The Big Three and You

Bush's Legacy. Er, Impala

Bush's Legacy. Er, Impala

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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.

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.

Electing Morons

Thanks, Libba!