The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
The military's official newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda (or "Red Star"), reported Friday that the Defense Ministry has teamed up with the local administration and environmental experts to protect the village inhabitants from "the aggressive behavior of polar bears."
One of the actions to prevent future invasions include converting an open dump into a waste incineration site within the next two years so it will no longer attract hungry bears, the report stated.
Video footage and photos posted to social media show the animals eating garbage from a trash dump, appearing near school grounds and entering buildings and residential homes.
"It is impossible to run away from a polar bear!" Belushya Guba administrators said in a statement quoted by DPA. "Due to a deficit of food, polar bears can turn their attention to any potential source of food, including a human."
The Russian military is being called in to help an Arctic Russian town ward off a wave of hungry polar bears… https://t.co/1BRl1aYLoV— dpa news agency (@dpa news agency)1550243400.0
Polar bears are considered an endangered species in Russia, so killing them is prohibited. But officials said that if non-lethal means cannot drive away the marauders, they might have no choice but to cull them, the BBC reported.
A polar bear uses sea ice as a platform to catch its favored prey, ringed and bearded seals. But the rapidly warming Arctic has broken up sea ice and has forced bears to spend more time on land to search of food, like in the Russian settlement, experts have theorized.
What do #polarbears do when their sea ice habitat fails? They look for alternatives. The bears in the Barents-Kara… https://t.co/Afx3uj1xe3— Andrew Derocher (@Andrew Derocher)1549910689.0
A group of scientists from the national natural resources agency have recently been sent to the area to help disperse the animals, according to the Associated Press. They are equipped with the tools and training to properly sedate and relocate the bear.
"That's just an option; at the moment it is being considered, but there's no 100-percent guarantee it will be applied," Alexander Gornikh, regional head of the natural resources agency, told the AP.
Fortunately, the military said in Krasnaya Zvezda's report that there is hope that the bears will go away on their own, as ice cover has formed amid falling temperatures.
Polar Bears Could Be Struggling to Catch Enough Prey, Study Shows https://t.co/q0xiaRZ6iP @TheCCoalition @climatecouncil— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1517654105.0
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
Construction materials such as steel, cement wood "requires lots of energy from fossil fuels," as Gates noted in the letter, "and the processes involved release carbon as a byproduct."
"We need to find a way to make it all without worsening climate change," he wrote.
The "larger point," the billionaire philanthropist said, is that battling climate change requires much more than just solar panels and wind turbines. It requires "breakthrough inventions" across every polluting sector—buildings, agriculture, electricity, manufacturing and transportation.
Those five industries are the biggest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, or as Gates calls them, the five "grand challenges in climate change."
"Solar panels are great, but we should be hearing about trucks, cement, and cow farts too," he wrote.
For instance, electricity counts for only a quarter of the emissions, Gates said in a promo video with Melinda for their annual letter. "Things like cement, steel, meat—there's a lot of other activities that are generating 75 percent of it," he said.
Bill and Melinda Gates's 2019 Annual Letter www.youtube.com
Meanwhile, agriculture accounts for another 24 percent of greenhouse gases. Gates quipped: "That includes cattle, which give off methane when they belch and pass gas. (A personal surprise for me: I never thought I'd be writing seriously about bovine flatulence.)"
On that note, Gates was happy to report that the European Commission recently committed to invest in research and development on the five challenge areas, and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the $1 billion fund he helped launch, will be using the five areas to as a guide for their future investments in clean-energy companies.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures counts a number of wealthy and influential billionaires as investors and board members, including Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, Virgin Group's Richard Branson, Alibaba founder Jack Ma and more.
"Part of the solution is to invest in innovation in all five sectors so we can do these things without destroying the climate," Gates concluded. "We need breakthrough inventions in each of the grand challenges."
World's Richest Launch $1 Billion Fund to Fight Climate Change, Invest in Clean Tech https://t.co/0BgcxJqFpg @greenpeaceaustp— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1481625310.0
Embracing solar power means reducing both your reliance on traditional utility companies and your environmental footprint, but the high upfront cost of solar panels can be a big deterrent for some homeowners.
If you're considering solar, you may have questions like: How much does it cost to install a solar energy system? What are some of the factors that can impact pricing? What else should home- and business owners know about going solar? In this article, we'll touch on each of these important topics, with the goal of helping you make a fully informed, financially responsible decision about solar energy.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Install?
To begin with, let's take a look at the basic price range for solar panel installation. According to the most recent U.S. Solar Market Insight report, in the first quarter of 2021, the national average price of a residential solar system was $2.94 per watt, which would mean a 5 kWh system would cost $14,700 and a 10 kWh system would cost $29,400.
The exact price you'll pay for solar panels will depend on a number of factors, including your geographic location, the size of your home and more.
Now, you might rightly wonder: What exactly are you paying for? The solar panels themselves usually make up just about a quarter of the total cost. Remaining expenses include labor, maintenance and additional parts and components (such as inverters).
What Factors Determine Solar Pricing?
