As Congress recently adjourned for its August recess, we want to take this opportunity to let you know the positive impact youve had over the past several months. UCS activists have been a critical voice in securing a number of victories this year. Thank you for your tremendous efforts.
Clean, Renewable Energy
In a last minute compromise the Senate passed last year's energy bill (H.R. 6), which included a national standard to require utilities to significantly increase their use of clean renewable energy, like wind and solar. However, the total energy bill has many anti-environmental aspects, and it remains to be seen what the House and Senate conference committee will do to the final bill this fall.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was deluged with thousands of comments from our activists about the need to raise fuel economy standards of SUVs, minivans, and pick-ups. Unfortunately, NHTSA bowed to industry pressure, increasing fuel economy by only 1.5 mpg. During the energy bill debate the Senate voted 99-1 in favor of reducing our oil dependence by 1 million barrels a day by 2013. However, this language was eliminated when last year's bill was voted in. The good news is that last year's bill contained strong, tax credits for hybrid and fuel cell vehicles and a $300 million grant program to help school districts replace their oldest, dirtiest school buses.
Months of intense pressure on fast food companies--and tens of thousands of emails from our activists--paid off. McDonald's announced it will require its meat suppliers to reduce their use of antibiotics. On the legislative front, after encouragement by constituents, Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced a bi-partisan bill to phase out medically important antibiotics from animal agriculture.
Reducing the Threat of Nuclear Weapons
While the White House pushed for development of new nuclear weapons, Congress balked by cutting the President's proposed budget for the dangerous weapons. UCS is now working with congressional allies to turn this temporary victory into law.
Climate Stewardship Act
Despite a White House intent on keeping its head in the sand on global warming, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) continue to build support for their forward-thinking bill. The Senators were going to offer the bill as an amendment to the Senate energy bill, however they now have a commitment from Senate leadership that the bill will come up for a vote this fall. We do not know exactly when the debate and the vote will be, so keep your eyes open for more action on this important issue. Learn more.
UCS activists pressure on Congress to support the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act (NAISA) helped increase the number of co-sponsors in the House from 67 to 89, and in the Senate to 19. Thank you for your efforts to make this happen. These increases bode well for passage of NAISA, which enjoys broad bipartisan support.
The ecological services that biodiversity provides, such as water purification and oxygen production, serve and sustain our lives in countless ways. Also, biodiversity provides enormous direct and indirect economic benefits. In agriculture, disease- and pest-resistant crop varieties are continually derived from wild relatives of domestic crops. Nearly half the prescriptions worldwide are for medicines based on compounds extracted from wild plants, animals or microorganisms. Major resource-based industries, such as fisheries and eco-tourism, depend heavily on biodiversity.
Tragically, the Earth's biological diversity is being lost at a rate unprecedented in human history. In the past decade, a broad scientific consensus has emerged that biodiversity is being lost faster today than at any time since the dinosaurs became extinct some 65 million years ago. Leading scientists predict that at current rates of extinction, the Earth will lose about 20% of all its living species by the year 2020. Past episodes of extinction in the Earth's history were largely due to natural causes. Today, the loss of species is directly and attributable to various human activities that lead to habitat loss and fragmentation, the over-exploitation of living resources, pollution and other effects.
The dramatic losses of species and ecosystems often obscure equally large and important threats to genetic diversity within species. Genetic resources have tremendous and growing value as raw material for biotechnology and have always been essential to agriculture. For example, genetic diversity in agriculture is critical to maintaining high yields in response to pests, diseases, and changing environmental conditions.
In June 1992, the international community took an historic step to confront this crisis. At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, over 150 nations signed the Convention on Biological Diversity (currently, over 175 countries have ratified the convention). As the first international agreement committing governments to comprehensive protection of the Earths biological resources, the CBD has ushered in a new era in environmental protection. President Clinton signed the CBD in June of 1993. The U.S. Senate failed to give its advice and consent to its ratification during the 103rd Congress.
The signing of the Biodiversity Convention has set in motion a long-term process by governments to stem the loss of biodiversity. This will involve: development and implementation of national biodiversity plans and strategies; regular meetings of the Parties to the Convention to review compliance and consider actions for implementing the Convention; cooperative partnerships on research and technology transfer; and the provision of new funding for projects designed to implement the Convention in developing countries. However, governments cannot redress the biodiversity crisis alone. The ultimate success of these activities to stem biodiversity loss will depend, in large part, on the active involvement and support of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Reuters, Jeremy Lovell, 05 May 2004
MAKE LOVE NOT WAR!
Our endless efforts to kill each other have not reduced
our population numbers, but we are close to killing off our closest
genetic cousins, the great apes: gorillas and chimpanzees. These face extinction because of human
wars, which destroy opportunities for fishing and agriculture,
thereby leading hungry hunters to poach the apes for food. Between
wars, humans cut down the forests where the great apes live.
Particularly tragic is the story of the bonobos, devastated by civil
war in the Congo. Though they are over 98 percent genetically
identical to us, they behave quite differently: Their societies are
matriarchal; they do not kill each other or fight over territory;
when they experience conflict or anxiety, they have sex.
when we experience conflict or anxiety, we kill things. The U.N.
estimates that there are 450,000 great apes left in the world;
conservationists fear they could be extinct within 10 to 15 years.
