The Environment

  Pollution And Its Effect To The EnviornmentJune 30, 2006 21:20 Intersting international Environment blog from Bangladesh.
  Gov. Jeb Bush Praises Offshore Drilling Bill, Florida Delegation SplitJune 29, 2006 20:20 Gov. Jeb Bush welcomed the passage Thursday of a bill by the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow oil and natural gas drilling 50 miles off Florida's shores, but he promised to ask state lawmakers to keep the rigs 100 miles away.

The vote split Florida's House delegation 14-11 in favor of the bill, which passed 232-187. Both of the state's senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Mel Martinez, have said they would filibuster to try to prevent it from passing in the Senate.

The bill would lift a 25-year moratorium on drilling off most of the nation's coastlines but replace it with the 50-mile buffer. States then could permit drilling closer to shore or expand the buffer to 100 miles.

Bush was worried that without such legislation the state would have no protection because the moratorium is scheduled to expire in 2012.
  16 Species Will Be Considered For Maine's Special-Protection ListsJune 27, 2006 15:16 There's literally only a handful of them along the Kennebec River.

One of them was seen in the river's waters, and a couple more in its tributaries.

"That doesn't mean there couldn't be more," said Beth Swartz, a state wildlife biologist.

The brook floater, like 10 other species of freshwater mussels in Maine, was part of a thorough, almost decadelong investigation in the 1990s that "pretty much covered the whole state," Swartz said.

Some of Maine's healthiest mussel populations can number in the thousands, Swartz said. But it's also one of the most sensitive species, and the largest population of brook floaters found in southern Maine has reached only about 125.
  Killing the ESA with Budget CutsJune 27, 2006 15:12 Massachusetts would lose a quarter of its $1 million annual budget for protecting endangered species under a spending plan approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last month.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations is expected to vote Thursday whether to go along with the budget cut, which is included in the country's fiscal 2007 budget, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

In Massachusetts, the budget cut would target programs that monitor endangered species and restore at-risk populations and habitats, according to officials with the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, commonly known as MassWildlife.

MassWildlife relies almost entirely on federal money to operate its Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, which is responsible for protecting about 440 species that are endangered, threatened or of "special concern," state officials said.

  Supreme Court To Hear Bush Environment CaseJune 26, 2006 12:39 The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether the Bush administration must regulate carbon dioxide to combat global warming, setting up what could be one of the court's most important decisions on the environment.

The decision means the court will address whether the administration's decision to rely on voluntary measures to combat climate change are legal under federal clean air laws.

"This is the whole ball of wax. This will determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency is to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and whether EPA can regulate carbon dioxide from power plants," said David Bookbinder, an attorney for the Sierra Club.
  Bush's Move On Hawaii LaudableJune 21, 2006 10:32 President Bush has not acted often to save the environment, but when he did the other day it was a whopper. He created the largest marine reserve in the world - more expansive than Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park - by declaring almost 140,000 square miles of uninhabited Hawaiian islands, ocean and coral reefs a national monument.

The designation will end commercial fishing in the area over the next five years and protect more than 7,000 species, a quarter of them unique to the place. Conrad Lautenbacher, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will manage the newly designated Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument, described its significance this way: "It is a place to maintain biodiversity and to maintain basically the nurseries of the Pacific."

Now a significant part of Bush's legacy will be forever linked to this act of environmental heroism. Though few Americans will ever get to see the monument - it's a two-day trip by boat from the nearest populated islands - they should be comforted by this important step to renew our dwindling ocean resources. In fact, Congress should be motivated to pass a strengthened Magnuson Stevens Act, the laws by which our fisheries are managed that are currently being debated.
  Beach Trash Harming Endangered SpeciesJune 21, 2006 10:29 Folks trying to protect sea turtles say the beach strand is littered worse than ever this year and the trash is harming endangered species.

Volunteers of the Sea Turtle Project at Wrightsville Beach walk the strand every morning to pick up trash.

Nancy Faye-Craig said, "And it is much worse this year. And I believe it is just because we have more visitors than we have had in the past."

Martha Eggleston said, "We're here -- we spent the money to park -- we shouldn't have to clean up after ourselves. They don't leave their homes like that, I shouldn't think."

