The Environment

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  State To Review Endangered Species Status Of The ManateeJanuary 30, 2006 17:52 Scientists say manatees are rebounding, and now the state is considering whether to change the animal's endangered status to threatened, news partner NBC 6 reported Monday.

But activists say almost 400 manatees died statewide in 2005 -- the second highest count since Florida started tracking the data in the mid-1970s.

The only other year with a higher death count was 1996, when the state reported 415 manatee deaths.

  Bush Political Officers Attempt to Gag NASA ScientistJanuary 30, 2006 16:53 One of Nasa's leading climate experts has accused the Bush administration of trying to censor him on global warming and the need for immediate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

James Hansen, the director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said agency officials had ordered that public affairs officers review his lectures, papers and postings on the institute's website as well as vetting requests for interviews from reporters.

The clamp-down followed a lecture he gave last month calling for emission reductions, a move the White House refuses to support. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," said Mr Hansen, who is ignoring the restrictions placed on him.

This is starting to feel like the Soviet-era political officer system. Scary.

  Greenland Way of Life is Losing to Global WarmingJanuary 30, 2006 16:52 The Inuit way of life in Greenland is failing badly becase of shortened winters, less ice, and greater population.
  Nature Enthusiasts Kick Off Plan To Protect Endangered Species ActJanuary 29, 2006 23:30 Local environmentalists, conservationists and nature enthusiasts kicked off a campaign to protect the Endangered Species Act on Saturday in true Audubon style: a morning of bird-watching.
That was followed by bagels and a discussion of a bill proposed by Rep. Richard Pombo, a Stockton Republican whose district includes Morgan Hill, Gilroy and San Martin.
Known as the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005, Pombo's bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in September. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate in December by Sen. Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican.
``The notion that the Endangered Species Act is broken and needs to be fixed is really just a cynical front that is being put out there by people who are mainly concerned about unbridled development,'' said Trent Orr, legal counsel for Earthjustice, an Oakland-based non-profit law firm.
  San Mateo County to Consider Resolution in Support of ESAJanuary 28, 2006 22:01
Image page[Bay Checkerspot butterfly -- David Wright, FWS]
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Bay Checkerspot butterfly -- David Wright, FWS
San Mateo County supervisors will consider passing a resolution Tuesday affirming the Endangered Species Act, a 33-year-old bill that may be jeopardized itself by pending federal legislation authored by a California representative.

Supervisor Jerry Hill will ask the board to pass a resolution continuing support of the act and pressing the necessity to keep it intact. The act is particularly important to San Mateo County, according to Hill s proposal, because more than 200 species of endangered animals reside in the Bay Area.

Many of them residing in San Mateo County refuses such as Montara Mountain, Edgewood Preserve, San Bruno Mountain and the wetlands of Rockaway Beach and those adjacent to Belle Air Elementary School in San Bruno, are officially designated species of concern and have been listed as threatened or endangered, Hill stated in a memo on the resolution.

In Edgewood Preserve alone, 10 endangered plant species live including the San Mateo Thornmint, according to county data. The park also houses the endangered Bay Checkerspot butterfly.

  Behind GE's Clean-Energy PushJanuary 27, 2006 19:54 You can say clean technologies have gone mainstream when General Electric gets into the act.

The industrial giant began a few years ago to buy up some of the renewable-energy divisions from larger companies like Enron. Now, GE is increasing its R&D and marketing development budgets to create a larger name for itself in coal gasification, wind power and fuel cells.

Ali Iz, the general manager of technology growth at General Electric, the group that oversees GE's solar and other alternative-energy efforts, recently sat down with Editor at Large Michael Kanellos to discuss how the conglomerate will bring out products that will pollute less and add to GE's bottom line.

  Protect Florida Beaches, ForeverJanuary 27, 2006 16:27 Weeks after Florida's congressional delegation blocked attempts to open state waters to oil and gas drilling, the Interior Department has launched another sneak attack.

Sixteen of the 27 delegation members wrote to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, condemning a secret meeting that spawned plans to give Louisiana and Alabama, which support drilling, jurisdiction over areas as close as 20 miles off the state's beaches. It is the Bush administration's latest attempt to put energy companies ahead of Floridians and the state's tourist economy, and it was expected.

