Santa Barbara Joins Clean Energy Revolution, Commits to 100% Renewables

GR: Though I’ve often criticized local governments for their excessive support for development, American cities and counties are proving that in some instances, local action can be better for citizens and nature conservation than state or federal action.

“Santa Barbara, California became the 30th city in the country to commit to transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. The Santa Barbara City Council approved a measure Tuesday that establishes a community-wide goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

“The resolution also commits the city to transition all municipal buildings and operations to 50 percent clean energy by 2020. Santa Barbara represents the first city on California’s Central Coast to make this commitment.

“President Trump may be withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, but cities are stepping up and re-committing to adopt, honor and uphold the Paris climate goals,” Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider said. “I’m proud that Santa Barbara just adopted a 100% renewable energy goal and is joining other cities across the nation leading the way on clean energy at the local level.”

“In April, Mayor Schneider became one of the first mayors in the U.S. to join the new Mayors for 100% Clean Energy initiative and endorse a vision of powering her community with 100 percent renewable energy. The passage of the measure reinforces how mayoral leadership in cities across the U.S. is accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels to 100 percent clean energy. Mayor Schneider is joined in Mayors for 100% Clean Energy by Central Coast mayors Fred Shaw of Carpinteria, John F. Johnston of Ojai and Heidi Harmon of San Luis Obispo.” –Sierra Club (Santa Barbara Joins Clean Energy Revolution, Commits to 100% Renewables.)

Brazil following US in rolling back climate protections

GR: It is not good to see Trump’s Paris retreat mentioned in stories of other countries rolling back their climate commitments. It is especially disappointing to see Brazil making so many backward moves. Politics, greed, and corruption are once again attacking the Amazon. Anteaters, Capybaras, Parrots, and all the rest are losing their homes.

“Brazil is considering measures that would roll back environmental protections and make it difficult to meet its Paris climate accord targets.

“The move would see the country step back from its global leadership on climate change just as the United States is also retreating.

“Congress has already passed two measures that will dramatically reduce the size of protected environmental reserves. Lawmakers are also considering substantially relaxing environmental licensing rules for infrastructure, agricultural and industrial projects. A proposal that would change how indigenous lands are designated, potentially reducing their size and protection, is also on the table.

“This comes at a time when the Amazon and Atlantic rain forests are being cut at the fastest rate in nearly a decade, and the violent struggle for control of forested land is on the rise. “Brazil is throwing aside the opportunity to be a leader on these questions,” said Marcio Astrini, co-ordinator of public policy for Greenpeace in Brazil. “It’s very hard for someone to manage to be worse than (US President Donald) Trump on the environment, but the Brazilian government is working very hard” to do that, he added.

“Brazil was long seen as a global leader on environmental issues. As the major steward of the Amazon rain forest, its policies have a tremendous effect on global rates of carbon emissions reduction. In conjunction with Mr Trump’s recent decision to pull the US out of the Paris agreement, Brazil’s move away from environmental regulation could jeopardise global goals. The moves come amid political turmoil in Latin America’s largest nation. President Michel Temer is struggling to stay in office amid corruption allegations and threats of impeachment or removal by an electoral court. Amid the turmoil, he is trying to pass unpopular reforms he says are essential to helping Brazil’s economy shrug off a two-year recession.

“Mr Temer has agreed to back a series of measures promoted by Congress’ so-called “rural caucus” – a group of lawmakers representing the interests of rural landowners, including agribusiness and ranchers – in exchange for help passing his own agenda, and hopefully avoiding impeachment.

“This government is using the environmental agenda as currency,” Mr Astrini said.

“In April, a week-long protest outside Congress by indigenous groups who say Mr Temer is reducing protections on their lands and allowing land-grabs by farmers and ranchers illustrated the debate. When police fired tear gas at the protesters, they responded with spears and arrows.

“Last month, Congress passed two measures that convert around 1.4 million acres of protected land, the vast majority of it in the Amazon, into areas open to logging, mining and agricultural use.” –AP (Brazil considers following US in rolling back climate protections | BreakingNews.ie).

Trump Administration One Step Closer to Approving Seismic Airgun Blasting

GR: Seismic prospecting harms marine creatures. The danger is so severe that no reasonable person would permit the practice. However, the corporate assault on nature is taking full advantage of Trump’s presidency. Apparently, Trump offers no resistance to any economic scheme that would harm wild creatures. He appears to be at the egotistical center of the homocentric mind. There, none have concern for other people and probably none for nonhuman creatures. Trump has never had a pet, and is only considering a bringing a dog into the Whitehouse for the sake of appearances. Of course, Obama was willing to permit seismic testing. Public intervention stopped him.  Let’s hope that the public outcry that stopped Obama will be successful with Trump. Sign the petition here.

