More Than 140 Whales Dead After Mass Stranding in Western Australia
More than 150 short-finned pilot whales stranded en masse at Hamelin Bay on the west coast of Australia early Friday morning.
Most of the whales did not survive after beaching themselves, according to Jeremy Chick, incident controller at Western Australia's Parks & Wildlife Service.
Roughly 100 authorities and trained volunteers raced to save the 15 whales that were still alive after the stranding. Six of the survivors were returned to sea late in the afternoon.
The remaining six surviving whales have been returned to sea. Thank you to all involved for your amazing efforts to… https://t.co/yO4zx35qYq— Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia (@Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia)1521803007.0
Chick said moving the surviving whales was difficult logistically due to the rocky beach terrain, the location of dead whales surrounding the live whales and rough seas.
"The conditions are challenging but we are doing all we can to give these animals the best chance of survival without risking the safety of staff and volunteers," he said.
"Once we have moved the whales out we will monitor the situation closely as it is possible the whales will come back into shore and re-strand. This has often been the case in previous mass strandings."
The public are urged to keep clear of Hamelin Bay after mass whale stranding. https://t.co/S5gb7aJP08 https://t.co/qTID5Q7PBr— Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia (@Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia)1521771605.0
Rescuers said the scene on the beach was distressing, ABC AU reported. UK visitor Barrie Brickle described how the whales repeatedly beached themselves after being pushed back to sea.
"[Volunteers] seem to drag them up onto the beach, get them the right way up and then they seem to revive," Brickle said. "But the ones I've seen that are back in the water, they actually come back around and beach themselves again."
"I watched one of them—it happened three times but still it wouldn't go back to sea."
These rescuers made desperate attempts to free more than 150 whales which had become stranded on a beach in Austral… https://t.co/z29AVKfZft— ITV News (@ITV News)1521805154.0
Short-finned pilot whales inhabit tropical and subtropical waters and may be seen in the hundreds but groups usually number less than 100.
The Parks & Wildlife Service said the migrating mammals have stranded en masse before—nine whales were found dead after stranding at Albany's Ledge Point in November 1984 and 38 short-finned pilot whales stranded in April 1991 at Sandy Point, north of Broome.
However, Reuters reported that the large number this time is unusual.
More than 100 volunteers are helping Parks and Wildlife Service staff with the care and rescue of the remaining 10… https://t.co/NE9KuU3jmG— Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia (@Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Australia)1521786687.0
"Short-finned pilot whales are listed as 'data deficient' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There is simply not enough information known about their remaining wild populations," Captain Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said in 2015 after a pilot whale by hunters in Taiji's infamous cove.
But he noted, "Migrating dolphins and whales are not infinite 'resources;' they are living and vital parts of the ocean eco-system that the nations and government agencies of the world must take action to protect before it is too late."
The largest mass stranding of whales in the state was in 1996 when 320 long-finned pilot whales stranded themselves in Dunsborough.
The reason behind the stranding is currently unclear. Parks & Wildlife Service officers are taking DNA samples from the deceased whales in search of clues for why they strand. Hamelin Beach remains closed and shark alert has been issued for the area, as sharks attracted by the dead whales.
Hundreds of Pilot Whales Die in Devastating Mass Stranding in New Zealand https://t.co/qagvHbvfHQ @1World1Ocean @Oceanwire— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1486770004.0
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For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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