  Florida Has Lost Its Say In DrillingJanuary 26, 2006 18:15 The Bush administration is poised in the next two weeks to offer an energy plan that could open millions of acres of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling.

Many of Florida's lawmakers weighed in Tuesday with a complaint that the administration quietly changed its rules to give pro-drilling states a greater say than Florida over whether that happens.

Congress has battled about drilling off Florida's coast for years -- the most recent skirmish ending in late 2005. But now the Bush administration can move without congressional approval.

Every five years, the Department of the Interior decides which areas will be open for oil and gas drilling, and the next proposal is expected within weeks.

  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Releases 2004 Report On Endangered Species Act SpendingJanuary 25, 2006 00:00 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a report to Congress on Federal and State government spending associated with implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in fiscal year 2004. The report provides a species-by-species account of expenditures made for the conservation of endangered and threatened species.

The Service and 30 other Federal agencies reported expenditures this fiscal year and all 50 States were involved in the reporting process. Total expenditures reported for 2004 were $1.4 billion, of which $793 million was reported as expenditures for specific individual species and $60 million was reported for land acquisition.

Interesting numbers given that the Bush administration has budgeted something like $17M for endangered species protection.

  2005 Hottest Year on RecordJanuary 25, 2006 00:00 Last year was the warmest recorded on Earth's surface, and it was unusually hot in the Arctic, U.S. space agency NASA said on Tuesday.

All five of the hottest years since modern record-keeping began in the 1890s occurred within the last decade, according to analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In descending order, the years with the highest global average annual temperatures were 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004, NASA said in a statement.

  Mouse Frustrates Endangered Species PolicyJanuary 25, 2006 00:00 An acrobatic mouse is threatening Bush administration efforts to give Western developers an upper hand over endangered species.

The Preble's meadow jumping mouse is in fact a distinct creature, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study presented Wednesday to senior Interior Department officials.

That finding contradicts research touted by Interior Secretary Gale Norton last February when she proposed removing the mouse from the government's endangered species list. Critics say it also undercuts the administration's claim that it uses the best science available in promoting fewer protections for imperiled wildlife.

  Red Knot Emergency Listing Petition DeniedJanuary 24, 2006 00:00 The Bush administration has declined an emergency request from Defenders of Wildlife and others to provide Endangered Species Act protections for the red knot. This despite the fact that the bird has seen a 90% drop in its population over the last ten years and is forecasted by scientists to go extinct as soon as 2010.

"The Bush administration has ignored the clear and compelling science showing that emergency listing is desperately needed to protect the red knot," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, Executive Vice President and Former Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. "If the bird is not awarded protection under the Endangered Species Act, it will likely disappear from New Jersey s shores in a matter of years."

  Florida to Change Listing of some Endangered SpeciesJanuary 23, 2006 00:00 Florida could shuffle three high-profile animals manatees, bald eagles and gopher tortoises -- on its imperiled species list, but the move won't cause any significant changes in their protection.
Scientists appointed to special state review panels on Friday released draft reports that recommend:
- Manatees be downlisted from endangered to threatened under state criteria because their numbers have increased in recent decades.
- Bald eagles be removed from the imperiled species list because state research indicates the species' population has rebounded since the 1970s.
- Gopher tortoises be reclassified from a species of special concern to threatened status. Tortoise habitat is shrinking as land is cleared for development.
  Oceans In PerilJanuary 23, 2006 00:00 The Bush administration remains in denial about climate change and sometimes treats environmental protection as an inconvenience. Yet there was reason to hope, when the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy issued its report more than a year ago, that President Bush would seize the issue of the dire threat to this country's coastal waters. The commission was the second major task force in recent years to detail the rapidly deteriorating ecology of America's oceans. All serious looks at the issue have reached similar conclusions: that current human use of oceans is unsustainable and that without dramatic changes in the ways the waters are exploited and enjoyed, the seas will die out. The magnitude of the crisis offers an opportunity for the president to lead on a preeminent environmental issue.

So far, it is an opportunity Mr. Bush has largely passed up.

