Inside Climate News, Sept 24: The Kigali Amendment Will Help Curb Global Warming
“With rare, bipartisan support, the U.S. Senate voted 69-27 Wednesday in favor of ratifying a key international climate agreement that will significantly curb global warming and, climate advocates say, could serve as a springboard for further emissions reductions. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is a binding agreement to reduce production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning that are also potent, short-lived greenhouse gases. “Businesses supported it because it drives American exports; climate advocates championed it because it will avoid up to half a degree of global warming by the end of the century; and world leaders backed it because it ensures strong international cooperation,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.” Learn MORE.
Climate 202: Climate law makes clean energy much more cost-competitive
The Inflation Reduction Act will cause the cost of renewable energy to decline dramatically over the next decade, according to an analysis shared exclusively with The Climate 202. The analysis from ICF Climate Center, a global consulting firm, concludes that the climate law will make clean energy projects easier to finance across the country, quickening the pace of America’s energy transition. (For example) with the climate law, wind’s levelized (average lifetime) cost of energy in 2030 could be 38 to 49 percent lower than without the climate law. Solar’s levelized cost of energy could fall 20 to 35 percent. By 2030, solar could cost as little as $26.30 per megawatt-hour on average — down from a 2020 average of $34 per MWh, according to Energy Department research. Read MORE.
Climate Nexus: Big Win In Fight Against ‘Cancer Alley’ Formosa Plastics Plant
“A Louisiana court threw out key air quality permits for the massive, proposed Formosa Plastics facility in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” in another major victory for the community activists who have fought for years against the plant. The Formosa plant would have pumped 13.6 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution — about the equivalent of three-and-a-half coal plants — into the atmosphere each year. “Stopping Formosa Plastics has been a fight for our lives, and today David has toppled Goliath,” said Sharon Lavigne, who founded the group Rise St. James in 2018 to fight plans for the plant. “The judge’s decision sends a message to polluters like Formosa that communities of color have a right to clean air, and we must not be sacrifice zones.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Fast Transition to Renewable Energy Could Save $12 Trillion By 2050
“One of the most common rhetorical roadblocks thrown up in the way of climate action is that it will cost too much money. However, a new study published in Joule Tuesday asserts that the opposite is true. A rapid transition away from a fossil-fuel based energy system to a renewable-dependent one would actually save the world trillions of dollars by 2050. “There is a pervasive misconception that switching to clean, green energy will be painful, costly and mean sacrifices for us all – but that’s just wrong,” said research team leader and University of Oxford Professor Doyne Farmer. The Report concluded that it is “both possible and affordable to take the carbon out of the energy system by 2050, and that doing so would save at least $12 trillion compared to continuing with the way things are”. Learn MORE.
L. A. Daily News, Sept 8: State boosts funding for school greening projects to replace hot shadeless playgrounds
As California’s record-shattering heat wave blankets the state, members of the Newsom Administration and state lawmakers, along with local leaders and environmentalists, gathered at a school in the East San Fernando Valley on Sept. 8, to promote a historic state investment to expand school greening projects, which proponents say will help lower temperatures in coming years. The state will make available $150 million over the next two years so that school districts, nonprofits and local government agencies can apply for funding to plant trees, create gardens and other green spaces, or erect shade structures on campuses. Projects can also include planting native or drought-tolerant vegetation. Advocates say the funding from the state will enable schools or local entities to accelerate efforts to reduce the so-called “heat island effect” caused by too many buildings or roads in developed areas. Learn MORE.
Julie Packard, Monterey Bay Aquarium: California Seafloor Protected From Mining!
The California State Legislature — with unanimous, bipartisan support — has passed the California Seabed Mining Prevention Act, AB 1832! It now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature. If enacted, the bill will ban seabed mining on 2,500 square miles of California seafloor. California would join Oregon and Washington with bans on mining in state waters. Huge thanks to the bill’s author, Assemblymember Luz Rivas, for her leadership on this legislation that was co-sponsored by Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Surfrider Foundation. State Sen. John Laird played a critical role in getting the bill across the finish line in the Senate. Learn MORE.
Santa Cruz Works: UCSC Makes Green Hydrogen Breakthrough
“For years, researchers have tried to find efficient and cost-effective ways to use aluminum’s water reactivity to generate clean hydrogen fuel. Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have demonstrated an easily produced composite of gallium and aluminum that creates aluminum nanoparticles which react rapidly with water at room temperature to yield large amounts of hydrogen. The gallium is easily recovered for reuse after the reaction.
“We don’t need any energy input, and it bubbles hydrogen like crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said UCSC Chemistry Professor Scott Oliver.” The hydrogen of course can be used in hydrogen fuel cells in cars, bikes and planes. The process uses (a tiny fraction of) the rare or noble metals (used in) batteries; easier recycling, longer lifespan and hydrogen that can be produced locally from renewable energies”. Read MORE.
Save Our Wild Salmon: Sen. Murray & Gov. Inslee’s historic announcement – replace the services, remove the dams, restore salmon.
“Late last week (Aug 25), U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee took an historic step when they released their final Lower Snake River Dam Benefits Replacement Report, recommendations, and public statements outlining a way forward to protect and recover endangered Snake River salmon and steelhead populations and aid endangered, salmon-dependent Southern Resident orcas. “The science is clear that – specific to the Lower Snake River – breach of the dams would provide the greatest benefit to the salmon. Salmon runs in the Lower Snake River are uniquely impacted by the dam structures relative other watersheds, and the waters of the lower Snake River have unique potential for robust aquatic ecosystem and species recovery.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily: Helping Indigenous people protect the world’s tropical forests
Looking after more than 80 percent of the planet’s biodiversity, Indigenous peoples are the world’s most knowledgeable and effective conservationists. One group, called the Tenure Facility, helps Indigenous peoples secure their land and forest rights by providing funding and legal advice to Indigenous communities fighting for tenure rights in court. Lacking legal recognition of land rights, Indigenous communities are often on their own when confronting illegal logging and mining activities on their lands. The failure of governments to support them often leads to deadly consequences: in 2020 alone, 227 people died protecting valuable ecosystems such as forests and rivers. Five years ago, Tenure Facility had just completed several projects that secured land tenure for nearly 1.8 million hectares of land and forest in Cameroon, Mali, Indonesia, Panama, and Peru. Since then they have helped Indigenous peoples secure land and forest rights across 14 million hectares (35M acres), benefiting 700 million people across 12 countries. And the group plans to take its efforts much further.” Witness their inspiring work HERE.
Cal Matters, Sept 1: Calif Legislature Approves A Wave Of New Climate Actions
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s last-minute legislative plan for tackling the climate crisis was largely victorious as lawmakers approved laws to set interim targets for 100% clean energy, regulate projects to remove carbon from the atmosphere and smokestacks, and end new oil drilling near communities. Five of the six climate and energy bills pushed by Newsom made it to his desk. “This was a very big and historic win. It has taken this state decades to get to this point,” said Sen. Monique Limón, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, who authored SB 1137, a bill that requires setbacks around new oil and gas wells and steps to protect residents at old wells. Sen. John Laird authored SB 1020, which sets interim targets for generating clean energy. A current law already requires 100% of retail electricity to be fueled by renewables such as wind and solar by 2045. The new law would add 90% by 2035 and 95% by 2040. Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, Aug 30: This plastic alternative breaks down into sugar
While banning plastics is an important measure for curbing pollution, replacing plastics as a practical consumer material is important. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne have developed a plant-based alternative for plastics that decomposes into sugar. Plastic’s low cost and ease of production also make it hard to replace. The Swiss developed a comparable alternative in their “new plastic” which is made from non-edible plant material and is similar in quality to the plastic used in water bottles. “We essentially just ‘cook’ wood or other non-edible plant material, such as agricultural wastes, in inexpensive chemicals to produce the plastic precursor in one step,” said Luterbacher. The material is made with a method developed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology which alters lignin, a polymer found in biofuels, and converts it into a potential source for bio-based plastics and fuels. Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, Aug 19: This power-free sewer treatment plant was inspired by cow stomachs
“80 percent of the world’s sewage is dumped untreated into the natural environment. This is a huge health and environmental crisis, but traditional sewage treatment plants are costly and energy intensive, making them difficult to implement in many regions. The sewage contamination issue is particularly severe in Bangalore, India. Fortunately, local resident Tharun Kumar has come up with a solution. He and his team from ECOSTP Technologies designed a model that replicates the cow’s digestive system (with has) four chambers that use bacteria that do not require oxygen to digest food. The team created a sewer system with a four chamber system and uses bacteria collected from cow dung to clean wastewater in the very same way. So far, ECOSTP Technologies has built 50 of these plants in India and is looking to expand to Africa.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily: LA County mandates compostable and recyclable dining ware
“To reduce plastic waste, the LA Board of Supervisors has approved the official requirement that all takeout food containers, or other takeaway dining ware items from restaurants like plates and utensils, be compostable or fully recyclable by 2023. Dine-in restaurants will not be allowed to serve food on single-use dining ware. Places like food trucks and farmers’ markets will also have to abide by the new rule. This ordinance will also ban the sale of expanded polystyrene foam, more commonly known as Styrofoam, in items like coolers, dining ware, and pool toys.” Read ON.
Optimist Daily: What cities around the world can learn from Europe’s greenest capital
“While an increasing number of major cities are striving to become more climate-friendly, one particular European capital stands out with its sustainability efforts so far. It’s Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, whose notable climate measures have won it the title of the European Green Capital for 2023. These measures include: 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030; free public transportation for all of its residents; and planting more trees in the city, while maintaining wilderness within its parks and nature reserves — all in a bid to boost the number of pollinators and encourage biodiversity within its urban fabric. Learn MORE.
Rio Theatre: Ocean Film Festival World Tour, Sept 9, 7 pm
“Quench your thirst for all things ocean related at the 2022 Ocean Film Festival World Tour. This sublime collection of short ocean themed films will take you to the depths of the ocean, up close with tiger sharks and sea lions and surfing the monster waves of Nazaré in Portugal. Audiences will be able to immerse themselves in the wonders of the world’s oceans without getting their feet wet as the Ocean Film Festival World Tour makes a splash at the Rio Theatre. Designed to mesmerise and enthral, the Ocean Film Festival World Tour showcases a 2 hour celebration of our oceans comprised of sublime footage taken above and below the water’s surface.” Info and tickets HERE.
Reuters, Aug 25: Covering California Water Canals With Solar Panels
“California is about to launch an experiment to cover aqueducts with solar panels, a plan that if scaled up might save billions of gallons of otherwise evaporated water while powering millions of homes. Project Nexus in the Turlock Irrigation District launches in mid-October amid Western North America’s worst drought in 1,200 years and as human-influenced climate change exacerbates the dry spell. The $20 million project is due to break ground and will cover about 1.3 miles of canal. If all 4,000 miles of canals were covered with solar panels, it could produce 13 gigawatts of renewable capacity, roughly half of what California needs to meet its carbon-free energy goals, she said. A gigawatt, or 1 billion watts, is enough to power 750,000 homes.” Read MORE.
Canary Media: 3 ways the new climate law will help clean up dirty US ports
“The Inflation Reduction Act includes $3 billion to slash pollution from ports by electrifying machinery, plugging ships into the grid and more. The surge in cargo activity this year is putting renewed pressure on port operators and state regulators to clean up maritime hubs. Environmental groups and residents of port-adjacent communities are urging officials to hasten the electrification of polluting onshore equipment and take steps to reduce emissions from visiting cargo ships. Now, with an unprecedented amount of federal climate and energy funding set to start flowing, port officials will have the chance to accelerate such initiatives.” Learn MORE.
E & E News, Aug 17: Court clears path for Biden oil and gas leasing pause
“Federal judges today struck down a court order that had barred the Biden administration from pausing new oil and gas leasing on public lands and federal waters.At issue in the litigation is President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14008, which he issued at the start of his term to address the harms of climate change. Part of the order required Interior to put new lease sales on hold as the department reviewed the environmental impact of its leasing program. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the order requiring the Interior Department to resume lease sale offerings “lacked specificity.” But the appeals court did not decide on the substance of the Biden administration’s arguments that it had the authority to stop new sales.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily: Prefab Facades to Make Old Buildings Carbon Neutral
“Retrofitting buildings so that they consume less energy is key to meeting current climate targets. A company in Germany is working to accelerate that process by building tailored facades with built-in insulation that can fit like a glove onto old buildings to reduce their energy use. The facades consist of prefab panels that are molded to fit exactly on the walls of old apartment buildings. The aim is to solve one of the biggest challenges of decarbonizing our built environment, which is that current retrofitting techniques are excruciatingly slow. Ecoworks, the German startup behind the new system, uses artificial intelligence to identify the buildings that consume the most energy and that are suitable for its retrofit technique. Retrofitting can be accomplished in weeks versus months or even years.” Read ON.
Watsonville Wetlands Watch, Aug 10: Welcoming Our Wetlands Stewards
“This week, our Education team is preparing our new cohort of Wetland Stewards interns for their work this upcoming school year with a weeklong orientation. These interns will teach local PVUSD elementary and middle school students about our wetlands and engage them in hands-on environmental education activities at their school-based after-school programs and lead wetlands field trips where students gain scientific knowledge and skills to support their in-class learning.” Learn more about WWW’s Wetland Stewards and other education programs HERE.
Science, Aug 8: A bigger home on the range for Montana bison
“For the first time in more than 15 years, Montana bison will roam new grazing grounds on public land. After 4 years of review, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on 28 July granted a request by the nonprofit American Prairie to release its bison herd onto more than 24,000 hectares (240 sq. kilometers) in central Montana. This is the largest land approval BLM has given American Prairie. Many ecologists are celebrating the expansion, part of American Prairie’s effort to restore Montana’s prairie ecosystems and return the U.S. national mammal to its former glory. As BLM opens public land to the animals, ranchers object, whereas ecologists see a boon for biodiversity.” Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: 6 Billion Tons of Coal Kept in the Ground
“Following a lawsuit by the Center and allies, a judge just struck down federal plans to extract massive amounts of fossil fuels from public lands in Montana and Wyoming — including 6 billion tons of coal over 20 years. Originally made in the Trump era, the plans ignored the environmental and human health consequences of extracting and burning all that coal, oil and gas from the Powder River Basin, the largest U.S. coal-producing region and home to wildlife like pronghorns and imperiled greater sage grouse.” Read ON!
Audubon Society: Award-winning Field Guide App, Completely Redesigned
“The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to over 800 species of North American birds, right in your pocket. Built for all experience levels, it will help you identify the birds around you, keep track of the birds you’ve seen, and get outside to find new birds near you. With over 2 million downloads to date, it is one of the best and most trusted field guides for North American birds. Our most recent update features a home screen that’s easier to use, an improved Explore section, and look and feel upgrades throughout.” Preview and download the app HERE.
YES! Magazine: Baby Boomers Mobilize Around Climate Change
“The generation’s organizing experience, voter turnout, and spending power make them a powerful force for change. (One retiree) Prof Sheldon Pollack is a volunteer with Third Act, an organization that mobilizes Americans over age 60 for “progressive change.” Co-founded in 2021 by activist and journalist Bill McKibben, the group has 20 working groups across the country. But many of us who are at the end of our careers or recently retired are regaining (our) activist, engaged spirit,” Pollock said. “We want to make sure that we leave the world better than it is now.” Read MORE and check out Elders Climate Action, Moms Clean Air Force & Third Act.
Sea Shepherd, Aug 1: Hope Remains for the World’s Most Endangered Marine Mammal
“A new study published in the scientific journal Endangered Species reports that more vaquitas remain alive than population projections initially indicated. This is incredibly good news for the crews, volunteers, and supporters of Operation Milagro, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society campaign that has worked to protect the vaquita since 2015. The investigation finds that the remaining animals are in good health, breeding, and surviving and may have learned to avoid the gillnets responsible for the decline of the species. Also, Sea Shepherd recently acquired the MV Sharkwater, a storied vessel (48 meters) with a long history of conservation, which will serve in the Upper Gulf of California protecting vaquita.” Learn MORE.
Environment California: Good news from the Arctic Refuge
“The signs of change for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge started a few years ago. In December of 2020, Bank of America joined the five other largest banks in the country in pledging not to finance drilling in the Arctic. In March 2022, AIG, a major insurer, stepped away from risky fossil fuel projects that threaten sacred and pristine Arctic land. This was the first major U.S. insurance company to make this kind of pledge — and it matters a lot, because oil companies can’t drill without insurance. Worldwide, 14 insurance companies have made a commitment to not insure Arctic drilling. And in June, 2022, Chevron and Hilcorp paid $10 million to terminate their leases in the refuge, leaving no oil companies holding drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Read MORE.
SCCRTC: Celebrate Coastal Rail Trail Segment 7/Phase II Groundbreaking on Aug 11, 12:15 – 12:45 pm
“The City of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission welcome the community to celebrate the groundbreaking of Coastal Rail Trail Segment 7/Phase II on Thursday at La Barranca Park, 700 Bay Street, near the intersection of California Avenue. The project is a 0.8 miles long paved bicycle/pedestrian path between Bay/California streets and Pacific Avenue/Beach Street. It will be 12-16 feet wide and run along the coastal side of the existing rail line. It is designed for walkers and bikers of all age groups and abilities. Santa Cruz Mayor Sonja Brunner will preside at the event”. More info HERE.
One Earth: Stanford University Study Shows Tremendous Benefits of Rapid Transition to 100% Renewable Energy
“A new study from Stanford found that transitioning our global energy systems to 100% renewable energy by 2050 would increase energy security and cumulatively save trillions of dollars in the process. The Stanford team laid out a plan demonstrating that it is possible to meet our 1.5˚C climate goals without relying on unproven “silver bullet” technologies. This plan would use less than one-half of a percent of the world’s land, create 28 million long-term jobs in the process, and drastically alleviate the social and health costs of continued fossil fuel use.” Read MORE.
The Verge, July 27: Biden’s new plan: solar power for everyone, not just the rich
“The Biden administration has new plans to get lower-income households hooked up to solar energy. The White House announced two new programs on 7/27/22 aimed at expanding access to “community solar” projects among subsidized housing residents and households that receive federal assistance to pay their utility bills. It also launched a new rewards program for existing community solar projects. “Community solar” essentially lets many different households share the benefits of one shared solar array. The most common way this takes shape is through a subscription program. A solar company or nonprofit organization will build out a solar farm, and then households that subscribe to the program get credit back on their electricity bills for the energy generated by the shared solar farm.” Learn MORE.
Turtle Island Restoration Network, July 20: A Win For Coho Salmon In Marin County
“A 15-year battle over salmon in California’s most important watershed for the critically endangered coho salmon was finally ended with the passage of a Stream Conservation Area (SCA) Ordinance that scientists and environmentalists believe provides adequate protection of habitat for imperiled Central Coast Coho salmon and Steelhead trout in the San Geronimo Valley/Lagunitas watershed. Central California Coast Coho populations have declined more than 95% from their historic levels. The fish are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act. San Geronimo Valley can include up to 50% of the entire Lagunitas Watershed Coho population, one of the largest Central Coast Coho populations remaining in California.” Learn MORE.
Environment America: Another State Commits To 100% Renewable Energy
“It’s cause to celebrate! 10 states have now committed to 100% clean or renewable energy. Rhode Island is the latest state to set a new standard on 100% renewable electricity goals. Legislation signed into law by Gov. McKee requires electric suppliers to procure 100% renewable electricity by 2033, the fastest timeline of any state in the nation. Rhode Island joins 9 other states that are working to slow down global warming through commitments to 100% clean or renewable energy. Coupled with municipal commitments, 1 in 3 Americans lives in a community committed to 100% clean or renewable energy.” Environment America website.
Center For Biological Diversity, July 14: Three Victories for Right Whales
“The past few days have brought thrilling wins for right whales in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Off the coast of Alaska, North Pacific right whales moved closer to escaping extinction when, in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and partners, NOAA Fisheries announced the whales may get expanded habitat protections. With only about 30 individuals left in their eastern Pacific population, these are the world’s most endangered whales, ranging from the Bering Sea to Baja California. And in the Atlantic, where lobster fishing poses a dire threat of entanglement, critically endangered North Atlantic right whales have declined to only 336 individuals in just a handful of years. But this week a federal court ruled in favor of the whales. Separately, an appeals court reinstated seasonal protection for right whales off Maine, where lobster fishing lines are banned in certain federal waters between October and January.” Learn MORE.
High Country News, July 13: In Alaska, Coal Is Dwindling as Green Energy Is on the Rise
“When Healy Unit 2, Alaska’s largest coal plant, was built in the 1990s, it was the area’s second coal plant, an experimental project meant to generate enough energy to power tens of thousands of homes, more than twice that of its predecessor, Healy Unit 1. But for the last five years, it has been plagued by operational issues and the need for costly repairs, and on June 27, the board of the Golden Valley Electric Association, the nonprofit cooperative that runs the plant, voted to shut it down, invest in wind energy and install $26.1 million in pollution-control equipment on Healy Unit 1 by the end of 2024. The closure of Healy Unit 2 signals a rise in renewable energy projects around Alaska.” Learn MORE.
The 2022 Audubon Photography Award Winners
“It is our pleasure to share with you the winning images and videos of the 2022 Audubon Photography Awards. Take a moment out of your day to revel in details you might otherwise miss, from the bold action of a raptor to the subtlest feather patterns of a ptarmigan. With more than 10,000 entries, this year’s photos and videos celebrate the unique, fleeting moments we share with birds when we give them our attention. They remind us why it’s so important to protect them and the habitats we all need for generations to come.” View photos HERE.
The Verge, July 8: Dead solar panels are about to become a lot more valuable
“In the coming years, recyclers will hopefully be able to mine billions of dollars worth of materials from discarded solar panels, according to a new analysis published this week. That should ease bottlenecks in the supply chain for solar panels while also making the panels themselves more sustainable. Right now the value you can squeeze out of a salvaged panel hasn’t been enough to make up for the cost of transporting and recycling it. The research firm Rystad Energy expects the value of recyclable materials from solar panels to grow exponentially over the next several years, ballooning to $2.7 billion in 2030 from just $170 million this year. That’s thanks to a growing demand for solar coupled with an anticipated pinch in the materials needed to make panels. Technological advancements are also making it easier to extract more valuable materials from old panels, making recycling a sweeter deal financially. Learn MORE.
Friends Of The Earth: California’s Historic Investments in Plant-based School Food
“The California’s new budget includes historic investments in the state’s school meal program to expand healthy, plant-based meal options. These investments include: $100 million to support schools in procuring plant-based foods, as well as sustainably produced foods, California-grown foods, and foods to accommodate students with religious or other restricted diets; and $600 million to upgrade school kitchen infrastructure and to train and compensate foodservice workers, including to prepare plant-based meals and increase scratch-cooking, an important facilitator for expanding healthy, plant-forward menus. With this budget, California becomes the first state to provide public funding for plant-based school meals!” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: UPS Tests Electric Cycles for Busy Cities
“UPS has said it wants to reduce its carbon footprint. On Tuesday, the company announced that it is testing small, battery-powered pedal-assist cycles for drivers to use in busy cities. UPS is currently testing the electric vehicles, dubbed eQuads, on the bustling streets of New York City. The eQuad is designed to be more efficient and produce less emissions than the standard UPS truck, and it’s part of UPS’s goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050. The eQuad travels at about 15 miles per hour, can go on bike paths and can haul over 440 pounds of packages. The smaller vehicle takes up far less space than the average UPS truck, making it ideal for city streets. The cycles are also less likely to block traffic in already crowded city streets.” Learn MORE.
Earth.com, July 7: Fin Whales Are Finally Rebounding in the Antarctic
“Fin whales, the second-largest animal on the planet, were once hunted nearly to extinction. But an international ban on commercial whaling that was established 40 years ago appears to be paying off. During a 2018 and 2019 survey of the Southern Ocean, researchers stumbled upon the largest gathering of fin whales ever documented, (Nature Scientific Reports July 7, 2022). Commercial whalers killed an estimated 725,000 fin whales there from 1904 to 1976, depleting the population to as little as 1 percent of its pre-whaling size. The recent survey found 100s of groups of whales, a few with up to 150 whales! The rebounding of the fin whales’ population, however, offers “a sign that if you enforce management and conservation, there are chances for species to recover,” Dr. Herr said.” Read MORE.
The Guardian, Down To Earth: Britain once had thriving rainforests that can be restored
“Once upon a time, much of the western British Isles was covered in rainforest. While contortions of lichens, liverworts and fungi cling on in the remaining fragments that once stretched from Cornwall to the coast of north-west Scotland, it has now been almost completely destroyed. The rain-soaked oak, birch, ash, pine and hazel woodlands – found in Fingle Woods, Devon; Dunollie Wood, Oban; Bovey Tracey, Dartmoor – are home to red squirrels, Atlantic salmon, dormice, otters and kingfishers. Yet, like many wild areas of the country, they are threatened by invasive species, overgrazing and pollution. Environmentalist Guy Shrubsole calls for the creation of a great British rainforest strategy to protect what remains and help it regenerate naturally. No tree-planting would be required – the areas just need better management to recover.”
Interesting Engineering: Massive New Swiss ‘Water Battery’
“One of the world’s largest batteries isn’t what you think. An enormous water battery, which can produce electricity equivalent to 400,000 electric car batteries, has commenced operation in Switzerland’s canton of Valais. The pumped storage power station took 14 years to build and cost €2 billion. It’s an ecological battery that uses the same water over and over, and with the ability to store and generate massive amounts of hydroelectric energy, the facility will be one of Europe’s main renewable energy sources.” Learn more HERE.
Goldman Prize Winner: Meet Nalleli Cobo
“A teenage girl in California who shut down a toxic oil-drilling site is of the inspiring winners of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize winners, the so-called “Green Nobel Prize.” Nalleli Cobo led a coalition to permanently shut down a toxic oil-drilling site in her community in March 2020, at the age of 19—an oil site that caused serious health issues (asthma and cancer) for her and others. (Through her team’s fierce commitment, the oil site was permanently closed.) Her continued organizing against urban oil extraction has now yielded major policy movement within both the Los Angeles City Council and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which voted unanimously to ban new oil exploration and phase out of existing sites!” Read more and watch the 4 minute documentary HERE.
The Wilderness Society: Good News for the Okefenokee Wilderness!
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has restored federal oversight to the proposed Twin Pines Minerals mine in southern Georgia, following a Biden administration memorandum reaffirming tribal consultation (which didn’t previously happen) as well as the reinstatement (following Trump-era rollbacks) of Clean Water Act protections for some wetlands. With federal protections now restored and state permits indefinitely shelved, Twin Pines Minerals will need to reapply for federal permits for its massive heavy minerals sand mine at the doorstep of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness. The mine will face more stringent environmental review as well as consultation with the area’s Native American tribes.” Learn MORE.
Climate 202, June 21: Federal agreement with Native American tribes could set precedent
“The Biden administration has reached an agreement to give five Native American tribes more say over the day-to-day management of a national monument in Utah, marking a new chapter in the federal government’s often-fraught relationship with tribes. The Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service signed the cooperative agreement on June 18 with five tribes that have inhabited the region surrounding Bears Ears National Monument for centuries: the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Pueblo of Zuni. The first-of-its-kind agreement could set a precedent for similar arrangements with Native American tribes on public lands across the country.” Learn MORE.
Eat For The Earth: Community Rx Receives Grant For 3 Years Of Funding!
“Eat for the Earth will be receiving three years of funding from the County and City of Santa Cruz! This will be a game changer for our organization and our movement. We will use our grant funds to hire a bilingual/bicultural program coordinator and for other expenses. Community Rx Program shows how the most powerful way to end your health struggle is to transform your diet. Major lifestyle change requires effective education, accurate information, and plenty of inspiration, tools, and support.” Learn MORE.
Oceana Canada, June 20: Canada Bans Single-use Plastics
“On Monday, June 20, Canada banned six common single-use plastics! Canada is now one of the only countries in the world to ban a list of single-use plastics, including plastic bags, cutlery, stir sticks, six-pack rings, straws, and takeout containers made from problematic plastics, and is the second country ever to ban exporting these items. This announcement marks a victory for our oceans and the marine life that call them home, and positions Canada as a global leader in efforts to reduce single-use plastics.” Read MORE.
Earth Day.org: 10-year Old Activist’s Deep Commitment Inspires Powerful Progress
“Madhvi Chitoor, also known as the #NoStyrofoamNinja, started making waves in the climate movement at an early age. In 2019, when Chitoor was just 7 years old, she worked to have her school district, Jeffco Public Schools, switch from using wasteful and carcinogenic styrofoam lunch trays to compostable ones. One of Madhvi’s biggest victories came in July of 2021 when after working with 35 mayors across the state of Colorado, as well as legislators in the Colorado Senate and House, Governor Jared Polis signed Madhvi’s Plastic Bill into law! Through this law, styrofoam containers and single-use plastic bags would be banned from all Colorado grocery stores, restaurants, and cafeterias. This law was instrumental in minimizing plastic waste in Colorado and was a large step forward in the climate movement.” Read more HERE.
