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Shakeyfly

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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #60 on: March 17, 2017, 02:55:53 PM »

Time to stop showering.
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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #61 on: March 20, 2017, 03:33:07 PM »

Back to Pebble...
Just came across this video gem (published in 2015). The "Pebble Partnership" is looking to endear the local people with this project with lots of economic promises. The EPA is supposed to be ruling on the previous veto decision from 2014 today. The legislators of AK can still stop this.
http://www.youtube.com/embed/W49uov49fYg
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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #63 on: March 28, 2017, 09:11:07 PM »

Fishing guides gather to talk about threats posed by climate change

The Northern Rockies region has experienced a 21 percent average decline in August streamflows in the past 30 years.
Most people haven’t experienced all the effects that climate change is having on Montana’s waterways, but fly-fishing guides and outfitters, who are out nearly every day, say they have seen serious negative impacts on the fragile ecosystem in the past decade.

They've seen more dead fish than usual, due to things like drastically higher summer and fall water temperatures. They've noticed reduced winter snowpack that melts earlier than usual and leads to bone-dry creeks in August.

They've noticed non-native species like brown trout invading areas as bull trout populations decline due to warming waters. And they've seen the expansion of parasites and diseases that kill off tens of thousands of fish, which harms the fly-fishing and tourism industries.

And of course, they have been affected by earlier “hoot owl” fishing closures on more and more bodies of water.

These are just some of the topics discussed at a meeting last week at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks headquarters in Missoula with the local chapter of the National Wildlife Federation and more than a dozen local fishing guides. Their goal was to talk about how climate change is affecting Montana’s outdoor recreation industry, which generates roughly $6 billion in annual spending every year in the state.

“Currently, there’s a lot of threats to our fisheries in relation to climate change,” said Alec Underwood, the Montana Wildlife Federation’s climate change outreach assistant. “In today’s society, we often think about what’s going to happen next week, next month or next year, but looking to the future is important. I want kids to have the same opportunities to fish as I did.”

Chris Clancy, a longtime fisheries biologist with FWP, gave a presentation about how he and his colleagues have documented an alarming increase in the number of nonnative brown trout in the upper reaches of tributaries that feed into the Bitterroot River, places where native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout are on the decline because of higher average stream temperatures.

“Temperatures are getting hotter across the region, especially over the last 30 years,” Clancy said. “That affects streamflows. We’ve observed trends for August flows for the Northern Rockies. Streams have experienced a 21 percent average decline during August in this portion of the country. We’re seeing low flows in August largely because of climate change. The snowpack doesn’t last as long. It’s declining in April where it used to not decline, and there is more frequent flooding in winter or early spring.”

The effect goes beyond fly-fishing guides and trout. In 2014, the FWP documented $907 million in angling-related expenditures in Montana. Of that, $64 million was spent in Missoula County. Fishing draws tourists here and is a major source of economic activity, according to Underwood.

“The guiding and outfitting community is an important part of our economy,” Underwood said.

He said the meeting was held in part to connect younger guides with more veteran guides who have seen more changes over their lifetimes. Underwood wanted to have the group brainstorm ideas to see how they can increase public discourse on the issue, and work together to find solutions.

“We’re at a crossroads,” said longtime Bozeman fishing guide Sean Blaine. “This isn’t business as usual. I’ve seen a lot of changes. We are at an inflection point in our industry. We’re in an industry with declining resources and increasing numbers. We are the gatekeepers. We are the spokespeople for our industry.”

Clancy and Underwood showed a series of slides that illustrated data collected by hydrologists, biologists and other scientists in the region over the last several decades. The message was clear, according to Underwood.

“Across the West there’s a serious trend of declining snowpack and that ultimately leads to a change in stream discharge,” Underwood said. “Last year, we thought we were doing fine with the snowpack, but we had some of the earliest hoot owl closures we’ve ever had and on the most water bodies we’ve ever had, 22. There is less discharge later in the summer, and that leads to higher temperatures.”

Clancy said the debate over whether climate change is real or is caused by humans should be over.

“It’s not bunk,” he said. “That’s just a political argument, not a scientific one.”

