Quantcast
Pexels

By Daisy Dunne

Worldwide tourism accounted for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 to 2013, new research finds, making the sector a bigger polluter than the construction industry.

Read More Show Less
The mountains of Haiti. PO2 Daniel Barker / DVIDS

The tropical Caribbean island of Haiti is a paradise with a rich, fascinating history, natural wonders and diverse cultural offerings. It has also been named by some as the next big thing in regional tourism.

But ecotourism in particular could become important for Haiti, with its rich land and sea biodiversity. Globally, the business of ecotourism generates more than $600 billion a year and is connected to hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By now you might have seen the terrifying video of a 10-foot great white shark breaching a diver's cage off Isla Guadalupe in Mexico. Although the operator of the diving vessel, Solmar V, has called this a "one in a million" occurrence and the diver escaped unharmed, interesting questions have been raised about the broader use of wildlife as entertainment.

Read More Show Less

Appalachian Voices

The Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act, introduced by State Sen. Eric Stewart (D-14), was designed to stop surface coal mining that alters or disturbs a ridgeline over 2,000 feet of elevation, effectively banning mountaintop removal coal mining in the state.

On Wed., Feb. 29 the State Senate Energy and Environment committee voted 8-1 to approve an amendment that gutted the bill. The amendment changed the definition of mountaintop removal coal mining to exclude all except the most extreme cases from falling under the “prohibited” category as defined by the original bill.

The Tennessee Director of Appalachian Voices, J.W. Randolph, commented:

“In a disappointing move for the Tennessee mountains, special interests in the Tennessee Senate voted today to allow the continued devastation of the state’s scenic peaks and cultural heritage. The amendments to the Scenic Vistas Protection Act removed the original language of the bill and replaced it with a definition that will essentially do nothing to protect the citizens of Tennessee. But, as state Sen. Eric Stewart said, this bill will be back every year until Tennessee mountains are protected.

"Tennesseans won’t be fooled by smokescreens and are not concerned by technical definitions of mountaintop removal coal mining. They want to see the destruction of their mountains stopped. The political power of the coal industry in Tennessee has long outlived its ability to create jobs or prosperity in the region. Coal mining actually costs Tennessee taxpayers a net loss of $3 million a year, while the state’s mountain-based tourism industry employs 175,000 people and brings in more than $13 billion to Tennessee annually.

"The Tennessee legislature has passed on a historic opportunity to stop the destruction of its mountains and cultural heritage. Citizen advocates and folks in the grassroots who want to protect the mountains will take this fight to the Senate floor to ensure that this bill that Tennesseans have been clamoring to pass is meaningful in protecting Appalachian mountains and communities.”

For more information, click here.

The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society urged the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 14 to reject Amendment 133 to the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 1012 (H.R. 7). The proposed amendment would overturn the Department of the Interior’s decision to ban uranium mining on more than 1 million acres of federal public lands and National Forests in northern Arizona for the next 20 years.

The amendment—offered by Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ-2), Jeff Flake (R-AZ-6), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ-1)—is a mirror of H.R. 3155, the “Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011.” The legislation would better be called the “Mining the Grand Canyon Act,” for it would allow threatening, industrialized activity near the Grand Canyon. The Wilderness Society has profiled this bill, in addition to other threats, in a new report—Wilderness Under Siege.

“The American people, President Obama and  Secretary Salazar understand the historic and natural values of the Grand Canyon and have all worked together to protect this treasure,” said David Moulton, senior director of legislative affairs at The Wilderness Society. “America has a long history of protecting iconic places against short-term gains like mining. We should not start on a dangerous path that would open our lands to corporate polluters at the expense of current and future generations of Americans. On Valentine’s Day, these members need to show more love for America’s Grand Canyon than they do.”

If passed, Amendment 133 would prevent the protection of the Grand Canyon, flanking the park with new roads, mines, exploration drilling, power lines and truck traffic. This activity would damage wildlife habitat and popular hunting grounds and increase pollution in the Grand Canyon watershed. Additionally, it would harm Arizona’s tourism and recreation economy. The outdoor recreation business in Arizona annually supports 82,000 jobs, generates almost $350 million in state tax revenue, and stimulates about $5 billion in retail sales and services. The Grand Canyon National Park alone generates an estimated 10,000 jobs and $420 million in economic activity by attracting more than 4 million visitors annually. Furthermore, a recent bi-partisan poll in Arizona found that “70 percent of voters say that the impact of mining on land and water is a serious problem in Arizona.”

To learn more about the “Mining the Grand Canyon Act” and Wilderness Under Siege, click here.

For more information, click here.

Television ads produced by the polluter lobbyist group "Free Market Florida" are an affront to millions of Floridians who are living with the sad reality of polluted drinking water, toxic algae outbreaks and fish kills in their favorite rivers, springs, lakes, as well as on our tourist beaches.