“The Trump administration issued Monday a draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations for seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean’s surface. By issuing these draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations for public comment, Oceana said the federal government is giving another gift to the oil industry—moving forward with the permitting process that gives geophysical companies permission to harm or disturb marine life in the pursuit of offshore oil.

“According to the government’s own estimates, seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic could injure as many as 138,000 marine mammals like dolphins and whales, while disturbing the vital activities of millions more.

“This threat is real and it’s coming fast,” said Nancy Pyne, campaign director at Oceana. “Coastal communities have the most to lose, but unfortunately their overwhelming opposition may be ignored by the Trump administration. The threats of seismic airgun blasting alone are bad enough, but it’s also the first step to offshore drilling, which could lead to the industrialization of coastal communities and the risk of another BP Deepwater Horizon-like disaster. The time to protect our coast is now.”

“In late April, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding offshore drilling and exploration in U.S. waters. Specifically, the order calls for a review of the Five-Year Program (2017-2022) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf , and directs the administration to fast-track the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting. Following that directive, the Trump administration re-initiated the permitting process for seismic airgun blasting in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida, reversing a decision by the Obama administration to deny these permits.

“As of today, 125 East Coast municipalities, more than 1,200 elected officials, numerous commercial and recreational fishing interests, and an alliance representing more than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting. An Oceana report in 2015 found that offshore oil and gas development in the Atlantic could jeopardize the nearly 1.4 million jobs and more than $95 billion in gross domestic product that rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation.

“Seismic airguns create one of the loudest man made sounds in the ocean,” said Dr. Ingrid Biedron, marine scientist and campaign manager at Oceana. “Seismic airguns fire intense blasts of compressed air every 10 to 12 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks to months on end. The noise from these blasts is so loud that it can be heard up to 2,500 miles from the source, which is approximately the distance of a flight from New York City to Los Angeles.” — Oceana (Continue reading: Trump Administration One Step Closer to Approving Seismic Airgun Blasting.)

685,000+ Send Comments in Support of Bears Ears National Monument

GR:  For-profit enterprises control many public land management decisions in the U. S. and elsewhere. For Bears Ears National Monument, the USDI, the agency responsible for more public  lands than any other, must now decide whether it will represent citizen wishes or corporate interests. Bears Ears is a public lands test of a citizen petition to control a public land management decision. Fingers crossed. However, this is a contest that has a critical outcome. Thus, we should take the “all of the above” approach and participate in other activist efforts announced on Facebook and other media to place public pressure on Zinke.

“A coalition of conservation groups and others announced Thursday that a historic number of comments and petitions of support have been submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior in support of Bears Ears National Monument. Despite the entirely inadequate 15-day comment period ending on May 26, more than 685,000 comments in support of Bears Ears National Monument have been collected.

“The tremendous amount of public input in such a short amount of time is a powerful demonstration of support for indigenous rights and the places we all hold dear,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Secretary Zinke would be wise to join in support of Tribal Nations and preserve Bears Ears.”

“The unprecedented number of comments reflect all those who have stood in solidarity to support the efforts and leadership of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and the five sovereign tribal nations involved who led the way to protect the sacred sites and ancestral lands of the Bears Ears region.

“The announcement comes in the wake of the president’s executive order to review national monuments created since 1996. Sec. of the Interior Ryan Zinke opened a 60-day comment period on all national monuments, but inexplicably limited comments on Bears Ears to only 15 days. The U.S. Department of the Interior denied a request from Sen. Martin Heinrich to extend the public comment period to 60 days and hold a public meeting as part of the so-called “review” of Bears Ears.”

“Trump and Zinke need to listen to the American people for once instead of corporate polluters. The people have made it crystal clear that they stand with Bears Ears and in solidarity with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition,” said Kieran Suckling, the Center for Biological Diversity’s executive director. “They will not stand by while Trump and anti-public lands zealots plunder and pillage the country’s most stunning landscapes and cultural treasures for profits.”

“The total number of comments reflects submissions of supportive comments from members and supporters of dozens of organizations representing a broad array of interests. These comments have been uploaded to the regulations.gov comment docket DOI-2017-0002. Due to the way that regulations.gov tracks comments, the site counts a batch of comments as a single comment, regardless of whether it included 10,000 or more individual comments or signatures.