He said that a 2010 National Academy of Scientists study showed that 908 climate scientists who have 20 or more published papers on the subject – 97 percent – are convinced by the evidence of human-induced climate change.

“Some people think brown trout expansion is cool, but from a native fish standpoint it’s not so cool,” he said. “Bull trout populations are pulling back as brown trout expand. The data seems to indicate that browns are just filling a niche because bull trout can’t tolerate water temperatures over about 60 degrees. Bull trout by far, more than any other trout species, need cold water to thrive.”

Clancy said he and his staff have found brown trout in streams the past few years where they’ve never been recorded before.

“They are getting up into areas and invading areas that are native fish strongholds,” Clancy said. “And forest fires are increasing water temperatures.”

Eddy Olwell, a longtime fishing guide in the Bitterroot, said the issue isn’t a lost cause. He said fishing guides can help by working on habitat restoration projects to increase the amount of vegetation covering streams to reduce water temperatures in the summer. He said guides also have to be careful not to fish lower stretches of river on hot days and to use barbless hooks.

“People are not aware of the risks and threats facing our resources and we need to do a better job of that,” he said. “I see a lot of guides who don’t get the connection between the health of resources and the health of the rivers. We have to pressure our peers and get them involved.”

Underwood said that fighting climate change should be a nonpartisan issue, and he urged everyone with a stake in the outdoor recreation industry to “call their senators or congressmen when they make a stupid decision.”

“There may be threats, but together we can make change happen,” he said. “You guys are important. You have a strong voice and influence.”

source: http://ravallirepublic.com/lifestyles/recreation/article_814ad4a8-7fc1-5b21-8abe-d081904b56f1.html
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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #64 on: May 12, 2017, 08:27:17 PM »

A step in the wrong direction.

Reversing Obama, Trump EPA reaches deal with Pebble Mine developer

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has settled an ongoing lawsuit with the Pebble Limited Partnership and says the company can apply for a federal permit for its proposed massive gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay watershed.

Friday's announcement reverses the Obama administration's efforts to prevent progress of the world's largest undeveloped trove of gold and copper. The settlement ends several legal battles ongoing since the EPA issued a proposed determination in 2014 that would have put the area off-limits for a federal mining permit.

Salmon fishermen, Alaska Native organizations in the Bristol Bay region and environmental groups have been fighting the proposed gold, copper and molybdenum mine for more than a decade, saying it imperils the world's largest salmon run, a significant source of income for Alaskans. The groups said they were dismayed by the Trump administration's decision.

Mining advocates say the gold alone is worth more than $300 billion, and that the federal government should allow the process to advance without early intervention from the EPA. Mine companies have already spent roughly $800 million on the project.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said early Friday that the agency is committed to allowing the process to move forward, but isn't prejudging the outcome.

"We understand how much the community cares about this issue, with passionate advocates on all sides," Pruitt said. "The agreement will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but will provide Pebble a fair process for their permit application and help steer EPA away from costly and time-consuming litigation. We are committed to listening to all voices as this process unfolds."

The new approach promised by the Trump administration offers significant hope for the Pebble Mine purveyors, but the process ahead will take years. Depending on the timing of the permit application, federal review and public input, the ultimate decision could easily sit with a new administration if President Donald Trump is not reelected in 2020.

The Pebble Limited Partnership plans to recast its plans, focusing on a smaller mine footprint, requiring new field data and infrastructure plans. And the company needs new investors, a process which could slow plans to apply for a permit by years. Funding partners for parent-company Northern Dynasty Minerals pulled out out of the project in 2013.

Ron Thiessen, president of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., the sole current owner of the Pebble Limited Partnership, said the mine company is now planning a "smaller project design at Pebble than previously considered, and one that incorporates significant environmental safeguards."

Opponents to the mine were not swayed by promises of a smaller mine footprint.

"Pebble can tell you what they want, you just need to look on their website, they're going to mine it until the end until the last dollar until they can extract the last dollar out of that resource," said Russell Nelson, committee chairman for the Bristol Bay Native Corporation. "They can tell you it's small, but look at the cost of developing. They need to get their money out. They're in it for the money."