Center For Food Safety, June 17: Federal Court Rejects Glyphosate Registration Decision Because EPA Ignored Cancer Risks, Endangered Species Risks
“In a historic victory for farmworkers and the environment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with Center for Food Safety (CFS) and its represented farmworker and conservation clients by overturning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision that the toxic pesticide glyphosate is safe for humans and imperiled wildlife. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto-Bayer’s flagship Roundup weedkiller, the most widely used pesticide in the world. The 54-page opinion held the Trump administration’s 2020 interim registration of glyphosate to be unlawful because “EPA did not adequately consider whether glyphosate causes cancer and shirked its duties under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily: California Is Making Composting a Statewide Practice
“Composting is an easy and fun way to cut down on our carbon emissions while making our own fertilizer. Despite this, a lot of green waste like vegetable scraps and lawn trimmings wind up in landfills. Here they rot and release methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. California, though, is doing something about this. California jurisdictions have started reducing green waste as per a composting law that will take place in 2025. Senate Bill 1383 requires local California governments to reduce the amount of green waste sent to landfills by 75 percent by 2025. Not only that, but it will reduce costs for California farmers while improving climate resiliency.” Read MORE.
Wildlife Conservation Society: Lighted Nets Dramatically Reduce Bycatch While Making Fishing More Efficient
“In a win-win for commercial fisheries and marine wildlife, researchers have found that using lighted nets greatly reduced accidental bycatch of sharks, rays, sea turtles, and unwanted finfish. The incidental capture of non-target species – known as “bycatch” – in coastal gillnet fisheries has contributed to declines in endangered species worldwide and has also impacted coastal ecosystems. Publishing their results in the journal Current Biology, the researchers found that lighted gillnets reduced total fisheries bycatch by 63 percent, which included a 95 percent reduction in sharks, skates, and rays, an 81 percent reduction in Humboldt squid, and a 48 percent reduction in unwanted finfish, while maintaining catch rates and market value of target fish.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Biden’s EPA to Restore Power of States and Tribes to Block Pipelines
“The Biden administration is prepared to again allow states and Tribes to block energy projects, like pipelines and coal terminals, that could pollute local waterways. Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has allowed states and Tribes to review federal project permits and veto facilities that threaten rivers, streams, and other waterways. However, the Trump administration reversed this ability in 2020, minimizing states’ and Tribes’ abilities to deny project permits based on environmental reasons. Now, the Biden administration will once again restore this power to states and Tribes to deny permits for harmful projects.” The public comment period ends August 8. Learn MORE.
Inside Climate News, June 7: Scientists Have Created a Roadmap for Cutting US Emissions in Half by 2030
“Researchers of a new peer-reviewed study say they’ve developed the “first detailed roadmap” for how the United States can achieve its ambitious climate pledge to slash the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. It’s a critical target that, if missed, would likely jeopardize the larger global efforts to prevent devastating runaway climate change. The study found that the U.S. can feasibly slash half its emissions in eight years by focusing on its two most carbon-intensive sectors: electricity and transportation. By 2030, more than half of the new cars sold in the country would need to be electric and at least 80 percent of the electricity produced would need to come from solar, wind or other renewable sources. Read MORE.
Oceana: Single-Use Plastic to Be Phased Out in National Parks, Other Public Lands Following Push From Environmental Advocates
“On June 8, the Biden administration announced a series of actions it would be taking to protect our oceans. Among them: the designation of a new national marine sanctuary to preserve the Hudson Canyon, the initiation of efforts to create a U.S. Ocean Climate Action Plan, and the phaseout of single-use plastics in national parks, monuments, and wildlife refuges, which will reduce the procurement, sale, and distribution of single-use plastic products and packaging in 423 national parks, including 88 ocean and coastal parks.” Learn MORE.
Pacific Forest Trust: California Senate Recommends Essential Investments in Climate Change and Water Security
“As the drought gripping the western US intensifies with climate change, some legislatures are turning to the highly cost-effective and multiple-benefit approach of restoring natural watershed functions to increase water reliability. California is a case in point. The state Senate has recommended investing $7.5 billion in various natural infrastructure solutions to drought and water scarcity, with a key focus on conserving and restoring watersheds with conservation partners and willing landowners.” Also, bringing back beavers to California! Learn MORE.
Environment America: Shareholders Vote To Direct Home Depot To Report On It’s Impact To Boreal Forest
“Home Depot’s shareholders have voted to take steps toward reducing the hardware giant’s impact on the boreal forest. Home Depot’s shareholders passed a proposal that directs the company to report on its impact on primary forests. This will increase Home Depot’s transparency and help the company identify steps to reduce logging and deforestation. This victory wouldn’t be possible without the support of environmental advocates like you. With your help, our national network delivered over 21,000 petition signatures to Home Depot urging action.” Read MORE.
Defenders Of Wildlife: Legal Agreement Will Protect Critical Habitat for Threatened Florida Manatee
“In a legal agreement with Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity and Save the Manatee Club, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has committed to revising critical habitat for the Florida manatee by September 2024. The manatee’s critical habitat has not been updated since its original designation in 1976. “This agreement is a vital step toward ending the mass manatee deaths that have become all too common along Florida’s coasts,” said Jane Davenport, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. “Once the species’ current critical habitat is identified, we’re hopeful that federal, state, and private conservation partners can take decisive action to put the manatee back on the road to recovery.” Read MORE.
Indian Country News, May 31: Mining Companies Back Away from Brazil’s Indigenous Areas
“Some of the world’s biggest mining companies have withdrawn requests to research and extract minerals on Indigenous land in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, and have repudiated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s efforts to legalize mining activity in the areas. The Brazilian Mining Association (Ibram), which represents around 130 companies, conducted an internal survey of its members earlier this year, according to Raul Jungmann, its president. For the first time in decades, none of the companies have current research or mining applications for gold, tin, nickel, iron and other ores in Indigenous areas. Members of the association, which accounts for 85 percent of Brazil’s legally produced ore, include mining giants Rio Tinto, Anglo American and Vale.” Read MORE.
Interesting Engineering, June 4: Japan’s Deep Ocean Turbine Could Offer Limitless Renewable Energy
“A project over ten years in the making. The Japanese heavy machinery maker IHI Corp has been developing a giant subsea turbine that harnesses the energy in deep ocean currents. Called Kairyu, it looks like a 330-ton airplane. It features two counter-rotating turbine fans that are connected by a massive fuselage and it functions by floating while anchoring to the sea floor at a depth of 30-50 meters (100-160 feet). The turbines will be sited in one of the world’s strongest currents (the Kuroshio Current) and transmit the power via seabed cables. A Japanese agency estimates that the Kuroshio Current could potentially generate as much as 200 gigawatts of reliable energy, which is the equivalent of 60% of Japan’s present generating capacity.” Learn MORE.
Environment Colorado, June 2: Governor Signs Extended Producer Responsibility Law for Packaging
“Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has signed the nation’s third-ever plastic producer responsibility bill into law. This is a huge victory for our environment. The new law will mandate that producers and manufacturers pay for the packaging that they use for their products. The more packaging a producer uses, the more they’ll have to pay — encouraging producers to stop wrapping their products in unnecessary material that’s destined to become waste. The dues paid by Colorado producers will then be put toward improving the state’s recycling infrastructure, helping to ensure that plastic and other throwaway materials are recycled rather than stashed in a landfill or dumped in our waterways.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, June 2: G7 countries plan to stop fossil fuel development overseas
“Environmental and energy ministers from the world’s largest economies agreed to stop funding any overseas fossil fuel development by the end of 2022. This will cut off investment in high carbon pollution programs that threaten the world from meeting its climate targets. The G7 countries include Japan, the UK, the US, France, Italy, Canada, and Germany, this year’s host country.” Learn MORE.
PV Magazine, June 2: Ukrainian Solar Plant Partly Resumes Operations After Bombing
“A 3.9 MW solar plant in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region has partly resumed operations after suffering damages in a Russian missile attack on May 28. “Staff was able to disconnect the damaged strings and the 1.8 MW of power is now providing clean, green electricity to the grid,” said Stanislav Ignatiev, the CEO of the company that owns the facility, Solar Generation. “This project is a vivid example of distributed generation, which is aimed at supplying energy to a small town”. Read more HERE.
Fossil Free California: Calif Senate Passes Divestment Act, SB 1173
“The California State Senate last week (May 27) passed a measure that would prohibit the state’s public pension funds from investing in the largest oil, gas and coal companies within a decade. Senate Bill 1173, California’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, would require the state’s public pension funds to divest from the 200 largest fossil fuel companies by 2030. The funds would need to report annually on their divestment progress starting in 2024.” Learn MORE.
National Wildlife Federation: Nation Mobilizes Offshore Wind Energy at Carolina Long Bay
“On May 11th, as part of the Biden administration’s ongoing commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offered 110,091 acres for auction in the Carolina Long Bay area, off the shore of North Carolina and South Carolina. This sale is the Biden administration’s second of seven anticipated offshore wind auctions. “The Biden-Harris administration is moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy a reality for the United States,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.” Learn MORE.
Inside Climate News, May 22: International Commission Votes to Allow Use of More Climate-Friendly Refrigerants in AC and Heat Pumps
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) sets safety standards for thousands of household appliances worldwide. The Commission recently voted unanimously to allow the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants (e.g., propane) in air conditioners and heat pumps. The trouble is that refrigerants slowly leak over the lifespan of an appliance. The new guidelines could save the equivalent of billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 (but the U.S. could prove slow to adopt them). Most of these appliances in the United States today rely on HFC-410a, a synthetic hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant that is 4,260 times as potent as carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere over a 20-year period. Propane is only about 3X as potent of a greenhouse gas as CO2. This is a little complicated so read more HERE to understand.
Climate Nexus: EU Ramps Up Renewables To Replace Russian Fossil Fuels
“European Union pivots to clean energy to replace Russian fossil fuel imports. The EU released a new $317 billion plan to end its dependence on Russian coal, oil, and gas within five years, in large part by massively expanding and accelerating clean energy construction. Under the plan, renewable energy sources like solar and wind farms would provide 45 percent of Europe’s energy by 2030, up from 22 percent in 2020, the Wall Street Journal reports. Meanwhile, several EU member states have committed to increasing offshore wind production tenfold by 2050, writes Protocol. The countries aim to install 65 gigawatts by 2030 and 150 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2050, up from just 15 gigawatts today.” (Wall Street Journal $, Protocol) Learn MORE.
Let’s Green CA!: SB 1230 – Clean Car Equity For Calif – Passes The Calif State Senate
“Give yourself three cheers because you just helped SB 1230 pass the California State Senate on May 25 and it now goes to the Assembly! We’ve partnered with the Dolores Huerta Foundation and State Senator Monique Limón to introduce and support SB 1230 and equitably accelerate California’s clean car revolution. Replacing dirty, gas-powered vehicles with clean cars will not only reduce our GHG emissions; it will save lives.” Learn MORE.
Central Coast Community Energy: Electrifying Our Community’s School Buses
“The Electric School Bus Program provides public schools and school districts enrolled in CCCE service with an opportunity to receive funding to cover 50%, but not to exceed $200,000 of the total sales cost of an electric school bus. Benefits of going electric: Cheaper to run and maintain; Districts typically save 72% on fuel compared to a standard diesel bus; Save up to 80% in maintenance without oil to change, timing belts to replace, spark plugs and ignition – just to name a few; Less harmful pollutants emitted, including CO2 & diesel particulate matter.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, May 4: California Condors Return to Northern Redwoods After a 100-Year Absence
“For the first time in more than a century, endangered California condors soared over the redwood forests along the state’s northern coast. The two birds, both males, were released from a pen in Redwood National Park on Tuesday morning, AP News reported. The Yurok Tribe has spearheaded efforts to reintroduce the California condor to the northern part of its range. In 2021, the tribe announced a new condor release facility with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, with the goal of reintroducing the birds to Yurok Ancestral Territory and Redwood National Park. The Yurok Tribe considers the condors sacred, and the construction of the facility was the result of years of work on its part.” Learn MORE.
Fossil Free California: State Senate to Vote on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill
“The Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 1173 out of suspense. This vote comes less than two weeks after Fossil Free California published a report exposing a pattern of California’s pension fund managers wildly exaggerating the cost of divestment, including in the estimates submitted by CalPERS and CalSTRS to the Appropriations Committee. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill could move to the Senate Floor for a vote as soon as next week (May 23). You can help pass the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill by getting your representative on board” HERE.
Canary Media: Electric Heavy-duty Trucks are Hitting the Roads in California and Beyond
“Study after study indicates that electric trucks are hitting cost and range targets that put them in the running to handle a rising share of U.S. freight-moving needs — at least for freight that doesn’t need to be moved more than a few hundred miles per day. Last week’s Advanced Clean Transportation Expo gave freight companies a chance to showcase how they’re testing these capabilities in the real world. Over the course of the four-day event in Long Beach, California, companies unveiled several big orders for all-electric Class 8 trucks, the heaviest of the heavy-duty trucks found on U.S. roads.” Learn MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Big Win for Sage Grouse in California & Nevada
“Following a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, a federal court just ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illegally withdrew its proposal to protect bistate sage grouse. Found in and around the Mono Basin area along the California-Nevada border, bistate sage grouse are a genetically unique, isolated population of greater sage grouse — who are famous for their showy plumage and mating dances, when the males strut and make popping sounds with large, inflated air sacs. “These rare dancing birds have a shot at survival thanks to this court decision,” said Center biologist Ileene Anderson. “Without the Endangered Species Act’s legal protection, livestock grazing, development, and other threats will keep pushing them toward extinction.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Environmentalists Cheer as Biden Admin Cancels Millions of Acres of Oil & Gas Lease Sales in Public Waters
“President Joe Biden’s Interior Department confirmed on May 11 that it has canceled three lease sales that would have opened millions of acres of ocean to oil and gas drilling. Two of the lease sales would have taken place in the Gulf of Mexico and a third would have taken place off the coast of Alaska in Cook’s Inlet. Barring unexpected action, the current five-year offshore drilling program will lapse at the end of June.” Learn MORE.
Audubon: New Legislation Will Help Bring Birds Back Across the Western Hemisphere
“Increased U.S. funding through the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act will benefit more than 350 bird species. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced legislation this week to enhance the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act. The NMBCA is an innovative and cost-effective approach to the conservation of the more than 350 neotropical bird species in the U.S. that travel to Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Canada every year, such as the Scarlet Tanager, Purple Martin, and Baltimore Oriole.” Learn MORE.
Surfrider: California Coastal Commission denies permit for Poseidon plant in Huntington Beach
“Today’s (May 12) Coastal Commission meeting was a moving reminder of the power of activism and the importance of the California Coastal Act and the governing body that upholds the law. Hundreds of people came together to oppose Poseidon’s proposed desalination plant, which was described by Coastal Commission Executive Director Jack Ainsworth as “simply the wrong project, in the wrong location, at the wrong time.” The Commission voted 12 -0 to deny the permit. Despite a staff report recommending denial and multiple LA Times columns lambasting Poseidon earlier this week, the final decision was considered unclear until the final hour due to well-known pressures on the Commissioners from the Governor’s office. By denying the project, Commissioners courageously stood up to political pressure and properly upheld the Coastal Act’s policies to protect the coast from this damaging project.” Read MORE.
INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS: INDIAN COURT RULES THAT NATURE HAS LEGAL STATUS ON PAR WITH HUMANS
“The highest court in one of India’s 28 states ruled last month (April, 2022) that “Mother Nature” has the same legal status as a human being, which includes “all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.” The decision from Madras High Court, the state of Tamil Nadu, also said that the natural environment is part of the human right to life, and that humans have an environmental duty to future generations. “The past generations have handed over the ‘Mother Earth’ to us in its pristine glory and we are morally bound to hand over the same Mother Earth to the next generation,” Justice S. Srimathy said.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, May 5: New fast-acting enzyme breaks down plastics and changes recycling game
“Sadly, only 10 percent of plastics globally are successfully recycled, and there’s a lot of work to do to ensure everything we put in the recycling bin is reused. Biological researchers from the University of Texas have developed a new enzyme that can break down plastics, facilitating industrial recycling and even more. It’s aimed at a polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a very common plastic found in soda bottles and about 12 percent of the world’s plastic waste. The enzyme — called FAST-PETase (functional, active, stable, and tolerant PETase) — was able to successfully break down the PET plastic into smaller parts and then chemically put it back together, what’s called depolymerization and repolymerization. It can also do this in as little as 24 hours, while most plastics take up to hundreds of years to naturally decompose, and it can do it at 122 degrees Fahrenheit, far below the extreme temperatures of other recycling methods.” Learn MORE.
Mercury News, April 15: California ran on nearly 100% clean energy this month
“California, which aims to have a carbon-free power grid within 25 years, got a short glimpse of that possibility earlier this month. The state’s main grid ran on more than 97% renewable energy at 3:39 p.m. on Sunday April 3, breaking a previous record of 96.4% that was set just a week earlier, siad the California Independent System Operator. “While these all-time highs are for a brief time, they solidly demonstrate the advances being made to reliably achieve California’s clean energy goals,” said California ISO CEO Elliot Mainzer said in the statement.” Learn MORE.
Smart Cities Dive: Proposed California EV regs could be adopted by other states
“The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is about to enact a major update to its Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) program, setting new standards on vehicle emissions and zero-emission vehicle regulations that 16 other states follow. Section 177 of the Clean Air Act allows these states to adopt California’s standards in lieu of federal requirements. The state will require 35% of new car and light-duty vehicle sales to be zero-emission models by 2026 and 100% by 2035. It also sets minimum requirements for sales of zero-emission vehicles in the state, which may be plug-in electric or hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily: New Zealand’s new machine revolutionizes its e-waste recycling
“Our smart devices have hazardous materials which can be very harmful to the environment and people if they’re disposed of incorrectly. The safe and efficient recycling of electronic waste (e-waste) is an essential component of our sustainable future. New Zealand recently made a big leap toward this future with its computer recycling facilities. Recently at Computer Recycling in Penrose, NZ the BLUBOX machine was switched on. This system shreds and sorts e-waste in an enclosed negative pressure system and can recover up to 90 percent of materials. Because of the importance of collecting valuable materials and harmful toxins from e-waste, this BLUBOX is an invaluable addition to New Zealand’s environmental and human health.” Read MORE.
Environmental Working Group: EPA to suspend all uses of widely used weedkiller, dacthal over risks to fetus, thyroid function
“The Environmental Protection Agency intends to suspend all future uses of a toxic weedkiller that scientific research has shown to cause harm to the developing fetus and problems associated with thyroid function in adults. The agency’s April 28 decision comes after repeated attempts over the past nine years to get the manufacturer, agrochemical giant AMVAC, to provide sufficient studies showing its herbicide dacthal, or DCPA, does not pose a risk to human health. For nearly a decade, AMVAC has ignored requirements under federal pesticide laws to provide vital health and safety information to the EPA and by doing so, has exposed farmworkers and the general public, including babies in the womb, to this toxic weedkiller.” Learn MORE.
American Forests: Biden’s Earth Day Gift To Our Forests
“It was a cold, damp Earth Day morning in Seattle’s Seward Park, but it was well worth the wait for the diverse group of tribal, corporate and non-governmental organization forest leaders gathered there. President Biden stood tall among the Park’s soaring trees and delivered an Earth Day gift to the nation that will ripple over decades. The Executive Order to Strengthen America’s Forests, Boost Wildfire Resilience, and Combat Deforestation will put America’s federally owned forests fully to work on climate change, activating a vast area of land equal to roughly 30% of America’s forests. Even better, the Executive Order uses federal lands as the catalyst to increase natural climate solutions in all of America’s forests, including urban forests.” Learn MORE.
Land Trust Of Santa Cruz County: Laguna Creek Trail Is Open
“We are thrilled to welcome the public to this spectacular landscape. The Laguna Creek Trail is a moderate 1.5-mile trail that connects with the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve trails. Due to the presence of endangered birds and the sensitive ecosystem, dogs and bikes are not allowed in this area. We encourage visitors to keep the area “Crumb Clean” and pack out all food scraps to protect the rare and sensitive seabird, the Marbled Murrelet, that calls this forest home.” Learn MORE.
Move For Hunger: San Diego Law Requires Grocery Stores to Donate Edible Food Waste
“Starting January 1, 2022, a new law into effect in San Diego, requiring grocery stores and other food suppliers to donate all edible food waste to food banks. This law was put into effect as an effort to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, considering that organic food waste is a large contributor of methane and carbon dioxide emissions. This bill aims to reduce toxic organic waste disposal in San Diego by 75% by 2025. While the intentions of this law are focused on environmental health, it’s definitely a win for food-insecure communities, food banks, and rescue organizations.” Read MORE.
Electrek, April 18: Tesla Megapack project with 730 MWh of capacity is now up and running on PG&E’s network
“PG&E announced that they have turned on their giant Tesla Megapack project with 730 MWh of capacity, and the electric grid company expects that it will “enhance the overall reliability of California’s ever-changing energy supply.” The project consists of 256 Tesla Megapack battery units on 33 concrete slabs. The Tesla Megapack project has been approved for expansion by CPUC, and it is expected to grow to up to 1.1 GWh of capacity – making it one of the largest battery systems in the world.” Read MORE.
Canary Media: A California Transit Agency Electrified Its Fleet 18 Years Ahead of Schedule
“The Antelope Valley Transit Authority’s (AVTA) 87 electric buses are slashing emissions and making money. Imagine a depot packed with nearly 100 buses, but no engine noise, no fumes, no drops of diesel staining the concrete expanse. The notion that a bus hub could be, in a literal sense, spotless, was inconceivable until recently. But the AVTA has done it – completed the nation’s first large-scale transit fleet electrification effort! Climate leader California aims for carbon-free transit fleets by 2040, which requires stopping new diesel bus purchases by 2029. But the Antelope Valley … made the transition in 2022.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily: Australia Increases Protections For 127 Reptiles.
“Australia added a total of 127 reptiles to a global treaty put in place to shield animals from the illegal wildlife trade. The inclusion of these 127 animals (one of the biggest listings in the treaty’s history) will grant these scaly creatures, who have long been targeted by bad actors in the black market, stronger protections from smugglers. The Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley added the species to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) treaty, which has been in effect since 1975 and includes 183 nations.” Learn MORE.
The Guardian: Declared Extinct in 2021, Ivory-billed Woodpecker Sighted
“In terms of elusiveness, it is the Bigfoot or Loch Ness monster of the bird world, so rare and undetectable that the US government declared it extinct last year. But the ivory-billed woodpecker is, in fact, still alive and pecking in the forests of Louisiana, a team of researchers has claimed. A series of grainy pictures and observations of the bird, which had its last widely accepted sighting in 1944, show that the scrupulously furtive woodpecker is still holding on in the swampy forests of the US south, according to the team’s new research, which is yet to be peer-reviewed. A three-year quest to find the woodpecker involved scientists trudging through an undisclosed portion of Louisiana woodland to observe the bird and take audio recordings.” Read MORE.
The Revelator: Stop Doomscrolling and Save the Planet
“Seven new environmental books offer practical advice, lessons from successful conservation projects and inspiration in troubled times. Stop doomscrolling and point your eyes somewhere more useful: seven new environmental books that offer vital lessons on saving the planet and the creatures that live here. Some of these books (all have come out in 2022) provide practical advice for people working in specific conservation areas. Others offer experience that we can put to good use in multiple avenues. All offer inspiration at a time when that’s all too fleeting — and important to hold on to.” Access HERE.
Environment America: More Insurance Companies Declining to Insure Arctic Oil Drilling
“As we’ve all experienced, insurance is everywhere: your car, your home, medical decisions — but it’s also critical for oil and gas development. Insurance companies make oil drilling possible in wild places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. You can’t drill for oil without insurance. The good news? Some insurance companies are taking a stand for the environment. Last week, American International Group (AIG) joined a growing list of international insurance companies and banks in declining to help oil and gas companies do business in the Arctic. AIG is the first major U.S. insurance company to make such an announcement. Join us for our webinar, “What does Insurance have to do with Arctic drilling?,” on April 19 at 5:30 p.m. PT to learn more about the dangerous mix of insurance and oil drilling.” RSVP HERE.
Youth for Environmental Action: Our Latest Project is a Community Medicinal Garden
“Started in February, 2022, Youth for Environmental Action began working on a community medicinal garden project. Our student-led leadership group is supported by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and has the goal of increasing connections between youth and administrative/community based efforts focused on environmental sustainability and the implementation of local communal changes. Our primary goal for the garden is to spread awareness about the practical benefits of plants and connect our community to nature. We chose to focus on medicinal plants because they are essential to human health, have been used long before America was colonized, and they show how imperative the preservation of nature is to the human population.” More info HERE.
Interesting Engineering: Clean Energy Surge in 2021
“2021 was a landmark year for renewable energy as 38 percent of the world’s demand for power was met by clean energy sources, significantly higher than coal’s contribution, of 36 percent. Wind and solar contributed 10 percent of global energy demand last year. This is almost twice the amount of power that wind and solar energy generated when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. Individually, solar power generation rose 23 percent over the previous year while wind power increased by 14 percent.” Read MORE.
Green Foothills: Taking Action to Acquire, Protect, and Restore Lehigh Quarry
(First the bad news), “for the past century, Lehigh Quarry has been the site of a limestone mining operation and cement plant that has ravaged more than 800 acres of land in the hills outside Cupertino, and indirectly damaged much more land near Rancho San Antonio Park.
Now Santa Clara County has a chance to acquire, protect, and restore this property as greenspace for people and wildlife. The first step (is for) staff to research options for buying Lehigh Property. Last month, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors took a dramatic – if preliminary – step to fix the century-long devastation at Lehigh Quarry. The supervisors directed staff to research the possibility of buying the quarry and cement plant and restoring the environment. While this is only a first step, it can ….. start the County on the path to the largest environmental restoration (other than Bay wetlands) that it is ever likely to accomplish.” Learn MORE
Optimist Daily: Iceland Ending Whaling
“Iceland announced in February its intentions to end whaling by 2024 because demand for whale meat has decreased significantly. “There is little proof that there is any economic advantage to this activity,” said Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the country’s fisheries minister. There is a seriously diminishing taste for whale meat abroad. Iceland used to send much of its meat to Japan, which recently began whaling again and doesn’t buy as much from Iceland. The only other major consumers of Icelandic whale meat are actually tourists who think it is an Icelandic delicacy. This is ending, though, as a new initiative at stopping whaling blooms along with a booming industry: whale-watching.” “Meet us, don’t eat us” is the slogan of the growing whale-watching companies. Learn MORE.
Inside Climate News, March 25: Putin’s War Accelerating Germany’s Transition To Clean Energy
“Vladmir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made Germany’s reliance on Russian oil and gas untenable, and led the center-left government of Chancellor Olav Scholz to accelerate the transition to clean energy. This is more than just talk. German leaders are in the early stages of showing the world what an aggressive climate policy looks like in a crisis. Scholz and his cabinet will introduce legislation to require nearly 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, which would help to meet the existing goal of getting to net-zero emissions by 2045.” Read MORE.
Audubon Society: Seven Women Who Made the World Better for Birds and People
“In honor of Women’s History Month, celebrate some of the women who forged the path for the modern-day bird-conservation movement. From creating the first avian field guide to ending the feather trade and risking their lives in pursuit of birds, these seven heroines prove that the history of incredible women transcends any single month. (Two of these women are Harriet Lawrence Hemenway and Minna Hall). This two-woman dream team was responsible for taking down the 19th-century plume trade and establishing the National Audubon Society. Appalled by the number of birds being killed in the name of fashion, Hemenway, an impassioned amateur naturalist, and her cousin Hall, persuaded their socialite friends to boycott the trade and protect the wildlife behind it.” Learn MORE.
AP News, March 18: Re-Trained Coal Miners to work in West Virginia Battery Factory
“A new electric battery plant is coming to West Virginia. The energy startup SPARKZ is developing the facility and partnering with the United Mine Workers of America labor union to recruit and train former mine workers to work on the new factory floor. Joined by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced a $5 million training initiative focusing on training battery workers to help the U.S. develop resilient domestic supply chains. The factory is expected to employ 350 workers. Learn MORE.
NPR, March 21: SEC To Require Companies To Disclose Climate Risks
“Every year, public companies in the U.S. are required to provide investors and regulators with detailed data about their financial performance and the risks they face. Soon, they may also have to disclose information about how they are dealing with climate change. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday formally proposed new rules that would for the first time require businesses to report their greenhouse gas emissions, along with details of how climate change is affecting their businesses. Though some companies such as Apple have voluntarily reported climate-related information, until now there have not been any standardized requirements imposed by the SEC.” Read MORE.
My Modern Met, March 9: The Humpback Whale Has Swum Its Way Back From Endangered Status in Australia
“The humpback whale, or Megaptera novaeangliae, is a truly magnificent creature. Weighing in at about 40 tons, the adults enjoy propelling themselves out of the water in dramatic breaches. Underwater, they sing to each other—especially during the mating season. These gentle giants even travel over 3,500 miles to find their partners.The Australian Threatened Species Scientific Committee researched the population to make sure the numbers in the region had rebounded after years on the nation’s threatened species list. (The numbers had dropped below 800 and are now 40,000!) Based on the positive findings, Environment Minister Sussan Ley delisted the species. She noted that, it’s really encouraging to see a strong conservation story lead to a species actually coming off that list.” Learn MORE.