“The people have spoken—more than half a million strong—and 99 percent expect these magnificent lands to be held in the public trust for future generations,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That’s a mandate to preserve monument protections for Bears Ears and all it means to Americans past, present and future. It’s a resounding call, also, for all of us to respect and collaborate with the Inter-Tribal Coalition.” –Sierra Club and EcoWatch (Continue: 685,000+ Send Comments in Support of Bears Ears National Monument.)

Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers.

GR:  Trump’s head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is a corporate shill who’s been placed in charge of limiting corporate excesses. Of course, people, wildlife, and natural ecosystems will suffer.

Pgian/iStock

“On May 5, more than 50 farmworkers outside of Bakersfield, California, were exposed to a highly toxic pesticide that apparently drifted from a nearby field—at a high enough level that “twelve people reported symptoms of vomiting [and] nausea and one person fainted,” reports the television news station Kern Golden Empire. “An additional twelve workers did not show signs of any symptoms,” the station reported. “However more than half of the farm workers left before medical aide arrived.”

“Public health authorities took the poisoning quite seriously. “Anybody that was exposed, that was here today, we encourage them to seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait. Particularly if you’re suffering from any symptoms. Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” Michelle Corson, public relations officer at Kern County Public Health, said in an announcement to the TV station.

“According to the news report, the poisoning was caused by a chemical called chlorpyrifos. A spokeswoman for the Kern County Department of Public Health said the department assumes chlorpyrifos was the active ingredient in the pesticide in question, but the matter is still under investigation by the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards. A spokesman for that office said test results pinpointing the chemical are pending but would not be done for at least a week. Dow AgroSciences, one of the main makers of the chemical, did not respond to phone calls and emails.

“Many public health experts, scientists, and environmentalists have for years been pushing for a ban on chlorpyrifos, and last year it was looking like the Environmental Protection Agency intended to instate one. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, exposure to the chemical through inhalation can cause initial symptoms like “tearing of the eyes, runny nose, increased saliva and sweat production, nausea, dizziness and headache,” followed by possible “muscle twitching, weakness or tremors, lack of coordination, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and pupil constriction with blurred or darkened vision.” Chlorpyrifos is an endocrine disrupter, and major studies (here, here, and here) have found strong evidence to suggest that even at very low doses, the chemical triggers effects among children ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. More here.

“But in March, the EPA abruptly changed its stance on chlorpyrifos, greenlighting it instead of banning it. The decision, among the first major ones made by Scott Pruitt in his tenure as EPA chief, caused outrage in public health circles. Dow AgroSciences applauded the decision. “Dow AgroSciences remains confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety,” the company declared in a press release.” –Tom Philpott (More: Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers. | Mother Jones.)

180 Climate Deniers in Congress Received $82 Million in Dirty Money

GR:  “Trump himself received $1,132,996 in dirty energy money.” If we can’t get money out of politics, human weakness will destroy the world. This EcoWatch article by Lorraine Chow exposes the weakness and the harm it causes.

180 Climate Deniers in Congress Received $82 Million in Dirty Money

“Those of you who participated in Saturday’s People’s Climate March have 181 more reasons to protest.

“New research shows that the 180 climate-denying members of Congress—plus President Trump, who famously denounced global warming as a hoax—have received more than $82 million from fossil fuel industries.

“Researchers from the Center for American Progress Action Fund calculated that the Republican president, 142 representatives and 38 senators, who do not accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity causes climate change, have received a total of $82,882,725 from coal, oil and gas industries—an increase from the $80,453,861 total in the previous report.

“According to the new report, the top three recipients were Arizona Senator John McCain, who opposes the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gases are pollution; Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who once said, “For everybody who thinks it’s warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t;” and Texas Senator John Cornyn, who actually acknowledges that humans have an impact on the environment but doesn’t think it’s the responsibility of the government to do anything about it.

“For the report, the researchers defined a climate denier as any lawmaker who has:

  • “Questioned or denied the scientific consensus behind human-caused climate change;
  • “Answered climate questions with the “I’m not a scientist” dodge;• Claimed the climate is always changing (as a way to dodge the implications of human-caused warming);
  • “Failed to acknowledge that climate change is a serious threat; or
  • “Questioned the extent to which human beings contribute to global climate change.

“Trump himself received $1,132,996 in dirty energy money.”

–Lorraine Chow (Continue reading: 180 Climate Deniers in Congress Received $82 Million in Dirty Money).

