Welcome to Federal Policy Week, a blog that covers federal policy developments in conservation, natural resources, wildlife, and animal welfare.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
“The National Park Service was created by an Act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916. Yellowstone National Park was established by an Act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, as the nation’s first national park.” (NPS website)
Now that the Republicans have taken over Congress, we will likely see intensifying of efforts to stall action to reign in climate change. Expect increased criticism of and legislation to cut funding for many programs, including those promoting renewable energy (except from those who support ethanol), agriculture conservation, water and air pollution programs (the environment generally) and animal welfare (although clamping down on efforts to improve animal welfare through regressive policy is likely more of a threat). The majority in Congress will likely focus on forcing approval of the Keystone Pipeline XL, reversing efforts to protect various endangered species, preventing regulations on emissions from power plants, and undoing long-term beneficial activities. Even with the majorities, Republicans lack the votes to overcome a Presidential veto. So, the veto pen may be the only thing to stop the non-scientists (as many Republican politicians defined themselves when asked about climate change) from undoing sound, scientifically based policies.
Expect changes to key Congressional Committees, with new leadership, new Members, and likely, new priorities. The Chairman (and majority membership) on all Senate Committees will be Republicans, thereby changing the direction of many Committee hearings, probes, and legislation considered.
Other Notable Happens and News (from sources provided in links):
Sec. Jewell pledges to continue protecting public lands. Although Congress will make it more difficult for Secretary Jewell to continue with plans to protect public lands after the election, likely by pressing appropriations bills that restrict or eliminate funding for these efforts, Secretary Jewell pledge to continue her (and President Obama’s) activities, including designating national monuments. She emphasized in her speech the need to protect wilderness as a tool against climate change impacts. (Huffington Post).
NRCS & Climate. In response to a request by Rep. Waxman (D-CA) to examine USDA’s efforts to address climate change, GAO issued a report that recommended “that USDA develop performance measures that better reflect the breadth of USDA climate change efforts and use its performance plans and reports to provide information on how the agency plans to achieve its goals and the status of its efforts….(and) that USDA develop and provide information to farmers on the economic costs and returns of taking certain actions in response to climate change. USDA concurred with these recommendations.” USDA has many tools to educate and assist agriculture producers’ efforts to reduce and prepare for climate change. Hopefully, they will implement them.
Climate Change Risks. We all know the impending risks associated with climate change – the environment, flooding, species extinction, agriculture, but security risks are also climbing as a result of the climate change. The Pentagon recently released a report climate change “poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.” (NY Times)
Pesticides and Bees: A recent EPA analysis debunks the belief that treatment of soybean seeds with the neonicotinoid pesticides provides pest protection. There is an on-going concern that these pesticides harm honeybees and other pollinators. This is important information for farmers who spend money on pesticides that yield little or no benefit, but potential kill helpful insects. The comment period on this analysis is open until December 22, 2014.
Protecting Puppies: USDA’s APHIS, the agency charged with managing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) issued a final rule amending AWA regulations restricting imports of puppies. The new rule “ensures that dogs imported for resale are vaccinated and in good health, and required to be over six months of age” which is aimed at foreign puppy mills that breed (often unhealthy) dogs for import into the US for resale. While a step forward, it does not protect dogs imported for research purposes.