New Zealand Ends New Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration
The Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Act passed its third reading in Parliament on Wednesday with 63 votes in favor and 55 against, New Zealand Herald reported.
"New Zealanders want to see a future for their country where we take action on climate change" Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods said at the third reading. "Where we have a long-term economic plan for our country, where we have the courage to look beyond the three-year political cycle and plan for the next 10, 20, 30 and 40 years."
The bill will preserve existing exploration permits, an area that covers roughly 100,000 square kilometers, Woods noted.
"Those permit holders will have the same rights and privileges that they do before this legislation comes into force," she said.
Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill - Third Reading - Video 1 www.youtube.com
"The whole world is going in this direction," Ardern said then. "We all signed up to the Paris agreement that said we're moving towards carbon-neutrality, and now we need to act on it."
Ardern continued, "Nothing will change overnight. These existing permits have very long lead times. We'll be seeing oil and gas exploration for a number of years to come. And the jobs—the four-and-a-half thousand jobs in this industry—will continue too."
"But we're putting a line in the sand and saying, now it's our job to plan for the future," she said. "We will make sure we've got that transition plan in place, and what the future of clean, green, carbon-neutral New Zealand looks like."
The government has pledged to power the country's grid with 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and aims to become carbon neutral by 2050.
This is a HUGE WIN for people power, and for the climate. It's a law New Zealand should be proud of, but it's also… https://t.co/tcXwvAcyIA— Greenpeace NZ (@Greenpeace NZ)1541573451.0
Greenpeace celebrated the legislation's passing and said it had "overwhelming public support." A government committee for the environment received more than 7,000 submissions on the bill, with around 85 percent in support of it or saying that it did not go far enough to tackle climate change, the organization said.
"Today we have passed an incredibly important law for the global climate. This law means that around four million square kilometers of the Earth's surface is now off limits to oil and gas companies, and any deposits under our deep seas will stay in the ground where they belong," Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Kate Simcock said in a press release.
"The science is very clear—we only have 10 years to halve our use of oil, gas, and coal or face the displacement of millions of people, catastrophic sea level rise, more extreme weather, and mass species extinction. That's going to mean massive change—not business as usual—and we need to be prepared to take bold steps like this to protect humanity and the planet," Simcock added.
The center-right National Party was opposed to the bill and pledged to reverse the ban if back in government. The Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) also spoke against the legislation.
"The people most affected by this decision haven't been listened to and now face real uncertainty," PEPANZ CEO Cameron Madgwick said in a press release. "We need natural gas as a transition fuel towards a lower carbon economy. Turning off the tap when we have nothing concrete to replace it with is dangerous and irresponsible."
Today we changed the law, banning new offshore oil and gas drilling. This is such a great win for our oceans and ou… https://t.co/hMhP7VPOIk— Green Party NZ (@Green Party NZ)1541567230.0
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.