EPA to eliminate office that advises Agency Chief on Science – NY Times

The EPA has abandoned any pretense at using science to instruct their decisions, made by their chief, who is an ex-coal lobbyist. The corruption in this administration will likely never be duplicated. We have not seen anything like this since the early part of the 1900s. You want to change it? Get out and vote.

 

 

ZINKE ORDERS BROAD ROLLBACK OF WILDLIFE PROTECTIONS

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has announced a “commitment to defer” to state hunting and fishing practices on all lands within agency purview. His order is a stunning abdication of a more than century-old legal foundation of federal primacy for wildlife management on federal lands, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

In a September 10, 2018 Memorandum to Heads of Bureaus and Offices, Zinke declared that henceforth states will be the “first-line authorities for fish and wildlife management” on all Interior lands and that Interior “hereby expresses its commitment to defer to the States in this regard.” To implement this reversal, Zinke directs Interior agencies compile any “regulations, policies, guidance that pertain to public recreational use and enjoyment of fish and wildlife…that are more restrictive than otherwise applicable State provisions” within 45 days. Within 90 days after that, each agency is supposed to recommend steps “to better align its regulations, policies, and guidance with State provisions.”

“This across-the-board abandonment of federal fish and wildlife safeguards is rooted in an ideological stance unsupported by any factual analysis,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, arguing that Zinke ignores the fact that many state game agencies are funded by hunting and fishing license fees and pursue practices, such as predator control, to maximize that revenue. “Federal parks, preserves, and refuges have a mission to protect biodiversity and should not be reduced to game farms.”

A sample of what Zinke’s memo could usher in is reflected by his controversial order that the National Park Service open its Alaska preserves to questionable hunting and trapping techniques, such as killing bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens, luring bears with bait, and shooting swimming caribou from a motorboat. Zinke’s order would put any federal wildlife protection not required by law on a path to repeal. This could mean federal parklands, refuges, and rangelands may have to accommodate states:

• Introducing non-native fish to natural lakes in a park or exotic pheasants for upland game bird hunting;

• Eliminating all wolves or other natural predator populations in a game management area; or

• Approving destructive or dangerous hunting techniques, such as trapping in hiking venues, hunting with dogs even on island refuges, hunting contests, and absence of bag limits.

Zinke’s memo posits the premise that “State governments have consistently demonstrated their commitment to sustaining fish and wildlife resources in perpetuity for the benefit of both current and future citizens.” This statement not only is demonstrably untrue but ignores the conditions leading to enactment of the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Mr. Zinke says that he does not want to give away ownership of federal lands but happily cedes their management,” added Ruch. “With his penchant for sweeping yet ill-considered actions, Ryan Zinke is on a trajectory to become the worst Secretary of the Interior since Teapot Dome.”

Dems speakers address salmon, taxes, elections and wildfires (STEW).

senator cantwell with Alise Moss Vetica

Jefferson Democratic Precinct Committeewoman Alise Moss-Vetica and Senator Maria Cantwell at the 2018 Fish Feast. Photo by Pamela Roberts

The annual Democratic Fish Feast took place at the county fairgrounds Sunday the 19th. While according to officials it was slightly smaller than during the 2016 election year, it still almost filled the dining hall. Keynote speaker Department of Natural Resources head Hilary Franz joined surprise guest, Senator Maria Cantwell, along with 36th District State Representative Noel Frame who is also the Vice Chair of the State House Finance Committee, who is working on state tax issues. Of course, in this election year, State Representatives Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger from the 24th District also gave short speeches to make way for the keynote speakers, along with a number of local county and city politicians.

Senator Cantwell thanked the crowd, describing her narrow win in her first election, back in 2000, by saying it was only a few thousand votes that carried her and the large turnout in Jefferson County, which traditionally has one of the highest voter turnouts in the state, was, in her mind, a reason she won. She went on to discuss the need to get as much done as possible to win back the House and Senate in the fall. Her key topics were her work on helping fund the tug pilots training program here in Port Townsend at the Maritime Center, along with her work to get parental leave into government agencies such as the Coast Guard. She attacked the Trump Administration plans to open drilling off the coast of Washington, and their plans, now abandoned under intense attack, of tripling national park fees. She also reminded the audience that “climate change is real” and that she was supporting research and initiatives to help industries such as the shellfish industry to weather the changes. She also championed the Democrats and her efforts to strengthen healthcare for lower income people. Her message was that the Republicans attempts to exempt pre-existing conditions would lead to massive increases in insurance costs.

