The Environment

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  Security Plan Imperils Endangered SpeciesFebruary 27, 2006 22:45 An area just north of Tijuana and south of San Diego -- the last refuge for many endangered species -- is being threatened by a fence.

The National Estuarine Research reserve -- all that remains of the wilderness that once was common in southern California -- is home to more than 350 species of birds, as well as 20 kinds of fish and a plethora of other endangered animals and plants.

Now, in the name of national security, the Department of Homeland Security wants to build 15-foot-high fencing just south of the federally protected land -- a border protection project environmentalists say could spell disaster for the sensitive ecology of the region, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.


 
  Endangered Species Act is More About Offset than RecoveryFebruary 26, 2006 00:00 One of the most persistent criticisms of the ESA is that few species have been pulled back from the brink of extinction after 30 years. Yet a look at the ESA makes it clear that its primary thrust is not to bring about species recovery, but to slow or stop human actions that are contributing to extinction.
  Whales In North Sea At Risk Of BeachingFebruary 23, 2006 20:31 The Natural History Museum says the number of whale, dolphin and porpoise strandings in Britain has more than doubled over the past decade, from 360 in 1994 to 782 in 2004.

Conservationists say the "industrialization" of the sea and the use of sonar equipment damages the whales' communication and navigational systems, the newspaper said.

  Groups Seek Endangered Species Protection For MI Prized FishFebruary 23, 2006 20:09 Two groups are asking the federal government to declare the coaster brook trout an endangered species, which could place an additional obstacle in the path of a proposed nickel and copper mine in the Upper Peninsula.

The Sierra Club and the Huron Mountain Club, a hunting and fishing preserve in Marquette County, said Thursday that they had petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add the fish to the federal endangered list.

The coaster, prized for its large size, is distinct from other brook trout because it migrates into the Great Lakes and spends much of its life there, instead of remaining in tributary streams.

  Canada Endangered Species In An Alarming DeclineFebruary 23, 2006 18:26 A new study finds polar bears, barn owls, monarch butterflies and other endangered animals and plants are in an alarming state of decline in Ontario, Canada.

And the report by a coalition of environmentalists blames outdated provincial legislation for doing little to reverse the trend.

The analysis finds more than three-quarters of species identified as endangered receive no legal protection in the province.

  Perils to Endangered Species are Not Removed by Recovery and DelistingFebruary 22, 2006 20:34 IN PROPOSING to lift endangered-species protections from bald eagles and some grizzly bears, the Bush administration is heralding two triumphs of resilience and recovery. Fair enough, up to a point.

We're happy to join the applause for these two icons of American wildlife. But the stories of their restoration also raise serious questions about the future, not only of these creatures but of species protection in general.

By the numbers, bald eagles have been ready to fly free of Endangered Species Act listing since at least 1999. Thanks to ESA and other federal laws, the eagle population in the lower 48 states has grown from about 400 nesting pairs in the early 1960s to more than 7,000 pairs today. But the Clinton administration's "de-listing" proposal spotlighted disagreements over eagle safeguards in two other federal laws, which will continue to protect these birds but not necessarily their habitat.

  Endangered Species ChocolatesFebruary 20, 2006 18:11 Now this is the kind of American company we like.

With the company s core value Reverence for Life on their minds, four team members from Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC) arrived in Nigeria on Feb. 3, 2006, to document ethically traded farming practices in the villages where ESC sources the cacao that makes the nation s leading brand of all-natural chocolate.

ESC representatives visited the villages of Etung L.G.A. and Bendeghe Ekiem in the Ikom region of Nigeria, which is located about 30 miles west of the Cameroon border.

Taking more than 600 pictures and logging hours of video footage, the team followed the journey of its cocoa beans from the cacao trees on which they grow to the ocean vessels that transport them to the chocolate production facilities in Europe. Each step of the way, ESC representatives were able to confirm firsthand that the chocolate used in Endangered Species Chocolate products is ethically traded. The crops are harvested by adult workers who are paid a fair wage, and the money spent by ESC for the crop is used by the owner/farmer and benefits the village near the farm.

  Arizona National Forest Land Included in BLM SaleFebruary 18, 2006 17:40 The Kaibab National Forest would lose 360 acres as part of President Bush's budget for the coming fiscal year, Forest Service documents show.

