Conservation & Environment

NASA is defiantly communicating climate change science despite Trump’s doubts

Posted by on Feb 20, 2017 @ 12:53 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

NASA is defiantly communicating climate change science despite Trump’s doubts

If you peruse NASA’s social media feeds dedicated to climate change, you would have no clue a new administration has taken power that has expressed doubts about the reality or seriousness of the issue.

Every day, NASA has dutifully posted updates on Twitter (@nasaclimate) pertaining to climate change science, including some that are in direct contradiction to statements made by President Trump and some of his Cabinet picks.

Steve Cole, a NASA spokesperson, said the change in the administration has not altered how the agency communicates science. “We’re doing our jobs, it’s business as usual,” Cole said.

Trump has long been a global warming doubter, at one point calling it a Chinese hoax. In a November interview with the New York Times, he would only concede there may be “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change.

But last week, and in direct contradiction to Trump, the @NASAClimate Twitter account retweeted a scientific finding that humans are climate change’s dominant cause. “Humans are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces, according to a new study,” the tweet said.

Read full story…

 

Smokies park rangers need citizen science volunteers

Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 @ 9:07 am in Conservation | 1 comment

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are recruiting volunteers to adopt and monitor tree plots.

The volunteers will collect information at tree plots throughout the park as part of an important research project tracking phenology, or cyclic and seasonal biological changes.

For each plot of trees, volunteers will record when trees leaf out and when leaves start to change colors. They may also track the presence of target migratory birds.

The phenology data will help scientists to better understand how plants and animals might be influenced by seasonal variations in climate.

Training for the phenology monitoring project will be held from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg. For those who cannot make it in February or live farther east, an alternate training date will be held from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 11 at Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, N.C.

After training, volunteers will be assigned to a phenology plot where they will collect data multiple times throughout the growing season. Plots are located near parking areas near Sugarlands, Greenbrier and Twin Creeks in Tennessee, and Deep Creek, Fontana Lake, Oconaluftee, Purchase Knob, Cataloochee, Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap and Davenport Gap in North Carolina.

Information collected by volunteers will be entered into a national database that helps scientists answer climate questions throughout the region.

In recent decades, park temperature records show trends that indicate spring has warmed by almost 5 degrees. Monitoring phenology will help park rangers understand how mountain forests are being affected by the earlier springs and subsequent cold snaps.

Those interested in volunteering for the phenology research project can email Natalie Rothenberg at Natalie_Rothenberg@partner.nps.gov or call her at 828-497-1945.

 

Outdoor Retailer convention leaving Utah

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 @ 3:51 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Outdoor Retailer convention leaving Utah

After an unproductive meeting between Gov. Gary Herbert and outdoor recreation business representatives, industry leaders say they hope to find a new location for the Outdoor Retailer shows “as soon as possible.”

“Unfortunately, what we heard from Governor Herbert was more of the same,” according to a written statement by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), which has close ties to the massive, twice-yearly shows in Salt Lake City.

“It is clear that the Governor indeed has a different perspective on the protections of public lands from that of our members and the majority of Western state voters, both Republicans and Democrats — that’s bad for our American heritage, and it’s bad for our businesses. We are therefore continuing our search for a new home as soon as possible.”

The show’s owner, Emerald Expositions, said in a news release that it would not include Utah in its request for proposals from cities hoping to host the trade shows, which bring about 40,000 visitors and $45 million to Salt Lake City each year.

OIA director Amy Roberts said “it is important to our membership, and to our bottom line that we partner with states and elected officials who share our views on the truly unique American value of public lands for the people and conserving our outdoor heritage for the next generation.”

Read full story…

 

Revel in Teddy Roosevelt’s Legacy

Posted by on Feb 16, 2017 @ 12:23 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Revel in Teddy Roosevelt’s Legacy

The next fee-free day of 2017 is just around the corner. In honor of Presidents Day, all national parks will waive their admission fees on February 20. Take advantage of the opportunity at any of the sites that President Theodore Roosevelt helped designate himself or enjoy his lasting legacy which lives on at any of the over 400 parks across the National Park System.

The thought of our 26th president calls to mind a few descriptors: rancher, Rough Rider, Bull Moose, and America’s youngest president, to name a few. Perhaps none are as ubiquitous as President Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy as a conservationist. His foresight while in office and decisive actions instilled the notion of resource preservation in our national psyche.