Lookout: Darrie Ganzhorn, Hunger Fighter of the Year
“Last week, Second Harvest honored them at its 2022 Holiday Food & Fund Drive Awards Dinner in Santa Cruz. Darrie Ganzhorn received a prime award: Hunger Fighter of the Year. The award highlights Ganzhorn’s role in “providing unhoused residents with a connection to farmland and its ability to provide nourishment.” Ganzhorn directs the Homeless Garden Project, one of the innovative initiatives Santa Cruz has come to be known for. Since joining the Homeless Garden Project in 1991, she has worked to solve problems of hunger and homelessness on a wide-reaching local scale. She assumed the role of executive director in 2008. The nonprofit’s revenue has increased fourfold, as its reach and impact have markedly grown.” Read MORE.
Vox, March 9: GM and PG&E to test whether electric cars can back up the power grid.
“General Motors is joining California utility Pacific Gas & Electric for a new pilot program using GM’s electric cars to provide backup power to homes and the grid to quell overwhelming demand. “Vehicle-to-grid” or “bidirectional charging” technology leverages the batteries of electric cars that are plugged into an outlet to deliver power back to the grid, rather than solely pulling power from it. If scaled up, the technology could turn California’s one million electric cars into distributed energy sources to help avoid blackouts.” Learn MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Win for California’s Western Joshua Trees
“Joshua trees and their fragile desert ecosystem just scored a huge victory: On Wednesday a judge rejected an effort by construction and real estate interests, along with the city of Hesperia, to strip away legal protections for the imperiled western Joshua tree. “Before California state protections took effect, developers were bulldozing Joshua trees by the thousands to build roads, power lines, strip malls and vacation rentals,” said Brendan Cummings, the Center’s conservation director and a Joshua Tree resident. “If these beautiful plants are to have any hope of surviving in a warming world, we have to stop killing them.” Today’s ruling by Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan upheld current protections for the species. A year ago the same judge rejected a similar effort to block the state’s protective rules from taking effect.” Learn MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: A Good Month for Wildlife Connections in California
Two innovative ordinances in Ventura County aimed at helping wild creatures safely move around prevailed in court in February. The rules, which had been challenged by business and construction interests, set standards for development and require environmental review of projects that could hinder wildlife connectivity. Also in California, with the support of the Center, a state bill was just introduced that would prioritize effective wildlife crossings so that species like mountain lions and California tiger salamanders can roam and find mates. Pacific newts also desperately need help to survive our roads; check out this story on volunteers rescuing newts from becoming roadkill in the Bay Area.
Wilderness Watch: A Reprieve For The Gates Of The Arctic
“The Biden administration has suspended a right-of-way decision for the 211-mile Ambler Road, which would cross a vast wild area in the southern Brooks Range in Alaska. On July 23, 2020, the Trump administration approved this destructive and unnecessary industrial road to facilitate huge mining operations that would benefit a private Canadian company at the expense of Wilderness and wildlife. A new environmental review (will be conducted) to replace the Trump administration’s insufficient and faulty review. This is a good start, but the administration should cancel the permit altogether. The road would cross Gates of the Arctic National Preserve and the Kobuk Wild and Scenic River, which make up part of the largest remaining roadless area in the country.” Learn MORE.
PHYS.org: California officials approve plan to crack down on microplastics polluting the ocean
“California aims to sharply limit the spiraling scourge of microplastics in the ocean, while urging more study of this threat to fish, marine mammals and potentially to humans, under a plan a state panel approved Wednesday. The Ocean Protection Council voted to make California the first state to adopt a comprehensive plan to rein in the pollution, recommending everything from banning plastic-laden cigarette filters and polystyrene drinking cups to the construction of more green zones to filter plastics from stormwater before it spills into the sea. The proposals in the report are only advisory, with approval from other agencies and the Legislature required to put many of the reforms into place. But the signaling of resolve from council members—including Controller Betty Yee and the heads of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection agencies—puts California in the vanguard of a worldwide push on the issue.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, March 4: 8 Amazing Public Transportation Innovations
“In the modern age, public transportation is an important solution for reducing emissions. Travel is increasing, with many commuting for work and others heading on vacation. At the same time, eco-friendly travel is a major consideration for the modern mover. Cities and countries around the globe are innovating solutions to make urban and regional transportation climate friendly and easily available to their residents.” These include magnetic levitation trains, a solar-powered bus and automated electric water taxis. Read about all eight HERE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Rattlers Rule – A Victory for Snakes in Georgia
“Following advocacy by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the last rattlesnake roundup in the state of Georgia has been transformed into a wildlife-friendly festival. That means this weekend, the revamped Whigham Rattlenake Roundup will celebrate snakes instead of collecting them and butchering them for their meat and skins. “Whigham’s new vision emphasizes how cruel and antiquated the few remaining roundups are,” said Center lawyer Elise Bennett. The Center has worked for more than a decade to outlaw these brutal roundups and protect eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, gopher tortoises and the 350 other wildlife species they harm.” Read MORE.
EcoWatch: Supreme Court Refuses to Consider Dakota Access Pipeline Appeal
“The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider an appeal by Energy Transfer, the Dallas-based operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), over a 2020 ruling requiring an environmental review of the oil pipeline, The Guardian reported. The lawsuit was brought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who — along with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe — has opposed the pipeline for years. The decision by the Supreme Court means that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must continue to conduct the environmental review and put together an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the pipeline.” Read MORE.
Humane Society: Key Wildlife Priorities Advance in the House
“All at once, in a single session, in one package – the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521) – the House voted to support half a dozen wildlife protection measures. As a result, we’re just steps away from achieving sweeping protections for hundreds of millions of animals worldwide. Those protections include a total prohibition on the commercial trade in shark fins in the U.S.; a substantial scaling up of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel and resources to combat wildlife trafficking and close wildlife markets abroad; a comprehensive marine mammal health and mortality platform to support rescue, response and conservation; and a phase out of large-mesh fishing driftnets—a menace to dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles—in those U.S. waters where they are still in use.” Read MORE.
Scientific American: Recycled Lithium-Ion Batteries Can Perform Better Than New Ones
“Battery recycling can improve performance and enhance equity. As lithium-ion batteries play a greater role in the energy transition, battery recycling will be critical to ensuring supply can meet rising demand. New research found that recycled batteries can actually work better than new batteries in lifespan and charging speed when produced with recycling methods that refurbish the battery’s cathodes. Relatedly, a Michigan-based battery recycler is developing workforce training programs in BIPOC communities across the country, promising living wages and opportunities to build generational wealth in the nascent sector.” Learn MORE.
The Climate 202: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will consider climate change in assessing gas projects
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will now consider how pipelines and related natural gas projects affect climate change and environmental justice communities, the commission ruled in a 3-to-2 vote on Thursday. The ruling marks the first time that FERC, an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, oil, and natural gas, has updated its policy for reviewing gas projects since 1999. Environmental advocates hailed the move, saying it will provide a crucial new avenue for blocking new fossil fuel infrastructure and staving off the worst effects of the climate crisis. But conservatives and industry groups slammed the decision, asserting that it will prevent millions of Americans from accessing affordable energy.”
The New York Times, Feb 15: Feds Restore California’s Power to Limit Vehicle Pollution
“The Biden administration is restoring California’s power to set its own auto pollution limits and is largely adopting its rules for trucks. The developments represent a revival of California’s influence on the nation’s climate and clean air policies, following four years in which President Donald J. Trump waged legal, political, and, at times, seemingly personal battles with the state. The Trump administration had stripped away California’s authority to institute its own vehicle pollution standards, power that the state had enjoyed for more than 40 years. But now, California is reasserting itself as a leader in policies designed to fight pollution and global warming.” Read MORE.
SC Museum Of Natural History: Nature Club
“The Nature Club takes young explorers (6th-8th grade) into local habitats to learn about the amazing living world around us while making discoveries along the way. Programs are led by Museum staff with kids dropped off at rotating locations, including local parks, open spaces, and of course at the Museum! Exploration and activities help kids learn more about nature through observation and experience while developing a deeper connection to nature and making new friends.” Learn MORE.
Wild Salmon Center: Russia Gains Two Vast New Protected Areas
“In a huge step forward for the stronghold protection strategy developed over the past two decades by Wild Salmon Center and our partners in Russia, the government of Khabarovsky-Krai officially created two massive new protected areas on the Tugur and Maia watersheds—a combined area of 3.7 million acres. The creation of the Tugursky (Middendorf) and Maisky Reserves will be a powerful tool to safeguard these systems’ priceless biodiversity—including salmon and giant taimen—against expanding threats from logging, mining, and industrial development in the Russian Far East. “These rivers are capable of growing salmonids that surpass 100 pounds, and they support amazing wildlife: Steller’s sea eagles, Blakiston’s fish owls, wolves, brown bears, moose, Manchurian elk, and dozens of other species.” At a time of rising geopolitical tensions, this milestone also shows the possibilities of cooperation and joint achievement between U.S. and Russian scientists and conservationists.”
Center For Biological Diversity: Monumental Win – Wolves’ Protection Restored
“In a landmark ruling, a federal judge today restored Endangered Species Act protection to gray wolves across most of the United States, reversing a Trump-era rule stripping their safeguards. The ruling prohibits wolf hunting and trapping in states outside the northern Rocky Mountains. Our fight for wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming goes on. “This is a huge win for gray wolves and the many people across the country who care so deeply about them,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I hope this ruling finally convinces the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to abandon its longstanding, misguided efforts to remove federal wolf protections. The agency should work instead to restore these ecologically important top carnivores to places like the southern Rockies and northeastern United States.” Read MORE.
Save The Redwoods League: Thousands of Trees Planted in San Vicente Redwoods
In January, “Save the Redwoods League teamed up with our partners Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), Sempervirens Fund, and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County to plant 23,000 redwood and 190 Douglas fir seedlings across 4,000 acres of 8,532-acre San Vicente Redwoods. This work is helping to restore areas where trees were lost in the CZU Lightning Complex fire, as well as connect isolate redwood groves that have been fragmented by past logging. This will contribute to restoring the natural fire resilience and old-growth characteristics of the forest.” Learn more and see video HERE.
Communities For A Better Environment: Victory! LA City Council Votes To End Oil Drilling
“Last week (1/25/22) the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban new oil wells and phase out existing wells within the city limits, where there are still more than 5,200 active or idle wells. Communities near drilling sites in the city fought alongside environmental justice allies for years to end the fossil fuel pollution impacting their neighborhoods. While there is more work to do, this is a huge win for residents from the most impacted communities — mostly lower-income or Black, Indigenous, and Latinx — who fought for their fundamental right to clean air and a healthy environment. Kudos to everyone who made this victory possible!” Read MORE.
Climate Nexus: Federal appeals court strike down Mountain Valley Pipeline permit
“The beleaguered Mountain Valley Pipeline (Virginia & W. Virginia) suffered yet another setback Thursday. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously struck down a key project approval, ruling the Fish and Wildlife Service’s cursory approval of the controversial 303-mile gas pipeline was “arbitrary” and “failed to account for the one thing we know about climate change: that it will get worse over time.” The ruling is the third major setback for the project in less than two weeks. The recent rulings show “the previous administration’s rushed, shoddy permitting put the entire project in question,” said Sierra Club’s Kelly Sheehan.” Learn MORE.
Amazon Frontlines, Feb 4: Ecuador’s Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Indigenous Rights
“Today, the Constitutional (Supreme) Court of Ecuador, the country’s most powerful judicial body, published a ruling recognizing, for the first time, the right of indigenous communities to have the final decision over oil, mining and other extractive projects that affect their lands. Ecuador now has one of the most powerful legal precedents in the world on the internationally recognized right of Indigenous peoples to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, a powerful legal tool for Indigenous survival and the protection of huge swaths of forests and mega-biodiverse ecosystems. The ruling stems from the A’i Kofán community of Sinangoe’s 2018 lawsuit that annulled 52 gold-mining concessions granted by the government along their most important river. This deals a major blow to Ecuadorian President’s plans to double oil production and advance mining deep into the Amazon.” Learn MORE.
California Globe, Feb 5: CPUC Shelves Plan to Drastically Reduce Incentives For Rooftop Solar
On February 5, the “California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) indefinitely shelved a plan that would have reduced energy bill discounts for people who install solar panels and storage systems. Under the Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0 proposal first introduced last year by CPUC, utility companies would allowed to greatly reduce the payment amount given to homeowners with solar panels for putting all excess energy production and battery stored energy back into the grid. To access the grid, homeowners with solar panels would have to pay an average of $56/month, or $672/year. Despite the proposal progressing through CPUC, with many utility companies behind it, many home owners, environmentalists, solar companies, and lawmakers from both parties continued to speak out against it. Many experts noted that solar savings would have dropped by 57-71% if implemented, with 95% of Californians saying that they would not buy solar panels under the new regulations.” Read MORE.
NRDC: Trump-era Dirty Water Rule BLOCKED
“Two federal courts have struck down Trump’s disastrous “Dirty Water Rule” — a giveaway to big polluters that allowed them to contaminate vital streams, water ways, wetland and other water bodies with no repercussions, threatening the drinking water systems of more than 100 million people. Now President Biden’s EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are accepting public comments on a proposal to restore the vital Clean Water Act protections for many waters that were targeted by the Trump rule. It’s a good first step, but we also need the Biden administration to move promptly towards adopting strong federal clean water protections that are rooted in science to protect streams, wetlands, and lakes on which families and communities depend — and help fight climate change.”
E & E News: Court Revokes The Largest-Ever Offshore Oil Lease, Citing Climate Change
“A federal court yesterday (1/27/21) blocked the Biden administration’s massive oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, handing a major win to conservation groups. Judge Rudolph Contreras for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia tossed out the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s approval for Lease 257 after finding that the agency’s failure to calculate potential emissions from foreign oil consumption had violated the National Environmental Policy Act. The sale, held last November, covered 80.8 million acres on the outer continental shelf and was the largest offshore lease sale in the nation’s history. “This is a huge victory for our climate, Rice’s whales and Gulf communities,” said Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups challenging the lease sale.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Indigenous People Reclaim Hundreds of Acres of California Redwood Forest
“Northern California’s majestic redwood forest was once the home of Indigenous tribes, including the Sinkyone people, that were forced from their land by European settlers. On Tuesday, nonprofit Save the Redwoods League transferred ownership of 523 acres of forest on the Lost Coast — which includes 200 acres of old-growth redwoods — to the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, a non-profit group of ten tribes, a statement from Save the Redwoods said.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Jan 31: Rihanna Donates $15 Million to Climate Justice
“Rihanna is donating $15 million to organizations that champion climate justice. The singer is donating the money through her Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF), which she founded in 2012 to honor her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite, and describes itself as supporting climate resilience and justice in the U.S. and the Caribbean. At CLF, “much of the work is rooted in the understanding that climate disasters, which are growing in frequency and intensity, do not impact all communities equally, with communities of color and island nations facing the brunt of climate change,” Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty said in a press release. “This is why CLF prioritizes both climate resilience and climate justice work across the U.S. and Caribbean.” Learn MORE.
Environmental Action: Boundary Waters Protected from Twin Metal mine
“The Biden administration just canceled the two federal mining leases held by Twin Metals mine, protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from toxic contamination. This is a major win on the road to permanently protecting the Boundary Waters, an irreplaceable wilderness home to moose, otters, wolves and many more incredible creatures. These leases would have allowed Twin Metals to mine sulfide-ore copper right next to the Boundary Waters, America’s most visited wilderness. The decision to cancel these leases is a great first sign that the Biden administration heard our message. With wonderful supporters like you on our side, we know we can secure permanent protections for the Boundary Waters.”
The Beacon: Galapagos Marine Reserve Expanded to 75,000 Square Miles
The Pacific waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, are a sanctuary for thousands of marine species, including penguins, whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. But many animals’ habitats extend far beyond the islands’ shores, and the Ecuadorian government is taking notice. Ecuador’s president, Guillermo Lasso, announced a massive expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve this month, adding more than 23,000 square miles to the area’s protected waters. Half of the newly protected area — called the Hermandad Marine Reserve — will be off-limits for all fishing, while the other half will ban longline fishing, a destructive practice that involves dragging a very long line with thousands of baited hooks behind a boat. According to Gustavo Manrique, Ecuador’s minister of environment, water, and ecological transition, the expanded area will help create a safe passage for migratory fish, sharks, and other marine species. Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Court Halts California Megaresort
“In response to a Center lawsuit, a judge has ruled to set aside the approval of a potentially disastrous Northern California luxury development due to wildfire concerns. Lake County approved the sprawling resort despite a long history of wildfires on the undeveloped 16,000-acre project site in Guenoc Valley — full of oak woodlands, wildlife corridors and habitat for sensitive species like golden eagles, foothill yellow-legged frogs and western pond turtles. A month after the approval, the deadly LNU Lightning Complex fires tore through the area. “The court recognized that Lake County failed in one of its most important jobs, which was to consider how dangerous development in the path of fire can increase risks to surrounding communities,” said Peter Broderick, a Center attorney.”
The Revelator, Jan 14: A Bigger Tent Delivers Stronger Wins for Climate: The Lesson From Illinois
While all eyes have been on Washington, D.C.’s budget and infrastructure negotiations, one state passed the country’s only comprehensive climate legislation designed to advance racial equity and economic justice — and it wasn’t California or New York. By passing the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act on Sept. 15, Illinois — yes, the country’s number-four coal producer — joined just six other states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico in requiring 100% clean electricity, in this case by 2045. But unlike others, Illinois’ policy structure aims to remedy systemic racism, environmental injustice and economic inequality. The Act offers a model for other states to build coalitions to help communities and the planet. Read MORE.
KPBS: A big decision on rooftop solar in California is off the table, for now
“California regulators are holding off on considering a proposal that would upend the state’s solar marketplace. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson says the delay likely means changes to the controversial plan are in the works. California utility regulators have quietly tabled a controversial plan made public last month that would drastically reduce the benefits (by over 70%) provided to homeowners with rooftop solar panels (plus add a $57/month feee!). The proposal unveiled Dec. 13 sided heavily with the investor-owned utilities and landed with a thud among solar advocates. The item is not on the commission’s Jan. 27 agenda.” More INFO. Your calls and emails made a difference!
Optimist Daily, Jan 21: Sustainably Powered Homes That Can Raise Families out of Poverty
Finding and sharing positive ways to tackle the world’s challenges is our favorite activity at The Optimist Daily, so it’s no surprise that we are especially excited about BillionBricks and Architecture Brio’s PowerHyde solar homes, as they tackle both the global housing issue and the climate crisis in one go. The concept behind the carbon-negative, self-financing, and scalable housing model was the brainchild of Prasoon Kumar from India and Robert Verrijt from Singapore. The homes are equipped with solar arrays that are installed on the roof which provide homeowners with their own energy along with the opportunity to turn a profit by selling the excess power generated by their home to power companies. Read MORE.
Photo: Katherine Davis/ Audubon Awards
Audubon: 6 Unexpected Ways Birds Are Important for the Environment (and People)
Birds improve our quality of life. Watching them flit around a backyard feeder or hop through the grass can be an entertaining diversion, a mood booster, and a window into animal behavior. Observing our avian counterparts offers connection to nature and a reminder that we coexist with wildlife. And there’s more they do for us behind the scenes: We reap many benefits from sharing our planet with birds through what’s known as “ecosystem services.” Ecosystem services include all of the positive benefits that natural systems provide. Labeling these natural processes “services” makes it easier for ecologists and conservationists to quantify the value of nature (sometimes literally in dollars) as well as what we lose through environmental damage. Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily: Greenland permanently bans all oil and gas exploration
“In exciting news for the planet and environmentalists, Greenland has announced it is permanently halting all new oil and gas exploration in the country. Despite the recent discovery of potentially significant oil reserves off the island’s east coast, the country’s government says the costs for our planet far outweigh any potential financial gains: “The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect, we have much more to gain.” In addition to banning oil and gas exploration, the country has also introduced legislation to halt the investigation, exploration, and extraction of uranium. Hopefully, Greenland’s actions will inspire other countries to follow suit and accelerate their divestment from fossil fuels.” Link HERE.
Optimist Daily, Jan 17: Science Moms are on a Mission to Spread Science-based Climate Optimism
“When we feel overwhelmed and hopeless, many of us turn to our mothers or the mother figures we have in our lives for comfort and encouragement. As adults the challenges we face are much bigger than a scraped knee, with wider problems like climate change possibly luring us into despair. Luckily, the Science Moms are here to help us understand how climate systems are changing and to fight the heavy attitudes of “climate doomerism.” The diverse moms, who come from all over the US, are all working towards the goal of promoting solutions-based dialogue and research on climate change while fighting the stigmas that inhibit female academics and scientists. Above all, they wish to equip other mothers with the information they need to educate themselves and their own children about how they can help conserve the planet.” Learn MORE.
Earth Justice, Jan 11: Biden Administration Announces Crackdown on Toxic Coal Ash Pollution
“Coal ash is the leading source of water contamination in the U.S. For the first time, the federal government is enforcing rules that require the coal industry to clean up toxic coal ash waste. This pollution can leak into groundwater and drinking water sources. Earthjustice was deeply involved in passing the original coal ash rules as part of our mission to secure clean air and drinking water for all. Since then, we’ve been fighting in court to make sure the government upholds them. Coal ash contains a long list of toxic chemicals, including arsenic, radium, and other carcinogens, as well as several metals that can impair children’s developing brains. There are 738 regulated coal ash dump sites in the U.S. Coal ash ponds hold enough ash to fill train cars that circle the earth more than 5 times over.” Learn MORE.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
The Climate 202: Energy Dept. to Announce Clean Energy Corps to Work on Climate Change
“The Energy Department is creating a Clean Energy Corps and launching a hiring portal to attract 1,000 additional workers focused on climate change and clean energy, The Climate 202 has scooped. People who join the Clean Energy Corps will pursue projects aimed at accelerating the deployment of clean energy and cutting planet-warming emissions. For example, participants will jump-start an initiative to build thousands of miles of electric transmission lines to carry wind and solar power to communities nationwide. The effort marks the latest sign that President Biden is harnessing the powers of the federal government to meet his ambitious climate goals, as Democrats’ Build Back Better Act remains stalled in Congress.” Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Project Halted to Save Sacred Springs & Tiny Toad
“Thanks to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, a federal judge has blocked construction of a geothermal energy plant (for 90 days) that would have destroyed Nevada’s unique Dixie Meadows wetlands. This Great Basin Desert oasis includes hot springs sacred to the Tribe and is the only home of Dixie Valley toads, a species we’ve petitioned to protect under the Endangered Species Act. According to documents we uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act, the federal government approved construction despite its own scientists’ warnings that the project could dry up the springs. “This injunction means the bulldozers set to start demolishing Dixie Meadows this week have been quieted,” said the Center’s Patrick Donnelly. “Tribal members, the Dixie Valley toad and everyone who loves Nevada’s biodiversity can breathe easier.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, Jan 7: A Rooftop Made Out Of Easy-to-install Solar Shingles
“The roofs of the future may be made entirely out of solar panels. At least that’s the goal of GAF Energy, which has recently launched a new solar roof that it believes can revolutionize the future of the roofing industry by making it an integral part of our green energy transition. The company’s new design is called Timberline Solar and consists of solar cells built into standard roof shingles. “All you need to install the solar shingle is a nail gun,” says DeBono. “It goes up just like a regular shingle that can be nailed on the roof like any other shingle.” The shingles are both waterproof and fireproof.” Learn MORE.
Environment America: Renewables Have Nearly Quadrupled Over The Last Decade
“The latest edition of Renewables on the Rise brings a lot of good news and reasons to be excited about our renewable energy future, but we know there’s still plenty of work to be done. That’s why, despite promising findings, we continue to push for the passage of strong incentives and goals for renewables. In the meantime, we are defending pro-solar policies at the state level and encouraging corporations like Walmart to install rooftop solar on their stores and parking lots. While we strive to move our clean energy campaigns forward, check out what we found on the state of renewables across the country. Over the past decade, the United States has been home to explosive clean energy growth. For example, America produces more than 23 times as much solar power as we did in 2011, enough to power more than 12 million average American homes.” View report HERE.
Interesting Engineering: A New Wind Power Wall Could Produce Over 10,000 KWh a Year
“Wind turbines are powerful sources of clean energy that provide cheap reliable energy in many areas. But they run into some issues when we try to bring them into the urban landscape. Your regular run-of-the-mill wind turbines are simply too bulky for cities. That’s why designer and entrepreneur Joe Doucet has created an inconspicuous wall of wind turbines that can produce over 10,000 kilowatt-hours per year, enough to power a home. Joe’s website explains that while wind energy has a key role in reducing fossil fuel dependency, it has “encountered very slow uptake partly due to their intrusive physicality.” The “kinetic wall” is made up of “an array of rotary blades that spin individually, driving a mini generator that creates electricity.” At the moment, the wall is 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall and 25 feet (7.6 meters) wide, but the design can be adjusted according to the user’s needs.” Learn MORE.
ScienceDaily: Smart and sustainable food packaging keeps harmful microbes at bay
“A team of scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, US, has developed a ‘smart’ food packaging material that is biodegradable, sustainable and kills microbes that are harmful to humans. It could also extend the shelf-life of fresh fruit by two to three days. The waterproof food packaging is made from a type of corn protein called zein, starch and other naturally derived biopolymers, infused with a cocktail of natural antimicrobial compounds. These include oil from thyme, a common herb used in cooking, and citric acid, which is commonly found in citrus fruits.” Hope this pans out! Learn MORE.
EcoMotion: Pairing Crops with Solar
A new study from the University of Illinois presents findings on pairing agriculture with solar. It finds a synergy between two forms of useful production that have been perceived to be competitive for precious land. A $10 million grant-funded “agrivoltaics” study focused on how to “sustainably co-locate ag and photovoltaic systems.” This has a fancy name: SCAPES which stands for Sustainable Colocating Agricultural and Photovoltaics Electricity Systems. An example comes from research by the Fraunhofer Institute in Freiburg, Germany. It found that covering a wheat field with raised solar panels resulted in wheat production that was 80% of what it would have been if there were no solar. And solar took a 20% hit too… providing only 80% of what it would have if there were no farming involved. But the combined effect is remarkable… dramatically increasing the net revenue from the same piece of land. Report is HERE.
Violet-green Swallow by Steve Hinch
Audubon Society: 2021 Photography Awards
“This year more than 2,000 photographers from across the United States and Canada submitted images to Audubon magazine’s 12th annual Audubon Photography Awards, and our panel of expert judges whittled down the entries to eight stunning winners and five honorable mentions. With more than 9,000 photographs entered in the contest, there was an abundance of exceptional avian images from which we selected 100 additional shots to share. Displayed in no particular order, these photos feature birdlife at its most vivid, vulnerable, formidable, and playful.” You might want to savor these over a few viewings – 100 awesome images. Watch HERE.
Inside Clean Energy, Dec 23: 5 States that Took Leaps on Clean Energy Policy in 2021
While the federal government might have failed in pushing through the Build Back Better bill, with its many climate provisions, 2021 has seen some long-awaited successes in the states. Five states (Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, North Carolina and Rhode Island) passed laws requiring a shift to 100 percent carbon-free electricity or net-zero emissions. And Washington State passed a law that takes steps to implement its 2019 and 2020 climate and clean energy laws. Read more HERE.
YES! Magazine: The Yurok Tribe Is Using California’s Carbon Offset Program to Buy Back Its Land
“In the past three and a half decades, the Yurok tribal land base has grown twentyfold, to a total of 100,000 acres, funded in large part by sequestering carbon. For this work, the United Nations Development Programme awarded the Yurok Tribe its Equator Prize, which recognizes efforts that reduce poverty through environmental justice work. It’s an exciting example of a small community—about 5,000 members are enrolled—building climate resiliency in a way that best fits their needs. Land is important to Native nations for myriad reasons. Land enables the Yurok to maintain cultural traditions such as gathering traditional foods and practicing place-specific religious ceremonies. Like all sovereign entities, land defines the Yurok as a nation, both culturally and politically. Land offers economic development opportunities. It also bolsters climate resilience as the tribe restores wetlands, coastal prairies, and old-growth forests using traditional land management techniques.” Read MORE.
Good Times: ReadyCycle – Sustainable, Recyclable, Biodegradable Produce Packaging
Sambrailo, based in Watsonville, has been a fixture in the agricultural packaging game for nearly a century, often leading trends in the industry and transforming the way crops are delivered, stored and sold. In 2017, they launched ReadyCycle, a line of 100% recyclable packaging made from corrugated cardboard (also known as paperboard). It does not use any sort of wax, labeling or plastic coatings—things that prevent other cardboard products from being recyclable. Slowly but surely, the line has taken off in popularity, being adopted by companies across the U.S. and Mexico. And in the past year, Sambrailo has seen an increase in usage of ReadyCycle. Not only in markets such as Staff of Life, but also at farmers markets and for community supported agriculture programs, which have become very popular during the pandemic. Learn MORE.
