows are said to take flight again for their return to the Southern Hemisphere on the Day of San Juan, Oct. 23.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBC4's Vikki Vargas contributed to this story. 



Photo Credit: Photograph courtesy of Mission San Juan Capistrano]]>
<![CDATA[LA High School Students Win $100K for River Project]]> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 15:38:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SAM_04421.JPG

A group of Los Angeles high school students and their project on improving LA River water quality bested thousands of other schools nationwide, winning more than $100,000 in prizes.

Franklin High School teacher Jomel Villamil and his advanced placement environmental science students entered Samsung’s Solve For Tomorrow contest with a video about urban runoff and its contamination of the LA River.

“This project is to promote awareness for everyone that water is essential,” student Grace Punzalas, 17, said. “It could be an inspiration for everyone to conserve water and take care of our natural resources.”

The video ultimately received more than 80,000 online votes, making it the Community Choice Award winner.

“It’s a great feeling to have that support in your community, and whether it’s for a video or anything, you know they are there for you,” student Arnoldas Geidreitis, 16, said.

Villamil saw the contest while he was browsing online and said it was a “no-brainer” to get two of his classes -- about 60 students -- involved.

”I thought it was great we were going to participate in something like this, because the LA River’s water is not the best quality,” Geidreitis said. “It’s good we could put out this message to people to let them know what’s going on and how to change.”

The students installed basin catch screens in the river to collect trash and filter stormwater before it entered the aquifers. Their water tests showed high bacteria, nitrate and phosphate levels.

The students then pitched a three-step solution: to install and maintain catch basin screens to reduce trash and prevent entry of pollutants; contain, filter and reintroduce stormwater to recharge aquifers; and to educate their community on environmental sustainability.

“We’ve been doing water testing for years, so it’s already in the curriculum,” Villamil said. “We’ve been focusing on water quality, so why not submit our project for consideration?”

He was continuously surprised as the project soared to the top.

“Words can’t express how much gratitude I want to extend to the community,” Villamil said. “This honor belongs not just to Franklin but to every person who made us their favorite video.”

More than 1,600 schools entered the contest that kicked off in September, and 75 classrooms -- 25 each from the three categories of rural, suburban and urban -- were selected as semifinalists.

Those 75 semifinalists received Adobe editing software, a laptop and a Samsung camcorder to create videos to be voted on by a Samsung panel. The group was narrowed down to 15 finalists, who were guaranteed $40,000. The public then voted on the final 15 videos.

Franklin High School's victory was announced March 11.

The Solve For Tomorrow contest has awarded 150 schools a total of more than $3 million in technology since its creation in 2010 for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

“We’re really trying to make STEM fun for students by making it relatable in their community,” Solve for Tomorrow’s program manager Bree Falato said. “We hope we raise the enthusiasm level by bringing in the latest technology, and we hope it sparks an interest in learning.”

Samsung has been working on education outreach since 2004 and launched the Solve For Tomorrow contest in a partnership with DirecTV and Adobe in 2010.

The company asked the students, “How can STEM help improve the environment in your community?” Their response was award-winning.

The school will receive $100,000 worth of technology from Samsung, Adobe and DirecTV; a cash grant of $7,000 from DirecTV; and licensing for Adobe Premiere software.

Once awarded, the school has full discretion of how the prizes are used. The total package’s retail value is $110,000.

Villamil and two students will join four other winning schools at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 17.

“We would need political backing,” Villamil said of continuing the water filtering of the LA River. “This trip includes a trip to Capitol Hill, so maybe the two students who will go with me on the trip will push to get support for this.”

Geidreitis and Punzalas were set to accompany Villamil on the trip, but Punzalas will be competing in another science competition during that time. Villamil will select another student to bring in her place.



Photo Credit: Jomel Villamil]]>
<![CDATA[D.C. Has The Worst Traffic]]> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 08:49:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/traffic-4.jpg Washington, D.C. has the worst traffic congestion in the nation, according to a new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.]]> <![CDATA[Helium Shortage Threatens More Than Balloons]]> Fri, 25 May 2012 19:29:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/9752940_N5PPKGHELIUMSHORTAGE_722x406_20714285.jpg

It's peak season for balloon shops, but with a helium shortage, business is deflating.

Shawn Agheassi, owner of Elegant Balloon in Studio City, says he is losing customers daily, and that business is down 50 percent.

"I’m surviving right now, but struggling," Agheassi said.

Agheassi is struggling with a dwindling supply of helium globally -- a problem that's affecting medical suppliers, television manufacturers -- and party businesses.

