Former Monsanto Executive Picked by Trump to Lead Wildlife Agency
Aurelia Skipwith, who Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger called "a darling of corporate special interests," worked at the agribusiness giant for more than six years. She has since worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of the Interior (DOI).
A biologist and lawyer by training, Skipwith has been at the DOI since April 2017 overseeing policy and regulations at FWS and the National Park Service.
She said she shared Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's goals to "protect our species, increase public access and ensure science is at the forefront of our decisions" in a statement reported by the Associated Press.
If she is confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first African American woman to run FWS.
During her time at Monsanto, Skipwith spent six years as a research team leader developing new agricultural products and then did a stint in corporate affairs, The Guardian reported. Monsanto polled as one of the 20 most hated companies in American in 2018, though its infamous name will soon die as part of a merger with Bayer this year.
FWS has been without an official head since Trump took office. Greg Sheehan, who served as deputy director for 14 months before stepping down in August, could not serve as acting director because he lacked a science degree, the Associated Press reported.
Under his lead, FWS has moved forward with policies that have worried environmentalists and animal lovers, including:
- Weakening the Endangered Species Act: A massive DOI proposal included a provision removing the "blanket rule" giving threatened species the same protections as endangered species.
- Reversing the ban on imported elephant trophies: Last November, FWS undid an Obama-era ban on importing the remains of elephants killed legally in Zambia and Zimbabwe back into the U.S.
- Allowing bee-killing pesticides in national wildlife refuges: In August, FWS lifted another Obama-era ban on the use of genetically modified crops and certain pesticides in national wildlife refuges. Some of the newly-allowed pesticides are made by Monsanto, The Guardian pointed out.
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) told The Guardian it was unlikely that Skipwith would improve the situation, calling her "utterly unqualified" because she had no training in either wildlife management or fisheries.
"Aurelia Skipwith has been working in the Trump administration all along to end protections for billions of migratory birds, gut endangered species safeguards and eviscerate national monuments," CBD government affairs director Brett Hartl said.
'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges $1 Trillion to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged more than $1 trillion over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.
‘Plastic Is Lethal’: Groundbreaking Report Reveals Health Risks at Every Stage in Plastics Life Cycle
With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the world's oceans every year, there is growing concern about the proliferation of plastics in the environment. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the full impact of plastic pollution on human health.
But a first-of-its-kind study released Tuesday sets out to change that. The study, Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, is especially groundbreaking because it looks at the health impacts of every stage in the life cycle of plastics, from the extraction of the fossil fuels that make them to their permanence in the environment. While previous studies have focused on particular products, manufacturing processes or moments in the creation and use of plastics, this study shows that plastics pose serious health risks at every stage in their production, use and disposal.
Air pollution within the home causes 3.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. A recent University of Colorado in Boulder study reported by The Guardian found that cooking a full Thanksgiving meal could raise levels of particulate matter 2.5 in the house higher than the levels averaged in New Delhi, the world's sixth most polluted city.
But soon, you will be able to shop for a solution in the same place you buy your budget roasting pans. IKEA is working on a specially-designed, air-purifying curtain called the GUNRID.
A rare species of giant tortoise, feared extinct for more than 100 years, was sighted on the Galápagos island of Fernandina Sunday, the Ecuadorian government announced.