Though the National Park Service only came into being seven years after the end of Roosevelt’s presidency, many units across the National Park System are linked to him.

Between the parks he established in partnership with Congress and his enactment of the Antiquities Act in 1906, Roosevelt designated 23 sites that would become part of the National Park Service’s purview when it was created in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. Look through these 5 places where you can enjoy the natural, cultural, and historical resources protected now and for future generations, all thanks to President Theodore Roosevelt.

 

Antarctic sea ice shrinks to smallest ever extent

Posted by on Feb 16, 2017 @ 6:42 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Antarctic sea ice shrinks to smallest ever extent

Sea ice around Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest annual extent on record after years of resisting a trend of manmade global warming, preliminary US satellite data has shown.

Ice floating around the frozen continent usually melts to its smallest for the year towards the end of February, the southern hemisphere summer, before expanding again as the autumn chill sets in.

This year, sea ice extent contracted to 883,015 sq miles (2.28m sq km) on 13 February, according to daily data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

World average temperatures climbed to a record high in 2016 for the third year in a row. Climate scientists say warming is causing more extreme days of heat, downpours and is nudging up global sea levels.

At the other end of the planet, ice covering the Arctic Ocean has been at repeated lows in recent years.

Cite…

 

This is what climate change looks like

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017 @ 7:01 am in Conservation | 0 comments

This is what climate change looks like

Two years ago this month, in a well-publicized and much lampooned political stunt, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) brought a snowball to the Senate floor to highlight the “unseasonable” cold and cast doubt on climate change.

The Republican lawmaker would have been hard-pressed to find a snowball anywhere in his home state this past weekend.

Oklahoma just endured a spell of exceptionally hot weather. Mangum, Oklahoma saw temperatures close to 100º F, setting a state record. The average February high in Mangum is 56º F.

It is extremely unusual to see such sweltering temperatures in the dead of winter, but climate change is loading the dice for record-breaking heat. Here, the human fingerprint is clear. Carbon pollution traps heat, warming the planet. This, in turn, shifts the entire distribution of temperatures.

Many people may welcome a temperate day in February, but warm weather in normally cold months disrupts ecosystems. Trees may bloom after an unseasonably balmy spell — and then suffer frost damage when cold weather returns. Flowers may blossom and shed their petals before bees arrive to pollinate them. And the minor destabilizations have a ripple effect, impacting flora, fauna, and the industries built around them.

Cite…

 

The most scenic stretch of the Oregon coast: Boardman State Park

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 @ 2:58 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

The most scenic stretch of the Oregon coast: Boardman State Park

It’s hard to pin down a specific stretch of coastline as the most scenic – isn’t the whole thing beautiful? – but then again, it’s hard to argue against Boardman State Park for the honor.

Officially the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, the 12-mile stretch of coastline runs along the southernmost part of the Oregon coast, encompassing high cliffs, stunning seastacks, beautiful beaches and secret coves.

The area – once slated to become a national park – was established in the 1950s, named in honor of Samuel H. Boardman, the “father” of Oregon’s state park system, on the eve of his retirement.

Boardman was a key figure in the development of public lands in Oregon. He “felt a great responsibility to protects scenery for future generations.”

While many in the state and national government looked at parks as places of recreation, rather than preservation, Boardman was a staunch advocate for conservation and minimal development on park lands, arguing that “strange as it may seem, the more the world civilizes the primitive, the more barbaric we become.”

Read full story…

 

5 possible futures for the EPA under Trump

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 @ 6:29 am in Conservation | 0 comments

5 possible futures for the EPA under Trump

Donald Trump has long talked about reining in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is in charge of enforcing federal laws on air and water pollution. It’s a top priority for his supporters in the fossil-fuel industry.

But there’s still a lot of uncertainty over what, exactly, this will look like. Trump himself has been all over the map on the agency’s future. In Congress, there are bills floating around that would do everything from abolish the EPA to merely curb its powers at the margins. And, while Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, Scott Pruitt, was an ardent foe of Obama’s environmental policies, he’ll face serious legal hurdles in trying to dismantle them all at once.