"Years ago it was like $30 to $40 a bottle. Now it’s $168. Yes, a tank.  And I’m lucky if I get one or two,”  Agheassi said.

He says his helium suppliers are even getting out of the business.

"I was talking to the supplier and he was crying. He said, I have a million dollar business and I don’t know what to do. I don’t have helium to sell it," Agheassi said.

Helium is a natural byproduct of the decay of radioactive elements.

In 1996 Congress mandated that the federal government to sell off the gas from its underground reserve by the end of 2014. That's caused all sorts of problems

The problem is, now we are running out, possibly in eight years, and this ballooning crisis is affecting more than birthday parties and other celebrations. Helium is used in hospital MRI scanners and in flat-screen TVs.

And once it’s out—it’s out.

"Helium, like oil, is created by natural processes, but it’s a very slow process," physicist Gregg Harry said. "So whatever is in the ground now is pretty much all that's available."

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<![CDATA[Electric Motorcycles: The New Green Machines ]]> Thu, 19 Apr 2012 17:08:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Electric+Motorcycle+cropped.jpg

Motorcycles evoke images of loud engines, sputtering exhaust pipes, and rough riders.

The two-wheelers and their drivers are the last things you’d associate with the green movement, but a new bike is showing motorcycle enthusiasts that they no longer have to sacrifice performance for environmental efficiency.

"Everybody’s concern with electric vehicles is performance, range and also looks. Electric motorcycles are the coolest electric vehicles around and you can do 90 miles an hour, 114 miles on a charge,” said Harlan Flagg, owner of Hollywood Electrics a leading dealer of Zero Electric motorcycles.

Located in West Hollywood, Hollywood Electrics is a specialty store that sells a variety of two-wheeled electric bikes. Flagg and his business partner Josh Kearney are life-long riders, who are passionate about introducing the latest eco-friendly technology into the motorcycle community.
 
“For us it really is a lifestyle, we love these bikes. When a customer walks in our store, they recognize how much we believe in these products,” said Flagg.
 
Zero (as in zero emissions) motorcycles are made in Santa Cruz where the company is based. The 2012 line of Zero electric motorcycles provide the speed and range that had been lacking in the fledgling industry.
 
Hollywood Electrics have already sold more Zeros this year than the two previous years combined. 
 
“Every month that goes past we think oh we’ve sold all our bikes but people keep coming and coming so currently at the moment zero motorcycles is on backorder,” Kearney said.
 
The bikes retail between $7,000 and $14,000, which is about the same as a Harley Davidson. But with California’s $900 Clean Air rebate and hundreds of dollars a month in gas savings, Flagg says the bikes are a smart investment. 
 
“You never have to worry about maintenance; it costs you about a penny a mile in electricity to charge it up. So 10,000 miles, about $100 worth of electricity, you know you can’t really get around LA for cheaper than that,” Flagg said.
 
The bikes charge in any standard AC outlet and Hollywood Electrics will customize a bike to fit the rider’s needs or personal style. With no clutch to worry about Flagg and Kearney say the motorcycles are so simple to operate that you don’t have to be a seasoned rider to own one.
 
“60% of our new bike sales are going to riders who have never ridden in their entire life because the bike is so easy to utilize,” Kearney said.
 
Kearney and Flagg are so passionate about pioneering the electric bike revolution that they started a riding group called the Electric Cowboys. Made up of customers, they showcase their eco-friendly bikes throughout the streets of Los Angeles.
 
“We’re paving new roads and frontiers as a cowboy did in the old days and that’s what we’re trying to do now," Kearney said. We’re trying to show people that our electric steeds can do everything that a gas bike does.”

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Photo Credit: Electric Motorcycle]]>
<![CDATA[How to Be Earth Friendly Without Nagging]]> Wed, 18 Apr 2012 16:20:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/143072279.jpg Just because you like to recycle doesn't mean others do. How can you talk to people about their green habits without sounding like a nag? Watch how to be environmentally friendly without offending your friends! For more exclusive videos go to iVillage.com

Photo Credit: Getty Images/PhotoAlto]]>
<![CDATA[Earth Week]]> Fri, 01 Apr 2016 13:55:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dreamitgreenitlogo.gif ]]> <![CDATA[Teaching Kids to Recycle]]> Wed, 11 Apr 2012 13:30:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/recyclekidsgreen_722x406_2221795961.jpg You may think that teaching your kids how to recycle is difficult, but it may be easier than you think. Turning disposable trash into reusable items is a great way to help the environment. iVoices Beth Engelman, Sharon Rowley, Amanda Rodriguez and Brandi Jeter sit down with Kelly Wallace to discuss ways to encourage kids to recycle. Find out what tips and tricks work to help kids reuse and reduce waste. For more exclusive videos like these go to iVillage.com]]> <![CDATA[Growing an Environmentally Green Garden]]> Fri, 30 Mar 2012 19:40:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/gardening+2.jpg

Water-wise gardening is becoming more than just a trend among the green thumbed. Experts say it is good for the environment, good for the pocketbook and easy on the eyes - creating a lush and lovely outdoor oasis.

"Drought tolerant plants don’t just mean cactus. There is a huge number of plants you can grow that don’t take a lot of water – like foliage plants, succulents, blooming flowers that don’t take a lot of water," said Julia Chai, senior garden editor of Sunset Magazine.

Chai touted Cordylines specifically, with their bright and thin fanning leaves.

“It’s got these arching leaves in a neon pink color,” she said, adding that cordylines also come in a vibrant green.

Another drought resistant plant, texas rangers, is covered with blooms for a long season, Chai said. But cautioned that even these water-wise plants aren't water-wise at first. They require more care until they develop deep roots.

"Think of it like a baby that needs a bit more attention," she said.

Potted plants are popular with many apartment dwellers and as an accent to gardens. Chai said potted plants need more attention than ground plants.

She advised using a container with holes for drainage, and loose potting soil which allows the water to flow more easily to the roots.

And how do you know when to stop watering a potted plant? When the water drains out the bottom.

Another trend – and a tasty trend at that – is the edible garden, which includes fruits, vegetables and herbs.

While edible plants have an obvious use, their aesthetic contributions should be overlooked, Chai said.

"Edibles can be really beautiful," she said. "They can be colorful and leafy; and you can get big fruit hanging from trees that add an ornamental aspect to the garden, as well.”

For more information on greener gardening, visit pottedstore.com.

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<![CDATA[Palm Rustlers Don't Pay a Dime for Damages]]> Fri, 01 Jun 2012 11:11:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Palm+Rustlers+still+1.JPG

A local nonprofit slapped with a $450,000 lawsuit for removing palm trees from an LA freeway won’t have to pay a cent in damages, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for repairs needed after the removal, NBC4 has learned.

The state agency Caltrans sued Global Trees, Inc. last October, accusing it of illegally digging up huge palms along the freeway worth $20,000 each, with the intention of reselling them for profit.

Global Trees contends that it received written approval from a Caltrans official for the removals and had not acted wrongfully.

In a settlement obtained by NBC4, Caltrans requires Global Trees to return the missing palms, but drops its demand for over $350,000 in monetary damages.

Residents of the area are furious at the decision by the agency to backpeddle on the financial penalty.

“Caltrans figured by getting the trees back, that would’ve been enough for the residents, but it’s not,” said Brent Greene, who witnessed and reported the removal of the palms to police last July.

Residents want to see Global Trees pay damages and be prosecuted.

Global Trees recently returned and replanted five 40 foot Canary Island Palms next to the freeway in mid-city LA, according to Caltrans.

But in its lawsuit, Caltrans also accused Global Trees of damaging the fence and irrigation system along the freeway, when it removed the palms last year. The suit demanded that Global Trees pay damages, in part to pay for repairs that came at public expense.

But the settlement, signed last week by both parties, does not contain any provision for such a payment from Global Trees.

Mike Miles, Caltrans District 7 Director, acknowledged that taxpayers wound up footing the bill to repair the fence and irrigation system allegedly damaged by Global Trees.

“It would have been difficult to recover that money" from Global Trees,” Miles said, because “it is a very small company.”

But residents say Caltrans may have had a different motive for settling the suit.

NBC4’s investigation found evidence that a Caltrans supervisor gave unofficial permission to Global Trees to take the huge palms.

“Had Caltrans pressed Global Trees for more money the nonprofit would’ve proven that Caltrans was involved in the removal of the trees,” said resident Brent Greene. "That would have made Caltrans look worse.”

Caltrans says the CHP is about to finish an 8-month criminal investigation into the disappearance of the trees, which will be sent to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

“The people that took the trees should be prosecuted," Miles said. "They were stealing trees.” says 

Residents of the area want to see everyone involved be held accountable.

“We want to make sure that Global Trees gets prosecuted and any state employee that was a part of this too,” Greene said.

NBC repeatedly called Global Trees president, Kyle Olson, and his attorney, for comment. Neither returned our calls.

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