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Ecological News

Climate Fraud Criminal Probe Deepens into Exxon, Tillerson’s Missing ‘Wayne Tracker’ Emails

Environews.tv - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 22:53

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/052217-climate-fraud-criminal-probe-deepens-exxon-tillersons-missing-wayne-tracker-emails/"; reddit_title = "Climate Fraud Criminal Probe Deepens into Exxon, Tillerson’s Missing ‘Wayne Tracker’ Emails"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — In a brief filed May 19, 2017, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that additional subpoenas have been served to ExxonMobil regarding the company’s potential destruction of evidence in a current climate fraud investigation. The ongoing exploration by the New York Attorney General’s Office (NYOAG) focuses on whether Exxon misled the public, its shareholders and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about the risks of climate change.

Investigators discovered by chance that Rex Tillerson, former Exxon Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and current U.S. Secretary of State, used a secondary email account under the name “Wayne Tracker” (Wayne is Tillerson’s middle name) from at least 2008 until 2015. The NYOAG claims Tillerson used this alias to discuss sensitive issues, including climate change and its potential effects on Exxon’s business outlook as an oil company.

A series of investigative reports from Inside Climate News revealed Exxon’s own scientists understood the negative effects of carbon pollution on the climate as early as the 1970s and warned company executives. A 1982 internal Exxon primer stated fighting global warming, “would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion.” Rather than practicing transparency, the company perpetuated an extended climate change denial and misinformation campaign. The NYOAG now seeks to hold Exxon accountable for defrauding its shareholders.

As part of an initial yearlong probe, the NYOAG first subpoenaed documents dating back to the 1970s from Exxon in November 2015. In March 2017, Exxon admitted it had failed to produce up to a year of Wayne Tracker emails, stating a technology glitch may have been responsible. Exxon later recovered months of the emails but at least a one-month chunk is still missing, and Exxon has also failed to turn over other documents from top executives. In return, Schneiderman has taken depositions of Exxon executives and issued new subpoenas to determine whether the oil giant willfully destroyed evidence.

“We have and will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to get to the bottom of these issues and to further our investigation,” Amy Spitalnick, Schneiderman’s Press Secretary, told Inside Climate News.

One example of a document under scrutiny is a 2014 report released by Exxon to address questions “raised recently by several stakeholder organizations on the topics of global energy demand and supply, climate change policy and carbon asset risk.” Exxon stated in the paper that after an “annual analysis of the global outlook for energy… we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become ‘stranded.’”

In the May brief, the NYOAG also seeks dismissal of Exxon’s renewed request in April for a federal injunction against the investigation, which it originally filed June 15, 2016. Exxon wants to depose both Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who has partnered with New York for this investigation and filed a similar brief to Schneiderman’s.

Both attorneys general argue the investigation should be handled in state courts in regard to state fraud statutes. The New York probe is based on the state’s Martin Act, which forbids “any fraud, deception, concealment, suppression, false pretense,” or “any representation or statement which is false,” while granting states extensive powers of discovery.

Exxon alleged in the April request that the climate fraud investigation violates its “constitutional and common law rights.” According to Inside Climate News, Exxon also claims the investigations are politically motivated and the two attorneys general seek to silence the oil company and anyone whose views on climate change differ from their own. Exxon has until June 16 to respond to the new briefs.

In a March statement, Carroll Muffett, President of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), described Exxon’s failure to disclose relevant emails and documents in this manner:

[The] “loss” of high-level communications directly relevant to climate risk adds to mounting evidence that the company engaged in a decades-long — and apparently ongoing — pattern of concealment, deception and potential fraud on climate change.

Schneiderman’s office is also examining President Trump’s potential conflicts of interests and/or violations of the emoluments clause, which prohibits individuals holding federal office from accepting foreign payments. He’s following in the footsteps of former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired in March, while he was in the midst of an investigation into Trump’s stock trades. At the end of March, Schneiderman brought public-corruption expert and prosecutor Howard McMaster from Bharara’s office onto his team to aid in the investigation of Trump’s finances.

“They fired [U.S. Attorney General] Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And they fired [FBI Director] James Comey, the very man leading the investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in May, while calling for a special independent prosecutor into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. Like Bharara, Comey was fired while pursuing an investigation – in his case, into Trump’s campaign for potential collusion with the Kremlin. Yates was fired after refusing to uphold Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. The NYOAG is also part of the multi-state lawsuit against Trump’s revised immigration ban.

The post Climate Fraud Criminal Probe Deepens into Exxon, Tillerson’s Missing ‘Wayne Tracker’ Emails appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Rethinking Revolutions: The story of the failed Yellow Revolution, and eChoupals

Ground Reality - Sun, 05/21/2017 - 09:56


At a time when doubling farmer’s income in the next five years has become the catch phrase, the policy emphasis is on the oft-beaten approach of boosting crop productivity, reducing the cost of cultivation, expanding the area under irrigation and providing a unified national agricultural market.

This makes me wonder. If increasing crop productivity, which is what economists and policy makers have been relentlessly asking for, then why is Punjab, the food bowl of India, faced with a terrible agrarian crisis? In a State which has 98 per cent assured irrigation and where the per hectare yields of wheat and rice match international levels I see no reason why should farmers be then dying. Is there something that I am missing in my understanding of agriculture or is that the policy makers have still not be able to emerge out of the tragic narrative of the past, so well crafted and hyped.

Raising crop productivity is the only paradigm within which agriculture has been understood and evaluated, says Richa Kumar in her magnificently researched book Rethinking Revolutions (Oxford University Press, 2016). Richa Kumar teaches in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Although she examines the politics of agriculture through the prism of the “Yellow Revolution”, which essentially began with the introduction of soyabean cultivation in Central India, and subsequently propped up with the advent of eChaupals, she dwells much deeper to successfully demolish the popular notion that narrow, technological solutions alone are the answer. 

The popular notion behind any ‘revolution’ – green, yellow white and blue – is the remarkable ability to frame the agrarian crisis in terms of production alone. If productivity increases, income of farmers also increases. This dominant notion, prevalent for over 100 years, has established firm roots. I must acknowledge that as a student of agriculture, I had realised early that the entire effort by way of research, education and extension is to programme (in IT parlance) the thinking of students around this dominant narrative. And let’s not forget that agricultural universities in India were initially set up by USAID bringing in educational curriculum from the Land Grant system of education from the United States.

The British built this notion to increase revenue collections during the days of the Raj, but subsequently the international influence, reinforced through expanding agribusiness interests, has put a stamp on it. Those farmers who obediently follow the scientific prescriptions to achieve higher productivity are called ‘acche kisan’ and those who carried more knowledge and wisdom were branded as unproductive, and farm scientists firmly believe they need to be pushed out of agriculture.‘Since then, it has been the primary measure used to judge the success or failure of farmers’. 

It is primarily for this reason that the technological breakthrough achieved in Punjab defies the dominant narrative. As per the Economic Survey 2016, the per hectare yield of wheat in Punjab stands at 4,500Kg/hectare which matches the wheat yield in United States. In case of paddy, the average yield is 6,000 Kg/hectare, quite close to the 6,700 Kg/hectare achieved in China. With such high yields and with so much of abundant irrigation I see no reason why should Punjab turn into a hot spot for farmer suicides. Since Punjab farmers were on the forefront of accepting every new scientific and technological input, why should then acche kisan be committing suicide and that too in droves?

Economist Willard Cochrane (1958) calls it agricultural treadmill, an idea which Richa Kumar very eloquently extends to explain the prevailing distress in agriculture: “They (farmers) are running a race against insects, but to win, they are dependent upon scientists to create pest-resistant varieties and dependent on private companies to develop ever more potent pesticides. As one fails, the next is one is ready. But there is no respite.” This is what I had always termed as chakravyuah, pushing the farmer deeper and deeper into a quagmire of financial indebtedness.

The story of the failed Yellow Revolution had little to do with technology failure. It was the result of a shift in trade policies which reduced import tariffs thereby bringing in a flood of cheaper edible oil imports. In the process, Richa Kumar revisits the famed saga of a technology-mediated development model, dissecting in detail the claims of prosperity and empowerment of farmers, and demonstrating clearly how detrimental it has been to understand the agrarian change by ignore the social – caste, class and gender, as well as the environmental factors. 

The book is neatly divided into 11 chapters, including conclusion, and I found each chapter gradually building on the argument that techno-fix solutions alone are a myopic way of addressing the farming crisis. Agriculture treadmill forces farmers to move to a more potent, expensive and sophisticated technology, providing at best a temporary solution. But the socio-economic and environmental dimension of the crisis only grows, waiting to explode at an appropriate stage. That’s perhaps the reason why India is faced with a terrible agrarian crisis fifty years after the Green Revolutionwas launched. In the past 21 years, more than 3.18 lakh farmers have committed suicide. 

The ethnographic study, and the scholarly analysis provides a very powerful insight into how deceptive is the entire debate on what constitutes agriculture growth. More relevant in the present debate/discussions surrounding the promise of doubling farm income, the story of eChoupals, using information technology as an autonomous agent of change, and hailed as the lone success story to bridge the information divide. As Richa Kumar says the eChoupals very appropriately fitted into the post-liberalisation phase where the role of the state was to be replaced by private corporations in the name of market efficiency.

eChoupals were launched in the year 2000 with much fanfare. I remember some popular magazines had even done cover stories projecting how eChoupals had ‘empowered’ farmers by providing information and removing ‘corrupt’ intermediaries. What was not told was that ITC-IBD, which operated eChoupals, was also an intermediary. Its underlying objective was to procure soyabean for the international value chain. Subsequently, it was also established that the price ITC-IBD paid to soyabean farmers over the years was almost equal to what the traditional mandis were offering. The soyabean price paid to farmers was driven by the Chicago Board of Trade and the Kuala Lumpur Commodities Exchange.

Nevertheless, by 2005, the eChaupals had converted into a rural retail network of malls known as Choupal Saagars to sell FMCG products to villagers. That is why eChoupals are not even remotely mentioned in the ambitious electronic National Agricultural Market (eNAM) initiative that the government is now promoting. The eChoupal debacle therefore has lessons agalore that simply cannot be brushed aside. Dismantling the APMC regulated markets and bringing in instead the eNAM network suffers from the same ideological thinking. Let us also not forget that to up the ante even eChoupalshad received numerous awards and recognition. That’s the way dominant narrative is conveniently changed.

Richa Kumar has conclusively established that increasing crop productivity alone is a misleading yardstick in measuring agricultural growth and prosperity. Rethinking Revolutions is the outcome of painstaking research and analysis, and ignoring the powerful message it conveys will be to the detriment of not only the farming community but to the country’s overall growth and development. The entire discourse on the political economy of development needs a radical overhaul. This is a book I will recommend for all policy planners, economists, scientists and should be a mandatory reading in agricultural curriculum. #  

Source:  Not by productivity alone. The Book Review. May 2017. Volume XLI Number 5   
Categories: Ecological News

Indecent tax proposal

Ground Reality - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 12:50

Pic: Rediff.com
A growing clamour for taxing agricultural income to shore up government revenues comes up at a time when the government is merrily providing massive tax concessions to the rich and powerful.  Isn’ this like robbing Peter to pay Paul?

But why should rich farmers not be brought under the tax regime? According to IndiaSpend, farm incomes declared by tax payers in 2014, for exemption in the assessment year 2014-15, stood at Rs 9,338-crores. Even if you were to tax this income, probably not more than a third of this amount, or roughly Rs 3,000-crore could be mopped up as tax revenue. But this is not even a drop in the ocean when you compare with the Rs 17.5-lakh crore tax concessions granted to corporate in just the three year period, 2013-16, as Parliament was informed the other day.

The question that needs to be therefore asked is whether the objective of taxing agricultural income is simply to provide a smokescreen to the massive tax concessions being given to the industry each year. As per a reply given in Parliament, Rs 6.11-lakh crore of tax concessions was given in 2015-16 alone. In the past 13-years, between 2004-05 and 2016-17, the total tax concessions given to the industry, clubbed under the category of Revenue Foregone in Budget documents, exceeds a whopping Rs 55-lakh crore.

Yes, you heard it right. Rs 55-lakh crore.

When I brought this up in the TV discussion, a BJP spokesperson said that it reflected a “colonial mindset”. I wasn’t surprised, after all a similar argument was raised when the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had waived Rs 36,359-crore of farm loans. While the RBI governor Urjit Patel had decried the farm loan waiver as disrupting an honest credit culture, he didn’t find any fault with the massive corporate loan waivers. The Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramaniam had even gone to the extent of justifying the corporate loan waiver as good economics, stating ‘this is how capitalism works’.

According to India Ratings, Rs 4-lakh crore of bad debts of corporate is expected to be written-off in near future.

The entire controversy erupted after Niti Ayog member Bibek Debroy made a strong case for bringing agriculture under the tax net with a view to increasing the resources of the state. For reasons explained above, I see no justification for taxing farm incomes unless the corporate tax concessions are not scrapped. Even the distinguished scientist-administrator Dr M S Swaminathan had questioned the move to bring agriculture under tax bracket but had agreed to taxing the rich who treat agriculture as a parking lot for black money. He tweeted to say: “There could be other methods of taxing rich farmers with multiple sources of income.”

