News from our member organizations

New Bill Could Save the Edisto River

News from American Rivers - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 6:00am

Today we have a guest blog update on one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2014, the South Fork Edisto River in South Carolina. Legislators in South Carolina have introduced legislation that would end the exemption for large agricultural water withdrawals through state permitting. Below are the comments made by a partner of American Rivers, Doug Busbee, at the South Carolina State House rotunda during a press conference introducing the legislation.

February 11th press conference | Tom Sliker

Good Morning. My name is Doug Busbee. I stand before you today representing a wide range of people from across South Carolina — from farmers, to business people, to everyday working class citizens. We have come together as a coalition called SCRiversForever.org. We believe water is a Public Trust resource. Our goal is to encourage and support sustainable economic development while respecting the tremendous value of our natural resources, South Carolina farmers, and all citizens.

Today we have some very loose surface water regulations in South Carolina that promise more water than we actually have, and would allow any agricultural entity to draw any river or stream in the state to a zero flow, regardless of downstream users. This same law is drawing large farms into South Carolina that will compete directly with our farmers for land, fertilizer, market share, and water. I understand that these giant farms will immediately enhance the bottom line of our state, but I am deeply concerned that it will ultimately undermine our South Carolina farmers who are the backbone and pillars of every community in this state.

Representative James Smith’s bill, [H.3564], is the first step in the right direction. But we must look down the road to improve the management of all of our water resources for the sake of South Carolina’s future!

The Edisto and the Salkehatchie regions are the canaries in the coal mine. We are seeing unrestrained development of giant out of state farms using both surface and groundwater. We have seen fish kills and historic lows despite not being in a declared drought situation. And even now, with recent rains, the South Edisto River at Denmark flows at half of normal.

Look around, many of the people you see here today represent generations of real farmers. They have had to adapt in order to survive and I would put their abilities against any in the nation. I beg you as leaders of agriculture to give the guidance, financing, and encouragement to our farmers for a chance to prosper first, before looking outside of our borders. And farmers, we have to be willing to change and embrace new ideas as well.

Doug Busbee at Statehouse | Tom Sliker

We have two very precious resources here in South Carolina, our water and the South Carolina farmer. Both have sustained us for centuries and the loss of either one is unacceptable.

One more thing, lawmakers, policymakers, lobbyists— look around you. There are a lot of farmers, business people, and concerned citizens here today. Five years ago, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) started speaking out about the flaws in the current surface water law.  If their warning had been heeded, we would not be standing here today. I beg of you to listen to the scientists you’ve hired from SC DNR and the U.S. Geological Survey who understand our water best.

There is one good thing that has come out of this struggle — it has made us realize how precious water really is and how the Lord has blessed us with it.

I would like to introduce you to Representative James Smith, whose bill starts us in the right direction. I’d also like to recognize the co-sponsors of this bill. It takes some grit to address this issue and I applaud the sponsors and would encourage other legislators to join them.

Thank you for your time.

Telling Our Stories: President Obama Designates Honouliuli National Monument in Hawai’i

News from National Parks Conservation - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 4:35am
Statement by Ron Sundergill, Pacific Region Senior Director, National Parks Conservation Association

Cleaner Electricity Will Be More Reliable, NRDC Expert Says

News from NRDC - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (February 19, 2015)—The Obama administration’s plan to cut dangerous carbon pollution from power plants is “an opportunity to both reduce air pollution and to build a more reliable, modern energy system,” an expert for the Natural Resources Defense Council says.

USDA Approves GE Apple that Won’t Brown

News from Beyond Pesticides - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 8:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2015) Last week, regulators at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved a genetically engineered (GE) apple that does not brown after slicing or bruising. The “Arctic” apple, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, is engineered using a novel technique called RNA interference (RNAi). In the case of this GE apple, […]

Senate Transportation Revenue Package – A Good Start to Grow Bicycling Statewide

Washington Bikes testifies today in support of the Washington State Senate transportation revenue package. The […]

The post Senate Transportation Revenue Package – A Good Start to Grow Bicycling Statewide appeared first on Washington Bikes.

Praising Pullman: NRDC Supports New National Monument Designations

News from NRDC - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 10:00pm
CHICAGO (February 18, 2015) – President Obama will be in Chicago tomorrow to sign an order designating the city’s Pullman District as a national monument. He is also expected to announce two other new monuments, Browns Canyon in Colorado and Hawaii’s Honouliuli Internment Camp.  

Register Today for Early Bird Rate: 33rd National Pesticide Forum, Orlando, FL

News from Beyond Pesticides - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 8:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, February 18, 2015) Several new speakers, including cutting edge researchers bridging science and policy, have been added to the lineup of speakers at the 33rd National Pesticide Forum in Orlando, Florida April 17-18, Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators. And, right now we are running an early bird discount rate of $5 off the […]

World Catching on to Importance of Blue Economy

News from Conservation International - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 7:00am
Progress on high-seas conservation reflects a growing awareness that our oceans underpin human well-being.

Groups Support FERC’s Role in Enabling a Cleaner, More Efficient Energy System

News from NRDC - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 10:00pm
WASHINGTON (February 17, 2015) -- Twelve environmental and consumer groups–-including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Sierra Club, and consumer advocate offices in six states and the District of Columbia-–today urged the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that invalidated a cornerstone reform for a cleaner, more reliable, and customer-friendly electric grid.

NRDC Statement on New York City Panel on Climate Change’s 2015 Report

News from NRDC - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 10:00pm
NEW YORK (February 17, 2015) – Mayor Bill de Blasio today released the New York City Panel on Climate Change’s 2015 report, Building the Knowledge Base for Climate Resiliency.

