Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘clean water’

392B594F-F27F-476F-8D25-436EFEF2C357

SHOT Show floor. By Lew Carpenter

I work in conservation because I love our lands, waters, fish and wildlife.

I am a sportsman.

When I think about the incredible opportunities I have in America to fish and hunt on public lands and waters, I feel strong, proud and grateful. But protecting what I – and tens of millions of other sportsmen and women around the country – value isn’t easy.

Yet it should be.

47ACB2B1-3EA5-4D4F-9712-C305DDDE7582

SHOT Show panel. Photo by Kristyn Brady, TRCP

So when the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) asked me to be part of a panel reviewing the Trump administration’s first year of conservation at the 2018 SHOT Show last month, I gladly agreed to speak in front of representatives from across the shooting and hunting industry. After all, this industry relies on healthy habitat, clean water and vast public lands, and supports wildlife conservation through excise taxes and investment.

It’s a symbiotic relationship where a healthy environment drives economic gain, fueling opportunity, access and large and small businesses. These basic values and tenants emerged during the SHOT Show panel, including the current threats to sporting values and wildlife health that continue to grow at a pace that should concern all sportsmen and women. Read on for an overview of what the panel discussed, focused on public lands policies, the recent withdrawal of Clean Water Act protections to headwaters and wetlands, and restoring the Mississippi River Delta.

Public Land Access and Energy Development

Enacting policies to expand sportsman access to public lands is not just popular, it’s also critical to the future of hunting and fishing. A staggering amount of public land is landlocked, surrounded by private lands, and in many cases efforts to close easement access to these lands is ongoing. Great victories, such as the Sabinoso Wilderness effort by New Mexico Wildlife Federation (NMWF) and TRCP – working with both senators in New Mexico to garner funding and purchase private land – allowed a donation to the federal government for access to that pristine wilderness.

With hundreds of NMWF members signing a petition telling Secretary Zinke to open up this wilderness, this was a landmark example of what happens when sportsmen and women fight for their access, and was a huge victory years in the making.

Discussion turned to energy development and dominance on public lands, where energy development and mining can coexist with healthy habitat and quality hunting and angling. But this balance does not happen by chance.

Responsible energy and extraction development requires both careful planning and a commitment from decision makers to get it right from the start. It is, therefore, critical that our public land management agencies – the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service – have the right policies and procedures in place to facilitate both energy development and the conservation of healthy fish and wildlife populations.

970848AF-C415-467F-9923-86E6F5D7E563

Waterfowl hunting on public land. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Withdrawal of Clean Water Act Protections

Moving on to water issues, we touched on the EPA’s decision to withdraw Clean Water Act protections for headwaters and wetlands impacting fish, waterfowl and businesses that rely on quality places to hunt and fish.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency have begun the process of rescinding the 2015 provision that clarified protections for headwater streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act, despite broad public support for the rule and its benefits for fish and wildlife habitat. This is the first step in a two-step process to replace the rule, set into motion by an executive order in February 2017.

The repeal and replacement plan is likely to roll back Clean Water Act protections for a majority of the nation’s streams and wetlands, including the headwater streams that are so important for fish and game, plus millions of acres of seasonal wetlands that store flood waters and provide essential habitat for more than half of North American migratory waterfowl. Areas like the Prairie Potholes and Louisiana wetlands are at tremendous risk.

As the panel came to the end of its time, Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt took the podium. His prepared words of admonishment were designed to minimize any panel criticism of the administration, which was disappointing in its anticipation of our healthy, but brief dialogue.

B354EEFB-608D-4063-9B63-48F134EC40E6

Deer hunting the Piceance Basin north of Rifle, Colorado. Photo by Henry Byerly

I spoke to the Deputy Secretary afterward about the place he grew up — Rifle, Colorado – and the collapse of the deer herds north of there in a place once called the “Deer Factory.” Fifteen thousand new oil and gas wells are proposed for that area in the coming years – an example he disregarded. However we shifted back to the Gulf Coast wetlands and the need for his administration to ensure that the coordination of sediment diversion project-permitting in Louisiana happens efficiently, which was something he expressed interest in supporting.

Restoring the Mississippi River Delta

It’s easy to understand getting behind restoring the Mississippi River Delta. A football field of wetlands continues to disappear every hour along the coast of Louisiana, and with those wetlands goes vital fish and waterfowl habitat.