I too agree. If some States can impose tax on certain kinds of agricultural incomes, like plantations (including tea, coffee, rubber, spices etc), I see no reason why the State governments cannot evolve some mechanism to tax farm incomes from dubious sources. But to bring the entire farm sector under tax net, making small and marginal farmers to file annual returns is simply a stupid idea.

But just imagine, at a time when Economic Survey 2016 tells us that the average income of a farm family in 17 States is a paltry Rs 20,000 a year, to even talk of income tax shows how disconnected the policy makers are from the ground realities. According to the National Crime Record Bureau, more than 3.18-lakh farmers have committed suicide in the past 21 years, and many states are grappling with the possibility of waiving outstanding farm loans on the lines of Uttar Pradesh loan waiver.

At the same time, I see no justification in allowing the multinational seed company, Monsanto India, to claim tax exemptions of Rs 94.40-crore from agricultural income. Another seed giant, Kaveri Seeds, claimed Rs 186.63-crore exemption and made a profit of Rs 215.36-crore before tax. As Bibek Debroy points out in an article: Twelve Reasons Why (Indian Express, May 3, 2017), in 2015, at least 307 individuals had reported an income exceeding Rs 1-crore per year. They certainly need to be brought under the tax net. There have also been reports of some of the well-known political leaders claiming huge returns from agriculture, which of course defies all logic, and should therefore be taxed.

I see another disturbing trend. Many bureaucrats and businessmen are buying land simply to park their unaccounted income. This trend is growing, and should be a cause for worry. My suggestion is that for the salaried class, any combined income (including from farming) shown beyond the taxable income limits should be taxed. The reason is simple. The tax exemption should be available only to those who work as full-time farmers, not to people who get regular salaries which mean they have no time for farming. Then how can they claim tax exemption for an activity they have not participated in? Similarly, for the business class, any combined income (including from agriculture) beyond the Rs 15-lakh annual limit should be brought under the tax net. The reason why I say so is the same, as before. Unless they are full-time farmers, they should not be allowed to take advantage of agriculture tax exemptions. But first, the provision to allow seed companies tax exemption under agricultural incomes should be immediately withdrawn.

Taxing the rich farmers (owning sprawling farm houses and having income from multiple sources, including agriculture) is long overdue. But this has to be accompanied by scrapping the provisions of doling out massive tax concession so the corporate. Otherwise, it will turn into a self-defeating exercise. # 


Categories: Ecological News

Trump Web Page Asks Americans if They’d Like Him to Kill the National Park Service, Forest Service

Environews.tv - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 21:32

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(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Washington D.C. — The White House has put its time and effort into developing a web page that asks if you’d like to discard what Wallace Stegner dubbed, “America’s best idea” – the National Park Service, along with any other federal agencies you don’t particularly care for.

Complete with multiple choice questions and comment boxes, the page references President Trump’s March 13 Executive Order (EO) 13781. That document directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to propose a plan to “reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs.”

Among other agencies you can tell Trump to do away with are the Food and Safety Inspection Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Forest Service. The web page also allows you to select entire Cabinet departments to eliminate, such as the Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, or any of the 15 executive departments.

Max Greenberg, writing for The Wilderness Society, stated, “The Trump Administration has again shifted its war on conservation, this time taking aim at the pillars of America’s public lands: the National Park Service and other agencies.”

The Trump Administration’s strategy was apparent in his first budget proposal, released in March, which would have cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 31 percent, the State Department by 29 percent, and 20 percent or more for each of the Agriculture, Labor and Justice departments. However, Trump was dealt a setback when Congress passed a $1 trillion budget that keeps the government largely funded at existing levels through September 30.

The President is due to release his full 2018 budget plan next Tuesday, while he is scheduled to be away on his first trip abroad. Democrats have already warned that anything closely resembling his earlier “skinny budget” proposal could lead to a government shutdown.

Trump has other means to achieve his objectives though, including not filling open positions and eliminating existing staff. As of April 22, he hadn’t nominated anyone for 85 percent of the executive branch positions requiring Senate confirmation, Business Insider reported. Meanwhile, the EPA says it is budgeting $12 million for staff buyouts and early retirement packages that will be needed to downsize the agency.

In another shocking move, Trump stiffed North Carolina victims of Hurricane Matthew. Huffington Post reported that of the $929 million in disaster aid requested by that state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, Trump authorized just $6.1 million – about 0.75 percent of what was asked for. The October, 2016 hurricane left 26 dead in North Carolina and closed Interstate 95 while devastating homes, small businesses and farms. FEMA was slated for a $6.2 billion cut in Trump’s desired budget.

The White House web page will be open for input and comments until June 12. With seemingly all Cabinet departments and agencies listed, the public could just as easily choose to eliminate the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, the Secret Service, or the entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Department of Defense and DHS are the only two departments slated for budget increases under Trump’s earlier proposal.

Greenberg added, “The Trump administration keeps moving the goalposts on what is considered extreme behavior, but we can’t afford to let outrageous anti-public lands attacks become the new normal.” The Wilderness Society urges readers to respond, using the White House web page form, and advocating citizens to select “-NONE-“ for which agencies to be eliminated and enter comments in support of public lands.

The post Trump Web Page Asks Americans if They’d Like Him to Kill the National Park Service, Forest Service appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Center for Biological Diversity Sues Trump State Dept. for Covering up Keystone XL Documents

Environews.tv - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 22:39

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(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Washington D.C. — The U.S. Department of State (State Department) has been “illegally” stashing away key documents pertaining to the slated path of the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) for years, while concealing contracts the Department entered into with private consultants, opponents of KXL said on Thursday in a legal action. The allegations were levied by non-profit conservation group the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center), and Thomas Bachand, creator of the Keystone Mapping Project, in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on May 18, 2017.

Since 2012, the plaintiffs have submitted “numerous” Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, according to the suit. The court filing alleges that the State Department “is unlawfully withholding information.”

“The Keystone XL GIS [location] data is referenced tens of thousands of times in the State Department’s environmental review, yet the data itself is fully redacted,” Bachand said in a statement. “State Department officials claim they do not have the data, but if that’s the case then how can they have possibly considered its environmental consequences? The truth is that the State Department unquestionably possesses and controls this critical information.”

“We can’t fully understand Keystone XL’s threats to our water and wildlife until the Trump Administration releases public documents about this dangerous pipeline’s route,” said Amy Atwood, the Center’s Endangered Species Legal Director, in a press release. “With the State Department illegally refusing to provide information about a leak-prone pipeline that could pollute hundreds of waterways, we’re left with no option but to sue.”

The hotly contested project, which was first proposed in 2008, appeared to be dead when the Obama Administration formally denied a permit for construction on Nov. 6, 2015. Two months after taking office, President Donald Trump rescinded that decision and granted the permit on March 24, 2017.

Native Americans call the pipeline the “black snake” and oppose the project out of fear of what a leak could do to water sources along its route – including the giant Ogallala Aquifer – a water source spanning eight states and providing potable H2O to millions of Americans. During the eight-year battle against the pipeline, some ranchers and landowners joined the protest as well, and environmental groups sought legal remedies to prevent construction.

With Trump’s controversial green-light executive order, the fight has been reignited. In Nebraska, 90 farmers and landowners are taking their argument to the state’s Public Service Commission. Environmentalists and Native Americans in Montana have sued to stop construction. And in South Dakota, Republican farmers are fighting back as well.

John Harter, a cattle rancher in South Dakota, told The Guardian in a video, “You have a company like TransCanada come in and tell you that they are going to take your land and use it to make millions of dollars with it and virtually pay you nothing for it.”

Ironically, TransCanada, the Canadian-based company behind the project, isn’t even sure oil companies still want or need the Keystone XL line. Market conditions have changed since the pipeline was first proposed, and producers now have the option of shipping through the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which is scheduled to enter service on June 1. But all that doesn’t alleviate the concerns of those opposing it.

OTHER TOP ENVIRONEWS REPORTS ON KEYSTONE XL, DAKOTA ACCESS, AND OTHER OIL PIPELINES:

Native American and Environmental Orgs Sue Trump Admin Over Keystone XL Pipeline Permit

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – On Monday, March 27, 2017, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and North Coast Rivers Alliance (NCRA) filed a lawsuit challenging the State Department’s approval of a Presidential Permit to construct and open the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL). If completed,…

Apache, Comanche Win in Federal Court: Company Ordered to Remove Oil Pipeline and Vacate

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Cado County, Oklahoma – On March 28, 2017, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ordered the natural gas pipeline company Enable Midstream Partners (Enable) to remove a pipeline running through tribal lands. The land…

Historic Keystone XL Protest Spurs Hope for Environmental Movement While Activists Battle On

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – The debate against the Keystone Pipeline heated up this past weekend as two traditionally opposed groups came together in an effort to defeat a project that threatens aquifers, sacred lands, and frankly, all life on Earth. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance formed a…

Neil Young on Climate Change, Keystone XL and Tar Sands at the Cowboy and Indian Alliance in DC

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – This interview with legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician Neil Young was taped live on April, 26 2014 at the Cowboy and Indian Alliance in Washington, D.C. The event sought to pressure President Barack Obama to reject the construction of the…

Daryl Hannah and Winona LaDuke on Tar Sands, Keystone XL and Fukushima at the Cowboy and Indian Alliance

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – In this interview, famed celebrity actress and activist Daryl Hannah was interviewed alongside renowned Native American activist, former Green Party vice presidential candidate and economist Winona LaDuke by EnviroNews USA Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry. The dynamic duo attended the Cowboy and Indian Alliance “Reject…

North American Oil CEO Admits Tar Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline are Bad Ideas

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – “It never worked before, I seriously doubt if it’ll work now!” These were the words uttered by this mysterious oil and gas CEO of 20 years regarding tar sands in the United States in general. When we asked him about the Kyestone XL…

Donald Trump Says He’d ‘Immediately Approve Keystone XL’ While Holding TransCanada Stock

(EnviroNews World News) – Donald Trump reiterated via the Twittersphere last week that he would “immediately approve the Keystone XL Pipeline” is he is elected president. Is anyone surprised? If I am elected President I will immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline. No impact on environment & lots…

Ding Dong The Pipeline’s Dead: Sec. Kerry Kills Keystone XL Pipeline Once and For All

(EnviroNews World News) – On the morning of November 6, 2015, President Barack Obama stood before the media in Washington D.C. to express his support for the State Department’s most recent decision – an all-out rejection of the proposed fourth and final leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline….

BREAKING NEWS: Keystone XL Pipeline Dead (For Now) – TransCanada Pulls Plug on Application Process

(EnviroNews World News) – EnviroNews World News ascertained late this evening, on November 2, 2015, that TransCanada has made a request with the U.S. Government to suspended it’s permit application for the fourth and final leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline – a project intended to carry some…

Diamond Pipeline Company Admits The Massive Project Will Only Create 15 Permanent Jobs

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Jobs, jobs, jobs – that’s about all anyone ever heard from supporters of the Keystone XL Pipeline before that project went down in flames at the hands of the State Department earlier this year. Opponents continuously pushed back that Keystone XL would have…

Attack Dogs and Pepper Spray Deployed on Native American ‘Protectors’ in Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

(EnviroNews World News) – Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, North Dakota – Pepper spray filled the air and attack dogs were deployed as protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline Project (DAPL) turned violent on Saturday September 4, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Native American activists representing dozens of…

What’s The Big Deal About Pipelines? (Oh Right) – Explosive Pipeline Video Blows Up Online

(EnviroNews World News) – A video posted by the Facebook page ‘The Other 98%’ has gone viral – actually, it’s blown up (pun intended) – just like all the ruptured, exploding, flaming pipelines featured in the 22 second film. As of September 19, the video has gathered up…

Neil Young Takes Stand on Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) With New ‘Indian Givers’ Music Video

(EnviroNews World News) – It’s no secret, legendary rocker Neil Young is all about phasing out fossil fuels as quickly as possible, but his new music video titled, “Indian Givers,” is sure to reinforce Young’s eco-friendly legacy even further. The song is in response to the recent upheaval…

Colorado: Chevron Oil Pipeline Spill Contaminates Stinking Water Creek Tributary Killing Wildlife

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Rangely, Colorado – Chevron Company dumped an estimated 4,800 gallons of light crude from an oil pipeline into an unnamed tributary of Stinking Water Creek near Rangely Colorado. A breach in the six-inch oil pipeline was first noticed by a company consultant…

Arrest Warrant Issued For Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! After Her Kick-Ass Reporting on Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – The award-winning team at Democracy Now! has announced that an arrest warrant has been issued in North Dakota for host and Executive Producer Amy Goodman. The show reports its celebrated anchor is being charged with criminal trespass – a misdemeanor offense. The warrant…

Lakota Sioux Tribe Invokes ‘Bad Men’ Treaty Clause Over Keystone Pipeline – Demands Feds Remove TransCanada

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Lower Brule, Lower Brule Indian Reservation, South Dakota – The Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation as it known in English, pressed on in its fight against the Keystone Pipeline this week. In a press release dated April 29, 2015, the Lower Brule…

First Nations Tribal Land Not For Sale – Lax Kw’alaams Band Rejects Billion Dollar Offer on Pipeline Deal

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Port Simpson, British Columbia – In a decision that will undoubtedly inspire people around the world, the Lax Kw’alaams Band of First Nations natives in British Columbia, Canada have rejected a billion dollar offer to sell out to the interests of big multi-national…

Massive Transneft Pipeline Rupture Sets Moscow River Ablaze

(EnviroNews World News) – Moscow, Russia – Take a look at the dramatic videos in this article and witness giant black pillars of smoke, billowing 300 feet into Moscow’s air, while below on the Moskva River, a fuel-fed fire burns red-hot on the water’s surface. The explosion occurred…

Obama Promises New Lake Michigan Marine Reserve (But What About the Tar Sands Pipeline There?)

