LAST MINUTE BUSH IDEAS

As The Tall Twin says, Bush and his thugs are pulling so much last minute atrocities that it’s hard to keep up. But Tall Twin is trying to hit some of the ones that hit her the hardest.  Hit all of us, really, since his attempt to do in the Clean Air Act (and a national park or two) is pretty hard to choke down.  Now, without further ado, here’s the Tall One:
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If you’re planning on visiting a national park or wilderness area you’d better do it now. It looks like a new rule that will relax air quality standards and weaken the Clean Air Act is on the way. The Environmental Protection Agency plans to make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and more near “Class 1 areas.” If the new rule is enacted it could ease the way for the construction of at least two dozen coal-fired utilities within 186 miles of 10 national parks.

Here’s how the rules work now. Pollution levels near national parks are measured over 3-hour and 24-hour periods so they can isolate emission spikes during peak energy demand. Those spikes are what might violate current law and they are what really need to be monitored. The new idea is to average emissions annually. This will mask those dreaded spikes. The EPA could issue the final rule as early as this week.

Many national parks already struggle with poor visibility shrouding otherwise spectacular vistas. For example, in the 1930s the view from Skyline Drive in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park was up to 70 miles. Now on some days it’s as little as one mile. Another issue is acid rain, which can pollute water and destroy trees (and even rock formations.)

Mark Wenzler, who directs clean-air programs for the National Parks Conservation Association said, “The administration’s staunch commitment to coal is so deep that they’re willing to sacrifice our national parks on the way out the door.”

It’s true that, as a nation, we need to make the best of our energy resources. Nonetheless, our national parks and wilderness areas are fragile. Decisions that concern their long term health and well being should not be made as a parting shot as the current administration leaves.

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The Watchdog


In about two months the Obama administration will become a reality. Emotionally exhausted voters are trying to keep up with transition news, bailout updates, and Senate recounts and runoffs. In the meantime, the current administration is very very busy passing legislation, changing rules, and shifting political appointees to the ranks of career employees in a process called “burrowing. How cute. We thought it would be a good idea to at least try to keep track of a few last minute moves that aren’t making headlines. A threat to Oregon’s public old growth forests is outlined in the following letter provided by The Wilderness Society.

“The public forests of western Oregon provide enormous benefits to the American people. They are the sources of clean drinking water for many communities, provide hiking, fishing, camping, rafting, and other recreational opportunities not often found on private lands, and provide key habitat for a wide range of wildlife and fish species, especially wildlife that are threatened with extinction such as marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, and wild Pacific salmon.
The plan proposed by BLM for western Oregon public forests will seriously reduce streamside protections, increase clearcuts, and diminish the careful balance of wildlife protections developed through the Northwest Forest Plan. Ancient Forests are scheduled to eventually be logged. The plan unrealistically includes a 43% increase in BLM’s budget, and also depends on the construction of over 1,300 miles of logging roads. The erroneous purpose of the plan is to dramatically increase logging levels. Logging should be focused on restoration projects, and in areas that would benefit by reducing fire threats to homes and property.”

Bush’s Parting Gift


Stop Wolf Slaughter in the Lower 48

There are only a few weeks left before Our President-elect becomes President of the United States. Many people are counting the days. For wolves those weeks are a matter of life and death. This administration is trying to rush through some last minute dsc_0336sbusiness that would lift the current protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states. They were removed from the Endangered Species list for a short time earlier in the year. Before a judge quickly reinstated them, more than 100 of these beautiful animals were slaughtered. District Court Judge Donald Molloy of Montana called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to take the wolf off the list baseless and dangerous. There is no reason to remove wolves from the list. Ranchers are compensated when they lose any livestock to a wolf (which is rare), and “problem” wolves may be shot under the current law.
The introduction of Gray wolves to the ecosystem of Yellowstone has helped to improve the environment there. Wolves are a key predator species. When predators are removed, prey species weaken and are more susceptible to disease. When herbivores increase unchecked, they put tremendous pressure on resources such as water and plant life.
Some hunters complain that wolves decimate the deer population. The numbers refute this. A study by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources showed that wolves kill about 6,000 deer per year, while some 40,000 deer are hit by cars and nearly half a million more are shot by human hunters annually. Those deer killed by cars and hunters are often strong and healthy. Wolves usually cull old, sick and weak animals, which supports Nature’s grand plan of survival of the fittest.
If the wolves are de-listed, management of their populations will be turned over to the states themselves. Will ranchers and hunters seek to preserve viable predator/prey ratios or will they hunt the wolves back into extinction? Do we really want to find out?
The public will have until November 28, 2008, to submit their comments to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov or via U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-Au53; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