611F48BD-A983-46D8-8B01-1068BB10E85A

6.5-pound flounder in the Bird Claw of Louisiana’s wetlands. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Later that week Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and other state and federal agencies to collaborate on permitting for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion under the guidance of Trump Executive Order 13807. Located in Plaquemines Parish, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion is a Louisiana Coastal Master Plan project that would direct sediment, freshwater and nutrients from the Mississippi River into nearby wetlands to build and maintain land in Louisiana’s Barataria Basin.

The Vanishing Paradise campaign was pleased to see this firm commitment to adhering to the two-year timeline for project permitting in an environmentally and legally responsible manner.

Looking Ahead

We can’t continue to simply hope our politicians on both sides of the aisle protect our public lands, waterways and wildlife. We have to hold them all accountable every day, or the opportunities that drive our sporting legacy, heritage and businesses will disappear.

At every turn, our fundamental values are being challenged – in some cases on a grand scale, and others by a thousand small cuts. Access and opportunity rely on robust public lands that allow wildlife and people to move freely. They rely on clean water, clean air and healthy soil. We shouldn’t have to continually fight for these basic tenants, but instead spend our energy addressing other critical challenges impacting our wildlife.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

GinMillInvite

Read Full Post »

The West is filled with iconic landscapes, most of them public. With rod in hand, shotgun or rifle shouldered, most of us have experienced the bounty public lands provide. And from our earliest days in the field when any body of water or forest held unseen potential, to our current, often thoughtfully planned excursions, public lands have always been there to provide opportunity.

A new report by the National Wildlife Federation highlights the value of public lands for hunters and anglers.

A new report by the National Wildlife Federation highlights the value of public lands for hunters and anglers.

For many, the true American dream is pursuing North America’s trophy big game on the West’s vast open spaces. It’s the epitome of DIY – a complete hunting or fishing trip in the West – and also a testament to our sporting nature. It’s all there: the planning, the practice, the pursuit, the stalk, the shot and the harvest.

This sporting heritage is hard to quantify on a personal level. The value of days spent afield alone or with great friends and family, transcends material possessions. The value of public lands, however, can be quantified. The National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) new report, Valuing Our Western Public Lands: Safeguarding Our Economy and Way of Life, illustrates the value and scope of our western lands and sends a clear message that these lands define the American landscape and our national identity.

The bulk of the vast open spaces are in the West, where they have generated jobs and revenue from commodity production, tourism and recreation, including hunting and fishing. As the western economy changes from one dominated by natural resource production to one distinguished by knowledge- and service-based industries, conserving public lands becomes increasingly important as a magnet for businesses and employees seeking a high quality of life.

The NWF report can be found at: http://www.ourpubliclands.org/sites/default/files/files/NWF_PublicLands.pdf

This fat brown trout was caught on public lands on the South Platte, which the author has fished since childhood. Photo by Matt Vincent

This fat brown trout was caught on public lands on the South Platte, which the author has fished since childhood. Photo by Matt Vincent

Several recent studies and surveys within the report found that:

• Many communities near public lands managed for conservation and recreation report higher levels of economic, population and income growth and higher property values.

• The outdoor recreation industry, including fishing and hunting, contributes nearly $650 billion to the U.S. economy and supports more than 6 million jobs. Western public lands provide recreation for people from across the country and world.

• Americans invest nearly $39 billion annually in natural resource conservation, resulting in more than $93 billion in direct economic benefits.

• Extractive, commodity-based industries generate needed materials and energy and provide jobs and revenue, but have been cyclical and have become a smaller part of the overall economy.

“Public Lands are not just where I recreate; they are also where I get my food,” said Armond Acri, a retired chemical engineer who hunts big game and waterfowl. ” I hunt on National Forest, BLM lands, State and Federal Wildlife Refuges, and State Lands.  Each year I hunt grouse, ducks, geese, deer, elk and perhaps antelope.  In a few special years I have had the privilege to hunt bison and bighorn sheep.  Public Land helps me feed both my body and my soul.  I cannot put a price on Public Land, but I know it is one of my most valued possessions.  That is why I fight to preserve the Public Lands we all own.”

Intact habitat and unspoiled backcountry are essential to maintaining fish and wildlife habitat. Proposals to dispose or devalue

Energy development on public lands can eliminate wildlife's ability to migrate from summer to winter habitat as well as adjust to the growing effects of climate change.