(EnviroNews World News) – Washington D.C. – On October 5, 2015, President Barack Obama notified the public of his intention to set aside American waters for two new marine life reserves – one in the tidal waters of Maryland – the other in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan. Obama made…

PetroPeru Using Indigenous Children to Clean up Oil Spill Threatening Amazon River

(EnviroNews World News) – Nazareth, Peru – Two large oil pipeline spills have been reported in Peru near the boarder of Ecuador since late January of 2016. Viscous black crude has made its way into the headwaters of the mighty Amazon River, and more threatens to do so…

Tesoro Shelves Utah Oil Pipeline Plan Indefinitely Blaming Market Conditions

(EnviroNews Utah) – Roosevelt, Utah – San Antonio refining giant Tesoro Corporation announced last week that it will be shelving its plan for a 135-mile-long oil pipeline that had been in the works for several years, citing “unfavorable market conditions.” Fuelfix reported Destin Singleton, company spokesman wrote, “due…

Alaska’s Shady Secret Natural Gas Pipeline Deal Moving Quietly Ahead Behind Closed Doors

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Point Thomson, Alaska – Under a cloak of secrecy, and with little opposition from conservation groups, the potentially lucrative Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Pipeline project continues to build momentum under a new Governor. The LNG Pipeline project is designed to move natural gas from…

The post Center for Biological Diversity Sues Trump State Dept. for Covering up Keystone XL Documents appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Sen. Jon Tester Wants Your Help to Stop All Future Mining Around Yellowstone

Environews.tv - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 22:51

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051717-sen-jon-tester-wants-help-stop-future-mining-yellowstone/"; reddit_title = "Sen. Jon Tester Wants Your Help to Stop All Future Mining Around Yellowstone"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Montana) — Washington D.C. — EnviroNews Montana Exclusive: On April 25, 2017, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the “Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act” (Yellowstone Act) — a bill seeking to permanently ban mining on 30,000 public acres in the Paradise Valley of Montana, just outside Yellowstone National Park (Yellowstone). The legislation follows up on a two-year pause on gold and other types of mining in the region, announced in 2016. If signed into law, the Yellowstone Act will protect public land in the Custer Gallatin National Forest adjacent to Yellowstone and the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.

“The Upper Yellowstone River contributes $70 million a year to the economy of Park County through fishing alone. This pristine waterway supports some of the best recreation and some of the most important agricultural areas in the West and brings with it economic stability and good-paying jobs,” Tester told EnviroNews Montana in an email for this exclusive report. He continued:

The proposed mines in the area risk the water quality of this critical river. Cities and towns downstream rely on the Yellowstone for drinking water and a lot of agriculture producers irrigate from the Yellowstone. Water is a finite resource and we must protect it for future generations, which is why I introduced [the Yellowstone Act] to protect the Paradise Valley from large-scale mining.

Tester also said Yellowstone as a whole is “a huge economic driver” for Montana and that more than 4 million people visit Yellowstone annually “to take in its breathtaking views.”

“These visitors contribute $196 million per year to the economy of Park County, Montana,” he added. “That’s why a proposed mine on the doorstep of Yellowstone is so dangerous. It threatens jobs and the economy in the area.”

The Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition (The Coalition), a group of Montana businesses and landowners, has been an important partner to Tester in protecting the area surrounding Yellowstone from mining. It was The Coalition that originally requested a “mineral withdrawal,” which started the two-year mining pause, and could protect the lands in question for up to 20 years if finalized, according to environmental law firm Earthjustice.

A mineral withdrawal limits mining on specific public lands in order to maintain other public values or purposes in the area. The Coalition’s Park County Economic Report describes the thriving local economy and how it is intimately interwoven with Yellowstone’s natural bounty and provides the stats Tester quoted above.

Tracy Raich, Owner of Raich Montana Properties, described The Coalition’s work in this way in a Tester press release:

We are advocates of property rights. We are not anti-mining. We understand that there are places to mine, but the door step of [Yellowstone] isn’t one of them. The spectacular public lands, agricultural heritage, clean rivers and streams surrounding this area give the region a competitive advantage. The lifeblood of our economy is tied to these high-quality natural resources.

The two proposed gold mine locations near Yellowstone are known as the Crevice and Emigrant mining districts. Tester’s Yellowstone Act would permanently withdraw federal mineral rights on 30,000 acres and prohibit the expansion of new proposed mines onto unclaimed public land.

Mining companies Lucky Minerals and Crevice Mining Group are seeking permission to explore for gold on private lands in the area, but according to Yellowstone Insider, Tester said any large extraction projects “would need a lot of land to expand, since the private parcels are relatively small and surrounded by federal lands. The legislation will take away the incentive to mine in the region, in effect stopping large mining close to the Paradise Valley.”

EnviroNews asked Tester how much momentum he thought he could gather for the Yellowstone Act and whether he thought Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would support it. To that, the Senator responded:

I am hopeful that Secretary Zinke will help push this bill forward. As [a] Congressman, Secretary Zinke supported the bill and now it’s my hope that by working together we can get Senator Daines (R-MT) on board so we can get a hearing in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Yellowstone Insider reports Tester stated he will broach companion legislation with whoever wins Zinke’s former seat in the May 25 special election. Tester also recently launched an email fundraising campaign seeking public support, sharing this compelling narrative:

Imagine loading your family into the car for a trip to Yellowstone. Sleeping bags in the trunk. Kids in the back seat. On your way to the gate, you look out over the landscape and see — mining equipment. I don’t think it’s a good idea either.

While Tester sees passing the Yellowstone Act as the crucial “first step in protecting the doorstep to Yellowstone National Park,” he told EnviroNews he would also “like to see Congress invest in addressing the maintenance backlog that is plaguing all our parks. In Yellowstone alone, the unmet maintenance needs total $632 million.”

In related news, on April 26, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing Zinke to review 27 national monument designations made under the Antiquities Act since Jan. 1, 1996. A public comment period is now open – the deadline is May 26 for Bears Ears National Monument and July 10 for all others. The Center for Biological Diversity urges the public to defend Bears Ears and all of the monuments by signing a letter to Zinke on its site.

On May 15, WildEarth Guardians (Guardians) revealed Zinke is dismissing the thousands of comments entered before May 11. Guardians encourages monument supporters to submit or re-submit their comments and also offers a signable letter to Zinke on its website.

Tester had this to say to EnviroNews about the monument review:

I don’t think there’s any harm popping the hood and taking a look to make sure things are working for folks in rural America. However, if the outcome rolls back public access and undermines the outdoor economy surrounding these treasured places, I’ll be the first person to defend our Montana way of life.

OTHER GREAT ENVIRONEWS REPORTS ON YELLOWSTONE AND SURROUNDING AREAS:

A Bull Elk With a Sense of Humor in Yellowstone National Park
EnviroNews Wyoming Cameraman Captures Black Bear From Eight Feet Away in Yellowstone Park
The Bison Herds of the Magnificent Grand Tetons
Welcome to EnviroNews Montana Featuring Clips of the Beartooth Mountain Range
Invasion of the Zombie Elk – Chronic Wasting Disease Spreading Fast, Nearing Yellowstone Herds

(EnviroNews Nature) – In the late 1980s, farmers in Great Britain started to notice their cows stumbling around, acting strangely and losing weight. The problem got continually worse, until in 1993, more than 36,000 cattle in the UK died in a single year from mad cow disease. Prior…

Feds Attempting to Strip Yellowstone Grizzly Bear of Endangered Species Act Protection

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Missoula, Montana – In a move that has angered environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed on March 3, 2016, to strip the iconic Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear of its protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),…

POLL: Should Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Be Delisted, Hunted and Killed? Yes/No? (Feds Say Yes)

(EnviroNews Polls) – On March 3, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed a new rule that would delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear, and advocate the hunting and elimination of at least 200 of the region’s approximately 715 specimens. The move fueled…

No Fairytale Ending for Yellowstone and the Three Bears After Park Shuns Thousands of Comments

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Yellowstone National Park – It was a sobering outcome for social media activists who had been clamoring to #SpareTheBear. Despite the tumult on Twitter and fury on Facebook, Yellowstone Park managers were undeterred. The park announced from the beginning, it would euthanize the mama grizzly…

Petition Aiming to Stop Delisting of Yellowstone Grizzly Growing Huge Like a Bear

(EnviroNews World News) – PETITION WATCH: On March 3, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) made an announcement that left many wildlife and nature enthusiasts stunned: the Service rolled out a proposal to remove the iconic Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear from the Endangered Species…

The post Sen. Jon Tester Wants Your Help to Stop All Future Mining Around Yellowstone appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Trump Insinuates Washington Post is Straight-up REAL NEWS With Russia Classified Info Tweets

Environews.tv - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 21:46

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051617-trump-insinuates-washington-post-totally-real-news-russia-classified-info-tweets/"; reddit_title = "Trump Insinuates <em>Washington Post</em> is Straight-up REAL NEWS With Russia Classified Info Tweets"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Political Desk) — Washington D.C. — Will the Washington Post (WaPo) bring down another sitting U.S. president? The venerable newspaper’s historic reporting by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered the Watergate scandal, eventually leading to impeachment proceedings and the ultimate resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. Many are saying, Trump could be next.

Now, the administration of President Donald Trump is scrambling after WaPo reported that he revealed top-secret information to Russian diplomats during an Oval Office meeting that was off-limits to the American media. Trump this morning admitted in two tweets, “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining… to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017

…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017

The tweets essentially confirm the Washington Post’s story after Administration officials had described the story as “false.” National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster told reporters on Monday, “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

Similarly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was present during the meeting, said, “During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.” Dina Powell, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy, flat-out said, “This story is false.”

“The story, to be clear, doesn’t say that the President disclosed sources and methods,” said Greg Jaffe, one of the reporters bylined on the Washington Post story, appearing on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show on Monday night.

However, as a Washington Post news analysis this morning states, “The most direct and immediate impact may be to jeopardize a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State, thereby making it more difficult to detect and thwart terrorist plots.” Describing it as a “breach of trust,” the conversation may lead American allies to reconsider sharing key intelligence information with the U.S.

This afternoon, NBC, the New York Times and others reported that Israel was the source of the intel. Trump’s indiscretion threatens U.S. relations with one of its most important allies and a major source of Middle East intelligence, said the Times. The information was considered so sensitive that it wasn’t even shared with America’s closest allies – the so-called “Five Eyes” that includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom – according to the Wall Street Journal.

Kurt Eichenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Senior Writer at Newsweek, tweeted about the revelation, “Trump gave highly secret Israeli intel to Russia, a major ally of Iran, which will now receive it. Iran is Israel’s greatest enemy. Get it?”

Trump gave highly secret Israeli intel to Russia, a major ally of Iran, which will now receive it. Iran is Israel's greatest enemy. Get it?

— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) May 16, 2017

The Washington Post, in its reporting, did not disclose the specifics of the conversation. However, Eichenwald says, TASS, the Russian news agency Trump let into the meeting, is now reporting it.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle reacted quickly to the revelation. Referring to the Administration, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said, “Obviously, they are in a downward spiral right now.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said in a statement, “Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country.”

At a press briefing Tuesday morning, McMaster was asked if he stood by his claim that the story was false. The National Security Advisor responded, “I stand by my statement that I made yesterday. What I’m saying is really the premise of that article is false, that in any way the President had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security.”

The Administration now appears to be trying to shift the blame. Trump tweeted, “I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community.”

I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017

McMaster continued that approach in his press meeting:

I think the real issue, and what I’d like to see debated more, is that our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality and those releasing information to the press that, uh, could be used … uh, connected with other information available to make American citizens and others more vulnerable.

Trump’s repeated haranguing of respected news organizations such as the Washington Post as purveyors of “fake news” is undone by his own tweets, confirming the Post story even as he double-crosses American allies and his own spokespeople.

The post Trump Insinuates Washington Post is Straight-up REAL NEWS With Russia Classified Info Tweets appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Watch: Rudy Giuliani’s Biggest WTF Moment Ever: Omits 9/11 in Speech for Trump While Blaming Obama

Environews.tv - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 16:42

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051617-rudy-giulianis-biggest-wtf-moment-ever-omits-911-says-obama-allowed-terrorism-attack-speech-trump/"; reddit_title = "Watch: Rudy Giuliani’s Biggest WTF Moment Ever: Omits 9/11 in Speech for Trump While Blaming Obama"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Politics Desk) — On August 15, 2016, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani omitted 9/11 from his version of the history of U.S. terrorist attacks, while speaking for then-candidate Trump at a campaign rally. Giuliani was Mayor of NYC during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and is also a lawyer and an informal cybersecurity adviser to the Trump White House.

“Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack inside the United States,” Giuliani bizarrely proclaimed. This odd fiction was seen as particularly uncharacteristic for Giuliani, who is known to consistently reference his connection to 9/11.

“There’s only three things [Giuliani] mentions in a sentence — a noun, a verb and 9/11. There’s nothing else!” former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden famously said as a 2008 presidential candidate.

In fact, in the 2016 speech, Giuliani praised Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to ground zero and his role on the Judiciary Committee during the 9/11 attacks moments before his false and confounding statement. He then proceeded to refer to Pence as “your governor” to the Ohio crowd, while Pence was Governor of Indiana.

The Washington Post reported that by blaming Obama for allowing “successful radical Islamic terrorist attack[s] inside the United States” to happen on his watch, and ignoring that 9/11 occurred during the first year of George W. Bush’s presidency, Giuliani was actually contradicting Trump. In October 2015, Trump said of Bush’s role in the attacks, “You always have to look to the person at the top … you could say the buck stops here.”

Giuliani later told the New York Daily News he was using “abbreviated language” when he omitted 9/11 from his comments. In October 2016, he said former Senator, Secretary of State, First Lady and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton falsely claimed to have been in NYC during the 9/11 attacks – another untruth. He later apologized.

Recently, Giuliani has been back in the headlines regarding his role in the Trump Administration’s controversial travel ban. According to The Washington Post, Giuliani claimed to assist the President in finding a legal way to ban Muslims from entering the country. In May 2016, a federal judge in Michigan ordered the Trump Administration to turn over any related communications from Giuliani.

The post Watch: Rudy Giuliani’s Biggest WTF Moment Ever: Omits 9/11 in Speech for Trump While Blaming Obama appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Explosion of Deadly Ticks Fueled by Climate Change, Ravaging Moose, Infecting People and Pets

Environews.tv - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 20:30

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051517-explosion-deadly-ticks-fueled-climate-change-ravaging-moose-infecting-people-pets/"; reddit_title = "Explosion of Deadly Ticks Fueled by Climate Change, Ravaging Moose, Infecting People and Pets"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau)EnviroNews Exclusive: Warmer, shorter winters due to climate change are a boon for the ticks that harm people, their pets and wildlife, scientists told EnviroNews in a series of exclusive interviews for this report.

A walk in the woods can be refreshing, fun and good exercise. New England poet Robert Frost described his strolls as “lovely, dark and deep.” Henry David Thoreau encouraged his readers to get back to the wilderness, while many of Beethoven’s greatest pieces were inspired by nature’s splendor. But those great men all lived in simpler times.

Lyme disease, spread by ticks, is now the fastest-growing vector-borne infectious disease in the U.S. Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) and western blacklegged ticks (Ixodes pacificus), both of which can carry Lyme, are now found in 41 states and one-third of all U.S. counties.

Maine saw a record number of Lyme cases in 2016. Ohio’s Erie County reported a record 186 Lyme cases in the same year and nearby Cuyahoga County, which formerly averaged 26 cases every five years, saw 44 last year alone, according to Cleveland’s WEWS News 5. Deer ticks are common in Wisconsin and Minnesota, while populous Mid-Atlantic states including Pennsylvania and Virginia are rife with the disease-carrying arachnids as well. Even Martha’s Vineyard is a known hotspot for Lyme-carrying ticks.

A 2011-2012 survey found that nine percent of Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers said they had been diagnosed with Lyme disease. That means you have nearly a 1-in-10 chance of contracting Lyme if you hike the AT. And this year may pose an unusually high risk according to Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

Deer Tick


Although Lyme disease has been around for thousands of years, it wasn’t recognized in the U.S. until the 1960s and 1970s. That’s when a cluster of patients in Lyme, Connecticut were found suffering from an undiagnosed illness that left them with skin rashes, headaches, chronic fatigue and other symptoms. By 1982, scientists had identified the bacteria responsible for the disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, and linked it to ticks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), ticks will bite any part of the human body, but in most cases need to be attached for 36 to 48 hours before the Lyme spirochete can be transmitted. The first signs of infection, which can occur within 30 days, are fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches. A classic circular “bullseye” rash is often seen at the site of the bite. Diagnosis is carried out by testing for the presence of Lyme antibodies, whereafter patients are typically treated with antibiotics.

Rash caused by Lyme disease — Photo: Centers for Disease Control

From 1995 to 2015, the number of cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. more than doubled, reports the CDC. “We have a longer tick season with milder temperatures and warmer winters,” said Chuck Lubelczyk, Vector Ecologist at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s (MMCRI) Vector-Borne Disease Laboratory, also known as the “tick lab.”

Deer ticks thrive in moderate conditions. “They have a goldilocks complex,” Lubelczyk said. “They don’t like it too wet or too dry, too hot or too cold.” And they survive snow very well. It becomes an insulating layer for them, as does forest leaf litter.

The lifecycle of a deer tick is about two years. Animal blood is their only food, and they will feed on deer, rodents, dogs and humans. The mostly black, eight-legged tick will feed only three times in its life. When the minute larvae — no bigger than a dot — morphs into a nymph, it will take its first feeding. It will eat again when it morphs from the nymph stage to the sesame seed-sized adult. And finally, adults will feed to lay eggs. They can pick up the Borrelia bacteria on any of these feedings and may later transmit Lyme to their next host.

Size of a tick at its differing stages.

Over-hunting and deforestation had reduced the population of Borrelia-carrying white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the U.S. to about 300,000 by 1930. But as hunting became better regulated and many former farms were abandoned, allowing the land to reforest, the deer population rebounded. It is now estimated to be about 30 million animals.

In some areas, a population explosion of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) has also contributed to the spread of Lyme disease. Chipmunks and other rodents also host deer ticks.

Trail-running or hiking with your dog can expose your pet to deer ticks. “It’s one of the most common things we see as vets,” said Julie Bailey, Dean of the School for Animal Studies and Natural Science at Becker College in Massachusetts. “There’s been a very high incidence in tick-borne diseases and in dogs carrying ticks, and it’s gotten worse over the last five to ten years.”

In New England, as many as 50-75 percent of dogs will test positive for Lyme disease. Nearly 700,000 cases of Lyme in dogs have been reported over the past five years in the U.S. and Canada, according to IDEXX Laboratories, a pet healthcare company.

Bailey, who spent 15 years in clinical practice, recommends that dog owners check their pet thoroughly when they come indoors, paying particular attention to the feet and head. To prevent infection, there are now chewables and topical products in addition to flea and tick collars. There are also vaccines on the market for dogs, although Bailey says they are only about 80 percent effective. When asked how she protects her dogs, Bailey said she uses both the vaccine and topical preventatives.

Any dog that works or plays outdoors, whether it’s your backyard or on a farm, is at jeopardy of contracting tick-borne diseases. “If it’s a dog that doesn’t leave the house, it’s not high risk,” Bailey said.

Tick-Infested Dog

Many dogs that test positive for Lyme will not show symptoms. If a person’s pooch develops a fever, seems lethargic, appears to experience joint pain or loses its appetite, it should be taken to the vet where the animal can be treated with antibiotics.

There is no cure for Lyme disease in dogs, said Bailey. A typical four-week course of antibiotics will control the disease, although it may reappear at a later date. “A small number of dogs can develop more severe, life-threatening symptoms,” Bailey warned. “Called Lyme nephritis, it can cause kidney failure.” Some specialists recommend urine tests for the life of a dog that has tested positive for the pathogen.

Much larger animals can also fall prey to tick-borne diseases. Moose (Alces alces) are plagued by winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus), which can be found throughout most of North America. But they’ve hit the iconic North Woods grazer hardest in New England and the upper Midwest.

In New Hampshire, their numbers have dwindled from over 7,000 in the late 1990s to 3,800 today. Maine, which has the largest population of moose outside of Alaska, has experienced a decline from a peak of 76,000 to somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000. Minnesota has lost 60 percent of its moose in just 10 years.

These ticks are not the same as those that transmit pathogens to humans, and they generally don’t kill moose through infection. Instead, they at times suck the blood out of them altogether.

Male Winter Tick


In some years, nearly three-quarters of moose calves fail to survive their first winter. “In the last three years, calf mortality in New Hampshire and Vermont has been over 70 percent,” said Peter Pekins, a wildlife ecologist at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). The numbers in Maine are similar.

Pekins told EnviroNews that they first began to suspect a problem in 2002, and began radio-collaring moose the following winter. That year they lost 50 percent of their calves. “Every other day I was getting calls, and there was another one found dead,” he said. “They were just loaded with ticks.”

One study in western Canada found an average of 33,000 ticks on each moose. But one moose in New Hampshire was found with 150,000 ticks on its body, and Pekins says they’ve counted over 90,000 on a single calf.

Dead Radiocollared Moose in Britich Columbia — Photo by: M. Bridger

While adult moose generally survive these infestations, calves often can’t. “A calf could lose its entire blood volume in three weeks,” Pekins said. “When we find them, the calf is just skin and bones. They’ve been drained dry. Their tick loads are beyond belief and the whole body is just crusted with blood.”

Adult moose suffer in other ways. They’re attacked at the end of winter, when forage is at its poorest. They suffer blood loss, and to counteract that, the animal uses up its own fat and muscle for protein, Pekins explained. Tick-ravaged moose cows breed less too. “Back in the early 2000s, the proportion of yearling females breeding was over 30 percent,” the UNH scientist said. “The proportion of that today in New Hampshire is zero. They may have survived those ticks as a calf, but they are going to produce offspring at least one year later because they have to compensate for all that weight loss.”

Moose and Calf — Wikimedia Commons — Photo by: Tim Bowman for USFWS

The connection to global warming is undeniably clear. “Climate is really the number one threat,” said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, from Minnesota. “These shorter and warmer winters lead to better tick survival rates.”

In the Northeast, average annual temperatures have risen more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, and winter temperatures are up about 4 degrees. Vermont’s winters have shortened by four days per decade over the past 40 years. It’s also raining more during New England’s winter season.

“We have seen winters become very short,” said Pekins. “This aids the survival of adult ticks in the spring and they have much longer to find hosts in the fall.”

Moose — Photo by Daivid Mark — Pixabay

The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to list the western moose (Alces alces andersoni) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The western moose is a subspecies found in the U.S., from North Dakota to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and in Canada from British Columbia to western Ontario. In June 2016, the USFWS found that this species may warrant protection and launched a full status review.

“I have fond memories of seeing a mama moose and baby moose coming down to the water when I’d go camping with my family as a kid,” Adkins mused. “But my children have never seen a moose here.”

With both winter ticks and deer ticks benefiting from shorter, warmer winters, these pests’ days look bright. For moose, humans and their pets, it’s another story.

Lubelczyk warns, “We’re seeing the frontier for ticks move further east and north. We’re planning on seeing more Lyme disease.”

U.S. Lyme Disease Map

According to the CDC, about 30,000 cases of Lyme are reported each year. They note however, that this doesn’t represent every case of Lyme disease diagnosed in the U.S. The CDC conducted two separate studies, and this research found the number of people diagnosed with Lyme each year ranged from 288,000 to 329,000 — about ten times greater than the number of reported cases.

A 2015 study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Johns Hopkins) estimates the healthcare cost of Lyme disease to be as high as $1.3 billion a year in the U.S. Study author Emily Adrion, MSc, a PhD candidate in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins, said in a statement, “Our data shows that many people who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease are in fact going back to the doctor complaining of persistent symptoms, getting multiple tests and being retreated.”

Lyme is not the only disease that deer ticks can transmit. “In addition to Lyme, we have at least four other pathogens that cycle in these ticks,” Lubelczyk explained. “These include anaplasma, babesia, relapsing fever and a viral disease called Powassan encephalitis.”

Sixteen cases of Powassan were reported in New York state between 2006 and 2015 — the highest of any state. In 2013, a 73-year-old Maine woman died of Powassan just two weeks after finding a tick embedded in her shoulder. About half the people who survive this illness are left with permanent neurological symptoms, according to the CDC.

Public health messages often focus on the tiny deer tick nymphs that are common in the summer months, but Lubelczyk advises, “People need to be aware that in the fall and early spring, adult deer ticks are out and they are a public health and veterinary concern.”

Blacklegged Tick: Range in the U.S.

The connecting thread to the surge in tick-borne diseases is climate change. A report issued March 15, 2017, by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, puts it bluntly: “In communities across the nation, climate change is harming our health now.”

Writing in the report, Dr. Nitin Damle, President of the American College of Physicians (ACP), said, “My physician colleagues used to treat two or three cases a month during tick season; now each of us sees 40 to 50 new cases during each tick season.”