Bristol Bay is one of America's marine crown jewels,
and shelters the world's largest run of sockeye salmon.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has called Bristol
Bay the "single most important region of the U.S. Outer
Continental Shelf for the conservation of marine mammals
and endangered species and the protection and management
of fishery resources." As the tragic 1989 Exxon-Valdez
oil spill in Prince William Sound clearly demonstrated,
a spill in these Alaskan waters would be nearly impossible
to clean up. The risks to Bristol Bay's marine resources
and ecology far outweigh the minimal projected value
of its oil and gas.
Please continue congressional protection for Bristol
Bay, as recommended by the White House and the House
Save Alaskan Wildlife from Oil Pollution
Alaska's beautiful and harsh Bristol Bay is home to
protected walruses, puffins, whales and important fishery
resources. Yet the oil industry has its eyes on the
area, and proposed legislation in Congress would open
Bristol Bay to offshore oil and gas drilling. A spill
in this region would spell disaster, as sea ice, fierce
storms, and rough ocean conditions would make cleanup
nearly impossible. Tell your senators and representative
to protect Bristol Bay.
AN ICE-COLD RECEPTION
Protesters Greet Bush as He Touts Environmental Policies in Northwest
President Bush made a swing through Oregon and Washington state
last week to talk up his environmental agenda in an attempt to
attract eco-concerned suburban voters, but he was met with thousands
of protesters who didn't buy his promises to deliver "Clear Skies"
and "Healthy Forests." More than 2,000 demonstrators greeted Bush in
Portland, Ore., on Thursday, before he was flown over a forest fire
and then touted his fire-prevention strategy, which relies on
increased logging in national forests. On Friday, Bush stood in
front of the Ice Harbor Dam in eastern Washington and claimed that
salmon can be saved without breaching any power-generating dams. But
he chose a poor example for a backdrop: The Ice Harbor Dam has
violated water-quality standards for 39 days in a row, making the
water behind it hot enough to kill salmon.
straight to the source: Planet Ark, Reuters, Randall Mikkelsen,
25 Aug 2003
August 12 2003
BIG CYPRESS ORV RESTRICTIONS UPHELD: A federal magistrate has
restrictions on swamp buggies, airboats and other off-road vehicles in
Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve says the Orlando Sentinel 8/10.
The ruling acknowledged that "ORVs had carved thousands of miles of
trails into the preserve, harming habitat for panthers and other
endangered species." The case has been "closely watched across the
U.S. because it is among the most important of the conflicts concerning
motorized vehicles in environmentally sensitive areas." The
magistrate's report and recommendations now go to a federal judge for
SETTLEMENT TO DOUBLE LOGGING: In a sweetheart legal settlement
the timber industry, the Bush administration has "committed to more
than double the amount of logging in public forests west of the
Cascades - including old-growth trees - to meet the original goals of
the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan" says OregonLive.com 8/9. The deal
follows through on other recent moves "to accelerate logging by
curtailing environmental reviews and appeals of timber sales." The new
logging, which Earthjustice contends would "go back in time and ignore
the legal decisions and body of science that brought us to this point,"
is expected to spark "a new round of logging protests and activist
SALMON FARM SANCTIONS UPHELD: A federal appeals court has upheld
sanctions against Maine salmon farms, keeping in place "strict rules"
for their operation says the Portland Press Herald 8/8. The fish farms
are prohibited from stocking fish pens for 6 to 36 months in order to
allow the "ocean floor to recover," and in the future are "barred from
stocking non-native salmon to prevent farm escapees from interbreeding
with wild Atlantic salmon, which could cause their extinction."
ANSWERS SOUGHT ON SALMON SACRIFICE: Commercial fishing groups
conservationists are pressuring the White House "to explain the role
President Bush's top political aide played in developing water policy"
and his relationship to the largest salmon die-off in American history
(see GREENLines 8/6) says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, AP 8/6. A
letter to the president by Earthjustice and 10 other groups contends
"The public has an interest in uncovering the full extent of this
political influence over the future of the Klamath ecosystem." Senator
John Kerry is also calling on the Interior Dept.'s Inspector General to
investigate whether "political pressure from the White House is
intimidating staff and influencing policy."
COLLABORATIONS OFFER HOPE FOR IMPERILED SPECIES: The USFWS is
nearly 50 landowners in Oregon's Willamette Valley on "an array of
restoration projects to recover ESA protected plants and animals such
as Fender's blue butterfly, Kincaid's lupine and the Willamette daisy
says the Eugene Register-Guard 8/4. According to landowners, such as
Warren and Laurie Halsey who are restoring upland prairie habitat
essential to the imperiled species, the conservation work is catching
on, "People get so excited that we're doing this." Other groups such
as the non-profit groups Institute for Applied Ecology are aiding the
effort by researching "how best to restore and maintain native valley
habitats and explore alternative energy solutions," consulting and by collecting seeds and raising listed plants
JUNE 20 2003
Negotiations between the U.S. and the
European Union over genetically
modified foods broke down yesterday in Geneva, furthering heightening
trans-Atlantic tension and prompting the Bush administration to call
on the World Trade Organization to begin hearing the dispute. At
issue is a European ban on GM crops -- a ban that the U.S.
agricultural industry says is costing it hundreds of billions of
dollars per year. The White House contends that genetically altered
crops are safe and that therefore the E.U. ban is illegal and "denies
choices to European consumers," according to Richard Mills, a
spokesperson for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. The E.U.
maintains that the long-term safety of GM crops remains unknown, a
position that got tacit support last week with the approval of the
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a global treaty intended to restrict
Further sites of interest: