15 August 2008

endangered species act in danger

Traditionally the good news follows the bad news to smooth over any ill feelings left over from the latter. Sorry for monkeying with tradition.

The bad news in this case has to do with the tinkering of the Endangered Species Act by a certain unpopular president (do I have to sully this blog with his name?). You know who I'm talking about. Well this is what he's gone and done: propose said Act be overhauled to let federal agencies, not independent scientific review, determine if protected species are put at risk by "government projects." That's right. As Bob Irvin, of Defenders of Wildlife, put it, "Clearly, that's a case of asking the fox to guard the chicken coop."

From the Washington Post:
The new rules, which will be subject to a 30-day per comment period, would use administrative powers to make broad changes in the law that Congress has resisted for years. Under current law, agencies must subject any plans that potentially affect endangered animals and plants to an independent review by the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. Under the proposed new rules, dam and highway construction and other federal projects could proceed without delay if the agency in charge decides they would not harm vulnerable species.

Okay, so there is some good news here.
You can give the administration a piece of your mind! Don't let the current administration mess with the Endangered Species Act. Sign this letter to your representatives. (It's easy, just click the link and fill in your info. Defenders of Wildlife will do the rest.)

recent environmental victories

It's nice to hear some good eco news once in a while, so here's a round-up of recent wins for the environment -- from renewable energy to habitat conservation.

US renewable energy market on the upswing despite sluggish economy [World Watch Institute]
The accelerated growth of renewable energy projects is a response to the powerful combination of high energy prices and growing state government support. In addition, fears that Congress will not renew the federal tax credits before they expire at the end of this year have led developers to rush to connect their projects to the grid by December 31. The tax credits are crucial for renewables industries to remain competitive with the fossil fuel industries that receive regular government support.

Chevy Volt design to be ready for mid-September [Reuters]
GM has been racing to finish development of the Volt in time for its planned launch in 2010. The Volt is the centerpiece of GM's effort to move away from large SUVs, as truck sales tumble and gasoline prices remain high.

Mega-resort denied in California due to greenhouse-gas limit concerns [Center for Biological Diversity]
“Business-as-usual sprawl is devastating to our climate and local environment,” said [Center for Biological Diversity Attorney Jonathan] Evans. “Building smarter with today's green technology buildings is a major part of solving the climate crisis.”

Restricted roads remain closed in Death Valley National Park [Center for Biological Diversity]
According to [conservation] groups, Greenwater Canyon, Greenwater Valley and Last Chance Canyon will be preserved. Those areas are home to prehistoric sites, desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, cougars, deer, coyotes, badgers, various plants and scenic landscape.

Some whales rebounding after 1980s hunting ban [Reuters]
"The large whales, the commercially important ones, have for the most part responded well under protection," he said. The [International Union for Conservation of Nature] groups governments, scientists and conservationists.

The world imposed a moratorium on all hunts in 1986 after many species were driven towards extinction by decades of exploitation for meat, oil and whalebone. Japan, Norway and Iceland still hunt minke whales, arguing they are plentiful.