The report warns, “Anyone can be harmed by these diseases, but people who spend more time outdoors — where these insects and other disease-carriers live — are most vulnerable.” There is no human vaccine available for Lyme disease, although research is ongoing. For the approximately 10 to 20 percent of patients who develop Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), a debilitating disease that includes extreme fatigue, pain, arthritis and cognitive issues, several new treatments show promise. These include antibiotic cocktails, new drugs and dosing regimens, and research into how the patient’s gut bacteria could aid in alleviating symptoms.

Lubelczyk said they are working on a pilot study to see if it would be possible to create a tick forecast. That might assist the public and health community in preparing from year to year, as factors such as cold temperatures, snow cover and precipitation vary. Drought reduces tick numbers, as does a longer, colder winter season — as Thoreau would have experienced in his lifetime.

But the long-term trend is clear. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “By the end of the century, the typical summer in upstate New York may feel like present-day summer in North Carolina.” By then, one is left to wonder if the iconic moose will have vanished from the North Woods entirely. Nevertheless, people will still be here, along with their pets. And the ever-proliferating, disease-carrying ticks that can infect them will still be lurking in the woods.

ADDITIONAL VIDEO RESOURCES:




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Categories: Ecological News

Senate Hearing: Green Groups Say Committee Moving to Gut the Endangered Species Act

Environews.tv - Sat, 05/13/2017 - 18:38

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(EnviroNews Nature) — On May 10, 2017, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), led a committee oversight hearing called, “Conservation, Consultation and Capacity: State Views on the Need to Modernize the Endangered Species Act.” Green groups decry Barrasso’s desire to “modernize” the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a gross abandonment of the federal government’s responsibility to imperiled species and their habitats.

Barrasso also held a prior hearing in February called, “Oversight: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Regarding that hearing, Amy Atwood, Endangered Species Legal Director and Senior Attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center), warned of “Republican-led attempts to weaken [the Endangered Species Act] in the name of ‘modernization.’” According to data gathered by the Center, Barrasso has sponsored eight legislative attacks on the ESA in the past two years and has voted against the ESA 11 times since 2011.

Erik Molvar, Executive Director of the Western Watersheds Project, described Barrasso’s efforts as being “about fundamentally gutting one of our nation’s most important bedrock conservation laws and replacing science-based decision-making with political horse-trading that sells out our endangered wildlife.”

The recent hearing focused solely on the feedback of state wildlife officials, including Nick Wiley, Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), Larry Voyles, Director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and the former AFWA President, and Janet Coit, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).

In the February hearing, Barrasso stated the ESA “is not working today.” In the May hearing, Barrasso weighed in with this announcement:

In recent years, state governments and their state fish and wildlife agencies have increasingly voiced concerns that the Endangered Species Act isn’t living up to its conservation potential. So have counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers and ranchers, and other stakeholders.

In contrast, the Center pointed out in a press release, “The ESA has been more than 99 percent effective at saving species under its protection from extinction and has put hundreds more on the road to recovery.” The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are among those recovered species and a 2015 poll reveals 90 percent of Americans support the ESA as is. The Center has taken the lead in protecting hundreds of endangered species and their habitats through successful lawsuits against the federal government.

In his testimony, Barrasso advocated for states to have a greater role in the administration of the ESA:

Since enactment of the Endangered Species Act almost 45 years ago, state fish and wildlife agencies have enhanced their staff, expertise, habitat management techniques, science capability, relationships with private landowners and local communities, and political support.

He also brought up that in March of 2016, the AFWA adopted a set of principles to modernize the ESA and that in June 2016, the Democrat and Republican Western Governors’ Association (WGA) adopted the WGA’s Endangered Species Act policy. This policy is an initiative presenting recommendations for changing the ESA. Barrasso found three repeating themes in these revisionary efforts — conservation, consultation and capacity.

Barrasso said these three themes covered questions concerning how the ESA can “avoid listing of species as endangered or threatened” and recover them, “facilitate the federal government’s consultation with state and local governments,” and “provide sufficient resources to fulfill the mission of the Act, and better allocate those resources to species most in need.” He also stated that “endangered species don’t care whether the federal government, or a state government, protects them.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) leads hearing to “modernize” the Endangered Species Act.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO and former Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under Bill Clinton, shared an opposing view at the hearing earlier this year. While she recognized the states’ role as conservation partners, she also stated:

…the ultimate responsibility under the ESA lies with the federal government, acting through [USFWS] and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), to make science-based decisions about the status of imperiled species and actions necessary to ensure their continued existence and ultimate recovery… the federal government is the appropriate authority to ensure that at-risk species are conserved according to the best available science under the ESA, rather than local economic and political considerations.

In contrast, Wiley testified that “state agencies often do the greatest share of work managing federally listed species and dealing with associated challenges,” and that most state agencies would like to be more involved with ESA decisions.

Director Coit concurred, calling for states to have a bigger role in ESA listing decisions, target population recovery plans, monitoring, outreach and collaboration. She said the best way to achieve these goals was to give the state agencies “sufficient resources.”

Director Voyles dedicated part of his testimony to share the AFWA’s ESA priorities. These include, in part, increasing the role of state fish and wildlife agencies, improving the listing process, developing “science based recovery plans for listed species, providing opportunities for the states to lead recovery planning and implementation,” and creating “more specificity and flexibility in the delisting process.”

The focus by Barrasso and these state wildlife officials on “avoiding” listing species as endangered, easing the ESA’s de-listing process and giving the states more power and prerogative in designating or not designating critical habitat, worries conservationists.

The Center for Biological Diversity maintained in the press release that loosening or repealing federal protections and “putting more wildlife management power into state hands would undo much of the progress that has been made in recovering endangered species.” They also assert that most states do not have established protections for critical habitat or effective conservation programs in place.

The NGO also researched and reported on the significant underfunding of endangered species recovery. Noah Greenwald, the Center’s Endangered Species Director, explained that at present, the USFWS only “gets roughly 3.5 percent of the funding federal biologists estimate is needed to recover species.”

“False claims about the Endangered Species Act’s effectiveness denigrate underfunded scientists trying to save imperiled wildlife on a shoestring. Rather than continuing these mean-spirited and disingenuous attacks, Senator Barrasso and other Senate Republicans should fully fund the Act so more species can be saved from extinction,” said Brett Hartl, Government Affairs Director at the Center.

American Bald Eagle

Similarly, Daniel Ashe, President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and former USFWS Director under Barack Obama, stated this at the February hearing:

Species protection and conservation requires long-term commitment by all of us… The AZA and its members fully support the Endangered Species Act, and we look forward to working with Congress to assure that the agencies responsible for carrying out the mandates of the Act receive the necessary funding, human resource capacity and regulatory flexibility to succeed.

Greenwald wrote about Barrasso’s efforts to “disassemble” the ESA in the Huffington Post:

As Endangered Species Director for the Center for Biological Diversity, it’s deeply troubling to see politicians purposely mislead the American public in an effort to loosen regulations, especially ones that would further degrade protections for our most imperiled wildlife and their habitats.

RELATED ENVIRONEWS COVERAGE ON REPUBLICAN EFFORTS TO ‘MODERNIZE’ THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT:

Republicans Lick Chops While Revving Up To Dismantle The Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Nature) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 15, 2017, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) held a hearing called, “Oversight: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the EPW, held this two-hour hearing to explore “the need to modernize…

300 NGO and Environmental Orgs Demand via Joint Letter Ntl. Guvs Assoc. Protect Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 23, 2017, a coalition of almost 300 NGO, environment, conservation and social justice groups concerned with the now uncertain future of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) sent a letter to the National Governors Association (NGA). The letter was…

The post Senate Hearing: Green Groups Say Committee Moving to Gut the Endangered Species Act appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

USDA’s Wildlife Services Sued Again: Enviro Orgs Ask Court to Halt Wildlife-Killing Program in Idaho

Environews.tv - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 21:59

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(EnviroNews Nature) — Four conservation groups filed a lawsuit on May 11, 2017, aimed at stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from killing Idaho’s wild animals. The USDA’s Wildlife Services (WS) program killed more than 280,000 mammals and birds in Idaho during 2016. The animals axed include 3,860 coyotes and 72 gray wolves, along with cougars, black bears, feral dogs and more than 273,000 European starlings.

Plaintiffs in the suit include the Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) and Predator Defense. The suit alleges that the USDA has never prepared a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“Most people in Idaho would be shocked to learn how many animals Wildlife Services already kills in our state,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Senior Attorney at the Center. “Now this reckless agency wants to slaughter even more of our black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, ravens, and other wildlife using nightmarish methods like poisons and aerial gunning, without even studying the environmental consequences. Such a lackadaisical approach to wildlife management is not permitted by the law.”

Wildlife Services, an arm of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is described on the agency’s website as a program to “help people resolve wildlife damage to a wide variety of resources and to reduce threats to human health and safety.” APHIS received $1.1 billion in federal funding for fiscal year 2017.

Conservationists contend that Wildlife Services operates primarily for the benefit of ranchers. The program was the subject of a 2016 exposé in Harper’s Magazine. In a related interview with National Geographic, the author, Christopher Ketcham said, “Since its founding in 1885, Wildlife Services has served one purpose—to clean up the American West for the ranching industry, so they wouldn’t have to deal with predators or other animals they deemed pests.”

EnviroNews has previously reported that, nationwide, WS slaughtered 2.7 million wild animals in 2016. “Wildlife Services is stuck in the barbarism of the 19th century, before the full value of predators in ecosystems was understood,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project.

The USDA’s obscure, century-old wildlife-killing program traps and poisons these great many animals. It swoops in to shoot them from the air using both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Both neck and foot snares are used — methods considered inhumane by many prominent animal rights advocates. It kills coyotes with controversial M-44 cyanide bombs.

In what might be called “collateral damage,” reports of pets being killed are not uncommon. In March, 2017, a cyanide bomb left by Wildlife Services in Pocatello, Idaho killed a dog and poisoned its owner, a 14-year old boy. Between 1985 and 1993, 21 people in Arizona were injured by M-44s. A Utah man was left permanently injured and unable to work after being poisoned by one of the dangerous devices.

“It isn’t just wildlife that is directly harmed by the killing programs,” said Brooks Fahy, Executive Director of Predator Defense, in the press release. “These lethal weapons pose a risk to recreational users of public lands, their pets and the ‘nontarget’ species that die by the hundreds every year.”

WS is also the subject of a documentary called, “EXPOSED: USDA’s Secret War on Wildlife,” produced by Predator Defense. In the film, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said, “Wildlife Services is one of the most opaque and least accountable agencies I know of.” In March, DeFazio introduced legislation to outlaw use of M-44 cyanide bombs for predator control.

“Wildlife Services needs to be accountable to the public for the harm their actions cause to Idaho’s natural ecosystems,” said Kelly Nokes, Carnivore Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Not only are Wildlife Services’ killing schemes cruel and unnecessary, the best available science is clear that they are largely ineffective too. It is past time that Wildlife Services’ needless killing regime is documented in a complete environmental review so that the public can fully realize how their tax dollars are being wasted.”

OTHER GREAT ENVIRONEWS REPORTS ON WILDLIFE SERVICES AND IMPERILED WILDLIFE

USDA Caves to Public Pressure, Agrees to Remove All Coyote/Wolf Cyanide Bombs in Idaho

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Hailey, Idaho – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS), which kills millions of wild animals in the U.S. each year, agreed April 10, 2017, to temporarily halt the use of M-44 cyanide bombs for predator control initiatives in Idaho….