Vox, Beginning Of The End Of Gas-Powered Appliances
On Dec 15, “New York became the largest city in the country to agree to phase out fossil fuels in all new building construction after the city council passed a bill that bans those buildings from hooking up to gas. The “breakthrough moment,” according to council member Alicka Ampry-Samuel, spells the beginning of the end to gas-powered appliances used by default in construction. Carbon emissions from buildings are a major driver of climate change, and the main culprits are boilers and water heaters, and to a lesser degree, gas stoves. In the US, 13 percent of greenhouse gasses come from commercial and residential buildings powered by fossil fuels. New York City’s buildings account for a much larger share of its emissions, more than transportation or any other category.” Read ON.
Interesting Engineering: Winged ‘Sea Dragons’ Can Generate Electricity for 25,000 Homes
Minesto, a Swedish engineering firm, has developed a series of tidal turbines, or “sea dragons”, that look like submerged aircraft. Two of the winged machines are currently operating in the Faroe Islands’ waters in the North Atlantic, where they generate power from the ocean’s current. Metal wires 131 feet (40 m) long link the tidal turbines, or kites, to the seafloor. This, along with their 16-foot (5-m) wingspan, allows them to (ride on) the water in a figure-eight pattern, generating enough electricity to power four or five homes using the lift generated by the water flow. Watch 4 min. video HERE.
Santa Cruz Local: Curbside Food Waste Collection Coming in 2022
Most Santa Cruz County residents will be able to include food scraps in their green yard waste bins during weekly pickups next year because of a new state law. The law essentially compels garbage haulers to collect food waste separately from trash in 2022, divert organic waste from landfills and increase large-scale composting. The statewide goal is to reduce 75% of food waste that is sent to landfills compared with 2014 levels. At Santa Cruz’s landfill on Dimeo Lane, for instance, nearly 25% of the garbage is from food, city officials have said. Unlike the rest of the county, Santa Cruz city residents are expected to get a separate food waste pail that will be collected during weekly garbage pickups in the spring of 2022, city officials said. The pails are the same ones used in a pilot program this year, said Leslie O’Malley, the city of Santa Cruz’s waste production reduction manager. Read MORE.
The Beacon: No Natural Gas Exports On The West Coast
Plans to build a 229-mile natural gas pipeline and export terminal in Oregon have officially been canceled. That means that the state’s largest-ever construction project — and the West Coast’s first natural gas export facility — will not be built. The Pembina Pipeline Corporation announced on Dec 1 that it would not be moving forward with plans to develop the Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector Pipeline, infrastructure that would have transported natural gas across Oregon to a liquefaction plant at a terminal in the city of Coos Bay, Oregon. From the proposed export terminal, natural gas would have been shipped across the Pacific to buyers in Asia. Environmental advocates celebrated the cancellation. Besides the risk of leaks and explosions, they have long objected to the Jordan Cove Energy Project’s contribution to climate change. Allie Rosenbluth, campaigns director for the Oregon nonprofit Rogue Climate, told me it would have been Oregon’s largest source of climate pollution. Read MORE.
Science Daily: Prize-winning Technology For Large-scale Energy Storage
“Safe, cheap and sustainable technology for energy storage has been developed at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, Sweden. It is based on two major breakthroughs: the manufacture of wood-based electrodes in rolled form, and a new type of water-based electrolyte. The result has been published in the scientific journal Advanced Energy and Sustainability Research. The technology has been patented and is to be commercialised by Norrköping-based spin-off company Ligna Energy AB, which received the award for best “Startup for Climate,” during the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow.” Read MORE.
CALPIRG: Apple Corrects Course on Right to Repair
“We’re excited to announce another major victory for our Right to Repair campaign: Apple is finally taking steps toward embracing DIY repair of its products. Once one of the most visible opponents to repair access, Apple has now reversed its longstanding policy against making spare parts, repair instructions and repair software tools available to customers. The commitment is part of a new Self Service Repair program, and it comes just days after the company pledged to stop deactivating Face ID for iPhone screens repaired independently. This win was made possible by years of advocacy and pressure from Right to Repair advocates — including 33,000 messages from PIRG supporters urging Apple to end its unfair repair policies. It’s time to give every American the Right to Repair, so everyone can fix all their products.” Learn MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: California’s Lone Pine Ranch Becomes a Preserve
“After a multiyear effort supported by the Center and other allies, the magnificent 29,600-acre Lone Pine Ranch — previously belonging to the family of Dean Witter — has been set aside for conservation. It will be run by The Wildlands Conservancy and known as the Eel River Canyon Preserve. The property has 18 miles of river frontage, numerous endangered species, extensive forests, herds of Roosevelt elk and rich wetlands. “Protecting the heart of the Eel River corridor will ensure permanent protection of one of the most wild and scenic river stretches in the western United States,” said Center cofounder Peter Galvin. Thanks to all of you who took action through our recent alert for Eel River. You made a difference!” Read MORE.
NPR, Nov 18: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
“The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have been unearthing hilarious and heartwarming photos of creatures basically being their best selves since 2015. And this year is no exception. The recently announced winners and finalists of the 2021 competition include a visibly uncomfortable monkey, a trio of gossipy raccoons, a joyful bird reunion, gravity-defying fish and an all-powerful prairie dog.” See them HERE.
NPR: Monarch Butterfly Numbers Are Back Up!
“Every year, monarch butterflies from all over the western U.S. migrate to coastal California, to escape the harsh winter weather. In the 1980s and ’90s, more than a million made the trip each year. Those numbers have plummeted by more than 99% in recent years. “The last few years we’ve had less than 30,000 butterflies,” biologist Emma Pelton said. “Last year, we actually dropped below 2,000 butterflies. So really an order of magnitude change in a short time period.” Pelton works with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and says pesticides and habitat loss play a role in that decline. But this year, the numbers are starting to pick up. Biologists and volunteers across California have already counted more than 100,000 monarchs.” Learn MORE.
Green Foothills: Coyote Valley Protected From Urban Development!
On November 16, San Jose took a historic step by declaring Coyote Valley a place for open space and farmland. The unanimous vote by the San Jose City Council reversed decades of misguided planning policy and declared over 3,000 acres of open space off-limits to urban development. We thank the City Council, staff, and all our environmental, tribal, and community partners for their efforts in achieving this landmark moment! The decision to “downzone” North Coyote Valley in this way was a nearly unprecedented step. Although cities have the legal right to change land use and zoning, this almost never happens due to the immense pressure to continue approving sprawl development. The City Council deserves credit for standing up to that pressure and instead protecting Coyote Valley for its wildlife habitat and connectivity, flood and groundwater protection, ability to produce locally grown food, and climate resilience benefits. More INFO.
Center For Biological Diversity: Relief From Fishing Gear for Right Whales
After the Center for Biological Diversity and our allies went to court, some of the world’s rarest whales have been granted a reprieve from the torment of getting tangled up — and often killed — in fishing gear. A judge has reinstated federal restrictions on lobstering in 997 square miles of the Gulf of Maine to save North Atlantic right whales from buoy lines. “We’re thrilled the court recognized that entanglements pose an existential threat to right whales,” said Kristen Monsell, the Center’s oceans legal director. “But with only 336 of these whales left on Earth, the National Marine Fisheries Service needs to do more.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, Nov 19: Cloning our greatest allies in the fight against climate change
David Milarch created the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in 1994 to preserve and clone the world’s most ancient and resilient trees. Trees play an incredibly important role in the planet’s ecosystem and are one of our greatest allies in the fight against climate change, making Milarch’s work especially relevant today. The most cloned trees in the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive are giant sequoias and redwoods. Despite having endured for millennia, these elderly trees are at risk of being erased from the face of the earth due to increasingly intense climate change-driven wildfires. “Giant sequoias are one of the most fire-adapted plants on Earth,” says Christy Brigham from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “And yet we have created fires that are capable of killing them through fuel loading and hotter droughts.” Currently, the NGO is partnering with students to plant seedlings in the Sierra Nevada mountains, to test whether the genes that allowed the parent trees to survive for so long will help new saplings adapt to a warming planet. Learn MORE.
Utility Drive, Nov 12: Wind, Solar & EV’s rapid expansion
Record wind and solar installations are expected for 2022, while global EV sales rose 80 percent so far this year. The U.S. is on track to install 71 gigawatts of wind and solar power in 2022 (27GW and 44GW, respectively) according to a new report from S&P Global Market Intelligence. It also anticipates 8GW of battery storage next year, more than six times the record from 2020. Meanwhile in the first half of this year, global sales of electric cars rose 80 percent — from 4.3 percent of global sales in 2020 to 7.2 percent in the first half of 2021 — according to an analysis from BloombergNEF. The report cites government decarbonization commitments, falling battery prices, and new EV models as reasons for the record-breaking figures. Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily: Nova Scotia will be home to the first whale sanctuary in North America
The Maritime province of Nova Scotia, Canada, will soon be home to the first whale sanctuary in North America. The plans for the sanctuary, which is spearheaded by The Whale Sanctuary Project, commenced after Canada passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which prevents whales and dolphins from being held in captivity, especially for entertainment. As of right now, there are more than 220 beluga whales and 53 orca whales that are held captive around the world. These highly intelligent and social creatures suffer in small and confined spaces, which they are often forced to inhabit at aquariums and marine parks. The new sanctuary is set to be located in Port Hilford Bay and will include 110 acres of habitat, a space that can comfortably accommodate around eight whales. Port Hilford Bay was selected because it could offer the whales and other wildlife an enriching environment to explore. Learn more HERE.
Center FOR Biological diversity: Greater Protection For Mexican Gray Wolves In U.S.
“For decades — since the effort to bring back Mexican gray wolves to the U.S. Southwest began — there’s been a federally imposed cap on their population: Once numbers reach 325 wild wolves, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said, it would trap and shoot “excess” animals. But now, after a 2018 legal victory by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the Service plans to drop that population cap. Its new proposed rule could also temporarily curb federally authorized state and private wolf-killing — even before the population reaches 325. At last count 186 wolves roamed Arizona and New Mexico. “It’s a huge relief to know that when the wolf population grows beyond its current precarious status, widespread shooting is no longer planned,” said the Center’s Michael Robinson. “And if genetic diversity collapses even more, the government won’t authorize shooting of genetically valuable wolves who were released from captivity as pups.” Learn MORE.
Turtle Island Restoration Network: Ecuador Creating Expanded Galapagos Marine Reserve
“Ecuador recently announced the creation of a new marine reserve in Galapagos, expanding the current protected area by 60,000 square kilometers, creating a significant part of the Ecuador’s side of the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway. This is part of the important migration route to protect sea turtles and sharks we have been fighting for over the past decade! All of this new marine protected area will be protected from destructive longline fishing and 50% will be fully protected from all fisheries. If properly located, it will provide a protected migration route through Ecuadoran waters for endangered sea turtles and sharks moving to Cocos Island. We urge Costa Rica to follow through and do their part by committing to protect the Costa Rican part of the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway. Sign the petition HERE to urge Costa Rica to help complete the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway.” Action HERE.
Wildlife Conservation Society: Dogs Are Reducing Conflict Between Herders and Wild Carnivores. Watch 4 minute video
“What do dogs, sheep, and pumas have in common? They’re all part of a new initiative from WCS Argentina aimed at reducing conflict between herders and the wild carnivores that stalk their flocks. The dogs, a mix of Anatolian shepherd and Great Pyrenees, watch over herds of domestic goats and sheep to protect them from pumas and other wild cats, as well as foxes, condors, and other local predators. It’s a grand experiment in ecological harmony, and it’s working. As a result of the puppy protectors, herders no longer resort to shooting, poisoning, or trapping wildlife. That means a brighter future for wild carnivores—some of which, like the Andean cat, are Endangered species. The initiative also helps habitat restoration. Herders can decrease the size of herds, which means less overgrazing and the reduction of desertification.” Video HERE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Exxon Oil-Trucking Plan Nixed
We did it! “In the face of fierce opposition from a coalition of environmental and Native groups, including the Center, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission just voted to recommend nixing ExxonMobil’s plan to truck oil along California highways. The plan would have let Exxon restart three ancient offshore drilling platforms and make up to 24,800 oil-filled tanker trips per year — for up to seven years — along hazardous and sensitive coastal and inland routes. “The recent offshore oil spill, wildfire that threatened Exxon’s onshore facility, and nearby crude oil tanker crash spotlight why Santa Barbara County can’t afford to greenlight risky and dirty projects like this,” said Center attorney Julie Teel Simmonds.” Learn MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: A Reprieve for Midwest Wolves — No Hunts This Fall
There will be no fall wolf hunts across the Midwest this year — none in Wisconsin, none in Michigan, and none in Minnesota. Back in July Minnesota decided not to hold a hunt this year; in Michigan recreational wolf-hunting is still, for the moment, illegal; and last week Wisconsin announced it wasn’t issuing wolf-killing licenses this fall. As we await a ruling on our case challenging Trump’s removal of protections, it’ll be a breath of crisp, autumnal air to know the Midwest’s wolves are safe from officially sanctioned slaughter during these months — and that the Center’s members and supporters, as well as our staff, have been playing a key role in stepping up to defend the lives of wolves. Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: ‘I‘iwi to Gain Protected Habitat
The Center for Biological Diversity and our allies in Hawai‘i have fought for more than a decade to save the gorgeous, crimson-and-black bird known as the ‘i‘iwi, or scarlet honeycreeper. And finally we’ve reached an agreement: The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service will propose a plan to protect the bird’s habitat by the end of 2022. The ‘i‘iwi is among at least 17 unique Hawaiian birds urgently threatened with extinction — and in September, eight birds endemic to the islands were among the 23 species declared extinct. As the climate warms, the ‘i‘iwi is more and more vulnerable to mosquitos that carry avian malaria and is retreating up mountainsides to try to escape them. “Time is of the essence,” said Maxx Phillips, the Center’s Hawai‘i director. “We can’t let bureaucratic foot-dragging result in any more species’ extinction.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch: Record Number of Endangered Turtles Nest in Florida County
Scientists in a South Florida county have gotten a pleasant surprise this year. A record number of endangered leatherback sea turtles nested on beaches in Broward County this season, nearly doubling the previous record high. Leatherback turtles are the largest, most migratory and widest ranging of all sea turtles, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They can grow to be four to eight feet and weigh between 500 and 2,000 pounds. Yet, despite their massive size, they are under threat. The FWS lists them as endangered, and they are considered vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Their population has fallen an estimated 40 percent in three generations, according to NOAA Fisheries. The main threats to their survival include entanglements with fishing gear, pollution, vessel strikes, the climate crisis and the loss of their nesting habitat. Learn MORE.
Wild Salmon Center: Landmark Deal Reached on Oregon Private Timber Accords
In the wee hours of October 30, history was made for Oregon forests and salmon rivers. After nine months of difficult negotiations—preceded by many additional months of work to bring all parties to the table—13 timber representatives and 13 conservation and fishing groups reached an unprecedented conservation agreement on the Private Forest Accords.
The agreement proposes an overhaul of the Forest Practices Act to better protect wild salmon streams on more than 10 million acres of private Oregon forestland. The changes would dramatically improve the state’s forestry rules, long considered the weakest on the West Coast. And they represent a huge step forward for climate-smart forestry, particularly in safeguarding the cold, clean water that Oregon’s wild fish will increasingly need. Read MORE.
UCSC Ranks 3rd in Green College Rankings!
The Princeton Review “Guide to Green Colleges,” 2022 Edition, profiles 420 colleges out of 835 colleges it surveyed. Questions cover more than 25 data points. The guide has been curated for 12 years. It is a free resource for students who want to live and learn at a green college. UCSC was ranked 3rd of 391 schools in the U.S.! See the list HERE.
Climate Nexus,Nov. 02: Biden Seeks to Reduce Methane Emissions With New EPA Rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new rules to sharply curtail methane emissions from oil and gas wells today, as the U.S. and the EU are due to formally unveil the Global Methane Pledge at COP26. The rules on existing and new operations will impose more frequent and strict leak monitoring at compressor stations and gas-fired pneumatic controllers, and require the capture of gas vented or flared as a byproduct of oil extraction. “All told, the estimate is that about 75% of all methane emissions will be covered by this EPA rule,” a senior administration official told reporters. The Department of Interior also announced new rules on emissions on public lands, and the Department of Transportation issued new PHMSA rules for all onshore gas gathering pipelines. Learn MORE.
E & E News, Oct 20: Biden shields Boundary Waters, deals blow to copper mine
The Biden administration today took steps to protect a sprawling wilderness area within Minnesota’s Superior National Forest from mining, a move that could derail plans for a contentious copper-nickel mine that riled conservationists and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The Interior and Agriculture departments today announced plans to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and its surrounding watershed in northern Minnesota, saying that concerns abound about the potential effects of mining in the wilderness area that spans more than 1 million acres. Specifically, the two agencies launched a process that bars the issuance of new prospecting permits or leases for mining-related activities in the area, but the move doesn’t affect existing rights or activities on private lands. Learn MORE.
The Guardian, Oct 31: Reasons to be hopeful – the climate solutions available now
“We have every tool we need to tackle the climate crisis. Here’s what some key sectors are doing. Electricity from renewables is now the cheapest form of power in most places. The climate emergency is the biggest threat to civilisation we have ever faced. But there is good news: we already have every tool we need to beat it. The challenge is not identifying the solutions, but rolling them out with great speed. Electricity from renewables is now the cheapest form of power in most places, sometimes even cheaper than continuing to run existing coal plants. There’s a long way to go to meet the world’s huge energy demand, but the plummeting costs of batteries and other storage technologies bodes well. Stopping the razing of forests requires no technology at all, but it does require government action. While progress is poor – and Bolsonaro’s Brazil is going backwards – countries such as Indonesia have shown regulatory action can be effective. Protecting and restoring forests, particularly by empowering indigenous people, is a potent tool.” Learn MORE.
Environmental Defense Fund. Oct 28: The House Reveals Framework For Build Back Better Act
“The Build Back Better framework contains significant investments for our environment that will slash pollution and drive the future of climate action. If passed, this bill will provide $550 billion towards clean energy investments and climate solutions — making it the single largest climate bill in American history! It includes investments towards:
Clean Energy Manufacturing – from wind turbines and solar panels, to electric vehicle technology (for clean trucks, buses and cars); Renewable Energy – with incentives to grow domestic supply chains in solar, wind, and other critical industries; Electric Vehicles – including key investments in EV infrastructure, including a national network of charging stations, in addition to new EV tax credits that will make these vehicles more accessible and affordable than ever. Show your support for this historic investment by sending a message to your Representative HERE.”
Science, Oct 22: They Thought The Expedition Was Lost. Then They Spotted A Whale That Almost No One Has Seen
When the engine of the research ship Pacific Storm broke down last month 400 kilometers off the coast of Oregon, it didn’t seem like a turn of good fortune. But the mishap, which forced researchers back to port for several weeks for repairs, ended up enabling the team to solve a mystery that has baffled marine biologists for years. Once the scientists were able to again set sail, they found themselves battling 3-meter waves and wind gusts reaching 40 kilometers per hour. But the rough conditions didn’t prevent them from standing, transfixed, after two beaked whales—reclusive, deep-diving marine mammals known for their long, dolphin-like snouts—appeared nearby and started frolicking. Learn MORE.
AP News, Oct 21: Calif Proposes New Oil Drilling Ban Near Neighborhoods.
“California’s oil and gas regulator on Thursday proposed that the state ban new oil and gas drilling within 3,200 feet of schools, homes and hospitals to protect public health in what would be the nation’s largest buffer zone between oil wells and communities. It’s the latest effort by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration to wind down oil production in California, aligning him with environmental advocates pushing to curb the effects of climate change and against the powerful oil industry in the nation’s seventh-largest oil producing state. Studies show living near a drilling site can elevate risks of birth defects, cancer, respiratory problems and other health issues. More than 2 million Californians live within 3,200 feet (975 meters) of oil drilling sites, primarily low-income residents and people of color in Los Angeles County and the Central Valley. The proposal would not ban wells already operating in those zones but would add new pollution controls.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, Oct 19: California opens its first solar-powered composting facility
Starting in 2022, most homes and businesses in California will be required to recycle all food and yard waste in their yard debris carts. The effort is part of new state regulation (SB 1383) which aims to divert 75 percent of organic waste from landfills below 2014 levels by 2025. In response to the increased demand for processing biodegradable materials, waste collection company Republic Services has spent the past three years building the Otay Compost Facility — the state’s first composting facility to run solely on solar power. The facility has a capacity to process 100 tons of yard and food waste from Chula Vista and nearby San Diego communities into nutrient-rich compost. The move will bring Californians a step closer to a circular economy. Earn MORE.
Turtle Island Restoration Network: California Grants Endangered Species Protections for World’s Largest Turtle Species
California is taking extra steps to protect its official state reptile. The state’s Fish and Game Commission voted Thursday to list the Pacific leatherback turtle as endangered under California’s own Endangered Species Act, as the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced in a press release. The action comes as the population of these turtles off the California coast has declined by 5.6 percent per year in the last almost 30 years. “California’s action will make an outsized difference for leatherback sea turtles, even in the face of global threats like the loss of nesting beaches,” CBD attorney Catherine Kilduff said in the release. “Protecting the state’s ocean to save leatherbacks benefits not only sea turtles, but whales and people too. The California Endangered Species Act will ensure that leatherbacks’ decline gets the attention it deserves during this global biodiversity crisis.” Learn MORE.
Regeneración Pájaro Valley: Watsonville Climate Action & Adaptation Plan
On July 6, 2021, the Watsonville City Council voted unanimously to support the Climate-Safe California Campaign goal of net-negative emissions by 2030, setting an aspirational goal for the community of Watsonville to remove more GHGs than it emits by 2030. The City’s goal of net-negative emissions by 2030 recognizes that climate change is an existential threat that must be addressed now. The Council and staff acknowledge that meeting this goal will be challenging. The 2030 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) will chart a clear path to address the risks and challenges Watsonville could face, such as sea-level rise, increased temperatures, heavier and more intense storms, air pollution, increased health problems and increased strain on an already impacted water supply. Learn MORE.
Environment America: Reconnecting Nature – 7 Different Wildlife Corridors Helping Save Species
“Nature in the U.S. has been fragmented into many pieces by roads, fences and other development that blocks the movement of animals. This can knock whole ecosystems out of balance and leave species more susceptible to other challenges like disease and climate change when they are sectioned off into small mating pools. Wildlife crossings over and under roads are perhaps the most understood type of corridor, but many varieties and flavors exist. This report features 7 case studies that exemplify different ways we can create and protect linkages between various habitat areas, and explains how this would help local wildlife.” Read more and watch slide show HERE.
The Crucial Years, Bill McKibben, Sept 29: Starving The Beast – Massive new divestment wins
“Chances are you’ve heard of Harvard, which is why it was big news when after a ten-year campaign the school finally relented, divesting its $40 billion endowment from fossil fuel. (Subsequently many others followed): Boston University (whose president said the school wanted to be “on the right side of history,”), the University of Minnesota, the MacArthur Foundation. Ten of the twenty richest colleges in America have now divested, the result of countless hours of work by activists; they’ve helped rob the oil industry of its social license, tarring its once-good name. The students and others who have done this work are heroes of the first order. Taken together, those 20 richest schools have a total worth of $322 billion, absolutely nothing to sneeze at. But earlier this week a single pension fund that you’ve probably never heard of unless you’re a Canadian retiree, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, announced that it too would divest from fossil fuels. And with that one announcement, it took $315 billion out of play for the fossil fuel industry. It’s Canada’s second-biggest pension fund and the world’s twelfth biggest (its other giants are under pressure to divest as well). It joins other massive pension funds—New York City and New York State, for instance, each of them over $200 billion.” Read more & subscribe to McKibben’s newsletter HERE.
YES! Magazine, Oct 8: Cultivating Food Sovereignty Through Regenerative Ocean Farming
“The nonprofit Native Conservancy has started a program to empower and equip young Indigenous people in Alaska with the resources and training to start their own kelp farms. The goal is threefold: creating economic opportunities, supporting the health of the ocean, and connecting people to a traditional food source. Rion Schmidt, a Sugpiag Native, is one of seven soon-to-be-kelp-farmers working with the Native Conservancy to build out his 22-acre kelp farm next year. Cultivating this traditional food in its natural environment is a prime example of food sovereignty, which Schmidt defines as “protecting Native people’s right to the resource.” Learn MORE.
Environment Calif: Victory For Utah Monuments & Atlantic Marine Reserves- We Did It!
“President Biden just announced that he’s fully restoring protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, as well as for the U.S. Atlantic’s only marine monument, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts. From the first days of the Trump administration, we mobilized to defend our public lands and waters from oil and gas drilling, logging and deep-sea mining that would devastate these natural wonders. And when the Biden administration came into office, one of our first requests was that it restore protections for these places. Environment California and our national network mobilized the public and generated more than 425,000 messages to decision-makers, helping to turn the tide in favor of preservation.” Your communication counts! Read MORE.
NYT, Oct 5: Nobel Prize for Study of Humanity’s Role in Changing Climate
The work of Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi “demonstrate that our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation,” the committee said. Three scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for work that is essential to understanding how the Earth’s climate is changing, pinpointing the effect of human behavior on those changes and ultimately predicting the impact of global warming. Complex physical systems, such as the climate, are often defined by their disorder. This year’s winners helped bring understanding to what seemed like chaos by describing those systems and predicting their long-term behavior. Dr. Michael Mann said that their work laid the basis for attribution studies, a field of scientific inquiry that seeks to establish the influence of climate change on specific events like droughts, heat waves and intense rainstorms. Read MORE.
On Native American Day, Sept 25, Governor Newsom Takes Action to Restore Land, Promote Equity for California Native Communities
“As leaders of Native American tribes from across California virtually gather to celebrate the 53rd Annual Native American Day, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed today as Native American Day and advanced several policies that seek to examine and address historic wrongs and promote access and inclusion for California Native peoples. The Governor today delivered remarks at the virtual celebration, themed “Healing Nations – Protecting Elders, Women, and Children.” “California Native American communities represent the best of who we are and who we can be as Californians,” said Governor Newsom. “The actions we take today move us closer toward the goal of reckoning with our past, making space for healing and promoting equity. “Great news on California Native American Day. Thank you Gov. Newsom for moving California Indian issues forward,” said Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland). Ramos is the first California Native American elected to the state Legislature!” Learn MORE.
Gov Newsom Signs 24 Environmental Bills
At the site of the KNP Complex in Sequoia National Park, Governor Gavin Newsom today, Sept 23, highlighted the California Comeback Plan’s over $15 billion climate package – the largest such investment in state history – tackling a wide array of climate impacts facing the state. The Governor today signed legislation outlining investments in the package to build wildfire and forest resilience, support immediate drought response and long-term water resilience and directly protect communities across the state from multi-faceted climate risks, including extreme heat and sea level rise. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Sept 29: One of the World’s Oldest Rainforests Returns to Indigenous Control
Australia’s Daintree Rainforest — a World Heritage Site and one of the oldest rainforests in the world — is being returned to Indigenous ownership. The iconic forest is one of four national parks (totaling 160.000 hectares) that the state government of Queensland, Australia agreed to return to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people in a formal ceremony on Wednesday following four years of negotiations, as The AP reported. “Their culture is one of the oldest living cultures and this land handback recognises their right to own and manage their Country,” Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said on Twitter.
Center For Biological diversity: Biodiversity Hotspot Saved From Off-Road Ruin
Thanks to years of work by the Center and allies, one of California’s most important wildlife corridors will not become an epicenter of off-road-vehicle destruction. After a lawsuit we filed with a coalition of community and conservation groups, this month the state passed a bill that will stop an off-road vehicle site from expanding into the beautiful, biodiverse Tesla Park — where it would have torn up habitat for imperiled species like California red-legged frogs and San Joaquin kit foxes. “This bill stops a barren playground for polluting vehicles from taking over 3,100 acres of oak woodlands and grasslands teeming with wildlife,” said attorney Aruna Prabhala, director of the Center’s Urban Wildlands program. “It’s a major victory for Northern California’s disappearing wild space. Read MORE.
YES! Magazine,Sept 16: Tribal Solar Projects Provide More Than Climate Solutions
“About one-quarter of U.S greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity, so transitioning to renewable energy like solar power is an important part of reducing the nation’s overall emissions. Climate change is already affecting tribal communities across the U.S.—affecting the ability to gather traditional foods and medicines, drinking water quality in rural communities, and more. For tribes like those Covenant Solar works with, the switch to solar power is urgent to mitigate the long-term impacts of fossil fuels. But it is also a way to strengthen tribal self-determination through workforce development and energy independence from often exploitative, non-Native-run utilities. “We are disrupting the broken fossil fuel-based energy system,” says Covenant Solar founder Cheri Smith. “This is economic development with really high human impact.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, Sept 20: Los Angeles County votes to phase out oil extraction
“The Los Angeles County board of supervisors unanimously voted to prohibit new oil wells and evaluate existing ones, taking a big step towards ending oil extraction in the US’ largest county. Currently, oil wells cannot be shuttered in the county until companies recoup the costs of drilling. Under the new measure, the county will evaluate if costs have been recouped on each well and designate extraction as “nonconforming” use, allowing the county to revoke permits. Although oil drilling may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles, the county is actually home to thousands of wells. This new measure could potentially shut down 1,600 of them, most of which sit in the Inglewood Oil Field, a region that produces up to three million barrels of oil a year.” Learn MORE.
