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IN THIS ISSUE:
Bad Arctic Report. NOAA released the latest reportcard on the Arctic and the news isn’t good. Some lowlights include:
- Decreasing sea ice has lead to decreasing polar bear numbers.
- Sea surface temperatures are increasing
- As the Arctic warmed, the atmosphere changed leading to warmer air in Alaska and cold air in parts of continental US.
- The Arctic has experienced increased biomass and greenness.
- Nearly 40% of the Greenland ice sheet experienced surface melting conditions.
Keystone & McConnell. As the new majority Leader in the Senate, Senator McConnell (R-KY) has promised that the first order of business for the Senate will be voting on (and passing) the controversial (and likely GHG raising) Keystone XL Pipeline (National Journal).
House Republicans On Climate Rules. As expected, Republican members of the House Energy Committee are strongly objecting to the EPA rules on power plants designed to limit the emission of GHG. Their summary of their hearings and oversight describe their assumptions and objections.
Senate Republican Committee Members. As a result of the mid-term elections, Senate Republicans will take control of the Senate Committees, both as Chairman and with a majority of the membership. The Republicans recently released the membership lists.
EPA Environmental Enforcement Results. EPA released its annual enforcement results. Some highlights included: “Reductions of an estimated 141 million pounds of air pollutants, including 6.7 million pounds of air toxics. Reductions of approximately 337 million pounds of water pollutants. Clean up of an estimated 856 million cubic yards of contaminated water/aquifers.”
Illegal Fishing. NMFS & NOAA released recommendations to address illegal fishing that comes from a multi-agency Task Force created to examine illegal and underreported fishing. The economic costs of illegal and unreported fishing are in the tens of billions of dollars, but the impact on ecosystems and the environment are incalculable and devastating. Some recommendations include strengthening port inspections and develop a system to best collect data and monitoring in the high seas regions, and work with US trading partners to ensure enforcement of environmental and labor laws. (The recommendations also provide instructions to submit comments).
USDA Conservation Programs: USDA announced proposed rules (open for comment for three major conservation programs: EQIP, CSP and CRP. One of the most misguided provisions of the CROmnibus cut funding for CSP and EQIP.
Bullets are Bad, But EPA Can’t Regulate. In a disappointing decision, a Federal Appeals Court ruled that EPA couldn’t regulate toxic shot and spent lead bullets under TSCA (which specifically excludes bullets). The Court found that the exclusion extends to spent bullets and shot. The ruling continues to subject the environment and wildlife to the continued dangerous of lead poisoning.
Noteworthy News & Required Reading:
Primates & Rights. While a court in NY denied a
Keystone Pipeline Report. A new report (and memo) from NRDC finds that approving the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to significant increases in climate impacting gases. NRDC, and other environmental groups, continues to encourage President Obama to stop the Pipeline from crossing the US.
Lobbyists (Emboldened by GOP Win) Target Climate Rules and EPA. As The Washington Post reports, lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry set their sights on EPA rules and regulations, feeling energized by the GOP mid-term election results, as payback for millions in donations.
Fear for Forests. US forests are in trouble. As the age of owners of private forestland increases, the likelihood that the forests will be divided into smaller parcels, developed or not maintained increases. This jeopardizes the environment, wildlife, and harms our climate. (The Washington Post).
A Park Lecture on Climate: Many national parks show the impacts of climate change and now park rangers are speaking out. Park rangers are using their first hand knowledge to educate visitors on the impacts climate change is having on the parks they manage, and an executive directive to the Park Service on creating a plan to educate on climate change will assist their mission. (National Journal).
Undermining Underwater Parks. While restrictions on hunting and taking of wildlife in National Parks is common, when it extends to underwater parks, like Biscayne National Park in Florida, the State and some people (including a strong fishing industry) are fighting against necessary protection efforts that restrict fishing. If they succeed in preventing the protections, the sea life, including fish and coral may never recover. (The New York Times).
Ocean Trash. We all know there is a lot of plastic in our oceans, but now we know how much. There are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic that weigh approximately 269,000 tons according to a new study, with the primary source being discarded fishing nets and buoys. (The New York Times).
Public & Climate: A recent public survey on the health consequences of global warming found that few Americans are thinking about the health consequences of climate change.
CA Hen Law: An opinion piece in the NY Times explores the benefits of the new CA law that requires larger (more humane) confinement structures for both hens (and people).
Hearings and Events:
EPA Meetings on Proposed Smog Standards: EPA is holding public hearings in California, Texas, and DC in late January/early February to discuss the proposed smog standards (depending on who you believe – the scientists who believe they are too lenient or industry who contend they too extreme). Excessive levels of smog (or ground-level ozone) is damaging to health and the environment. You may also submit written comments.