BREAKING: Wildlife Groups Sue Trump Admin. Over USDA’s Poisoning of Endangered Species, Kids, Pets

(EnviroNews Nature) – Washington D.C. – On April 4, 2017, four wildlife and conservation groups filed suit against the Trump Administration in an effort to regulate lethal poisons used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS). Wildlife Services uses the two poisons in question, Compound…

Rep. Peter DeFazio is out to Stop USDA’s Cruel Wolf and Coyote Poison Bombs for Good

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Washington D.C. – On March 30, 2017, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017 (H.R. 1817), which seeks to ban the use of two deadly poisons, Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide, for predator control efforts throughout the United States. These…

20 Environmental Groups Jointly Demand Wildlife Services Ban M-44 Cyanide Bombs in Idaho

(EnviroNews Idaho) – On March 28, 2017, a coalition of wildlife and conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to immediately ban M-44 devices in Idaho. M-44s are cyanide bombs used by WS to kill…

USDA’s ‘Cruel,’ ‘Illegal’ Cyanide Bombs for Wolves and Coyotes Killing Dogs, Hospitalizing Kids

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Bannock County, Idaho – On March 16, 2017, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield was playing fetch with his dog Kasey, in Bannock County, Idaho, when an M-44 cyanide bomb sprayed him and killed his dog. The lethal device was placed by the U.S. Department of…

Bill Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups, Sails Through Senate to Trump’s Desk

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On March 21, 2017, in a 52-47 vote, the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69), a Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule), which has been in…

Predator Bloodbath: ‘Secretive’ Federal Agency Wildlife Services Kills 1.6 Million Native Animals in 2016

(EnviroNews Nature) – Wildlife Services (WS), a little-known wildlife-killing program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), killed 2,744,010 animals in 2016, 1,594,595 of which were native to the U.S. The agency shared this death toll in its annual program data…

After a Century, ‘Landmark Settlement’ Puts Brakes on Federal Government’s ‘Rogue’ Wildlife-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Nature) – Missoula, Montana – Well, it only took a century, but it has happened at last: Something finally put the brakes on Wildlife Services (WS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “secretive,” “rogue,” “cruel” wildlife-killing agency – and that “something” is the environmental non-profit organization WildEarth…

‘Secret’ Federal Agency Admits Killing 3.2 Million Wild Animals in U.S. Last Year Alone

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington D.C. – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) admitted in its annual Program Data Report to having killed at least 3.2 million wild animals in 2015 alone – many of which were large predators. 1,681,283 of that total…

Lions and Tigers and… Sage Grouse? Oh My! – The Granddaddy Endangered Species Battle of Them All

(EnviroNews Nature) – On March 3, 2017, EnviroNews Nature released one of the largest and most expansive documentaries ever published on a wildlife species in peril – the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). The academic yet entertaining film spans a plethora of topics and includes intersecting interviews, viewpoints…

Wyoming Wolves Stripped of Endangered Species Act Protection – Shoot-on-Sight Policy Restored

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Gray wolves (Canis lupus) will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the state of Wyoming. That was the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 3, 2017, which also happened to be…

Republicans Lick Chops While Revving Up To Dismantle The Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Nature) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 15, 2017, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) held a hearing called, “Oversight: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the EPW, held this two-hour hearing to explore “the need to modernize…

300 NGO and Environmental Orgs Demand via Joint Letter Ntl. Guvs Assoc. Protect Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 23, 2017, a coalition of almost 300 NGO, environment, conservation and social justice groups concerned with the now uncertain future of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) sent a letter to the National Governors Association (NGA). The letter was…

WildEarth Guardians Sues Colorado over Plan to Kill Black Bears, Mountain Lions

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW), the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources are being sued by WildEarth Guardians (WEG) for their December approval of two predator-killing programs. Through the Piceance Basin Predator Management…

Report: 86% of North America’s Bird Species Struggling or in Crisis – 33% Facing Extinction

(EnviroNews Nature) – One in three North American bird species are of “high concern” to conservationists with an additional 50% struggling badly, according to the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). The group’s annual report The State of North America’s Birds 2016 makes for grim reading by suggesting…

POLL CLOSED: Should USDA’s Secretive Wildlife Killing Program Be Abolished? Yes/No – VIEW RESULTS

(EnviroNews Polls) – 3.2 million animals. That is the amount of critters and creatures brutally eradicated by Wildlife Services (WS) in America last year alone, by way of traps, snares, bullets and poisons – all with your tax dollars of course (at least if you are a U.S….

Five Environmental Groups Sue USDA Over Idaho Wolf-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On June 1, 2016, five prominent environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services for killing over 650 wolves in the state of Idaho over the past decade. Wildlife Services is…

Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

Federal Judge Orders Stop to Canadian Lynx Trapping in Idaho

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – A federal judge has ordered a stop to the haphazard trapping of Canadian Lynx in Idaho. Lynx canadensis, as it is scientifically known, is one of the rarest cats in the United States and has been captured multiple times in Idaho over…

Feds Attempting to Strip Yellowstone Grizzly Bear of Endangered Species Act Protection

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Missoula, Montana – In a move that has angered environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed on March 3, 2016, to strip the iconic Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear of its protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),…

Poll Closed: Should U.S. Government Maintain a Wolf-Killing Program? Yes or No? – View Results

(EnviroNews Polls) – In December of 2015, several environmental groups, spearheaded by WildEarth Guardians, won a pivotal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency, for its wolf-killing program in Washington State. On February 3, 2016, WildEarth Guardians, in concert with four other groups, filed…

No Endangered Species Act Protection for Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Interior Announces

(EnviroNews Arizona) – Washington D.C. – The Morafka’s, or Sonoran desert tortoise, or Gopherus morafkai as it is scientifically known, is a slow moving, yet ancient creature that gets its water from eating native plants while spending most of its time in underground insulated burrows that it digs…

POLL: Should Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Be Delisted, Hunted and Killed? Yes/No? (Feds Say Yes)

(EnviroNews Polls) – On March 3, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed a new rule that would delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear, and advocate the hunting and elimination of at least 200 of the region’s approximately 715 specimens. The move fueled…

Will Redrawing Core Sage Grouse Areas in Wyoming Help Save the Bird From Extinction?

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – In late April a gloomy report was issued by Pew Charitable Trusts that claims there is a 98.7 percent chance greater sage grouse will go extinct in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin in 30 years if the current course continues. The Powder River…

Dept. of Interior: No Protection for Greater Sage Grouse Under Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Commerce City, Colorado – On the morning of Tuesday August 22, 2015, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced that Centrocercus urophasianus, a.k.a. greater sage grouse, will not receive protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A decision by U.S. Fish…

ALERT: GOP Attempting to Kill Environmental Regs Across The Board With Sneaky Budget Riders

(EnviroNews World News) – Washington, DC – It seems like we, at EnviroNews, have been reporting on this type of thing all year. That is, sketchy environmental riders being attached to totally unrelated appropriations bills in backdoor efforts to kill environmental and wildlife protections. Yes, this year’s spending…

Obama Administration Comes Out Against NDAA Sage Grouse Rider

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington DC – In a surprising environmentally-friendly move today following the Department of the Interior’s green light for Shell Oil Company’s arctic drilling ambitions yesterday, the Obama Administration came out against a controversial rider in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that…

Sec. Sally Jewell Announces DOI Will Not List Bi-State Sage Grouse as Endangered

(EnviroNews Nevada) – Reno, Nevada – To the dismay and disappointment of environmentalists, conservationists and biologist alike, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced on April 21, 2015 (which also happened to be Earth Day) that the bi-state sage grouse will not be making its way…

WA State Stops Bloodshed After Massacring Profanity Peak Wolf Pack To Appease Cattle Ranchers

(EnviroNews Washington) – Olympia, Washington – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced October 19, 2016, that it would spare the remaining four members of the now demolished Profanity Peak Wolf Pack, after already having killed seven of its wolves (Canis lupus) to appease cattle ranchers….

WildEarth Guardians: DOI’s Bi-State Sage Grouse ‘Conservation Success’ Is ‘Window Dressing’

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – On April 21, 2015 Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Sally Jewell appeared in Reno, Nevada to make a pivotal Bi-State Sage Grouse Announcement: No protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the bi-state distinct population of the greater…

The post USDA’s Wildlife Services Sued Again: Enviro Orgs Ask Court to Halt Wildlife-Killing Program in Idaho appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

How come mega cities like Bangalore never give an inkling of a severe drought in its own backyard?

Ground Reality - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 14:30

This is Bangalore. Hustling and bustling with life


Just two hours away from Bangalore, life in this village is at standstill
I travel to Bangalore very often. At least four times a year, if not more. But every time I go to Bangalore I have never even remotely felt that Karnataka has been reeling under a severe drought. Life in the mega city does not even provide an inkling of a severe drought prevailing just 30 kms away. I am told as many as 139 of the 176 taluks have been declared drought hit this year. Still worse, Karnataka has reeled under drought for 11 years out of the past 16 years.

Just two hours away from Bangalore is the Anantpur district in Andhra Pradesh. A report in New Indian Express (April 28) brought tears in my eyes. “Has my father come back?” asks a 12 year-old Divakar, as he runs into the house straight from the school. “No, he will come back next month and bring you lots of toys from Bangalore,” replies his uncle, Eswarayya. The child is distraught, dumps his school bag, changes his dress and gets on his tricycle to ride along an empty street lined with an endless sequence of locked houses.

Journalist Harish Gilai’s account of how Andhra’s Anantpur district town and villages have become empty is an insight into the tragedy of rural India that no one wants to read. Kutapalle village in Nallamada mandal of Anantpur district in Andhra Pradesh is a ghost town, he writes. Half the houses there were locked. You either find the aged walking about or the kids playing in the street. In another news report, Aditi Mallick and Geetika Mantri, who were part of fact finding mission tells us (TheNewsMinute, May 9) heart-rending stories of how elders in the family have migrated in search of menial jobs leaving behind their children to take care of themselves (to know more, click here: http://www.kisanswaraj.in/wp-content/uploads/Rapid-Assessment-of-Drought-in-Anantapur-and-state-of-citizens-entitlements.pdf)

“Twelve-year-old Bukya Syamulamma, a tribal girlin Kareddipalli village in Anantpur district, lives all alone with her two younger siblings. A petite figure, she lugs 25 kilos of ration to and fro from a PDS shop located in the neighbouring village. Having lost her father to alcoholism last year, Bukya is now responsible for taking care of herself and her brother and a sister.” This seems to be a scene out of a Bollywood blockbuster but let’s not forget this is for real.

“Another 15-year-old in Kareddipalli lives by herself after her parents migrated to Kerala searching for employment. Rama Devi says that she sometimes fears for her safety.” But the bigger question that concerns me is how acute must be the suffering that Rama’s parents must be undergoing that they were forced to leave behind their only girl child in search of a job. Their choice was limited. I am sure no parent would ever think of leaving their children behind. This certainly is not a scene from Hollywood’s popular movie Home Alone. Hundreds of children have been left behind by parents who have migrated in search of whatever little job they can manage.

Anantpur district is reeling under the 6thconsecutive year of drought.

In Kerala, no longer God’s own country, families survive on 10-15 buckets of water a week in the Palakkad district. Writing in the Indian Express (May 8), Shaju Philip takes us to Attapaddy, which is faced with the second consecutive year of drought. Kerala is facing its worst drought year in 115 years. All the 14 districts of Kerala were declared drought hit by October, 2016. And yet, if you travel to Thiruvanthapuram or Kochi or Kozhikode or for that matter any of the major cities or towns you don't get a feeling as if Kerala is reeling under a drought.




Concluding his five-day yatra through the drought-hit parts of Tamil Nadu, Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan lamented: “The indifference shown by the Union Government has paralysed the State’s machinery and is taking a heavy toll on the farmers in state,” adding: “Cattle deaths are only an indicator of a possible famine in the State.” The recent protest by a handful of Tamil Nadu farmers at Janta Mantar in New Delhi wanting a Rs 40,000-cr loan waiver had attracted a reasonably good media coverage but failed to move the nation. “It’s an unprecedented situation,” S Panneerselvam, Prof of AgroMetereology at the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University told IndiaSpend. He said the drought had affected 21 of the 32 districts of Tamil Nadu. Incidentally, the State is reeling under the worst drought in 140 years. But again, if you were to travel to Chennai or Coimbatore or for that matter any other town in the State, you don’t get a feel of a severe drought prevailing just a few kms outside the city.

I find it too strange. After all, have you ever pondered why is that while drought hits the region as a whole it is only people living in the villages who bear the brunt? Why is that drought rarely, if at all, strikes the cities and towns? I am sure the God’s were not so unfair so as to ensure that crippling drought strikes only the rural constituencies. I am sure God did not want to punish the people living in the villages for no fault of theirs. So how come the divide that leads to the terrible consequences of drought being inflicted on the rural people has become so targeted?

Latur town in the dry Kuchh region in Gujarat may be an exception but it is very rare that the city of Chennai for instance is faced with severe water crisis requiring water trains to carry water. Not only water shortage, drought normally brings along a whole lot of problems, which are rarely felt in the cities. This must be the outcome of an inequality woven through the process of development. In my understanding, the development process is so designed that the cities have been made drought proof over the years. The rural-urban divide is so apparent. All efforts have gone to ensure that the urban population does not have to suffer the consequences of a drought. The rivers and canals flowing into the countryside can go dry, but worse-cum-worse the tap water supply in the cities is available for a few hours every evening and morning. Even if water for New Delhi has to be fetched from as far as Renuka dam in Himachal Pradesh or the water supply in Mumbai has to be sucked from the adjoining regions of Western Ghats, life in cities remain oblivious to the terrible cost that is inflicted in the bargain on the rural populace. 

This is primarily the reason why people living in the cities are so disconnected from the realities of rural India. They are happy in their own world, and they give a damn to the extent of human suffering just a few miles away in their own backyard. Well, this is where the civilized world has led us to. In a world of selfies, selfishness has reached the limit. #
Categories: Ecological News

3 Conservation Orgs Just Stopped Oil Leasing on 1 Million Acres of Public Land in California

Environews.tv - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 13:50

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051217-3-conservation-orgs-just-stopped-oil-leasing-1-million-acres-public-lands-ca/"; reddit_title = "3 Conservation Orgs Just Stopped Oil Leasing on 1 Million Acres of Public Land in California"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — Washington D.C. — Environmental groups have reached a settlement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stop plans for new oil leases on more than one million acres of public land in the state of California.

The agreement, announced May 4, 2017, resolves a lawsuit filed June 10, 2015, by the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) and Los Padres ForestWatch, represented by Earthjustice. The suit came in response to a resource-management plan approved by BLM that would have allowed oil and gas drilling, as well as fracking, in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo and along California’s Central Coast. Also included in the proposed plan were vast stretches of the agricultural Central and San Joaquin Valleys, as well as the southern Sierra Nevadas.