Environment America: The California Energy Commission votes in favor of solar requirements
“The California Energy Commission (CEC) voted unanimously to advance solar and energy storage requirements for new commercial buildings and high-rise multi-family dwellings. These requirements will help the state reach its clean energy goals. With this decision, California’s commitment to the growth of rooftop solar is strengthened at a pivotal time. Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is weighing whether or not to make significant cuts to the state’s net metering program, a key policy that compensates solar panel owners for the excess energy they contribute to the electric grid.” Read MORE.
Colorado Public Radio, Sept 14: Colorado Announces It’s Own Climate Corp
“On Friday, Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera (above in green) hosted a press conference to announce the new Colorado Climate Corps. She said the program, funded by a $1.7 million federal grant, will place 240 AmeriCorps members in 55 counties across the state to protect public lands and help low-income communities brace for the climate crisis. Boulder Congressman Joe Neguse also joined the event to pitch his plan for a federal civilian climate corps as a part of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Funding for the program is included in the $3.5 trillion dollar reconciliation bill that House Democrats hope to pass this month. “For the better part of a year and a half, we have been fighting to create a Climate Conservation Corps at the national level,” Neguse said. “Now I get to go back to Washington next week and tell them Colorado is leading the way in doing precisely that.” He is currently pushing a far larger national program to hire young people help protect communities and forests from climate change.” Read MORE.
University Of Oxford, Sept 14: Empirically grounded technology forecasts and the energy transition
Rapidly decarbonising the global energy system is critical for addressing climate change, but concerns about costs have been a barrier to implementation. Most energy-economy models have historically underestimated deployment rates for renewable energy technologies and overestimated their costs. Here we take a new approach based on probabilistic cost forecasting methods that made reliable predictions when they were empirically tested on more than 50 technologies. We use these methods to estimate future energy system costs and find that, compared to continuing with a fossil-fuel-based system, a rapid green energy transition will likely result in overall net savings of many trillions of dollars – even without accounting for climate damages or co-benefits of climate policy. We show that if solar photovoltaics, wind, batteries and hydrogen electrolyzers continue to follow their current exponentially increasing deployment trends for another decade, we achieve a near-net-zero emissions energy system within twenty-five years. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Sept 11: ‘Momentous’ Moratorium on Deep-Sea Mining Adopted at Global Biodiversity Summit
A vote overwhelmingly in favor of placing a moratorium on deep-sea mineral mining at a global biodiversity summit this week has put urgent pressure on the International Seabed Authority to strictly regulate the practice. The vast majority of governments, NGOs, and civil society groups voted in favor of the moratorium at the world congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Wednesday, after several conservation groups lobbied in favor of the measure. Eighty-one government and government agencies voted for the moratorium, while 18 opposed it and 28, including the United Kingdom, abstained from voting. Among NGOs and other organizations, 577 supported the motion while fewer than three dozen opposed it or abstained.Deep-sea mining for deposits of copper, nickel, lithium, and other metals can lead to the swift loss of entire species that live only on the ocean floor, as well as disturbing ecosystems and food sources and putting marine life at risk for toxic spills and leaks. Learn MORE.
Defenders Of Wildlife, Sept 9: Biden Administration to Protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from Mining
“The Biden administration today announced that it plans to restore protections for Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The Environmental Protection Agency filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for Alaska to reverse a Trump-era decision that had stripped environmental protections for the bay. “This is fantastic news for Bristol Bay,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, director of Defenders of Wildlife’s Alaska Program. “For decades now, we feared that Pebble Mine would poison the bay, destroy the world’s largest remaining wild sockeye salmon fishery, and spoil critical habitat and pose other threats to critically endangered Cook Inlet belugas.” With the filing, EPA responded to a 2019 lawsuit from Defenders of Wildlife and 11 other groups for the agency’s failure to protect Alaska fisheries, wildlife, jobs, communities and ways of life from Pebble Mine.” Learn MORE.
Hundreds Of Medical Journals Call For Climate Action In Joint Editorial.
“The editors of more than 230 medical journals called for immediate action to combat the climate crisis in a first-of-its-kind joint statement Sunday. The joint editorial comes in the runup to the UN General Assembly later this month and the COP26 climate conference in November. “Health is already being harmed by global temperature increases and the destruction of the natural world, a state of affairs health professionals have been bringing attention to for decades. The science is unequivocal,” the editors from journals across the globe wrote. “Despite the world’s necessary preoccupation with Covid-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to rapidly reduce emissions.” The historic nature of the joint editorial — published in the Journal of the AMA, the Lancet, the British Medical Journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, the International Nursing Review, the Chinese Science Bulletin, and Brazil’s Revista de Saude Publica, among many others — underlines the severity of the crisis, they wrote. “The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5° C and to restore nature,” the authors concluded.” Learn MORE.
Inside Climate News, Sept 2: The World’s Largest Battery Storage System Gets Even Larger – Moss Landing!
The rapid expansion of batteries paired with wind and solar is transforming the grid and accelerating the transition to clean energy. The largest battery storage facility in the world, located along Monterey Bay in California, has completed an expansion, demonstrating how storage systems can exist on a gigantic scale and can easily expand. Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility, owned by Vistra Corp. of Texas, has now added 100 megawatts to the 300 megawatts of capacity that went online in December, for a total of 400 megawatts. The lithium-ion batteries can run for up to four hours on a charge, which translates to 1,600 megawatt-hours. The initial project and the expansion are operating under a long-term agreement with the utility Pacific Gas & Electric. Read MORE.
Center For biological Diversity: Victory – Court Blocks Massive Arctic Oil Development
“As the result of a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, a federal court just nixed the approval of the Willow Master Development Plan, a large oil and gas project in Alaska’s Western Arctic. The project was approved under Trump but defended in court by the Biden administration, despite its climate pledges. Among other problems, said the judge, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to properly consider the project’s impacts on polar bears, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. “This is a huge victory for our climate and polar bears,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center. ‘If President Biden is serious about addressing the climate crisis, he has to prohibit all new oil and gas activity in the Arctic.'”
Audubon: A Decisive Victory for the Most Important Coastal Law You’ve Never Heard of
“One year since Audubon filed suit against the Trump Administration’s illegal rule to allow sand mining on beaches protected by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, the Biden Administration reversed this rule. This is a crucial victory to keep our pristine, undeveloped beaches intact, where they provide a home for coastal birds and a buffer for nearby communities from storm surges and rising seas. But if you’ve never heard of the decades-old Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) or why it’s so important, you’re not alone. The CBRA is a little-known, bipartisan law, signed by President Reagan in 1982, and upheld by every presidential administration since then. It protects one of our nation’s most unique and important resources—the long, continuous chain of barrier islands and the associated beaches and wetlands that line the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The CBRA System includes national treasures like Assateague Island and Cape Hatteras, known for their huge, sprawling sand dunes and unique wildlife.” Learn MORE.
E & E News, Aug 30: Trump “Dirty Water Rule” Struck Down
A federal judge today struck down the Trump administration’s rule that significantly narrowed the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. The order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona brings a swift end to the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), even as the Biden team had begun the process of reworking the regulation. Judge Rosemary Márquez of the Arizona district court said the Trump rule (nicknamed the Dirty Water Rule), which gutted the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Water Rule, was too flawed to keep in place. “The seriousness of the Agencies’ errors in enacting the NWPR, the likelihood that the Agencies will alter the NWPR’s definition of ‘waters of the United States,’ and the possibility of serious environmental harm if the NWPR remains in place upon remand, all weigh in favor of remand with vacatur,” wrote Márquez, an Obama appointee. Read MORE.
Climate Nexus, Aug 22: Massive Petrochemical Plant Blocked
“St. James Parish Activists Win ‘Important Victory For Environmental Justice’. A massive and controversial petrochemical plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana, must complete a rigorous environmental impact statement if it is to obtain a key permit, the Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday. The Formosa Plastics plant had been on hold since the fall of last year when the Army Corps suspended an earlier permit in response to a lawsuit brought by local activists. The EIS could take years to complete and its requirement is a major win for activists fighting to protect their community from the major polluter.” Learn MORE.
Bioneers: Indigeneity Education Resources For Free
“While overall public awareness of contemporary Indigenous issues and experience is severely lacking, appropriate educational materials are in even shorter supply. To meet this need, the Bioneers Indigeneity Program, with the support of dedicated and visionary funders, has developed Indigeneity study guides and lesson plans aligned with national standards for grades 9-12+, inspired by the conversations in the annual Bioneers Indigenous Forum. These curricula offer educators an invaluable toolkit for teaching these incredibly essential concepts in the classroom. Each curriculum bundle includes teacher instructions, activities, assessment, and additional materials for a week of instruction aligned to the lesson’s theme. These curricula can be accessed Free of charge on our dedicated Indigeneity Curriculum webpage.”
Interesting Engineering, Aug 25: New Lithium-Metal Battery Could Revolutionize Electronics
“Researchers have been working hard to find better, longer-lasting battery solutions that don’t weigh a ton or cost an arm and a leg. Now, a team of scientists in Germany may have found the holy grail: a lithium-metal battery that reaches an incredibly high energy density of 560-Wh/kg with great stability. New advances uncovered by researchers at the Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), could (create batteries that) last far longer and are much safer. The new battery uses a combination of cobalt-poor, nickel-rich layered cathode (NCM88) and a commercially available organic LP30 electrolyte, which, when working together, enable (safer) storage of high energy per mass and a largely stable capacity over many cycles, per the researchers.” Learn more HERE.
Interesting Engineering, Aug 20: U.S. Could Save Billions of Dollars By Electrifying Light-Duty Vehicles
“According to a new report from Atlas Public Policy released by the Electrification Coalition, the U.S. government could save more than $1 billion by replacing nearly all of its light-duty vehicles with electric options by the end of 2030. The report also found that, by 2025, 40 percent of all non-Postal Service federal fleet vehicles could be replaced with electric vehicles at a lower total cost of ownership than comparable gas and diesel vehicles. That number increased to 97 percent for U.S. Postal Service (USPS) vehicles. Furthermore, the report stated that electrification of non-USPS federal fleet vehicles could yield vehicle lifetime savings of as much as $1.18 billion. This number was increased to as much as $4.3 billion in savings for USPS electrification.” Learn MORE.
New York Times, Aug 11: California Panel Backs Solar Mandate for New Buildings
“New buildings in California will get solar power and battery storage. The California Energy Commission unanimously approved a proposal that requires builders to add solar power and battery storage to hotels, offices, grocery stores, and other commercial and high-rise residential projects, which use nearly 70 percent of the state’s energy and are responsible for a quarter of its GHG emissions. The proposal — which would reduce emissions over 30 years equivalent to taking 2.2 million cars off the road for a full year — now heads to the state’s Building Standards Commission and is expected to be folded into a revision of California’s building codes in December.” Learn MORE.
International Bird Rescue: Long Beach rescue operation has saved 2,500 Elegant Terns
“This year, the seabirds established a nesting colony atop two barges after a drone crash scared them off their nests at Bolsa Chica Reserve. When the chicks hatched, they started falling off the barge into the ocean. Without enough feathers to fly, the chicks were at risk of drowning. Thankfully, rescuers from International Bird Rescue and their partners, including Audubon volunteers, have been working together to scoop up the overboard chicks. Once picked up, the chicks are taken to the wildlife rehabilitation center to be checked for fractures, fed, and warmed up before being released back to the breeding colony. This rescue is critical because the Elegant Tern population is small and they only breed in a few areas in California.” Learn MORE.
New York Times, Aug 18: E.P.A. to Ban Pesticide Tied to Neurological Harm in Children
“The Biden administration announced on (Aug 18) that it is banning a common pesticide, widely used since 1965 on fruits and vegetables, from use on food crops because it has been linked to neurological damage in children. The EPA said this week it would publish a regulation to block the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops. One of the most widely used pesticides, chlorpyrifos is commonly applied to corn, soybeans, apples, broccoli, asparagus and other produce. The new rule, which will take effect in six months, follows an order in April by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that directed the E.P.A. to halt the agricultural use of the chemical unless it could demonstrate its safety.” Read MORE.
Interesting Engineering, Aug 13: World’s Largest Solar-Powered Battery Is Now 75% Complete
“The Manatee Energy Storage Center – the world’s largest solar-powered battery storage facility – is now 75% finished. The facility is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year. When completed, the system will have a 409-MW capacity with the ability to deliver 900 MWh of energy. This is enough electricity to power 329,000 homes for more than two hours. “With one milestone after another, FPL is following through on its steadfast commitment to make Florida a leader in sustainability and resiliency as we consistently deliver America’s best energy value – electricity that’s not just clean and reliable, but also affordable,” said FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy. “In June, we said goodbye to coal by dismantling FPL’s last coal plant in Florida just as we surpassed 40% of the way toward completing our ’30-by-30’ plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, August 10: : Former Steel Mill will Produce Wind Turbines
“Before it closed in 2012, Sparrows Point in Maryland was home to the largest steel mill in the world, supplying key components for shipbuilding and large infrastructure projects in the US, such as the girders of the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, the site of the former mill will now be given a new lease of life as a manufacturing facility to support offshore wind energy — and provide hundreds of jobs in the process. The project is the result of a new partnership between the United Steelworkers union, the property owner Tradepoint Atlantic, and US Wind, a renewable energy company. As part of the collaboration, Maryland will become home to its first permanent steel-and-offshore-wind fabrication facility, creating 500 full-time union steelworker manufacturing jobs, along with about 3,500 construction jobs, and support US Wind’s clean energy projects, reports Fast Company.” Learn MORE.
Audubon: Congress Reintroduces the Migratory Bird Protection Act
“In an effort to restore and strengthen the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a bipartisan group of members of Congress have introduced the Migratory Bird Protection Act. The new bill will reinforce long-standing bird protections that have been under attack while creating more certainty for business and greater incentives for innovation to protect birds. The bill would secure protections for birds and direct the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to develop a permitting process for “incidental take” through which relevant businesses would implement best management practices and document compliance, further driving innovation in how to best prevent bird deaths.” Read more and take action HERE.
Eat For The Earth Receives Large Grant
“Eat for the Earth learned last week that we were chosen as a recipient of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies Community Grant. This is the largest grant we have received so far, and will really help us as we transition from a grassroots organization to a professional nonprofit. The money we receive from this grant will go to support our Eat for the Earth Communities initiative. We are so grateful to the Center for Nutrition Studies for recognizing the importance of developing supportive, connected community for activists helping to usher in the plant-powered revolution! We’d love to see you at the next Eat for the Earth Communities Event this coming Monday, August 9, at 5 pm.”
YES! Magazine, Aug 5: How Replanted Seagrass Is Restoring the Ocean
“When Karen McGlathery used to swim in the coastal bays off Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the water would quickly turn cloudy and brown as sediment swirled around her. Now, 25 years later, for as far as she can swim, the water remains clear. The sediment is anchored in place by lush green seagrass meadows, teeming with fish, scallops, and crustaceans. “It’s like this beautiful underwater prairie,” says McGlathery. “It’s just gorgeous.” McGlathery, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia, is part of a team running the largest seagrass restoration project in the world in these coastal bays—and one of the most successful. The two-decade-long project is a “blueprint for restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems,” according to a 2020 research paper, and proof that marine habitats can be brought back to life in a way that’s self-sustaining.” Learn MORE.
Wilderness Watch: Massive poisoning of the Scapegoat Wilderness shut down
“As you may recall, on July 22, Wilderness Watch and allies filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Montana asking for a preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order to halt the State of Montana’s North Fork Blackfoot Westslope Cutthroat Trout Project—a massive stream poisoning and fish stocking project in the Scapegoat Wilderness slated to begin as early as this month. In blatant violation of the Wilderness Act, the Forest Service (FS), issued a decision on July 15 authorizing Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to make approximately 67 helicopter landings in the Wilderness, apply rotenone to kill previously stocked fish in 67 miles of stream and 3 lakes, restock naturally fishless waters with hatchery-reared westslope cutthroat trout, and use motorized and gas-powered boats and equipment in the Wilderness. The court set our case for an emergency hearing, and in response, the Forest Service pulled the plug on the project for this year!
But stay tuned, because the FS and FWP didn’t pull the plug entirely—FWP still plans to implement the project next year — so we’ll continue with our lawsuit.”
The Optimist Daily, August 6: Single antibody shot could provide Lyme disease immunity
“Wilderness hikes are a summertime favorite, but in regions where Lyme disease is present, one tick bite can have lifelong health impacts. Even with preventative measures such as wearing full-coverage clothing and scanning skin for ticks regularly, around 475,000 people contract the disease each year. While a vaccine is not yet available, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School are seeing promise in single-dose antibody shots. Called Lyme PrEP, the shot would be a once-a-year seasonal immunization delivered in April at the beginning of tick season.
Previous attempts to create a Lyme vaccine were largely unsuccessful due to the number of booster shots required and questions regarding efficacy, but the new method’s approach doesn’t seek to prompt antibodies but rather uses a single introduced antibody to kill harmful bacteria in the tick’s gut after they bite. This prevents the bacteria from getting into the human host in the first place. In tests on animals, it proved to be 100 percent effective at preventing illness. Essentially, it’s a defense mechanism that prevents potential infection from ever reaching the human bloodstream.” Lear MORE.
NYT, Aug 5: Biden Prioritizes Electric Vehicles
President Biden rolled out a strategy for a rapid shift to electric cars — a central part of his plan to cut pollution that is heating the planet. Biden will restore and slightly strengthen auto mileage standards to the levels that existed under Barack Obama but were weakened during the Trump administration. His administration will also draft more stringent auto pollution rules for both passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks. He also signed an executive order that set a target that half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. be electric by 2030. Experts say that without a radical change to the type of vehicles Americans drive, it will be impossible for Biden to meet his pledge to substantially cut planet-warming emissions. Gasoline-powered cars and trucks are the largest single source of greenhouse gases produced in the U.S. Read MORE.
Phys.org, Aug 4: Biochar – The waste product that could help mitigate climate change
“Biochar can boost crop yields in poor soils and help stop the effects of climate change, study finds. So why aren’t we using it more? A product made from urban, agriculture and forestry waste (by heating it in low oxygen leaving just carbon) has the added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint of modern farming, an international review involving UNSW has found. “Biochar can draw down carbon from the atmosphere into the soil and store it for hundreds to thousands of years,” the lead author says. “This study also found that biochar helps build organic carbon in soil by up to 20 percent (average 3.8 percent) and can reduce nitrous oxide emissions from soil by 12 to 50 percent, which increases the climate change mitigation benefits of biochar.” The findings are supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent Special Report on Climate Change and Land, which estimated there was important climate change mitigation potential available through biochar.” Learn MORE.
Environmental Action: Glyphosate Will Be Removed From RoundUp
“Bayer, the manufacturer of the pesticide Roundup, has announced that it will be removing glyphosate, the pesticide’s main active ingredient, from all its lawn and garden products as early as 2023. The widespread application of glyphosate has decimated the milkweed plant — the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat. The loss of this crucial food source has contributed to an 80 percent decline in eastern monarch populations and a shocking 99 percent decline of western monarchs. Glyphosate harms more than monarchs, too. A study demonstrated that glyphosate poses a threat to 93 percent of all endangered species, and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled the chemical “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Bayer’s announcement represents an important first step toward protecting human health and our pollinators — and it would not have been possible without supporters like you.”
The Guardian: Small Australian Startup Designing Re-Usable Battery Casings
“The battery technology invented in a Brisbane garage that is going global. Dominic Spooner’s startup Vaulta is working on a reusable battery casing to create less waste and a lighter product. As some of the world’s largest companies invest billions to advance battery technology, Dominic Spooner has been working at solving the next problem: the impact of unwieldy – and environmentally unfriendly – battery casings. Spooner runs his lightweight battery casing technology firm Vaulta from a shared garage in Brisbane’s north. “Batteries will change our lives in ways that we’re maybe not even totally aware of, but … we can create our own new group of problems if we’re not careful,” he says. Vaulta’s technology reduces the number of components used in battery cases. The casings reduce the battery size by about 18%. They also don’t weld parts together, which means they can be taken apart and reused rather than dumped – a start on preventing some of the 98% of disused batteries that goes into landfill.” Learn MORE.
Regeneración Pajaro Valley Has Partnered With Energy Upgrade California
Today, California has a goal to reduce energy usage and green house gas emissions by 40% before the year 2030. On a global scale, we are at the highest concentration of carbon dioxide we have seen in over 3 million years, at 410 parts per million. Increasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap in heat in our atmosphere, increasing the global temperature to a dangerously high number. One of the largest concerns are the disproportionate effects on low income communities and communities of color. These communities have been feeling the effects of climate change for decades and have had to learn to be resilient when they are the ones who are being effected the most, yet have done the least to cause these issues. Upgrade California is an initiative and resource to help people of all backgrounds save energy, reduce emissions, and as a result, save money. Saving energy can help reduce our nation’s demand for resources that are needed to make energy. Learn about the many effective energy savings tips on Energy Upgrade California.
Harvard Gazette: Battery Breakthrough For EVs
“Long-lasting, quick-charging batteries are essential to the expansion of the electric vehicle market, but today’s lithium-ion batteries fall short of what’s (expected) — they’re too heavy, too expensive and take too long to charge. “A lithium-metal battery is considered the holy grail for battery chemistry because of its high capacity and energy density,” said Xin Li, associate professor at Harvard. “But the stability of these batteries has always been poor.” Now, Li and his team have designed a stable, lithium-metal, solid-state battery that can be charged and discharged at least 10,000 times — far more cycles than have been previously demonstrated — at a high current density. The researchers paired the new design with a commercial high energy density cathode material. This battery technology could increase the lifetime of electric vehicles to that of the gasoline cars — 10 to 15 years — without the need to replace the battery. With its high current density, the battery could pave the way for electric vehicles that can fully charge within 10 to 20 minutes.” Read MORE.
Save The Waves: Cowell’s Water Quality Success Continues
Cowells Beach Water Quality Success Continues on Annual Beach Report Card for a second year in a row. Cowells Beach in Santa Cruz was not included on Heal The Bay’s ‘Beach Bummer’ list. Improved water quality at the famed Santa Cruz beach and surf break follows years of combined efforts and management practices. Many thanks to the contributors of the Cowell’s Working Group for their dedication, including the City of Santa Cruz, Surfrider Santa Cruz and the Sierra Club. Learn MORE.
NYT: The Energy Department aims for cheaper batteries to make clean energy more viable.
“The Energy Department on (July 14) announced a new effort to tackle one of the toughest technical challenges facing President Biden’s push for an electric grid dominated by solar and wind power — namely, what to do when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing. The government is chasing a promising but uncertain solution: a low-cost way to store electricity generated by the sun or wind for hours, days or even weeks at a time, saving it for when it’s most needed. As part of its initiative, the Energy Department wants to drive down the cost of long-duration storage 90 percent below the cost of today’s lithium-ion batteries by 2030. The agency will direct experts at its national labs to focus on improving such technologies while it seeks funding from Congress for early demonstration projects.” Learn MORE.
Audubon Society: The 2021 Audubon Photography Awards
“Photography, at its best, can heighten our awareness, allowing us to see the world more clearly. The same could be said about birding. And when we combine the two, magical things happen. Focusing our attention on the winged wonders that share our planet can reveal everything from the finest details to the largest patterns of life, as shown by many of the 8,770 images and 261 videos entered in this year’s contest.” You will be impressed HERE.
The Hill, July 21: House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water
The House approved a bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national drinking water standards for “forever chemicals” — a group of toxic compounds linked to kidney and liver issues, among other health problems. The PFAS Action Act of 2021 passed the lower chamber with bipartisan support, 241-183. Twenty-three Republican lawmakers voted with Democrats to pass the measure. The legislation, introduced by Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell (D) and Fred Upton (R), would demand that the EPA regulate the most common perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances — PFOA and PFOS — within two years of enactment, as well as designate these two compounds as “hazardous substances” under the Superfund law within a year. To date, the EPA has only established “health advisory levels” for PFAS compounds. Learn MORE.
Earthjustice: Tongas National Forest Protected!
The “lungs of our country” can breathe a little easier now.
A federal policy called the Roadless Rule prevents clearcutting in wildlands across the U.S., including the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. In 2020, the Trump administration exempted the Tongass from the Roadless Rule’s protection and opened areas to clearcut logging, including centuries-old stands of old-growth trees. Last week, the Biden administration announced it would not only restore those protections but would go further and end all large-scale logging of old-growth trees anywhere on the Tongass. Today’s victory would have been impossible without relentless advocacy from Alaska Native Tribes, Southeast Alaska small businesses, conservation organizations, and people like you. Thank the Biden Administration HERE.
Optimist Daily: Maine passes groundbreaking law banning “forever chemicals”
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals,” are toxic chemicals found in a wide range of products we consume and use on a daily basis including packaging, cookware, cosmetics, and textiles. These chemicals are being increasingly linked to serious diseases and decreased fertility, but eliminating them from our lives is no easy feat. Fortunately, the state of Maine is leading by example and has passed a groundbreaking law that bans all PFAS in products by 2030. Learn MORE.
Patagonia Film: Remothering The Land, 10 minutes
Regenerative practices and knowledge come from Indigenous and Black farmers, and support healthy soil, animals and people. Through rematriation (or remothering the land), this centuries-old sustainable agricultural system has the power to connect Indigenous and Black people with their land in a way that is restorative, healing and rejuvenating for both people and the planet. We asked William Smith, land steward of the Village of Huchiun, and Nazshonnii Brown-Almaweri, land team member of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, to share their thoughts on bringing this growing movement back. Through rematriation (or remothering the land), this centuries-old sustainable agricultural system has the power to connect Indigenous and Black people with their land in a way that is restorative, healing and rejuvenating for both people and the planet. Watch HERE.
CalPIRG, July 15: A Victory For Clean Air
“Last week, the California State Legislature approved a state budget that includes major investments for clean transportation. Among the investments are electric vehicle rebate programs, charging infrastructure, and funding for 1,000 new electric school buses. This investment in electric school buses comes at a critical time with school reopening right around the corner. Now that vaccines have made it safer for students to return to class, we need to make sure their ride to school is safe too. Each day, buses carry more than 1 million of California’s children to and from school. But most of the buses on the road are diesel, powered by dirty fossil fuels which pollute our communities, endanger the health of children and put our climate at greater risk. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature are doing their part by funding 1,000 new all-electric school buses for districts throughout the state. This is a big step towards a healthier, safer future with all-electric school buses for California. Thank your state legislators and encourage them to continue funding electric school buses in California. Send a MESSAGE!
Turtle Island Restoration, July 8: Calif Driftnet Buy-Back Program Protects Leatherbacks
“California’s budget will allocate $1.3 million to transition away from deadly gill-net fishing in state waters. The buy-back program comes as leatherback sea turtles begin to forage for jellyfish off the West Coast, swimming near the coast in summer and fall and migrating to warmer waters in winter. During these migrations, many leatherbacks are caught and killed by large mesh drift gillnets. The program is a result of Turtle Island Restoration Network supporters urging California to pass the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act in 2018 to phase out large mesh drift gillnets in state waters by awarding commercial fishermen cash for turning in their nets.” Learn MORE.
The Hill: New EPA coolant rule is a no-brainer for addressing the climate crisis
“The EPA’s new rule to phase down the manufacturing and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — the coolants used in air conditioners and refrigerators — will likely be a drop in the bucket for consumers but a huge step forward on global climate action. The move is a critical step toward the Biden administration’s larger goal of reducing 55 percent of emissions by 2035. What you might not know: The climate impact of this rule could be more than doubled if it’s coupled with efforts to properly dispose of the refrigerants in the appliances already in people’s homes and businesses. Project Drawdown, the non-profit where I explore science-based solutions to the climate crisis, ranked switching to alternative refrigerants one of the top 10 climate solutions we have in-hand today.” Learn MORE.
Phys.org, July 1: Instant water cleaning method ‘millions of times’ better than commercial approach
A water disinfectant created on the spot using just hydrogen and the air around us is millions of times more effective at killing viruses and bacteria than traditional commercial methods (chorine or hydrogen peroxide), according to scientists from Cardiff University. Reporting their findings today in the journal Nature Catalysis, the team say the results could revolutionize water disinfection technologies and present an unprecedented opportunity to provide clean water to communities that need it most. The team showed that as the catalyst (made from gold and palladium) brought the hydrogen and oxygen together to form hydrogen peroxide, it simultaneously produced a number of highly reactive compounds, known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which the team demonstrated were responsible for the antibacterial and antiviral effect, and not the hydrogen peroxide itself. Learn MORE.
