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Ecological News

WY Legislature Passes Sneaky End-of-Session ALEC Bill Criminalizing Enviro, Pipeline Protests

Environews.tv - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 14:37

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/031618-wy-legislature-passes-sneaky-end-session-alec-bill-criminalizing-enviro-pipeline-protests/"; reddit_title = "WY Legislature Passes Sneaky End-of-Session ALEC Bill Criminalizing Enviro, Pipeline Protests"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Wyoming) — Cheyenne, Wyoming — EDITOR’S UPDATE: In a surprising move, It was announced that Governor Matt Mead has vetoed this controversial bill, and lawmakers were unable to gather the necessary votes to overturn the veto. The original story on SF0074 is below:

As the Wyoming legislative session came to a close on March 10, 2018, Senate File 0074 (SF0074), also called the “Critical Infrastructure Bill,” sponsored by State Senator Leland Christensen (R — Teton County), passed the Wyoming House with a vote of 36-23. Called “perhaps the most hotly debated bill in the session” by the Jackson Hole News and Guide (JHNG), the bill levies heavy fines between $1,000 and $100,000 against anyone caught knowingly trespassing on, or impeding access to, “critical infrastructure” sites. The monetary penalties will also be accompanied by up to 10 years in jail.

“[The Critical Infrastructure Bill] targets unarmed, peaceful protestors at oil and gas pipelines, dams, and trans-basin water diversions,’’ wrote the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) in a Facebook post.

In the first version of the bill, fines would have been much greater — between $10,000 and $1,000,000. Non-profits, including the Powder River Basin Resource Council, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Wyoming Outdoor Council and the AFL-CIO, complained alleging First Amendment violations, which convinced the Legislature to amend the bill. That was one of at least 10 amendments required to get the bill to pass the House.

“This was where the big fight came down to in the House,” Rep. Andy Schwartz (D — Teton) told the JHNG. “All the ranchers were saying, ‘I’ve got critical infrastructure on my property and this bill is so badly written I don’t know what I can and can’t do.’ What if you’ve got a pipeline running through your property and 1,000 head of cattle. What happens if the cows damage something?”

Infrastructure sites protected by the bill include pipelines, power plants, refineries, railroad tracks, water treatment and telecommunication facilities. The bill has now moved on to Governor Matt Mead, who opponents are encouraging to veto the bill.

“We need to tighten up security on these facilities significantly,” Christensen told the JHNG. “As a nationwide provider of electricity, oil, and gas, an attack on these facilities could have national repercussions that would greatly affect Wyoming’s economy.”

Co-sponsor, State Senator Ogden Driskill (R — Devils Tower), told the Casper Star Tribune he couldn’t remember any attacks on “critical infrastructure,” but he believes that Wyoming is vulnerable, citing current trespassing laws with fines between $250 and $700, as being too weak to deter acts of sabotage.

Opponents of the bill see SF0074 as a way to keep people from protesting and as a reaction to North Dakota’s Standing Rock demonstration over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Its provision targeting organizations that support protests could make NGOs less likely to send supplies to protestors.

According to Wyofile, Christensen said business interests and national law enforcement groups proposed the bill. However, Wyofile points out “Its language mirrors model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).” One of ALEC’s bills has the same structure and wording as much of SF0074, including the title “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act.” According to Counterpunch, “two of the bill sponsors of SF0074, Republican [State] Senators Eli Bebout and Nathan Winters, are ALEC members.”

“What’s raising red flags for us is that it goes beyond to try and chill free speech or rope organizations into being vulnerable to some kind of unjust accusation we would have to defend against,” Jill Morrison, an organizer with the Powder River Basin Resource Council told the Casper Star Tribune.

In an email, Sierra Club Wyoming Chapter Director Connie Wilbert wrote, the bill is “explicitly designed to crush public opposition to projects like the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, by preventing the kind of protests that occurred at Standing Rock.”

The bill was sent out of committee after an unusual deadline extension, which many in the legislature didn’t even know was possible and thought made “a mockery of the democratic system” according to the JHNG. SF0074 first passed the Wyoming Senate with a 25-5 vote before it went to the House.

The post WY Legislature Passes Sneaky End-of-Session ALEC Bill Criminalizing Enviro, Pipeline Protests appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Utah Tribes Demand Cabinet Position, Lawmaker Breaks into Tears over Mistreatment of Natives

Environews.tv - Mon, 03/12/2018 - 17:09

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/031218-utah-tribes-demand-cabinet-position-lawmaker-breaks-tears-mistreatment-natives/"; reddit_title = "Utah Tribes Demand Cabinet Position, Lawmaker Breaks into Tears over Mistreatment of Natives"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Amidst frustration over a recent lack of progress on Native American concerns, several tribal leaders aligned with representatives of the Utah House Minority in an effort to advance the discussion. Their demand was simple: they want to see the Director of Utah’s Division of Indian Affairs (UDIA), Shirlee Silversmith, elevated to a full gubernatorial cabinet position, “rather than [just] a secondary level position.”

Alongside other tribal leaders, Virgil Johnson, an elder from the Goshute tribe in western Utah, spoke of parity between tribes and state government, and as an example, pointed to places like Washington, Nebraska and New Mexico where gubernatorial cabinet-level positions already exist.

In the past, Utah’s Division of Indian Affairs has administered educational programs, housing assistance, and economic development in cooperation with the federal government, to address the specific needs and concerns of Utah’s Native people. At the March 6 press conference, a coalition of advocacy groups, including the League of Native American Voters, Utah Diné Bikéyah and the Utah Tribal Association, joined in the effort as well — all hoping to increase the power of Native voices in Utah’s government.

While endorsing more involvement and management interaction, Representative Mark Wheatley, (Democrat – Murray, SL County) explained his own history with the Utah Native American Consortium of the early 70’s. Wheatley called for a cabinet-level position; just like exists in other western states. “It is shameful that we have individuals living, in my terms, in third-world conditions,” he said. Wheatley is a member of the Utah House Native American Legislative Liaison Committee.

Joining Wheatley from the Minority block, Representative Susan Duckworth (Democrat — Western SL County) was moved to tears by what she described as a special relationship with her Native friends, adding she felt a “quiet reverence” when in their presence. She described the cabinet role proposal as recognition that’s been “a long-time coming” and endorsed the idea completely.

Moroni Benally, Co-Founder of the League of Native American Voters, told EnviroNews Utah that the tribes in the state believe Governor Gary Herbert’s (R) office is open to a conversation about reorganizing the Division of Native American Affairs. He also expects, a joint standing committee will hold some “reasonable and rational discussions” toward this goal during the legislature’s interim study. Gavin Noyes, Executive Director of the Utah Diné Bikéyah also stood in solidarity with the other advocates at the press event.

Recent frustrations for tribes in the West, and particularly in Utah, include a downsizing of the Obama Administration’s Bears Ears National Monument, created in December, 2017, and located in southeastern Utah near tribal reservations in the Four Corners area. By way of an executive order, President Donald Trump has ordered his Interior Department to reduce the monument by roughly 85 percent. That move is being challenged in court by environmental groups and several tribes.

Tribes throughout the US desire a greater voice in legislative and executive branches of government. An order in Federal District Court is presently re-districting the political boundaries in San Juan County, Utah (one of the state’s poorest), where Native voters say they have been underrepresented for decades.


Trump Just Shrank Grand Staircase-Escalante Ntl. Monument and He’s Already Been Sued, Bigly

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Salt Lake City, Utah – Only hours after Donald Trump announced his administration would be significantly shrinking the boundaries for much of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah, environmental groups filed a lawsuit, naming President Donald J. Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan…

Carol Surveyor: Challenging Rep. Chris Stewart, Aiming to Become 1st Native American Congresswoman Ever

(EnviroNews Utah) – Salt Lake City, Utah – On July 21, 2017, at an LBGTQ bar called the “Sun Trap” in Salt Lake City, Carol Surveyor announced her candidacy for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District. She runs as a Democrat, and if elected, will be the first Native American…

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

(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…

Center For Biological Diversity Petition on Bears Ears, Grand Staircase, Growing Like Wildfire

(EnviroNews World News) – PETITION WATCH: The Center For Biological Diversity (the Center) launched an online petition, after President Donald Trump announced the largest national monument rollback in U.S. history on December 4, 2017, before a mostly Republican crowd in Salt Lake City, Utah. If successfully implemented, the…

10 of 12 National Park Service Board Members Resign in Protest, Interior Smears Them for Not Stopping Sexual Harassment

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) delivered an acrimonious attack directed at the members of the nonpartisan National Park Service Advisory Board (NPSAB) who resigned en masse after concluding their “requests to engage have been ignored.” Board meetings…

The post Utah Tribes Demand Cabinet Position, Lawmaker Breaks into Tears over Mistreatment of Natives appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

A call for making Minimum Support Price (MSP) for procuring crops legally binding.

Ground Reality - Fri, 03/09/2018 - 11:17

For the past two weeks, farmers in the Durg district in Chhattisgarh have been dumping tomatoes on to the streets. In just one village – Parsuli in Durg district -- an estimated 100 quintals has been either fed to cattle or left to rot in the crop fields. After a relatively better marketing season that lasted till the first week of January, retail prices have been continuously on the decline. 
Far away, farmers in Erode district in Tamil Nadu are a worried lot. The retail price of cabbage has crashed. Against a price of Rs 12/kg last year, farmers are getting on an average Re 1 per kg. In Chhattisgarh too, tomato prices have crashed leaving farmers in the lurch. Not fetching more than Rs 1 to 2 per kg, farmers have simply abandoned the tomato harvest. The deplorable price they are getting in the market is not even enough to meet the plucking and harvesting cost. 
This is primarily because of higher production. Whether it is cabbage, tomato, potato, onions or for that matter any other crop, the higher the production, less is the price. A higher production enables the middlemen to form cartels and manipulate the prices often to the extent of exploitation. Admitting that it is because of over production, T Rajaganesh, a farmer from Erode district asks: “Farmers spend at least 45,000 per acre a month to cultivate cabbage. Add to it the cost of labour, maintenance and fertiliser, and the cost shoots up to more than 50,000 a month. Since it takes almost three months to yield, we have to spend at least 1.5 lakh per acre before harvesting. How can we realise profit with a farmgate price of 1 per kg?”
In the case of tomato too, average cost of production comes to about Rs 90,000 to Rs 1 lakh per acre for small farmers. For the big farms, the production cost is a little higher, at Rs 1.25 lakh per acre. Till the first week of January, when I travelled to meet tomato farmers in Durg district, the prices were much better, about Rs 1000 per crate of 25 kg. But with the advent of tomato crop from Karnataka, the supplies swelled, and prices slumped.
Now, let’s take the case of chana. The fresh arrivals have begun to arrive in the markets. According to news reports, chanaprices are ruling at about Rs 3,600 per quintal against the Minimum Support price (MSP) of Rs 4,400 per quintal, a drop in 20 per cent in the retail price. With the production expected to increase to 10 million tonnes this (from 9.33 million tonnes last year) on account of an 8 per cent increase in the area sown, prices are further expected to dip with arrivals picking up. Even wheat price has remained below the MSP by 6 to 8 per cent in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh where early crop harvest hit the mandis.
In February last week, market price for tur dal was ruling at Rs 4,500 per quintal against the procurement price of Rs 5,500 at Tandur market in Telengana. In the first week of March, prices of mustard and pulses in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh were ruling much below the officially announced MSP. Meanwhile, reports of tomato being dumped on the streets in Chhattisgarh have again poured in. This is the third year in a row when tomato prices have crashed to Re 1 per kg. In fact, this is the third year in a row when prices of almost all the agricultural commodities have crashed across the country. After two years of back-to-back drought in 2014 and 2015, production had picked up after a favourable monsoon season in 2016, 2017 and now in 2018. While the increase in production has brought cheers to the government, the drop in prices has added to the misery of farmers.
It is here that I see the relevance of a very timely suggestion made by Dr T N Prakash, chairman of the Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission. Delivering an endowment lecture at Mysuru, he called for making the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of crops to be legally binding. He said: “Consumers have legal protection if produce is sold above the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) and can approach the courts, but even after 70 years of independence, farmers don’t have similar protection.”
For the third year in a row, prices of almost all the commodities are ruling 20 to 45 per cent lower than the MSP in various parts of the country. At times of glut, traders have ruthlessly exploited farmers. Even the introduction of Unified Market Platform in Karnataka, which led to the expansion of 585 eNAM (National Agricultural Market) throughout the country, farmers have not gained. The concept of model price, which is based on the average of day’s trading, is in reality a distress price and needs to be dispensed with. eNAM in reality is a nationwide platform being created to make it profitable for spot trading.
In addition to 23 crops for which the MSP is announced every year, my suggestion is to direct the State Governments to work out the MSP for highly perishable commodities like tomato, potato, onion, and veggies. Many states already have State Farmers Commission, which has more or less become retiring rooms for political appointees. The immediate need therefore is to convert them into State Agricultural Prices Commission, with the mandate to provide higher income to farmers, similar to that in Karnataka. If Karnataka can ensure procurement of 14 crops at prices that are much higher than the MSP announced by the Centre, I see no reason why other states cannot rise above the Cong-BJP charade to follow the trend. #
Categories: Ecological News

WY Oil Co. Clearing Final Hurdles in Preparation to Drill Pristine Bridger-Teton National Forest

Environews.tv - Wed, 03/07/2018 - 17:27

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/030718-wy-oil-co-clearing-final-hurdles-preparation-drill-pristine-bridger-teton-national-forest/"; reddit_title = "WY Oil Co. Clearing Final Hurdles in Preparation to Drill Pristine Bridger-Teton National Forest"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Wyoming) — Casper, Wyoming — In February 2018, the Deputy Forest Supervisor of Bridger-Teton National Forest released a set of guidelines and requirements for a proposed oil and gas drilling project within the Forest’s borders. True Oil LLC, a Casper, Wyoming-based petroleum company, wants to explore about eight square miles of land for a project known as the “Lander Peak Proposal,” which is slated to include road construction, drilling and pipeline building as early as this year.