“This is a big victory for California and a major blow to Trump’s plan to turn our public lands over to oil companies,” said Brendan Cummings, the Center’s Conservation Director. “Despite the petroleum industry’s stranglehold on the White House, these beautiful wild places are still off limits to drilling and fracking.”

The BLM has not opened any oil leases in California since 2013, when a federal judge ruled that the agency had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by issuing oil leases in Monterey County without considering the environmental dangers of fracking. About half of all new wells drilled in California employ hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. “fracking,” according to a 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology.

The report also points out that fracking in California, due to its unique geology, is done in shallower wells using more concentrated chemicals than in other states. Volume 2 of the report warns that these chemicals can infiltrate groundwater aquifers, which farmers rely on for irrigation of crops and that communities use for drinking water.

“This agreement ensures that public lands along California’s Central Coast — and the communities that depend on them — are protected from the harmful effects of oil drilling and fracking,” said Los Padres ForestWatch Executive Director Jeff Kuyper.

The Center said the settlement continues the de facto leasing moratorium on BLM lands, in place since 2013.

The post 3 Conservation Orgs Just Stopped Oil Leasing on 1 Million Acres of Public Land in California appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Zinke Tours Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Scolds Inquisitive Native Woman: ‘Be Nice!’

Environews.tv - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 00:35

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051017-zinke-tours-bears-ears-grand-staircase-escalante-scolds-inquisitive-native-woman-nice/"; reddit_title = "Zinke Tours Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Scolds Inquisitive Native Woman: ‘Be Nice!’"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Blanding, Utah — Following President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13792, signed on April 26, 2017, which mandates the review of national monument designations dating back to 1996, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) Ryan Zinke headed to Utah with two-day’s notice on what was dubbed a “listening tour” regarding Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The trip was announced on Friday, May 5. The first of four meetings on consecutive days began Sunday, May 7.

On Monday, Zinke flew over Bears Ears in southeastern Utah accompanied by what the Salt Lake Tribune described as “an entourage composed entirely of anti-monument politicians,” using three Army Black Hawk helicopters. Media access has been limited, reported Deseret News.

While Zinke met with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which was instrumental in supporting the enshrinement of the place as a monument, he refused a meeting with the Utah Diné Bikéyah (UDB), a Navajo non-profit – and a group fighting to maintain Bears Ears’ monument status. Furthermore, when Salt Lake City resident Cassandra Begay tried to ask Zinke when he was going to meet with tribal leaders, he just wagged his finger at her and said, “Be nice.” The encounter was caught on video, and is now circulating on YouTube.

“My great, great grandmother was born up in Bears Ears,” UDB tribal leader Jonah Yellowman told KUER. “My great, great grandfather, you know, Chief Manuelito, he was born up there. So that’s my aboriginal land, our aboriginal land.”

Bears Ears has been the target of Utah Republican politicians dating back to the Obama Administration. Using his authority under the Antiquities Act, Obama issued the national monument designation on December 28, 2016. Grand Staircase-Escalante has earned the ire of some of these same lawmakers ever since it was established back on September 18, 1996, by President Bill Clinton.

“This is a clear attack on public lands, aimed squarely at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments,” Legislative Director Jen Ujifusa of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) told EnviroNews. “We are absolutely going to defend them with everything we’ve got.”

Bears Ears National Monument — Photo: U.S. Departmet of the Interior

So, why the attack on these two particular national monuments, preserved 20 years apart? The answer may be found in what lies beneath them. Both are rich in mineral deposits as well as oil and gas reserves, according to an analysis conducted at the Center for American Progress. Large coal beds are also found near the boundary of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

When Trump ceremoniously signed Executive Order 13792, he handed the pen to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The 83-year-old senator, who had helped secure the nomination for America’s billionaire president, was called to the Oval Office just five days after the inauguration. There, according to a Deseret News story, he lobbied Trump regarding his grievances over the designation of Bears Ears. The conservative Mormon-owned news organization reported, “Hatch left the meeting with a pledge from the President that he would return the land to state control if possible.”

Big out-of-state money helped reelect Hatch in 2016, along with fellow Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop — all anti-parks members of Congress. OpenSecrets.org reported that out-of-state contributions accounted for 89.4 percent of Hatch’s campaign contributions, 88.1 percent for Lee and 92.6 percent for Bishop.

In a 2013 report, ThinkProgress traced the money behind the anti-federal lands movement in the West to the conservative groups American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity. In 2014, Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva pressed the acting inspector general of the Interior to investigate ALEC for its “aggressive effort to change state laws in ways that undermine decades of precedent on the use and management of public lands without scrutiny or serious federal oversight.”

According to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), nearly 98 percent of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations including ExxonMobil and from foundations related to Charles and David Koch – a.k.a., the “Koch brothers.” Koch Industries, through its employees, political action committees (PACs), subsidiaries and affiliates contributed $9.3 million to the 2016 election cycle. Of the $3.3 million that went to individual candidates and their parties, 99.8 percent went to Republicans. Many Utahans are likely unaware of the out-of-state money setting the agenda for their state.

The Interior Department listed 27 sites for review under Trump’s executive order; Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is one of them. It holds uranium, and the Koch brothers funneled $1.5 million to Prosper, Inc. and a sister organization in 2013-2014 in a failed attempt to prevent federal protection of this land. A 2015 report co-authored by the Prosper Foundation and the Arizona Chamber Foundation laid out arguments in favor of mining and called the proposed designation a “monumental mistake.”

The Interior is also reviewing five Marine National Monuments, encompassing 760 million acres of ocean. In announcing the list of monuments under review, the Interior Department cited Section 4 of Executive Order 13795 titled, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.” Section 4 orders a review of National Marine Monuments since 1996 with respect to “potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf.”

While big money will have its say in whether these lands stay protected, the Administration’s rush to judgment could hamper input from citizens. The Interior will allow just a 15-day comment period for Bears Ears, beginning May 12. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which has responsibility for 15 of the 27 sites under review, has instructed its 30 Resource Advisory Councils to postpone all scheduled meetings through September. These citizen-based panels are described by the BLM as “sounding boards for BLM initiatives, regulatory proposals and policy changes.” The BLM order ensures they will go dark throughout the 120-day review period set forth in Trump’s Executive Order 13792.

“We are reaching out and encouraging our members to reach out,” said Glen Brand, Sierra Club Chapter Director for the state of Maine, where the newly designated Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is also at risk. Whether the Sierra Club, SUWA or Native Americans groups will have their say remains to be seen.

The post Zinke Tours Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Scolds Inquisitive Native Woman: ‘Be Nice!’ appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

ACLU Reveals Bills in 20 States Aiming to Criminalize Peaceful Protest — Is Your State on the List?

Environews.tv - Wed, 05/10/2017 - 21:33

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051017-aclu-reveals-bills-20-states-aiming-criminalize-peaceful-protest-state-list/"; reddit_title = "ACLU Reveals Bills in 20 States Aiming to Criminalize Peaceful Protest — Is Your State on the List?"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Since the election of Donald Trump, public protests such as the Women’s March, Climate March and the March for Science, have flourished. In response, more than 30 bills spanning 20 states have been introduced in an effort to increase the penalties for peaceful protest, according to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU). Representatives from the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) wrote to the U.S. government in late March 2017, expressing concern over these bills and requesting an explanation regarding their “[incompatibility] with U.S. obligations under international human rights law.”

Protest behaviors such as gathering in large groups, wearing face coverings and interfering with roads or “critical infrastructure” are targeted in the various Republican-led legislative maneuvers. “This flood of bills represents an unprecedented level of hostility toward protesters in the 21st century. And, many of these bills attack the right to speak out precisely where the Supreme Court has historically held it to be the most robust: in public parks, streets and sidewalks,” Vera Eidelman of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project told The Guardian.

She also pointed out the measures are “especially pervasive” in states where protesting has been abundant. For example, the ACLU discusses a slew of bills introduced in North Dakota in response to the historic Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests. In March, HB 1304 was signed into law, which penalizes the wearing of masks at demonstrations, as was HB 1426, which makes protest penalties a class B felony if 100 or more people are involved, with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Activist Ashley Anderson rebukes Rio Tinto at the Fossil Fools Day Protest near Salt Lake City, Utah.

A North Dakota bill stating drivers who hit protesters on the road unintentionally “would not be held liable for any damages,” failed to pass by nine votes in February. But, a similar bill is currently under review in Tennessee that “provides civil immunity for the driver of an automobile who injures a protester who is blocking traffic in a public right-of-way if the driver was exercising due care.”

RELATED VIDEO:

5,000 protestors gather at the Utah State Capitol for the largest air pollution protest in history. Utah, the reddest state in America, is not amongst the 20 states with bills that seek to increase penalties for protesters.

The ACLU also shares that peaceful demonstration regulations were strengthened at Denver International Airport following protests over President Trump’s Muslim travel-ban. Following public outcry and marches relating to the police shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota, bills were drafted to increase punishments for highway protests and to charge participants the cost of policing the action if arrestees are convicted. The ACLU has created an interactive map detailing state legislature anti-protest bills. Readers can view synopses of bills in their own state by simply maneuvering their cursor and clicking.

Peaceful Protest Criminalization — Interactive Map by ACLU

As previously stated, it’s not only the ACLU that’s vehemently opposed to these actions by lawmakers — the United Nations is also now involved. The UN letter relating to this type of legislation is titled “Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association,” and is from special rapporteurs David Kaye and Maina Kiai. It is addressed to Theodore Allegra, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations as well as other international organizations in Geneva.

Like the ACLU, the rapporteurs collected a list of U.S. bills aiming to limit demonstrators’ rights and presented the information in their communication. In the letter, Oklahoma’s HB 1123 is mentioned specifically, as a measure which includes new penalties for trespassing on “critical infrastructure,” including oil refineries and chemical plants. Trespassing on, interfering with or damaging these facilities would be punishable by a variety of fines and prison terms, ranging from $1,000 and six months, up to $100,000 and 10 years. On May 3 this bill was approved, but has not yet been signed by Governor Mary Fallin (R).

DAPL Water Protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota.

“We are concerned this bill would target peaceful protests in certain contexts, such as protests which focus on environmental rights, imposing disproportionate penalties on protestors,” the UN representatives stated, specifically referencing DAPL.

RELATED VIDEO:

Outraged protestors descend on Chevron refinery in Salt Lake City Utah following a string of dangerous “red air days.”

The UN asks Allegra to respond to their message with five separate requests, including this appeal:

Please explain how the aforementioned bills are in accordance with the United States of America’s obligations under international human rights law, particularly with regard to the rights of freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly as enshrined in articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Civil Rights (UDHR), respectively.

UN rapporteurs Kaye and Kiai also say they “believe that the wider public should be alerted to the potential implications of the above-mentioned allegations.” They alert the U.S. representative that these UN findings and requests will be made public online, and that the U.S. responses will also be posted online “as well as in the regular periodic Communications Report to be presented to the Human Rights Council.”

The ACLU promises to “fight in statehouses against any bill that violates the First Amendment, and for any that become law, we’re hopeful the courts will see these bills for what they are: unlawful infringements on our right to speak.”

The post ACLU Reveals Bills in 20 States Aiming to Criminalize Peaceful Protest — Is Your State on the List? appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Trump Admin Protects Five Sharks, Guitarfish, Under Endangered Species Act Following Petition

Environews.tv - Wed, 05/10/2017 - 18:42

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051017-trump-admin-protects-five-sharks-guitarfish-endangered-species-act-following-petition/"; reddit_title = "Trump Admin Protects Five Sharks, Guitarfish, Under Endangered Species Act Following Petition"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Nature) — Washington D.C. — On May 10, 2017, six imperiled marine species were granted protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The daggernose shark (Isogomphodon oxyrhynchus), the Brazilian guitarfish (Rhinobatos horkelii), the striped smoothhound shark (Mustelus fasciatus), the Argentine angelshark (Squatina argentina) and the spiny angelshark (Squatina guggenheim) are now listed as “endangered,” while the narrownose smoothhound shark (Mustelus schmitti) is listed as “threatened.” These protections were instated in response to a July 2013 petition by the environmental non-profit organization WildEarth Guardians (WEG).

The conservation group says the five species listed as endangered have been victims of human exploitation and insufficient regulations, which has paved the way to overfishing. Likewise, the narrownose smoothhound shark has been threatened by abuses from commercial fisheries.

Stuart Wilcox, WEG Staff Attorney and author of the petition, told EnviroNews Nature why overfishing is especially problematic for these species, writing:

These species are all slow to reproduce and have few young when they do, making it very hard for them to replace lost individuals. Pair that with weak fishing regulations and rampant illegal catch in their ranges and you have a recipe for extinction on shockingly fast timelines. This is all exacerbated by the fin trade, which drives targeted catch and unsustainable and cruel practices.

He also explained that listing species under the ESA can increase awareness of their plight, attract new research and fuel local interest and new protections, while allowing the NMFS to “cooperate with foreign governments on conservation projects to protect the species.”

