Weekly News Roundup – December 16, 2011

Want to know what National Wildlife Federation was up to this week? Here is a recap of the week’s NWF news:

Budget Deal Reflects Process Tilted Towards Special Interests

December 16 – Congressional leaders announced a budget deal today and are reportedly considering on a two-month extension of a payroll tax break.

“There’s no doubt this bill has come a long way since we started 2011 with the truly appalling House Appropriations Committee budget, reflecting outrage across the country over its attacks on wildlife, air, water and public health, including deep cuts in conservation investments,” Adam Kolton, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s National Advocacy Center.

BP Moves From Cleanup to Restoration Phase

December 15 – One and a half years after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, BP is officially ending its cleanup operations on the Gulf Coast. Unless officials can prove that newly discovered oil came from the company’s well, they will no longer be responsible for cleaning it up. The plan was approved by the Coast Guard and while cleanup operations are coming to an end, BP has $1 billion set aside for the commencing restoration phase. Biologists and wildlife advocates say the end of the cleanup is an important milestone but the recovery and disaster is far from over.

Local Restoration Project Shows Birds and People Can Share Tiny Island

The City of Orange Beach, Ala. wants to fix Robinson Island — all 0.02 square miles of it.

“I believe in the small, local projects,” said Phillip West, coastal resource manager for the city. “Some folks say it’s a whole lot better to protect big spaces. I get that. But we’re in a largely urban environment. You can’t tell me that pocket wetlands or pockets of habitat spaced throughout [the area] don’t serve a meaningful role. We’re in this neotropical migratory songbird flyway and they don’t want to just land on condo roofs,” he said.

National Wildlife Federation Introduces Game Apps for Kids

December 14 – Raccoons are among the most adaptable of all animal species, and the National Wildlife Federation’s  raccoon mascot, Ranger Rick, is showing his adaptability as he enters the digital world. For over 40 years, Ranger Rick magazine has entertained and educated generations of children about the wonders of nature. Now, NWF is introducing game apps for kids so they can continue to have fun while learning about wildlife and wildlife habitat in a new delivery platform.

“National Wildlife Federation knows kids are into their electronic devices,” said Mary Dalheim, Editorial Director of Children’s Publications for NWF.

Groups Praise Quick Release of Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Plan

December 14 – Groups working on Gulf Coast restoration praised the quick release of a Draft Phase I Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment today by the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees.

“The trustees rightly recognize the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy that puts BP’s $1 billion down payment on the Natural Resource Damage Assessment to work quickly restoring Gulf ecosystems and communities that were impacted by the oil disaster,” said a joint statement by Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy and Oxfam America.

Groups Appeal Decision Allowing Dangerous Mine to Move Forward

December 12 – A coalition of groups is appealing a court decision that has allowed a dangerous mine to proceed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—despite the threat the mine poses to water quality, the Great Lakes and one of the region’s last spawning grounds for the coaster brook trout.

The Huron Mountain Club, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, National Wildlife Federation and Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve filed the motion with the Michigan Court of Appeals today. The groups are opposing the mine on the grounds that it poses unacceptable risks to water and air quality—and that it could collapse, endangering workers and the river it is underneath.

84% of Florida Voters Support Bill to Spend BP Fines on Gulf Restoration

December 12  – Eighty-four percent of Florida voters and 92 percent of Panhandle voters support a bill approved by a Senate committee that would ensure the BP oil spill fines are spent on Gulf restoration, according to a new poll released today at news conferences in Tallahassee and Pensacola. The poll also showed 75 percent of Florida voters and 82 percent of Panhandle voters are more likely to support candidates who back the legislation.

And here are highlights from NWF in the News:

For more, visit www.nwf.org/News

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Published: December 16, 2011