Environment America: We Have The Power
“It is time for America to move beyond fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas are responsible for a rapidly warming planet, for hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year from air pollution, and for untold environmental damage. A shift to emission-free energy from the wind, sun and other renewable sources can solve many of America’s most pressing environmental and public health challenges. America has almost unlimited wind and solar resources, enough to power the nation many times over. The costs of clean energy technologies are plummeting. The cost of wind power fell by 71 percent and utility-scale solar by 90 percent from 2009 to 2020.” Read MORE
Environment America, July 6: Colorado’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Act is Signed By governor Jared Polis
“A bill that takes aim at some of the most harmful forms of plastic pollution, including plastic bags and foam containers, passed through the Colorado State Legislature. In addition to phasing out single-use plastic bags and polystyrene cups and containers, the bill will remove restrictions on local governments that prevented them from enacting stricter policies to curb plastic waste. This is the first time a non-coastal state has made the move to phase out single-use plastic products.” Read MORE.
Memphis Commercial Appeal, July 2: Byhalia Pipeline Cancelled
The company planning to build the Byhalia Connection pipeline on Friday announced that it is abandoning the project, bringing a sudden end to one of the biggest environmental controversies in recent Memphis history. The project, which would have put a crude oil pipeline through mostly Black South Memphis neighborhoods, sparked a complex legal and public relations battle that was fought in multiple venues, from the Memphis City Council to the court of national public opinion. Local opponents and celebrities such as Al Gore, Danny Glover and Jane Fonda voiced opposition — the former vice president visited Memphis and called the project “a reckless, racist rip-off.” Opponents also raised concerns about oil spills and threats to the area’s drinking water, which is drawn from wells deep underground from the Memphis Sand aquifer. Learn MORE
E&E News, July 1: Obama-era methane rules restored
“President Biden’s signing yesterday (June 30) of a congressional resolution reviving Obama-era methane rules could rekindle one of the big climate fights of the Obama administration: disputes and possibly lawsuits by oil-producing states. Biden, who was joined at the White House by Democrats and Republicans who backed the measure, said the plan was aimed at ‘protecting our planet from climate-disturbing greenhouse gas, particularly methane, which is devastating.This is an important first step,’ Biden said, adding that his infrastructure plan goes further and calls for $20 billion to cap abandoned leaking oil and gas wells. But the move puts pressure on a handful of states — notably Texas and North Dakota — that lack rigorous methane standards. The two states make up about half of U.S. oil production, and they both sued the Obama administration when it introduced controls on the potent greenhouse gas in 2016.” Read MORE.
The Revelator: Los Angeles Monitoring Key Indicator Species
Los Angeles just published a list of 37 “umbrella indicator species” that reside within the city limits, along with a plan to monitor them. The list includes Baja California tree frogs, great blue herons, mountain lions, North American Jerusalem crickets and — of course — bumblebees. If these species thrive, it will serve as a sign that the city is keeping its natural spaces healthy and connected. To find out how they’re doing, the city will post species observations on citizen-science platforms like iNaturalist, which they hope will also help keep residents engaged about their local wildlife and public spaces. This appears to be the first list or program of its kind. Hopefully it can serve as a model for other metropolitan areas. See species list HERE.
Elkhorn Slough Reserve: Moro Cojo Wetlands Expanded With Acquisition of 34 Acres
The Elkhorn Slough Foundation (ESF) acquired a key wetland property in June along Moro Cojo Slough, a major tributary of the larger Elkhorn Slough. The Foundation has protected over 4,200 acres of conservation lands in the Elkhorn Slough watershed. This new 34-acre acquisition expands ESF’s holdings in the Moro Cojo watershed to more than 450 acres. The land was acquired in partnership with Coastal Conservation and Research and the Central Coast Wetlands Group at Moss Landing Marine Labs. The wetlands are located in Moss Landing and Castroville, south of Elkhorn Slough, adjoining Sea Mist Farms, a division of Ocean Mist Farms. The extended Tottino family agreed to sell the property for the wetland restoration. They have an enduring legacy in establishing the now legendary artichoke industry in Castroville and the lower Salinas Valley. Read MORE.
Environment California: Anti-solar bill defeated in California!
Assembly Bill (AB) 1139 would have undermined clean energy progress in our state by stalling the growth of rooftop solar and making it more difficult for people to take advantage of the clean, renewable energy source warming our rooftops. So when the bill came up for a vote in the Assembly, we rallied on social media, phone-banked California supporters like you to place calls to their legislators, and sent more than 1,300 emails to decision-makers urging them to opposeAB 1139. And when the bill came up for a vote, it died in the Assembly. The response from supporters like you was overwhelming, and one thing is very clear — when our clean energy future is threatened, Californians will rise to defend it. Our work isn’t over. Though we defeated AB 1139, there are still threats to California rooftop solar, including upcoming decisions expected this year at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) around net metering, an important solar policy. Send a message directly to the CPUC letting them know that you believe in protecting rooftop solar in California. Act HERE.
Boiling Point, June 24: What the clean energy future looks like from a 262-foot wind turbine
“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that wind turbine service technician will be the country’s fastest-growing occupation this decade, with employment expected to increase by 61%, from 7,000 to 11,300 jobs. (Solar panel installer is third on the fastest-growth list, with a projected 51% increase in jobs.) Median pay for a wind turbine technician is $56,230 per year, or $27.03 per hour — well above the national median wage of $41,950, or $20.17 per hour, according to the federal agency. Kelly (pictured above) works for Rope Partner, which is based in Santa Cruz and was founded by rock climber Chris Bley in 2001. Bley was inspired by a chance encounter in Joshua Tree National Park with two German climbers who made a living scaling construction sites and churches that needed repairs. His timing couldn’t have been better, given the rapid growth of the American wind energy industry.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, June 24: Drones help protect biodiversity on Galápagos Islands by ridding them of rats
Two rat species (the black rat and the Norweigan rat) have disrupted the ecosystems on the Galapagos Islands of Seymour Norte and Mosquera since they arrived on ships in the 1800s and early 1900s. Seymour Norte is home to one of the largest populations of frigatebirds, but their eggs and offspring are constantly at risk of being snapped up by both species of rats. However, thanks to a two-year rodent eradication program launched in January 2019 by Galápagos National Park officials in collaboration with the nonprofit Island Conservation, as well as the recent work of drone pilots from Envicto Technologies, the islands are now free of rats! This means that the native biodiversity on the island ecosystems can return to its normal state. Bell Laboratories manufactured “conservation bait” traps that were distributed by drones fitted with a dispersal bucket and guided by GPS. Once the bait was implemented, more traps were placed in stations along the coastline to ensure that no rodents re-invaded the island. These stations progressively captured the invasive rats over the span of two years. Read MORE.
Turtle Island Restoration: New Bill Aims to Save Thousands of At-Risk Species in the U.S.
“The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, it would be the most significant investment in wildlife conservation in a generation. It would fund conservation efforts led by the states, territories, and tribes to prevent thousands of species from becoming endangered. This legislation is a win for everyone—wildlife, business, outdoor recreation, and all U.S. citizens through the benefits nature provides us. Now that the bill has been reintroduced, please reach out to your U.S. House Representative and ask them to cosponsor the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. We reached 185 bipartisan cosponsors in the last session, and are hoping for many more in the upcoming ones!” Take action HERE.
EcowatcH, June 18: Senate Bans Shark Fin Trade
“This World Oceans Day, the U.S. Senate banned the commercial shark fin trade in the U.S. and addressed forced labor and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (S. 1106) — is a bill that targets the U.S. shark fin trade and was passed as part of a broader legislative package called the United States Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260). The Act makes it illegal to possess, buy, sell or transport shark fins, except for certain dogfish fins. Violators who trade or sell shark fins will be penalized under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act fined $100,000 for each violation or the fair market value of the shark fins involved. The legislative move comes after studies about shark and ray populations highlighted a decline of more than 70 percent over the last 50 years. According to Oceana, over 73 million sharks are killed and traded annually.” And now it’s the House’s turn — a bill to ban the sale of in shark fins in the U.S. (H.R. 2811) has been introduced in the House of Representatives and currently has more than 130 bipartisan cosponsors. Learn MORE.
ABC News, June 10: Judge blocks drilling plans in 2 states, citing bird habitat
“A judge has halted plans for oil and gas drilling in vast areas of Wyoming and Montana, citing concerns about a sagebrush-dwelling bird. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management didn’t adequately consider how the drilling would affect the greater sage grouse, nor an option to defer drilling in the bird’s prime habitat, Idaho U.S. District Judge Ronald E. Bush ruled Wednesday. Sage grouse are a chicken-sized, primarily ground-dwelling bird whose numbers have fallen significantly from the millions that inhabited the U.S. West in frontier times. “This ruling sends a very strong message that the BLM can no longer lease public lands for fossil fuel development without weighing the outcomes for sensitive lands and wildlife,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project.” Learn MORE.
YES! Magazine: Reasons for Hope on Climate Change in 2021
“A popular refrain on social media notes that while 2020 was among the hottest on record and one of the worst years for climate disasters, it is also likely to be among the coolest and calmest for years to come. During a speech at Columbia University in December, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres put it bluntly: “The state of the planet is broken.” All this bad climate news has the potential to generate climate despair, numbing those watching the next tragedy unfold. Despite the onslaught of climate disasters, there is more momentum for political action now than ever before. The first truly global social movement dedicated to climate action and climate justice has gained in size and strength, beginning with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for the Future and spreading to the Sunrise Movement in the U.S. and climate justice movements around the world. Large-scale capital continues to flee from fossil fuel investments, which are rapidly losing value. The initial pandemic response demonstrated how societies and economies can pivot quickly in response to an emergency. Read MORE.
CNN Business, June 10: Investors holding $41 trillion demand action on climate — now
Investors managing more than $41 trillion in assets are loudly calling on world leaders to immediately step up their climate game if they don’t want to miss out on a wave of clean energy investment. More than 450 major investors signed a letter that was released Thursday urging governments to set more ambitious emission reduction targets, detail “clear” road maps to decarbonize pollution-heavy industries and implement mandatory climate risk disclosure requirements. The letter, signed by Fidelity, State Street and other influential asset management firms, marks the strongest call yet from investors urging governments around the world to take bolder steps to fight the climate crisis. And it comes just as the leaders of G7 nations meet in the United Kingdom to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and other major global issues. Read MORE.
Lakota People’s Law Project: The Keystone XL Pipeline is Dead!
“TC Energy at last canceled all remaining plans for the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL). The Zombie Pipeline is finally completely dead! This shows that — even as many states around the country continue to pass laws criminalizing protest — the people still have power. Our activism can make a real difference. As my fellow Cheyenne River protester, Oscar High Elk, said yesterday, “Respect our existence, or expect our resistance.”
Of course, as you know, our resistance still has much left to accomplish. I’m grateful that KXL’s immediate threats to our land and water are gone, along with the dangers its mancamps presented to Indigenous women and girls in Lakota Country. But Dakota Access still operates — without a legal permit — and Line 3 presents the same peril to the homelands of our Anishinaabe sisters and brothers in Minnesota.” Watch 2-minute video HERE.
Rolling Stone, June 11: Biden to Restore Tongass National Forest Protections That Trump Revoked
“The Biden administration announced Friday that it intends to “repeal or replace” a Trump-era rule change that gave permission to build roads, log and make other developments in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Under Trump, the U.S. saw the largest reduction of protected public lands in its history. The Tongass, which was originally protected by Bill Clinton two decades ago, comprises 9.3 million acres of forest and is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, earning it the nickname “the lungs of the country” because it absorbs approximately 8 percent of annual U.S. carbon emissions — more than any other national forest!” Learn MORE.
Surfrider: Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2021
In honor of World Ocean Day, Congressman Grijalva, along with 25 cosponsors, introduced the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2021 (OBCSA). The introduction of the OBCSA comes at a critical time as the climate crisis continues to wreak havoc across the globe. The bill will: prohibit new offshore oil exploration and drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and Eastern Gulf of Mexico; help coastal communities adapt to sea level rise, conduct coastal restoration, and implement natural infrastructure programs; tackle major issues such as ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms, both of which cause significant harm to the U.S. seafood, recreation, and tourism industries, as well as human communities and ocean wildlife and ecosystems; recognize the carbon storage potential and other co-benefits provided by “blue carbon” ecosystems like salt marshes, sea grasses, and mangroves, work with underserved communities to ensure climate change planning is just, equitable, respects diversity and helps create good-paying jobs that will benefit every American community. Urge your Representatives to support this bill HERE.
LA Times Boiling Point: Clean Energy Jobs Report Supported By 2 Large California Oil Workers Unions!
“A groundbreaking new report — endorsed by 19 unions, including two representing thousands of California oil workers — offers a preview of what the path forward might look like. The report estimates the Golden State could create 418,000 clean energy jobs per year through a program to cut climate pollution in half over the next decade. It could create even more jobs — 626,000 per year — through investments in related areas such as water infrastructure, leaky gas pipelines, public parks and roadways, some but not all of which would also reduce emissions. “What really caught my attention was the role of organized labor in seeking out and paying for the research — particularly Local 675 of the United Steelworkers.” Detailed report HERE.
NRDC: Federal Court Rules EPA Must Ban Chlorpyrifos
“In response to a lawsuit brought by NRDC and our partners, a federal court has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must ban chlorpyrifos — a toxic pesticide commonly sprayed on food crops, including apples, oranges, and berries — unless the EPA can identify uses that won’t pose health risks. This is a major victory for public health — especially for children. For pregnant women and children, exposure to even low levels of chlorpyrifos can lead to increased risk of learning disabilities, including reductions in IQ, developmental delay, and behavioral problems. And farmworkers and their families, who are predominantly Latino, face the most exposure to this harmful chemical. The EPA has delayed this ban for too long, and we need to keep up the pressure to ensure that agricultural communities are protected — and that kids can eat fruits and vegetables free of this neurotoxin.” Learn more and take action HERE.
Yale Environment 360: How Returning Lands to Native Tribes Is Helping Protect Nature
“From California to Maine, land is being given back to Native American tribes who are committing to managing it for conservation. Some tribes are using traditional knowledge, from how to support wildlife to the use of prescribed fires, to protect their ancestral grounds. In 1908 the U.S. government seized some 18,000 acres of land from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to create the National Bison Range in the heart of their reservation in the mountain-ringed Mission Valley of western Montana. While the goal of protecting the remnants of America’s once-plentiful bison was worthy, for the last century the federal facility has been a symbol to the tribes here of the injustices forced upon them by the government, and they have long fought to get the bison range returned. Last December their (persistence) paid off: President Donald Trump signed legislation that began the process of returning the range to the Salish and Kootenai. Now the tribes are managing the range’s bison and are also helping, through co-management, to manage bison that leave Yellowstone National Park to graze on U.S. Forest Service land. Their Native American management approach is steeped in the close, almost familial, relationship with the animal that once provided food, clothes, shelter — virtually everything their people needed.” Read MORE.
Oceana: Washington State Bans Polystyrene Foam
On May 17, “Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5022 into law, limiting the use of unnecessary single-use plastic across Washington state. The new law — introduced by Sen. Mona Das — bans the manufacture, sale and distribution of certain expanded polystyrene products, including packing peanuts, foam plastic coolers and foodware (i.e., cups, plate, bowls and clamshell containers). It also requires dining establishments to omit single-use plastic utensils, straws, cold-beverage cup lids and condiment packaging unless requested by customers — this applies to dine-in, takeout or delivery. Finally, the legislation establishes post-consumer recycled-content standards for plastic beverage bottles, personal care products, home cleaning products and trash bags. This makes Washington the first state on the West Coast and seventh U.S. state to ban polystyrene foam food containers. Washington is also the first state to ban foam plastic coolers.” Learn MORE.
Guardian, May 18: International Energy Agency Says Oil & Gas Exploration, Coal Plant Construction Must Stop. Now
“The IEA said the world’s countries must immediately stop exploiting new oil and gas fields and building new coal-fired power plants, if global temperatures are to be kept within safe limits and 2050 net-zero targets are to be met, in a wide-ranging report issued today. This is the first time the leading energy agency, which laid out a roadmap for how to accomplish the dramatic cuts, has called for such dramatic action. “It’s a huge shift in messaging if they’re saying there’s no need to invest in new fossil fuel supply,” Kelly Trout, senior research analyst at Oil Change International, told the New York Times. IEA executive director Fatih Birol emphasized the urgent need for aggressive action to slash emissions. “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year,” he told the Guardian.” Learn MORE.
Guardian, May 21: Richest nations agree to end support for coal production overseas
“The world’s richest nations have agreed to end their financial support for coal development overseas, in a major step towards phasing out the dirtiest fossil fuel. After nearly two days of wrangling at a meeting of the G7 environment and energy ministers, hosted virtually by the UK on Thursday and Friday, all reaffirmed their commitment to limiting global heating to 1.5C, and committed to phasing out coal and fully decarbonising their energy sectors in the 2030s. Japan, one of the world’s biggest sources of finance for coal power, along with China, held out on agreeing to stop helping to build until the final stages of the two-day virtual meeting.” Learn MORE.
New York Times, May 22: Long Slide Looms For World Population With Sweeping Ramifications
“All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore. Maternity wards are already shutting down in Italy. Ghost cities are appearing in northeastern China. Universities in South Korea can’t find enough students, and in Germany, hundreds of thousands of properties have been razed, with the land turned into parks. Demographers now predict that by the latter half of the century or possibly earlier, the global population will enter a sustained decline for the first time. A planet with fewer people could ease pressure on resources, slow the destructive impact of climate change and reduce household burdens for women.” Stunning changes forecast – read more HERE.
New Yorker, May 26: Shareholders Vote For Action On Climate Change
“In what may be the most cataclysmic day so far for the traditional fossil-fuel industry, a remarkable set of shareholder votes and court rulings have scrambled the future of three of the world’s largest oil companies. On Wednesday, a court in the Netherlands ordered Royal Dutch Shell to dramatically cut its emissions over the next decade—a mandate it can likely meet only by dramatically changing its business model. A few hours later, 61% of shareholders at Chevron voted, over management objections, to demand that the company cut so-called Scope 3 emissions, which include emissions caused by its customers burning its products. Oil companies are willing to address the emissions that come from their operations, but, as Reuters pointed out, the support for the cuts “shows growing investor frustration with companies, which they believe are not doing enough to tackle climate change.” The most powerful proof of such frustration came shortly afterward, as ExxonMobil officials announced that shareholders had (over the company’s strenuous opposition) elected two dissident candidates to the company’s board, both of whom pledge to push for climate action.” Read MORE.
Phys.org, May 8: SoCal Agency Approves Warehouse Rule For Air Quality
“SoCal regulators approve new rules to clean up the warehouse industry. California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District approved novel rules on pollution from warehouse distribution centers in an effort to ease the health risks faced by communities that suffer from transportation-related emissions. The rules apply to nearly 3,000 warehouses across Southern California and will especially benefit Black and Latinx neighborhoods that are burdened with some of the country’s worst air quality. The rules also generated support from labor groups and clean technology businesses.” Read MORE.
New York Times, May 5: EPA To Sharply Reduce Hydrofluorocarbons
“The Biden-Harris administration has just proposed a rule to slash super-pollutant HFCs 85% over the next 15 years — turning around a rule at lightning speed in order to implement the law passed at the end of 2020. Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are extremely potent industrial gases, commonly used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other cooling applications. These climate-changing chemicals do great damage when released into the atmosphere, the most abundant of them (HFC-134a) being 3,790 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. If this rule passes, it will be a huge win for climate justice, and an important measure to protect our communities for generations to come.” Read MORE.
EcoWatch, May 14: New Australian Marine Parks Protect an Area Twice the Size of the Great Barrier Reef
“The Australian government has moved to create two new marine protected areas that cover an expanse of ocean twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The two parks will be established around Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean to the northwest of continental Australia. Most famous for its annual red crab migration, Christmas Island was referred to as one of the 10 natural wonders of the world by David Attenborough himself. Its thriving rainforests, deserted beaches and fringing reef provide a haven for unique and rare seabirds, land crabs and marine life. The new parks cover 740,000 square kilometers (286,000 square miles) of ocean.” Learn MORE.
Medium: Africa is Planting Tens of Millions of Trees in the Desert.
“For centuries, the Sahel — meaning coast in Arabic — was the breadbasket of the African civilizations that thrived on the desert caravans, which sailed across the sands like ships on the ocean. But their success was reliant on the fragile grasslands and scattered trees. Now the futures of their inheritor nations are at stake. Climate change and centuries of overgrazing are decimating the Sahel. Bordering the desert, an estimated 500 million people live on land undergoing desertification. If we do nothing, people will move. The ensuing refugee crisis will be biblical, making the mass migrations of the past decades seem quaint by comparison. Considering the Syrian Civil War was exacerbated by water shortages, the Sahel looks like a tinderbox in search of a spark. But there is an alternate vision: the boldest ecological plan ever put into action. It’s called the Great Green Wall.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, May 10: Solar panels over California Water Canals
“About 4,000 miles of canals transport water to some 35 million people and 5.7 million acres of farmland across California. As the state enters another year of severe drought, researchers from the University of California have come up with a proposition to cover these canals with solar panels to prevent evaporation and generate clean energy. Researchers have calculated that covering these canals with solar panels would save more than 65 billion gallons of water annually…. These water-saving panels would also generate 13 gigawatts of renewable energy. Plus, the cool water flowing beneath the panels would cool the technology during hot weather, boosting electricity production during the summer by up to three percent.” Learn MORE.
Zero Hour: Diverse Youth-led Climate and Environmental Justice
Zanagee Artis was a high school student living in Clinton, Connecticut, when he co-founded Zero Hour in 2017 alongside a handful of student activists from around the country who were determined not to wait until they were old enough to vote to begin reshaping climate policy.“ The climate justice movement is really a movement to preserve our futures,” he said. “It’s about making sure that there is something left for young people in the future by addressing different systems that have caused the problem of climate change — by changing not just the industries that are polluting and changing our climate, but also the entire way that we interact with the world.” Zero Hour has cultivated 50 local chapters at high schools and colleges throughout the nation and across six continents that support the organization’s efforts to promote policies that slow climate change. Learn MORE.
Bioneers: Managing the Soil for Carbon is Good for the Climate – Video
“As our colleagues at One Earth have outlined, “shifting from a carbon intensive food system to regenerative, carbon-negative agriculture” is one of the single most important steps we need to take. Dr. Whendee Silver of UC Berkeley is researching the bio-geochemical effects of climate change and human impacts on the environment, and the potential for mitigating these effects. Dr. Silver is working with the Marin Carbon Project to establish a scientific basis for carbon farming practices that, if implemented globally, could have a significant impact on mitigating climate change.” Watch this 3 min video HERE.
Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship: A Day In The Dirt
Last Wednesday, the SCMTS office team snuck out to Upper Fall Creek, a portion of Henry Cowell State Park, to join the Trail Crew on the final day of their second spike. It was dry and hot, and the office team got put to work! Let’s just say that the office team was happy to be back on their computers Thursday morning… admittedly or not. As it sits now, the crew has two more spikes on their calendar out in Upper Fall Creek. While there is hope to open Upper Fall Creek up this summer, the timeline to open up an entire park, much like Big Basin, could take years. Read MORE.
Energy Innovation: 80% Clean Energy By 2030 is Feasible
“The White House is pushing congressional Democrats to enact a Clean Electricity Standard that would require the U.S. grid to get 80% of its power from emissions-free sources by 2030, Reuters reports. The 80% by 2030 requirement could be achieved with already existing technology and — in every region — without additional cost to ratepayers because of the recent dramatic reductions in battery costs, according to new modeling and analysis from the University of California-Berkeley, Energy Innovation, and GridLab. The requirement would be an interim milepost on the way to President Biden’s stated goal of achieving a net-zero grid by 2035 and could be passed without GOP support through the Senate’s budget reconciliation process.” Learn MORE.
Earthjustice: Court Affirms Protections Against Drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic
“Recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that 128 million acres of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans are permanently protected from oil and gas drilling. Former president Donald Trump tried to undo a ban on oil and gas drilling in the vast majority of the Arctic Ocean and important areas of the Atlantic Ocean. In 2019, a federal district court ruled that Trump’s actions overstepped his constitutional authority and violated federal law. Now the Ninth Circuit has dismissed an appeal of that decision, meaning that our victory stands. “This is a case where the president was acting outside of the bounds of law — he simply didn’t have the authority to do what he did. It’s the president usurping power from another branch.” Learn MORE.
Citizens Climate Lobby: Bipartisan “Growing Climate Solutions Act” Introduced
“The Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bill supported by CCL, was reintroduced in the Senate this week with broad bipartisan support — 18 Republicans, 16 Democrats and 1 Independent. Lead sponsors of the bill are Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Ben Pendergrass, CCL Senior Director of Government Affairs, said, “Our volunteers really leaned in on lobbying for this bill, and many of the Republican cosponsors heard a lot from the volunteers about this. We are happy CCL was able to play a role in advancing this positive and pragmatic legislation.” Sen. Stabenow and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), the chair and ranking member of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, announced they will bring the bill up for a vote in the committee on Thursday. The legislation would help farmers and foresters access carbon markets so they could be paid for practices that sequester carbon in soils and trees. Agriculture currently accounts for 10 percent of carbon emissions, and this bill is seen as a way to help that sector become part of the climate solution.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, April 28: Conservationists purchase and protect 400 Sq Miles of Belize Maya Forest
“A large section of the tropical forest that spans Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala was previously owned by the Forestland Group, a US logging company, but now, a coalition of conservation organizations have purchased the 236,000-acre area to save it from deforestation. According to Elma Kay, Science Director at the University of Belize Environmental Research Institute, if it hadn’t gone to conservationists, this invaluable piece of rainforest would have likely been bought for “large-scale, industrial, mechanized, mono-crop agriculture,” but now, “the forest will… be protected in perpetuity.” Dubbed the ‘Belize Maya Forest’ by its new owners, the area is a key biodiversity region that is home to five species of wild cat, as well as spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and hundreds of bird species. Julie Robinson, Belize program director for the Nature Conservancy, says that “Forests like these hold vast amounts of carbon,” so it is critical to protect them to try to reverse the unsettling climate trend the world is on.” More HERE.
EcoWatch, April 23: Scientists Develop Truly Biodegradable Plastics
“A research team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC), Berkeley has found a way to make biodegradable plastics actually disappear. While biodegradable plastics have been touted as a solution to plastic pollution, in practice they don’t work as advertised. “Biodegradability does not equal compostability,” Ting Xu, study coauthor and UC Berkeley polymer scientist, told Science News. But by studying nature, Xu and her team have developed a process that actually breaks down biodegradable plastics with just heat and water in a period of weeks. The results, published in Nature, could be game-changing for the plastic pollution problem.” Learn MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity, April 20: Biden Administration Protects Humpback Whale Habitat
“The Biden administration issued a final rule today protecting 116,098 square nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean as critical habitat for three populations of endangered humpback whales. The rule could begin to help protect migrating whales from ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and oil spills. The action was prompted by a 2018 legal victory by the Center for Biological Diversity, Wishtoyo Foundation and Turtle Island Restoration Network. The groups had sued over the federal failure to designate critical habitat as required by the Endangered Species Act. The suit led the Trump administration to issue a proposed rule in 2019 and today’s final rule. “Pacific humpbacks finally got the habitat protections they’ve needed for so long. Now we need to better protect humpbacks from ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, their leading causes of death,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center. “To recover West Coast populations of these playful, majestic whales, we need mandatory ship speed limits and conversion of California’s deadly trap fisheries to ropeless gear.” Learn MORE.
Elecktrek, April 15: Washington State bans new gas cars by 2030
“Washington State legislature has passed “Clean Cars 2030,” a bill setting a goal to require all light-duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later to be electric. The bill passed as part of a larger package directing utilities to prepare the state for all-electric transportation. With this bill, Washington State becomes the first US state to pass a gas car ban legislatively (as opposed to by executive order), and now has the earliest gas car ban in the US. California and Massachusetts also plan gas car bans by 2035. The bill, which we previously reported on when it moved out of committee, has now passed both houses of the state legislature and goes to Governor Jay Inslee’s (pictured) desk to be signed into law. It passed with a vote of 25-23 in the Senate and 54-43 in the House. Washington’s bill specifically seeks to ban the sale, purchase, or registration of any non-electric vehicle of model year 2030 or later. Thus, it would even apply to cars purchased out of state and imported into Washington.” Learn MORE.
Climate Nexus, April 20: Miner’s Union Gives Conditional Support For Transition From Fossil Fuel
“UMWA Announces Conditional Support For Transition From Fossil Fuel: The United Mine Workers of America, the country’s largest coal miners’ union, will support a “true energy transition” away from coal and fossil fuels that includes jobs for “anybody that loses their job because of a transition in this country,” Cecil Roberts, the UMWA president, said Monday. The union’s support, though qualified, could be a major boost for President Biden’s efforts to fight climate change, in large part because of the power held by West Virginia senator Joe Manchin. Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, joined Roberts for the announcement. The UMWA announcement also included a plan outlining its calls for numerous provisions to give preference to dislocated miners in renewable energy hiring, full funding for programs plugging and cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells and coal mines, and investment in carbon capture and sequestration technology.” Read more in the Grist HERE.