Energy development on public lands can eliminate wildlife’s ability to migrate from summer to winter habitat as well as adjust to the growing effects of climate change.

the land threaten a crucial part of our economy. These proposals threaten the fundamental value of ensuring that lands belonging to all Americans stay open to everyone, now and in the future.

Through the NWF report a picture of the changing West emerges. Studies show that many communities near public lands managed for conservation and recreation report higher employment, growth and income levels and higher property values. The service industries, which include health, finance and legal jobs, have diversified the economy and sustain communities when commodity-based industries experience downturns.

Industries traditionally associated with the West – logging, mining, oil and gas drilling – are still important and provide needed materials, but are often cyclical and have become a smaller part of the overall economy.

Former WON staffer Rich Holland is Fishing and Hunting Content Director for SmartEtailing.com, which offers web hosting and online commerce tools to 15,000 independent retailers affiliated with Big Rock Sports. His business, and countless others, lie at the heart of the public lands economy. But again, the value runs deeper than business.

“In the 1940s, my father was in his early teens when his family moved to Los Angeles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” said Holland. “He and his brother immediately discovered the great fishing and hunting available on public lands. That love of the outdoors was passed along to me and I still fish and hunt in many of the same places he frequented as a young man.

“On the other hand, quite a few of his favorite spots have been lost to encroaching development and government designations that prohibit the traditional activities of sportsmen,” he added. “Many of the retailers we work with are located adjacent to public lands, and not just in the West but along the Great Lakes, the Eastern Seaboard and the vast watershed of the Gulf Coast. These businesses rely on continued access to public lands for families who wish to fish and hunt.”

By conserving the cherished lands that drive economic growth, the American people and our national economy will be healthier

Pronghorn on western public lands need large landscapes for their long migration corridors to thrive. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Pronghorn on western public lands need large landscapes for their long migration corridors to thrive. Photo by Lew Carpenter

and more sustainable for generations to come.

So what does it all mean in today’s world? The report was created to bring the importance of public lands into the national dialogue. Several Western legislatures and members of Congress have shown they are out of touch with the public’s support for keeping public lands in public hands.

The last two congressional sessions, lawmakers introduced dozens of bills seeking to diminish protection of public land, require the federal government to sell millions of acres of the land or turn the land over to the states. State legislators and congressional members behind proposals to dispose of public lands claim that westerners believe federal management of the lands constrains natural resource development, thus depriving states of the economic benefits. In fact, the measures contradict the majority of western public opinion and threaten the region’s economy, which benefits from the diverse businesses attracted and supported by conserving public lands.

The next generation of anglers and hunters are relying on today’s sportsmen to conserve fish and wildlife habitat so they have the same opportunities to recreate on public lands. Photo by Lew Carpenter

The next generation of anglers and hunters are relying on today’s sportsmen to conserve fish and wildlife habitat so they have the same opportunities to recreate on public lands. Photo by Lew Carpenter

As a sportsman from the West I have fished from Alaska to the Gulf Coast, Baja to Idaho – and many places in between – almost exclusively on public lands. Certainly there is a place for the magnificent private-land opportunities in North America – but for the common man, nothing beats the landscapes his forefathers created, paid for with his tax dollars, equipment purchases and license fees, and which is waiting with open arms for him to conserve for his children and the generations to follow.

If you care about this American heritage, your access to public lands and wildlife, and your ability to share this with your children and grandchildren, then you need to inform yourself about the positions your elected officials are taking on public lands issues. Moreover, you need to communicate your positions to your elected officials. This is the essence of representative democracy and it is more important than ever in a time when big money is exerting enormous influence.

Read Full Post »

20121109-152942.jpg

Updated federal fracking rule: An opportunity for transparency, stewardship and responsible energy development on our public lands

 

WASHINGTONAs the Interior Department prepares to release new federal fracking regulations, a sportsmen’s coalition is urging officials to make sure the rules will adequately protect air and water quality, fish and wildlife.

 

The update to oil and gas drilling methods on federal and tribal lands is the first in about 30 years, Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development noted Tuesday. Meanwhile, the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has significantly changed, opening previously inaccessible land to development.

 

“The reality is the technology and methods have changed since the original rule was put in place. Today, millions of gallons of fluids and chemicals are injected underground at high pressure,’’ said Brad Powell, energy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “We know there are a lot of good companies doing the right thing. But it’s critical to have safeguards in place. We can’t run the risk of contaminating groundwater or surface water and endangering people, fish and wildlife.”