Following Senator Cantwell was Hilary Franz, who reiterated the notion that “climate change is real and here now.” Ms. Franz oversees DNR, which manages over 2 million acres of forest land, 1 million acres of agricultural land, 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands, along with the firefighting teams currently engaged in hundreds of fires across the state. She mentioned that 97% of the state is in drought conditions currently, 60 plus days of no rain in much of Western Washington and record temperatures again this year. No part of the state is free from smoke currently. They have been battling over 1100 fires this year, and the end of the fire season is a long way away, possibly into October. The good news is that her teams have used new tactics to lower the amount of acres burned from these fires. The State has spent over $650M in the last four years fighting fires. That is money that could have been used in a variety of more useful ways, or even to have lowered taxes. This is the cost of our inability to effectively stop climate change. Ms. Franz said that in traveling the state she has met people of both parties being impacted by a changing climate, and that they are effected by it almost daily. The question she stated, was “not whether we act but  how we act. We should stop debating whether climate change is real and we need to take the steps to prepare and adapt.”

She went on to discuss the situation with Orcas. She stated that DNR is going to be much more diligent in reviewing lease holders to ensure that fiascos like the net pen failures of last year won’t happen again. Additionally, DNR has fixed all but one of the many culverts that they had blocking returning salmon. She is pushing for more resources to fix culverts on the city, county and state.  She is going to work at a watershed level to restore upland and shoreline areas for salmon habitat beyond what is currently being done.

When this reporter asked her what could be done about the use of glyphosate (Roundup is one), on DNR forest lands, her answer was that while she understands the issue the reporting on it has not understood the legal issues. DNR has legal authority to approve aerial spraying and guiding when and where it will be done, but the authority to determine what is sprayed is the jurisdiction of the federal Department of Agriculture. While she would like to have the authority, all DNR can currently do is manage whether it is appropriate to spray, and how to spray, but not what to spray. DNR apparently cannot stop them from spraying if they follow the rules of spraying. They can only make sure that they have properly planned for it.

She also discussed the Rural Communities Partnership to do a better job of including the needs of rural communities in DNRs planning. This is an effort to reverse the feelings in many rural communities that being ‘environmental’ is bad for the economy and the economy is bad for the environment. Her work is to bring more science to the discussion to help better understand the issues and work closer to the people affected to come up with solutions that are bought into by them.

Another program she discussed is a new effort in Grays Harbor and Ilwaco to better manage derelict vessels. It is looking a public private partnership to remove the vessels and sell off any valuable gear on them, before adding the vessel to the waste stream.

Lastly, she said that her agency was working with the shellfish industry to find alternatives to spraying pesticides on lands where shellfish are harvested, to deal with ghost shrimp problems on the coast. To be clear, from the science that this reporter has read, the problems with ghost shrimp came about after the Columbia was dammed, as the amount of fresh water entering the ocean was reduced in force and size, leading to greater salinity in the area,  which in pre-dam times was able to flush the area, lower the salinity and keep the shrimp in check.

Along with these two women, the crowd heard from 36th district State Representative and  Vice Chair of the House Finance Committee Noel Frame and Democratic Chairwoman Tina Podlowdowski. Rep. Frame is traveling the state to meet with business leaders and other interested individuals to find a way out of our ever increasingly antiquated tax system in the state. She stated that there are over 700 exemptions due to the failure of the system to address the needs of a modern state, and she correctly addressed the fact that small businesses have to pay taxes on their gross, not net. So even if they have a loss they have to pay taxes on money they never profited on.  She is wanting to find a way forward that can fix this without a constitutional amendment.  While our forefathers (and mothers) who crafted our State Constitution were wanting to make a state without an income tax, due to what then appeared to be a inexhaustible amount of natural resources, the current situation, with the vast forests and oceans of salmon reduced to a fraction of their former sizes, it’s time to find a new way forward for our needs that does not put the burden on home owners. There is a building frustration and consensus that this needs to be fixed, and her work is to find a framework that can be agreed upon to do just that.

Ms. Podlowdowski, having taken the helm of the party after the 2016 elections, has gone on to craft a powerhouse for getting new Democratic blood out to run for elections, as well as a long needed campaign strategy to take back every county in the state. Her work has already led to the amazing results in Spokane, where a new Democratic challenger is essentially tied with an established Republican incumbent, along with great results in the 8th and district and others. If the Democrats decisively take over control of more of rural Washington, it will primarily be the work of this woman.

By the way, the acronym STEW is my invention. For your use.

Also covered in the Peninsula Daily News

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/cantwell-franz-address-salmon-orcas-wildfires-in-port-townsend-appearance/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t let politicians kill conservation’s bank account – High Country News

We find ourselves once again trying to save a very valuable resource to many smaller rural communities, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Last year we also fought this battle. So please take a moment to read what this about, and send a letter to your representative asking to remember to save  it.

If you are under 50, you grew up in a country with city parks, zoos, tennis courts and basketball courts funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. If you camp, boat, hunt and fish, you probably use boat ramps and wildlife habitat secured with its money. The fund’s money has supported projects in 99 percent of counties in the United States.

https://www.hcn.org/articles/opinion-dont-let-politicians-kill-the-land-water-conservation-fund?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email

UPDATE FROM REPRESENTATIVE DEREK KILMER:

I wrote to Rep. Kilmer this morning and received the following email reply:

Thank you for contacting me about the importance of supporting conservation of our lands and waters. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

Like you, one of the reasons I enjoy living in our region is because I value the richness of our environment. There wasn’t a summer of my childhood that didn’t involve going hiking in the Olympics or fishing with my dad and my brothers. Those experiences had a profound effect on me, and instilled in me the belief that these treasures are our birthright. We owe it to the generations that have come before and those that will come after – including to my two little girls – to protect the home that’s been left in our care.

One of the ways the federal government supports these efforts is through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 1964. It preserves, develops, and ensures access to outdoor recreation areas and facilities. It provides matching grants to help states leverage their own funds to provide outdoor recreation facilities for their communities. For example, through LCWF grants, the City of Bremerton enhanced Blueberry Park and protected seven acres of wetlands. In Port Angeles, the fund contributed to building a new playground in Shane Park (the park where I played soccer – and lost a lot of games – as a kid). I support this grant program that has helped our region and people across Washington state to enjoy fun, safe recreational facilities and preserve and protect public lands.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) introduced H.R. 502, to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I support this legislation and am proud to be a cosponsor. I feel strongly that this program should be made permanent and should be fully funded.

Since its introduction,the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources where it awaits further action. I am hopeful that the Committee will hold a hearing on it soon so that we can learn more about the importance of the work funded by the LWCF.

Please know that as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, I will continue to be a vocal advocate for the conservation of our lands and waters. We’ve got a lot of work to do to advance these important priorities.

I encourage you to continue to share your views with me on this topic or any other issue. Thank you for reaching out. It is an honor to serve as your representative.

 

Scott Pruitt’s Dirty Politics – New Yorker

William Ruckelshaus, who ran the E.P.A. under Nixon and Reagan, said that Pruitt and his top staff “don’t fundamentally agree with the mission of the agency.” Margaret Talbot reports. (New Yorker) See also: The E.P.A. Says It Wants Research Transparency. Scientists See an Attack on Science. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/climate/epa-scientific-transparency-honest-act.html Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/02/scott-pruitts-dirty-politics

Puget Sound cleanup survives Trump attempt to kill it -Seattle PI.com

Glad to hear that we continue to get money for the clean up of Puget Sound, a project that will take probably as long as it’s taken to pollute it. But the work will continue.

Of course the trade off is that the military budget was given more than ever. And the Navy will likely continue it’s expansion throughout the northwest Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Trump administration failed in its efforts to wipe out money to clean up Puget Sound and other waterways from Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes, as Congress has refused to dry up spending on water programs. Puget Sound gets $28 million as part of $8.08 billion in funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The Trump administration had wanted to slash EPA’s budget to $5.7 billion, in real dollars its lowest spending in 40 years. The money is contained in a mammoth omnibus federal spending bill, passed Thursday by the House of Representatives and due for final action Friday in the Senate. [The bill passed the Senate and awaits the President’s signature.] Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

 https://www.seattlepi.com/local/politics/article/Connelly-Puget-Sound-cleanup-survives-Trump-12775110.php

Governor Signs Ban on Atlantic Salmon

Grateful for all the legislators, tribal leaders and environmentalists who backed and pushed this through. Sad that it took a disaster to get this done, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. Now the lawsuits begin, and Tim Eyman is apparently going to try and get an initiative put in place to overturn this.

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/

The whole bill language is here.

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/2957.PL.pdf

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