So, to simplify things a bit, here are five possible futures for the EPA under Trump, based on what we know so far. As noted, some of these scenarios are way more plausible than others — and they’re not all mutually exclusive. But it’s a way of seeing the options.

The possibilities…

 

Free Community Seed Swap

Posted by on Feb 12, 2017 @ 12:09 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Free Community Seed Swap

Sponsored by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy

Every year around this time, anticipation of spring begins with the laying out of garden beds, checking the planting calendar, eyeing the Farmer’s Almanac… and the appearance of seed catalogs to browse and daydream of warmer times.

With that excitement comes; CMLC’s 2017 SEED SWAP – a free sharing of seeds that staff, members, and volunteers have collected over the season. Yup, free – no cost to you, no dollars, and no cents. CMLC has set up a sharing station in the reception area in the main office at: 847 Case St, Hendersonville, NC. There’s a bowl with seed packets you are welcome to give or to take, it’s that easy.

Take some seeds, grow the plants, make notes on the performance if you like, collect the seeds, bring them back to the sharing station, get more seeds, repeat. There are also a few “make your own” seed packets.

If you’re not from Western NC, consider setting up a community seed swap in your neck of the woods.

 

 

National Parks Commemorate African American History Month

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 @ 12:09 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

From the bustling streets of Manhattan to the quiet wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the National Park Service preserves many pivotal, but lesser known, sites related to the African American experience. These places are among the dozens of national parks that convey stories of soldiers, educators, musicians, entrepreneurs, and freed slaves who blazed trails for all to follow. During African American History Month, the National Park Service will laud their accomplishments at hundreds of special events throughout the country, including festivals, concerts, panel discussions, author lectures, guided walks, and ranger programs.

“Tourists and teachers alike are familiar with national parks dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver, the Little Rock Nine, and the Tuskegee Airmen, just to name a few,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “Most know about the great leaders and momentous events associated with the Civil Rights Movement and African American history. However, national parks also introduce us to others who made an impact. Some of them purposely set out to make a difference, others were just going about their lives, but each made a lasting contribution that deserves a spotlight.”

In addition to visiting national parks in person, the National Park Service has many other ways for people to delve deeper into African American history. Learn more at www.nps.gov/aahistory.

Consider discovering one of these ten important African American sites…

 

Revisiting Malheur, one year after the occupation

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 @ 7:08 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Revisiting Malheur, one year after the occupation

Allice Elshoff first saw Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 1959. The 82-year-old, who lives in nearby Bend, Oregon, still goes there “whenever I can get away,” to bird-watch and volunteer. But this spring, on her first visit after the January 2016 occupation by armed anti-federal militants, everything felt surreal, she says: She had to notify refuge staff in advance and stop at the gate for an identification check by armed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees.

There were no other visitors and few employees, so it was unusually quiet. Elshoff, vice chair of the board for the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and a team of volunteers had come to reseed native grasses destroyed when militiamen bulldozed a new road. “It felt good to be there,” she says, working in the place where the Bundy brothers and their supporters did so much damage. “(We were) trying to make things real again. To undo the bad that had been done.”

Today, a year after the occupation, most of Malheur’s 188,000 acres are open to the public again, but the headquarters, museum and visitor center remain closed as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the National Wildlife Refuge System, improves security to the buildings and gates. The agency has already spent $4.3 million repairing damaged buildings, rebuilding kicked-in walls, and cleaning up trash and backed-up toilets.

That’s on top of the roughly $2 million it spent during the takeover placing temporary law enforcement officers at understaffed refuges across the West to help avoid more militia-type occupations. The agency hopes to have the Malheur headquarters open again by early spring, when the Ross’ geese and sandhill cranes arrive.

The cost of the 41-day occupation has only added to the financial burden on a system that has seen repeated budget cuts and staff reductions. Half the refuges in the U.S. lack their own managers, an increase from 2007 when a third of them lacked managers. Law enforcement employees are at an all-time low, leaving refuges across the U.S. vulnerable. And an unfriendly Congress isn’t likely to provide relief, especially in light of the federal hiring freeze imposed by President Donald Trump.

Read full story…

 

The Trouble With Climate Change and Truths We Don’t Like

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 @ 6:56 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The Trouble With Climate Change and Truths We Don’t Like

How does one reconcile the overwhelming evidence that the world’s atmosphere is being disrupted with the perception of the 30 percent of Americans who do not believe in climate change?

Here’s a thought experiment: If there are 10 M&Ms in a bowl, and then you count the 10 M&Ms, you would have to “believe,” right? Many scientists aim to persuade climate skeptics by counting M&Ms — graphs of CO2 concentration, temperature records, and other scientifically observable measurements.

So let’s count: The United States Geological Survey has been measuring Alaska’s Gulkana and Wolverine glaciers for 50 years — the longest continuous glacier research program in North America. Both show the kind of retreat emblematic of significant regional climate change. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that Alaska is losing roughly 75 billion tons of ice annually. That’s a lot of M&Ms.

If the current preponderance of evidence fails to convince skeptics of climate change, then the issue we face is not about facts or evidence, but rather about values — about our call to heal the world.

Nearly 300 years ago, the philosopher David Hume warned in his influential work, A Treatise on Human Nature, against making claims about how the world should be strictly from statements about how the world is. Philosophers call this the “is-ought” problem.

Reactions to climate change like alarmism or blame don’t necessarily follow from climate science. Even if predictions are worrisome — floods, drought, extreme weather — they merely describe the world. Climate activists can commit the is-ought sin by demanding massive behavioral changes like cutting fossil fuels, without equally discussing fairness or wrongdoing. By introducing value-laden rhetoric into the discussion of facts, we open up the facts for debate. So when a climate skeptic doesn’t want to believe that people can influence the climate, he or she might respond by constructing a different description of the world.

Read full story…

 

Patagonia to Withdraw from Outdoor Retailer in Response to Utah Gov. Herbert’s Decision to Rescind Bears Ears Protection

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 @ 12:23 am in Conservation | 1 comment

Patagonia to Withdraw from Outdoor Retailer in Response to Utah Gov. Herbert’s Decision to Rescind Bears Ears Protection

Last month, Patagonia’s founder and CEO, Yvon Chouinard stated, “If [Utah] Gov. Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home. Gov. Herbert should direct his Attorney General to halt their plans to sue and support the historic Bears Ears National Monument. He should stop his efforts to transfer public lands to the state, which would spell disaster for Utah’s economy. He should show the outdoor industry he wants our business – and that he supports thousands of his constituents of all political persuasions who work in jobs supported by recreation on public lands. We love Utah, but Patagonia’s choice to return for future shows will depend on the Governor’s actions. I’m sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation.”

On February 7, 2017, Patagonia followed through:

“Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution on Friday urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument, making it clear that he and other Utah elected officials do not support public lands conservation nor do they value the economic benefits – $12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs – that the outdoor recreation industry brings to their state. Because of the hostile environment they have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah and we are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.“ – Rose Marcario, President and CEO, Patagonia, Inc.

 

The Real Beauty of Forests

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 @ 6:20 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The Real Beauty of Forests

It’s easy to forget all the amazing things forests do for us. Take a few minutes to discover why the trees in America’s National Forests play such a vital role in our world.

The following infographic was provided by the National Forest Foundation. The NFF works with the U.S. Forest Service to care for 193 million acres of National Forests in 42 states + Puerto Rico. They have planted more than 4 million trees in the past ten years through partnerships with individuals and business.

 

 

The Wagon Wheel Project – Nuclear Fracking

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 @ 2:33 am in Conservation | 1 comment

The Wagon Wheel Project – Nuclear Fracking

  A late-1960s Atomic Energy Commission plan to extract Wyoming natural gas with five underground nuclear explosions won strong initial support from the oil and gas industry and the federal government. Finally, however, the idea stalled, thanks to the emergence of more information on possible dangers, to Washington politics, and especially to intense local opposition in Sublette County, Wyo., where the devices were slated to be detonated.

El Paso’s project became part of a joint effort between private industry and the United States Government as part of the Atomic Energy Commission’s Plowshare Program, a project after World War II to help the United States develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses. By the early 1960s, the AEC had approved four nuclear detonations around the West to help extract natural gas.

The first explosion was detonated December 10, 1967 near Farmington in northwestern New Mexico. Operation Gasbuggy, as it was called, was a joint effort of the AEC, the U.S. Department of the Interior and El Paso Natural Gas.

A second nuclear device, this time 40 kilotons, was tested on September 10, 1969, near Rulison, Colorado. Despite public protest and lawsuits filed by environmental groups to stop the nuclear detonation, Project Rulison was set off at Rifle, Colorado. A third nuclear experiment, Project Rio Blanco, also near Rifle, was detonated in May 1973. This project set off three separate 30-kiloton devices simultaneously at depths ranging from 5,838 to 6,690 feet in the same bore hole.

In those same years, another experimental site was being explored. In 1968, El Paso Gas Co. signed a contract with the AEC to study the feasibility of exploding a nuclear device 19 miles south-southeast of Pinedale, 18 miles east-northeast of Big Piney and Marbleton, Wyo., and 10 miles south of Boulder, Wyo. on Bureau of Land Management property leased to the company. Known as Project Wagon Wheel, it, like Operation Gasbuggy, was designed as an experiment to study the effectiveness of nuclear power to extract natural gas.

Read full story…

 

Rebuilding our national parks would advance America’s proudest natural legacy

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 @ 10:59 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Rebuilding our national parks would advance America’s proudest natural legacy

Many of our iconic places are suffering from neglect. From deteriorating roads, bridges and buildings to threatened environmental resources, these natural and historic treasures have fallen into disrepair.

Conditions at most of the 412 National Parks, Battlefields, Monuments and Seashores have worsened in recent years because administrations and Congress have continually shortchanged parks’ capital budgets. The impact of so little investment in restoring key infrastructure has left a $12 billion dollar backlog to get parks, cultural sites and historic monuments into good shape, according to the latest National Park Service report on deferred maintenance.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that mold and rodents contaminated a visitor center at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin; a broken sewer line spilled raw sewage into Yosemite National Park’s streams; and the Grand Canyon’s only source of drinking water an 83-year old pipeline breaks regularly.

While national parks visitation is climbing (about 325 million this year, equivalent to the entire population of the United States!), the beleaguered stewards who care for parks just can’t stay ahead of the deterioration. Budget and staffing shortages threaten the maintenance of natural resources and potentially place the safety of park visitors at risk.

To rescue national parks from this crisis, a bold new initiative must be undertaken.

Here’s how it might work…

 

FAQ: The effects of WNC’s 2016 fall fire season

Posted by on Feb 4, 2017 @ 12:20 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

FAQ: The effects of WNC’s 2016 fall fire season

Did the fires hurt wildlife?

The impact will unlikely be large enough to affect overall populations, and long-term the fires will result in a flush of green in the understory that will ultimately benefit wildlife.

Will the fires increase the chance of flooding and landslides?

With more than a month elapsed since the report’s Dec. 12 completion and multiple heavy rains in the rear-view mirror, there haven’t seemed to be any issues. Many areas that the team completing the report initially observed to have water-repellent soil seem to be absorbing water much more readily.

Is a spring fire season likely?

To a degree, the fire season could depend on the scruples of people in the area. Of the 20-plus fires that burned through WNC last fall, only one is thought to have resulted from natural causes. The rest were caused by humans, either accidentally or on purpose.

How did the fires affect the Appalachian Trail?

South of the Smokies, 58 miles of the A.T. run through North Carolina. Of those 58 miles, 26 miles were part of the burned area. Of those 26 miles, about 90 percent experienced pretty mild burning, about the same level you’d get with a prescribed burn. However, about 10 percent burned hot, consuming wooden anti-erosion features on the trail and creating hazards like holes in the ground and dead trees.

More questions and details here…

 

Congressman who introduced national parks drilling bill got $250K from Big Energy

Posted by on Feb 4, 2017 @ 9:25 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Congressman who introduced national parks drilling bill got $250K from Big Energy

It’s safe to say that Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) is no friend of environmentalists. He boycotted Pope Francis’s speech to Congress in 2015 because the pontiff addressed climate change. He received a score of 3 percent that year from the League of Conservation Voters, significantly below the House average of 41 percent.

But his latest move came as a surprise to many. Gosar submitted a resolution this week that threatens to repeal the National Park Service’s authority to manage private drilling for oil, gas and minerals at 40 national parks, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. Under what are known as the 9B rules, the Park Service, which controls the surface of natural parks, can decline drilling rights to parties that own resources beneath the surface if it determines that the operation would be an environmental threat.