Despite a local news publication reporting on February 28 that True Oil had already been given the green light, Lisa McGee, Executive Director of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, a group that objects to the project, told EnviroNews no final decision notice has been issued. She added that the park district ranger informed her that the news reports were premature and inaccurate. However, the decision is expected this month and a Forest Service press release states that once stipulations are met, “True Oil may begin work on their exploratory activities on their two well pads.”

“True Oil is seeking to expand development in one of the best native cutthroat trout fisheries on national forest land in the entire country,” McGee said. While she approves of the new conditions, which include a requirement for baseline water-quality testing and a prohibition on diesel fracking fluids, she said, “As managers of lands all Americans own and value for multiples uses, the Forest Service could have done more to safeguard these uses.” She said she and her co-objectors will encourage additional changes be made to the approval and potential mining process, stating, “An adequate reclamation bond would be a good start.” Reclamation bonds are aimed at assuring land altered by mining will be returned to its original state.

Objections to the Lander Peak project were formally placed by The Wyoming Outdoor Council, The Wilderness Society, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Trout Unlimited and the owners of the nearby High Lonesome and Cottonwood Ranches. In their letters, these parties cited concerns about the project’s impacts on the environment and local infrastructure. The first three groups also stated in their shared objection that the Forest Service “impermissibly limited the scope of the [environmental assessment] to two wells.”

They point to a three-phase master development plan (MDP), submitted for approval by True Oil in 2010, for 40 gas wells. This MDP would start with two exploratory wells and then expand if those wells show promise. But, True Oil later withdrew that plan and submitted environmental assessments (EA) for approval on only the first two wells.

“The Forest Service complied with the request — despite public comments in 2012 and 2015 urging it to acknowledge the MDP in its analysis — and prepared an environmental assessment for just the two wells,” the groups wrote in May 2017. They suggested the Forest Service require a full-scale environmental impact statement (EIS) “that acknowledges the company’s full-field [MDP].”

In response to the objections, Derek Ibarguen, Deputy Forest Supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, issued a letter to the Big Piney district ranger outlining a series of conditions and tasks to be completed before the final decision notice is issued for True Oil. These include requirements for the inspection of equipment for invasive aquatic species, spraying for invasive plants, a road-maintenance plan, pipeline pressure tests and a prohibition of using diesel-based fracking fluids.

“Discussions during the objection process have resulted in a number of improvements to the project,” Big Piney District Ranger Don Kranendonk said.

While Wyoming’s 2009 Range Legacy Act generally forbids new oil and gas explorations in the Bridger-Teton portion of the Wyoming Range, the 4,800-acre Lander Peak leases were grandfathered in because they were issued in 1969. In 2013, the Trust for Public Land purchased and retired a series of similar preexisting energy leases owned by Plains Exploration & Production Company in the Wyoming Range.

True Oil has had three natural gas wells in production in Bridger-Teton since the 80s and another was drilled in 2001. In January 2017, the Forest Service decided to permanently protect Bridger-Teton from oil and gas drilling. However, along with being pre-leased, the Lander Peak area was not part of the areas protected in 2017.

If True Oil later seeks to punch more wells and resubmit an MDP, it will be subject to an additional National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, which could include a full EIS.


The Bison Herds of the Magnificent Grand Tetons

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – We’ve taken notice lately that the EnviroNews national newsfeed has been a bit gloomy and has been comprised of mostly gutsy environmental “trench warfare”, and heated protests over nasty industrial source polluters. Take a break from the doom and gloom of the everyday environmental battles…

The post WY Oil Co. Clearing Final Hurdles in Preparation to Drill Pristine Bridger-Teton National Forest appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

800 Students, Grades 5-12, Shake the Walls at Utah State Capitol over Hazardous Air Pollution

Environews.tv - Wed, 03/07/2018 - 03:19

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/030618-students-grades-5-12-shake-walls-utah-state-capitol-hazardous-air-pollution/"; reddit_title = "800 Students, Grades 5-12, Shake the Walls at Utah State Capitol over Hazardous Air Pollution"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Marching to the state capitol in Salt Lake City on a beautiful but chilly, pre-spring day, more than 800 students from campuses like Rowland Hall (one hour, three minutes, one-way on foot) the Madeleine Choir School (seventeen minutes, one-way), the McGillis School and Judge Memorial Catholic High School, brought pickets, speeches and song, as they converged on the State Capitol on Monday, March 5, to tell Utah lawmakers they’ve had enough bad air days. The event was titled, Utah Students for Clean Air Rally.

Besides offering scientific evidence to back up their demands, they also added some unique perspectives during the last week of this year’s state legislative session. “As a kid, I’m going to be breathing the bad air longer than all of the adults here, unless we start cleaning it up,” said Milo Shaw, age 12, of the Madeline Choir School. He called on Utah lawmakers to put funding into a wood-fired heater exchange program that aims to reduce particulate pollution during winter days.

For students like Milo, each “red air day” advisory for the Wasatch Front comes with mandatory confinement indoors to avoid exposure to Utah’s toxic air when it becomes trapped by atmospheric inversions and the mountainous bowl surrounding the Salt Lake Valley. Young lungs and airways reside at the very bottom of the poisonous soup – a cocktail containing nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter (PM 2.5). These substances, along with many others, collect when winter air is heavy and still, begetting a dangerous and even deadly environment.

After arriving and assembling in the Capitol Rotunda, the student speakers, along with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and state Representative Patrice Arent (D), were introduced by Brian Moench, MD, Founder of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE). As an anesthesiologist at the University of Utah Medical Center, Dr. Moench has been instrumental in exposing the medical hazards of the Beehive State’s noxious air, and he explained his views on additional public health problems that have gone unaddressed by state and federal lawmakers.

Utah has long-suffered from poor air quality and activists have been stymied recurrently by the manufacturing, mining and refining lobbies, in a state where lawmakers receive most of their election funds from special interests. Governor Gary Herbert (R) himself was called out last year for accepting more than $18,000 in campaign contributions from the coal industry. EnviroNews wanted to know what has changed in the past five years since this issue boiled to the surface, nowadays even being compared to the hideous air in Beijing. Dr. Moench asked the student mob why they were in school to begin with. He then suggested it was because they were there to learn and then went on to let them know that “by coming [there] today, they [were] making the world a better place for [themselves], for [their] family, for [their] city and for [their] state.”

Dr. Moench told the students that pollution affects the proper function of their lungs, heart, and even their brain, the organ most crucial for becoming an effective learner. He compelled them to contact their lawmakers and gave them the phone number to do it. Meanwhile, students called upon all adults to either get busy on the issue or to get out of their way.

Jessica, of Judge Memorial Catholic High School, expressed her concern as an asthma patient like 25 million others in the country. She pointed out that chronic Pulmonary obstruction disease affects 4% of Utah’s population, including people who have never used tobacco. She told the assembled audience that her research has informed her understanding that pollution, especially pervasive in the air, causes pre-term deliveries, low birth weigh, stillbirths and other avoidable complications in expecting mothers.

“People 65 years of age or older now have a higher chance of heart attacks and lung disease,” Jessica continued. She went on to say that care for the environment was a Christian value that should be addressed not just on Sunday but “lived every day.”

Olivia, age 11, from Salt Lake City’s Madeleine Choir School declared that the young generation was being denied a common resource, that of clean air, and that the students were at the Capitol on this day “not to ask, but to demand action and accountability now.” She went on to ask how all the adults have failed in making the world she is growing up in and inheriting, better for her and her generation.

Utah policymakers have not addressed specific clean air bills to this point in their 45-day legislative session, but under the leadership of a former Utah Transit Authority (UTA) board member and the retiring Speaker of the House of Representatives, the state is overhauling its approach to transit, including the adoption of more electric mass transit from the 2017 session. Last November, Governor Herbert announced that the UTA Board would be revised and that a new Transit Commission would replace the former Board. In addition, Speaker Greg Hughes declared on KSL Radio that the changes would completely overhaul the way that transportation is considered in the Beehive State.

Utah doctors like Brian Moench and the next generation of researchers, health advocates, administrators and new physicians are becoming experts in the comprehension of environmental threats to public health. They say that previous policy in Utah has been killing people and making them sick and that the epidemiology is clear even if the air is not.

The post 800 Students, Grades 5-12, Shake the Walls at Utah State Capitol over Hazardous Air Pollution appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

It is important for farmers to understand the MSP arithmetic

Ground Reality - Mon, 03/05/2018 - 12:17

Not getting the right price, dairy farmers spill milk on the street as a mark of protest.
Addressing the 5th National Convention of Farmer Leaders, which concluded at Chandigarh recently, I asked farmers whether they would be satisfied if the wheat price was to be raised by Rs 150 per quintal as per their demand of providing 50 per cent profit over the cost of production.
The answer was a resounding No.
A farmer got up and asked: “Sir, please clarify. You are saying that if wheat MSP is increased by Rs 150 per quintal it will meet our demand of implementing the Swaminathan Commission recommendation. But as per our calculations, raising the wheat price by one and a half time over the cost of production would bring the wheat price to over Rs 3,500 per quintal.” 
I was certainly taken by surprise at this new set of calculations that was presented. This only showed how misinformation was being spread around. Later, I learnt that some farmer leaders had been going around telling farmers that the demand of MSP plus 50 per cent would translate into a price of Rs 3,625 per quintal.
Since it is mired in technical details, I know it becomes rather difficult for majority farmers to understand the how the MSP is worked out. The three abbreviations –- A2, A2+FL and C2 – that are floating around are certainly not easy to comprehend. I therefore decided to simply it for them to easily grasp. I told them that whatever you spend on cultivating a crop, like fertiliser, pesticides, seed, and cost of hiring tractors etc is computed and is placed under the head of A2 cost. This also includes the labour a farmer employs. In simple words, it is the actual cost a farmer undertakes. In addition, a farmer’s family is also engaged in the crop operations and this is calculated separately under the head of family labour, called FL. When we add family labour of a farmer to the actual cost he has incurred in cultivation, it becomes A2+FL.
According to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which works out the MSP for 23 crops every year, the A2 plus FL cost of wheat comes to Rs 817 per quintal. Since the MSP this year has been announced at Rs 1,735 per quintal, the government claims it is already paying farmers a profit of 112 per cent over the actual cost a farmer undertakes, including his family labour.  
Now there is something called as C2 cost. This is the comprehensive cost which in addition to A2+FL also includes the rental value of the land and the interest on farmers own assets. According to CACP, this has been computed at Rs 1,256 per quintal for wheat. But since the MSP has been announced at Rs 1,735 per quintal for this year, it means that over the C2 cost the government is already paying a profit of 38 per cent. On the other hand, farmer unions are demanding 50 per cent over the cost of production. In other words, farmers are demanding 50 per cent more over the C2 cost of Rs 1,265 per quintal, which comes to Rs 1,884 per quintal. If you deduct Rs 1,735 from Rs 1,884, it comes to Rs 149 to be exact. Rounding this figure, I had earlier said that all that the government needs to do is to raise the wheat price by another Rs 150 per quintal, and the farmers demand would be met.
But would that satisfy farmers, the answer is no.
While it is true that even the UPA government had been paying higher profit than this, I think the time has come when we should move away from price policy to income policy. Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the wheat MSP was higher by 125 per cent, barley by 110 per cent and gram 105 per cent. So the question that needs to be asked is what the big deal when the government says it is providing a higher profit. That even the UPA government had been doing, but it never made that kind of a claim. Again, if I ask farmers I am sure they would reject this so called increase in procurement price that the government claims as anywhere near the actual cost of production they incur.
That the MSP is less than the actual cost of production for various crops, and in different regions, is well known. The cost of cultivation of wheat in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh is certainly higher than the cost in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Since the prices are averaged before being announced, invariably Punjab farmers have been at the receiving end. In Haryana, for instance, the cost of production as worked out by the Haryana Agricultural University was Rs 2,219 per quintal. The MSP that was announced by the Centre was Rs 1,625 per quintal, which means for every quintal sold, a farmer suffered a loss of Rs 594 a quintal. 