“Our tourism economy depends on clean water, and this group actually has the audacity to fight against that? It doesn't make any sense," said Earthjustice attorney Alisa Coe. “It is just common sense to set limits on the amount of sewage, manure and fertilizer that's allowed in our water," Coe said. “You would think that's something everyone can agree on."

The toxic algae outbreaks breaking out around Florida can cause rashes, breathing problems, stomach disorders, and worse. Health authorities have had to shut down drinking water plants, beaches and swimming areas. Toxic algae can kill fish, livestock and pets.

  • Pictures of this health threat are available by clicking here and here.
  • View Florida Slime Crime Tracker in a larger map by clicking here.

This pollution hurts people who work in restaurants, hotels, beach concessions, the fishing industry, the boating industry, the dive industry, and the real estate sales and rental markets.

After years of seeing toxic algae on Florida tourist beaches like Sanibel Island and at fishing destinations like the St. Johns River, Earthjustice filed a Clean Water Act federal lawsuit in 2008 in the Northern District of Florida on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. John's Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club. In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set numeric limits for the phosphorus and nitrogen that comes from sewage, fertilizer and manure in the water.

Take action to clean up Florida's waters by clicking here.

For more information, click here.

Sponsored

Environmental Defense Fund

The Bureau of Reclamation today received a proposed set of common-sense solutions to solve the imbalance between supply and demand for water in the Colorado River Basin, where the Bureau projects river flow will decrease by an average of about nine percent over the next 50 years due to climate change. The proposal by Environmental Defense Fund—which includes ideas by other conservation groups and stakeholders—was in response to the Feb. 1 deadline for public input of “options and strategies” for a study to define and solve future imbalances in water supply and demand in the basin through 2060.

“Our proposed solutions don’t include expensive new infrastructure and diversions that threaten the health of the Colorado River and the recreation and tourism economy of the region,” said Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain regional director for Environmental Defense Fund and a former vice chairman of the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee in the Colorado Senate. “Instead, we are focusing on common-sense ideas—including water banks, water re-use and municipal and agricultural efficiency—to solve the imbalance between supply and demand, while protecting the healthy flows of the river.”

Water banks are institutional mechanisms that can be set up in one state, or by multiple states, to use existing storage in a more flexible manner—particularly during drought—by holding “deposits” of water leased or purchased from existing users. For example, they hold the potential to be a cost-effective way of preventing the chaotic effects of a “call” on the river under the Colorado River Compact. The compact stipulates that when river flows are insufficient to satisfy the Lower Basin states’ water entitlement on the river, the lower basin can place a call on the river water, forcing upper basin states to stop diverting water until the lower basin’s water entitlement is satisfied.

“Managing the Colorado River in a hotter and drier west requires bold and innovative thinking,” added Grossman. “We can’t continue to adhere to the dogmas of the 19th and 20th centuries and expect to solve this impending crisis.”

The Colorado River Basin is one of the most critical sources of water in the western U.S. and Mexico, providing water to 30 million people in seven states—Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. The Colorado River Basin Water Supply & Demand Study—due to be completed in June by the Bureau of Reclamation and agencies from the seven basin states—is focusing on the needs of basin resources that are dependent upon a healthy river system. They include:

  • Water for municipal, industrial, and agricultural use
  • Hydroelectric power generation
  • Recreation
  • Fish and wildlife and their habitats
  • Water quality including salinity
  • Flow and water-dependent ecological systems
  • Flood control, all under a range of conditions that could occur over the next 50 years.

“As we begin forging a new path forward for managing the Colorado River in the age of limits, we need to think about the impacts of our actions on future generations in the west,” concluded Grossman. “Current demands from residential development and agriculture are overtaxing a river that is diminishing because of a changing climate. We need flexible, market-driven solutions that will protect the river and the ecosystems and western economies it supports.”

For more information, click here.

—————

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships

Moms Rising

By Tammy Herrington

During the summer of 2010, the nation watched in horror as gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. While many outside the Gulf region are hearing that we are back to normal, we continue to find tarballs on our beaches, mats of tar beneath the surface of local waters and fish with lesions, leading to questions about long-term impacts.

The RESTORE Act, or Senate Bill 1400, was introduced by Gulf Coast Senators as an effort to send 80 percent of the fines BP will pay from this disaster back to the Gulf Coast for environmental and economic recovery. It has passed through committee, but we now need it to pass a vote of the full Senate. Sending this money to the region that suffered can make a huge impact on Gulf economies and make the area more resilient to future disasters. The Gulf produces nearly half of the U.S. domestic energy supply, holds seven of the nation’s ten largest ports, and produces two-thirds of the nation’s shrimp and oysters. The health of these resources truly impacts the entire nation.

