By Tara Lohan
What does a biodiversity crisis sound like? You may need to strain your ears to hear it.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Matt Casale
There were many lessons to be learned from Texas' prolonged periods of lost power during its cold snap, which saw temperatures drop into the single digits. But one many people may not recognize is that electric vehicles, or EVs, can be part of a smart resiliency plan — not only in the case of outages triggered by the cold but in other scenarios caused by extreme weather events, from fire-related blackouts in California to hurricane-hit power losses in Puerto Rico.
A car driving in the snow in Dallas, Feb. 2021. Matthew Rader / CC BY-SA 4.0<p>Experts recognize that electric vehicles are a central climate solution for their role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But EVs are also essentially batteries on wheels. You can store energy in those batteries, and if EVs are equipped with something called <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle-to-grid" target="_blank">vehicle-to-grid</a> or vehicle-to-building technology, they can also be used to keep the lights on in emergencies. The technology allows the energy being stored in an EV battery to be pushed back into the grid or into buildings to provide power.</p><p>There are hurdles: The technology is still <a href="https://www.greenbiz.com/article/vehicle-grid-technology-revving" target="_blank">developing</a>, the vast majority of EVs currently on the road do not have this capability, and utilities would need regulatory approval before bringing it to scale. But done right it could be a great opportunity.</p><p>Electric car batteries can hold approximately <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/11/how-california-can-use-electric-vehicles-keep-lights" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">60 kilowatt hours (kWh)</a> of energy, enough to provide back-up power to an average U.S. household for two days. Larger electric vehicles like buses and trucks have even bigger batteries and can provide more power. The American company Proterra produces electric buses that can store <a href="https://www.proterra.com/press-release/proterra-launches-zx5-electric-bus/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">up to 660 kWh of energy</a>. Electric <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/electric-trash-trucks-are-coming-quietly-to-your-town-11602098620#:~:text=Electric%20trash%20truck%20love%20is%20in%20the%20air.&text=A's%20program%20to%20reduce%20carbon,being%20primarily%20electric%20by%202023." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">garbage trucks</a> and even <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/business/electric-semi-trucks-big-rigs.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">big-rigs</a>, with bigger batteries, are becoming a reality too.</p>
MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann / CC BY 2.0<p>If equipped with vehicle-to-grid or vehicle-to-building technology, those cars, buses and trucks could prove invaluable during future blackouts. People could rely on their cars to power their houses. Municipalities, transit agencies and school districts could send out their fleets to the areas most in need. We could power homes, shelters and emergency response centers — and could keep people warm, healthy and comfortable until power could be restored.</p><p>But to add this great resiliency tool to our arsenal in times of extreme weather, we must significantly increase the number of EVs on the road. In 2019 electric cars accounted for only about <a href="https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/articles/fotw-1136-june-1-2020-plug-vehicle-sales-accounted-about-2-all-light-duty" target="_blank">2%</a> of all light-duty vehicle sales in the country. Electric buses and trucks are becoming more common in the United States, but still only represent a tiny fraction of the fleet. As it stands now, the EVs currently on the road, even if equipped with vehicle-to-grid technology, would do little to help a broad swath of the population in need of power.</p>
A line of electric cars at charging stations. Andrew Bone / CC BY 2.0
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Tara Lohan
A hailstorm in South Texas. Tornadoes in Tennessee. Wildfires across the West. A barrage of Gulf Coast hurricanes. Those are among the record 22 weather and climate disasters that each topped $1 billion in damages last year in the United States.