Bristol Bay Native Corp. was one of several Native organizations that went to the EPA for help stopping the mine, which led to the agency's proposed determination that the mine could not likely be built without significant damage to important salmon spawning waters in the Bristol Bay watershed.

Since then, Pebble and the EPA have been mired in litigation.

As part of the agreement, the EPA will be allowed to use "use its scientific assessment regarding the Bristol Bay Watershed without limitation," the agency said in a statement. It is not clear just how they will use it.

On Friday, Pebble and the Justice Department jointly asked the U.S. District Court in Alaska to dismiss ongoing litigation.

The EPA plans to soon start the process of withdrawing its proposed regulation.

The EPA said it agreed to hold off on any follow-up to its proposed determination until four years after the settlement "or until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues its final environmental impact statement, whichever comes first."

Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier said the four-year time limit was meant to follow a federal standard known as the "Meese Rule," by avoiding a settlement that constrains federal discretionary authority. The Justice Department wanted a set time period, he said.

Pebble, in exchange, will have to file its permit application within 30 months (two and a half years).

Pebble claimed for years that its permit application was imminent, but never filed. Once the EPA got involved and made its determination, after crafting an assessment of the watershed where the proposed mine would be, the mine company said they would have to wait until litigation was resolved.

Pebble also agreed to drop its lawsuits and fee requests in the courts, and agreed it wouldn't file any more Freedom of Information Act requests for several years, according to the EPA.

The mining company was thrilled with the turnabout offered by the Trump administration.

"From the outset of this unfortunate saga, we've asked for nothing more than fairness and due process under the law – the right to propose a development plan for Pebble and have it assessed against the robust environmental regulations and rigorous permitting requirements enforced in Alaska and the United States," Thiessen said.

Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier promises changes on behalf of the mine company going forward. "Not only will we be rolling out a project that is smaller, with demonstrable environmental protections, we will also be announcing a number of new initiatives to ensure our project is more responsive to the priorities and concerns of Alaskans," Collier said.

Thiessen and Collier were optimistic Friday that the company would easily find new investors, speaking on a call with analysts. The Alaskan deposits offer a politically stable environment, compared to many African mines; there is no permafrost; the deposit is near tidewater and Asian markets; the assets are of a coveted kind; and the mining industry has regained an interest in partnered projects, Thiessen said.

"I feel very confident that there's a very high level of interest in the project," Theissen said.

When it comes to filing a federal permit application, Northern Dynasty is "ready to jump on it with vigor," Collier said. But the company expects to take a few years to give potential new partners time to weigh in first.

But Northern Dynasty firmly expects a speedy permitting process to come out of the Trump administration, Collier and Theissen said Friday. They said they expect to be one of the first projects to go through an expedited permitting process, which would allow them to complete the process in "record time."

Native, environmental and sportsmens groups were distraught at EPA's change in direction.

"There were literally dozens of public hearings. Thousands of people in Bristol Bay testified and spoke. Tens of thousands of people in the state of Alaska spoke. Hundreds of thousands of people in the US spoke," said Norman Van Vactor, president of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. He said that stood in stark contrast to Friday's decision, an agreement between "bureaucrats and foreign mining executives."

Leaders from the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, tribes and Native Corporations groups all expressed a sense of exhaustion with the decade-long fight, but pledged to continue their efforts to stop the mine.

Robin Samuelsen, Curyung tribal council chief and a commercial fishermen, said he would "continue to fight Pebble for as long as Pebble wants to build a mine in Bristol Bay. I'm 66 years old and I'll give it my last breath."

"Endangering America's greatest salmon fishery to enrich a mining conglomerate shows Pruitt's complete contempt for the EPA's mission," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "This massive mine will be a catastrophe for the people and environment of Bristol Bay and the whole state of Alaska."

"The sport fishing community, which supports a $250 million-a-year economy in the Bristol Bay region, depends upon the continued sustainable health of the region in order to operate our businesses," said Brian Kraft of Alaska Sportsman's Lodges. "The science behind the EPA's proposed determination has been through two massive peer reviews and countless public testimony."

Nelli Williams of Trout Unlimited in Anchorage said the project would risk thousands of jobs and "half the world's sockeye salmon."  Williams said the group will "be looking to our elected officials and decision makers to ensure they don't turn their back on the people of Alaska. We have said, and will continue to say, that Pebble is not welcome here. Alaskans aren't going anywhere, we are in this fight for the long haul."