Humane Society, April 7: Saks Fifth Avenue will ditch fur
“Saks Fifth Avenue, a North American retailer synonymous with luxury fashion, announced today that it will end sales of all fur products in its stores by the end of 2022. Saks follows in the footsteps of other major retailers, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, all of which have adopted fur-free policies in recent years. In its announcement today, Saks said it will also close all of its fur salons by the end of this year. This is exciting news, and it shows the tremendous momentum right now in the fight to eliminate fur production and sales. Saks was one of the first retailers to join us in supporting the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, after we brought a consumer protection lawsuit in 2008 based on an investigation that found it and other retailers were selling real fur labeled as “faux.” Read MORE.
Humane Society, March 31: Four Big Wins For Animals
“Animals are on a winning streak. Over just the last two days, we’ve had four terrific victories in U.S. federal courts that pave the way for progress for millions of animals. These include wildlife in the United States and overseas most often targeted by trophy hunters, animals in the fur industry, and farm animals confined in cruel cages on factory farms. These wins are important. Many of them confront policies made by federal and state agencies that are harmful to animals and the environment and force these agencies to act with greater transparency toward the American public and the spending of their taxpayer dollars. It is also heartening to see our courts issue rulings that are in tune with the vast majority of Americans who express a clear distaste for practices like factory farming and trophy hunting, and unnecessary commodities like fur.”
The Guardian, April 14: Can the bison’s big appetite stop Spain’s forest fires?
“As the temperatures begin to rise, Spain is braced for another summer of the forest fires that over the past 10 years have destroyed about 741,000 hectares (1.8m acres) of forest. At the same time, a decline in sheep herding is leaving Spain without a large herbivore to clear the undergrowth that fuels the fires. Step forward the European bison, driven to extinction in Spain 10,000 years ago, but now growing in numbers due to a programme to reintroduce the species. The European bison delivers immediate biodiversity.It opens up dense parts of the forest which lets in the light and allows grass to grow instead of scrub, which lowers fire risk and, in turn, benefits numerous species through food and freedom of movement. Fossils and cave paintings indicate that bison roamed the Iberian peninsula for an estimated 1.2m years before they became extinct. About 50 survived in captivity and all 8,400 European bison now living are descended from just 12 of these.” Learn MORE.
Green Foothills, April 15: Redwood City Salt Ponds Are Protected by the Clean Water Act.
“In 2019, the Trump administration declared that the Cargill salt ponds were not subject to the Clean Water Act — going against the facts, the law, and the findings of Environmental Protection Agency staff. Together with our co-plaintiffs Baykeeper, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, and Save the Bay, we filed suit against the Trump administration challenging this decision as unlawful. And now, great news — we officially won our lawsuit! Last week, Cargill withdrew their appeal of the district court’s ruling that the Cargill salt ponds are subject to the Clean Water Act. With the federal government having already dropped their own appeal, this puts an end to the Trump administration’s misguided attempt to subvert federal environmental laws.” There is more work needed to keep Cargill from developing what used to be wetlands. Read MORE.
The White House, March 29: Environmental Justice Advisory Council
The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) was established by President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad to fulfill his and Vice President Harris’s commitment to confronting longstanding environmental injustices and to ensuring that historically marginalized and polluted, overburdened communities have greater input on federal policies and decisions. Biden tapped more than two dozen advocates from around the country to counsel his administration — “for the first time ever, bringing the voices, perspectives, and expertise of environmental justice communities into a formal advisory role at the White House,” said Cecilia Martinez, a Biden appointee on the issue. “We know that we cannot achieve health justice, economic justice, racial justice, or educational justice without environmental justice. That is why President Biden and I are committed to addressing environmental injustice,” said Vice President Harris. “This historic … Council will ensure that our administration’s work is informed by the insights, expertise, and lived experience of environmental justice leaders from across the nation.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, April 6: Renewable Energy Smashes Records in 2020
“Despite the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the world added a record amount of new renewable energy capacity in 2020, according to data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency. IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows that global renewable energy capacity grew by more than 260 gigawatts (GW) in 2020, beating the previous record set in 2019 by nearly 50%. Last year marked the second consecutive year in which clean energy’s share of all new generating capacity increased substantially, with renewables accounting for over 80% of all new electricity capacity added in 2020. Total fossil fuel additions, by contrast, fell by more than 6% last year—from 64 GW worth of new electricity capacity in 2019 to 60 GW in 2020.”
“These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope. Despite the challenges and the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy emerged as a source of undeniable optimism for a better, more equitable, resilient, clean, and just future,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. Read MORE.
Inside Climate News, March 31: Nine Ways Biden’s $2 Trillion Plan Will Tackle Climate Change
The largest single climate-related provision in the “American Jobs Plan” is $213 billion to build, modernize and weatherize affordable housing. $174 billion will accelerate a transition to electric vehicles. $100 billion is for power grid modernization and resilience, both intended to stave off catastrophic outages and to upgrade the system to better handle and transport wind and solar energy. An historic $85 billion invested in modernizing public transit. $35 billion investment in clean technology research and development. $16 billion employing union oil and gas workers to cap abandoned oil and gas wells and clean up mines, not only helping address unemployment in fossil fuel communities, but addressing emissions of the climate super-pollutant methane from the orphaned facilities. Eliminating fossil fuel industry subsidies, which are estimated to add up to at least $20 billion annually. Establish a federal Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard requiring utilities to deliver a certain percentage of electricity from renewable or other clean energy sources. In the most direct nod to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, Biden would invest $10 billion in a new “Civilian Climate Corps.” Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, April 1: Yurok Tribe to lead the reintroduction of condor in northern California
For the first time in 100 years, the endangered California condor is expected to once again soar the skies of the Pacific Northwest. The ambitious reintroduction effort will be led by the Yurok Tribe, whose ancestral land includes parts of Redwood National Park (In Northern California) that were once home to the condor. More than a century ago, the scavenger used to be a common sight in the region, but due to habitat loss, overhunting, and lead poisoning from hunting ammunition, the bird’s population decreased to near extinction. By the early 1980s, only 22 remained in the wild. Since then, captive breeding efforts have led to the bird’s return into parts of Utah, Arizona, and Baja California in Mexico. Now, the bird will be reintroduced in Northern California by the Yurok people, who consider the California condor a sacred animal and who have planned for the bird’s return for over a decade. Their reintroduction proposal was recently accepted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Learn MORE.
NPR: Century-old Migratory Bird protections restored
The Biden administration is moving to restore protections for migratory birds that were loosened under former President Donald Trump — a back-and-forth centering on the question of when it’s illegal to kill them. The Interior Department rescinded a controversial Trump-era legal opinion Monday that limited the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It also said it will soon propose a rule to replace one enacted at the end of the Trump administration that did the same. In tandem, the moves will seek to undo changes that “overturned decades of bipartisanship and international consensus and allowed industry to kill birds with impunity,” said Interior spokesman Tyler Cherry in a statement. Learn MORE.
YES! Magazine: “A Message From the Future II: The Years of Repair”
If you’re in need of some hope, look no further. This animated short film illustrates a radical vision of a future created when 2020 forced us to abandon oppressive systems. It launched us into a new paradigm to center the well-being of all people and the planet. With beautiful illustrations and poignant storytelling, the video reminds us that a better world is possible, and we can all be agents of change in its creation.
This short film was produced by Naomi Klein, Lauren Feeney, Marc Weiss, Katie McKenna, and Sharp As Knives, and is narrated by Opal Tometi, Emma Thompson, Gael García Bernal, and Nigerian poet and activist Nnimmo Bassey. It features artwork by Molly Crabapple and political storytelling by Avi Lewis and Tometi. Watch HERE.
Guardian, March 16: ’Skybrator’ – bladeless wind turbine
The giant windfarms that line hills and coastlines are not the only way to harness the power of the wind, say green energy pioneers who plan to reinvent wind power by forgoing the need for turbine towers, blades – and even wind. David Yáñez, the inventor of Vortex Bladeless, and his six-person startup, based just outside Madrid, have pioneered a turbine design that can harness energy from winds without the sweeping white blades considered synonymous with wind power. The design recently won the approval of Norway’s state energy company, Equinor, which will also offer the startup development support through its tech accelerator programme. The bladeless turbines stand at 3 metres high, a curve-topped cylinder fixed vertically with an elastic rod. To the untrained eye it appears to waggle back and forth, not unlike a car dashboard toy. In reality, it is designed to oscillate within the wind range and generate electricity from the vibration. “Our technology has different characteristics which can help to fill the gaps where traditional windfarms might not be appropriate,” says Yáñez. Watch 1-minute video HERE.
Climate Change Info Restored To EPA Website!
The biggest threat to the environment is now back on the website of the agency charged with protecting it. “Climate facts are back on EPA’s website where they should be,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. The EPA will play a key role, across multiple policy fronts, in Biden administration efforts to combat climate change. The previous administration, which filled many top EPA rolls with climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry lobbyists, had removed the website — containing key information of climate change impacts and emissions data — immediately after taking office. Environmental groups cheered the restoration of climate information to the EPA website, which also includes a Spanish version. “Today, we are relieved to see that the EPA is now actually going to post information about climate change on its website — again,” Dominique Browning, co-founder and director of Moms Clean Air Force, said in a statement. “The site was removed by a denier administration, and their denial is endangering all of us. It’s time to face reality. Science is back.”
Watsonville Wetlands Watch: Climate Corps Leadership Institute Internship
Check out this amazing program for Watsonville’s high schools students!
Training: CCLI Interns work directly with Watsonville Wetland Watch’s Restoration and Education staff. Every Monday the Climate Corps Leadership Institute Interns (16 students in total from various Watsonville high schools) are working on a restoration project or an education project, and studying online.
Restoration Projects: CCLI Interns are learning greenhouse work skills and urban forestry work, all supporting the City of Watsonville’s Urban Forestry Initiatives to plant 3,000 trees in local parks to increase the City’s tree canopy, which when we started was at a mere 3% canopy cover. Restoration projects involve working at our site at Pajaro Valley High School, learning how to sow seeds, transplant plants to larger pots, watering, and even planting native plants along the slough’s trails.
Education Projects: CCLI interns are grouped into three teams to tackle sustainability projects for their respective high schools. These projects include implementing a composting program at schools during lunch time, holding their schools accountable for energy efficiency, and also working on putting gardens on campus for students to enjoy.
Trust For Public Land: Remembering the one-woman force of nature behind the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Nancy Russell was an avid amateur botanist and a mother of five when she began prowling the wooded slopes of the gorge over 50 years ago, in search of wildflowers. In the 1970s, a proposed freeway bridge across the Columbia River north of Portland presaged swift development on the Washington side of the gorge, where development rules were more lax than in Oregon. Joining with others who loved the gorge, Nancy asked Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield for help. Hatfield told them that he’d push for special federal status if they could organize supporters from both sides of the river and both ends of the gorge to stand behind him. In November 1986, Congress passed the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act. The legislation designated more than 292,000 acres as federally regulated land, prohibited development in certain areas, and established regulations that would discourage sprawl and encourage protection of scenic properties. In the years to come, under Russell’s leadership, Friends of the Columbia Gorge became the leading public advocate for the gorge, while Russell herself functioned as a one-person land trust, protecting every scenic gorge property she could get her hands on—a total of 33 parcels and more than 600 acres. Read MORE.
Climate Nexus, March 17: Semis Cheaper Per Mile Than Diesels At Today’s Prices
Heavy duty electric trucks (a.k.a. semis) cost so much less to operate per mile than diesel-powered trucks at today’s prices that they would pay for themselves in just three years, according to a new report by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UCLA, and UC-Berkeley. Electrifying heavy-duty trucks would substantially improve air quality. Semis account for just 11% of vehicles on the road, but more than half of carbon pollution and 71% of deadly particulate pollution. At today’s costs, electric semis could cost 13% less per mile than a comparable diesel-powered truck, and could cost just half as much per mile by 2030 with the right mix of policy. Read more at BERKELEY LAB.
Wilderness Society, March 15: Senate Confirms Haaland for Secretary Of Interior!!
After Deb Haaland’s nomination was sent to the Senate floor with a bipartisan vote of 11-9, today, the full Senate confirmed her to serve as the first Native American to ever lead the Interior Department in a bipartisan vote of 51-40. Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Secretary Haaland as the first Native American Interior secretary in U.S. history. Her record makes clear she will champion managing public lands as part of the climate solution, improve protections for our cherished lands and waters, and ensure everyone benefits from our shared lands. She will be an extraordinary leader at a critical moment in the stewardship of our public lands and the people and communities that rely on them. She is uniquely equipped to modernize the Interior Department, and turn the corner on decades of discrimination against Native Americans and their tribal nations.” Read MORE.
Upworthy: Canadian grocery store sells organic produce and honey from its own rooftop garden
Rooftop gardens have become popular features of high rise apartments, but a grocery store in Canada has taken the idea a big step further. The 25,000 square foot rooftop garden of IGA Extra Famille Duchemin grocery store, created in 2017 in Montreal, produces about 35 types of produce that the store harvests and sells themselves. The certified organic crops include kale, lettuce, carrots, green beans, eggplant, garlic, tomatoes and spinach, and store co-owner Richard Duchemin says the produce sells “very well.” The garden also includes beehives for honey. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, March 9: Tesla Is Building a Giant Battery in Texas to Back up Grid
Almost a decade after moving into the electric vehicle industry, Elon Musk’s Tesla is supersizing its plans to bring its battery technology into the power storage game. Gambit Energy Storage LLC, a Tesla subsidiary, is building a 100 megawatt energy storage project in Arlington, Texas, outside of Houston. The giant battery will plug into the Texas power grid, providing backup to a system that last month suffered a devastating failure when a severe winter storm knocked generation offline at the same time as demand soared. The Gambit battery would store enough energy to power 20,000 homes during summer peak hours, and is expected to be operational on June 1st. Blackouts are becoming increasingly common as climate change exposes the energy grid’s vulnerability to climate change, and battery-supported microgrids are increasingly seen as a critical backup for lifesaving systems. Read MORE.
EcoWatch, March 4: FedEx to Electrify Entire Fleet by 2040
“FedEx’s entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025. To reach this goal, the delivery company will commit more than $2 billion to vehicle electrification, sustainable energy and carbon sequestration, according to the statement. “We have a responsibility to take bold action in addressing climate challenges,” Frederick W. Smith, chairman and CEO of FedEx Corp. said in the release. “This goal builds on our longstanding commitment to sustainability throughout our operations, while at the same time investing in long-term, transformational solutions for FedEx and our entire industry.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, March 5: World’s Oldest Known Bird Gives Birth to New Chick on Midway Atoll
Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother. Wisdom hatched her latest chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial, home to the world’s largest albatross colony where millions of birds return each year to nest in the same place and, usually, with the same partner. “Each year that Wisdom returns, we learn more about how long seabirds can live and raise chicks,” Dr. Beth Flint, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) biologist, said in a USFWS Pacific Islands post announcing the birth. “Her return not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future.” Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Lone Oregon Wolf Travels 400 Miles Into California
We’ve seen wolves come under vicious attack in the past few months as state wildlife managers target them in hunts. But here’s a piece of cheering news: A wolf named OR-93 has now ventured farther into the Golden State than any wolf in the past century — reaching an area near Yosemite National Park, 400 miles from the Oregon line. It’s unlikely OR-93 will find a mate there, but his epic journey shows us how wolf recovery can happen. In California, unlike Oregon, wolves have full state endangered species protection. We look forward to watching OR-93 as his adventures continue. Learn MORE.
Ocean Protection Council Approves $1.3 M to restore Elkhorn Slough
“The Ocean Protection Council (recently) approved $1.3 million in new funding to support a far-reaching restoration initiative at Elkhorn Slough. The funding, generated by California’s Proposition 68, will bring back species across an entire coastal landscape —from coastal grasslands to tidal salt marsh, from eelgrass beds to native oysters. This restoration will take place on the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in partnership with NOAA and with support from the Elkhorn Slough Foundation. “With this effort, we’re using a holistic approach to put the puzzle pieces of an ecosystem together and restore an entire coastal landscape,” notes Reserve Manager Dave Feliz. More than 90 percent of California’s wetlands have vanished over the past century. Today the Elkhorn Slough features the most extensive salt marshes in California south of San Francisco Bay, yet without intervention the remaining marshes are projected to be lost within 50 years due to rising sea levels, subsidence, and tidal erosion.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Feb 24: Atlanta builds the nation’s largest food forest to tackle food insecurity
After a pecan farm in a south Atlanta neighborhood closed, the land was then supposed to be converted into a residential townhouse zone. That project, however, never happened, prompting the city’s Conservation Fund to buy the land in 2016 and develop it into something else: the country’s largest free food forest. Thanks to a US Forest Service grant and a collaboration between the city’s municipality and a number of different NGOs, the 7.1 acres of land are now ripe with 2,500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants. The food forest has been particularly welcome in the Browns Mill neighborhood where it’s located, with the closest grocery store there being a 30-min bus ride away. The project is part of the city of Atlanta’s broader goal to bring healthy food within half a mile of 85 percent of Atlanta’s 500,000 residents by 2022. Initiatives like the food forest are much needed in the city as 1 in 6 Georgians face food insecurity, 1 in 3 Brown Mill residents live below the poverty line, and 1 in 4 Atlantans live in acute food deserts. Read ON!
The Guardian, Feb 26: US House passes historic public lands bill
The US House of Representatives has passed a historic public lands preservation bill that pledges to protect nearly 3m acres of federal lands in Colorado, California, Washington and Arizona. The act combines various bills that languished without Senate approval during the Trump administration. Key provisions include permanently banning new uranium mining on land surrounding the Grand Canyon, giving wilderness designation to 1.5m acres of federal land, and preserving 1,000 river miles by adding them to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. “This is one of the largest public lands protection bills to ever go before Congress,” said Kristen Brengel, with the National Parks Conservation Association. “Wilderness designation is the strongest protection there is to ensure the lands will never be developed. And it can’t be undone with the stroke of pen.” The bill, called the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, has strong support from the Biden administration, in part because it will help the president achieve his goal of protecting at least 30% of US land from development by 2030 in order to combat climate change. It must now pass a divided Senate. Read more about protections for California HERE.
Citizen Volunteer Cleans Up Soquel Creek for 1 Year!
Craig Wilson decided to clean up a stretch of Soquel Creek under the footbridge that connects Paper Mill Road and Bridge Street in Soquel. He also documented all of the trash he removed over the course of 1 year, from Feb 2020 to Feb 2021. Here’s what he accomplished:
“346 items of litter were recovered:
Wrappers, Containers, Lids & Butts: 172
Metal Cans: 60
Plastic Bottles: 41
Glass Bottles: 26
Plastic, Cloth, Metal, Rubber & Wood: 47
There is a convenience store about 500 feet from the bridge. About 85% of the litter came from items apparently consumed in the area. Overall, this section of the creek is in relatively good shape but it still needs our help.”
Thank you Craig for your big contribution and initiative!
If you’ve designed or been part of a local environmental project please tell Environteers (email@example.com) and include a photo and we may be able to post it!
Center For Biological Diversity: Judge Overturns Trump for Greater Sage Grouse
“The greater sage grouse is a bird that needs its space. Reliant on large expanses of intact sagebrush and loyal to specific areas, sage grouse are very sensitive to habitat disturbance. As oil and gas extraction, livestock grazing, roads, and power lines have destroyed and fragmented their native habitat, their populations have plummeted. Fortunately for these beleaguered birds — whose males balloon out their air sacs in elaborate mating dances — a federal court has found unlawful the Trump administration’s removal of protections from 10 million acres across the West to allow mining in vital grouse habitat. This decision follows an earlier ruling stemming from a 2016 lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies. “Now the new Interior secretary can establish appropriate habitat protections based on science, not favoritism to the mining industry.” Learn MORE.
Bike Santa Cruz County: ”E-BIKE” Act introduced by Congressman Jimmy Panetta
Known as the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment Act, or “E-BIKE”, the bill aims to encourage the use of electric bicycles through a consumer tax credit of 30% towards the purchase of a new e-bike. According to Panetta, the legislation “will make it easier for more people from all socio-economic levels to own e-bikes and contribute to cutting our carbon output. By incentivizing the use of electric bicycles to replace car trips through a consumer tax credit, we can not only encourage more Americans to transition to greener modes of transportation, but also help fight the climate crisis.” Read MORE.
Environment America: Good news for bees!
“The Department of Defense’s 11 million acres of public land will become pollinator-friendly! A provision in the recently-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the Department of Defense to protect pollinators on military lands. It also recommends planting native flowering plants, eliminating or minimizing pesticide use in pollinator habitats, and more. Increased public pressure and advocacy has led to the passage of this pollinator-friendly provision. Former Representative Xochitl Torres Small from New Mexico, an environmental champion who our national network endorsed and supported, recommended including pollinators in the NDAA during this legislative session. The pollinator-friendly provision was included in the final version of the bill, which passed on New Year’s Day 2021. And now, thanks to this win, the armed services will become a partner in our work to protect pollinators.” Read MORE.
Bike Santa Cruz County: Watsonville Segment of Coastal Rail Trail Nears Completion
Watsonville’s Segment 18/Phase 1 is nearing completion! This segment parallels the rail line and will connect the City of Watsonville with the Watsonville Slough Wetlands trail network through 1.2 miles of paved trail for cyclists and pedestrians. Over 22,000 residents, 12 schools and 12 parks are located within one mile of the trail, making this a total game-changer for the City of Watsonville by allowing more residents to comfortably ride or walk for their daily trips and exercise. Construction of this phase is expected to be complete in mid-March, with an additional phase (Ohlone Parkway to Lee Road) to follow.
Climate Nexus: Judge Blocks MT Coal Mine Expansion Over Climate Change Impacts
A federal judge blocked the expansion of Montana’s largest coal mine on Wednesday, ruling the Interior Department failed to account for the social cost of the carbon pollution that would result from the additional coal extracted. The ruling criticized the Trump administration for “ignor[ing] more accurate scientific information when it is available,” referring to a 2017 executive order directing agencies not to account for the social cost of carbon. The decision could test the Biden administration’s willingness to undo permitting decisions made by the previous administration. On his first day in office, President Biden directed federal agencies to account for the full damages caused by greenhouse gas pollution to human health and the environment. Read more in Montana Free Press.
Optimist Daily, Feb 10: America will have a Civilian climate corps
“Big news! The Civilian Conservation Corps that was once so popular during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time as a president is rising up from the ashes again under a slightly altered name. Under a newly signed executive order from the White House, a new Civilian Climate Corps is being established to provide “good jobs” for young people and train them for environmentally friendly careers. In addition, young people who join the Civilian Climate Corps will work to restore public lands and waters, plant trees, improve access to parks, and tackle climate change.” Read MORE.
The Wall Street Journal, Feb 5: The Battery Is Ready to Power the World
After a decade of rapidly falling costs, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery has reached a tipping point and is poised to disrupt industries. No longer just for consumer products, it is poised to transform the way the world uses power. In the energy sector, affordable batteries are making it possible for companies to store electricity and harvest renewable power. In the auto industry, they are set to challenge the gas-powered engine’s centurylong domination. Costs have come down so far and so fast that most car makers expect that electric vehicles, which are currently more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts, will cost the same amount to build within the next five years. The gains are likely to continue. Electric vehicles are currently the main source of demand for battery cells. As demand grows and costs fall further, batteries will become even more disruptive across industries. Batteries recently scored a win at General Motors Co., which said it hoped to phase out gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from its showrooms world-wide by 2035. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Jan 29: Teen Scientist Seeks Solution to Water Crisis
“Shreya Ramachandran, 17, remembers witnessing California’s water crisis firsthand on a visit to Tulare County in 2014, when she was still a preteen. Tulare spans a large swath of farmland in California’s Central Valley, and at that time, locals were facing dire water shortages amid an ongoing drought made worse by climate change. The experience spurred Ramachandran, who lives in Fremont, California, to find ways to reuse water from sinks, showers and laundry machines, what’s known as grey water, to help people better cope with intense drought. She has won numerous awards for her research, was named a global finalist in the 2019 Google Science Fair. Around that time, Ramachandran’s grandmother was visiting from India, and she had brought with her a handful of soap nuts. A soap nut, also known as a soap berry, is a small yellow or brown fruit encased in a hard, brown shell. Soap nuts are native to India, where they are used for bathing.” Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Biden Executive Order Pushes for Protection of 30% of America’s Land & Oceans by 2030
“President Joe Biden will issue an executive order today directing federal officials to protect 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters by 2030, part of an effort to slow the wildlife extinction crisis and curb global warming. “This is a crucial step to stopping the wildlife extinction crisis, which threatens the future of all life on our planet,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve got to preserve the most biologically rich ecosystems to have any hope of bringing nature back from the brink. Human activity got us to this heartbreaking point, and we’re grateful the Biden administration will address this global crisis by working to protect 30% of the nation’s lands and oceans by 2030.” Under the president’s order, the Interior Department will determine how to measure the country’s progress toward the 30×30 goal and outline steps to achieve it. Federal officials also will support local, state, private and tribal conservation and restoration efforts and work to improve access to nature for low-income communities and communities of color.” Learn MORE.
NEXUS MEDIA NEWS, JAN 22: Dept.Of Interior Effectively Suspends New Public Lands Drilling
The Biden administration effectively suspended new fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters Thursday. Under an order signed by acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega, only high-level staff may “issue any onshore or offshore fossil fuel authorization” including leases and drilling permits. The 60-day order is a first step toward fulfilling one of President Biden’s major campaign promises: the end of fossil fuels leasing on public lands and waters, which account for about a quarter of all U.S. oil and gas extraction. Also, the DOI revoked 70 improperly-issued drilling permits issued, invalidly by existing staff, during the first days of the Biden administration. Nexus Media.
EcoWatch, Jan 26: NYC Pension Funds Are Divesting Four Billion From Fossil Fuels
Three of New York City’s five public employee pension funds are divesting $4 billion from securities related to fossil-fuel companies. Pensions for teachers, school administrators and civil servants voted to divest their holdings, according to a statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio. With a combined value of $239 billion, representing 70% of the city’s pension assets, the move is one of the largest fossil fuel divestments in the world. Under the resolution, the pensions would phase out fossil fuel investments over five years. “Fossil fuels are not only bad for our planet and our frontline communities, they are a bad investment,” said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. The NYC pension funds join others, including cities in California and Australia, in the divestment movement. EcoWatch.
Calif Audubon Society: Salton Sea Restoration Project Begins
The California Salton Sea Management Program began construction this week on a project to restore bird and fish habitat at the southern end of the Salton Sea. The Species Conservation Habitat Project (SCH) will reduce wind-borne dust pollution on nearly 4,000 acres to the east and west of the New River delta, lessening dangerous dust pollution affecting nearby communities, while also creating habitat for birds and serving as a water-management pond for future projects in the area. The SCH will be constructed on what is now exposed, dust-emitting lakebed, or playa. It will include several types of habitat areas to accommodate a variety of shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl. Mid- and deep-water areas will create relatively low-salinity habitat for fish preyed on by American White Pelicans and other fish-eating bird species. Learn MORE.
White House, Jan 27: President Biden Takes Executive Actions to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government
The order clearly establishes climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security. The order affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition. It makes clear that both significant short-term global emission reductions and net zero global emissions by mid-century – or before – are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. The order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate. Read MORE.
Rainforest Action Network: U.S. (Finally) Takes Action On Conflict Palm Oil
“For the first time in history, the US government blocked the import of Conflict Palm Oil from a major Malaysian supplier found to be linked to forced labor. Weeks later, shareholders at Procter & Gamble voted overwhelmingly for increased transparency and reporting on deforestation in their supply chains. In Aug 2019, RAN and our partners GLJ-ILRF and SumOfUs filed a Tariff Act complaint demanding government oversight into allegations of forced labor, child labor, and abusive working conditions in palm oil supply chains. This petition launched a year-long investigation led by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that culminated with the announced ban of palm oil from Malaysian-based supplier FGV Holdings Berhad in September 2020. During their investigation, CBP found signs of “abuse of vulnerability, deception, restriction of movement, isolation, physical and sexual violence, intimidation and threats, retention of identity documents, withholding of wages, debt bondage, abusive working and living conditions, and excessive overtime,” in addition to forced child labor. Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 bans the import of goods produced by forced labor.” Learn MORE.
Reuters, Jan 25: Biden vows to replace U.S. government fleet with electric vehicles
President Biden vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus toward clean-energy. “The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America made by American workers,” Biden said. Biden criticized existing rules that allow vehicles to be considered U.S. made when purchased by the U.S. government even if they have significant non-American made components. Biden said he would close “loopholes” that allow key parts like engines, steel and glass to be manufactured abroad for vehicles considered U.S. made. Learn MORE.
