White House Eliminates Marine Life Advisory Boards
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.
Trump orders EPA to eliminate at least a third of its regulatory and scientific advisory committees. https://t.co/Ffgs8TiOax— Bloomberg Environment (@Bloomberg Environment)1561370533.0
"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."
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By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bill McKibben
To understand the planetary importance of this autumn's presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won't be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.
By Oliver Milman
The climate crisis is set to be a significant factor in a U.S. presidential election for the first time, with new polling showing a clear majority of American voters want decisive action to deal with the threats posed by global heating.
Do you support or oppose each of the following policies as part of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzODcyMC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjg4MzY4OX0.B-bt9mltOhK0MHFbzK8G3_8sBkDAeUsAWm-AhNZYoxQ/img.png?width=980" id="acd43" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8724178274b9f96e27055f74a1bafe20" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
America's largest national forest, Tongass National Forest in Alaska, will be opened up to logging and road construction after the Trump administration finalizes its plans to open up the forest on Friday, according to The New York Times.
Aerial view of the Tongass National Forest. Alan Wu / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
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By Ruby Russell and Ajit Niranjan
Hamstrung by coronavirus lockdowns, frustrated school strikers have spent months staging digital protests against world leaders failing to act urgently on climate change.
Pandemic Stalls Protests<p>Last November, the head of the UN Environment Program was among the public and scientific figures to warn that 2020 offered a last chance to cut emissions. Then, few could have suspected this deadline would coincide with an unprecedented public health emergency.</p><p>The pandemic has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/tough-times-ahead-for-climate-protesters-during-corona-pandemic/a-52978469" target="_blank">dealt climate activism a blow</a>. Niedeggen says that as a movement demanding that the world act on scientific advice, the school strikers took lockdown restrictions extremely seriously, halted public protests immediately and took their activism online.</p><p>On April 24, Fridays for Future organized a "digital strike," with Niedeggen hosting a that racked up close to a quarter of a million views. "We were not physically standing together, but we were all fighting together," she says.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-strikers-get-inventive-during-the-covid-19-crisis-fridays-for-future/a-53229262" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Activists also gathered thousands of placards</a> from across Germany to lay out in front of the German Bundestag around the central slogan: "Fight every crisis."</p>
Opportunity for a New Normal<p>Last September's Global Climate Strike drew young and old protestors around the world, with organizers estimating a global turnout of 7.6 million, including an estimated 270,000 people in Berlin. Activists have adjusted this year's event to account for social distancing and different levels of coronavirus restrictions in cities taking part.</p><p>They say COVID-19 also presents opportunities.</p><p>"The pandemic shows that we can change our normal daily life, and we are very able to adjust to a situation of crisis," she says. The key question is how economies get back on their feet: "We have the possibility to build a new normal, to build a renewable world order, and an environmentally just, climate-just normal for everybody."</p><p>In July, Jeng was among 20 female Fridays for Future activists from the Global South to sign an open letter to G20 finance ministers warning that their decisions in "exclusive backrooms" over stimulus packages and corporate bailouts would "lock in development pathways for decades."</p><p>"The system is not broken, it was built to be unjust. We don't need recovery, we need a reboot," the letter reads, stressing that "black people, indigenous peoples and people of color," have been disproportionately hit by the economic, climate and coronavirus crises. </p>
Policy 'Not Quite There Yet'<p>Figures on stimulus spending do not suggest their words had much impact. The ministers were criticized for failing to relieve the debt of poorer countries, and according to <a href="https://www.energypolicytracker.org/region/g20/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Policy Tracker</a>, G20 countries by August had pledged $169 billion (142 billion euros) to fossil fuels since the beginning of the pandemic.</p><p>Katrin Uba, associate professor of political science at Uppsala University in Sweden, is researching Fridays for Future. She says that despite the movement raising awareness and gaining access to policymakers, real policy change "is not there yet."</p><p>Still, she stresses that social movements go through waves of mobilization as public attention on their core issues ebbs and flows. And perhaps one of Fridays for Future's biggest achievements is birthing a politically active generation that will keep the fight up long after corona becomes a memory. </p><p>"We know clearly from our research that many of the people who came to the streets hadn't done any protesting before in their lives," she told DW. "And we also know that if you do one protest, you are likely to do more."</p>
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