The areas proposed for sale are located south of Interstate 40 near Parks, in Parks, in Pitman Valley and in Spring Valley, nine miles north of Parks along forest roads 97 and 141.
"They're all little parcels of land that are almost surrounded with private property or by private property," Kaibab spokeswoman Cathie Schmidlin said.

  Bush Promotes Florida Drilling ProposalFebruary 18, 2006 17:39 Even as energy companies and his own administration call for more aggressive oil and gas exploration in U.S. waters, President Bush told drilling opponents in this politically crucial state Friday that they should "rest easy."

But despite the reassuring language, Bush in fact was embracing the very drilling expansion proposal that had riled environmentalists and Florida politicians of both parties.

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Bush said he was committed to preventing oil drilling within 100 miles of the state's Gulf Coast.

But that stance would allow a dramatic encroachment by oil rigs, which under an administration proposal would be permitted to move into parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico that are off-limits now.

  Accounting For Endangered SpeciesFebruary 18, 2006 17:34 Although the cost of protecting endangered species may be in the billions of dollars, that cost is worth it and should be seen for what it is: The cost of allowing businesses and government to carelessly use our natural resources.
 
  Bush's Coal-Plant Rules Under FireFebruary 18, 2006 17:26 Ontario's Environment Minister says a Bush administration proposal to weaken pollution laws on hundreds of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the United States is a backward step that will undermine the province's clean-air programs.

The U.S. proposal is bad news for the health of people living anywhere in our shared air shed, no matter if you've got a postal code or a ZIP code, Laurel Broten said yesterday.

Her comments came after Ontario joined 11 U.S. states, mainly from the northeast, in filing objections to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would allow aging coal-fired power plants to continue operating without up-to-date pollution controls.


 
  Goodbye Florida: Glacial Study Shows Faster Melting RateFebruary 17, 2006 19:48 The amount of ice flowing into the sea from large glaciers in southern Greenland has almost doubled in the past 10 years, possibly requiring scientists to increase estimates of how much the world's oceans could rise under the influence of global warming, according to a study being published Friday in the journal Science.

The authors said there is evidence the rise in flows would soon spread to glaciers farther north on the vast island, whose ice sheet is nearly 2 miles thick in places and holds enough water to raise global sea levels 20 feet or more should it all flow into the ocean.

The study, which compared satellite measurements of the ice in 1996, 2000 and 2005, was performed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and the University of Kansas.


 
  Yellowstone Buffalo Slaughter Nears 800February 17, 2006 15:56 On Friday, February 10, the National Park Service (NPS) captured 193 buffalo inside Yellowstone National Park and plans to slaughter them all, bringing the number captured in the last month to 865 and the number killed to 779. 86 calves were sent to the Corwin Springs quarantine facility earlier this year. As in January, Montana has refused to transport the buffalo to slaughterhouses, prompting involvement from the US Department of Homeland Security.

"Yellowstone officials are blatantly ignoring the will of the American people by slaughtering, rather than protecting, wild bison," said Stephany Seay of the wild bison advocacy group Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC). "Destroying nearly 800 of the country's last native wild buffalo to appease one small cattle ranch should be a punishable crime."

Some of the bison captured by the Park Service migrated onto or near the Royal Teton Ranch, owned by the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT). The ranch is located within North America's largest wildlife migration corridor directly adjacent to Yellowstone's northern boundary. In 1999 U.S. taxpayers spent $13 million on conservation easements to allow wild bison to access these lands. The government never finalized the deal.

  President Can't Open ANWR, So He'll Just Sell ItFebruary 16, 2006 17:48 The President today released figures for a national 2007 budget including an estimated 7 billion dollars in new revenues from federal lease sales in the 10-02 Area of ANWR. This is an increase of nearly 3 fold from the original $2.4 billion estimate in 2004-5 budget years by the Office of Management and Budget. It is thought that the jump reflects the dramatic increase in the price of oil over the last 3 years.

Once the President signs ANWR legislation into law, the Department of Interior would conduct leases sales of the 10-02 Area 21 months after signature. The tax royalties from the oil lease sales of the 10-02 Area would be split 50-50 with the State of Alaska and the Federal Government.

  EPA Budget Cuts Trouble Environment GroupsFebruary 16, 2006 16:25 Grants to state and local governments for land and water conservation would be cut 40 percent, and money for the Environmental Protection Agency's network of libraries for scientists would be slashed severely under President Bush's proposed budget.