A manatee stranded by Hurricane Irma in Melbourne, Florida. Bill Greer, FWC / CC BY-ND 2.0<p>"Some of the negative responses we found were quite concerning, including more than 100 cases of dramatic population declines and 31 cases of local population extinction following an extreme event," says Maxwell. "Populations of critically endangered bird species in Hawai'i, such as the palia, have been annihilated due to drought, and populations of lizard species have been wiped out due to cyclones in the Bahamas."</p><p>Plant species, the researchers found, had the highest number of negative responses to extreme events, followed by reptiles and amphibians.</p><p>"Collectively, the studies in our review suggest that extreme weather and climate events have profound implications for species and ecosystem management," the researchers concluded.</p>
Damage in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian. Seaman Erik Villa Rodriguez / U.S. Coast Guard
Kangaroo Island, the only habitat of the endangered Kangaroo Island dunnart, after the 2019-2020 Australia wildfires. StephenMitchell / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Key deer after Hurricane Irene. Carol Lyn Parrish /CC BY-ND 2.0
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By Tara Lohan
For 10,000 years we've relied on domesticated plants for our staple foods. But it's the wild relatives of those crops that are becoming increasingly important to our future food supply.
Crop Wild Relatives seed bank at the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru. Michael Major, Crop Trust / CC BY-ND 2.0
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By Tara Lohan
Andrea Reid grew up surrounded by water on Canada's Prince Edward Island with fish "very much just in my blood," she says. When she went to college, she realized that fish could be a career, too.
Andrea Reid, principal investigator at the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries. Alex Sarna<p>A lot of Indigenous research methodologies are deeply community centered and are trying to move us away from the model that has pervaded in Western science for a long time, which is researchers coming into communities, extracting data and using it for their own needs and purposes.</p><p>Putting Indigenous knowledge and communities at the forefront of research has the potential to change outcomes, but I think it can also change the way that we even ask questions. It certainly changes the way we go about answering them and how much difference the work actually makes. In the fisheries world there's this slogan, "Bring fishers on board or miss the boat." And the same applies to communities, right?</p><p>If we want to have people buying into these recommendations that we're putting forward as scientists, we need to engage them in that process, have them understand what it is that we're talking about and what the research is intended to achieve. If you do that, you can get a lot more buy-in and credibility in the work. It's a whole different way of operating in many respects.</p><p><strong>What threats do Indigenous fisheries face? </strong></p><p>The Indigenous fisheries in which I have done a lot of my work on the Pacific Coast of Canada have been extremely long standing. They date back millennia and have really been shaped by the knowledge systems that have been passed down generation to generation.</p>
Taylor Wale, Andrea Reid and Collin Middleton on board the Ocean Virtue in 2016 where they were tagging and tracking Pacific salmon on BC's North Coast. Katrina Cook<p><span style="background-color: initial;">To begin we are focusing on British Columbia First Nations and partnering with communities and nations here. But I am also on the front end of developing a partnership in the Great Lakes of North America with nations and tribes on either side of the border looking at invasive sea lamprey.</span><br></p><p>There are also budding partnerships with fisheries in other contexts and communities. There's a lot of parallels with Aboriginal fishers in Australia, with Māori fishers in New Zealand and native Hawaiian fishers. But again, we are focusing local and then overtime building into more of that trans-local community.</p><p>We're starting as a small group of principally Indigenous scholars. And over time we really hope to grow what we're doing so that this becomes a space for community members, fishers and managers — that they feel welcomed and see room for themselves in [academia, which] historically, has not been very kind to underrepresented groups. And there are not many Indigenous students in post-secondary education. There's not many Indigenous students typically in science.</p><p>And so I hope that the creation of the Center for Indigenous Fisheries doesn't ask students to leave part of themselves at the door or to depart from their worldview in order to gain access. But that instead it creates a space for them and that over time it can really help to build strong partnerships with communities and grow beyond the confines of the university.</p><p>There is a Mi'kmaw teaching called <em>Etuaptmumk</em> or "two-eyed seeing." And it's carried by a specific elder currently, Dr. Albert Marshall, who's doing a lot of work to bring it forward into the literature but also into public spaces as well.</p><p>It's defined as learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western dominant or mainstream knowledge and ways of knowing. And learning to use both these eyes together for the benefit of all.</p><p>In our fisheries and in biodiversity at large, we're facing so many big crises where we need all of the tools that are available at our disposal. And those can equally come from Indigenous knowledge systems as well as Western scientific ones. So it's really about bringing together the best tools for the job.</p>
By Jeff Peterson
America's coastal saltwater wetlands are on a course toward functional extinction in the coming decades. Their demise will come at the hands of steadily accelerating sea-level rise and relentless coastal development. As these wetlands disappear, they will take with them habitat, storm buffering and carbon sequestration benefits of tremendous value.