http://www.nrdcactionfund.org/

See more at the link above.

Hey, Red AND Blue States, Listen Up!

This is a response to the internet letters from the Blue States to the Red States, and vice versa. The letters, meant to be humorous, are raising hackles and petty arguments in the current political atmosphere.

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Hey Red States and Blue States,

Hold it right there. I have something to say before you start breaking up this country. My name is Unknown and my remains are in a marble tomb near the center of Arlington National Cemetery. There are four of us in this tomb. We died in two World Wars, in Korea, and in Vietnam. We gave our lives for the land we loved and we each came home in a casket draped with the flag of this nation.

Our tomb is in Virginia. The marble for our memorial comes from Colorado, from the same mine that produced the marble for the Lincoln Memorial. We’re in good company here. This is the final resting place for more than 300,000 Americans including soldiers from the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the Civil War and just about every war since.  An eternal flame marks the final resting place of our 35th president John F. Kennedy.  Two astronauts who perished aboard the space shuttle Challenger, Richard Scobee (Washington) and Michael Smith (North Carolina), were laid to rest here. You’ll find the grave of Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, the American writer and activist who was born on a Yankton Sioux reservation. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes is buried here. He was born in Boston and he taught at Harvard. We share this place with innocents who died at the Pentagon and on American Flight 77 on 9/11. You’ll also find a memorial to the 259 American men, women and children from many states who died aboard PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

If you guys split up…who gets Arlington?

Blue States, are you really so ready to give up Ole Miss? That’s a 160 year-old institution. It was one of the South’s first universities to admit women, and the first to hire a female faculty member. James Meredith, a native of Mississippi, courageously endured a great deal of hateful treatment to become the university’s first black student. And what’s wrong with Alabama? It’s the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harper Lee, Hank Aaron, Mia Hamm and Hank Williams. The folks down in Huntsville built the first rocket that put humans on the Moon.

Red States, what have you got against Rhode Island? If it wasn’t for that tiny state you might be having tea and crumpets every afternoon. It was the first of the thirteen original American colonies to declare independence from British rule. Providence is home to the First Baptist Church in America and the first NFL night game! It’s also the home state of George M. Cohan, H. P. Lovecraft, Eileen Farrell and Nelson Eddy.

Let’s be fair about big cities. They have some tough issues, but they are also famous for museums and parks, music, the arts and great sports teams. Miami is home to the Adrienne Arsht Center (the second-largest performing arts center in the nation) and Dolphin Stadium. Atlanta boasts Zoo Atlanta (which is helping to save some of the world’s most endangered species). Don’t forget that St Louis is the home of Anheuser-Busch Breweries (for that frosty mug of brew you talked about Red States). You’ll also find one of those elitist universities in St. Louis. The Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital operate the Siteman Cancer Center and the Genome Sequencing Center. In fact, universities in cities around the nation do cutting edge research in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, birth defects, nerve disorders and much more. And yes, stem cell research is incredibly promising in many of these areas. Think of how you might feel if your doctor were to say, “It’s malignant…but don’t worry. There’s an excellent new treatment from Stanford that can triple your chances of survival.” And for Blue Staters with rheumatoid arthritis…it was a guy from Alabama who first synthesized cortisone.

Why the rush to divvy up this land that includes Big Sur, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Everglades, the Channel Islands, the Grand Canyon and so much more? Why can’t we all share and enjoy the country that gave us B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Marian Anderson, Motown, Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, and yes, Streisand? Who wouldn’t want a Philly cheese steak, a Maryland boiled crab dinner, Tex-Mex, gumbo or a slice of Boston cream pie?

