Senator Markey Works with Massachusetts Fishermen, Lobstermen, and Environmental Community to Support Right Whale Legislation

markey.senate.gov
Monday, July 9, 2018

Senator Booker legislation would establish a new grant program to fund collaborative research to reduce the impacts of human activities on North Atlantic right whales

Washington (July 9, 2018) – With fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales remaining, 17 confirmed deaths in 2017, and no observed calves this year, the species could become functionally extinct in twenty years if immediate action isn’t taken. In light of this crisis, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in co-sponsoring his Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act (S. 3038) after gaining the support of fishermen, lobstermen, and environmentalists in New England. The SAVE Right Whales Act establishes a new grant program to fund collaborative projects among states, research institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce the impacts of human activities on North Atlantic right whales. The bill would authorize $5 million in new funding annually from 2018-2028. In April, Senator Markey led 11 of his colleagues in requesting that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conduct an urgent assessment of the impacts to the North Atlantic right whale from fisheries in Canada.

“The North Atlantic right whale is in crisis, and a unified effort along the entire extent of its range is needed to prevent the extinction of this treasured species,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Right whales are an iconic and integral part of our marine heritage in Massachusetts. We must vow not to repeat our history, when, generations ago, the right whale was hunted to near extinction. With the support of political leaders, fishermen, lobstermen, and the environmental and conservation communities, we can help the right whale recover and flourish again in our waters.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

Other Senators co-sponsoring the legislation include Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“The future of the right whale greatly depends on the collective efforts of scientists, researchers, managers and fishermen alike to work for the best possible result, while allowing fishermen to fish and whales to feed in the waters off of Massachusetts safely,” said Beth Casoni, Executive Director of Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. “The establishment of this Act is imperative and the time is now, given the Unusual Morality Events of 2017. We greatly appreciate Senator Markey’s efforts to help the Massachusetts lobster industry in looking for a solution.”

“This proposed bill is a great start toward finding solutions that protect both whales and the fishing industry. It calls for science-led conservation efforts with all stakeholders working cooperatively,” said Scott Kraus, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Scientist of Marine Mammal Conservation at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. “Researchers, fishermen and government officials coming together is the only way that sustainable change will happen.”

“North Atlantic right whales are in dire need of our help,” said Dr. Priscilla Brooks, Vice President and Director of Ocean Conservation at Conservation Law Foundation. “This magnificent species is on the brink of extinction, with less than 450 whales remaining on the planet. We need to develop long-term solutions to protect right whales as soon as possible, and this bill is a meaningful step forward. We’re thankful for Senator Markey’s leadership on this critically important issue.”

“Our region’s lobstermen have bent over backwards to find ways to keep their lines from tangling up with whales,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Fishermen’s Alliance. “We are committed to a vital ocean as well as commercial fishing, and we’ll do everything we can to accomplish both goals. A bill like this, if passed, would help us get there.”

“The SAVE Right Whales Act is an enormous step forward and demonstrates the United State’ commitment to saving this critically endangered species. IFAW applauds Senator Markey’s decision to co-sponsor this bill, his steadfast leadership on this issue, and for creating the opportunity to further expand existing conservation efforts,” said Azzedine Downes, President & CEO of International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Organizations endorsing the legislation include the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Conservation Law Foundation, New England Aquarium, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Oceana.

https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senator-markey-works-with-massachusetts-fishermen-lobstermen-and-environmental-community-to-support-right-whale-legislation

###

8 Endangered Black Rhinos Die in Kenya After Relocation

voanews.com
NAIROBI
Eight critically endangered black rhinos are dead in Kenya following an attempt to move them from the capital to a national park hundreds of kilometers away, the government said Friday, calling the toll “unprecedented” in more than a decade of such transfers.

Preliminary investigations point to salt poisoning as the rhinos tried to adapt to saltier water in their new home, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said in a statement. It suspended the ongoing move of other rhinos and said the surviving ones were being closely monitored.

Losing the rhinos is “a complete disaster,” said prominent Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect.

Conservationists in Africa have been working hard to protect the black rhino sub-species from poachers targeting them for their horns to supply an illegal Asian market.

In moving a group of 11 rhinos to the newly created Tsavo East National Park from Nairobi last month, the Kenya Wildlife Service said it hoped to boost the population there. The government agency has not said how the rhinos died. Fourteen of the animals were to be moved in all.

“Disciplinary action will definitely be taken” if an investigation into the deaths indicates negligence by agency staff, the wildlife ministry said.

“Moving rhinos is complicated, akin to moving gold bullion, it requires extremely careful planning and security due to the value of these rare animals,” Kahumbu said in a statement. “Rhino translocations also have major welfare considerations and I dread to think of the suffering that these poor animals endured before they died.”

Transporting wildlife is a strategy used by conservationists to help build up, or even bring back, animal populations. In May, six black rhinos were moved from South Africa to Chad, restoring the species to the country in north-central Africa nearly half a century after it was wiped out there.

Kenya transported 149 rhinos between 2005 and 2017 with eight deaths, the wildlife ministry said.

According to WWF, black rhino populations declined dramatically in the 20th century, mostly at the hands of European hunters and settlers. Between 1960 and 1995, numbers dropped by 98 percent, to fewer than 2,500.

Since then the species has rebounded, although it remains extremely threatened. In addition to poaching, the animals also face habitat loss.

African Parks, a Johannesburg-based conservation group, said earlier this year that there are fewer than 25,000 rhinos in the African wild, of which about 20 percent are black rhinos and the rest white rhinos.