Ocean Farmers Make “Climate March by Sea”

GR:  The premise of the article below is that warming oceans are destroying marine ecosystems and eliminating fish-harvesting jobs. It’s about jobs, and ultimately about the U. S. national economy. It argues that fighting climate change will keep, not cut jobs. It points out that Trump uses “jobs” to hide the fact that his policies enable greater profits by major corporations. Who knew?

The fact is, “jobs” are a false goal. Losing fishing jobs to climate change isn’t what’s important. Preserving marine ecosystems is what’s important. We should march in opposition to fossil-fuel production of climate-changing CO2 because it is harming marine ecosystems.

We should also be marching for population control. As the global human population grows, the market for seafood grows and this has led to ecosystem devastation from overfishing. Harvesting the seas is not the only excess destroying ecosystems. Expanding farms and pasturelands, expanding cities, and growing waste pollution are doing their share as well. Most definitely yes, we need the new bill proposed in the U. S. Congress “100 by 50” that would eliminate 100% of fossil-fuel use by 2050. But we also need to control and reverse our population–most definitely.

This Sierra article has interesting points on the faulty reasoning behind Trump’s trickery.

Sierra Magazine:

“On President Trump’s first Earth Day in the White House, he declared on Twitter that “we celebrate our beautiful forests, lakes, and lands”—an amiable if blasé arm-punch to the planet from the leader of the free world.

“Until a few hours later that is, when the president resorted to his usual right cross.

“I am committed to keeping our air and water clean,” he tweeted, “but always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection. Jobs matter!”

“Rarely does President Trump or his surrogates miss an opportunity to propound that “jobs matter” when it comes to the nation’s environmental policies—especially where climate change is concerned. This binary logic—environmental protection equals job killer—is deeply woven into their world view. Trump has repeatedly called Obama-era initiatives like the Clean Power Plan “job killers” and vowed to “rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan.”

“The delegation of fishermen that set sail this morning from a marina in Solomons, Maryland, would beg to differ. The only “job destroyer” for them is climate change.

“Concerned about the threat global warming poses to their livelihoods, a crew of sustainable ocean farmers began a three-day journey today they’re calling the “Climate March by Sea.” At the tiller of the small commercial fishing boat is Bren Smith, owner of Thimble Island Ocean Farm and the executive director of GreenWave. They’re heading south down the Chesapeake before they plan to turn north up the Potomac on their way to Washington, D.C.

“Their final destination: the Peoples Climate March, when thousands of people, including indigenous, civic, social justice, business, and environmental advocacy groups are set to take to the streets of the nation’s capital to demand action on climate, jobs, and justice. “Climate change was supposed to be a slow lobster boil,” Smith said in an interview before casting off. “For me, it arrived 100 years earlier than expected. We fishermen are the citizen scientists reporting that water temperatures are going up, species are moving north, the weather is becoming more extreme. We can see it with our own eyes. We’re way beyond the idea of climate denial.”

TAKE ACTION: Click here for more information about how to participate in the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., or another city near you.

“When it comes to environmental policy, the “job killer” argument is a red herring. According to an analysis by the Environmental Integrity Project, “two-tenths of one percent of layoffs are caused by government regulations of any kind, including environmental regulations. Layoffs are caused far more often by corporate buyouts, technological advances, and lower overseas labor costs.” –Jonathan Hahn (Continue: Ocean Farmers Take “Climate March by Sea” to Nation’s Capital | Sierra Club.)

Trump to Launch Unprecedented Attack on National Monuments

GR: To add profits for a few companies, Donald Trump is willing to abandon protections for public lands that took years to get. In this action, Trump is just a tool of industries that have no concerns beyond profits.  Please help resist this asinine behavior.

“President Trump is poised to threaten more than 1 billion acres of national monument protection in a devastating and unprecedented attack on America’s public lands and oceans.

“Trump is expected to issue an executive order April 26 calling for a review of every national monument that’s been protected by presidential proclamation since 1996. His goal is to turn these natural and cultural wonders over to special interests, including mining and logging industries. Trump reportedly has the stunning Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah at the top of his hit list.”

“This is a frightening step toward dismantling the protection of some of America’s most important and iconic places: our national parks and monuments,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s tapping into the right-wing, anti-public-lands zealotry that will take us down a very dangerous path—a place where Americans no longer have control over public lands and corporations are left to mine, frack, clear-cut and bulldoze them into oblivion. It starts with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase and only gets worse from there.”

“More than 50 national monuments are at risk, including vast marine areas in the Pacific and Caribbean. Congress gave the president the authority to designate national monuments on federally owned land under the Antiquities Act of 1906 for the express purpose of protecting important objects of historic and scientific importance.”