 

The National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership are the lead partners in the SFRED coalition. SFRED supports requiring companies to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluids both before and after drilling so that appropriate steps can be taken to safeguard natural resources.

 

Hunters and anglers urge the Interior Department to retain provisions in an earlier draft of the rules that address well-casing integrity and fracking fluid waste. The fluids must be properly contained and water quality must be monitored, coalition members said.

 

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee plans a hearing Wednesday on the federal fracking rule. Hunters and anglers encourage committee members to implement federal oil and gas regulations that match the industry’s 21st century technology.

 

SFRED members also stressed that the Bureau of Land Management must not abdicate its responsibility for managing federal lands to the states as some in Congress have suggested.

 

“A responsible Federal policy is needed to set a baseline that all States must meet on Federal lands,’’ SFRED said in written testimony submitted to the Natural Resources Committee.

 

“The committee’s hearing notice calls a new federal rule a recipe for ‘waste, duplication and delay,’ and we respectfully disagree,’’ said Lew Carpenter, the National Wildlife Federation’s regional representative. “Lawmakers need to remember that the public lands they’re discussing belong to all Americans who cherish them for the fishing, hunting and recreation they provide.’’

 

SFRED understands that energy is vital to our economy and way of life and that decreasing our reliance on foreign sources is important.

 

“At the same time, federal lands are a public trust, managed for multiple uses. Economies across the West rely on the tourism and recreation public lands sustain,’’ said Ed Arnett,  director of energy programs for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These public lands provide a lifestyle that draws people and businesses to the area. They’re a priceless legacy and a treasure we hope to leave to future generations.’’

 

###

 

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development is a coalition of more than 500 businesses, organizations and individuals dedicated to conserving irreplaceable habitats so future generations can hunt and fish on public lands. The coalition is led by Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation.

Read Full Post »

DENVER – The discovery of a spill near a natural gas plant and a creek that flows into the Colorado River “should be a wake-up call’’ for state regulators to finish what was started five years ago – establishing safe setbacks from waterways.

Colorado River 56 miles from Parachute at James M Robb State Park. Photo Courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Colorado River 56 miles from Parachute at James M Robb State Park. Photo Courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

 

The Colorado Wildlife Federation and National Wildlife Federation noted that riparian buffers for oil and gas wells and infrastructure were one of the issues left on the table when the state overhauled its oil and gas rules in 2008.

 

“We’re all waiting for more details of the spill near Parachute and results from the investigation,  but  whatever the precise facts, this should be a wake-up call for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission,’’ NWF attorney Michael Saul said Tuesday.

 

State and federal agencies are investigating and helping in the cleanup of a leak of thousands of gallons of hydrocarbons in a pipeline right of way adjacent to a gas-processing plant owned by Williams north of Parachute in western Colorado. The underground leak is about 60 feet from the edge of Parachute Creek, which flows into the Colorado River.

 

“This is one more strong argument for keeping oil and gas wells and related infrastructure a safe distance from waterways,’’ said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “Regulators pledged to form a stakeholders’ group to develop standards for riparian setbacks a while ago. We’re still waiting.’’

 

Saul and O’Neill said better monitoring of surface and groundwater quality is crucial to protect Colorado drinking waters and fish and wildlife habitat.

 

“This might have been detected sooner with better monitoring. We don’t know how long this has being going on,’’ Saul added.

Last year, a spill from an oil well site reached creeks that eventually flow into the North Platte River in Colorado’s North Park area. News of the spill prompted hunting and angling groups to renew a push for buffers around waterways.

###

 

 

The National Wildlife Federation is America’s conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.

Read Full Post »

Louisiana Sportsman magazine owner Tony Taylor and a thick flounder. Photo: Lew Carpenter

Venice, LA – The incredible value of the Louisiana wetlands spans economic, cultural and environmental functions too great to be lost by any one generation. And as the rapid loss of wetlands continues it is important to note that we can fix this problem. We must. It’s a responsibility we have to be sure future generations can enjoy one of the world’s great ecosystems.