The ‘one size fits all’ approach has already inflicted heavy damage by way of reduced farm incomes to farmers in progressive states. It is here that I see the role of Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission, which has forced the State government to procure 19 crops, at procurement prices it has fixed, to be a very significant development. Other states too need to follow the trend. 

Just to give you an idea, a study done by Prof R S Ghuman for the Punjab Government had worked out that between 1997 and 2007, Punjab farmers incurred a loss of Rs 62,000-crore by being denied their rightful income. Interestingly, if this is the economic loss farmers incur in a state where more than 90 per cent wheat is procured at the officially declared MSP, imagine the loss farmers are suffering in other states.
Another report submitted by the Punjabi University concludes that every third farmer in Punjab is below the poverty line. In other words, even in a progressive state where more than 90 per cent wheat is procured which means farmers get the benefit of MSP, a third of the farming community is somehow surviving below poverty levels. Most of the 16,000 farmers and farm workers who committed suicide in the past 17 years, between 2000 and 2017, fall in this category.
I think it is very important for farmers to understand the MSP arithmetic. Unless they know how they are being taken for a ride with very clever jumbling of figures, they will never be able to understand how they have been deliberately kept impoverished all these years. And unless they understand the economic jigsaw, they will never be able to stand up and ask the right questions. #
Categories: Ecological News

Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk

Environews.tv - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 15:36

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/022718-wild-horses-may-hold-solution-slowing-spread-fatal-chronic-wasting-disease-deer-elk/"; reddit_title = "Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Colorado) — A Colorado State University scientist is investigating the role wild horses may play in slowing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a 100 percent fatal and contagious brain-destroying infection, ravaging the country’s deer and elk herds.

The findings take on increased significance considering recent research by Canadian and German scientists who found that the dreaded prion disease is easily transmitted to cynomolgus macaques (Macaca cynomolgus). Genetically speaking, this monkey is the closest thing to humans that can be used in laboratory research. Last year, Health Canada (the country’s equivalent to the Centers for Disease Control) issued a health advisory, warning that the “most prudent approach is to consider that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”

Making the situation even bleaker, the first cases of CWD were recently diagnosed in Montana and an explosion of the disease in other herds around the country, even the notion of a mitigating technique is welcome.

But can wild horse really help slow the spread of this deadly disease across the vast landscapes of the West? We explore that proposition below, but first a little background on the prion itself.

Prions: The Unkillable Killer

Prions (pronounced: \ˈprī-än\, or pree-on) are malformed proteins that cause abnormal folding of certain otherwise normal proteins in the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Lacking a cell nucleus, a prion is not a bacteria or a virus, nor is it even alive — though it behaves much like a living, reproducing pathogen.

Prion diseases include transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) in cattle, “scrapie” in sheep, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

First discovered in Colorado in 1967 in captive mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), CWD has since spread to wild and captive cervids including mule deer, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), moose (Alces alces shirasi) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Thus far, the infected animals span the U.S., two Canadian provinces, Norway, and South Korea.

Captive Elk With Chronic Wasting Disease at the Sybille Wildlife Research Unit

Symptoms of the “zombie deer disease” include severe weight loss (wasting), stumbling, and listlessness, with the disease eventually leading to death in all cases. The spread of the sickness has exploded in cervids throughout the West over the past decade, with about one-half of Colorado’s deer herds and one-third of its elk herds believed to now be infected.

CWD spreads through animal-to-animal contact and the contamination of food sources. Humans can increase the dispersal through the transportation of live animals, infected carcasses or contaminated crops; products made with cervid urine, saliva, or feces; and wildlife management practices that cluster animals together, such as federal and state agencies baiting and rounding up elk into wintertime herds.

Testing a Deer for Chronic Wasting Disease

While a single case of CWD has yet to be found in humans, the CDC and other government agencies recommend that hunters take precautions when dressing deer and to test meat before eating. Disturbingly, prion illnesses can incubate in the human body for several decades before manifesting symptoms.

For years, Dr. Mark Zabel, Associate Director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, has been trying to stop the spread of CWD. In a phone interview with EnviroNews, he said studies have shown that horses are “atypically resistant” to prions and that there has “never been any case of naturally occurring horse prion disease.”

Good News for Horses, But What About Deer and Elk?

Zabel said he has “pretty strong evidence” he hopes to publish this year demonstrating that one of the most common ways for CWD to spread is when cervids browse on vegetation contaminated from infected saliva, urine, and feces. Hence, he said it’s possible that horses can consume some of the CWD-tainted material and “interrupt that indirect transmission of CWD prions from cervid to cervid.”

There are of course many obstacles to this plan, the most obvious being whether horses could even make a dent in the sheer amount of contaminated vegetation in the forest and whether the resulting ecosystem impacts would outweigh any benefits. Another hitch is that after consuming the prions, the horses would just release them back into the environment in their manure.

Wild Horses in Wyoming — Photo: Images by Ottilia

While acknowledging the limitations of the proposal, Zabel said that, “As prions traverse through the alimentary tract of an animal… the titers decrease.” What that means is, even though the prions would still be present in a horse’s manure, after it digests them, they would be far less concentrated, as well as sequestered in a substance cervids have no interest in browsing.

With his expectations firmly in check, Zabel is curious to find out if “[by tweaking] the indirect transmission just a little bit… [if] those processes would be enough to interrupt the indirect transmission of prions, and [if] that might be enough to stop the spread across the landscape into new areas.” He has applied for funding to test the hypothesis.

If Horses Can Put a Damper on CWD Prions, What Then?

As of March 2017, a total of 59,483 wild horses (Equus ferus) roam free on public lands across 10 western states, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Since the 1971 passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM has managed these creatures through sterilization and by setting population limits in herd management areas (HMA) to “protect scarce and fragile resources in the arid West and ensure healthy animals.”

Additional specimens are rounded up and kept in pens or sold. The BLM currently houses 44,493 horses in off-range pastures, corrals, and sanctuaries and removes thousands more from the wild every year, with anywhere from half to the majority of the creatures getting adopted, though advocates offer evidence of some horses being sold for slaughter.

Wild Horse on the Western Landscape — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Author and wild horse advocate William Simpson told EnviroNews in a phone interview that he wants the BLM to release captured wild horses into the forest to gobble up vegetation that may be contaminated with prions and reduce wildfire fuels, the way he’s doing on his WildHorse Ranch in the Cascade-Siskiyou region of Northern California.

Does The Wild Horse Belong on the American Landscape?

Most studies estimate wild horses, along with dozens of other species of megafauna, such as giant sloths, wooly mammoths, and saber-tooth tigers, disappeared from North America around twelve thousand years ago — the most likely extinction culprits being rapid warming and overhunting.

Some scientists, such as Ross Macphee, curator of the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, claim that domestic horses contain much of the same genetics as their wild ancestors, with other studies corroborating that evidence.

Wild Horses Battling for Position — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Wild horse advocates assert that returning the animals to their ancestral range, including the forest, makes ecological sense. Indeed, a 2017 study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution concluded that wild horses likely lived in “post-glacial forests,” a finding backed by several other studies.

“Horses have evolved on this biome, so putting them out there is just reintroduction of a proven native species,” said Simpson, adding that this method is the only one “that [would allow] scientists to study wild native horses in their environment, abating the prion problem.”

For Simpson, it’s not only about prion mitigation. He argues wild horses can also cut back on vegetation responsible for fueling California’s recent large wildfires, though a recent body of science points to climate, rather than fuels, as the main driver.

Wild Horse — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Gary MacFarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater in Moscow, Idaho, maintains that releasing horses in public forests would do more harm than good. “I think [the introduction of horses is] kind of a manipulation of the national forests and I don’t think it’s right, especially in wilderness [areas],” MacFarlane said in a phone interview with EnviroNews. “The idea of wilderness is to have a few places where we decide not to consciously exert our will and let nature roll the dice.”

Though CWD has yet to be found in free-roaming deer or elk in Idaho, MacFarlane is concerned about the spread. However, informed by his degree in range management and the interaction between animals and the vegetation they eat, he points to what he believes to be the root cause of CWD’s spread: “[the] North American wildlife management model.”

MacFarlane asserts that over the last century, state fish and game agencies focused so heavily on propagating game species that they “didn’t look at the unintended consequences.”

Wild Horse on Western Landscape — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Combined with development and grazing that have reduced available habitat, an increasing number of deer have been forced to congregate in the few remaining winter ranges, MacFarlane explained. And it’s in those ranges that the highest disease transmission likely occurs.

Other than Simpson’s ranch and Zabel’s still unfunded proposal, there are no concrete schemes to introduce wild horses onto the land for the purpose of prion abatement or fuel reduction, and certainly not in national forests or wilderness areas.

Wild Horse — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Even if the horse angle is unfeasible, as CWD continues to spread like wildfire, perhaps Zabel’s research will open other doors that might lead to a solution.

All of the excellent photographs of wild horses featured in this article were provided by Images by Ottilia. You may visit their Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/ohmphotos/


HEALTH ADVISORY: Venison, Elk May No Longer Be Safe to Eat – Study: Deadly Chronic Wasting Disease Could be Moving to Humans

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Alberta, Canada – Early results from an ongoing study testing human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic among deer and elk, has led Health Canada to warn “that CWD has the potential to infect humans.” Chronic wasting disease is an…

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…

PRION BOMBS! – Physicians Group Says Stericycle Undoubtedly Releasing Deadly Prions and Radiation

(EnviroNews Utah) – PRION: a word that many have never even heard before, but little do they know that this deadly and virulent “pest” may be lurking right on their dinner plate, or inside their cute little pets Fluffy and Rover, or even right in dear ol’ Gramma’s…

Dr. Tyler Yeates MD Calls Out Stericycle For Incinerating Deadly Brain-Attacking Prions Into the Environment – Stericycle Owns Up to it

(EnviroNews Utah) – North Salt Lake City – In a shocking admission Thursday night at a heated town hall meeting, a VP from Stericycle has admitted that the company is allowed to accept and burn deadly and arguably indestructible brain-destroying prions at its North Salt Lake incineration facility…

Dr. Brian Moench of UPHE Discusses the Potentially Deadly Burning of Prions by Stericycle Medical Incinerator

(EnviroNews Utah) – Following Stericycle’s simply flabbergasting admission last Thursday night where they acknowledged that they are allowed to accept and burn deadly and largely indestructible prions, protestors took to the streets outside one of the country’s last standing hazardous medical waste incineration plants. Prions are the malformed…

Amy Uchida, 4th Year Medical Student at the U of U, is Asked About Stericycle’s Incineration of Deadly Prions

(EnviroNews Utah) – According to documents on the Department of Environmental Quality website, Stericycle’s permit needs to be renewed by August 19, 2013. The company’s current permit expires on Feb. 19, 2014. Regg Olsen is listed as the contact at the Department of Air Quality (DAQ) in charge…

The post Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Stunning Report: 170m Americans Now Drinking Radioactive Water — See if Your H20 is Affected

Environews.tv - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 23:07

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/022218-stunning-report-170m-americans-now-drinking-radioactive-water-see-h20-affected/"; reddit_title = "Stunning Report: 170m Americans Now Drinking Radioactive Water — See if Your H20 is Affected"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — More than 170 million Americans, or around 52 percent of the entire population, may be at risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the country’s leading water testing organizations. The EWG published its findings based on a compendium of data collected from over 50,000 public drinking systems nationwide between 2010 and 2015. The report reveals a shocking trend: much of the nation’s drinking water “contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer.”

The EWG reported its findings after President Donald Trump re-nominated Kathleen Hartnett White as head of the White House’s own Council on Environmental Quality. In an interview in 2011, Hartnett White admitted to falsifying data while she was head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), in a scheme to show radiation levels were below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limit in communities where levels actually exceeded those thresholds. She justified the falsification because she said she “[didn’t] believe the science of [radiation-caused] health effects” espoused by the EPA. Hartnett White also said she “placed far more trust” in the work of the TCEQ, which she admitted again in 2017 ignored EPA regulations. While her name has been withdrawn at her own request, many remain concerned about the safety of America’s drinking water.

According to EWG’s research, radium is the most common radioactive element found in U.S. water systems, and the problem is pervasive coast to coast. The non-profit NGO found radium 226 and radium 228 lurking in tap water in all 50 states. The EPA on the other hand, lumps the two isotopes together when measuring. So, in at least one capacity, the EWG went a step further than the federal government in testing America’s water supplies.

Radium is naturally occurring and usually found in drinking water at levels less than one picocurie per liter. The EPA has set the maximum level for safe drinking water at five picocuries per liter. As reported repeatedly by EnviroNews, any exposure to ionizing radiation presents a risk. Radiation is also bioaccumulative, and like many other contaminants, can bioconcentrate its way up the food chain. The EPA classifies all ionizing radiation carcinogenic.