But reactions from Alaska's congressional delegation were mixed. All three said that EPA should not stand in the way of the permitting process, but that protecting fisheries should be a priority. The senators also expressed overall reservations about the Pebble Mine project.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said that he has always held concerns about the EPA's proposed "preemptive veto of a potential economic development project on state land" and thought it could set "a precedent that could undermine jobs and economic opportunities in other parts of Alaska."

But he was clear that Alaska "will not trade one resource for another," (copper for fish), and said he "reiterated this in a discussion with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week."

Sullivan said he also shared concerns held by Alaskans in the Bristol Bay region, "including tribes, health officials, fishermen and community leaders – regarding the delicate environmental balance that exists within the Bristol Bay Watershed."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski reiterated opposition to swapping resources, and "advocated for a fair and consistent permitting process," through spokeswoman Karina Petersen.

But it "is critical for Pebble to tell Alaskans whether and how they will proceed – the company's failure to do so thus far has created uncertainty and anxiety among" Alaskans, Petersen said. "If Pebble intends to move forward with this project, it should enter the permitting process expeditiously so that all stakeholders can have the details needed to make informed decisions about a potential mine," Petersen said. And, she added, "if the company can't prove the mine will be safe, the mine shouldn't be built."

Congressman Don Young had strong words for the Obama EPA, saying the agency's "preemptive veto" of the project made "a mockery of the federal permitting process" and that "it sent a chilling message to any and all future development in Alaska – on state and private lands."

"If allowed to stand, this tactic would have been used across our state and nation to kill countless projects requiring (similar) permits. Ultimately, I believe this process should be allowed to move forward – permits should be filed and scientific reviews should take place," Young said. The EPA cannot be allowed "unilaterally dictate what we can and cannot do on state lands," he said.

Young also said that he understands the "sensitivity surrounding this project," and that if fisheries cannot be protected, it should not be done.

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell wrote Pruitt earlier this week after catching wind of a potential settlement between the EPA and Pebble, urging the administrator to consider the consequences.

"The proposed Pebble Mine is a direct threat to those jobs, and the Pacific Northwest economy, which is why the agency recommended that common-sense restrictions be put on large scale hard rock mining development in the headwaters of Bristol Bay," Cantwell wrote.

Meanwhile, Alaska House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, said he was "keenly disappointed" that the EPA was backing away from its "painstaking painstaking work and analysis" and years of work with tribes in the Bristol Bay region. "The people of the Bristol Bay region do not need this kind of stress hanging over our heads continuing on year after year," Edgmon said.


source:  https://www.adn.com/politics/2017/05/12/pebble-is-on-epa-reaches-deal-with-bristol-bay-gold-mine-company/

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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #65 on: June 28, 2017, 09:13:42 AM »

The clean water rule would have been a significant move forward for all fisheries.

EPA and Army Corps seek to rescind clean water rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers released a proposal on Tuesday to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the latest move by the Trump administration to unwind environmental regulations put in place under former President Barack Obama.

The agencies are working to rescind the rule, known as the Waters of the United States rule, and reinstate the language of the rule before it was changed in 2015.

The rule updated the federal Clean Water Act to define what waterways - including streams, rivers and other bodies - can be regulated by the federal government, stirring anger by the agriculture and energy industries, which said it gave regulators too much authority.

"We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers and businesses," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.

The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972 and last amended in 1987, is intended to protect the nation's waters from pollution.

In February, President Donald Trump said during the signing of an executive order calling for a review of the rule that the act should apply only to navigable waters that affect interstate commerce.

Some lawmakers and officials from states with large rural areas praised the move.

“Out-of-state D.C. bureaucrats shouldn’t impose regulations that hurt Montana farmers, ranchers and landowners,” said the state's Republican senator, Steve Daines.

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture welcomed the change, saying the 2015 rule was flawed and "fraught" with procedural issues, "making it necessary to start over with a new rule that protects clean water and respects state regulatory authority."