Just how important this resource is to sportsmen was never more evident than this past week when a hearty group of anglers descended upon the marsh to chase bull redfish as they have each year for well beyond a decade. This group of more than 50 anglers engage in a self-titled “Marsh Madness” event that brings together boaters from Louisiana and Mississippi with hunting and fishing industry representatives, outdoor writers and Vanishing Paradise. Many proclaimed the fishing has never been more dynamic – a galvanizing statement that places the value of this resource in the crosshairs of the importance of restoration. We simply cannot afford to lose this sportsman’s paradise.

Heading into a violent batch of thunderstorms that seemed to camp directly on the marsh it was tough to determine how the three days of fishing would unfold. Day one we waited out the torrential morning rains and headed out around lunch into strong winds and dark skies.

Tony Taylor, owner of Louisiana Sportsman magazine remarked on the damage of Hurricane Isaac as he made his first dive into the marsh since the devastation.  “It’s hammered, it’s blown out,” he remarked, as we pushed through the marsh looking for clean water and cover from the wind. The roseau cane was battered and flattened everywhere we looked and it was obvious the hurricane had compounded the rapid loss of wetlands in the area. Without a good source of incoming freshwater sediment the marshes ability to recover is severely compromised.

Author Lew Carpenter with an 18-pound bull redfish. Photo: Land Tawney

We picked away at the rat reds until we moved into the river and Taylor’s rod bent further than one could imagine. The fight went on for 15 minutes before a fat jack crevalle came to boat. From that point on we were into decent reds and big flounder – all on the great jigs provided by Top Brass Tackle, the organizer of the event and ZMan plastic baits.

Day two, the weather began to subside, though it was cool by Louisiana standards. The red were increasing in size as we pitched along the rip rocks, points and cuts of the marsh edge.

Day three, the magic revealed itself. The class size of the reds increased. I landed an 18 pounder and followed it with a 16 before we headed to South Pass and nearly every fish was between 12 and 30 pounds! If this wasn’t a testament for saving the marsh, nothing would be. One fish after another came to boat all afternoon, mixed in with powerful jack crevalle, sharks and speckled trout to 8 pounds. It was a remarkable sight, and an unforgettable experience.

The Marsh Madness team truly understands the value of this special place, and some, like Eric Cosby of Top Brass have traveled in

Eric Cosby of Top Brass Tackle and a nice jack crevalle. Photo: Lew Carpenter

the recent past to Washington DC to speak to their senators about passing the Restore Act. With the help of sportsmen, the Act was passed this summer, directing 80 percent of the BP oil spill fines under the Clean Water Act to go back into restoring the wetlands. A great victory for sportsmen and the ecosystem.

And it’s not just these sportsmen of Marsh Madness who care, Field and Stream and other media outlets are reporting on a recent poll by GOP-aligned polling firm Chesapeake Beach Consulting on key conservation issues among 800 hunters and anglers conducted for the National Wildlife Federation. The poll shows this fairly conservative set of voters wants more action on a range of conservation issues that remain inadequately address in this election cycle. The composition of respondents was 55% both anglers and hunters; 33% anglers only; and 12% hunters only. NWF and its local affiliates, field and supporters are urging candidates for office around the nation to pay more attention to critical conservation issues.

The political preferences of those polled was:

• 42%, Republican; 32%, Independent; 18% Democrat;

• 27% indicated they split their ticket;

• 50% consider themselves conservative, including 22% who consider themselves to be very conservative;

• 60% said that they vote in every election and additional 21% said they vote in almost all elections.

The sample was randomly drawn from a list of self-identified hunters and anglers (sources included magazine subscribers, hunting and fishing license holders, and members of sporting groups). To qualify, a respondent had to indicate that he/she is a hunter, an angler or both and a registered voter. All interviews were conducted by telephone, including 15% of the interviews by cell phone. The margin of error for this study is plus or minus 3.2% at the 95% confidence level.

The poll offers some insights for the Louisiana wetlands and the region as it continues to recover from the BP disaster.

Among respondents in the national poll:

• 81% believe that BP should be held accountable and fined the maximum amount allowed for the 2010 oil spill and required to restore the Gulf to ensure the recovery of fish and wildlife populations.

  • 87% of hunters and anglers want BP fines and penalties to be used exclusively to restore fish and wildlife habitat and not for infrastructure such as roads, bridges, ports and convention centers.  For those who identify with a political party, 81% of Democrats and 88% of Republicans agree.