  Environment: Warming TrendJanuary 20, 2006 00:00 When he first ran for president, George W. Bush liked to ask why people in Washington, D.C., put partisanship and special interests over the public good. When he got there, though, he broke his pledge to limit power plants' global-warming emissions.
  Arizona Unions Favor ESAJanuary 20, 2006 00:00 On January 11, the Pima Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO) passed a resolution in strong support of the Endangered Species Act. PALF represents more than 20 thousand union workers and their families in Tucson and Southern Arizona.
  Colorado Voters May Get to Vote on Smoking BanJanuary 19, 2006 00:00 Colorado smokers may get to vote on a statewide smoking ban in a tense election year.
  Roman Catholic Church Restates Support for EvolutionJanuary 19, 2006 00:00 The Roman Catholic Church has restated its support for evolution with an article praising a U.S. court decision that rejects the "intelligent design" theory as non-scientific.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said that teaching intelligent design -- which argues that life is so complex that it needed a supernatural creator -- alongside Darwin's theory of evolution would only cause confusion.

  Group Promotes Energy Integration And Cooperation In The AmericasJanuary 19, 2006 00:00 A Washington-based public policy group is advocating an ambitious proposal for energy integration and cooperation in the Americas, with the ultimate goal of making the hemisphere energy self-sufficient. Proponents say the plan would spark economic development and solidify democracy in the Americas, but admit that potential pitfalls exist, including political rifts between the United States and some of its biggest energy partners, such as Venezuela
  Former Republican EPA Chiefs Accuse Bush Of Neglecting Global WarmingJanuary 19, 2006 00:00 Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, five of them Republicans, say the Bush administration is ignoring environmental problems. The EPA's first administrator, Bill Ruckelshaus, says the administration isn't committed to preventing greenhouse gases and solving other problems. Ruckelshaus served under Presidents Nixon and Reagan.
  Species Of Oregon Coast Salmon Won't Be Listed As EndangeredJanuary 18, 2006 00:00 Conflict in the long-running Northwest salmon wars shifted Tuesday from the Columbia River to the coast of Oregon, as the Bush administration announced that Oregon Coast coho -- a species that collapsed in the 1990s before a modest rebound -- will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
  Greenpeace Gives Anti-Whaling PetitionJanuary 17, 2006 00:00 Greenpeace activists yesterday presented 2655 signed petitions to various ambassadors and high commissioners, urging them to actively lend their support for an end to commercial and scientific whaling.
  Congress Should Reject Attempt To Reduce Emissions StandardsJanuary 17, 2006 00:00 New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer called the EPA's latest effort at diluting clean air and water rules "yet another poorly considered notion to appease a few polluting constituents at the expense of a valuable program." Spitzer's criticism is joined by California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont and Wisconsin,
  Redesigned Signs Warn Of Dangers During Whale SeasonJanuary 17, 2006 00:00 Fearing that more boating traffic increases the potential for collisions with humpback whales during the winter whale season, state and federal agencies say they are posting new warning signs at harbors and boat ramps in Hawaii.
  Bush Gets His Wish In His Alaskan Oil-For-Caribou Drilling ProgramJanuary 13, 2006 00:00 Armed with assurances that technological advances in oil drill techniques will greatly reduce harm to flora and fauna, the U.S. Department of The Interior on Wednesday gave approval to open 400,000 acres of Alaska's previously protected northern region to oil exploration and subsequent drilling in an effort to meet the growing energy demand of the American consumer.

  Bush to Propose Additional Spending for Clean Air in Far EastJanuary 13, 2006 00:00 We send China $30 billion a month in trade surplus, but president George W. Bush will request that Congress budget $52 million to promote clean energy technologies in the Asia-Pacific region and international cooperation in other energy areas, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said at an international meeting in Sydney on Thursday.
  12 States Oppose Bush Plan On PollutionJanuary 13, 2006 00:00 Attorneys general in 12 states said Friday that the Bush administration's plan to ease rules on reporting legal toxin releases would compromise the public's right to know about possible health risks in their neighborhoods.
  Endangered Species Act Helps UsJanuary 13, 2006 00:00 Despite its success, some in Washington want to drastically change the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Backers of current efforts to amend it seem to assign no social value to preserving America's plants and animals as a legacy for future generations. Their version of a new Endangered Species Act would have political appointees evaluating the threat of extinction for a species, instead of trained biologists. In essence, their new ESA would make complying with the law a voluntary decision by landowners, requiring the government to pay those who choose not to kill our endangered species.
  Bush Administration Opens Region Around Teshekpuk Lake To Oil DrillingJanuary 12, 2006 00:00 A vast, roadless region of Arctic Alaska, an important caribou and bird-nesting area that also may hold some of the nation's richest oil deposits, was opened to oil drilling Wednesday over the bitter objections of environmentalists. The Bush administration said that special rules would be enough to protect the sensitive landscape as it reversed a Reagan-era decision to keep hundreds of thousands of acres around Teshekpuk Lake, on Alaska's North Slope, off-limits to oil.