2,4-D and Atrazine Effects on Endangered Species Focus of Another Lawsuit

News from Beyond Pesticides - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 8:01pm
(Beyond Pesticides, February 17, 2015) The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in federal court in California February 12 against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for failing to ensure that three widely used pesticides —atrazine, 2,4-D and alachlor— do not jeopardize the survival of two Bay Area endangered species, the delta smelt […]

Oil Spill Cleanups are a Myth

News from American Rivers - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 6:00am

As someone who lived through the worst oil spill disaster in American history, I’m going to tell you an unpleasant truth – oil spill cleanups are a myth.

Ice-covered Yellowstone River near Glendive, MT a week after the oil spill | Scott Bosse

I was among the thousands of workers who were hired to clean up the 11 million gallons of North Slope crude that hemorrhaged from the Exxon Valdez when it ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound on Good Friday in 1989. During my first stint on the spill cleanup, my crew of 200 workers was hired on a Friday and fired the following Monday. A USA Today crew was helicoptering out to one of the hardest hit beaches for the weekend, and Exxon wanted to show the American people that it was doing everything possible to clean up its mess.

A quarter century later, you can still find oil along that remote coastline by digging down a few inches into the gravel. Despite enlisting 10,000 cleanup workers, 1,000 boats, 100 aircraft and spending $2.1 billion over a period of four years, Exxon was able to clean up just ten percent of the spill. Most experts say the cleanup effort did more harm than good.

The cleanup tally was even worse when Exxon’s Silvertip Pipeline spewed 63,000 gallons of oil into the flood-swollen Yellowstone River by Laurel in July 2011. Despite spending $130 million on the cleanup, less than one percent of the oil was recovered.

So imagine how successful Bridger Pipeline LLC will be in cleaning up the 40,000 gallons of Bakken crude that gushed into the Yellowstone River by Glendive when its Poplar Pipeline ruptured on January 17. At the peak of the cleanup, a company spokesman told the Glendive Ranger-Review that it was recovering one teaspoon of oil every ten minutes from holes that it cut in the ice. At that pace, it would take 1,753 years to clean up the spill.

It wouldn’t be fair to blame Bridger Pipeline for its inability to clean up the spill. After all, the surface of the river was frozen solid for 20 miles below the ruptured pipeline, and a swift current was carrying the oil underneath the ice towards North Dakota. It’s doubtful that more than five percent of the oil could have been cleaned up even under optimal conditions.

But it is fair to blame Bridger Pipeline, and the federal agency that oversees pipeline safety, for not preventing the spill in the first place. When the Poplar Pipeline was last inspected in 2012, it was buried just eight feet under the bed of the Yellowstone River. That’s four feet deeper than the minimum depth required by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). A large, dynamic river like the Yellowstone can scour twice that depth in a single flood event.

So it should have come as no surprise when investigators discovered that 120 feet of the Poplar Pipeline was totally exposed following the spill. It was an accident waiting to happen. And you can bet there are scores of other ticking time bombs lurking in the 18,000 places across the country where pipelines cross under rivers, streams and lakes.

Since it is virtually impossible to clean up oil once it’s spilled into our waterways, our focus must be on spill prevention. While the energy industry will complain about the cost, we need to demand common sense safety measures like burying pipelines much deeper under rivers, constructing them with thicker steel, requiring automatic shut-off valves, mandating more frequent inspections, and dramatically increasing fines for acts of negligence. Failure to implement these measures is an invitation to more oil spills, more contaminated water supplies, more sickened people, and more fish and wildlife kills.

Better yet, we should accelerate our nation’s transition away from dirty fossil fuels and toward cleaner, safer renewables like wind and solar. For as it’s been said, when there’s a major solar energy spill, it’s called a nice day.

Sign the petition telling the Pipeline Safety Administration to strengthen standards for oil pipelines and better protect our clean water.

City of Chicago Denies Petcoke Enclosure Delay Request

News from NRDC - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 10:00pm
CHICAGO (February 16, 2015) – Today, the City of Chicago denied a request from KCBX to delay enclosure of their controversial petcoke piles on the city’s Southeast Side.   Following is reaction from Henry Henderson, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Midwest director and former Commissioner of the Environment for the City of Chicago:

India’s New Clean Energy Goals Promise Up to One Million New Jobs

News from NRDC - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 10:00pm
NEW DELHI (February 14, 2015) – New analysis released during the RE-Invest conference in New Delhi, India shows that achieving Prime Minister Modi’s recently announced 100 gigawatt (GW) solar energy goal by 2022 could create as many as one million jobs, while greatly improving energy access for Indian citizens and fighting climate change. Achieving India’s proposed target of 60 GW of wind energy by 2022 would also generate at least an additional 180,000 jobs.

Public meetings on North Cascades grizzly bears announced

News from National Parks Conservation - Sat, 02/14/2015 - 9:21am
Conservation groups call for a show of support for restoring a Northwest native

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Paddling Bill Doesn’t Hit the High Water Mark

News from National Parks Conservation - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 7:03pm
Statement by Sharon Mader, Grand Teton Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association

Clean Energy Choice Act builds on I-937 success

News from NW Energy Coalition - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 3:03pm
State Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma) has introduced HB 2073 to enhance the consumer and health benefits of Washington's new renewables and energy efficiency law, Initiative 937. Fey's Clean Energy Choice Act provides a framework for discussion of new resource development after 2020, when I-937's new renewables standard plateaus at 15 percent.

AWEA blog: How wind energy helps keep the lights on despite variable winds

News from NW Energy Coalition - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 8:45am
The American Wind Energy Association explains how wind energy can reliably meet a large portion of our nation's energy needs: (1) More wind turbines means less power production variability; (2) changes in wind are more predictable than abrupt failures at conventional power plants; (3) there is a lot of untapped wind potential; and (4) grid operators are already prepared with back up power if necessary.