By contrast, Bush next year would spend $322 million for "cooperative conservation" -- up from $312 million the Congress approved last year -- to encourage more private landowners to protect endangered species, conserve wildlife habitats and do other nature work traditionally done by government.

Other proposed increases are $50 million more for cleaner-burning diesel engines and $5 million more for drinking water improvements.

Early in his presidency, Bush called for restoring the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to the full $900 million authorized by Congress. Last year, it was approved at $142 million. For 2007, he wants just $85 million in grants for creating and preserving non-federal parks, forest land and wildlife refuges, a 40 percent cut.

  Wash. Orcas Listed As Endangered SpeciesFebruary 16, 2006 16:16 Already designated a depleted species under one federal act, Washington state's killer whale population is getting more federal protection under another.

Since 2002, the orcas have been protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which kept them from being killed or harassed, but their listing under the Endangered Species Act gives them the highest protection available under the law.

The listing was announced in November but goes into effect Thursday.

  Can Environmentalists Be Swing Voters?February 15, 2006 16:47 Democrats need to be careful or the Republican party could co-opt the traditional green-values of Democrats and convince environmentally conscious voters to be swing voters.
 
  Property Owners Around Rocky Flats Get $554M VerdictFebruary 15, 2006 16:03 A federal jury has recommended that Dow Chemical Company and the former Rockwell International Corporation pay $553.9 million to thousands of property owners near the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant.

Jurors found that residents near the plant suffered loss of property value and awarded nearly $177 million; they awarded an additional amount of nearly $177 million for property value loss due to nuisance; and they awarded punitive damages of $200 million.

Because the federal government indemnified Rocky Flats companies from lawsuits, our tax dollar will pay for the settlement and legal fees.

  On One-Year Anniversary Of Kyoto Protocol, Carbonfund.Org Launches Climate Challenge, Making It Easy And Affordable For Anyone To Reduce Their Climate ImpactFebruary 14, 2006 00:00 February 16th is the one-year anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol taking effect. Contrary to what some predicted, the sky has not fallen, and the vast majority of the industrialized world is taking significant steps toward reducing their carbon dioxide emissions to reduce the threat of climate change.

While the United States has not ratified Kyoto, responsible individuals, organizations and businesses, such as Working Assets and the National Wildlife Federation, are joining with Carbonfund.org taking steps to reduce their impact on climate change by offsetting the carbon dioxide they are responsible for.

On February 16th, Carbonfund.org, a national nonprofit organization that makes it easy and affordable for anyone to reduce their climate impact, is launching the Climate Challenge. The Climate Challenge is asking individuals, organizations and businesses to reduce their climate impact (or carbon footprint) by supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation.


 
  Idaho Plans Wolf Kill Under New 'Management' PlanFebruary 13, 2006 21:25 Idaho wants to kill as many as 51 wolves in the north-central part of the state, according to a plan that state Department of Fish and Game managers say will help boost the region's elk herds.

The killings would take place on the state's mountainous border with Montana, near State Highway 12. Biologists estimate there are between 43 and 69 wolves there, but too few elk for hunters.

The plan is to initially kill 75 percent of the area's wolves.


This would be one of the first actions taken by the state since assuming management control of about 600 federally protected wolves in Idaho last week.


 
  Bush Administration Plans To Sell $1 Billion In Public LandsFebruary 11, 2006 16:04 The Bush administration Friday laid out plans to sell off more than $1 billion in public lands over the next decade, including 85,000 acres of National Forest land in California.

Most of the proceeds would help pay for rural schools and roads, making up for a federal subsidy that has been eliminated from President Bush's 2007 budget.

Congress must approve the sales, which several experts said would amount to the largest sale of its kind since President Theodore Roosevelt established the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 and created the modern national forest system.

According to the local news, some of the sales are already going forward in Colorado.

  Don't Forget That Wolves Are Still An 'Endangered Species'February 10, 2006 00:00 The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources want people to be aware of the consequences of killing wolves in the state. According to the DNR, a 35-year-old Green Bay man was fined nearly $2,000 last fall for unintentionally killing an endangered or threatened species and revoked his trapping privileges for two years, and his hunting and fishing privileges for one year, after he illegally trapped and killed a gray wolf.