  Global Warming Cited In Loss Of Frog SpeciesJanuary 12, 2006 00:00 Rising temperatures are responsible for pushing dozens of frog species over the brink of extinction in the past three decades, according to a new findings being reported today by a team of Latin American and U.S. scientists. The study, published in the journal Nature, provides concrete evidence that climate change has already helped wipe out a slew of species and could spur more extinctions and the spread of disease worldwide.

  Interior Secretary, Idaho Governor Sign Ill-Fated Wolf Management PlanJanuary 11, 2006 00:00 The Republican-controlled Department of the Interior has handed over mangement of wolves in the state of Idaho to the state. The state legislature previously passed a resolution to kill wolves by any and all means. Great move, Secretary Norton.
  Gov. Bush Opposes Drilling Boundary PlanJanuary 11, 2006 00:00 Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday he's opposed to the proposed shifting of boundaries that would allow oil drilling as close as 100 miles from Florida's coast. Last week, the Department of Interior drew new boundaries that could give Louisiana authority over millions of acres currently controlled by Florida. Louisiana freely allows drilling.
  Democratic Congressional Delegation Tout Energy IndependenceJanuary 11, 2006 00:00 With a waste-to-energy gas plant as a backdrop, Democrats in Arkansas' congressional delegation prodded the Bush administration Tuesday to make a commitment to lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
  Bush Administration Attempts Sneaky Offshore Drilling Boundary ShiftingJanuary 10, 2006 00:00 The Bush administration has made another attempt at shifting the boundary of Florida territorial waters, giving ownership of territory as close as 100 miles from the Florida coast to Louisiana, a state that is far more amenable to the oil industry. The sneaky proposal would simultaneously open up Florida's coast to offshore drilling and rob the Sunshine State of oil revenue.
  ESA Protects Local SpeciesJanuary 09, 2006 00:00 The Endangered Species Act, as it now exists, is the only piece of legislation that stands between life and oblivion for dozens of endemic American species.
  CA Gov. Fires Top Aide Over GOP Ribbing on EnvironmentJanuary 09, 2006 00:00 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently fired a top aide who poked fun at the Bush administration s environmental record at a Dec. 7 Memorial Auditorium event on global warming. The firing came even though Cabinet Secretary Terry Tamminen praised the governor's environmental record during the same address.

  Norton Backs Effort To Overhaul Endangered Species ActJanuary 06, 2006 00:00 Interior Secretary Gale Norton is backing congressional efforts to rewrite the federal Endangered Species Act, an undertaking that could give landowners tax breaks for helping plants and animals and allocate more power to political appointees. Norton has proven to be as partisan a Secretary as there ever was and is failing in her responsibilities to steward our natural resources.
  Variety of Deep Water Fish on the DeclineJanuary 05, 2006 00:00 A variety of deep water fish appear to be on decline, suggesting that heat pumping into the oceans from global warming may have catastrophic effects on the whole ocean ecology.
  Senators Headed To Antarctica For Update On Climate ResearchJanuary 03, 2006 00:00 Three Senators, including John McCain (R-AZ), are on their way to Antarctica to hear research and evidence on climate change. The Senators are making the trip to help publicize the need for more investigation into man-made global climate change.
  Overhaul Of Endangered Species Act Taking ShapeJanuary 03, 2006 00:00 It's too bad, but our legislators are going to give in to the development and mining interests and 'overhaul' the Endangered Species Act. I hope that Nixon is rolling in his grave over this one.