NOAA's National Geodetic Survey installs a device to provide data to model the fate of a Chesapeake Bay marsh in the face of rising water levels. National Ocean Service Image Gallery<p>The rising seas will eventually drown all the saltwater wetlands that now exist, converting them to open water. Some wetlands will survive in place for a time if seas rise slowly enough. But the rate of sea-level rise is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2680/new-study-finds-sea-level-rise-accelerating/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">accelerating rapidly</a> and other factors, such as<a href="https://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1392/pdf/circ1392.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> land subsidence</a>, will shift the balance in favor of rising seas in the years ahead.</p><p>For most saltwater wetlands, survival will require landward migration. This is possible where geography does not present obstacles, such as steep slopes, and where human development has not already staked a claim. There is no national assessment of the feasibility of saltwater wetland migration, but several studies of smaller geographic areas present a bleak picture.</p><p>On the Pacific coast, some 83% of wetlands are projected to become open water by 2110 and "migration of most wetlands was constrained by coastal development or steep topography," according to a 2018 <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/2/eaao3270" target="_blank">study</a> in <em>Science Advances</em>. Along the Gulf of Mexico, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10750-006-0413-8" target="_blank">estimated</a> conversion of wetlands to open water varies for each state, with rates from 24 to 37% by 2060.</p><p>The outlook for saltwater wetland survival darkens further when one considers new coastal development occupying dry land that might otherwise become a new wetland. Population in the 100-year coastal floodplain is expected to almost double by 2060, significantly expanding the coastal development footprint.</p><p>And the rising sea levels that drive wetlands inland will also prompt people to defend the land they are on, often with seawalls, bulkheads or levees. Some <a href="https://cdr.lib.unc.edu/concern/dissertations/v405sb56q" target="_blank">14% of the coast is already armored</a> by this infrastructure and, if the current rate of armoring continues, that percentage is expected to double by 2100.</p><p>Finally, wetlands that are able to migrate will need years to provide the same degree of ecosystem services they did originally. A <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001247" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> of over 600 restored wetlands worldwide found that biological structure and biogeochemical functioning "remained on average 26% and 23% lower, respectively, than in reference sites" even a century after restoration, which means that even the wetlands to do survive won't provide the same benefits.</p>
Creating a "living shoreline" in the Delaware estuary. Danielle Kreeger CC BY-NC-ND 2.0<p>In some places, regulation will not be enough and acquisition of real estate will be necessary. Some states have land-acquisition programs that consider sea-level rise. For example, <a href="https://toolkit.climate.gov/case-studies/using-sea-level-rise-model-identify-and-prioritize-wetlands-conservation-acquisition" target="_blank">Maryland</a> identifies "coastal lands with the highest potential to aid in adaptation if sea level rises a meter per century" and uses the assessment in making conservation investments. People in the San Francisco Bay area voted for <a href="https://www.kqed.org/science/677501/measure-aa-asks-bay-area-residents-to-help-protect-against-sea-level-rise" target="_blank">Measure AA</a> to provide local funds for wetlands protection in the face of sea-level rise. These programs and some others are a foothold but more states need to follow this example.</p><p>Federal agencies need to support these state initiatives by expanding modest existing federal programs that protect coastal wetlands to include purchasing land for prospective wetlands and removing buildings and other structures where needed.</p><p>Saving saltwater wetlands will require that Congress, federal agencies, states and local governments collaborate to agree on the strategy and then approve the new tools and funding needed to carry it forward. This will require years of effort, but the start of a new Congress and a new administration is an auspicious time to begin this important work.</p>
By John R. Platt
What's in a species name?
In some cases, the answers include paternalism, colonialism, sexism and racism.
New Caledonia. Chris Hoare / CC BY 2.0
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By Tara Lohan
Most of us know a bad drought when we see one: Lakes and rivers recede from their normal water lines, crops wither in fields, and lawns turn brown. Usually we think of these droughts as being triggered by a lack of rain, but scientists also track drought in other ways.
Frank Gehrke of the Calif. Dept. of Water Resources during the April 1, 2015 snow survey in the Sierra Nevada, which found zero snow for the first time since surveys began in 1942. Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources
By Tara Lohan
Fall used to be the time when millions of monarch butterflies in North America would journey upwards of 2,000 miles to warmer winter habitat.
A monarch butterfly caterpillar feeds on common milkweed on Poplar Island in Maryland. Photo: Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program, (CC BY-NC 2.0)
By Tara Lohan
2020 was so bad that even disasters outdid themselves. Last year the United States alone experienced at least 16 weather and climate disasters with losses topping $1 billion each. That's more than twice the long-term average.
By John R. Platt
The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.
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By Tara Lohan
A key part of the United States' clean energy transition has started to take shape, but you may need to squint to see it. About 2,000 wind turbines could be built far offshore, in federal waters off the Atlantic Coast, in the next 10 years. And more are expected.
Threats to Birds<p>One of the gravest threats facing birds is climate change, according to Audubon, which found that rising temperatures threaten <a href="https://www.audubon.org/2019climateissue" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nearly two-thirds of North America's bird species</a>. That's why the impending development of offshore wind is a good thing, says Shilo Felton, a field manager in the organization's Clean Energy Initiative, but it also comes with dangers to birds that need to be better studied and mitigated.</p><p>The most obvious risk comes from birds colliding with spinning turbine blades. But offshore wind developments can also displace birds from foraging or roost sites, as well as migratory pathways.</p><p>Along the Atlantic Coast four imperiled species are of top concern to conservationists: the endangered piping plover, red knot, roseate tern and black-capped petrel, which is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.</p><p>"Those four species are of utmost importance to make sure that we understand the impacts," says Felton. "But beyond that there are many species that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act that could potentially see more impacts from offshore wind."</p><p>Northern gannets, for example, are at risk not just for collision but <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308703197_Possible_impacts_of_offshore_wind_farms_on_seabirds_a_pilot_study_in_Northern_Gannets_in_the_southern_North_Sea" target="_blank">habitat displacement</a>.</p>
A northern gannet flying along Cape May, N.J. Ann Marie Morrison / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0<p>"There's <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320716303196" target="_blank">some evidence</a> that they just won't use areas where turbines are, but that also excludes them from key foraging areas," says Felton. Researchers are still studying what this may mean for the birds. But a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0141113620305304" target="_blank">study</a> published in December 2020 conducted at Bass Rock, Scotland — home to the world's largest northern gannet colony — found that wind developments could reduce their growth rate, though not enough to cause a population decline.</p><p>Other birds, such as great cormorants and European shags, are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320716303196" target="_blank">attracted to wind developments</a> and use the infrastructure to rest while opening up new foraging areas farther from shore.</p><p>"There's plenty of potential for a bird to use a wind farm and still to avoid the turbines themselves," says Felton.</p><p>Birds like pelicans, however, are less versatile in their movements and are at particular risk of collision because of their flight pattern, she says.</p><p>But how disruptive or dangerous offshore turbines will be along the East Coast isn't yet known.</p><p>Federal and state agencies, along with nongovernmental organizations, says Felton, have done good research to try to better understand those potential impacts. "But these are all theoretical, because we don't have a lot of offshore wind yet in the United States."</p>