“Radium in drinking water is a nationwide problem, in the same way that radon in homes has become a primary health concern. Although radium in water is often natural, certain industries can exacerbate the problem. Oil and gas production can cause local groundwater contamination by radium,” said Marco Kaltofen in an email to EnviroNews. Kaltofen is the Affiliate Research Engineer for the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program in the Department of Physics at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on radiation in the environment.

About 20% of radium consumed through drinking water is absorbed by the body. Some of that will be excreted through the urinary tract; the rest, the body interprets as calcium, which in turn gets deposited in tissues and bones. Exposure to high levels of alpha radiation, the primary form in radium, for extended periods, may depress the immune system and cause anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, and some types of cancer.

“The most visible human-caused radium problem is at the West Lake Landfill near St. Louis, Missouri. This is an illegal radioactive waste dump where [the] EPA has recently agreed to spend more than $200,000,000 to begin removing some of the radium and other radioactive materials,” said Kaltofen, whose paper about that ongoing crisis is set to be published in the Journal of Applied Radiation and Isotopes soon.

As for the EWG, the group is not impressed with EPA standards, saying that the agency relies on science collected in the 1970s, and is more concerned with the feasibility and cost of removing contaminants from the water system, rather than placing human health first.

Bill Walker, Editor-in-Chief and Vice President with the Environmental Working Group wrote this:

Radiation in tap water is a serious health threat, especially during pregnancy. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limits for several types of radioactive elements in tap water are badly outdated. And President Trump’s nominee to be the White House environment czar rejects the need for water systems to comply even with those outdated and inadequate standards.

The EWG decided that instead of assessing the threat to public health by comparing its data to the “EPA’s 41-year-old legal limits,” that it would instead stack the findings against the “respected and influential” California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment. That agency set health goals in 2006, and maintains separate safety thresholds for both radium 226 and 228 – levels that are “hundreds of times more stringent than the EPA limit for the two isotopes combined.”

For example, where the EPA’s safety limit is five picocuries per liter, the California public health goal for radium 226 is 0.05 picocuries per liter, while for radium 228 it is just 0.019 picocuries per liter. The public health goals set by the California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment are not enforceable by law.

Radium isn’t the only contaminant the EWG found though. The group looked for six different types of radiation, including radon and uranium. The EWG also created a tap water database and interactive map to help citizens learn more about the water quality where they live and to display highlighted areas where radium is a pervasive problem.

EWG Interactive Radium Map

The EWG has been conducting extensive water testing throughout the U.S. for years. In August of 2017, EnviroNews published an article about another EWG study that revealed at least 250 million Americans are also drinking Chromium 6, a.k.a. “the Erin Brockovich carcinogen,” in their tap water. In that article, Robert Colman, a project manager with the EWG, pointed out that the contamination numbers are almost certainly even higher than their research indicated because “water from most smaller utilities and private wells usually is not tested for chromium 6,” leaving people to wonder if that may also be the case for radiation.


Chromium 6, the ‘Erin Brockovich Carcinogen,’ Now in the Drinking Water of 250m Americans, Report Reveals

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – Hexavalent chromium (chromium 6), nicknamed the “Erin Brockovich Carcinogen,” is said to “[cause] cancer when ingested at even extraordinarily low levels.” Created as a byproduct from numerous industrial activities, the substance is now in the drinking water of 250…

St. Louis’ West Lake Landfill: A Runaway, Ticking, Nuclear Time Bomb That Has Residents Terrified (Pt. 3)

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the third 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…

Seaborne Fukushima Radiation Plume Hits West Coast – How the Media Reported it Dangerously Wrong

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – “It is not a question any more: radiation produces cancer, and the evidence is good all the way down to the lowest doses,” says the late Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkley, in his book Nuclear Witnesses: Insiders…

Japan Ships First Seaweed, Farmed 6 Miles from Fukushima Meltdowns, for Human Consumption

(EnviroNews World News) – Fukushima Prefecture, Japan – On February 5, 2018, a mere seven years after a disastrous triple nuclear meltdown, Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is once again harvesting and shipping green laver seaweed as a food product. An article in the Japan Times cited “officials” as having…

Study: Radioactive Hot Particles Still Afloat Throughout Japan Six Years After Fukushima Meltdowns

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Radioactive particles of uranium, thorium, radium, cesium, strontium, polonium, tellurium and americium are still afloat throughout Northern Japan more than six years after a tsunami slammed into the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant causing three full-blown nuclear meltdowns. That was the conclusion reached by…

It’s Finally Here: Radioactive Plume From Fukushima Makes Landfall on America’s West Coast

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Tillamook County, Oregon – Seaborne cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint of Fukushima,” has been detected on US shores for the first time researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) said this month. WHOI is a crowd-funded science seawater sampling project, that has been monitoring…

The post Stunning Report: 170m Americans Now Drinking Radioactive Water — See if Your H20 is Affected appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

The entire banking system has been structured to serve only the rich and powerful

Ground Reality - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 09:45

Courtesy -- IndiaTomorrow.net
For 96-year-old Ramdiya from Kaithal in Haryana, an old age pension of Rs 1,600 he receives every month is his only social security. But for several months now, he is being deprived of his only life line at this advance age. To recover a loan of Rs 50,000 he had taken way back in 2006, the bank has been mercilessly deducting the entire amount from his old age pension that is routed through his bank account.
Ramdiya is not the only beneficiary of the old age pension scheme whose only life line has been suddenly snapped. This is against the banking norms but then that’s the extent of cruelty that the poor and the marginalised sections of the society are subjected to by the banking system. Banks are known to paste the name and photo of the defaulting farmers on notice boards in the tehsil headquarters; recovery agents not only harass but also physically thrash the defaulters; inability to pay back the loans invariably results in seizure of movable and immovable property which is put to auction. I wonder why the same privileges are denied to the corporate defaulters, after all both the farmers as well as the industrialists draw loans from the nationalised banks. Why then different strokes for different class of defaulters.    
The relative ease, with which corporate defaulters have been able to defraud banks, adding on to the piling up of non-performing assets (NPAS) and still getting away without even an idea of remorse, clearly shows how the entire banking system has been structured to serve only the rich and powerful. After all, if Rs 11,400-crore has been fraudulently sucked out of Punjab National Bank (PNB) by Nirav Modi and his associates, and they have very conveniently escaped to safer havens to escape arrests it clearly shows that the fear of banking regulator is only for the aam aadmi. While all kinds of inhuman ways are applied to recover dues from farmers, some recovery tactics even surpassing barbaric norms, the same banks have always refrained from even making the names of corporate defaulter’s public. The Finance Ministry as well as the RBI have time and again pleaded before the Supreme Court not to disclose the names of wilful defaulters saying it will reduce investor’s confidence.
With tacit protection being accorded by the Finance Ministry, no wonder the banks are now saddled with NPAs amounting to a staggering Rs 9.5 lakh crores. On the other hand, the total outstanding farm loan as of Sept 2016 stood at Rs 12.6 lakh crore. But when the farmers demand the outstanding debt to be written-off the mainline economists and policy makers are quick to reach saying that it leads to a moral hazard and will upset the national balance sheet. On the other hand, writing-off corporate bad loans is viewed as economic growth, as the chief economic advisor had once remarked. Even the economic policies therefore provide a escape route for corporate defaulters. They know for sure that their bad debts will be easily written-off in the process to attain economic growth.    
Earlier, the Public Accounts Committee of the parliament had estimated that the total outstanding loans of public sector banks till mar 2017 stood at Rs 6.8-lakh crores.  Out of this, 70 per cent belongs to the corporate sector, whereas only 1 per cent of the defaulters are farmers.  Already, in the past 10 years, Rs 3.60 lakh crore of bad debts has been written off by banks. But what I fail to understand is why none of the corporate chiefs whose companies have defaulted on bank loans have been put through the same strenuous scrutiny and made to undergo the same level of inhuman recovery tactics that farmers are forced to.
In fact, while defaulting farmers are routinely put in jail and are made to pay upfront for jail expenses, company heads escape with huge ‘haircuts’. For instance, Sree Metalick co owed Rs 13,000-crore out of which only 7 per cent was recovered under insolvency resolution process. A Haryana farmer, who had borrowed Rs 6-lakh for laying irrigation pipeline in his crop fields on the other hand was sentenced to two years imprisonment by a district court a few weeks back and also ordered to deposit Rs 9.80 lakh.
If Rs 11,400-crore that Nirav Modi as duped the banks was to be used for farm loan waiver of up to Rs 1.5-lakh per farmer, my estimate is that it could benefit as many as 30-lakh farmers. My estimate is based on Maharashtra government’s claim that its proposed Rs 34,000-crore loan waiver will benefit 89 lakh farmers. A third of Rs 34,000 crore is what Nirav Modi has defrauded the banks with, and using Maharashtra’s calculations, Rs 11,400-crore could have wiped-off bad loans of 30-lakh farmers. Add to this Rs 3,695-crore ‘default’ by Rotomac chief, and another Rs 9,000-crore that Vijay Mallaya ran away with, another set of 30 lakh farmers could have emerged free from the burden of bad loans they carry. In simple words, the massive swindle of public exchequer inflicted by just three captains of Indian industry could have wiped away the tears of over 60 lakh farmers reeling under farm indebtedness. #

The Other side of the PNB fraud. DNA. Feb 21, 2018
Categories: Ecological News

Where is the MSP plus 50% profit that was promised in the budget?

Ground Reality - Sun, 02/18/2018 - 11:31

Some years back I had compared the rise in procurement prices with the rise in incomes of employees in various sectors over a period of 45 years – between 1970 and 2015. The basic objective was to look at income parity between various sectors, to know how farmers had been deliberately denied their rightful income.
What I found was startling. In 1970, the wheat procurement price was Rs 76 per quintal. In 2015, wheat procurement price was is Rs 1450 per quintal, an increase of about 19 times. In the same period, the average basic salary plus DA of central government employees have risen by 110 to 120 times; of school teachers by 280 to 320 times; of college/university teachers by 150 to 170 times; and of mid to high class corporate sector employees by 350 to 1000 times. Interestingly, while the DA alone has risen by 137 per cent of the basic pay for a state government employee/college professor in the past 10 years, while the commitment to pay 50 per cent profit over the cost of production is being manipulated in such a way as to give an illusion of profit. 
When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made another startling revelation in Parliament while presenting Budget 2018 saying that the government has already paid 50 per cent profit over cost for most rabi crops and would be following the trend in the ensuing kharif season I was shocked. Farmers demand for MSP plus 50 per cent profit is derived from Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation. What the Finance Minister announced was instead based on the actual operational cost farmers incur (A2) plus the family labour (FL) of the farming family. This is much lower than what the farmers had been demanding for. That makes me wonder why the policy makers think that inflation does not hit farmers. School fees in the past four decades for instance have risen by 300 times, medical expenses by about 400 to 500 times, and moreover let us not forget a farmer is the only person why sells at wholesale price and buys everything at retail price.
Let’s take the case of wheat. The procurement price for wheat this year stands at Rs 1,735 per quintal. Of which the A2 plus FL cost, which means the total operational costs a farmer undertakes including the cost of fertiliser, pesticides, machinery used, seed etc and then add to it the computed cost of family labour engaged in farming operations, it comes to Rs 817 per quintal. The government is very conveniently considering A2 plus FL as the basic cost over which it claims it is already paying a profit of 112 per cent in the final MSP that it has announced. This is no big deal. Even the UPA government had been paying higher than this. Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the wheat MSP was 125 per cent higher; barley 110 per cent and gram 105 per cent. In other words, farmers are being very cleverly hoodwinked to believe that the government is has started to pay the farm prices according to the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
Nevertheless, in case of wheat, the C2 cost comes to Rs 1,256. When compared to C2 cost, the final MSP of Rs 1735 per quintal is still short of the farmers’ demand of MSP+ 50 per cent profit by Rs 149 per quintal. Similarly, in case of gram, the A2+FL cost comes to Rs 2,461 and the C2 cost is Rs 3,526 per quintal whereas the MSP announced is Rs 4,400 per quintal. In case of gram, C2 cost plus 50 per cent profit would be Rs 5,289 per quintal and what the farmers are getting as MSP comes to Rs 4,400 per quintal, a deficit of Rs 889 per quintal. Farmers are therefore justified in asking where is the 50 per cent profit that was promised over the cost of cultivation. Even at present, gram prices are ruling around Rs 3,200 per quintal against the MSP of Rs 4,400 quintal in the market.
But this is not the way costs are worked out. According to international norms of cost calculations which are well-laid out, the total farm cost also includes the rental value of the land and the interest on farmers own assets. This falls under the category of C2 cost. This is exactly what the farmers had been demanding. In addition, there is a need to add the cost of marketing, warehousing, transportation etc to the C2 cost, which for some strange reasons is not being done. Add another 15 per cent as the managerial cost, the comprehensive cost is computed as C3. The MSP recommendation should be based on C3 calculations. In most cases, the MSP announced is less than the comprehensive cost of production. I therefore agree with former Finance Minister P Chidambaram when he said that cost accountants services should be utilised in working out the farm prices. In fact, I strongly feel the time has come when the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) which fixes the MSP for farmers is headed by Cost Accountants.
Take the case of how cost accountants work out the prices of industrial goods. While farmers are dumping potato onto to streets and even cold store owners are finding it difficult to dispose-off stored potatoes, some popular brands, carrying not more than 52 grams of potato chips, are priced at Rs 20 per pack. In other words, a kilo of potato is processed into chips and sold at Rs 400. Senior Cost Accountants tell me that the actual cost of processing is only a fraction of the final retail price. Whether it is processed foods, medicines or industrial products like automobiles, the retail price offers huge profit margins averaging over 300 to 500 times.
The pricing structure therefore is so designed to keep the farmers deprived of their rightful income. Since any move to fix prices of industrial goods on the basis of A2 cost plus family labour, which is completely justifiable, my suggestion is to move away from the price policy to income policy. It is time to set up a Farmers Income Commission with the mandate to work out a minimum assured income that a farming family must receive. This has become necessary considering that only 6 per cent farmers receive MSP, and the remaining 94 per cent farmers who are dependent upon markets have been exploited ruthlessly. If markets were efficient I see no reason why agrarian crisis should have worsened over the years. #

