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EPA Reverses Approval of Deadly ‘Cyanide Bombs’ After Public Outcry
Trump's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reversed a decision made last week to reauthorize the use of deadly cyanide traps used to kill wild animals that threaten agriculture, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
The traps, officially called M-44s but nicknamed "cyanide bombs," are spring-loaded devices that kill their targets with a discharge of sodium cyanide, according to The Guardian. They are used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Wildlife Services to kill animals like foxes and coyotes that farmers and ranchers consider pests. But critics say that they cause long-term pollution and harm more than their intended targets, even killing pets and injuring humans, HuffPost explained.
"I am announcing a withdrawal of EPA's interim registration review decision on sodium cyanide, the compound used in M-44 devices to control wild predators," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement released Thursday.
Great News: Under withering public criticism, the @EPA today withdrew its August 10th approval of wildlife-killing cyanide bombs.— Kierán Suckling (@KieranSuckling) August 15, 2019
EPA press release here: https://t.co/JiSbSuLyib https://t.co/B2vNIGDWeT
The agency's decision last week to allow continued use of the traps until a study on their impacts was completed in 2021 sparked a firestorm of complaints. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) told HuffPost that 99.9 percent of all comments sent to the EPA about the traps opposed them.
"I'm thrilled that the EPA just reversed its wrongheaded decision to reauthorize deadly cyanide traps," CBD Carnivore Conservation Director Collette Adkins said in a statement to HuffPost. "So many people expressed their outrage, and the EPA seems to be listening. I hope the feds finally recognize the need for a permanent ban to protect people, pets and imperiled wildlife from this poison."
Predator Defense Executive Director Brooks Fahy also credited public outrage with the EPA's reversal.
"Obviously somebody at EPA is paying attention to the public's concerns about cyanide bombs," Fahy said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "It would appear they're responding to public outrage over the interim decision from last week. Our phone has been ringing off the hook from concerned citizens regarding their greenlight to continue using these horrific devices. We'll have to see how this plays out."
The traps are deadly to both their intended and unintended targets. Of the more than 1.5 million native wild animals killed by Wildlife Services in 2018, around 6,500 of them were killed by the traps. In 2017, the traps killed around 13,200 wild animals, the Associated Press reported.
In one tragic incident recounted by HuffPost, one of the traps went off in Pocatello, Idaho in 2017 while 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield was walking his dog Casey. Casey died, and Mansfield was rushed to the hospital. He eventually recovered, and his parents are suing the USDA.
Wildlife Services stopped using the traps in Idaho after the incident, and in Colorado following a lawsuit. Cyanide bombs are currently banned in Oregon.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
The last four members of an embattled wolf pack were killed in Washington State Friday, hours before the court order that could have saved them.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.
A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.
By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated:
Gina Lopez, a former Philippine environment secretary, philanthropist and eco-warrior, died on Aug. 19 from brain cancer. She was 65.