In another major setback for conservation, the last remaining male northern white rhino on the planet died in March in Kenya, leaving conservationists struggling to save that sub-species using in vitro fertilization.

https://www.voanews.com/a/endangered-rhinos-dead-in-kenya-relocation-bid-official/4481300.html

NEPA Under Attack! Tell Trump ‘Hands Off Nat’l Env Law’ Before Aug. 20 |

globaljusticeecology.org
Posted on July 13, 2018 by GJEP staff Leave a Comment
Note: Thanks to a major effort by eco and other groups in the US (including GJEP), the period for commenting on the government’s attempt to gut one of the country’s strongest remaining environmental laws (the National Environmental Policy Act) has been extended to 20 August. NEPA requires production of extensive Environmental Impact Statements, including input from the public, before actions can be taken that would impact or harm the environment. This law also applies to the proposed release of genetically engineered trees in the US.

For more info or to submit comments, go to: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=CEQ-2018-0001-0001

– Anne Petermann, GJEP Carl Segerstrom/High Country News

A linchpin environmental law is now being scrutinized by the Trump administration and could be targeted for reforms. The National Environmental Policy Act, commonly referred to as NEPA, dictates the environmental planning process for federal agencies. Any changes to the NEPA process could have far-reaching impacts on the vast public lands and infrastructure of the West.

The NEPA reform push broadly traces political dividing lines, as pro-business and anti-regulation Republicans, who want to see NEPA reworked, square off with environmental groups and conservation-minded Democrats hoping to preserve the law and implementation process. Caught between the vocal factions of each party are state governments and federal land managers arguing for a middle ground of limited reform.

An August 2017 executive order, aimed at cutting environmental regulations and speeding up infrastructure projects, key goals of the Trump administration, prompted the ongoing review. The review looks at changing the implementing procedures for environmental reviews and offers some examples of what could be altered, including: limiting the time frame for environmental reviews, changing how agencies consider state and tribal input, and reducing the need to explore project alternatives.

When federal agencies consider timber sales, build bridges, renew licenses on dams, pave highways, permit nuclear facilities or make any decision that will impact the local environment, they trigger the NEPA process. Contractors working on federal projects often commission and pay for NEPA reviews. The NEPA review process has three tiers that determine how rigorous an environmental review must be. The Categorical Exclusion designation exempts actions from environmental review if they are deemed to have no “significant effect on the human environment.” The next tier is Environmental Assessment, which compels agencies to prepare a formal review of potential impacts and decide whether the action has no significant impact or requires an Environmental Impact Statement. The Environmental Impact Statement is the most thorough review process and requires multiple drafts, a public comment period and that agencies explore alternatives to proposed projects.

Heading the push for NEPA reform is Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who has had the law in his sights for the last decade. During a committee meeting on NEPA, Bishop, the chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, complained the law has been warped by lawsuits and court interpretations and become “a weapon for litigants to force delays and denials on all sorts of activities.” Bishop, who has been a vocal proponent of loosening federal regulations on oil and gas companies and the transfer of federal lands to state control, said, “Environmental reviews should inform government of the actions they need to take, not paralyze it.”

Conservation groups are digging in order to preserve NEPA and asking for an extended public commenting period on the current review. The “Protect NEPA Campaign,” which is a coalition of environmental, labor and civil rights group, such as the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council has called the Trump administration’s review an unprecedented attack on the law. More than 350 environmental organizations signed a letter to the Council on Environmental Quality, asking for an extension of the public comment period from 30 to 90 days. Raul Garcia, the senior legislative counsel for the environmental law group Earthjustice, said the month-long commenting process “is the latest in a long line of this administration’s efforts to silence public opinion and hinder democracy.”

The Western Governors’ Association recently called for changes to the NEPA process that would give more influence to state governments. In a policy resolution, the association, which represents Western state executives, asked that federal agencies adopt more consistent NEPA planning processes and better engage with state and local governments. The group of Western lawmakers also asked that state environmental impact studies carry more weight in federal decision-making.

Land management professionals say parts of the NEPA process could be reformed, but caution against sweeping changes to the law. Mike Ferguson, a retired Bureau Land Management land planner, first worked on NEPA implementation with the BLM in the 1970’s and has seen the implementation of the law become more convoluted over time. He says tightening the time frame for NEPA actions, clarifying the role of public comments, and investing in training and agency personnel could improve the process.

Getting back to the basic language and intent of the law should be the goal of any NEPA reforms, says Ferguson. “A tug-of-war obliterates what NEPA was designed for in the first place, and I don’t care whether that’s from the left or the right,” he says. “Opening it up on either side will lead to a downward spiral that will dilute its effectiveness in the long-run.”

The commenting period for NEPA reform is slated to be open through Aug. 20, and a comment form can be accessed via the Council on Environmental Quality’s website. To date, the majority of the comments so far have either urged the council to keep NEPA intact or asked for an extended commenting period.

https://globaljusticeecology.org/nepa-under-attack-tell-trump-hands-off-natl-env-law-before-aug-20/#comments

Category: Climate Justice, Featured, Social Media News Tags: High Country News, National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA

Martin Fire Update: 7/13

Wild Horse Education

!!Map The highlighted area is the “area of operation” for BLM roundups of the Owyhee Complex. The area in the red outline is a rough overlay of the Martin fire.

We ask that you take the time to read and understand the aspects of this fire.

The Martin Fire is perhaps the single most destructive incident occurring on wild horse habitat since the passage of the Act. On July 5th a fire began that has burned nearly 440,000 acres. It is believed the fire began due to human activity on July 5 (camping, off-roading, target shooting) and is to be determined.

As of this morning the fire is at 95% containment and has burned 435,569 acres.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Division are requesting help from the public, saying the fire was human-caused. Anyone who may have been camping or in the vicinity…

View original post 991 more words