In dark times we have always come through as a nation. Remember that after 9/11 Americans gathered from every corner of this land to help New York City. Firefighters from as far away as Montana trekked to California to fight huge blazes that threatened lives and property there. Rescue dog teams from California have mobilized in hours to help Midwestern victims of tornadoes and floods. After Katrina, as the government dropped the ball, trucks loaded with emergency supplies, and cars loaded with volunteers rolled out of San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and yes, Detroit. We are a nation of heroes ready to help our neighbors. We are a nation of liberal, conservative, and moderate soccer moms, doctors and chefs. Dedicated teachers, caring police officers, honest city officials and schools that achieve academic miracles are not unique to small towns or to big cities. And that volunteer military? The men and women who march into harm’s way to defend this country are from every corner of every state.

So before you start carving up these United States, remember that the spoils will have to include Arlington, and Lexington, Yorktown, Gettysburg, Wounded Knee, Pearl Harbor and every other inch of soil upon which American blood has been shed in our shared history. You’ll have to explain to the spirits of those who died why we can’t seem to muster the courage, the commitment and the respect for our fellow citizens to make this nation work.

Or can we?

Sincerely,

Unknown

The original  internet letters:

Dear Red States

Dear Blue States

Exclusive/original to Political Bunko

Please pass along or repost.

Palin the Polar Bear Whacker

“Film and television star Ashley Judd has lent her voice to our hard-hitting new television ad to educate voters about what Governor Sarah Palin really stands for. But we still need to raise the $150,000 to air this powerful new ad in key battleground states like Ohio, Colorado and Virginia.”

Science vs Sarah

The borders are slippery between Knowledge and Palintology

SCIENCE

Biologists Note Polar Bear Cannibalism

Andrew C. Revkin: Published: June 13, 2006

www.nytimes.com/2006/06/13/us/13brfs-006.html

“Providing hints that a reduction in coastal sea ice may make life difficult for polar bears, government biologists from Canada and the United States say they observed three instances of cannibalism among polar bears in a three-month stretch in 2004 along Alaskan and Yukon coasts. In the journal Polar Biology, the researchers said that no previous examples had been observed in the region in at least 24 years. Computer simulations project that the Arctic Ocean could become largely free of sea ice later in the century in summers if global warming intensifies.”

Global Warming Pushes Polar Bears To Cannibalism

by Mira Oberman Chicago (AFP): Published  Jun 16, 2006

http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Global_Warming_Pushes_Polar_Bears_To_Cannibalism.html

While bears will kill and then eat other bears in fights over territory or females it is extremely rare for them to hunt other bears as prey, Armstrup said. In nearly 40 years of studying polar bears in northern Alaska and Canada, researchers had never observed such behavior.

Agency Proposes to List Polar Bears as Threatened

By Felicity Barringer and Andrew C. Revkin: Published: December 28, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/28/science/28polar.html?_r=1&fta=y&oref=slogin

The International Conservation Union, in its latest red list of endangered wildlife, gave polar bears threatened status in May, projecting a decline of 30 percent by midcentury from current populations, mainly due to projected losses of sea ice in a warming world.

Polar bears are dependent on sea ice as a platform for hunting seals, and as a pathway to coastal areas. The ice shrinkage has meant that polar bears, which are strong swimmers, have had to cover longer distances between ice and land.

They have survived previous Arctic warming periods, including the last warm stretch between ice ages some 130,000 years ago, but some climate experts project that nothing in the species’ history is likely to match the pace and extent of warming and ice retreats projected in this century and beyond, should emissions of heat-trapping gases continue unabated.

SARAH

Palin loves bears

Palin loves bears

Gov. Sarah Palin on polar bears, climate change, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/palin_polarbear_climate_anwr/

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2008

In September 2007 Governor Palin formed the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet and charged it with preparing and implementing an Alaska Climate Change Strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and responding to the effects of climate change.  But Palin opposed listing the polar bear as threatened by global warming and loss of sea ice habitat, in spite of the findings of a scientifically based status assessment put together by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Marine Mammals Management Office in Alaska and the clear requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

“Alaska’s marine mammal scientists agreed last year with federal researchers who concluded polar bears are threatened with extinction because of a shrinking ice cap,” the Anchorage Daily News reported on May 25.  “The state’s in-house dispute seems to refute later statements by Gov. Sarah Palin that a ‘comprehensive review’ of the federal science by state wildlife officials found no reason to support an endangered-species listing for the northern bears.”

SCIENCE

CNN.com/Technology

http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/09/23/arctic.ice/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

The best known consequence of disappearing sea ice in the Arctic is the loss of the polar bear habitat.  Learn more about polar bears and their habitat.

“The Arctic sea ice melt is a disaster for the polar bears,” according to Kassie Siegel, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “They are dependent on the Arctic sea ice for all of their essential behaviors, and as the ice melts and global warming transforms the Arctic, polar bears are starving, drowning, even resorting to cannibalism because they don’t have access to their usual food sources.”

In May, the U.S. Department of Interior listed the polar bear as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. In a news release, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne stated, “loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten polar bear habitat. This loss of habitat puts polar bears at risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future, the standard established by the ESA for designating a threatened species.”

SARAH

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

By SARAH PALIN

Published: January 5, 2008

Juneau, Alaska

ABOUT the closest most Americans will ever get to a polar bear are those cute, cuddly animated images that smiled at us while dancing around, pitching soft drinks on TV and movie screens this holiday season.

This is unfortunate, because polar bears are magnificent animals, not cartoon characters. They are worthy of our utmost efforts to protect them and their Arctic habitat. But adding polar bears to the nation’s list of endangered species, as some are now proposing, should not be part of those efforts.

Read more here   http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/opinion/05palin.html

SCIENCE

Gov. Sarah Palin on polar bears, climate change, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/palin_polarbear_climate_anwr/

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2008

In September 2007 Governor Palin formed the Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet and charged it with preparing and implementing an Alaska Climate Change Strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and responding to the effects of climate change.  But Palin opposed listing the polar bear as threatened by global warming and loss of sea ice habitat, in spite of the findings of a scientifically based status assessment put

Palin endangers wildlife

Palin endangers wildlife

together by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Marine Mammals Management Office in Alaska and the clear requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

“Alaska’s marine mammal scientists agreed last year with federal researchers who concluded polar bears are threatened with extinction because of a shrinking ice cap,” the Anchorage Daily News reported on May 25.  “The state’s in-house dispute seems to refute later statements by Gov. Sarah Palin that a ‘comprehensive review’ of the federal science by state wildlife officials found no reason to support an endangered-species listing for the northern bears.”

SARAH vs SCIENCE

E-mail reveals state dispute over polar bear listing

POLAR BEAR LISTING: Biologists disagreed with administration.

By TOM KIZZIA

tkizzia@adn.com

Published: May 25th, 2008 01:54 AM

http://www.adn.com/news/environment/story/416432.html

A newly released e-mail from last fall shows that the state’s own biologists were at odds with the Palin administration, which has consistently opposed any new federal protections for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act….The e-mail was released…to a University of Alaska scientist who had filed a public records request seeking information on the state’s polar bear decision-making.  Rick Steiner, the university Marine Advisory Program professor who obtained the memo, said it undermines the Palin administration’s scientific defense as well as its claims to being an open government….

“Even the petroleum-loving Bush administration couldn’t find a way around the science on this issue,” Steiner said. “This perpetual denial of environmental harm posture is what gives Alaska a very bad image nationally and globally.”

In its final response to Steiner this month, the state generally withheld all substantive in-house comments on the bears, saying these were private policy discussions among executive officials, a category exempt from release under state public records laws.

Why would someone who doesn’t care about the survival of the polar bear wear a pin in it’s image? It may be a coincidence, but the polar bear happens to be the logo for the Alaskan Independence Party.

Palin's pin
Alaska Independence Party

Alaska Independence Party