Environmental groups criticized the move, saying it ignores public input and would put parts of the country like the Midwestern Great Lakes at risk.

Others said the rollback will lead to pollution in some of the country's most sensitive wetland areas.

"Revoking the clean water rule will open the door to the pollution and bulldozing of some of America's most important wetlands," said Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity

The rule had been placed on hold in 2015 by a federal court appeals court.


source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-regulation-idUSKBN19I2L0
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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #66 on: July 12, 2017, 10:52:39 AM »

I am very pessimistic regarding Pebble Mine, and I doubt letter-sending campaigns have much impact.  That said, it takes 2 seconds.  Please consider sending an email to that POS Pruitt.

http://action.savebristolbay.org/page/speakout/EPApebbleAction?js=false
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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #67 on: July 19, 2017, 02:21:43 PM »

come on, man....

GOP-Led Attack Aims To Chip Away At Endangered Species Act
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/endangered-species-act-republican-attacks_us_596ec8e3e4b0000eb196c579
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k2

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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #68 on: August 08, 2017, 09:08:12 AM »

chip, chip, chipping away...

U.S. to relax rules protecting sage grouse, in win for oil drillers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Interior Department on Monday launched an overhaul to an Obama-era plan to protect sage grouse that it says aims to both preserve the species of bird while expanding opportunities for oil development in western states where they live.

The move is a win for the drilling industry which had long argued that the plan developed by former President Barack Obama was too restrictive, but a setback for conservation groups concerned the Interior Department under President Donald Trump is watering down wildlife protections.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a memo on Monday directed his deputy David Bernhardt to make nine broad changes to the program. In June Zinke stated the sage grouse protection program needed to be revised to "protect sage grouse and its habitat while also ensuring conservation efforts do not impede local economic opportunities."

The recommendations are intended to give states more flexibility to deal with habitat management, waivers, and mineral leasing and development. (on.doi.gov/2vGwuaf)

Environmental groups protested the move, saying it might lead to unraveling a complex and delicately balanced strategy that took federal agencies years to negotiate with state and local governments, scientists, ranchers and other private interests.

"The recommendations are a sideways attempt to abandon habitat protection for unfettered oil and gas development and in favor of discredited, narrow tools like captive breeding and population targets," said Nada Culver, senior policy director at the Wilderness Society.

Obama's 2015 plan to protect the ground-dwelling bird was widely seen as a compromise with business interests because it required certain protections, but fell short of placing sage grouse on the endangered species list - a move that would have imposed far more rigid restrictions on development.

But miners, oil drillers and ranchers in some western states had said Obama's plan to preserve the chicken-sized prairie fowl was too restrictive and prohibited economic development.

Sage grouse are considered by conservationists to be a key indicator species for America's dwindling sagebrush ecosystem. They are now believed to number between 200,000 and 500,000 birds across 11 Western states and southern Alberta.


source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-interior-sagegrouse-idUSKBN1AN2B5
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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #69 on: January 27, 2018, 06:58:28 PM »

I couldn't believe my eyes a few minutes ago when I read that the EPA decided against reversing the earlier decision to block Pebble Mine...  for now.  It's fitting that I was wearing this hat as I read the news.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/epa-chief-reverses-course-on-pebble-mine-in-alaska-1517019786



« Last Edit: January 27, 2018, 07:06:42 PM by k2 »
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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #70 on: January 29, 2018, 01:50:35 PM »

Very sad and hate to say it, but my guess is its going to happen...My firm was shortlisted to do the third party EIS and I would have been covering terrestrial issues.  Then the Corps decided to allow firms that have already conducted studies for the mine to apply to do the NEPA analysis.  Basically allowing companies that have already been employed by Pebble Mine to do surveys to review their own work and decide whether the Corps should approve the project.  We dropped our bid at that point.  Of course there with be forms saying there is no conflict of interest, but to me it just reeks of the administration green lighting the project and whitewashing the environmental review.  Hopefully it will get tied up in court after the FONSI is issued.
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Re: The "threats to Mother Nature" thread
« Reply #71 on: January 29, 2018, 05:54:11 PM »

Interesting.  My hope for Pebble Mine and similar issues is that the process (including legal action) takes long enough that we have a new president. 
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