Threats to Ocean Life<p>Birds aren't the only wildlife of concern. More development in ocean waters could affect a litany of marine species, some of which are already facing other pressures from overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change.</p><p>Scientists have found that marine mammals like whales and dolphins could be disturbed by the jarring sounds of construction, especially if pile driving is used to hammer the steel turbine platform into the seafloor.</p><p>The noises, though short-lived, could impede communication between animals, divert them from migration routes or cause them to seek less suitable areas for feeding or breeding. Research from Europe found that harbor porpoises, seals and dolphins may avoid development areas during construction. In most, but <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045101" target="_blank">not all cases</a>, the animals were believed to have returned to the area following construction.</p><p>The biggest concern for conservation groups in the United States is the critically endangered North American right whale. There are fewer than 400 remaining, and the species' habitat overlaps with a number of planned wind development areas along the East Coast.</p><p>"Offshore wind is in no way the cause of the challenges the whales face, but it's going to be another pressure point," says John Rogers, senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists.</p><p>Researchers aren't sure how right whales will respond to the noise from pile driving.</p><p>"But we are concerned, based on what we know about how whales react to other noise sources, that they may avoid [wind development] areas," says Kershaw.</p><p>And if that displacement causes them to miss out on important food resources, it could be dangerous for a species already on the brink.</p><p>There are a few other potential threats, too.</p><p>Ships associated with the development — more plentiful during construction — also pose a danger. In the past few years cargo ships, fishing boats and other vessels have caused half of all deaths of North Atlantic right whales.</p>
A juvenile right whale breaches against the backdrop of a ship near the St. Johns River entrance. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission / NOAA Research Permit #775-1600-10<p>And after construction, the noise from the spinning turbines will be present in the water at low decibels. "We don't quite know how the great whales will react to those sounds," says Jeremy Firestone, the director of the Center for Research in Wind at the University of Delaware.</p><p>Other marine mammals may also perceive the noise, but at low decibels it's unlikely to be an impediment, <a href="http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v309/p279-295/" target="_blank">research has found</a>.</p><p>And it's possible that wind development could help some ocean life. Turbine foundations can attract fish and invertebrates for whom hard substrates create habitat complexity — known as the "reef effect," according to researchers from the University of Rhode Island's <a href="https://dosits.org/animals/effects-of-sound/anthropogenic-sources/wind-turbine/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Discovery of Sound in the Sea</a> program. Exclusion of commercial fishing nearby may also help shelter fish and protect marine mammals from entanglements in fishing gear.</p>
Ensuring Safe Development<p>Despite the potential dangers, researchers have gathered a few best practices to help diminish and possibly eliminate some risks.</p><p>When it comes to ship strikes, the easiest thing is to slow boats down, mandating a speed of <a href="https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/vessel-speed-limits-sought-protect-endangered-north-atlantic-right-whales-2020-08-06/" target="_blank">10 knots</a> in wind development areas, and using visual and acoustic monitoring for whales.</p><p>Adjusting operations to reduce boat trips between the shore and the wind development will also help. A new series of service operating vessels can allow maintenance staff to spent multiple days onsite, says Kershaw, cutting down on boat traffic.</p><p>For construction noise concerns, developers can avoid pile driving during times of the year when whales are present. And, depending on the marine environment, developers could use "quiet foundations" that don't require pile driving. These include gravity-based or suction caisson platforms.</p><p>Floating turbines are also used in deep water, where they're effectively anchored in place — although that poses its own potential danger. "We have concerns that marine debris could potentially become entangled around the mooring cables of the floating arrays and pose a secondarily entanglement risk to some species," says Felton, who thinks more research should be conducted before those become operational in U.S. waters — a process that's already underway in Maine, where a <a href="https://composites.umaine.edu/2020/08/05/diamond-offshore-wind-rwe-renewables-join-the-university-of-maine-to-lead-development-of-maine-floating-offshore-wind-demonstration-project/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">demonstration project is being built</a>.</p><p>If loud noises are unavoidable during construction, noise-reducing technologies such as bubble curtains can help dampen the sound. And scheduling adjacent projects to conduct similar work at the same time could limit the duration of disturbances.</p>