As mentioned, there are a few key things that can lead to variation in solar system installation costs. Analyzing these can help you determine whether solar panels are worth it for your home. Let's take a look at them in greater detail.
Your Electrical Needs
The solar panels themselves will be rated for a particular wattage, which reflects the amount of energy they can absorb for storage and ultimately for power generation. You will actually pay according to wattage, which means that the greater your household energy needs, the more you'll have to spend to get the correct number of solar panels.
So, how do you determine how much energy you need for your home? The best way to figure this out is through a consultation with a solar installer. (We recommend shopping smart by requesting free consultations with two or three top solar companies in your area.)
Your installer will evaluate your home energy needs based on total square footage, the number of people who live in your home, the number of appliances and power-draining devices that you have connected and more. It can then recommend the ideal solar panel system size to accommodate your energy usage.
Type of Panels and Other Components
Variation in manufacturing can also affect the cost of solar panels. There are three basic types of solar panels, two of which are commonly used residentially: monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Of these two, monocrystalline options tend to be more energy-efficient and thus may provide you with greater savings in the long run. They are also a bit pricier on the front end. With that said, homeowners with a smaller roof surface area may benefit from getting the most efficient solar panels, even if the initial cost is a bit steeper.
Other components you'll need to purchase include inverters, wiring, charge controllers, mounts and more. The quality of these materials can affect your total solar system cost. For example, if you spring for the best solar batteries, they may add a few thousand dollars to your investment.
Another factor that can have a big impact on solar pricing? Your geographic area. Solar installation tends to be most cost-effective in parts of the country that get a lot of sun exposure, and thus a lot of photovoltaic light. This basically means that solar panels can operate more efficiently, and in many cases means that fewer total panels are needed. Those who live in states like California, Florida and Arizona — or really any areas of the Sun Belt or Southwest — will likely get the most out of their home solar power systems.
Both state and federal governments have established incentive programs to encourage homeowners to buy solar panels. There is currently a 26% federal solar tax credit, called an Investment Tax Credit (ITC), available for homeowners who install residential solar panels between 2020 and 2022. It is scheduled to reduce to 22% in 2023 and may not be extended thereafter.
Local incentives vary by state, but most of the best solar panel installers will help you identify and apply for these programs so you don't miss out on savings.
There are plenty of other factors that can impact solar panel installation costs. Different vendors are going to offer different levels of customization, expertise and consumer protections (including guarantees and warranties). The bottom line? It is wise to shop around a bit, determine the average cost of solar panels in your area and evaluate the value of services offered by a few solar installation companies.
Solar Panel Price Vs. Return on Investment
Clearly, your upfront solar panel installation cost may be a little steep. Now, let's look at the flipside: How much money will you actually save? And will your energy savings be enough to offset the initial cost of your solar energy system?
It is not unreasonable to think that you can cut your monthly utility bills by as much as 75% or more by switching to solar energy. Of course, the specific dollar amount will depend on where you live, the size of your home and the number of people in your household.
One way to look at it: The average household energy bill is somewhere between $100 and $200 monthly. It would probably take about 15 years for your energy savings to cancel out the cost of solar panel installation. In other words, within a decade and a half or so, your solar system might pay for itself. Factor in savings from tax rebates and other incentives, and most solar systems pay for themselves in closer to seven or eight years.
Note that most solar energy companies offer free solar calculators, which help you arrive at a ballpark for monthly energy savings. While these calculators are imprecise, they can certainly give you a general sense of the financial benefits you will experience when you convert to solar energy.
Free Quote: See How Much You Can Save on Solar Panels
Fill out this 30-second form to get a quote from one of the best solar energy companies in your area. You could save up to $2,500 each year on your electric bills and receive tax rebates.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost of Solar Panels
As you continue to weigh the pros and cons of solar energy, it's natural to have a few questions. The best way to resolve these is really to set up a solar consultation with a local expert, but in the meantime, here are a few general answers to some of the most common solar inquiries.
How much will it cost to maintain my solar energy system?
In general, solar systems are designed to run smoothly for decades without requiring any maintenance or upkeep. As such, you should not really need to factor maintenance into the equation for the first 20 years or so after you install your system. (And most solar companies will offer you warranties and guarantees to give peace of mind on this front.)
How will solar energy impact my property values?
Many homeowners want to know how going solar will impact the value of their homes. Going solar increases property values. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has reported buyers are willing to pay an average premium of about $15,000 for a home with a solar panel system. With that said, you are only going to see your property values go up if you own your solar system outright, as opposed to leasing it.
How can I finance the cost of solar panels?
Different solar installers may offer different financing plans, allowing consumers some flexibility. With that said, there are three basic options for paying for your solar energy system:
- Purchase your solar energy system outright (that is, pay in cash).
- Take out a solar loan to purchase the system, then pay it back with interest.
- Lease your system; you will pay less month-to-month but won't actually own the system yourself.
Which is better, buying or leasing my solar system?
It all depends on your motivation for going solar. If you want to maximize long-term savings and increase the value of your home, then purchasing your solar system is usually best. However, if you just want a low-maintenance way to reduce monthly energy costs and practice environmental stewardship, then leasing might be a better option. Also note that leasing can be a good option for those who do not plan on being in their home for exceptionally long.
How can I be sure my roof will accommodate a solar system?
If your roof faces south, has ample space and has little to no shade cover, it should work just fine. Even roofs that are not optimal can still be utilized with a few tweaks and adjustments. Your solar energy consultant will advise you on whether your home is a good fit for solar energy.
How long will my solar energy system last?
Solar systems are designed to be exceptionally durable. With just the most basic upkeep, most solar energy systems should continue to work and produce power for anywhere from 25 to 35 years.
Make the Best Choice About Solar Energy
Solar energy is not right for every homeowner, nor for every home. With that said, many homeowners will find that the initial cost of solar panels is more than offset by the long-term, recurring energy savings. Make sure you factor in cost, energy needs, tax incentives, home value and more as you seek to make a fully informed decision about whether to embrace solar power.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.
But the TVA board of directors voted 5-2 in favor of closing that plant as well as the Bull Run plant in Tennessee.
Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and @TVAnews should give serious consideration to all f… https://t.co/yljvUmkAE5— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1549922605.0
After the vote, the agency tweeted that the decision to close the plants "will ensure continued reliable power at the lowest cost feasible."
The part about "lowest cost feasible" is key: It simply became too expensive to maintain and operate the aging plants. As TVA CEO William Johnson the Associated Press, "It is not about coal. This decision is about economics."
In an environmental assessment released Monday, the agency recommended retiring the Paradise plant due to high maintenance costs, unreliability and its need for repairs.
"The overall costs to our customers would be $320 million lower if these two plants were not in the fleet," TVA CFO John Thomas told the board, as quoted by the AP.
Keeping them open would have cost an estimated $1.3 billion in equipment and maintenance investments, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
So the board's decision to close the plants wasn't even based on coal being the most polluting energy source. It was so TVA customers can save money on electricity bills (the benefit of cleaner air is just a bonus).
President Trump's pledge to end the so-called "war on coal" was one of his signature campaign promises. But coal plants are closing at a rapid pace because of economics and competing power sources. As Bloomberg wrote, "What was true under President Barack Obama is still true today: Coal's share of the power mix is declining, and wind and solar remain the fastest-growing U.S. sources of electricity." Coal's decline has also been attributed to the rise of natural gas.
#Wind and #Solar Are the Final Nails in #Coal’s Coffin https://t.co/eVZpnIIUG2 @cleantechnica @BeyondCoal— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1547503216.0
It's clear that Trump's efforts were not enough to sway the TVA board's vote, even though he appointed four of its seven members, the AP noted. One of the "no" votes came from Trump-appointee Kenny Allen, a retired coal exec from Kentucky.
"I'm just not completely comfortable with the recommendation because the impact and ripple effect on community cannot be fully quantified," he said, as quoted by the AP.
The shuttering of the two plants will cost 167 jobs at Paradise and about 100 jobs at Bull Run, and will affect the people in related jobs that support the facilities, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
But Johnson, TVA's CEO, said 40 percent of the plant employees whose jobs will be displaced are eligible for retirement, and added that those who want to stay could be offered jobs elsewhere in the utility, the Chattanooga Times Free Press wrote.
TVA board member Virginia Lodge, an Obama-appointee, sided with the majority.
"I don't want anybody to think we have not heard and understood the heartfelt pleas from these communities," she told NPR. "If we could make our decisions based on our sympathetic feeling it would be easy. Unfortunately we've all taken an oath to do what we think is best for the entire Valley."
TVA said on Twitter, "We will work with impacted employees and communities."
The TVA Board votes to retire Paradise Unit 3 and Bull Run within the next few years. Their decision was made after… https://t.co/vDDin4sAI7— Tennessee Valley Authority (@Tennessee Valley Authority)1550160137.0
With border wall construction imminent, the center posted a two-minute video featuring a bobcat living in the facility's southern 70 acres that will be cut off by the barrier once it's built.
"Little does this bobcat know," the center states in the video, "its ability to hunt, find shelter, find a mate and raise its young is about to be drastically affected by a concrete and steel wall it will never be able to get past."
What's more, the center noted, the floodlights that will be installed along the wall will "light up the entire area like a war zone all night long."
The underlying message of the clip is the U.S.-Mexico barrier's negative impact to native species and the surrounding environment.
The Trump administration waived 28 environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act in order to build 33 more miles of wall in the Rio Grande Valley, including a 5.5-mile concrete and steel barrier through the butterfly refuge. The project was funded by last year's congressional appropriations.
The National Butterfly Center Director Marianna Wright told the Guardian that the wall's construction would harm the butterflies as well as other species like the Texas tortoise, Texas indigo snake and Texas horned lizard that also find refuge on the center's land.
The butterfly sanctuary has filed an emergency restraining order on Monday to halt the construction, the Texas Observer reported. The center is also urging supporters to call their senators and representatives to stop any further border wall funding.
A 2017 study by the Center for Biological Diversity looking at the potential impact of the wall on 93 threatened or… https://t.co/wJzVEDBhA6— Center for Bio Div (@Center for Bio Div)1549994979.0
Meanwhile, the center wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday that trees were being taken down in their section of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Conservation Corridor, "a remnant of native habitat set aside for species protection."
The post also included a Facebook live video from writer and conservation photographer Krista Schlyer, who went to the site to observe the construction work. Schlyer said in a later video that authorities escorted her away from the construction site.
"They really don't want me to see what's going on back there," she said.
Construction of #borderwall began this morning on the La Parida tract of the Lower Rio Grande Refuge. The forest is… https://t.co/F9CuOvfNhs— krista schlyer (@krista schlyer)1550153951.0
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will propose a regulatory determination on highly toxic nonstick chemicals "by the end of this year," a timeline that's been criticized as too slow to take on the notorious drinking water contaminants.
At a press conference on Thursday in Philadelphia, EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a "comprehensive cross-agency plan" to tackle perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, while keeping the federal health advisory level at 70 parts per trillion.
"We feel right now that 70 parts per trillion is a safe level for drinking water," Wheeler said, as quoted by the Foster's Daily Democrat, referring to PFOS and PFOA—two common PFAS compounds.
But health and environmental groups, as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have advised far lower levels than what the EPA considers safe. The CDC said in its toxicology report published in June that the risk level for PFOA should be 11 parts per trillion and just over 7 parts per trillion for PFOS.
The man-made chemicals are found in a wide range of products, from non-stick cookware to firefighting foam. The compounds have been found in military bases and in many species of wildlife around the world. A Harvard 2016 study found that 6 million Americans get drinking water from sources that exceed current EPA guidelines for the chemicals.
Exposure has been linked to health issues such as cancer, liver disease, fertility problems, thyroid issues and asthma. Even extremely low, daily doses of the substances showed an adverse impact on lab animals.
#DrinkingWater PFAS Contamination Crisis: Ex-Koch Chemicals Executive Playing Key Role in Shaping #EPA's Response… https://t.co/sxwp9RAyt1— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1549411218.0
Responding to today's announcement, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said in an emailed press release that the EPA is failing to take strong, decisive action to protect the public from PFAS.
"While the agency fumbles with this 'mis-management plan,' millions of people will be exposed to highly toxic PFAS from drinking contaminated water," said Erik Olson, senior director for health and food at the NRDC, in a statement. "As a guardian of public health, Administrator Andrew Wheeler should revisit this embarrassing decision. With EPA asleep at the wheel, it's up to states, citizens, and public-minded companies to take action."
Further, as noted by The Hill, rather than setting a drinking water standard, the EPA announced today it will issue a draft regulation by the end of 2019, which kickstarts months to years of long public comment periods.
In a press release, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, criticized Wheeler for effectively prolonging the need for a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS by almost a year.
UPDATE: No #PFAS drinking water standard in today's announcement from @EPA. It has taken them nearly a year just t… https://t.co/tNWxxjjVEe— Senator Tom Carper (@Senator Tom Carper)1550160361.0
Carper pointed out that in May 2018, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt already announced four "concrete steps" to address PFAS contamination and to take steps to set a maximum contaminant level.
"Nearly a year ago, then-Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that EPA would decide on whether to set a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS as part of its PFAS Action Plan," Carper said. "The PFAS Action Plan being trumpeted by EPA today is insufficiently protective, and it explains why Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler would not commit to setting a drinking water standard for PFAS during his nomination hearing last month."
Carper added, "It has taken them nearly a year just to kick the can even further down the road."
He urged the acting EPA boss to "treat this public health threat with the urgency it deserves."
Regional Administrator Doug Benevento brushed aside the criticism about the EPA's timeline.
"It would be inaccurate to say we're not setting an MCL [maximum contaminant level]," he said, according to an EPA Region 8 tweet. "We are moving through the regulatory process required under the Safe Water Drinking Act before we make a determination."
Regional Administrator Doug Benevento addresses timeline for maximum contaminant level for #PFAS: "It would be inac… https://t.co/RBo8ep3PjC— EPARegion8 (@EPARegion8)1550165608.0
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is the world's most widely used weedkiller and has been surrounded by controversy ever since the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified it as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015.
The latest paper is a comprehensive review of epidemiologic studies published between 2001 and 2018, including last year's large Agricultural Health Study that tracked the health of tens of thousands of agricultural workers and determined no firm association between exposure to the pesticide and cancer, including NHL, as Reuters reported then.
Even with the Agricultural Health Study's assessment, the authors of the new paper still found "a compelling link" between glyphosate exposure and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and makes an even stronger case of the link compared to previous reports.
For each study that was reviewed, the researchers focused on the groups that were the most highly exposed to the chemical.
"This research provides the most up-to-date analysis of glyphosate and its link with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, incorporating a 2018 study of more than 54,000 people who work as licensed pesticide applicators," study co-author Rachel Shaffer, a University of Washington doctoral student in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, in a press release.
She added their findings aligned with the classification from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The meta-analysis was published this week in the journal Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research, whose editor-in-chief is U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) genetic toxicologist David DeMarini, GM Watch noted.
"Overall, in accordance with evidence from experimental animal and mechanistic studies, our current meta-analysis of human epidemiological studies suggests a compelling link between exposures to GBHs [glyphosate-based herbicides] and increased risk for NHL," the study states.
This conclusion contradicts the results of previous scientific assessments and international governmental bodies, including the EPA, which declared in 2017 that the controversial chemical is "not likely to be carcinogenic to humans."
Pharmaceutical giant Bayer—which bought glyphosate-maker Monsanto—has adamantly rejected any cancer claims and said the new study is "flawed" and uses "cherry-picked data" in a statement to Carey Gillam, a journalist and researcher for US Right to Know, who wrote about the new findings in the Guardian.
Bayer is facing more than 9,000 U.S. lawsuits from people who believe the chemical causes NHL.
New study by top US scientists shows increased risk for NHL cancer from exposures to @Bayer Monsanto glyphosate her… https://t.co/JhZXfBMPws— carey gillam (@carey gillam)1550149927.0
The research was conducted by scientists from the University of Washington, the University of California, Berkeley and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.
As noted by GM Watch, three of the five researchers are part of an EPA scientific advisory panel on glyphosate and have publicly stated that the agency failed to follow proper scientific procedures in determining the herbicide has no link to cancer.
Senior author Lianne Sheppard, a professor in the UW departments of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences and Biostatistics, told the Guardian that the EPA evaluation is wrong.
"It was pretty obvious they didn't follow their own rules," she said to the publication. "Is there evidence that it is carcinogenic? The answer is yes."
In a comment to the Guardian, an EPA spokesperson said: "We are reviewing the study."
Funding for the new study was provided by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and the University of Washington Retirement Association Aging Fellowship.
"Our analysis focused on providing the best possible answer to the question of whether or not glyphosate is carcinogenic," Sheppard said in the press release. "As a result of this research, I am even more convinced that it is."
In a rare bipartisan push, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a major public lands package on Tuesday.
The Natural Resources Management Act, approved 92-8, establishes 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, adds 694,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas, creates four new national monuments, among other important conservation measures, according to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who introduced the bill with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
Significantly, the Cantwell-Murkowski package also permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is considered America's most important conservation and recreation program.
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 and is funded by fees and royalties from federal offshore oil and gas leases. More than 42,000 state and local projects across the country are supported by the program but it expired last September because Congress failed to reauthorize and fund the program.
"The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been a pre-eminent program for access to public lands," Cantwell said in a press release. "It gives local communities the tools and resources to manage public lands, to give more access to the American people, to do the things that will help us grow jobs and preserve against a very challenging and threatening climate."
Today is a great day for Alaska and our country. Proud to stand with @SenatorCantwell to share the strong, bipartis… https://t.co/gpNKMkZDFe— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@Sen. Lisa Murkowski)1550015349.0
The measure is the largest public lands bill considered by Congress in a decade, the Associated Press noted. The 662-page document contains more than 110 individual bills, including provisions sponsored by dozens of senators on both sides of the aisle.
Murkowski told the AP it was a "very, very collaborative" process.
Other notable provisions include 367 miles of new " Wild & Scenic Rivers" and 2,600 miles of new national trails. The Washington Post also pointed out that the bill includes funds for the the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act through 2022 to provide habitat protection for more than 380 bird species; a permanent mining ban on 370,000 acres around Yellowstone and North Cascades national parks; and codification of the Obama-era Every Kid Outdoors Act that allows free admission to national parks for fourth graders and their families.
The new national monuments proposed by the bill include the Mississippi home of civil rights activists Medgar and Myrlie Evers, as well as the Mill Springs Civil War battlefield in Kentucky.
What's more, the Congressional Budget Office projects the bill will save taxpayers $9 million, the Post reported.
It now heads to the House of Representatives, which is expected to "quickly" take up the bill and pass it, Cantwell's office said in the release.
The Senate's overwhelming support of the bill is contrasted by the Trump administration's drastic slashing public lands in favor of mining, drilling and other development. Incidentally, the Post reported that "White House officials have indicated privately that the president will sign it."
Environmental groups and public lands advocates applauded the upper chamber's efforts.
"The Republican-led Congress should have never let LWCF expire as they did last September, and while this package is not perfect, we welcome the Senate's passage of this bipartisan legislation, which would permanently reauthorize LWCF and protect millions of acres of lands and waters," League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski said in an issued statement. "We will also continue to urge Congress to enact full, dedicated funding for LWCF, in addition to permanent reauthorization, to end the chronic underfunding of this critical program."
Garett Reppenhagen, an Iraq war veteran and the western states director of the Vet Voice Foundation, urged the House to swiftly take up and pass the public lands package.
"It has been a hard, uphill battle against the White House and Republican leadership, but we are pleased that LWCF is one step closer to reauthorization," Reppenhagen said. "This program is essential for protecting and preserving lands that veterans depend on when they come home, and for maintaining our historic battlefields for future generation to learn from. This cannot wait any longer, and we urge the House to immediately take this bill up so it can be signed into law."
"I'm so pleased that this image did well because it illustrates the emotion and feeling of animals and emphasizes that this is not limited to humans," Lloyd said in a press release.
"It is something I think more people need to be aware of for the sake of all animals," he added.
Lloyd, who is from New Zealand and based in London, talks about how he caught the heartwarming scene here:
The public chose Lloyd's photo out of 25 pre-selected images by the Natural History Museum. The museum made its shortlist from more than 45,000 submissions across 95 countries.
Museum director Michael Dixon praised the photographer for capturing a tender moment between the wild animals.
"Lions are individuals with complex social bonds, and David's winning picture provides a glimpse into their inner world," Dixon said in the release. "A truly stunning photograph, this intimate portrait reminds us that humans aren't the only sentient beings on this planet. I hope the empathy and wonder garnered by this image will inspire more people to become advocates for nature."
These two adult males, probably brothers, greeted and rubbed faces for 30 seconds before settling down. Most people never have the opportunity to witness such animal sentience, and David was honored to have experienced and captured such a moment. The picture was taken in Ndutu, Serengeti, Tanzania. Bond of Brothers by David Lloyd, New Zealand / UK
Lloyd's photograph can be seen at an exhibition at the Natural History Museum until June 30 along with other "highly commended" entries, including the four shown below.
These include Matthew Maran's shot of a fox walking towards graffiti art of another fox in north London; Bence Mate's picture of three painted wolves playing with the leg of an impala; and Wim Van Den Heever's photo of three king penguins on a beach in the Falkland Islands.
One of the most striking pictures in the top five is Justin Hofman's devastating photo of an emaciated polar bear in the Canadian Arctic. According to the image caption, the American photographer's "whole body pained" while watching the starving bear at an abandoned hunting camp.
"With little, and thinning, ice to move around on, the bear is unable to search for food," the caption states.
"Highly Commended" Photos
Matthew has been photographing foxes close to his home in north London for over a year and ever since spotting this street art had dreamt of capturing this image. After countless hours and many failed attempts his persistence paid off.Fox Meets Fox by Matthew Maran, UK
Wim came across these king penguins on a beach in the Falkland Islands just as the sun was rising. They were caught up in a fascinating mating behavior—the two males were constantly moving around the female using their flippers to fend the other off.Three Kings by Wim Van Den Heever, South Africa
Justin's whole body pained as he watched this starving polar bear at an abandoned hunter's camp, in the Canadian Arctic, slowly heave itself up to standing. With little, and thinning, ice to move around on, the bear is unable to search for food.A Polar Bear's Struggle by Justin Hofman, USA
While adult African wild dogs are merciless killers, their pups are extremely cute and play all day long. Bence photographed these brothers in Mkuze, South Africa—they all wanted to play with the leg of an impala and were trying to drag it in three different directions!One Toy, Three Dogs by Bence Mate, Hungary
In a 2-1 decision (pdf), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an earlier district court ruling that determined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has broad authority under the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to waive statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and many more environmental rules to build border barriers.
"Because the projects are statutorily authorized and DHS has waived the environmental laws California and the environmental groups seek to enforce, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to DHS," judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in the majority opinion.
A Justice Department spokesperson told The Hill that the ruling was "a victory for the Trump administration, for the rule of law, and above all, for our border security."
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2017 by multiple conservation groups and the state of California in response to the federal government's waiver of 37 environmental regulations to build prototypes of the planned border wall in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego County, as well as a replacement for existing border infrastructure along a 15-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico boundary south of San Diego.
The Center for Biological Diversity, one of the litigants, was disappointed by Monday's court ruling, especially as the challengers tried to take the case to the Supreme Court but was rejected in December.
"Congress has ceded its authority to Trump, who has swept aside fundamental public safety and environmental laws to build walls that won't work," Brian Segee, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney, said in a statement to The Hill after the decision. "This lawlessness is destroying irreplaceable ecosystems and militarizing communities."
A 2017 study by the Center for Biological Diversity looking at the potential impact of the wall on 93 threatened or… https://t.co/wJzVEDBhA6— Center for Bio Div (@Center for Bio Div)1549994979.0
Environmental concerns about the controversial border wall are on full display in Texas, where construction is imminent at the National Butterfly Center—the most diverse butterfly sanctuary in the U.S.
A planned 5.5-mile section of concrete and steel border wall that was funded by the the 2018 Omnibus spending bill will cut off 70 percent of the 100-acre property.
Some 200 species of butterflies find a home there each year, including the Mexican bluewing, the black swallowtail and the increasingly imperiled monarch.
On Monday, the nonprofit filed a temporary restraining order against the federal government to halt construction until a lawsuit filed by the center has been resolved, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
The Trump administration also waived 28 environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act in order to build 33 more miles of wall in the lower Rio Grande Valley, including the section through the butterfly center.
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The new bill—called the "Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act"—states that "oil and gas activities are not compatible with the protection of this national treasure."
Thank you @RepHuffman @RepLowenthal @RepBrianFitz for introducing the "Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection… https://t.co/o8mZBX0bDa— Alaska Wilderness League Action (@Alaska Wilderness League Action)1549912615.0
Inclusion of the drilling measure in the 2017 tax bill helped Republicans secure the vote of Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has long sought to open part of ANWR for oil and gas development.
Even though the majority of voters across the political spectrum oppose ANWR exploitation and the area was kept off-limits thanks to Obama-era policies, the tax law, which passed with only GOP support, allowed drilling for the first time the refuge's coastal plain.
[email protected] announces introduction of the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, bipartisan legislation… https://t.co/dUBsxypXDy— Sierra Club Live (@Sierra Club Live)1549908595.0
The 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, also known as the 1002 Area, is believed to hold a vast and untapped trove of oil. Debate over opening the area for fossil fuel exploration has been at the center of political debate for decades.
Environmentalists worry that drilling would harm native wildlife. An analysis from the Center for American Progress and Conservation Science Partners describes the coastal plain as the "biological heart" of the Arctic refuge that hosts one-third of all polar bear denning habitat in the U.S. and one-third of the migratory birds that come to the Arctic Refuge.
Fossil fuel development would also further stress a region that's already impacted by climate change.
"The Arctic is being impacted by climate change at unprecedented levels," the bill states. "Temperatures are rising at twice the rate of the rest of the country, and wildlife and habitat that depend on the Arctic are being detrimentally impacted."
The area is also considered sacred to the indigenous Gwich'in people, who sustain themselves from the caribou that migrate there.
Repealing the drilling provision in the tax law "would best protect the unspoiled ecosystem of the Coastal Plain, the human rights of the Gwich'in, and the integrity of the National Wildlife Refuge System," the bill states.
Northern Alaska National Wildlife Range (ANWR), Coastal Plain 1002 AreaUSEIA
Last year, the Trump administration approved the first offshore oil drilling development in federal Arctic waters even though rising global temperatures have dramatically reduced the extent of sea ice.
Case in point, Hilcorp Alaska's Liberty Energy Project—which involves building a 9-acre artificial drilling island in the shallow waters of the Beaufort Sea—was delayed because there was not enough sea ice to build a foundation for the artificial island.
The Sierra Club praised the new bill and noted that even major financial institutions, including Barclays, National Australia Bank, HSBC, BNP Paribas, Royal Bank of Scotland and Societe General are rejecting financing for drilling or exploration in the Arctic refuge.
"Drilling in the Arctic Refuge would threaten the food security and human rights of the Gwich'in people and permanently destroy one of the world's last wild places, all to dig up more oil that would worsen the climate crisis," Sierra Club lands protection program director Athan Manuel said in a press release. "That's why the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose drilling there, as do a growing number of investors and financial institutions."
Manuel added, "Now Congress has a chance to undo the dangerous and short-sighted decision to sell off this special place to corporate polluters. We applaud Representative Huffman and the bill's co-sponsors for their leadership in protecting America's Refuge."
#Arctic Refuge Oil Surveys Put #PolarBears in the Crosshairs https://t.co/mhJ6QlwAo0 @CenterForBioDiv @SavetheArctic— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1548273620.0
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's sweeping Green New Deal resolution was never going to be embraced by her Republican foes, but she's taking the criticism in stride—even if the missives come from the very top.
At his El Paso, Texas rally on Monday, President Donald Trump referred to her signature issue as a "high school term paper."
"Last week they introduced a massive government takeover that would destroy our incredible economic gains. They introduced the so-called Green New Deal," the president said in his speech. "It sounds like a high school term paper that got a low mark."
President Trump blasts 'Green New Deal' www.youtube.com
The star Democrat from New York did not back down from the president's remarks.
"Ah yes, a man who can't even read briefings written in full sentences is providing literary criticism of a House Resolution," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter after retweeting Trump's quote from Breitbart News' Charlie Spiering.
She then included a quote from a Washington Post report about how Trump skips written intelligence reports, which are usually dense and lengthy, and relies on oral briefings instead.
Ah yes, a man who can’t even read briefings written in full sentences is providing literary criticism of a House Re… https://t.co/Ru0Ub1r75E— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1549941470.0
That wasn't the problem the president had with the Green New Deal. Trump falsely claimed in his rally speech that the deal would "shut down" American energy and air travel.
"It would shut down American energy which I don't think the people of Texas are going to be happy with that. It would shut down a little thing called air travel," he said.
He claimed the resolution would "take away your car, reduce the value of your home and put millions of Americans out of work."
Trump's comments are akin to his tweet on Saturday, where he also took a jab at the Green New Deal.
I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for th… https://t.co/vEaju3l195— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1549754485.0
The president was probably referring to a widely circulated FAQ section, in which Ocasio-Cortez's office quipped, "we aren't sure that we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes." But that statement was in reference to bringing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions "to net-zero, rather than zero emissions" within 10 years.
Republican lawmakers and other critics have pounced on what has been called the "botched rollout" of the Green New Deal, which is also sponsored by Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the Senate. The most prominent issue was language on a Feb. 5 blog post on the congresswoman's website that called for economic security "for all who are unable or unwilling to work." That information has since been retracted.
Republicans bashed the concept of the "Green New Deal" as technologically impossible, unimaginably costly and a “so… https://t.co/pxpHOWVak8— POLITICO (@POLITICO)1549924209.0
Despite the naysayers, momentum for climate policy has been growing ever since its was popularized by Ocasio-Cortez as well as the young climate activists of the Sunrise Movement who staged a sit-in inside then-presumed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office not long after the midterm elections to demand a Green New Deal.
Varshini Prakash, founder and executive director of Sunrise Movement, called the resolution "a litmus test for progressive leadership."
As EcoWatch previously wrote, ideas outlined in the proposal include "unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security" for all citizens and "meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources."
The non-binding resolution calls for a wide-ranging mobilization of the U.S. economy and creating jobs through infrastructure and industrial projects, such as zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; installing smart grids; updating or creating buildings that are energy efficient; expanding clean energy jobs (like solar, wind turbine, battery and storage manufacturing); cleaning existing hazardous waste sites; and restoration of damaged and threatened ecosystems.
Along the same lines, the plan includes a significant social justice component because it aims to create millions of family-supporting and union jobs and will help protect disadvantaged communities on the frontlines of pollution and climate change.
Ocasio-Cortez recently retweeted a string of praise for the Green New Deal from presidential contenders, including fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The Green New Deal is a bold plan to shift our country to 100% clean and renewable energy. We do not fight this fig… https://t.co/VVjBuvZVc7— Kamala Harris (@Kamala Harris)1549642351.0
The U.S. is the most powerful economy on earth and we must lead the world in the fight against climate change. We c… https://t.co/TLglbSZTas— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1549817285.0
A #GreenNewDeal is ambitious. It's bold. And I’m cosponsoring this resolution with @aoc and @senmarkey because it’s… https://t.co/TR1Al96BYv— Kirsten Gillibrand (@Kirsten Gillibrand)1549563437.0
The first question I was asked in Iowa was about #GreenNewDeal. The hard truth is climate change has imperiled our… https://t.co/DicuVzYa2P— Cory Booker (@Cory Booker)1549645486.0
If we want to live in a world with clean air and water, we have to take real action to combat climate change now. I… https://t.co/Qa3iDU1Ec9— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren)1549555157.0
Financial losses are estimated at $300 million Australian dollars (about $212 million U.S.).
Days of "unprecedented" rainfall earlier this month led to widespread flooding across the state, causing power outages, damaging roads and buildings and prompting evacuations, according to AccuWeather. Some areas, the Guardian noted, received three years' worth of rain in about a week.
Tragically, farmers in northwest Queensland initially welcomed the rains, as the region had suffered years of back-to-back drought, according to Michael Guerin, the CEO of Queenlands agricultural body AgForce.
"The loss of hundreds of thousands of cattle after five, six, seven years of drought, is a debilitating blow not just to individual farmers, many of whom have lost literally everything, but to rural communities," he said in a press release.
Guerin said the cattle industry could take decades to recover after the entire herds of cattle were wiped out from the extreme weather.
"There is no doubt that this is a disaster of unprecedented proportion," he said. He urged governments of all levels and other agencies to help the farmers with recovery efforts.
Local farmers expressed heartbreak at the sheer scale of destruction caused by the floods, not just for cattle but to other native wildlife and to infrastructure.
"As we begin to access our paddocks we are being confronted with death and devastation at every turn," Kate Hunter, who works at the Gipsy Plains Brahmans farm, wrote in a widely shared Facebook post. "There are kangaroos dead in trees and fences, birds drowned in drifts of silt and debris and our beloved bovine family lay perished in piles where they have been huddling for protection and warmth. This scene is mirrored across the entire region, it is absolutely soul destroying to think our animals suffered like this."
"The true scale of destruction this disaster has left in its wake we are only just beginning to discover," she continued. "The sheer amount of water that engulfed the region has demolished fences, exposed pipelines, destroyed water infrastructure, created huge gullies that were once only small seasonal streams, turned roads into rivers and completely washed dam banks away."
Hunter wrote that graziers around the district are "working tirelessly" to save all the animals they can and also to humanely euthanize the ones that are "sadly beyond saving."
"This is an absolutely gut wrenching time for all of us out here, these cattle are not just our source of income, firstly they are our family and for many of us our life's passion," she continued.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that the federal government will provide an immediate non-gratia payment of $1 million to each of the affected Queensland shires.
"This payment will be for them to use on priorities they deem most urgent—whether that be rate relief for impacted properties, infrastructure, or the disposal of cattle which have perished," he said, as quoted by the Australian Associated Press.
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