Trump Admin Proposes Drilling for Oil and Gas in National Forests
The new rule would allow drilling without public review or environmental reviews that would analyze the impact of industrial actions, The Guardian reported.
"By undermining the public participation and environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act, this proposed rule puts the interests of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the public interest," Will Fadely, a senior government relations representative for The Wilderness Society, said in a statement.
So far, the U.S. Forest Service allows drilling and exploration in roughly one-third of its protected forests, or about three percent of its lands. Now, a new analysis from The Wilderness Society finds that the proposed rule will transfer control of the lands from the Forest Service to the Bureau of Land Management, which will then open up drilling on millions of acres in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, The Guardian reported.
The Forest Service would experience a drastically reduced role, with its duties limited to protecting specifically named natural resources.
Although the rule mostly targets forests in the West, the proposed rule could also affect national forests on the East Coast, according to The Guardian. This means more forests could share the fate of Allegheny National Forest, now home to thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, which taxpayers must pay to clean up, The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported.
As the National Audubon Society pointed out, national forests play an important role in storing carbon dioxide and combatting the climate crisis. By eliminating the necessary environmental review, the new leases will have free reign to cleave habitats with roads and pollute pristine lands.
"The administration really outdid itself with a proposal that has the Forest Service walking away from its responsibilities for managing our national forests and grassland while closing the door on public oversight," Nada Culver, vice president of public lands and senior counsel for the National Audubon Society, said in a statement. "This is not just a conservation issue, it's putting our communities at risk. Replacing forested areas and grasslands with drill pads and access roads not only means fewer birds like Mallards and Prairie Warblers, but also degrades our lands and natural spaces, and threatens water supplies for millions of people."
The NRDC took exception to how the proposed rule will allow drilling near the lands of Indigenous people. The NRDC noted that despite industrialization and relocation policies, Indigenous people have been stewards of the land and a model of the economic and emotional benefits that healthy forests provide.
"Tens of millions of Americans hike, camp, fish, hunt, bike and run in our national forests each year," Sharon Buccino, senior director of lands for the Nature Program at NRDC, said in a statement. "This rule would sideline their voices in favor of the fossil fuel industry. We won't allow the Trump administration to shut down public review of drilling in our national forests that the American people don't want and that the climate can't afford."
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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