The case began in March 2005 when Conservation Warden Michael Stahl responded to a report by Shawano County DNR wildlife manager Kay Brockman-Medaras of a 'mortality signal' from a radio-collared wolf. The signal, which indicates a collared wolf has not moved for several hours, was obtained by a DNR pilot conducting aerial monitoring.

  Save Endangered Species ActFebruary 10, 2006 00:00 Certain politicians and Gale Norton, Sec. of the U.,S. Interior Dept. would have us believe that the Endangered Species Act isn t working and should be eliminated. They want us to believe that listing a species should magically make it prolific, never mind stabilizing a population til remedies for decline can be determined.

Facts are that of 1800 endangered species listed under the ESA only nine have been lost to extinction. The Gray Wolf, Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagle, Aleutian Canada Goose, Sea Otters, Manatees, and Sea Turtles are beginning to recover and in fact some of these animals are now off the Endangered List.

Many of these animals actually serve as important alarm systems for protecting human health and safety. Just as often they are essential components of a successful economy and a thriving natural world of which we are an indisputable part.

  EPA Budget Cuts Trouble Environment GroupsFebruary 10, 2006 00:00 Grants to state and local governments for land and water conservation would be cut 40 percent, and money for the Environmental Protection Agency's network of libraries for scientists would be slashed severely under President Bush's proposed budget.

By contrast, Bush next year would spend $322 million for "cooperative conservation" -- up from $312 million the Congress approved last year -- to encourage more private landowners to protect endangered species, conserve wildlife habitats and do other nature work traditionally done by government.

  Nez Perce Oppose State Wolf Kill Plan To Save ElkFebruary 10, 2006 00:00 An Indian tribe that s helped with gray wolf recovery efforts since the animals reintroduction to Idaho in 1995 says the state is moving too quickly with a plan to kill dozens of wolves to help restore elk herds on the border with Montana.

Rebecca Miles, chairwoman of the Nez Perce in Lapwai, said tribal wolf managers aren t convinced that studies of elk herds in the Clearwater River basin support a plan by state Department of Fish and Game officials to reduce wolf numbers in region to as few as 15, from about 60 animals now.


 
  Domestic Challengers to Bush's Anti-Global-Warming AgendaFebruary 09, 2006 19:56 US private, government, and corporate interests are converging on the same actions and policies in opposition to George W. Bush's do-nothing greenhouse gas posturing.
 
  The Right Supports Environmental ProtectionsFebruary 09, 2006 19:10 Evangelical Christians, pillars of the Bush presidency and the Republican majorities in Congress, are increasingly breaking with the White House and demanding real action to tackle climate change and avert a global disaster.

Eighty-six prominent figures in the movement, among them leading pastors, the heads of evangelical colleges and the Salvation Army, released a statement yesterday warning that "millions of people could die this century" because of global warming - most of them in the earth's poorest regions.

Until recently global warming has not been a priority for evangelicals, most familiar for their uncompromising stances on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, and their emphasis on the family. "Many of us required considerable convincing" that it was a problem, the statement acknowledges. But, it declared: "Now we have seen and heard enough."

  Feds Reject Effort To Protect Gunnison's Prairie DogFebruary 08, 2006 22:48 A federal agency has rebuffed an effort by environmental groups to extend endangered species protections to the Gunnison's prairie dog, saying there was too little information on the status and population trends of the rodent to justify a full review.

In a decision published Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would not conduct an in-depth review to consider listing the animal as threatened or endangered.


The service remains interested in the population status, trends and ongoing management actions important to the conservation of the Gunnison's prairie dog, and we encourage interested parties to continue to gather data that will assist in these conservation efforts, said Mitch King, the agency's mountain-prairie region director.


 
  Jeb Bush's Green Budget Gets PraiseFebruary 08, 2006 18:45 R\efreshingly, the environment was one of the biggest winners last week when Gov. Jeb Bush unveiled his final budget proposal, a huge $71 billion spending plan.

Bush put $3 billion of that toward funding environmental protection and restoration projects. In that pot of gold was the $300 million annually set aside for Florida Forever, the state's chief land preservation program that Bush has long championed; $310 million to acquire Babcock Ranch, a swath of roughly 74,000 undeveloped acres in southwest Florida from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico that would be spared from development; $328.5 million for projects to protect water quality and quantity, which includes $161.5 million for low-interest loans to communities making such efforts; and $41 million for recreation at state parks.

"It's a great budget for the environment, it really is," Eric Draper, a lobbyist for Audubon of Florida, told The Associated Press. "It's more money than they've ever put into the environment."

 
  BUSH BUDGET CONTINUES TO SHORTCHANGE ENDANGERED SPECIES PROTECTIONSFebruary 08, 2006 18:35 The president s budget, released today, would cut funding for key endangered species and wildlife protection programs. The cuts proposed for Fiscal Year 2007 are only the latest step backward from an administration that has consistently requested far less money than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to fulfill its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. The president s budget also cuts funding for national wildlife refuges, even as Fish and Wildlife desperately needs more funds to repair more than $200 million in damage to refuges from last year s Gulf Coast hurricanes.

Years of under-funding have hobbled the Fish and Wildlife Service s efforts to halt extinction and put endangered and threatened species on the road to recovery, said Melissa Waage with the Center for Biological Diversity. The president s budget request digs that hole even deeper by continuing to underfund endangered species protection and recovery.

Though the Endangered Species Act s fundamental purpose is to protect and recover species on the brink of extinction, the president s budget would cut endangered species recovery by $7.6 million below 2006 levels.

  Polar Bear Species Under Endangerment ReviewFebruary 08, 2006 18:30 The federal government is working to determine whether polar bears should be considered a threatened species as global warming is melting away the icy habitats where they live.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says protection may be warranted under the Endangered Species Act, beginning a review process to consider if the bears should be listed.

The agency will seek information about population distribution, habitat, effects of climate change on the bears and their prey, potential threats from development, contaminants and poaching during the next 60 days.


 
  'Exotic Hunting' Thrives In TexasFebruary 07, 2006 18:38 Hunting and environmental groups are both growing concerned with a practice that has been sanctioned by the president of the US in which hunters go to hunting ranges to shoot endangered and rare species. The species are often treated inhumanely and many show clear indications of domestication. According to presidential decree, the hunting ranches are allowed to offer some endangered species for support as long as they give 10% off the proceeds to conservation.
  Idaho Group Seeks Anti-Wolf InitiativeFebruary 07, 2006 17:30 An Idaho anti-wolf group wants to put an initiative on the ballot to remove wolves from the state "by any means possible."

Wolves have been controversial in Idaho since the federal government reintroduced 15 of the animals in 1995, decades after they had been killed off in the state. Some hunters say the wolves diminish deer and elk populations, while some ranchers say wolves put their livestock at risk.

The group launching the initiative, the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, is tired of seeing wolves treated better than humans, Ron Gillett, head of the coalition, told The Spokesman-Review.

  Wolf to Come off Endangered Species ListFebruary 03, 2006 17:25 Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to remove gray wolves in the northern Rockies from the endangered species list.

The agency's proposal, however, is contingent on whether the state of Wyoming develops an acceptable wolf management plant, said Dale Hall, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hall said Wyoming's current plan does not contain enough assurances that wolf populations can be sustained to meet the agency's recovery goals.

Federal officials have already turned over most of the day-to-day management of wolves to Montana and Idaho.

With the Bush administration unwilling to list species on the Endangered Species List, if the wolf falls back into trouble from poor management, it could truly be in peril.


 
  How Not To Eat An Endangered Species in South AfricaFebruary 01, 2006 17:39 A trip to your favourite seafood restaurant normally ends with a satisfied appetite and a weighty bill, but for all you know that succulent sole you've just enjoyed could very well be on the endangered species list.

SASSI, or The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative, was formed in November 2004 to inform and educate all in the seafood trade - from the local snoek hawker to the seafood lover - to be aware of the conservation issues around fishing for food.

Their key initiative is a seafood pocket guide that can be downloaded from their website, which uses a colour coding system (green, yellow, red) to rate the relative vulnerability of different fish species you may encounter in your supermarket or on the restaurant menu.

  Bush Makes Little of Global WarmingFebruary 01, 2006 17:33 President George W. Bush's call to break a U.S. addiction to oil is a step to curb global warming but does not herald conversion to a U.N.-led plan to slow climate change, experts said on Wednesday.

Bush said in his State of the Union address that he would seek to break dependence on Middle East oil via new technologies and jack up funding on energy sources including coal and nuclear power as well as wind and solar power, hydrogen and ethanol.

"This is fairly positive...the very mention of solar, wind and other clean energies is a huge step," said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany which accuses Bush of doing too little to stop global warming.