Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

White House Eliminates Marine Life Advisory Boards

Oceans
White House Eliminates Marine Life Advisory Boards
Pexels

The Trump administration will disband a group of experts that advises the federal government about marine life and another that focuses on invasive species, according to The Hill.


Tuesday the federal government cut off funding for the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Interior Department's Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC). Both committees have existed for more than a decade. ISAC is the more senior since it was founded in 1999, while the Marine Protected Areas committee was chartered in 2003.

The White House also decided to cut the Health and Human Services Department's Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, according to Bloomberg Government.

Advisers to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee told The Hill that they were informed on Monday that the committee could be disbanded, but they were not given a reason why. However, in June, Trump did issue an executive order that the EPA and other agencies eliminate one-third of their advisory committees, according to Bloomberg Environment.

"Two years ago, when the federal advisory committee was up for renewal, a lot of us thought it would get the ax given the politics of the federal government," said McClintock, a scientist on the council, to The Hill. When it didn't, we were surprised and glad we had the extra two years. Now that it's been discontinued, I can only guess at the reasons why."

However, the Union of Concerned Scientists was less veiled in its guesses as to the administration's motivations.

"This executive order was just another example of this administration seeking to cut science and information out of the government and decision-making process," wrote Genna Reed, a lead science and policy analyst in the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a blog post.

"Cutting out pathways to accurately communicate the truth means that decisions that impact lives will be less informed by experts in the field and by public comment," she wrote.

The Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee advises NOAA on ways to strengthen the country's marine protected areas and identify challenges facing them. There are over 1,700 protected areas, including monuments and sanctuaries. Yet, in 2017, President Trump asked the commerce department to explore the offshore energy potential of those protected areas, according to The Hill.

The ISAC, by contrast, was told in May that their funding would be cut. Several committee members told The Hill that their findings often irked administration officials.

"I am guessing it is not simple coincidence that several of the ISAC white papers on various topics in the last three years repeatedly mentioned that existing federal programs, especially those at USDA, were myopic and largely ineffective in certain areas due to their failure to collaborate with other agencies," said Ed Clark, president and founder of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, who served on the advisory committee, as The Hill reported.

One of the committees that was retained was the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Advisory Committee, which advocates opening up Utah's protected lands to mining, as Bloomberg Government reported.

"It is so slanted toward energy development there's no chance that they create any recommendations other than drill and mine everywhere," said Aaron Weiss, deputy director at the Center for Western Priorities, to Bloomberg Government. "So that's why they're keeping this one going, is they know exactly what the outcome will be."

Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new study is shedding light on just how much ice could be lost around Antarctica if the international community fails to urgently rein in planet-heating emissions, bolstering arguments for bolder climate policies.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that over a third of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves — including 67% of area on the Antarctic Peninsula — could be at risk of collapsing if global temperatures soar to 4°C above pre-industrial levels.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Valley of the Gods in the heart of Bears Ears National Monument. Mint Images / Getty Images

By Sharon Buccino

This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Pexels

By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Read More Show Less
"Secrets of the Whales" is a new series that will start streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. Disney+

In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.

Read More Show Less
Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

Read More Show Less