Categories: Ecological News

Enriched Uranium 235 Found Floating over Alaska — Experts Suspect North Korean Bomb-Making

Environews.tv - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 17:12

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/021718-enriched-uranium-235-found-floating-alaska-experts-suspect-north-korean-bomb-making/"; reddit_title = "Enriched Uranium 235 Found Floating over Alaska — Experts Suspect North Korean Bomb-Making"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Alaska) — A consortium of researchers announced this week that back on August 3, 2016, for the first time in two decades of atmospheric observations by plane, they discovered enriched uranium 235 (U-235) in the troposphere. The submicron aerosol particle, found 7 km (4.3 miles) above Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, appears to have come from Asia. And although the particle may have been small and flying solo, researchers say it is a significant discovery and may point to an undeclared release of the long-lived isotope.

“During 20 years of aircraft sampling of millions of particles in the global atmosphere, we have rarely encountered a particle with a similarly high content of [uranium 238] and never a particle with enriched [uranium 235],” the researchers wrote in their abstract. They used a high-tech, high-altitude NASA WB-57 plane to collect the samples.

Uranium 235 is used in nuclear bombs and reactors. The researchers said the particle, which contained between three and five times more U-235 than would be expected in a naturally occurring compound, was the only one found. Its small size precludes it from coming from any recent nuclear disasters like Fukushima. It is “definitely not from a natural source,” said Dan Murphy, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist and one of the paper’s authors.

Uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element on Earth. But how these scientists know this particular particle isn’t natural is because a typical subdivision of uranium ore contains about 0.7 percent uranium 235, but this “mystery particle” contains between 2.6 and 3.6 percent. U-235 is the coveted element for bomb making and nuclear power reactors because it is one of the only elements that when split, perpetuates a sustainable nuclear chain reaction.

“Particulate matter containing uranium can originate from sources such as combustion of coals with trace uranium, windblown crustal material, and mining and processing of ores, whether it be for the uranium itself or other minerals such as rare earth [minerals] and phosphate,” the authors explained.

The process of concentrating U-235 through centrifuges or gaseous diffusion is a dirty one, and is challenging to say the least. During World War II, the U.S. Government spent colossal amounts of tax dollars to erect entire cities wielding befuddlingly large industrial complexes (like the one at Paducah, Kentucky) for this purpose, only to extract a few paltry pounds of the substance. The process of enriching U-235 remains arduous and costly today.

“It’s not a significant amount of radioactive debris by itself,” Murphy continued to Gizmodo. “But it’s the implication that there’s some very small source of uranium [out there] that we don’t understand.”

These scientists don’t know where the particle originated from but published their findings because “it may indicate a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.” Air patterns suggest that it could have origins “in a variety of areas across Asia.”

“We’re hoping that someone in a field that’s not intimately associated with atmospheric chemistry can say ‘a-ha!’ and give us a call,” Thomas Ryerson, one of the researchers from NOAA, told Gizmodo.

“My best guess is that the source is North Korea,” wrote nuclear energy expert Arnie Gundersen in an email to EnviroNews. “North Korea has a small reactor and does have gas centrifuges for slightly enriching uranium 235. After running the enriched uranium in the reactor, they remove the used fuel and extract plutonium 239 for their bomb program. It is possible in either creating new fuel or in extracting plutonium from fuel that has already been in their reactor, some enriched uranium escaped and went airborne,” Gundersen concluded, emphasizing that North Korea was only his best supposition. The material could have also come from nuclear programs in either China or Japan.

Scientists from NOAA ESRL Chemical Sciences Division, the University of Colorado, the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the University of California participated in the research and paper, published in the Journal of Environmental Radiation. They plan to release their full findings of the discovery in April of this year.


Bill Gates’ Plutonium Pipe Dream: Convert Mountains of Depleted Uranium at Paducah to Power Earth for Centuries (Pt. 2)

(EnviroNews DC Bureau) – Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the second 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 the…

The Dirty Deadly Front End of Nuclear Power – 15,000 Abandoned Uranium Mines (Pt. 1)

(EnviroNews DC Bureau) – Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the first 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 the…

Radiation Cloud Over Europe, Not ‘Harmless’ to Those near Unknown Source, Nuclear Expert Says

(EnviroNews World News) – An airborne plume of radioactive ruthenium 106 from a nuclear accident was detected “in the atmosphere of the majority of European countries,” from late September through mid-October, according to France’s Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN) – but the source is still unknown. As…

The post Enriched Uranium 235 Found Floating over Alaska — Experts Suspect North Korean Bomb-Making appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

If bounties are being showered for farmers, it surely is election time.

Ground Reality - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 10:23

The only time farmers appear on the economic radar screen of the country is when elections are around the corner. I have seen this happening for nearly 30 years now, and all political parties irrespective of their colour and ideology have been following the same approach. But once the elections are over, farmers disappear from the focus and are easily left abandoned. For the first four years after the new government is sworn in, the entire effort is serve the corporate interests only to remember farmers in the year before elections.
At every election time, political parties seduce farmers with financial baits luring the farming community to vote for the ruling dispensation. Dangle a few carrots at the time of elections and we have seen the angry farming community forgetting the past. So when Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje presenting the last state budget before statet assembly elections, announced a one-time crop loan waiver for small and marginal farmers up to Rs 50,000 in the overdue and outstanding categories of short-term loans from cooperative banks, it was clear that elections are around the corner. The waiver is expected to cost the state exchequer Rs 8,000-crore.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan on the other hand has promised that farmers will be paid Rs 200 bonus on every quintal sold to the government in the last rabi season. Addressing a Kisan Mahasammelan at Jamboree Maidan in Bhopal, Mr Chauhan said:  Kisan bheek nahi mangta, paseene ki kimat denge” and announced that against Rs 1,735 per quintal as the Minimum Support price for wheat, farmers will be given Rs 2,000 per quintal. As you guessed it, Madhya Pradesh goes to election this year and Shivraj Singh Chauhan faces a tough challenge to return to power for the 4th time in a row. In the days to come, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chhattisgarh too announces a similar bonus on the purchase of wheat and paddy.  
For four years, both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were witness to large scale farmer protests, much of it emanating from farmers anger over the crash in farm prices for two years in a row. While faced with a glut and low prices farmers had dumped their harvest on the streets at various places, six farmers were killed in a police firing at Mandsaur last year. Not to be left behind, the Union government too has swung into action and the policy focus has now shifted to farmers. For four years, there was no talk of farmers except a few times when hollow promises were made but as the government enters the last year before 2019 elections, all eyes are now on farmers.
Interestingly, if the government had continued with the bonus on wheat and paddy it was providing before the NDA government was sworn in May 2014, perhaps the farmers anger on the streets would have been much less. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were paying a bonus of Rs 150 and Rs 300 per quintal over the MSP for wheat and paddy. In June 2014, the Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies directed the two states to withdraw the bonus. The State governments were also told categorically that in case they don’t stop paying a bonus over the MSP they would not only have to bear the entire financial burden but would also have to undertake the procurement operation themselves.  
For four years, they wield the stick and in the final year before elections a few carrots are dangled. Even these promises remain unfulfilled. Yogi Adityanath had promised to waive all outstanding loans in Uttar Pradesh but in reality waived a maximum of Rs 1 lakh per small farmer. In Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh had promised to take on farmers debt and also write-off all loans – including from private banks and the nationalised bank – but when in power he has been able to waive only Rs 170-crore bad loans so far. The total outstanding loans exceed Rs 86,000-crore.  
For the first four years after coming into power, all ruling parties simply ignore farmers often creating economic conditions that force them to abandon agriculture and migrate to the cities. Economic policies are designed deliberately to make farming economically unviable. That’s the stick the governments have always applied. Except for a little sop here and there like the introduction of bhavantar bhugtan scheme in Madhya Pradesh no structural changes have come up. On top of it land laws are being conveniently amended to make it easy for the industry to usurp farm land at will. Agriculture in reality is being sacrificed to keep economic reforms alive. As Raghuram Rajan used to say the biggest reform would be when farmers are moved out of rural areas into the cities where cheap labour is urgently required for infrastructure development. 
The slump in prices had certainly aggravated farmers’ anger. But it’s not only low prices that plague agriculture pushing farmers deeper and deeper into a livelihood crisis. The malaise runs much deeper and would require a complete overhaul of policies to bring cheers to the farming sector. But despite the fact that an unprecedented spurt in rural anger has been seen in the past few years with recorded incidents of farm protests multiplying by a staggering 670 per cent, up from 628 in 2014 to a record high of 4,837 in 2016, I don’t think the political parties are unduly perturbed. They know that a few months before the elections, a series of sops can be dangled before the farmers and their vote bank will remain intact.
Will the ensuing 2019 elections see a change? I am not sure. Unless of course the farmers realise that enough is enough. They have no one to blame but themselves. For 70 years, they have been taken for an easy ride by politicians of all colours, from all parties. They have been victims of the universal phenomenon of “elections and farmers”. A few carrots are invariably thrown at them as electoral bait. And they grab it just like the mice is unable to resist the cheese. They have never been seen as the mainstay of the economy in real terms. Farmers have only two roles – as a vote bank and as a land bank.
The day the farmers rise above caste, religion and political ideology and vote as farmers, the political landscape will change. The economic policies will also change the day farmers vote as farmers. Farmers will then be in the driving seat, becoming the pivot of economic growth and development. Till then, they must learn to live with the never ending agrarian distress. They must know that the survival battle they fight every day is actually their own doing. #
चुनावी सीजन चालू है आज किसान महज वोट बैंक हैं Gaon Connection. Feb 15, 2015https://www.gaonconnection.com/samvad/in-election-season-farmer-is-just-a-vote-bank
Categories: Ecological News

EU Leaders Put Foot Down over Climate, Telling Trump: ‘No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement’

Environews.tv - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 19:38

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/021018-eu-leaders-put-foot-climate-telling-trump-no-paris-agreement-no-trade-agreement/"; reddit_title = "EU Leaders Put Foot Down over Climate, Telling Trump: ‘No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement’"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) — In June of 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States would leave the Paris Climate Agreement (the Accord/Agreement) unless the terms were changed to be more favorable for America. That decision has become a point of contention in trade negotiations with the European Union (EU). But last week, European leaders sent a strong message to Trump: no Paris Agreement, no trade deals.

“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground,” said France’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne, drawing a hard line in the sand. “No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement. The U.S. knows what to expect.”

This puts the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in jeopardy. The TTIP is supposed to encourage trade and enrich both the EU and the U.S. However, with Trump’s election, TTIP talks were delayed. And now, with the Paris Accord tied to trade agreements, the TTIP may have seen its last gasp.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has the responsibility and authority to reopen TTIP talks. If there was any doubt about her position on the Paris Agreement, she made her thoughts clear when she tweeted support for LeMoyne, her position reiterating that the Paris Agreement needs to be included in all EU trade deals, also saying it will be part of trade deals with Japan and Mexico. The Accord has already been tied to pacts with Mercosur countries – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Malmström hopes the trade agreement with Japan will “enter into force” by the end of 2018.

Yes Paris deal reference needed in all EU trade agreement today. In Japan agreement and will be in with Mexico and Mercosur..

— Cecilia Malmström (@MalmstromEU) February 1, 2018

Agreement concluded and in translation. Needs to be agreed by ministers and European Parliament. And of course by Japan. Hope it can enter into force by the end of the year

— Cecilia Malmström (@MalmstromEU) February 4, 2018

Per United Nations (UN) treaty rules, the U.S. can’t leave the Paris Agreement until 2020. The United States is the only country that has opted out of the treaty. At the time of its original signing, 195 of 197 nations agreed to the historic climate change treaty: Nicaragua felt it wasn’t strong enough, while Syria was engaged in a civil war. Both countries have since indicated they will come on board with the agreement.

Currently, 174 countries have ratified the Paris Accord. Russia will likely ratify the treaty in 2019. Turkey however, has moved away from the Agreement because its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, believes developing countries need more money to meet the demands of the Accord — an assertion Trump opposes.

In the final analysis, the Agreement has no mechanism for enforcement, and each country will need to decide on the measures it will take to keep the overall global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialization levels, while encouraging sustainable development with lower greenhouse gas emissions.


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

(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…

Climate Destabilization Causing Thousands of New Species Migrations: Plant, Animal, Insect, Bird

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – A spate of new research studies has confirmed a disturbing pattern: climate disruption is confusing migratory birds, causing trees to relocate and allowing tropical diseases to spread northward. “Human society has yet to appreciate the implications of unprecedented species redistribution for life on…

Alaska’s Fast-Melting Permafrost Now Releasing More Carbon Than it Can Absorb, Worsening Climate

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Alaska’s warming permafrost is now giving off more greenhouse gases than it traps during the growing season, according to a new study published May 8, 2017, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The amount of carbon trapped in Arctic soil is…

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

(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…

Colossal Pacific Salmon Run Reduced to Rubble – Climate Change To Blame Say Scientists

(EnviroNews Nature) – British Columbia, Canada – Salmon returning to the Fraser, the longest river in British Columbia (BC), were at their lowest level since record keeping began this fall. Fewer than 900,000 sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) are projected to have returned to their traditional breeding grounds, causing commercial…

NASA Launches ‘Operation OMG’ After 10 Ft. Sea Level Rise Predicted in Next 50 Yrs.

(EnviroNews World News) – Falling in line with an alarming new paper spearheaded by climate-science guru Dr. James Hansen, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched its own urgent five-year study – a project that will “stress-test” Hansen’s new, and downright dire predictions. The operation titled,…

Six Tiny Island Countries To Sue Big Oil For Disrupting the Climate

(EnviroNews World News) – Port Vila, Vanuatu – On Monday, June 8, 2015, members of the G7, the world’s seven largest countries, met in Germany where an historic promise was made by world leaders – a pledge to rid the earth of carbon burning by the year 2100….

Nauru, World’s Smallest Island Country, Going Under Water From Climate – 10,000 in Jeopardy

(EnviroNews World News) – Nauru – A worldwide petition has been launched by the Nauriana International Project imploring the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) to forge a rescue plan for 10,000 people on the island of Nauru, previously know as “Pleasant Island.” The South Pacific island…

Obama’s Natural Gas Whoopin’ – Oil CEO Says Pres. is Wrong, Go Green Instead (Video)

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – To begin this brief exposé on natural gas, we’re going to take a peek at a couple of snips of President Barack Obama in what looks like little less than a blatant sales pitch for the expansion of natural gas as a solution…

Climate Hero Tim DeChristopher Free From Prison at Last

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – The day has finally arrived, and climate hero Tim DeChristopher, a.k.a. “Bidder 70” is free of the Federal prison system, well minus three years of crummy and cumbersome probation. In this segment, we recap what was truly one of the most inspiring, yet…

The post EU Leaders Put Foot Down over Climate, Telling Trump: ‘No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement’ appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

‘Fantastic Victory’ for Yellowstone Bison as Court Rules USFWS Must Reconsider ESA Protection

Environews.tv - Sun, 02/04/2018 - 15:30

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/020418-fantastic-victory-yellowstone-bison-court-rules-usfws-must-reconsider-esa-protection/"; reddit_title = "‘Fantastic Victory’ for Yellowstone Bison as Court Rules USFWS Must Reconsider ESA Protection"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Wyoming) — In what wildlife and conservation organizations are calling a “fantastic victory,” on Feb. 1, 2018, Federal Judge Christopher Cooper ruled U.S. wildlife officials must reconsider their 2015 decision to deny Yellowstone bison protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to the opinion written by Judge Cooper, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rejected a study by Natalie D. Halbert showing the number of animals in Yellowstone may be too few to sustain the park’s two genetically distinct herds. On the other hand, Cooper said the agency prioritized a study by Patrick J. White and Richard L. Wallen, which stated genetic diversity wasn’t important to maintaining the herds because it was artificially created in the first place. Hence, in his ruling, Judge Cooper said the agency couldn’t “simply pick and choose” whatever scientific studies it wanted to support its findings. Cooper also said USFWS must consider research that undermines its own position and explain why the undermining studies are “unreliable, irrelevant or otherwise unreasonable.”

“The Fish and Wildlife Service made a political decision to suppress and ignore science in order to deny the Yellowstone bison the protection they deserve,” said Josh Osher, Montana Director for Western Watersheds Project (WWP). “The Administration is clearly bowing to the influence of the livestock industry and its agenda to minimize bison populations and their natural migrations, despite their status as the national mammal.”

The Yellowstone bison (Bison bison), also known simply as “buffalo,” number about 5,000 animals, comprising two herds. While there are herds of bison scattered throughout the United States, most of them exist because they have been restocked in those areas. In many cases, these herds have also been interbred with cattle, compromising their genetic integrity. Yellowstone’s herds are the largest pure bison left in the wild, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) is the only place in the U.S. where the creatures have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

“This is a huge victory,” said Ken Cole, Executive Director of the Buffalo Field Campaign, in a press release. “This is a long battle but we won a significant round for the buffalo today.” The Buffalo Field Campaign partnered with WWP and Friends of Animals to file the first petition in the lawsuit.

The park’s animals are routinely hunted and slaughtered to assuage the fears of nearby ranchers. Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that can wreak havoc on bison. According to the National Academy of Sciences, there has never been a documented case of the disease being transferred from Yellowstone’s wild bison herd to domestic cattle. Nevertheless, ranchers, especially in Montana, support a seasonal culling because they fear their cattle will become contaminated. These ranchers say they are also concerned about the competition for grass and the possibility of property damage. Thursday’s court ruling will not affect culling in 2018.

Bison were named the National Mammal of the United States in 2016. Much like the Bald Eagle, these animals have represented the West for years because of their iconic physicality and sheer numbers when America expanded westward.

Hunters and sportsmen, like Buffalo Bill Cody, would shoot the animals from trains and leave the carcasses to rot on the prairie. Wild herds dwindled from tens of millions of animals, reaching a dismal low of 1,091 animals by 1889. Though the creatures were nearly wiped from the face of the earth in the 1800s, there has been a modest rebound today, including those found in Yellowstone and smaller herds elsewhere. Now, the USFW will have to reconsider how it classifies American buffalo in Yellowstone and carefully ponder all of the scientific data, rather than just reports supporting its own position.

Mountain of American Bison Skulls

In light of Judge Cooper’s ruling, bison are now back in line to receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. For now, the court has ordered the Government to take a step toward protecting these last remaining pure bison in their natural habitat.


The Bison Herds of the Magnificent Grand Tetons

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – We’ve taken notice lately that the EnviroNews national newsfeed has been a bit gloomy and has been comprised of mostly gutsy environmental “trench warfare”, and heated protests over nasty industrial source polluters. Take a break from the doom and gloom of the everyday environmental battles…

National Park Service Plans Large Bison Hunt to Thin Arizona’s Grand Canyon Herd

(EnviroNews Arizona) – North Rim, Arizona – The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) gave its final approval this month for a bison (Bison bison) hunt and relocation program that would drastically thin a 600-animal herd, residing in the park’s North Rim, to less than 200 by next year….

The post ‘Fantastic Victory’ for Yellowstone Bison as Court Rules USFWS Must Reconsider ESA Protection appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

New Hampshire Just Kiboshed Massachusetts’ Multi-$Billion ‘Green’ Hydropower Plan, Preserving Swaths of Pristine Wilderness

Environews.tv - Sat, 02/03/2018 - 18:24

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/020318-new-hampshire-just-kyboshed-massachusetts-multi-billion-green-hydropower-plan-preserving-swaths-pristine-wilderness/"; reddit_title = "New Hampshire Just Kiboshed Massachusetts’ Multi-$Billion ‘Green’ Hydropower Plan, Preserving Swaths of Pristine Wilderness"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — In a move Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH) said left him “stunned,” on February 1, 2017, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (the Committee) cut short 12 days of planned deliberations and voted unanimously to deny certification for the proposed Northern Pass transmission line. The ruling stops a controversial $1.6 billion project in its tracks, though both sides have vowed to continue the fight.

Eversource Energy, one of the two partners in the project alongside Hydro-Quebec, said it was “shocked and outraged” by the decision. In a statement issued hours after the ruling, the company, which has already spent $250 million on fees, engineering and property, said, “Clearly, the [Committee] process is broken and this decision sends a chilling message to any energy project contemplating development in the Granite State. We will be seeking reconsideration of the [Committee’s] decision, as well as reviewing all options for moving this critical clean energy project forward.”

To give its approval, the Committee had to find that the project would not unduly interfere with the development of the region; that it would not have “unreasonable adverse effects” on aesthetics, historic sites, air and water quality, the natural environment, and public health and safety; and that it would serve the public interest.

“In identifying the multiple reasons behind their conclusion, the subcommittee members discussed exactly the right issues: undue interference with land use, property values and tourism, and inadequate outreach to communities,” said Jack Savage, Vice President for Communications and Outreach at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society).

When first proposed in 2010, the transmission line was all slated to be aboveground. The project ran into immediate resistance from residents who feared declining property values and negative impacts on tourism. Three years later, Eversource proposed a new route, with just eight underground miles in the northwest corner of the state where opposition was most intense.

That proposition still left a long stretch of giant steel towers to be cut through the White Mountain National Forest — the scenic and economic gem of New Hampshire. The 800,000-acre woodland is home to Mount Washington and 160 miles of the Appalachian Trail. More than five million people come to hike, ski, fish and view the area’s landscape and wildlife each year.

White Mountain National Forest — Photo: Wikimedia Commons — by: Jiaqian AirplaneFan

In response to continued opposition, Eversource announced another revised route in 2015, this time proposing to bury an additional 52 miles of transmission line through the national forest. The remaining 132 miles would stay above ground, with more than 1,200 electric transmission structures, some as tall as 145 feet, meandering south from the international border.

The project had already received most of the federal, Canadian and state permits it needed to proceed. Massachusetts agreed to buy all of the 1,090 megawatts the line could provide for 20 years, securing financial stability. But in order for that to all happen, the project had to cut through New Hampshire, which sits directly atop Massachusetts on the map. The Forest Society said the Granite State was being treated as “merely an extension cord.” The Site Evaluation Committee was the last key hurdle, and Eversource was so confident the Committee would give the go-ahead that it even began recruiting workers ahead of the ruling. But the company greatly underestimated local opposition.

New Hampshire Site Evalation Committee — Northern Pass Hearing

“This project is hugely unpopular in New Hampshire,” said Melissa Birchard, a staff attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) in Concord, New Hampshire. CLF has been fighting the project since its inception. Of 31 towns along the route, 22 have expressed strong opposition, she noted, and 95 percent of 4,500-plus comments received by the Committee argued against Northern Pass.

“The transmission line as proposed goes through three of our forest reservations and two and a half dozen other conservation easements,” said Savage. He also cited the adverse impact construction would have on wetlands along the route as an area of environmental concern.

Presidential Range — Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Appalachian Mountain Club is another leading organization opposed to Northern Pass as proposed, warning of its potentially unfavorable effects on New Hampshire’s scenic landscapes, tourism and recreation. Another group, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said on its website, “The proposed Northern Pass project cuts through areas of the state that include nationally significant places and landscapes.” But it’s not just enviro groups or NIMBYs that have objected.

Northern Pass Proposal — Photo: New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) — by: Sam Evans-Brown

A petition signed by 87 local businesses called for burial of the full 192-mile line, stating, “We believe the adverse impacts of towers and transmission lines, including property value impacts, scenic impacts, and wetlands impacts, are such that the current Northern Pass proposal should not be permitted by the Site Evaluation Committee.”

Andy Smith, of Peabody & Smith Realty, is one of those business owners who signed the petition. He’s already seen properties in the path of Northern Pass sell at 30 to 50 percent below market value. “Prospective buyers along the route of the overhead towers have voted with their pocketbooks,” he said. “We are a scenic state, that’s what we thrive on, the scenery and the ruralness.”

With so much opposition, how did the project get this far? (HINT: Follow the money)The flow of money starts at the headwaters of Hydro-Quebec. From James Bay through the lakes and rivers of the Province of Quebec, its dams and reservoirs can produce 36,908 megawatts of electricity — far more power than it can sell. According to the company’s 2016 annual report, an average of 11.3 terawatt-hours of excess capacity will be available each year for the next 10 years.

To turn that extra energy into revenue, Hydro-Quebec set out to attract extreme consumers of electricity, such as data centers, to the region. They’ve also gone after bitcoin miners.

The so-called “cryptocurrency,” often used for drug smuggling, money laundering, sex trafficking and other black-market transactions, uses armies of computers to “mine” tokens by solving math problems. The Guardian described it as “a competition to waste the most electricity possible by doing pointless arithmetic quintillions of times a second.” Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warned that bitcoin mining would consume as much electricity as all of Argentina this year.

What electricity Hydro-Quebec can’t get data centers and bitcoin miners to burn up, it wants to send south — and Massachusetts provided a sizable, ready and willing market with a 2016 state law requiring utilities to contract for 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. A request for proposals (RFP) was issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on March 31, 2017, which drew 46 bids.

Although it was not the lowest bid, Eversource Energy’s Northern Pass proposal was the sole bid selected. That drew the attention of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Eversource, along with the state’s other big utilities, Unitil and National Grid, helped draft the RFP and were involved in the selection process.

“We all know that Eversource is a big monkey on the block in New England and a particularly big monkey on the block in Massachusetts,” Birchard told EnviroNews. “It had its fingers in the development of the legislation behind the RFP, it had its fingers in the selection of the project and we strongly support the efforts of the Massachusetts attorney general’s office to investigate the selection and ensure that Massachusetts and New Hampshire aren’t held hostage to big moneyed interests.”

Eversource Energy, with a market capitalization of more than $20 billion, serves 3.5 million customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Its 2016 revenues came in at $7.6 billion. Hydro-Quebec, established and owned by the Government of Quebec, operates 62 power-generating stations and is the world’s fourth largest hydroelectric producer. It also generates big dollars: Approximately $10.8 billion (USD) over the 2016 fiscal year.

Transmission Lines Through Nature

While hydropower is often lumped in with solar and wind energy, there have been many questions as to how “green” this project would really be.

According to the Appalachian Mountain Club, supplying this much power would mean diverting large rivers and flooding an area in Quebec equal to half the size of New Hampshire. Ancestral lands of the Innu Nation provide almost one-third of Hydro-Quebec’s waterpower, reported the Boston Globe. The Pessamit band fear further degradation of the Bersimis River, which could lead to reduced salmon populations and flooding that could harm caribou and beaver. But the project would bring ”green” dollars to Hydro-Quebec: the Massachusetts deal would have been its biggest contract ever, worth as much as $406 million (USD) annually for the next 20 years.

Northern Pass — Photo: WMUR9 News

But the energy source was never the key issue for most opponents. Mainly, they want all 192 miles of the transmission line underground. “It could be buried,” explained Savage. “It’s technically feasible. They just don’t want to pay for it. Just to save money they’re asking New Hampshire towns and landowners to subsidize the project.” Birchard said that CLF would support a plan that emphasized local renewable resources or a combination of hydropower and wind or solar.

Having awarded a single contract to Northern Pass, Massachusetts will need to regroup in the wake of the Committee’s rejection. Eversource had promised the state to begin delivering electricity by the end of 2020, which would have required construction to begin this spring.

It’s unclear what Massachusetts’ next steps will be, but other serious proposals were on the table. These included a utility-scale offshore wind project submitted by Avangrid, a 1,000 megawatt underwater and underground transmission line through Lake Champlain and Vermont, and the Atlantic Link cable running undersea from New Brunswick, Canada to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

New Hampshire’s decision may have “stunned” Governor Sununu, who has been a supporter of Northern Pass all along, but it has prevented what realtor Andy Smith called a “huge scar” on the landscape.

In response to the Committee’s decision, Birchard sent this statement to EnviroNews: “Northern Pass has bullied its way through this process, and today’s decision says loud and clear that the people of New Hampshire won’t stand for it.”

The post New Hampshire Just Kiboshed Massachusetts’ Multi-$Billion ‘Green’ Hydropower Plan, Preserving Swaths of Pristine Wilderness appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Breaking News: Wildlife Orgs Sue Trump Admin for Failing to Protect ‘El Lobo,’ the Mexican Wolf

Environews.tv - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 15:32

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/013018-breaking-news-wildlife-orgs-sue-trump-admin-failing-protect-el-lobo-mexican-wolf/"; reddit_title = "Breaking News: Wildlife Orgs Sue Trump Admin for Failing to Protect ‘El Lobo,’ the Mexican Wolf"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Nature) — Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit on January 30, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Arizona against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), alleging the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by ignoring science relevant to the recovery of the beleaguered Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), a.k.a. “el lobo.” The legal action comes on the heels of USFWS’ November release of its long-anticipated Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan — a strategy conservation groups say appeases red state ranchers and falls flat in the face of science.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys at the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) on behalf of Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), names Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and USFWS Acting Director Greg Sheehan. The complaint asserts the USFWS, an ancillary arm of the Interior Department, turned a deaf ear to its own scientists’ recommendations for the minimum number of wolves and the amount of habitat needed for recovery and removal from the endangered species list.

“This recovery plan was designed by politicians and anti-wolf states, not by independent biologists,” said Matthew Bishop of the Western Environmental Law Center. “It’s an affront to the ESA and Congress’ directive [is to] make decisions solely on the best available science.”

The Mexican wolf, a subspecies of the endangered gray wolf (Canis lupus), was granted endangered species status in 1976 after being hunted to near-extinction. At one point, el lobo almost blinked out entirely after plunging to a low of only 15 animals remaining in the wild. In 1982, the USFWS initiated the original Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan to determine a course of action for keeping the species alive. It included a captive breeding program, which in 1988, released three distinct lineages of the animal into the ecosystem.

In 2011, the USFWS’ Science and Planning Subgroup of the Recovery Team (the Subgroup), staffed by independent scientists, recommended that delisting only occur after a 750-wolf total is achieved in the wild. Additionally, the Subgroup recommended that lands in eastern Arizona/western New Mexico, the Grand Canyon region of northern Arizona and southern Utah, and the southern Rockies region of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado be allotted as Mexican wolf habitat for recovery efforts.

Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)

Despite these recommendations, state governments in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona have set substantial roadblocks in the way of recovery, including a demand that no wolves set foot north of I-40, which runs east-to-west across northern New Mexico and Arizona — meaning no wolves would be allowed to exist in Utah or Colorado whatsoever.

Today, the lobo population in the United States has rebounded slightly, hovering at around 113 animals, with an additional 31 living in Mexico. Yet, instead of following the scientists’ recommendations, the USFWS’ First Revision of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan concluded that 320 wolves would be sufficient for recovery, and in terms of habitat, it left out the Grand Canyon and southern Rockies regions for “geopolitical reasons,” a move environmental lawyers say is a fundamental violation of the ESA.

“The ecosystems in this region need wolves and the people in this region want wolves — polls overwhelmingly suggest that. So, to eschew the science-based pathway for recovery and instead implement a politically-driven and extremely flawed plan is an affront to people and place,” said Christopher Smith, Southern Rockies Wildlife Advocate for WildEarth Guardians, in an email to EnviroNews.

Conservation groups are suing on four causes of action they say violate the ESA and APA (Administrative Procedure Act), including having “no reasonable explanation for departure” from the Subgroup’s recommendations, “failure to provide objective, measurable criteria necessary for delisting” the wolf, “failure to utilize the best available science,” and “failure to provide site-specific management actions necessary for conservation.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs a plan that guarantees a large enough population of Mexican wolves to be viable over the long term, with sufficient habitat [for] wolves to flourish,” said Greta Anderson of Western Watersheds Project. “But the current recovery plan doesn’t do that, and instead the federal government seems more intent on appeasing anti-wolf political interests than in doing its job, which is recovering endangered species to healthy and secure population levels.”

The three aforementioned NGOs, which will be joined in the suit by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Wildlands Network, want the court to force the USFWS to have another go at the plan, but this time around, they want it to follow the law as stated by the ESA and ensure that science alone, not politics, guides the recovery of the Mexican wolf.


Governments in CO/UT/NM/AZ Deliberately Derailed Mexican Wolf Recovery, Documents Reveal (Investigative Report)

(EnviroNews Colorado) – After decades of deliberation the final revision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan (the Plan) was released at the end of November, but former USFWS officials tell EnviroNews it strays far from scientists’ minimum recommendations for recovery of the…

Victory for Mexican Gray Wolves: Court Stops Injunction, Allows Releases from Captivity to Proceed

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) can continue to release Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) from captivity into the wild after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction halting the program on April 25, 2017, which conservationists say…


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…

These Species Should Be ‘Endangered’ But Aren’t Due to Political Horse Trading, Report Reveals

(EnviroNews Colorado) – Special-interest politics – not sound science – decides the fate of species on the brink of extinction in the U.S., according to a new expose’ from the Endangered Species Coalition. The report, Suppressed: How Politics Drowned Out Science for Ten Endangered Species (Suppressed), profiles ten…

It’s Done: Trump Signs HJR 69 into Law Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On April 3, 2017, President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69) into law. The legislation rescinds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2016 Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule). The Refuge Rule was enacted to protect native…

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…

Center for Biological Diversity Sues Trump for Signing HJR 69 Allowing Slaughter of Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups

(EnviroNews USA Headline News) – Washington D.C. – The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 20, 2017, against the U.S. Department of Interior (Interior) and Secretary Ryan Zinke, after President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution…

Shocking Video Shows the Guts of HJR 69: Trump’s Alaskan Bear Cub/Wolf Pup Killing Bill

(EnviroNews Nature) – Playground, a news and media site, has produced a graphic video showing shocking hunting practices that are now legal in Alaska’s wildlife refuges. These methods, which have been called “scientifically indefensible” and “unsportsmanlike” by defenders of animal rights, include hunting bears from aircraft, killing bear…

Elk Hunting Group Wants to Expand Wolf-Killing Derby into Montana: $1,000 Bounty per Wolf

(EnviroNews Montana) – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), which has funded wolf-killing derbies in Idaho to the tune of $150,000 since 2013, is now seeking to expand its $1,000-per-kill bounty program to the neighboring state of Montana. RMEF provides funds to the Foundation for Wildlife Management (F4WM),…

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….

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…

Idaho Wolf-Killing Contest Killed for One More Year – Kind of…

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Facing a lawsuit from conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has revoked a permit allowing for a “predator derby” to take place on approximately three million acres of public lands in north-central Idaho near the town of Salmon. The derby originally called for…

California the First to Ban Predator Prizes While Idaho Forges Ahead With Wolf-Killing Derby

(EnviroNews California) – Van Nuys, CA – Will not allowing prizes for California wildlife hunting derbies deter such events from taking place? Groups like Project Coyote certainly think so. On December 3, with a 4 to 1 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission passed a motion prohibiting…

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…

The post Breaking News: Wildlife Orgs Sue Trump Admin for Failing to Protect ‘El Lobo,’ the Mexican Wolf appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Budget 2018: Agriculture too deserves a Dream Budget

Ground Reality - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 11:30

This cartoon is by Satish Acharya. 
After two consecutive years of back-to-back drought 2014 and 2015, followed by a bumper harvest in 2016 and 2017, prices for almost all the crops had crashed forcing farmers to dump their produce onto the streets at many a places. As if this is not enough, demonetisation had further hit rural wages. Farmers across the country are unable to realise even the production cost. As per the National Crime Record Bureau this had led to an unprecedented spurt in rural anger with recorded incidents of farm protests multiplying by a staggering 670 per cent, up from 628 in 2014 to a record high of 4,837 in 2016.The slump in prices had certainly aggravated farmers’ anger. But it’s not only low prices that plague agriculture pushing farmers deeper and deeper into a livelihood crisis, it is a whole plethora of structural changes that farming is crying for. In a country where 52 per cent of the population is directly or indirectly engaged in farming, the path to Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas passes through agriculture. 