“The resolution is just the latest in a series of moves by federal lawmakers to weaken environmental protections for national parks under the Congressional Review Act,” said the association, a nonprofit watchdog for parks. “If these repeals are signed into law … it will not only stop these protections, it will also prohibit agencies from issuing similar rules and protections in the future, unless directed by Congress.”

Gosar, who has received nearly $250,000 in donations from the energy and national resource sector in his four Congressional elections, was recently appointed to chair the House Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals. He claimed that the updated regulation is cumbersome governmental overreach that stifles job growth and energy production.

Read full story…

 

Nantahala’s Panthertown Valley to grow, improve access

Posted by on Feb 3, 2017 @ 1:04 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Nantahala’s Panthertown Valley to grow, improve access

As president of the nonprofit Friends of Panthertown, Margaret Carton has worked for years to protect her beloved Panthertown Valley in Jackson County.

As the “feet on the ground,” the group has worked since 2005 to maintain trails, install steps around waterfalls to create safe footing, and give educational programs.

With a deal underway with Mainspring Conservation Trust and the U.S. Forest Service, the friends group will get to care for a bigger chunk of Panthertown.

If fundraising is successful, the Mainspring land trust is set to purchase a 16-acre, privately owned parcel known as the Hipp property, at the west entrance to Panthertown Valley. The valley comprises 6,295 acres of recreation area in the Nantahala National Forest. The parcel is a prime piece of real estate.

The 16-acre property contains a knoll that looks into the rugged and rolling hills of the protected Panthertown Valley, which is open to hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping and horseback riding.

Read full story…

 

House Votes to Repeal Stream Protection Rule

Posted by on Feb 2, 2017 @ 6:06 am in Conservation | 2 comments

House Votes to Repeal Stream Protection Rule

  I am disgusted… for dozens of reasons, but let’s talk about the Stream Protection Rule.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) of the Department of the Interior studied the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining for nearly the entire length of the Obama Administration, fielding more than 100,000 requests for comment. On December 20, 2016 they released the Stream Protection Rule, a regulation of the industry based on the results of their impact studies.

OSMRE introduced the Stream Protection Rule to improve the balance between environmental protection and providing for the Nation’s need for coal as a source of energy. The final rule better protects streams, fish, wildlife, and related environmental values from the adverse impacts of surface coal mining operations and provides mine operators with a regulatory framework to avoid water pollution and the long-term costs associated with water treatment.

On February 1, 2017 the U.S. House of Representatives voted 228-194 to repeal the rule a mere six weeks after it went into effect.

If you aren’t familiar with mountaintop removal coal mining, here is a brief explaination. Rather than constructing mine shafts to dig deep into the earth to extract coal, the mining companies now simply blow up the top of Appalachian Mountains to get to the coal.

They’ve been doing it for decades. It’s bad enough that this process leaves ugly scars on the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, but all of the trees and dirt and rock from the former mountaintop has to go somewhere. Prior to the Stream Protection Rule, the surface mining operators would fill up the surrounding valleys and hollows with the debris. You know what’s in those hollows? That’s right… streams and creeks, and fish and wildlife.

Water is the lifeblood of the mountains and forests. When you cover it up with tons and tons of dirt and rock it completely changes the ecology for thousands of years. And for what? To make it easier for a dying industry to extract fossil fuel that isn’t even in demand anymore. I call it double pollution, and it’s why I’m so disgusted.

Mountaintop removal mining will continue to unnecessarily provide coal as a source of energy further exacerbating the negative effects on the environment and climate. Plus the disposal of the tailings and other waste from the process destroys the streams and wildlife that are so important to future generations of humans for their existence.

The almighty dollar seems so important to the U.S. Representatives that man’s ability to sustain himself is imperiled by shortsighted decisions like this. The U.S. Senate will be taking up this repeal in the coming days. If you have any hope for your grandchildren’s ability to exist in an environment with clean air and water, please contact your senators. The Stream Protection Rule depends on it.

 

Update February 2, 2017 @ 3:00 PM: Sadly the Senate just also voted to overturn the Stream Protection Rule 54-45. Now it only awaits the President’s signature.