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Energy

Trump Green Lights Arctic Drilling Project in Polar Bear Habitat

The Trump administration released an environmental review Thursday of Hilcorp Alaska's Arctic offshore drilling development. Hilcorp plans to build a 9-acre artificial island and 5.6-mile pipeline in the Beaufort Sea for its offshore drilling project. The Trump administration's draft environmental impact statement proposes to greenlight the dangerous drilling plan, which would be a first for federal waters in the Arctic.

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Animals
U.S. Geological Survey

Loss of Arctic Sea Ice Causes Earliest Pacific Walrus Haul Out Ever

Hundreds of Pacific walruses have hauled out of Arctic waters near Alaska's Point Lay due to declining sea ice levels, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday. It's the earliest haul out the agency has ever seen, and scientists fear a repeat of stampedes that have killed hundreds of walruses in recent years.

Loss of sea ice from climate change is a major reason why the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the federal government to protect Pacific walruses under the Endangered Species Act. A final listing decision from Fish and Wildlife is expected within the next month.

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Hine's Emerald Dragonfly. Missouri Department of Conservation

Escalating Use of Pesticides Harms Already Imperiled Aquatic Invertebrates

A new analysis published this month by U.S. Geological Survey scientists found pesticides at high enough concentrations to harm already imperiled aquatic invertebrates in more than half of 100 streams studied in the Midwest and Great Plains. The pesticide levels threaten species like the Hine's emerald dragonfly and the sheepnose mussel.

The U.S. Geological Survey study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found an average of 54 pesticides in each stream in both agricultural and urban areas, spotlighting the ever-broadening contamination of waterways caused by the nation's escalating use of pesticides.

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Wupatki National Monument. iStock

Trump Administration Sued Again. This Time for Refusing to Release National Monument Records

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration Wednesday for refusing to release public records about its review of national monuments and Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's emails and schedule.

For months, the Interior Department has failed to respond to the Center for Biological Diversity's requests for Zinke's communication records and schedule, as well as records concerning the agency's national monuments review, violating deadlines established under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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Buyers look through frozen tuna on sale at the fish market in Tokyo's Tsukiji district. Rob Gihooly

Trump Administration Denies Pacific Bluefin Tuna Endangered Species Act Protection

The Trump administration rejected a petition Monday to protect imperiled Pacific bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act. This powerful apex predator, which commands top prices at fish auctions in Japan, has been overfished to less than 3 percent of its historic population. Although the National Marine Fisheries Service announced in October 2016 that it was considering listing the Pacific bluefin, it has now concluded that protections aren't warranted.

"If the paychecks of fishery managers and federal officials were tied to the status of this marvelous creature, they would have done the right thing," said Carl Safina, president of the Safina Center and a scientist and author who has worked to draw public attention to the plight of the bluefin tuna.

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www.facebook.com

Ed Begley Jr.: 'You Don't Have to Eat Garbage or Be Famous to Help Save the World'

The Center for Biological Diversity released Monday three 60-second public service announcements featuring actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. talking about sex, food waste and other issues affecting wildlife and the future of the planet.

The spots have been sent to 2,000 broadcast stations and cable networks. They will begin airing across the country this week.

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Animals
Scott Bauer / California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Stronger Protections for Wildlife Needed as California Marijuana Industry Grows

As California officials begin work this week to finalize environmental oversight of recreational pot growing, conservation groups are calling for stronger protections for imperiled Pacific fishers, spotted owls and other rare wildlife.

Following voter approval last year of Measure 64, which allows personal production and use of marijuana, the state was required to create strict environmental measures to regulate pot growers' use of pesticides, water and energy.

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Lake Vesuvius in Wayne National Forest. TrekOhio

Groups Challenge Fracking Plan for Ohio's Only National Forest

Conservation groups have filed an administrative protest challenging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) plan for a September auction of three parcels in Ohio's only national forest for oil and gas leasing. The parcels are adjacent to the Rover Pipeline.

The protest, filed Monday, targets the BLM's failure to adequately analyze the impacts of fracking and pipelines on watersheds, forests and endangered species and its decision to open portions of the Wayne National Forest to fracking. Construction of the Rover Pipeline, which could transport fracked gas from the Wayne, has been halted because of spills and numerous safety and environmental violations.

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Energy

Santa Barbara Becomes First California City to Pass Resolution Against Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

The Santa Barbara City Council approved a resolution Tuesday opposing new drilling off the California coast and fracking in existing offshore oil and gas wells. The resolution is the first in a new statewide campaign to rally local governments against proposals to expand offshore fossil fuel extraction in federal waters.

The vote—which makes Santa Barbara the first California city to oppose both fracking and new offshore drilling—follows President Trump's April 28 executive order urging federal agencies to expand oil and gas leasing in federal waters. The order could expose the Pacific Ocean to new oil leasing for the first time in more than 30 years.

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