But the coast is the home for sea turtles.
  Clean Water Act Saved But LimitedJune 20, 2006 08:44 The U.S. Supreme Court limited the reach of the Clean Water Act, saying it applies only to wetlands with a close connection to a river, lake or some other major waterway.

The justices, voting 5-4, ordered a new round of hearings for two sets of Michigan landowners whose efforts to build on their property have been stymied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The majority was divided in its reasoning, with Justice Anthony Kennedy refusing to join four other justices in putting even more restraints on the federal regulators.

Kennedy's separate opinion now becomes the controlling law. He established a new test, saying the Corps can regulate only wetlands that have a ``significant nexus'' to a major waterway. He also said that in both cases before the justices, the Corps had at least some evidence of that type of connection.
  Fish and Wildlife OKs plan to help Platte River speciesJune 20, 2006 08:42 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has signed off on a plan to help endangered species using the Platte River in Nebraska.

The federal agency has determined that the plan - involving two federal agencies, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, water users and environmentalists - won't jeopardize the endangered species.

Those species include the whooping crane, pallid sturgeon, interior least tern and piping plover.

The plan to help the species calls for increased flows on the Platte and more land set aside for wildlife in Nebraska.
  Parklands: The New Endangered SpeciesJune 19, 2006 10:19 The ice-covered mountain tops are shrouded by fog. A stream gushes against the rocks on a headlong rush to the lake. High above the deserted visitors' parking lot, an elk stares at a lone hiker.

Glacier National Park is an island, a sanctuary from the outside world.

But for how long?

To the west, subdivisions and vacation homes march toward its borders. To the north, bulldozers push deeper through the forests to a planned coal mine in the Canadian Flathead River Valley.

To the south, an emotional debate rages over whether to allow oil and gas interests to explore a sacred Blackfoot Indian plot. From above, gradual warming continues to nibble away at the park's famed glaciers. Once as many as 150, they barely number 35 today.

"If this keeps up, we may be looking at the National Park Formerly Known as Glacier," said Steve Thompson, a Montana program manager for the non-profit
  Japanese Whaling Agenda HarpoonedJune 19, 2006 09:43 Australia has vowed to fight Japan's one small victory at the International Whaling Commission -- a non-binding pro-whaling resolution which has no effect on existing bans on commercial whaling. The non-binding resolution follows four more important votes held at the four-day IWC meeting, all lost by Japan. These including a vote which would have allowed Japanese coastal communities to hunt a limited number of whales. Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell stressed yesterday's resolution, "doesn't have any effect" on a 1986 global moratorium on commercial whaling. However he said a "magnificent coalition" of anti-whaling nations would now form to counter Japan's push for a resumption of commercial hunting.
  Japan Welcomes Vote Against Whaling BanJune 19, 2006 09:24 Japan was jubilant today after the International Whaling Commission voted to oppose the 1986 ban on commercial whaling, a move that conservationists fear could lead to a resumption of large-scale hunting and bring whale populations to the brink of extinction. Though Japan and other pro-whaling nations fell well short of the 75% of votes they need to overturn the IWC moratorium, a foreign ministry spokesman in Tokyo hailed the passage of a resolution critical of the ban as "a significant step forward".
  Redford Tells Liberals To 'Forget Bush' On 'Global Warming'June 13, 2006 14:42 Actor/activist Robert Redford told liberals attending a political conference on Monday to "forget Bush" when seeking solutions to "global warming" because "you can't reason with a stone."

During one of the opening events of the three-day "Take Back America" conference, Redford also blamed what he called an inadequate response to "serious climate change issues" on "a lack of leadership at the top" of the federal government.

"They're not going to change," Redford said of President George W. Bush and his administration, "and it's pretty clear why. They have a stranglehold on both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court to boot."

If that's the case, then "where can such leadership come from?" Redford asked. "It can only come from one place, and that's from the bottom up," the actor noted, calling a grassroots movement "the best way, the American way" to deal with "global warming."

  Florida Removes Manatee From Endangered Species ListJune 08, 2006 16:00 Florida wildlife officials on Wednesday removed the manatee from the state's endangered species list in a move both momentous but in practical terms meaningless for now.

It was the most hotly debated issue in a daylong meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which also added the gopher tortoise to the list of threatened species and dropped the previously threatened bald eagle from its classifications.

In their unanimous vote on manatees, the commissioners emphasized that downlisting the seacow to a status as a threatened species doesn't immediately change anything for the animals. State restrictions on boat speeds, which aim to prevent collisions with manatees, will stay in place, and the manatee remains on the federal government's separate endangered list.

Far from ending the debate over the manatee's status, Wednesday's vote sets the stage for the next battle as Florida wildlife officials begin to put together a statewide management plan that will assemble all the existing protection regulations into a single blueprint for manatee's survival.

  An Inconvenient TruthJune 07, 2006 20:19 This is the link to the site for Al Gore's new movie. Check it out!
  Timber Industry Gets Exemption From Endangered-Species LawJune 06, 2006 20:27 For the next half-century, Washington's timber industry will be shielded from Endangered Species Act prosecutions for harming salmon and four dozen other types of water creatures, the federal government declared Monday.

In exchange, the industry pledged to take steps to help salmon, such as leaving forests alongside streams on 9.3 million acres. That's one-fifth of the state, making it the largest such deal in the West.

But as speaker after speaker at a signing ceremony cited that figure -- 9.3 million acres protected -- none bothered to bring up the asterisk: Officials don't really know yet how many of those acres actually will get the promised preservation measures.

That's because of breaks granted in the deal to small-time timberland owners. There is no firm figure on how much land is involved.

Indian tribes, citing their on-the-ground look at it in portions of the state, objected last week and warned that up to 35 percent of the land supposedly protected might not be.

  FL Should Revise Imperiled Species ClassificationJune 05, 2006 14:51 Conservation and animal welfare groups from Florida and around the nation have petitioned the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, urging the state to revise its imperiled species classification system.

Using this flawed system, the FWC has already downlisted the red-cockaded woodpecker, despite opposition from many scientists. If the current classification system is not changed, many of Florida's at-risk species, such as the manatee, northern right whale, Florida panther and Florida black bear, could suffer the same fate as the woodpecker, resulting in less protection and misleading the public into thinking these species have recovered.

Florida is rapidly being developed, increasing the threats to wildlife and making not only survival, but also the state's goal of endangered species recovery, an enormous and difficult challenge. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in five years Florida will surpass New York in population, making it the third most populous state in the nation.

In 1999, the FWC modified its classification system to incorporate the listing criteria of the World Conservation Union, a world authority on endangered species, except for one critical difference. Modifications were made in 2005, but the changes failed to fix this major flaw.

  Corporate America Warms To Fight Against Global WarmingJune 01, 2006 19:26 Corporate leaders don't normally invite the federal government to raise their taxes. But that's exactly what Paul Anderson is doing.
Anderson, the chairman of Charlotte-based Duke Energy, wants the federal government to fight global warming by taxing companies based on the "greenhouse gases" they pump into the atmosphere — just the sort of big-government remedy the Bush administration says would hobble the economy.

For his efforts, Anderson has been excoriated by conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and threatened with an "exorcism" by an industry peer.

But Anderson, 61, is no closet left-winger. He's a registered Republican, Bush backer and member of the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. That such a Big Business stalwart is demanding federal action on climate change illustrates an unmistakable evolution in corporate thinking, motivated both by evidence that global warming already is affecting the economy and by the prospect of fat profits from new environment-friendly products.

"If we approach this rationally, it will not be disruptive to the economy and will not turn the world upside down and will, at the same time, address the problem," says Anderson.

  Group Wants FL To Reassess Endangered Species Process - Orlando Sentinel : News Group Wants State To Reassess Endangered Species ProcessJune 01, 2006 12:56 An environmental coalition, led by the Save the Manatee Club, filed a petition with state wildlife officials today, asking that they rework Florida's system for classifying endangered species, just days before the state considers changing that status for manatees.

The petition asks the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to change the system, arguing that it is flawed and could cause species to lose protections.

The coalition of 10 organizations also fear that for animals that lose their endangered species status, the public would be misled that the animal population is doing better than it is.

On June 7, the commission is scheduled to vote on a petition to downgrade the manatee from endangered to threatened status.