Many of the sponsors for Marsh Madness signed on to NWF’s letter to Congress on the Restore Act, and we’d like to thank Top Brass Tackle, Plano Molding, BASS, Louisiana Sportsman magazine, Seaguar Line, WileyX sunglasses, ZMan baits, RealTree Camo, Skeeter Boats, and Under Armor clothing for their support of this event and its ability to highlight the tremendous value these wetlands provide to the American sportsman and the wildlife within.

Read Full Post »

Public Backlash Intensifies Against Polluter Bailout Bill
Oil companies and other polluters have once again convinced a new crop of political leaders to take a crowbar to the nation’s environmental laws and try to wedge open a few new loopholes. It first happened in 1995. Congress’ attack on the Environmental Protection Agency and their efforts to add anti-environmental riders to budget bills became a central issue as President Clinton vetoed the bills, leading to the last government shut down (and a reversal of political fortunes for the House GOP, which lost its majority in the 1996 elections).
Fast forward to 2011. The new GOP majority in the House is traveling down the same path, loading up their 2011 spending bill with assaults on the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act that amount to the largest assault on America’s bi-partisan legacy of environmental and wildlife safeguards in history. Who are the House leaders making these decisions? Meet Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky), the new chair of a key congressional subcommittee on energy, who explained to the National Journal why Republicans are trying to block EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act:
This is a much broader issue than the health of the American people and lungs and emphysema; it’s how can we balance that in the global marketplace for jobs.
Rep. Whitfield’s premise that Americans must sacrifice our children’s lungs in order to protect jobs points to the huge gulf between the extreme views of some GOP House leaders and the American public. The polluter bailouts nestled in the 2011 budget bill have become a liability for the House GOP. The attacks on the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act are starting to expose the hidden agenda of members like Rep. Whitfield, and they are now a barometer of the extreme political agenda that is being advanced under the guise of deficit reduction.
Public Backlash
The sneak attacks have also created a backlash among the public (not surprising, since 3-out-of-4 voters support the EPA setting tougher standards on pollutants such as mercury, smog and carbon dioxide). After the vote, House members returned home for the recess, where they have faced tough questions from angry constituents. Here’s a local press report of a town hall meeting held by Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH), who recently won back his seat in New Hampshire’s second district:
About 50 people crowded into the Salem Town Hall to hear from the Republican congressman, who took questions on illegal immigration, the national debt, health care, education, and other topics. But climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases dominated most of the discussion…
Not many of Rep. Bass’ colleagues were as willing to have public meetings during this recess, but that didn’t stop concerned constituents from turning up at their offices. A few that are being reported by local news stations and creating buzz include constituents of Representatives Glenn Thompson and Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania and Steve Stivers in Ohio.
Congress’ attacks on the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Acts have also rallied a broad cross-section of civic leaders across the nation who are speaking out, including:
• Doctors and nurses
• Hunters and anglers
• Churches and religious leaders
• Workers and labor unions
• Business groups and small businesses
• State and local officials
• Scientists
• State Wildlife Conservation Groups and National Environmental groups
Hopeful Signs?
A piece of good news comes from the same House GOP leaders who initially opened the door to adding polluter favors to the budget bill. A temporary 2-week extension offered Friday night is a clean bill without any of the oilmarks included one week ago. While this is good news, it is a baby step and may be a fleeting victory. The House GOP leaders are still threatening a showdown with the Senate and President Obama, and they have not given any sign that, as the additional 2 weeks expire, they will back away from the extreme and reckless bill they recently passed.
It’s still not clear where this showdown is headed when any short-term extension expires. President Obama promised a veto of the House budget bill passed last week, but has been silent on the environmental attacks for now. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) got it right when he said this week:
“We believe that the hundreds of riders and legislative matters [added to the House CR] are strictly the worst kind of politics. How do they expect us to agree to any of that? And we’re not going to. … The CR is to deal with funding for our government, not all these other goodies they think are cute at this time.”
House GOP leaders have proven with the 2-week extension that they are capable of leaving the polluter favors and oilmarks out of the spending bill. They would be wise to do so.
Editorial Boards and Opinion Leaders Speak Out
The backlash against the extreme environmental attacks in the budget bill have also attracted the attention of editorial boards and opinion leaders across the nation. Rob Perks at NRDC has been tracking these stories on his blog, which you can read here. I have captured a sampling of media below.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) Editorial: Pollution pinata: Budget cutting becomes an excuse for EPA attacks
But for a sense of spending cuts made solely for political sake, nothing quite beats the attack on the environment in this spending bill. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act were assaulted repeatedly. Much of it took the form of stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of its enforcement powers to protect the health and well-being of the American people.
The range and destructiveness of these assaults were breathtaking. They include provisions to curtail the scientific study of climate change, blocking the EPA from protecting wetlands and streams from harmful dumping, stopping the EPA from dumping waste from mountain top removal in stream valleys, and, that old GOP favorite, barring the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
The National Wildlife Federation called the spending bill a “pollution pinata.” It identified 14 egregious examples of environmentally damaging amendments for which the total budget savings was zero (although many of them will end up costing the nation money by endangering public health). It also noted that an amendment that would have eliminated billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies was defeated. So much for this being all about the deficit.
New York Times: Why Wouldn’t the Tea Party Shut It Down?
Look to Washington for the bigger story. As The Los Angeles Times recently reported, Koch Industries and its employees form the largest bloc of oil and gas industry donors to members of the new House Energy and Commerce Committee, topping even Exxon Mobil. And what do they get for that largess? As a down payment, the House budget bill not only reduces financing for the Environmental Protection Agency but also prohibits its regulation of greenhouse gases. Here again, the dollars that will be saved are minute in terms of the federal deficit, but the payoff to Koch interests from a weakened E.P.A. is priceless.
USA Today Editorial
If [entitlement] costs are contained, there will be no need to live with dirtier air or other cuts rooted more in ideology or corporate self-interest than in governance that is effective, affordable and responsibly financed.