“President Trump is clearly doing the bidding of the Utah congressional delegation, who are without question the most aggressive federal lawmakers seeking to seize, dismantle and privatize America’s public lands,” Suckling added.

“National monument designations have protected some of the most iconic places in the country. Dozens of the nation’s most treasured national parks were first protected as monuments, including Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Acadia and Olympic national parks.”

“With this review, Trump is declaring war on America’s public lands,” Suckling said. “The president is satiating the greed of industry and blatantly dismissing the wishes of the vast majority of Americans, who overwhelmingly want to see these areas protected for future generations.”

“The monuments under attack are cherished by Americans for their natural beauty as well as their huge cultural significance.

“Congress gave the president authority to designate national monuments on federally owned land under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features. No president has ever attempted to withdraw a monument named by a predecessor.” –Center for Biological Diversity and EcoWatch (Continue reading:  Trump to Launch Unprecedented Attack on National Monuments.)

Trump’s climate-hoax demands roil U.S. allies

GR: The U. S. is not a leader in global efforts to stop climate change. Under Bannon and the conservative Congress, the U. S. has become the leader in retreat from many economic, environmental, and social necessities. Stupid.

President Donald Trump is considering whether to pull the United States out of the climate change accord that the Obama administration and other world leaders negotiated in Paris in 2015. | AP Photo

“President Donald Trump’s abrupt turnaround on U.S. climate policy is fueling tension with several of America’s closest allies, which are resisting the administration’s demands that they support a bigger role for nuclear power and fossil fuels in the world’s energy supply.

“The dispute blew up at this week’s meeting of G-7 energy ministers, at which Trump administration officials pushed to include stronger pro-coal, pro-nuclear language in a proposed joint statement on energy policy. The fight had been simmering behind the scenes for weeks as the White House, Energy Department and State Department clashed with negotiators from other G-7 countries over the statement, according to an internal document obtained by POLITICO and interviews with diplomats.

“After a tense back-and-forth at the meeting in Rome on Monday, the G-7 energy ministers — including representatives from Canada, Great Britain and several European Union countries — wound up scuttling the statement altogether.

“The feud comes as Trump, who often touts his “America first” approach to foreign policy, is considering whether to pull the United States out of the climate change accord that the Obama administration and leaders of nearly 200 other nations negotiated in Paris in 2015. Some Trump advisers have suggested that he should remain in the deal — but in return, should demand concessions to aid the fossil fuel sector.

“G-7 officials, led by the Europeans, refused to agree to stronger language touting fossil fuels without assurances from the United States that it would stay in the Paris climate change agreement, according to officials briefed on the discussions.” –Andrew Restuccia (Source: Trump’s climate demands roil U.S. allies – POLITICO).

Have You Checked Out Our FOIA Repository? – ClimateWest

GR: Being a republic certainly has benefits. Jeremy Nichols provides links for WildEarth Guardians’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and results.

“We say FOIA, but we’re talking about the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Truly one of the most democratic laws on the books, the Freedom of Information Act gives Americans the right to access any and all records produced by our federal government.

“FOIA is used extensively by environmental organizations like WildEarth Guardians, but also by the media and even right wing groups working to shine a spotlight on what is a normally a very opaque federal government. We may not see fully eye to eye with groups like Judicial Watch or the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but these organizations’ efforts to use FOIA to expose government operations and attempts by the feds to subvert the American public and democracy are to be lauded.

“If you didn’t know already, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program is providing access to all of its FOIA requests and the responses it receives. Check it out if you haven’t already >>

“In the last few months, we’ve sent FOIA requests to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for information related to the sale of public lands for fracking, we’ve sent requests to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for information related to air quality protection in Utah and Wyoming, we’ve sent requests to the Forest Service for information about oil and gas leasing in southwest Colorado, we’ve sent requests to the Secretary of the Interior’s office regarding new policies imposed by the Trump Administration, and we’ve sent many more requests to other agencies.

“As we get responses, we’re making sure to make these records available to the public to help inform, educate, and empower people to be more active participants in our democracy.

“For example, check out the latest responses to our request for records related to the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to auction off more than 100,000 acres of public lands for fracking in Colorado this coming June.

“While we’re still working on better ways for the public to access, sort, and search the information we obtain through FOIA, our repository now provides a detailed glimpse of government operations as they related to our public lands, our resources, and our climate.

“We’re defending democracy even as we’re safeguarding our climate, our public lands, and our future. Stay tuned in and learn more!” –Jeremy Nichols (Continue: Have You Checked Out Our FOIA Repository? – ClimateWest.)