ECoWatch, Jan 22: European Investment Bank Chief Declares “Gas is over”
Noted author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was among the first to celebrate word that the president of the European Investment Bank on Wednesday openly declared, “To put it mildly, (fracked) gas is over” — an admission that squares with what climate experts and economists have been saying for years if not decades. Dr. Werner Hoyer, president of the EIB — the investment bank publicly owned by the European Union’s member states — made the comments while presenting at a press conference in Luxembourg. Calling a future break with fracked gas “a serious departure from the past,” Hoer added that “without the end to the use of unabated fossil fuels, we will not be able to reach the climate targets” to which the EU states — and therefore the bank — have committed. Learn MORE.
NOAA, Jan 19: Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary Expanded
On January 19, 2021, NOAA issued the Final Rule for expansion of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This action protects 14 additional reefs and banks, slightly adjusts the boundaries of the sanctuary’s original three banks, and expands the sanctuary from 56 square miles to a total of 160 square miles. The final rule applies existing sanctuary regulations to all of the new areas, providing protection from the destructive impact of activities related to fishing with bottom-tending gear, ship anchoring, oil and gas exploration and production, and salvage activities on sensitive biological resources. These areas include critical habitat for recreationally and commercially important fish, as well as threatened or endangered species of manta rays, sea turtles, and corals in the Gulf of Mexico. More info HERE.
EcoWatch: The U.S. Is Building a Bike Trail That Runs Coast-to-Coast Across 12 States
The Great American Rail-Trail will be almost 6,000km when complete, and will serve 50 million people within 80km of the route. Trails have proved invaluable for recreation and transport during lockdown. Cycling and safe routes are vital for cities planning their post-pandemic recovery. Stretching almost 6,000km and crossing 12 states, the Great American Rail-Trail will enable cyclists, hikers and riders to traverse the entire US. The multi-use trail will run from Washington DC in the east to Washington state on the Pacific coast. So far more than 3,200km of it has been completed. Learn MORE.
Save The Redwoods League: Governor Newsom’s Proposed Budget Investments in Forestry and Wildfire Resilience
“With California’s record-breaking wildfires of 2020 still fresh in the memory of legislators, Gov. Gavin Newsom has earmarked $1 billion in his proposed budget to address the need for forest restoration, fire prevention and recovery. The proposal is of foremost concern to Save the Redwoods League. In forests and other natural lands across the state, climate change and 150 years of fire suppression and exclusion of indigenous stewardship has resulted in forests that are vulnerable to severe wildfires. As a result, California’s iconic fire-adapted coast redwood and giant sequoia forests are facing an unprecedented threat.” Learn more HERE.
EcoWatch, Jan 7: America’s Newest National Park Is Also the First in West Virginia
The U.S. is beginning the new year with a new national park. The nation’s 63rd national park is also the first to be designated as such in the state of West Virginia, Veranda reported. New River Gorge, in Fayetteville, was officially changed from a national river to a national park as part of the COVID-19 relief bill that passed on Dec. 27. “Redesignation of the National River to a National Park and Preserve will shine a brighter light on West Virginia and all that it has to offer,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Read MORE.
Boiling Point, LA Times: How rooftop solar could save Americans $473 billion
“With (about 1 week) until Joe Biden takes office — and with Democrats taking control of the Senate — the growth of clean energy is poised to accelerate. If Biden’s appointees want to help consumers save money, they might consider devoting a big chunk of their efforts to solar panels and batteries that can be installed at homes across the country. In a fascinating report released last month, Clack and his coauthors estimated that eliminating nearly all planet-warming pollution from electricity generation would be $473 billion cheaper with dramatic growth in rooftop solar and batteries (versus large solar farms). That calculation is based on Clack’s exhaustively detailed model of the U.S. electric grid, which he says includes 10,000 times more data points than traditional models and allows for a better accounting of rooftop solar’s costs and benefits to the grid.” Learn MORE.
BBC, Dec 17: The batteries that could make fossil fuels obsolete
The twin smokestacks of the Moss Landing Power Plant tower over Monterey Bay. Visible for miles along this picturesque stretch of the north Californian coast, the 500-foot-tall (150m) pillars crown what was once California’s largest electric power station – a behemoth natural gas-fired generator. Today, as California steadily moves to decarbonize its economy, those stacks are idle and the plant is largely mothballed. Instead, the site is about to begin a new life as the world’s largest battery, storing excess energy when solar panels and wind farms are producing electricity and feeding it back into the grid when they’re not. Inside a cavernous turbine building, a 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery is currently being readied for operation, with another 100-megawatt battery to come online in 2021. Learn MORE
Massachusetts Legislature Sends Bipartisan Climate Bill to the Governor
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is reviewing sweeping legislation to reduce the commonwealth’s greenhouse gas pollution, spur clean energy jobs, electrify buildings, and protect communities disproportionately harmed by pollution. The bill passed by 38-2 vote in the State Senate and in the House 145-9. In addition to mandating net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050, the legislation would also boost offshore wind energy and codify the definition of “environmental justice populations.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, Jan 4: Female Of The most endangered turtle species found
“The giant Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle (Rafetus Swinhoe) is the most endangered turtle in the world, with only one known male currently living at the Suzhou zoo in China. Now hopes are rising that this precious species of turtle could be saved from the brink of extinction after conservationists discovered a female of his species in a lake outside of Hanoi, Vietnam. To find the female Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle, conservationists spent weeks looking for it in the 1,400-hectare Dong Mo lake near Hanoi. Specifically, the conservationists looked for the distinct, yellow and black pattern that adorns the turtle’s face. After being captured, the scientists performed genetic tests and confirmed that it is indeed a female Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle. The Guardian reports that she is one meter long and was deemed healthy upon release back in the water.” Learn MORE.
New York Times, Dec 29: New York’s Real Climate Challenge Is Fixing Its Aging Buildings
The city and New York State have zeroed in on buildings in pursuit of meaningful cuts to carbon, like the state’s goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050. A plan to upgrade a cluster of nine unremarkable apartment buildings in Brooklyn typically would not merit a second look. But this isn’t a quick fix; the project, called Casa Pasiva, aims to be a new model for the sustainable transformation of the city’s housing stock. Sleek new skyscrapers that incorporate the latest energy-efficient building materials like mass timber may look impressive, but when it comes to solving the climate crisis in New York, the real challenge lies in the city’s decades-old structures. More than 90 percent of the buildings in New York today will still be standing in 2050, and nearly 70 percent of the city’s total carbon emissions come from buildings. Learn MORE.
Nat Geo: 14 key nations commit to protect oceans
When the heads of state of 14 nations sat down together in late 2018 to discuss the grim condition of the world’s oceans, there was no certainty that anything consequential would result. The leaders planned 14 gatherings, but met only twice before the pandemic upended their talks. So when the group announced this week the world’s most far-reaching pact to protect and sustain ocean health, it signaled a bit more than a noteworthy achievement in a complicated time. The agreement, negotiated via the nuance-free tool of video conferencing, also offered hope of a renewed era of global accord on climate, where issues grounded in science might finally trump political posturing. Overall, the 14 leaders agreed to sustainably manage 100 percent of the oceans under their national jurisdictions by 2025—an area of ocean roughly the size of Africa. Additionally, they vowed to set aside 30 percent of the seas as marine protected areas by 2030, in keeping with the United Nations’ campaign known as “30 by 30.” Read MORE.
Science Daily Dec 21: New population of blue whales discovered in the western Indian ocean
An international team of researchers has discovered what it believes to be a new population of blue whales in the western Indian Ocean. Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived on our planet, and they are found around the globe in all oceans. All blue whales sing very low-pitched and recognizable songs, and conveniently for researchers, every population has its own unique song. In a recently published paper in the journal Endangered Species Research, the researchers describe a new blue whale song that is heard from the Arabian Sea coast of Oman across to the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean and as far south as Madagascar in the southwest Indian Ocean. Learn MORE.
Treehugger: Gorilla Lovingly Embraces Man Who Rescued Her From Hunters
This captivating image of a lowland gorilla in the arms of a man is the People’s Choice Award winner for Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur captured the intimate portrait after the gorilla was rescued from hunters who captured her with the intention of selling her for bushmeat. Pikin the gorilla was rescued by the group Ape Action Africa and sedated while she was moved from one enclosure to another. The sedatives wore off early, and Pikin awoke in the car. However, she remained calm in the arms of Appolinaire Ndohoudou, who has dedicated his life to protecting gorillas in Cameroon. In fact, many of the animals have known him their whole lives. Read MORE.
Union Of Concerned Scientists, Dec 25: Bright Spots in the End of A Dark Year
The covid relief and spending package passed by Congress includes some important climate provisions. authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s), a greenhouse gas that is approximately a thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide and is widely used in refrigerants and air conditioners. A worldwide phase out of HFC’s has the potential to reduce the overall warming from climate change by .5 degree centigrade. With this legislative authorization, the United States can not only do its part, but US businesses can play a leading role in supplying the world with alternatives to HFC’s. The congressional package also includes a much-needed extension of tax credits for clean energy. One of the biggest wins is for offshore wind energy, for which tax credits are extended for five years. In conjunction with timely and decisive permitting decisions from the federal government, this will propel a giant, job-creating investment in offshore wind along the Atlantic coast. Also included in the tax credit package are more modest extensions for solar and onshore wind, energy efficiency investments, and carbon capture and storage. On top of that, the bill steps up funding for the Department of Energy. Especially important is a $2.9 billion authorization for ARPA-E, a DOE program that funds cutting edge research and development for clean energy. Read MORE.
Lakota People’s Law Project, Dec 17: Deb Haaland chosen For Secretary of The Interior
For the first time in U.S. history, a Native American person was nominated to fill a Cabinet position when Joe Biden tapped Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) to serve as his Secretary of the Interior. We all share in this victory for Indigenous rights, and I can’t thank Lakota Law supporters like you enough for lending your voices. Nearly 9,500 of you signed our petition to Biden’s transition team in support of Congresswoman Haaland! Today, they made the right call. Once she’s confirmed, Rep. Haaland will bring valuable experience to the executive branch as both a legislator and an Indigenous woman. A 35th-generation New Mexican and member of the Pueblo of Laguna Tribe, she’s already served in Congress on a committee overseeing the Department of the Interior. As a Native person, she’ll bring a new perspective to the position, which is responsible for the federal government’s relationship with tribal nations and has a large role in determining domestic environmental and land use policy. WEBSITE
Environment America: Common Ground Exists Despite Political Divides
“A new report from U.S. PIRG, Environment America and Frontier Group, entitled Moving Forward Together, shows that there is more common ground among the American public than the partisan nature of modern politics suggests. It also highlights the urgent need to bring Americans together to solve problems. The report lays out 12 policy areas that bridge the partisan divide and offer potential for real reform. Some of those include cutting wasteful spending, improving gun safety, offering clean energy tax credits, increasing government transparency and giving Americans the right to repair the things that we own. “Polarization is the bedrock problem that is preventing us from addressing America’s other problems,” said Frontier Group Director Susan Rakov. “The good news is that despite the heat of our current political debate, Americans actually agree on a lot of core issues. By daring to venture across the political divide and find compromise on areas of public concern, leaders can get important work done for the American people and that work itself will forge a pathway out of the nation’s dangerous, counterproductive and toxic polarization.” Learn MORE.
Earthjustice, Dec 9: Montana Supreme Court Deals Final Blow to Mining Plan Near Yellowstone
“A giant gold mining project proposal near Yellowstone National Park is officially dead, and Montanans’ right to stop such unlawful projects is upheld, with far-reaching impacts. Paradise Valley, the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park, is officially now safe from a destructive mining project after the Montana Supreme Court ruled a Canadian company’s bid to mine for gold is illegal. Earthjustice brought a case challenging the mine on behalf of two local organizations. In its December 2020 ruling, the court found that the state acted illegally when it permitted mineral exploration. The court said Montana overlooked harm to wildlife and failed to provide a plan to prevent pollution of groundwater and streams. The justices further ruled unanimously that a provision in Montana Environmental Policy Act that stripped Montanans of the ability to stop such unlawful projects was unconstitutional. This outcome will have far-reaching impacts on challenges to mining and other industrial projects in Montana.” Read MORE.
Medium: 60 of the most powerful photos taken this year
A breathtaking selection from the International Photography Awards. See them HERE.
EcoWatch, Dec 10: NY Pension Fund Will Divest From Fossil Fuels
New York state’s pension fund will sell all its fossil fuel stocks in the next five years and all shares from companies that contribute to climate change by 2040, the state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Wednesday. It is the most aggressive divestment target set by any U.S. pension fund by a decade. New York will also push companies in which it invests to take action to reduce their global warming pollution. New York is one of the world’s largest investors, with $226 billion in assets, and its move could accelerate global markets’ shift away from oil and gas companies. DiNapoli had resisted calls to divest from fossil fuels out of caution for the investment returns relied upon by the more than 1 million state and municipal workers who rely on the pension fund. The decision to expunge the pension fund of fossil fuel stocks and other companies that contribute to climate change, he said, was driven by the need to protect the fund’s long-term value. Learn MORE.
Nat Geo: A grassroots push to save disappearing birds and bees forces change in Germany
All across Europe, species are disappearing, and nowhere faster than on agricultural lands. Since 1990, the populations of common farmland birds and grassland butterflies, for example, have dropped by more than a third. Bees, which play a central role in pollinating crops, have suffered such dramatic population declines that the European Union banned neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that harms them. But a fresh wind is blowing across this damaged landscape. The EU, which positions itself as a world leader on environmental issues, has lately recognized its failure to promote a food system that safeguards nature. And over the last couple of years, several regions have shown how the declines in wildlife populations might be reversed—with Bavaria a leading example of the trend. That this would happen in the most conservative state in Germany is surprising. The way it happened suggests to conservationists like Schӓffer that broader change is afoot, because the move was propelled by a groundswell of public support. Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Court Nixes Trump’s Greenlight of Arctic Oil Scheme
“In a magnificent win for the wild Arctic, a federal appeals court on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s approval of what would have been the first offshore oil-drilling development located fully in federal Arctic waters. Hilcorp Alaska got approval in 2018 to build and operate its controversial “Liberty” project, an artificial drilling island and underwater pipeline that could have spilled oil into the sensitive Beaufort Sea and harmed Arctic wildlife and communities. Conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit to stop it.” “This is a huge victory for polar bears and our climate,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center. “This project was a disaster waiting to happen that should never have been approved. I’m thrilled the court saw through the Trump administration’s attempt to push this project through without carefully studying its risks.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Dec 1: Beavers Build First Dam in England’s Somerset in More Than 400 Years
“England’s Somerset county can now boast its first beaver dam in more than 400 years. The dam is the work of Eurasion beavers who were reintroduced to the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate in Exmoor National Park at the start of 2020, The Independent reported Monday. The beavers began to build the small structure in October, and video cameras caught them gnawing on trees and gathering vegetation for the dam. “It might look modest, but this beaver dam is incredibly special – it’s the first to appear on Exmoor for almost half a millennium and marks a step change in how we manage the landscape,” National Trust project manager Ben Eardley told BBC News. “What’s amazing is that it’s only been here a few weeks but has created an instant wetland.” The beavers weren’t just re-released for the cute factor. These river-dwelling rodents are also a natural solution to the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.” Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Dec 1: Bank of America Promises It Won’t Fund Arctic Drilling
After ongoing pressure from environmental groups and Indigenous communities, Bank of America has said it will not finance any oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, making it the last major U.S. financial institution to do so. The decision is especially significant because outgoing President Donald Trump has opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to fossil fuel exploration, and is rushing to sell leases for drilling in the refuge before leaving office. “It has long been clear that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would trample Indigenous rights, threaten vulnerable wildlife, and worsen the climate crisis. Now that every major American bank has stated unequivocally that they will not finance this destructive activity, it should be clearer than ever that any oil company considering participating in Trump’s ill-advised lease sale should stay away,” Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative Ben Cushing said in a press release responding to the news. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 30: ‘Major Hurdle’ Cleared as Youth Activists Advance Historic Climate Case
An unprecedented climate lawsuit brought by six Portuguese youths is to be fast-tracked at Europe’s highest court, it was announced today. The European Court of Human Rights said the case, which accuses 33 European nations of violating the applicants’ right to life by disregarding the climate emergency, would be granted priority status due to the “importance and urgency of the issues raised.” This is the first climate lawsuit to be filed with the international court in Strasbourg, France, and campaigners say the decision represents a major step towards a potential landmark judgment. Learn MORE.
UCSC, Nov 30: UCSC Science team wins gold, nominated for best environmental project
Thirteen undergraduates were recognized for their research accomplishments at the world’s largest competition in synthetic biology. Last week, after months of both in-person lab work and virtual collaboration, the UC Santa Cruz iGEM team joined 248 teams from around the world in presenting their synthetic biology projects at the annual iGEM Jamboree. At the conclusion of judging on Sunday, their project to create a biodegradable agricultural plastic out of cellulose was awarded a gold medal and nominated as one of the best environmental projects in the competition. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 30: 6 Grassroots Activists Win ‘Green Nobel Prize’
“Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in a virtual ceremony this year. Dubbed the “Green Nobel Prize,” this award is given annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continents. This year’s winners include an Indigenous Mayan beekeeper who led a coalition to ban genetically modified soy in seven Mexican states, a French activist who pressured France’s three largest banks to stop financing coal, a woman who harnessed youth activism to enact a ban on single-use plastics in the Bahamas, an Indigenous Waorani woman who organized legal action preventing oil extraction in a huge expanse of Amazon rainforest, an Indigenous Karen organizer who spearheaded the formation of the world’s first peace park in an active conflict zone, and an activist who prevented the construction of what would have been the first coal-fired power plant in Ghana.” Read MORE.
Anchorage Press, Nov 18: Court upholds protection of brown bears in the Kenai Refuge
A coalition of groups hailed a federal court decision Nov. 13, that upheld a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that enshrines the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s long-standing prohibition on brown bear baiting, along with its decades-long approach of managing the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area for wildlife viewing and education. The decision confirms that the Fish and Wildlife Service necessarily has the authority to manage wildlife on lands it oversees and to set management priorities within Refuges (including emphasizing wildlife viewing). “The court soundly rejected the continuing attempts of the State of Alaska and Safari Club trophy hunters to decimate the iconic wildlife populations of our magnificent Kenai National Wildlife Refuge,” said Dr. David C. Raskin, president of the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. “The science-based regulations in the 2016 Kenai rule uphold the legal obligation of the Fish and Wildlife Service to maintain wildlife populations in their natural diversity. This is a great victory for intelligent management for the long-term benefit of wildlife for all Americans to enjoy and cherish.” Read MORE.
John Kerry Signs Paris Agreement With Granddaughter on Lap
Environment America, Nov 23: U.S. set to retake global leadership on climatE
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday named former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from Massachusetts John Kerry the “climate czar” for the incoming administration. Biden has cited “the battle to save the climate” among his top five priorities. As the special presidential envoy for climate, Kerry will lead the administration’s efforts on global warming from a seat on the National Security Council. Although Kerry will not be our nation’s first climate czar (the position was held by former EPA Administrator Carol Browner in the Obama administration), it is the first time the National Security Council will include an official dedicated to climate change. Read MORE.
New York Times. Nov 25: Destructive Pebble Mine Denied
The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, likely dealing a death blow to a long-disputed project that aimed to extract one of the world’s largest deposits of copper and gold ore, but which threatened breeding grounds for salmon in the pristine Bristol Bay region. The fight over the mine’s fate has raged for more than a decade. The plan was scuttled years ago under the Obama administration, only to find new life under President Trump. But opposition, from Alaska Native American communities, environmentalists and the fishing industry never diminished, and recently even the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., a sportsman who had fished in the region, came out against the project. The Army Corps’ Alaska District Commander, Col. Damon Delarosa, said the mine, proposed for a remote tundra region about 200 miles from Anchorage, would be “contrary to the public interest” because “it does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines.” Learn MORE.
The Optimist Daily, Nov 20: UK to ban sale of new gas-powered vehicles in 2030
The UK is on track to phase out fossil-fuel-powered vehicles sooner than any other major economy with this week’s announcement that it will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in 2030. The ban on polluting vehicles will be introduced five years earlier than previously planned, although it will allow the sale of hybrid vehicles until 2035. The new vehicle standards are part of a larger “green industrial revolution” which includes £12 billion of government investment into climate change mitigation initiatives. To support the electric vehicle transition, the UK will fund the expansion of charging points, battery efficiency research, and subsidize electric vehicles to make them as affordable for consumers as traditional combustion engines. Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 19: World’s Most Remote Island Creates Largest Atlantic Ocean Sanctuary
“To reach Tristan da Cunha, a UK overseas territory with population of 250, one must make a seven-day boat trip from South Africa, reported National Geographic. The island chain recently announced that 700,000 square kilometers (270,271 square miles), or 90% of its territorial waters, will be designated as a large marine protected area (MPA) to safeguard the area’s rich biodiversity and endangered animals, The Guardian reported. At that size, it will be three times the size of Britain, the largest marine sanctuary in the Atlantic and the fourth largest in the world, providing refuge to sevengill sharks, whales and seals, AP News continued.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 17: Dozens of Faith Organizations Divest From Fossil Fuels
“Climate action campaigners applauded Monday after 47 faith institutions from 21 countries announced they would divest from fossil fuels, marking the largest-ever joint divestment by religious leaders in history. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, gave credit to campaigners in the fossil fuel divestment movement, who in recent years have pressured banks, universities, and other entities to cut financial ties with the fossil fuel sector in an effort to help mitigate the planetary emergency.” Learn MORE.
Environment America: TD Bank adopts policy against drilling in the Arctic
TD Bank is the latest financial institution to announce that it will not fund oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bank, the second largest in Canada, ruled out providing financial resources for any oil and gas related activities that fall within the Arctic Circle, where the refuge is located. TD cited the importance of the area to fragile wildlife populations and the risks from climate change as the main reasons for the decision. TD joins six other large banks that have made similar commitments to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “Companies are increasingly getting the message: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must not be spoiled by drilling.” said Environment America Conservation Advocate Alex Petersen. ”It is one of the last pristine wilderness areas on Earth. It’s home to caribou, denning polar bears, and migratory birds from all 50 states and six continents. TD is doing the right thing by announcing they won’t finance a project that would be so damaging to the environment. We need more nature in this country, not more oil rigs.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, Nov 12: Clean energy hit record growth in 2020, despite Covid-19
“According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), 90 percent of new electricity generation is coming from renewable sources—despite the coronavirus pandemic. Gas and coal, on the other hand, only accounted for 10 percent of new electricity generation. The IEA report indicated that clean energy is on pace to become the largest power source in 2025, ending a 50-year reign from coal. The new report also highlights that the US is one of the world’s biggest markets for renewables and that deployment could accelerate even faster if the next presidential administration implements policies in line with the Paris Agreement. ‘Renewable power is defying the difficulties caused by the pandemic, showing robust growth while other fuels struggle,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “The resilience and positive prospects of the sector are clearly reflected by continued strong appetite from investors.'” Learn MORE.
Medium: 40 Stunning Nature Photos, Up Close and Personal
The breathtaking results of this year’s Close-Up Photographer of the Year competition. The winners of this second annual competition were chosen from over 6,500 submissions from 52 different countries. The competition seeks to reward the very best close-up, macro, and micro photographs that “help us see the world anew,” and this year it awarded prizes in multiple categories, including “Animals,” “Insects,” “Plants and Fungi,” “Micro,” “Intimate Landscape,” and “Young.” See them HERE.
EcoWatch, Nov 12: Biden Can Leverage Larger Trends to Make Climate Progress
“Joe Biden’s election creates an exciting opportunity for climate action… He has the advantage of the tide moving in the direction of clean energy. Market forces are shifting strongly away from fossil fuels and toward renewables and energy storage. State governments are moving in the same direction. And public opinion has shifted, with more people recognizing the importance of climate change and the benefits of clean energy. The trick will be to leverage these trends into faster and larger changes. I’d advocate a three-pronged approach to take advantage of these trends: (1) aggressive use of established regulatory tools; (2) funding to improve and deploy new technologies; and (3) government support for state and private sector climate efforts.” Read MORE.
National Geo: Colorado Votes to Re-introduce Gray wolves
“For the first time ever, a state’s voters decided to reintroduce an animal into the ecosystem. In the 1940s, gray wolves were hunted, trapped, and poisoned to extinction in Colorado, often with the help of the government. Last week, Coloradans voted to allow a suitable population of the wolves to settle again in the Rocky Mountain state, Douglas Main reports. The vote was close, with opponents fearing the wolves would kill elk and cattle. Advocates point to the successful reintroduction of wolves to the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, where only one in 10,000 cattle in wolf-occupied counties are killed by the predators on average.” Learn MORE.
E & E News, Nov 13: Conservation Jobs Program Legislation
Another member of Congress has introduced legislation to launch a new conservation jobs program as part of the pandemic recovery effort. The concept has gained traction among members of both parties even as negotiations over the next phase of federal COVID-19 relief remain stalled — and one that advocates might also push to have included in a year-end spending bill. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) yesterday announced he would champion the House version of S. 4538, the “Restore Employment in Natural and Environmental Work (RENEW) Conservation Corps Act,” which Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced in the Senate in September. The legislative proposal would create a Civilian Conservation Corps modeled after the highly successful Depression-era program of the same name, which provided employment and job training to 3 million Americans between 1933 and 1942. Read MORE.
Nature Conservancy: 2020 Ballot Measures – Seven States, $2.2 Billion for Conservation
In 2020, voters in seven states passed ballot measures that secured public funding and forward-looking policies to protect nature near them and help address climate change. These measures total $2.2 billion for conservation, including: Texas – providing $75M to protect the Edwards Aquifer; Michigan voters passed Prop 1 to protect the state’s water, wildlife and parks; Colorado passed: new funding to ensure there is enough clean water for biodiversity, farmers, ranchers, and citizens alike along with water education programs; Portland, Oregon voters approved $200 million in additional funding for the parks bureau, which manages natural areas throughout the city and provides recreational opportunities; The City of Denver passed a measure that would provide $720 million over the next 20 years for climate programs such as energy efficiency, transportation, and environmental justice priorities. Read about several more HERE.
Center For Biological Diversity: South Carolina Is a Safer Place for Native Turtles
“The Center has been working for years, state by state, to stop the dangerous and devastating harvest and selloff of freshwater turtles across the country. Hundreds of thousands of these vulnerable wild creatures are exported from the United States every year for the Asian food and medicinal markets and the pet trade. This week we and our allies had great news out of South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill banning commercial trade of native turtles. “We’re thrilled South Carolina has taken this meaningful step,” said the Center’s Elise Bennett. “This law will raise the state out of a morass of turtle trafficking and make it a safe haven for wild turtles.” Read MORE.
Center for Food Safety: Court Rules Against FDA Approval of Genetically Modified Salmon
During these turbulent times, we are thrilled to let you know a piece of good news! Yesterday, a federal court ruled in favor of Center for Food Safety’s lawsuit that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated core federal laws when it approved the first-ever genetically engineered (GE) animal: a GE salmon! This decision is a huge victory for wild salmon, the environment, and our fishing communities. The court ruled that FDA failed to analyze the serious risks to endangered salmon and other environmental impacts of this novel GE fish. The court declared FDA’s failures violated both the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Learn more HERE.
Nature, Oct 21: The Diabolical Ironclad Beetle
The aptly named diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being pecked by birds and even run over by cars. When early entomologists tried to mount them as specimens, BBC News explained, that exoskeleton would snap or bend their pins. “This beetle is super tough,” Purdue University civil engineer Pablo Zavattieri told The Associated Press. Now, in a study published in Nature Wednesday, Zavattieri and a team of scientists have discovered exactly what makes the diabolical ironclad beetle so strong. The diabolical ironclad beetle is found in the forests of North America’s Pacific coast! It has lost the ability to fly, so its super-strong exoskeleton is evolution’s compensation for the fact that it can’t flee its predators. Learn MORE.
Oceana delivers $1 million to end California’s deadly drift gillnet fishery
Oceana transferred $1 million to the state of California to end the destructive swordfish drift gillnet fishery, which, for years, killed more dolphins than all other U.S. West Coast and Alaska fisheries combined. The money will be used to implement the 2018 law – which passed following campaigning by Oceana – that established a program to destroy and recycle the nets, compensate fishermen, and incentivize the use of cleaner gear to catch swordfish. Learn more HERE.
Oregon’s last coal plant shuts down Oct 15
The owners of Oregon’s last remaining coal fired power plant shut it down permanently last week. During its operation, the plant was the single worst source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state, pumping nearly 2 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
Environment America: New report shows decade of U.S. renewable energy progress
In 2019, the U.S. produced over 30 times more solar power and more than triple the amount of wind energy than it did in 2010, according to a new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center.. The project, Renewables on the Rise 2020, documents the growth of five key clean energy technologies during the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. In addition to the growth in renewable energy, utility scale battery storage increased 20-fold since 2010, energy consumption per person declined thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and more than one million electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. “America’s growth in clean energy is primarily the result of states taking action,