Times-Picayune (LA), House Republicans are cutting a lot more than the deficit
Last November Americans demanded that Congress take immediate action to shrink fish and wildlife populations, speed the end of duck hunting, reduce the safety of our drinking water, destroy more wetlands, dirty the air we breathe, increase the rate of sea level rise swamping our coast- and protect profits for oil companies.
Didn’t know that?
Then you haven’t been listening to Republicans like our own Steve Scalise (R-Jefferson) and Tea Partiers who now control the House of Representatives. All those changes are included in the budget resolution they sent to the Senate last week.
Patriot-News (PA) Editorial:
“The BP oil spill, the worst in America’s offshore drilling history, is not even a year old. Only weeks ago, lawmakers demanded more accountability in drilling and oversight. Now Republicans see no issue chopping away at that oversight.”
Albany Times Union Editorial: An Assault on the Environment
The new House Republican majority likes to say that the American people spoke last year. If the GOP’s spending bill is any indication, it seems the American people are clamoring for more mercury in their fish, oil on their coasts and pollution in their drinking water. Those would be just some of the environmental highlights of a House spending bill to keep the government running through Sept. 30. Or perhaps anti-environmental highlights would be more apt. Anti-health, too.
Detroit Free Press Editorial: U.S. House Republicans swing a dangerous budget ax
The budget passed by U.S. House Republicans — it got zero Democratic votes — early last Saturday morning is rash and dangerous. Designed to get the country through until Oct. 1, the House resolution slashes programs in midstream and ties the hands of several departments, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency.
New York Times Editorial: The Dirty Energy Party
Yet even this retailored approach is sure to whip the Republicans into a fresh frenzy of opposition. They have already made clear their determination to cut off financing and otherwise undermine the Environmental Protection Agency, which plans to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and other industrial sources using its authority under the Clean Air Act.
But basic scientific research? Energy efficiency? Cleaner fuels? The House Republican budget resolution gives the back of its hand to even these worthy and unobjectionable strategies, which until now have enjoyed reliable bipartisan support.
Concord Monitor (NH) Editorial: A Vote for the Environment is a Vote for N.H.
Generations of 2nd District congressmen (including Bass himself, in an earlier congressional tenure) have consistently argued that representing New Hampshire means looking out for the environment. In this case, the health of Bass’s constituents could be improved by better regulation of aging power plants to the west. The health of everyone’s constituents will be improved by more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. And, of course, there is an economic component to that environmentalism too: New Hampshire’s tourism and recreation industries depend on climate protection.
Raleigh News & Observer Editorial (NC): Mercury Rising
In one of history’s sorrier twists, Republicans in the U.S. House are down on the Environmental Protection Agency, way down. This week they’re trying to gut its powers to regulate pollutants in the air, on farmland and in water. Yet the national movement to protect our environment had its roots in the heyday of Republican Theodore Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon helped create the EPA. So why all the animosity now? Overreaching regulations that stifle business, agency opponents say. However, the EPA generally proposes rules that are required by law – and common sense. The more we know about ill-health in humans and ill-effects on the natural world, the more obvious it is that industrial processes must be regulated for the common good. Some pollution is inevitable, but the government is right to put a lid on it.
Wisconsin State Journal: Lawmakers should reject cuts to EPA
To ensure that the health and environment of Wisconsin’s families are protected, Wisconsin’s members of Congress should reject the funding cuts, and instead stand up for cleaner air, cleaner water, and preserving our environment.
Providence Journal (RI) Editorial: EPA Under Attack
