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Economy squeezes home-building projects by Wausau Habitat for Humanity

Wausau (AP) — A builder of homes for low-income families in Wausau that relies on donations is feeling the downturn in the home-building industry.

Wausau Habitat for Humanity says its largest donor — Wausau Homes — has reduced its donation of construction materials for three local high schools. Students at the schools build homes for Habitat for Humanity as a way to learn construction skills.

Habitat spokesman Ark Rhowmine says the loss is worth about $100,000 and it jeopardizes the future of the school-based program.

Wausau Homes has eliminated about 200 jobs since February 2008 because of the downturn in the U.S. housing market.

Habitat says Wausau Homes has offered to only provide a special rafter system for the homes being built at the schools this fall.

Wisconsin, Michigan governors to hold clean energy forum

Lansing, MI (AP) — Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle will be in Saginaw Wednesday for a clean energy forum.

Also attending the meeting will be Ed Montgomery, the White House’s auto communities and workers czar; U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke; and Assistant Energy Secretary David Sandalow.

Local and regional groups and individuals involved or interested in developing technologies that will cut pollution while producing alternative energy will be in the audience.

The invitation-only event will be held at 1 p.m. the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw. The governors will speak with reporters after the event.

Wisconsin homeless shelters receive $326,000 in stimulus money

Green Bay (AP) — Two homeless shelters in Brown County are receiving a combined $326,000 in federal stimulus money.

The money is intended to combat homelessness that resulted from the economic crisis.

The Salvation Army of Brown County will receive $165,000, and Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin will get $161,000.

In addition, the Green Bay office of Legal Action of Wisconsin will receive about $20,000.

The Salvation Army is expected to use its money to help people in imminent danger of losing their homes.
Family Services works to find housing for newly evicted people. Legal Action provides legal assistance to people who are being evicted.

The agencies have three years to spend the money. But Salvation Army director Caryn Forrest predicts the money could be gone in two years.

EU countries to begin phasing out incandescent light bulbs

Brussels (AP) — An EU-wide transition of power-draining light bulbs to more energy efficient ones will start Tuesday, the European Commission said.

The new rules follow an agreement reached by the 27 EU governments last year to phase out the traditional incandescent light bulb over three years starting this year to help European countries lower greenhouse gas emissions, the EU executive said Monday.

This aims to curb climate change and to reduce energy bills.

As of Tuesday, old standard frosted light bulbs and clear bulbs of 100 watts and more will no longer be manufactured or imported into the EU as part of the plan.

The traditional incandescent bulbs are being replaced by long-life fluorescent or halogen lamps.

Consumers will still be able to buy the older bulbs until supplies run out. The EU says the switch from incandescent bulbs to more efficient ones will bring energy savings of 25 percent to 75 percent compared to the traditional bulbs.

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes to buy BJ Services

Houston (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Monday that it will buy BJ Services Co. in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $5.5 billion that the company said will allow it to drive international growth and compete for projects of companies engaged in all phases of the oil business.

The acquisition is expected to produce $75 million in cost savings for Baker Hughes in 2010 and $150 million in 2011, and add to earnings per share in 2011.

Baker Hughes Chairman, President and CEO Chad C. Deaton said in a statement that the transaction will particularly help customers with unconventional gas and deepwater fields.

Brazil boosting state control over huge offshore oil finds

Sao Paulo, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s president said Monday that a new plan to exert more state control over massive offshore oil finds and funnel profits to the people marks a new era of independence for Latin America’s largest nation.

The plan will strengthen the state oil company and give Brazil enough money to create a fund to eradicate persistent misery and improve education and technology, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said.

“This Monday, Aug. 31, represents a new Independence Day for Brazil,” he said on his weekly radio show hours ahead of a ceremony to unveil the proposal.

Silva was expected to announce the creation of a new agency called Petrosal to oversee the 50 billion to 100 billion barrels of oil that lies deep under the ocean floor off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Silva said that an oil-backed government fund will invest in education, science, technology and social programs to lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty. He did not disclose details.

EU greenhouse gas output falls for fourth straight year

Brussels (AP) — The EU’s environment agency says European Union greenhouse gas emissions declined for a fourth year in a row in 2008 because the economic downturn curbed fumes from power plants, factories and transportation.

The EEA says its estimates show a 1.5 percent drop in emissions for the 27-nation EU and a 1.3 percent fall for the richer 15 countries of the bloc.

These 15 states — including Germany, Britain and France — have promised to cut emissions by 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. So far, they have reduced output by 6.2 percent, the EEA says.

The figures published Monday are an estimate. A more detailed official figure for the EU’s 2008 emissions will be published in June 2010.

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