“This can help foreign governments that want to do the right thing but are struggling due to constrained resources,” Wilcox continued. “In other words, it increases the likelihood that NMFS will also get involved in the conservation of the species even though they live outside of U.S. waters.”

While these recent listings are a significant success, WEG wrote in a press release that more than 50 percent of marine species might be at risk of extinction by 2100. The NGO asserts the U.S. has systematically failed to protect enough sea creatures under the ESA, pointing out only about 6 percent of protected species are marine. The 2013 WEG petition calls for the listing of 81 marine species and subpopulations in total. It says all of the included species are already listed as “endangered” or “critically endangered” by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Spiny Angelshark (Squatina guggenheim)

According to WEG, the new marine species listings are in line with President Obama’s 2010 Executive Order, “Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts and the Great Lakes,” which called on government agencies to “protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources,” and to “use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean.”

“Protecting our oceans’ unique species is more important than ever, given rising ocean temperatures and a political administration extremely hostile to climate science,” Bethany Cotton, Wildlife Program Director for WEG, said in the press release.

Many environmentalists say the ESA has been under attack by Republican legislators such as Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who this week will hold a second hearing on “modernizing” the ESA. Erik Molvar, Executive Director of the Western Watersheds Project, previously shared his view on revising the ESA with EnviroNews:

This legislative effort isn’t about “reforms” or “improvements,” it’s about fundamentally gutting one of our nation’s most important bedrock conservation laws and replacing science-based decision-making with political horse-trading that sells out our endangered wildlife.

Wilcox applauded the Trump Administration’s new ESA listings, saying, “Protecting these declining species is an important step in taking responsibility for the failing health of marine ecosystems.” Cotton concurred, affirming, “These protections are necessary to safeguard the health of our planet and prevent extinction.”

The post Trump Admin Protects Five Sharks, Guitarfish, Under Endangered Species Act Following Petition appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Center for Biological Diversity Strikes Back After Pruitt and Zinke Fire Science Boards

Environews.tv - Wed, 05/10/2017 - 16:32

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/051017-center-biological-diversity-strikes-back-pruitt-zinke-fire-science-boards/"; reddit_title = "Center for Biological Diversity Strikes Back After Pruitt and Zinke Fire Science Boards"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Washington D.C. — The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on May 8, 2017, seeking documents related to the abrupt dismissal of science advisors at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On Friday, May 5, the EPA began notifying members of its Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) that their three-year terms would not be renewed.

By Monday, half of the 18-member panel had been released. The moved surprised those advisors who were dismissed. The Washington Post reported that they had been told twice, once in January and again recently, that they would be kept on for another term.

Separately, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke suspended more than 200 advisory boards and committees, including 30 Resource Advisory Councils chartered by the Bureau of Land Management — even as the DOI is reviewing 27 national monuments for possible delisting or downsizing. The Center’s FOIA request also seeks records relating to “any member’s removal, suspension, dismissal, nonrenewal of terms, and/or termination from any Interior Department scientific advisory board, committee, group and/or panel.”

In a statement emailed to EnviroNews, the Center’s Open Government Attorney, Margaret Townsend, wrote “The Trump Administration’s systematic removal of scientists and academics to make way for industry hacks is truly a case of the fox guarding the henhouse to feed corporate greed.”

Some of the dismissed BSC members, and the union representing EPA employees, fear that industry-selected replacements will hamper independent science at the agency. The union’s president, John O’Grady, told The Guardian, “Without independence and sound peer review of the science conducted by the agency, it will be impossible to distinguish between good science and bad science at the US EPA.”

Townsend added, “These decisions not only present a major conflict of interest, since advisory positions are paid for by taxpayer dollars, but also pave the way for oil companies, pesticide manufacturers and mining giants to write the very regulations that govern their activities.”

The post Center for Biological Diversity Strikes Back After Pruitt and Zinke Fire Science Boards appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Forest Conservation Report: U.S. Gov. Severely Underestimating Impact of Logging on Climate

Environews.tv - Wed, 05/10/2017 - 01:43

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/050917-forest-conservation-report-epa-severely-underestimating-u-s-logging-impact-climate/"; reddit_title = "Forest Conservation Report: U.S. Gov. Severely Underestimating Impact of Logging on Climate"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — The North Carolina forest conservation group Dogwood Alliance published a report called, “The Great American Stand: U.S. Forests and the Climate Emergency,” in late March 2017. In the analysis, the authors evaluate the effects of U.S. logging on carbon emissions and climate change and reveal the government is significantly underestimating the negative impact of logging.

Key findings outlined in the paper show logging activities in the U.S. have diminished the country’s net forest carbon sink by at least 35 percent. This data was gleaned from a 2016 study in the journal, Carbon Balance and Management. Additionally, the Dogwood Alliance draws on satellite data from a 2013 investigation published in Science, which shows forest disturbance from logging in the southern United States between 2000 and 2012 was four times that of South American rainforests.

Co-author Danna Smith and her colleagues calculated annual logging carbon emissions between 2006 and 2010 were greater than the combined yearly emissions from residential and commercial buildings. The study calls forests “the only proven system” we have for meeting the goals set under the Paris Agreement (Paris accord), which include keeping the rise in global temperature to below 2°C. The paper states:

To avoid serious climate disruption, it is essential that we simultaneously reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and bioenergy along with other heat trapping gases and accelerate the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by protecting and expanding forests. It is not one or the other. It is both!

A related Dogwood Alliance press release explains that according to recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas emission estimates, U.S. forests remove an amount of carbon equal to about 11-13 percent of our nation’s emissions. This is about half that of the global average; most country’s forests sequester about 25 percent of their emissions. The press release describes the current rate of U.S. forest carbon uptake as, “a fraction of what is needed to avoid climate catastrophe.”

The paper also points out U.S. logging and carbon stats don’t adequately factor in the loss of old forests, which typically store large amounts of carbon, or the significant soil emissions associated with logging. The press release also states the EPA’s reporting on forest carbon sink degradation and logging emissions is not transparent and is further designed to shield the U.S. timber industry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S was the world’s fourth-largest exporter of forest products in 2015 and exported $9.7 billion in forest-related goods in the 2014 fiscal year.

Old-Growth Forest in California’s Sequoia National Park

Ryan Rhodes, Director of Public Relations and Government Affairs for the Forest Resources Association, which represents the timber industry, told Inside Climate News that the logging sector protects forests. He says the U.S. has a greater number of timberland acres now than in 1950 and, “Markets keep working forests working.”

The Dogwood Alliance paper also questions the classification of burning wood as “carbon neutral,” particularly as it pertains to the recent U.S. budget deal. The environmental cost and benefits of burning biomass, which usually consist of plant material or wood chips, has been highly debated.

As journalist Warren Cornwall wrote in Science, proponents of burning wood claim the planting of new trees effectively cancels out the carbon released when trees are cut and burned. But, Cornwall also explained wood-burning furnaces can sometimes actually emit more CO2 than coal or natural gas, in part because wood requires extra energy to boil off its high water content.

“We can’t log our way out of climate change. Burning wood products actually contributes more toward the increase of emissions into the atmosphere,” Kirin Kennedy, Associate Legislative Director for Lands at Wildlife at the Sierra Club, told Inside Climate News.

“Bioenergy carbon capture and storage” is the process of capturing some portion of wood combustion carbon emissions and storing it underground. The Dogwood Alliance points out in “The Great American Stand: U.S. Forests and the Climate Emergency,” that this technology is in the pilot stages and is very inefficient.

Smith explains that inconsistency in reporting forest-related emissions under the UN climate regime is another troublesome issue. For example, when the U.S converts forests to timber plantations, it calls it “reforestation.” In contrast, Indonesia calls the transformation of forests into palm oil plantations “deforestation.”

“We’re not getting it yet that forests are a critical part of the solution,” Smith told Inside Climate News. “We’re not looking in our own backyard, and yet, we’re telling the rest of the world what to do.”

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What Are We Doing?! STUDY: On Current Course, Zero Wilderness Areas Will Remain in 100 Yrs.

(EnviroNews World News) – In the last 25 years, the world has lost 10% of its wilderness areas to human encroachment and development according to a study published in Current Biology. The authors say these losses are not only devastating to the animals that live in the wilderness…

The post Forest Conservation Report: U.S. Gov. Severely Underestimating Impact of Logging on Climate appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Evacuation: Emergency Declared at Hanford After Tunnel Collapses onto Nuclear Waste

Environews.tv - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 22:27

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/050917-evacuation-emergency-declared-hanford-tunnel-collapses-onto-nuclear-waste/"; reddit_title = "Evacuation: Emergency Declared at Hanford After Tunnel Collapses onto Nuclear Waste"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Washington) — Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Washington — At about 8:30 a.m. on May 9, 2017, an emergency alert was activated at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (Hanford) in southeastern Washington after a tunnel containing nuclear waste collapsed. Workers were evacuated after the tunnel, which holds railcars full of nuclear material, suddenly gave way, at the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility (PUREX) – an area located near the center of the massive complex. No workers were harmed in the incident.

The Hanford site, run by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), explained, “Later this morning, the alert was expanded to a Site Area Emergency. A Site Area Emergency is declared when the event is affecting or could potentially affect personnel beyond the facility boundary but not beyond the boundary of the Hanford Site.” The aboveground area is currently being surveyed but no radiation has been detected at this point.

The tunnel cave-in encompassed an area of approximately 400 square feet near where two of the underground tunnels meet. The soil above the incident visibly sunk between two and four feet. The accident was discovered during routine surveillance and no workers were in the tunnel at the time. CBS News reports that some employees were sent home while some were “asked to secure ventilation and shelter indoors.”

“This is a serious situation,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee in a written statement. “Ensuring the safety of the workers and the community is the top priority.”

Crews at Hanford are deploying a “TALON,” remote operated surveillance device that carries out radiological and industrial hygiene monitoring and also records video footage. Hanford’s Emergency Operation Center released a live video about the event on Facebook Tuesday afternoon, saying the cause of the accident was unknown and that there was “no evidence of a radiological release.”

Established during WWII, Hanford contains about 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. The facility is famous for being the U.S.’s most contaminated nuclear waste storage facility, with current cleanup expected to take at least another 50 years and cost over $100 billion. Myriad radioactive leaks into groundwater have been detected over the years as the facility still struggles to ratchet down problems like the plutonium sludge leak from double-shell tank AY-102.

The proper storage of the nation’s backlog of nuclear waste has been a contested topic of late, as the Trump Administration looks into reinvigorating the contested Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository project in Nevada.

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(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the forth in a 15-part mini-series titled, Nuclear Power in Our World Today, featuring nuclear authority, engineer and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen. The EnviroNews USA special encompasses a wide span of topics, ranging from Manhattan-era madness to…

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(EnviroNews Nevada) – Washington D.C. – On April 26, 2017, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), held a hearing to examine a “discussion draft” called, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 (the 2017 Act). This measure…

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(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington D.C. – President Trump’s preliminary 2018 budget proposal was released in March and along with many cuts to environmental programs, it includes $120 million to restart licensing operations for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository (Yucca Mountain). This currently unused underground facility…

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Categories: Ecological News

217 Global Investment Powers, Managing $15T, Implore Trump to Abide by Paris Climate Agreement

Environews.tv - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 23:03

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/050817-217-global-investment-powers-worth-15t-implore-trump-abide-paris-climate-agreement/"; reddit_title = "217 Global Investment Powers, Managing $15T, Implore Trump to Abide by Paris Climate Agreement"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — On May 8, 2017, 217 leading global investors sent a letter to the White House and other members of the Group of Seven (G7) urging adherence to the Paris Climate Agreement (Paris accord). The investors, who wrote to the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, manage more than $15 trillion in assets worldwide. The letter was also sent to the leaders of the Group of 20 — an international forum of major global economies.

“As long-term institutional investors, we believe that the mitigation of climate change is essential for the safeguarding of our investments,” the letter states. “We urge all nations to stand by their commitments to the Agreement.”

President Trump campaigned on a promise to “cancel” the Paris accord while Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt called for an “exit” from the deal on April 13.

“Mr. Trump’s potential decision to leave the Paris Agreement would be poison for global climate efforts and leave investors in a limbo of uncertainty,” said Pelle Pedersen, signatory and head of responsible investment at the Danish pension fund PKA, according to the Financial Times.

Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit focusing on economic solutions, helped coordinate the dispatch. In a press release, CEO and President Mindy Lubber described the U.S.’s waffling over the Paris accord as “hugely troubling.” She said “stable policy signals” relating to climate are necessary for willing international investors to “open their wallets to a low-carbon future.”

Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, another group that helped to produce the collaborative message, urged countries to move forward with lowering carbon emissions “regardless of what the U.S. administration does,” Reuters reported.

Global leaders are meeting in Bonn, Germany May 8-18 to discuss specifics of the climate agreement and prepare for COP 23: the Bonn Climate Change Conference, in November. Also, the governments of the G7 will meet at a summit in Italy May 25-26, while leaders of the Group of 20 will meet in Germany in July.

CNBC explained U.S. officials will meet Tuesday to discuss the possible withdrawal from, or alteration of, the U.S.’s commitment to the Paris accord.

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