This is possible only if agriculture too gets Dream Budget. 
Farm incomes had increased by a mere 3.6 per cent in the 2002-03 and 2012-13 period. Subsequently, Economic Survey 2016 had pointed to an average annual farm income of Rs 20,000 in 17 States or in roughly half the country. At this rate, doubling the farm income by 2022 seems more of a guffaw. Considering that only 6 per cent farmers receive Minimum Support Price (MSP) and even that is fixed below the cost of production for most crops, it is high time to shift the policy focus from the existing ‘price policy’ to ‘income policy’. The Commission for Costs and Prices (CACP) needs to be renamed as the Commission for Farmers Income & Welfare with the mandate to provide a minimum assured living income of Rs 18,000 per month to each farming family.
A vibrant agriculture will serve as a pivot for revival of rural economy thereby creating employment opportunities for rural youth.  In Punjab, over the past few decades, worsening agrarian distress coupled with growing unemployment had led to frustration among the rural youth. With not much scope for alternate means of employment or income generation, rural youth took to drugs and alcohol as the means to seek solace. In such a depressing scenario, agriculture alone has the potential to reboot the economy. If only the government was to create gainful employment in agriculture, by providing a higher income into the hands of the farmers, more demand could be created thereby leading a revival of the industrial and manufacturing sectors. But unfortunately, Indian planners follow the dictum given by the credit rating agencies, which in guise serve the interests of their corporate masters. I hope the Finance Minister is able to emerge out of the rating agencies web.  
To begin with, I have two suggestions: To realise a better price, investment priority should aim at creating more market infrastructure. At present, there are only 7,600 APMC regulated mandis against the requirement of 42,000 mandis within five km radius. Budget 2018 can easily make adequate financial allocation for setting up 20,000 mandis to begin with. The State should be under an obligation to purchase any farm commodity for which an MSP has been announced and that is brought to the mandis. This does not mean that the Centre should pass on the buck to the State governments by promising to meet 30% of the total cost of undertaking such a mammoth operation. Unless the entire cost is borne by the Centre, the promise of procuring all crops will remain an empty rhetoric.
Secondly, taking a cue from Telengana to make up for the crop losses in the past two years, there is a need to provide an economic stimulus package of Rs 4,000/acre per season for farmers. In Telengana, all farmers, irrespective of how much land they own, are eligible to receive an incentive of Rs 8,000 per year. This should not only be expanded to cover the entire country but a mechanism be evolved to include tenant farm workers as well. Further, like in Karnataka, dairy farmers too need to be given an incentive of Rs 5 per litre for milk. All trading in e-NAM (National Agricultural Market) platform or under bhavantar schemes should be linked to procurement price and not model price as is the practice. Model price is in reality a distress price, a smokescreen for exploiting farmers. #

Categories: Ecological News

Glitz apart, WEF won't end poverty

Ground Reality - Sun, 01/28/2018 - 11:49

I fail to understand. If poverty reduction, elimination of global hunger and removing inequality remains the three most important challenges the world faces today, why do the world leaders need to show up at the lavish annual World Economic Forum (WEF) jamboree at the picturesque town of Davos in Switzerland? 
Isn’t it ironical that to reiterate their commitment towards a more equal world they need a platform which is basically looking to grab every possibility to multiply business and profits? For several years now, I thought the international charity Oxfam has very loudly conveyed how the worsening inequality was the outcome of a very neo-liberal economics that actually sucks wealth from the bottom into the pockets of the top 1%.
With each passing year, inequality has been only worsening. In its latest report, released a few days before the world’s who’s who among the richest assembled for the WEF 2018 at Davos once again, Oxfam told us that in 2017, the year that just passed by, 82 per cent of the wealth generated globally was cornered by the top 1%. In India, a Credit Suisse report had shown that 73 per cent of the wealth generated was gobbled by the top 1%. In a country where 290 million people officially live in poverty, this shocker of a data should have swayed the dominant narrative on how to reduce the growing inequality and ensure the fruits of economic growth are equally distributed. Instead, in the quest to race towards a higher GDP growth, more of the same remains the economic prescription.   
In 2013, Oxfam told us that world’s top 100 families in 2012 earned $ 240 billion more that particular year, which was good enough to wipe out global poverty four times over. In other words, removing global poverty and hunger, which was always on the top of WEF rhetoric, required only $60 billion. I thought this can be better achieved by launching a frontal attack on poverty eradication rather than pumping more money into the hands of rich corporations by way of tax cuts as well as by providing direct financial stimulus and then wait endlessly for the money to trickle down.
What to talk of $ 240 billion to remove poverty four times over, the world doesn’t even have $ 60 billion to eradicate poverty from the face of the planet we are repeatedly told. But over the years, especially after the economic meltdown in 2008-09, the United States and the European Union have been aggressively printing money through a very sophisticated process of Quantitative Easing (QE), a term that camouflages printing of surplus money to buy government debt. Knowing how a staggering amount of surplus money is being printed, I tweeted that year to the then US President Barack Obama to print an additional $ 120 billion and give it to a group of international organisations (with backing from G-20 countries) to launch a time bound programme to remove poverty two times over. As expected, I didn’t get any response but later I learnt that more than 65 economists had launched a campaign for ‘Quantitative Easing for People’ in 2015. That’s the way it should have been. Poverty and hunger could have become history by now.
Although there are different estimates of how much of surplus money has been printed since the economic meltdown, in Sept 2017 the US Federal Reserve began cutting down on its $ 4.5 trillion portfolio of bonds and other securities. In the EU, between Mar 2015 and Mar 2016, a total of Euro 700 billion was pumped in the economy at interest rates of 0.2 to 2 per cent. The European Central Bank will now resort to reducing the bond buying spree from Euro 60 billion to Euro 30 billion a month. Bank of England too has meanwhile pumped in 445 billion Pound Sterlings. Much of this easy money is invested in the stock markets in the developing economies. How easy it is can be gauged from a statement of the US Fed Chairperson who has been quoted as saying that as long as everyone is having a good time there is no plan to withdraw it.
Now let us look at global warming. The accumulation of wealth into the hands of a few is also the reason for the global climate going topsy-turvy. Author Amitabh Ghosh tells us that there is a direct correlation between wealth and emissions. “The West’s wealth is fundamentally built on greenhouse gas emissions.” He thinks the Paris Agreement is trying to do a few minor fixes while preserving status quo. He is so right. Greenhouse Gas Emissions emanating from an industrial model of economic growth that the world has been blindly following has led to forests disappearing at an alarming rate, oceans being exhausted of the fish stocks, crop fields turning barren and sick, water becoming scarce, and environment being polluted beyond redemption.
Several studies show that as much as 41% Greenhouse Gas Emissions come from intensive agriculture, livestock and forestry. Undeterred by the massive damage already inflicted by intensive farming practices, and to ensure that the world does not see a repeat of the 2007 food crisis, business leaders from 17 private companies had announced at the 2009 World Economic Forum the launch of a global initiative — New Vision for Agriculture — that sets ambitious targets for increasing food production by 20 percent, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions per ton by 20 percent, and reducing rural poverty by 20 percent every decade. Again, instead of reducing the emissions, the effort seems to be to aggravate the climate crisis.  

The 17 agribusiness giants include Archer Daniels Midland, BASF, Bunge Limited, Cargill, Coca-Cola, DuPont, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Metro AG, Monsanto Company, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SABMiller, Syngenta, Unilever, Wal-Mart, and Yara International. It is therefore quite apparent that at the global level both the political as well as the business leadership is looking at the business opportunities that the crisis offers. Corporate agriculture coupled with free trade, again designed to benefit the top 1%, and has already displaced millions of small scale farmers in developing countries forcing them to swarm into the cities looking for menial jobs.
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon had the courage to say at a panel in WEF 2011: “The world’s current economic model is an environmental suicide. Climate change is showing us that the old model is more than obsolete. We need a revolution on how best to make the global economy sustainable.” His clarion call went unheeded, and this wasn't unexpected. # 
Glitz apart, Davos and WEF won't end poverty. The Week, Jan 28, 2018
Categories: Ecological News

Fire at Rickety Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Gives California a Scare — Shutdown Slated for 2025

Environews.tv - Sat, 01/27/2018 - 17:18

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/012718-fire-rickety-diablo-canyon-nuclear-plant-gives-california-scare-shutdown-slated-2025/"; reddit_title = "Fire at Rickety Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Gives California a Scare — Shutdown Slated for 2025"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews USA) — San Luis Obispo, California — On Thursday evening, Jan. 25, 2018, a fire erupted at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the facility’s water intake valve. PG&E Media Relations Representative John Lindsey blamed the episode on an overheated pump used to clean kelp and ocean debris from incoming water. The fire was put out on-location by the plant’s own fire crew though Cal Fire was called out and assisted with cleanup.

“There is absolutely no risk to plant safety or personnel and both units continue to operate at full power,” tweeted Lindsey just after the incident.

Calling out Cal Fire is part of the plant’s procedure and was done “out of an abundance of caution.” While Lindsey mentioned the overheating pump, the cause of the fire has yet to be confirmed.

Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the last running nuclear energy facility in California, is located in San Luis Obispo County near Avila Beach and several fault lines, including the Hosgri Fault, discovered in 1971 after Diablo Canyon was already under construction.

In an agreement between PG&E and the Public Utility Commission, it is set to be shut down in 2025. PG&E requested the ability to shutdown the facility because it is becoming an economic liability with California’s changing power grid and the rise of renewable energy sources. Shutdown for the plant will begin with Unit 1 in 2024. Diablo Canyon currently provides power to 1.7 million homes.

California is no stranger to accidents at nuclear facilities. The state is home to what multiple experts have termed the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history. In 1959, there was a full-blown meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The event leaked so much radiation into the environment that “levels went clear off the scale” and couldn’t even be measured by the instruments on-site at the time. Radioactive materials, including vast amounts of plutonium and strontium, were vented from July 12 to July 26. Today, the area suffers from an array of strange cancer clusters as lawmakers, advocacy groups and concerned citizens pressure the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) to fully clean up the site.


True or False: Three Mile Island: America’s Worst Nuclear Accident? – Expert Weighs In (and the Answer Might Surprise You) (Pt.7)

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the seventh 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…

Remembering Rocketdyne – Discussing America’s Worst Nuclear Meltdown (Not Three Mile Island) With Erin Brockovich

(EnviroNews California) – The infamous accident at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island power facility is typically the first meltdown that comes to mind when people think about nuclear disasters in America. While journalists and editors at CNN have reported it was the worst nuclear meltdown ever in the United…

California’s Top 10 Environmental Disasters: #1 – Rocketdyne

While CNN calls Three Mile Island the worst nuclear disaster on American soil, the news agency completely overlooks the Santa Susana Field Laboratory meltdown in 1959 – a meltdown that occurred without a containment structure in place. No one knows how much radiation was released, because the…

The post Fire at Rickety Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Gives California a Scare — Shutdown Slated for 2025 appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

All Koch’d up: Paul Ryan Gifted Nearly $500,000 From Kochs After Tax Bill Passes, Report Reveals

Environews.tv - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 00:56

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/012218-kochd-paul-ryan-gifted-nearly-500000-kochs-tax-bill-passes-report-reveals/"; reddit_title = "All Koch’d up: Paul Ryan Gifted Nearly $500,000 From Kochs After Tax Bill Passes, Report Reveals"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Politics) — Washington D.C. — On Jan. 18, 2018, Committee Team Ryan, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s joint fundraising committee, filed a report of receipts and disbursements that includes donations of $247,700 each by Charles Koch and his wife Elizabeth, made on Nov. 29, 2017. The Kochs gave their gifts just 13 days after the House passed its version of the tax bill.

The endowments represent the largest donation taken in during the last quarter of 2017 for Team Ryan, which is responsible for raising funds for the Speaker, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and a PAC run by Ryan. Each donation is more than twice the amount of the third largest contribution on the list – a gift of $104,495 from the National Independent Auto Dealers Association PAC.

These donations supporting Paul Ryan were made at the same time the Kochs contributed the maximum amount allowed by law, $237,000, to the National Republican Congressional Committee. According to Forbes, Charles Koch is worth $52 billion dollars as of Jan. 21, 2018.

With the biggest tax breaks handed out to corporations and the wealthy, it’s now likely the Kochs will become worth even more. Not only will their corporate tax rate be cut from 35 to 21 percent, but oil and gas investors (Koch Industries owns refineries) get a big break too, and their heirs will see a nice influx of money after their parents pass away when the now-smaller estate tax kicks in.

The timing of the donations, the first for the Kochs in 2017, isn’t suspicious however. In June, members of the Koch brother’s political network threatened to withhold their donations from Republicans until tax laws were changed and Obamacare repealed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Koch brothers are now spending millions of dollars in advertising to sell the tax plan to the middle class. Since the bill passed, people in the lower echelons of the economy have begun to realize the GOP tax plan overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy, and hence, the bill’s popularity has plummeted. But that hasn’t stopped these billionaires from attempting to prop it up with “education,” in the form of town halls, phone calls, door-to-door campaigns and nationwide ads over the media airwaves and digital channels.

When similar tax laws were adopted in the 1980s and the wealthy benefited from Reaganomics, the country’s economy took a downturn for the poorest, which leaves many people wondering how bad it could get when the current benefits dry up for the middle class. Many fear the GOP tax plan gives all the cake to the wealthy and leaves crumbs for the rest.

This isn’t the first time the Kochs have been linked to influencing politics with their money. According to Greenpeace, the Kochs have been linked to 84 different climate change denying organizations since 1997. The brothers have made their fortunes dealing in fossil fuels, petrochemicals and other products. In 2014, Koch Industries was one of only three companies that made all three top-30 lists for companies that create the most air pollution, water contamination, and environmental pollution, as ranked by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute.

The post All Koch’d up: Paul Ryan Gifted Nearly $500,000 From Kochs After Tax Bill Passes, Report Reveals appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News
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