The foundation installation of the off shore wind farm Sandbank using a bubble curtain. Vattenfall / Ulrich Wirrwa / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0<p>Once turbines become operational, reducing the amount of light on wind platforms or using flashing lights could help deter some seabirds, NRDC <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/harnessing-wind-advance-wind-power-offshore-ib.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">researchers reported</a>. And scientists are exploring using ultrasonic noises and ultraviolet lighting to keep bats away. "Feathering," or shutting down the turbine blades during key migration times, could also help prevent fatalities.</p><p>"We need to make sure that offshore wind is the best steward it can be of the marine ecosystem, because we want and expect it to be a significant part of the clean energy picture in some parts of the country," says Rogers. "We also have to recognize that we're going to learn by doing, and that some of these things we're going to figure out best once we have more turbines in the water."</p><p>That's why environmental groups say it's important to establish baseline information on species before projects begin, and then require developers to conduct monitoring during construction and for years after projects are operational.</p><p>Employing an "adaptive management framework" will ensure that developers can adjust their management practices as they go when new information becomes available, and that those best practices are incorporated into the requirements for future projects.</p>
Putting Research Into Action<p>Advancing these conversations at the federal level during the Trump administration, though, has been slow going.</p><p>"We didn't really have any productive discussions with the administration in the last four years," says Kershaw.</p><p>And when it comes to birds, Felton says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's recently completed "draft cumulative environmental impact statement" covering offshore wind developments had a lot of good environmental research, but little focus on birds.</p><p>"Part of that comes from the current administration's interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act," she says.</p><p>President Trump has been hostile to both wind energy <em>and</em> birds, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/climate/trump-migratory-bird-protections.html" target="_blank">and finished gutting the Migratory Bird Treaty Act</a> in his administration's the final days, removing penalties for companies whose operations kill migratory birds.</p><p>There's hope that the Biden administration will take a different approach. But where the federal government has been lacking lately, Kershaw says, they've seen states step up.</p><p>New York, for example, has established an <a href="https://www.nyetwg.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Technical Working Group</a> composed of stakeholders to advise on environmentally responsible development of offshore wind.</p><p>The group is led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, but it isn't limited to the Empire State. It's regional in focus and includes representatives from wind developers with leases between Massachusetts and North Carolina; state agencies from Massachusetts to Virginia; federal agencies; and science-based environmental NGOs.</p><p>New York's latest solicitation for clean energy projects includes up to 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind and <a href="https://www.nyetwg.com/announcements" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">requires developers</a> to contribute at least $10,000 per megawatt for regional monitoring of fisheries and other wildlife.</p><p>Environmental groups have also worked directly with developers, including an agreement with Vineyard Wind — an 800-megawatt project off the Massachusetts coast that could be the first utility-scale wind development in federal waters — to help protect North Atlantic right whales.</p><p>The agreement includes no pile driving from Jan. 1 to April 30, ceasing activities at other times when whales are visually or acoustically identified in the area, speed restrictions on vessels, and the use of noise reduction technology, such as a bubble curtain during pile driving.</p><p>"The developers signed the agreement with us, and then they incorporated, most, if not all of those measures into the federal permitting documents," says Kershaw. "The developers really did a lot of bottom up work to make sure that they were being very protective of right whales."</p><p>Environmental groups are in talks with other developers on agreements too, but Felton wants to see best practices being mandated at the federal level.</p><p>"It's the sort of a role that should be being played by the federal government, and without that it makes the permitting and regulation process less stable and less transparent," she says." And that in turn slows down the build out of projects, which is also bad for birds because it doesn't help us address and mitigate for climate change."</p><p>Kershaw agrees there's a lot more work to be done, especially at the federal level, but thinks we're moving in the right direction.</p><p>"I think the work that's been done so far in the United States has really laid the groundwork for advancing this in the right way and in a way that's protective of species and the environment," she says. "At the same time, it's important that offshore wind does advance quickly. We really need it to help us combat the worst effects of climate change."</p><p><em><a href="https://therevelator.org/author/taralohan/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tara Lohan</a> is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.</em></p><p><em style="">Reposted with permission from <a href="https://therevelator.org/offshore-wind-wildlife" target="_blank" style="">The Revelator</a>. </em></p>
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