What we need from you:

Mobile Baykeeper, in conjunction with the Women of the Storm, needs friends in non-Gulf Coast states to fax and/or phone their two U.S. senators. Ask for the staffer on environmental or governmental affairs, and urge the senator to support the RESTORE Act. You can find the names and contact information from Senators in all 50 states here. Our goal is to make contact with Senators by Feb. 3, 2012.

Message:

  • The Gulf Coast provides energy independence, commerce, ecotourism, and national security to the entire nation. Restoration of Gulf resources is critical for the region as well as the nation.
  • If most of the fine dollars are not designated to environmental and economic recovery of the Gulf Coast, they will disappear into the federal budget. Applying BP fine dollars to Gulf restoration will create thousands of jobs and make the area more resilient to future disasters.
  • When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, the entire nation must support the affected area. The Gulf Coast’s environment, economy, and communities bore the brunt of this disaster, and these fines should go back to the Gulf Coast to fix what has been broken. The next disaster could be in that Senator’s state. We would want citizens of that state to get fair and reasonable support.

Sample content for fax or phone call:

“Senator (NAME), I support the RESTORE Act because I know the importance of the Gulf Coast to (Senator’s state), the U.S. and around the world. I hope you will support it too.” Then add a version of the message points above.

Feedback:

Email me at therrington@mobilebaykeeper.org the states in which you have made contact with friends to call their senators and the information you and your friends have received about senatorial positions on the RESTORE Act so we can keep track of our activity. Thank you for your help. We are grateful to have your support and hopeful that we can work together to pass the RESTORE Act in 2012.

For more information, click here.

Earthworks

The scenic Santa Rita Mountains, south of Tucson, Ariz., are an ecological haven and a recreational playground. The Santa Ritas are home to rare and endangered plants and animals, an active tourist economy, and the headwaters for part of Tucson's water supply.

And they’re under threat from the Rosemont mine proposal, thanks to the 1872 Mining Law which gives mining priority over almost all other land uses.

A Canadian investment company, with no previous mining experience, has proposed an open pit copper mine—a mile in diameter, a half mile deep, in the middle of Santa Ritas.

The mine would transform a desert refuge into an industrial zone, destroying the ecosystem and the economy that depends upon it.

To decide whether to permit this mine, the U.S. Forest Service has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact statement and is accepting comments.

Take Action—tell the Forest Service the scenic Santa Ritas are no place for a mine.

Instructions:

  • Send/amend the sample letter by clicking here. Personalized letters have a much greater impact.
  • Send your letter to the Coronado National Forest, which is charged with evaluating the Rosemont mine proposal.
  • Share this alert with your friends and family via the subsequent page. Share via email, Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+.

Also, take a look at these informative sources:

For more information, click here.

Restore the Mississippi River Delta

By Whit Remer

There is one unanswered wish many residents along the Gulf Coast are still hoping for this new year—passage of the RESTORE Act (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist, Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act). As Congress wrapped up 2011, there was talk all along the Gulf Coast and Washington, D.C. about the bill. And the buzz is resounding. Thanks to the efforts of citizens and organizations working to restore the Gulf Coast, members of Congress from across the region are returning to Washington, D.C. determined to pass the RESTORE Act early this year.

Over the last few months, the RESTORE Act has been praised for its bipartisan support and commitment to restoring the environment and economies of the Gulf that were damaged by the British Petroleum (BP) oil disaster. In December, over a dozen prominent environmental groups sent a letter to Senate leadership urging passage of the RESTORE Act. The bill is supported across the Gulf, with a recent poll finding that 84 percent of Florida voters support sending Clean Water Act penalties back to the Gulf. It’s clear that residents of the Gulf Coast, environmental organizations, economic developers and businesses large and small support sending BP penalty money back to the Gulf.

With passage through the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee and a productive hearing in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the bill enjoys success both on the ground in the Gulf and in the halls of Washington, D.C. With all this momentum, the RESTORE Act is primed for passage in 2012.

Moving forward, Gulf Coast congressional members will be working hard to keep the RESTORE Act on the radar of House and Senate leadership. Gulf Coast members must also work with their colleagues from around the country by reminding them that the Gulf Coast is a place of national significance. The region serves as an important commercial trade route, hosts extensive oil and gas infrastructure, and is home to 33 percent of the nation’s seafood, hundreds of species of wildlife, and migratory waterfowl.

The important take-away is this—the RESTORE Act is alive and well. But for the RESTORE Act to become a law, we must continue to remind Congress how important it is to return BP oil spill money to the injured Gulf Coast area. Help Congress answer your wish for the Gulf by writing your congressional members and letting them know you support the RESTORE Act.

For more information, click here.

Sponsored