Weekly News Roundup- December 6, 2013

What’s happening at National Wildlife Federation this week?


Interior Dept. Wind Permit Rule Insufficient to Protect Eagles

Bald Eagle

Dec 6– The Interior Department is finalizing a new Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act rule that extends the time frame of permits issued to wind energy and other development projects from 5 to 30 years. These permits authorize non-intentional eagle deaths, and extending the permit length effectively restricts the Interior Department’s options for dealing with unanticipated problems.

Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said today:

“Climate change is the single biggest threat to America’s wildlife this century.  Wind energy projects, if properly-sited and carefully-operated, are a critical part of the solution. Given all we know about how to achieve a win-win for wind and wildlife, there’s simply no reason to issue a one-sided permitting rule with such inadequate protections for bald and golden eagles.”

Read the Interior Department’s wind permit rule here.


Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Projects Announced

Dec 6– Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the Natural Resource Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster have announced all of the Phase Three projects from the early restoration agreement with BP and have released a comprehensive Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).

David White of the National Wildlife Federation said in response:

“The unprecedented billion-dollar early restoration agreement was originally announced one year after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and was seen as a way to get started on fixing the damage caused by the disaster while the scientific and legal assessments were being completed.

Find out what the National Wildlife Federation is doing to aid in the recovery of Gulf wildlife, waters, and communities.


Study: Rising Demand of Southeast Trees Puts Wildlife, Biodiversity at Risk

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Dec 5- The rapid development of woody biomass energy facilities in the Southeast U.S. has large implications for regional land cover and wildlife habitat, says a new study by three major Southern universities, released today by National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC).

The Southeastern U.S. is currently experiencing what is likely the world’s most rapid growth in the development of woody biomass energy facilities, with wood pellet exports from Southern ports increasing 70 percent last year—making the Southern U.S. the largest exporter of wood pellets in the world. Forestry Bioenergy in the Southeast United States: Implications for Wildlife Habitat and Biodiversity” is a first-of-its-kind, landmark study which examines the potential wildlife and biodiversity impacts of this expanding industry and points to policy measures that may minimize impacts.

“The surge in demand for southeast trees is being driven by government incentives—here and abroad—designed to encourage renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Julie Sibbing, Senior Director of Agriculture and Forestry Programs at the National Wildlife Federation. “This study shows that wildlife like the brown-headed nuthatch and eastern spotted skunk are at risk from this rapidly growing industry if policies are not put in place to ensure more sustainable sourcing solutions.”

Read the report here.


Alarming Polar Bear Decline a Call to Action on Climate Change

Heat-stressed Polar Bear NWF

Dec 2– Canadian scientists say the steep decline of Western Hudson Bay polar bears continues this year with the population now down 30 percent in the last 25 years, according to a report in The Guardian. Scientists say not only are female polar bears now an average of 88 pounds thinner, those mothers are having fewer and thinner cubs.

Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, just returned from a trip to Hudson Bay and witnessed firsthand the stress that warmer temperatures are putting on polar bears. His polar bear photos are available for use with attribution to National Wildlife Federation.

“It’s heartbreaking to see heat-stressed polar bears digging holes in the dirt, trying to get down to the permafrost to keep cool. And that stress extends to nearby residents, as starving polar bears venture closer to town,” said Schweiger. “The science is clear: Polar bears are paying a steep price for our climate inaction.”

As sea ice hunting grounds recede in the summer, the polar bears of the Western Hudson Bay fast for months at a time. But warming temperatures are extending that ice-free summer fast nearly three weeks, from an average of about 120 days in the 1970s to 140 days in recent years.

Take Action!  Help create a better future for polar bears by sending a letter to the EPA.


And now here are highlights from NWF in the news:

Bloomberg News: Worst-Case Scenario for Oil Sands Comes to Life, WikiLeak Docs Show

As environmentalists began ratcheting up pressure against Canada’s tar sands three years ago, one of the world’s biggest strategic consulting firms was tapped to help the North American oil industry figure out how to handle the mounting activism.

The Hill: Green groups press Interior and EPA on methane emissions

More than 90 green groups across the U.S. are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas industry operations

Bloomberg News: Keystone Backers Await Report Vital to Pipeline’s Fate

Jim Murphy said his best guess is that it will come out early next year. That would give the State Department enough time to address objections raised by critics, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to the draft released in March that found Keystone wouldn’t have a big impact on the climate, he said.

Times-Picayune: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell discusses coastal resiliency in metro New Orleans

“We have a plan, that if implemented, it can change the very slow circumstance that we find ourselves in,” said David Muth, director of the Mississippi River Delta Restoration program for the National Wildlife Federation. “And now, because of the unfortunate spill, we have an opportunity here.”

The Florida Current: Studies focus on drawbacks of biomass energy, benefits of Atlantic Ocean oil drilling

The biomass energy report commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation and the Southern Environmental Law Center raises concerns about natural forests being converted into pine plantations to feed energy plants. Some forests would benefit from thinning, researchers said, but there is a lack of regulation to guide forest management decisions.

Missoula Independent: Bad News for Hunters

According to Doug Inkley, a senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation, the prevalence of EHD could be on the rise.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Climate change affecting big game animals

All species, from deer to black bears to elk, are being affected by climate-caused shifts, such as increasing occurrence of disease and parasites or changes in habitat and food availability.

Bangor Daily News: Feds Tell Portland Pipeline Corp That Any Future Plans to Carry Tar Sands Must Be Reviewed

“We see this as a repudiation of that 2008 letter,” Jim Murphy told the BDN on Monday. “That 2008 letter is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.”

Denver Post: Willoughby: Browns Canyon takes key step toward monument status

“The economy of this valley is really driven by tourism,” said Bill Dvorak, a Nathrop-based river outfitter and regional public lands organizer for the National Wildlife Federation. “Designating Browns Canyon as a national monument would put a star on the map right here.

Shore News Today: Alder Avenue Middle School to be honored for environmental excellence

Alder Avenue Middle School will be honored Friday, Dec. 6 when it is presented with the Green Flag Award – the ultimate international eco accolade –  by the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program.