Republicans in Congress, and some Democrats, are bent on blocking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from curbing greenhouse gases. For that matter, they would be happy to have the agency stand back in a number of areas, from safer toxic coal-ash disposal to improving the efficiency of industrial boilers and solid-waste incinerators. One reason they give is that regulation is bad for business. The main source they cite: senior business executives desirous of maximum short-term corporate profits, and thus maximum compensation for the execs. The other aspects of the equation — public health and welfare — are rarely mentioned. Indeed, the long-term health of the U.S. economy stands to benefit greatly from a shift to cleaner and more efficient energy.
St. Petersburg Times (FL) Editorial: Serving Ideology, Not Voters
The House plan also takes aim at specific regulations that Republicans find politically objectionable. For example, it bars the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing limits on carbon dioxide pollution. Like a tea party manifesto, the plan strips funding from federal regulatory agencies that protect workers, food safety and the environment.
Battle Creek Enquirer , Stop Attack on Clean Air, Water
What do clean water and clean air have to do with the budget? Absolutely nothing – the budget deficit is being used as cover to mount a reckless and irresponsible sneak attack on the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act that endangers the air we breathe, the water we drink and the wildlife and lands we cherish.
South County Independent (RI): Don’t Water Down Clean Air Act
Some members of Congress have launched a stealth attack on one of the most important laws protecting our health and our children’s future by adding amendments to the Continuing Resolution – a stop-gap measure to keep the government running through the end of this fiscal year – that would roll back portions of the Clean Air Act.
Miami Herald, Fouling the Clean Air Act
Largely hidden in its attack on the federal budget, the House of Representatives has approved a key Republican campaign promise to big business: Protecting it from what the new majority argues are the handcuffs of environmental safeguards. The Republicans would cuff the Environmental Protection Agency instead.
The Colorado Independent, Gardner Hammers on EPA Re Clean Air Act But Poll Says Voters in CD4 Want More Regulations
U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., helped lead last week’s GOP onslaught against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, despite polling in his congressional district showing two-thirds of his constituents feel “Congress should let the EPA do its job.”
The Tennessean: Air Standards Have Saved Lives for Decades
Having personally experienced a child struggling for breath during an asthma attack, I can assure you little else matters when children’s health is at risk. This is why I’m so offended by a number of professional politicians’ attempts to undermine life-saving protective health standards enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Concord Monitor (NH): An assault on our air, waterPassed under cover of night on Saturday, this bill endangers the health of New Hampshire’s children, elderly citizens and other vulnerable populations by blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from doing its job and cleaning up coal-fired power plants and other large sources of dangerous carbon dioxide pollution. It also cuts the EPA’s overall budget by the largest percentage in 30 years, severely threatening the agency’s ability to ensure that all New Hampshire residents have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.
AlterNet, Get Ready: The GOP Has Declared War on the Environment
Republicans are trying to take down the EPA and with it environmental regulation that seeks to protect our air, water, food and health.
Des Moines Register (IA): Budget Deficits and the Environment
H.R. 1 cuts the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by almost a third and hamstrings the EPA’s ability to protect the environment and Americans’ health. For example, the measure prevents the EPA from protecting communities from mercury, lead, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from cement plants, leaving thousands of children exposed and at risk of asthma, slowed brain development and other neurological disorders. The EPA safeguard that the measure blocks would have reduced mercury pollution by more than 90 percent and saved 2,500 lives each year.
Chicago Tribune Local (Libertyville, IL), Dold Out of Touch on Environmental Issues in the 10th Congressional District Illinois
Salem News (OR), Editorial Backlash to Republican Budget Attack on EPA Health Protections

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: