Zinke Targets New England Coral Canyons as Next National Monument to Open Up for Drilling
Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, who recently recommended a reduction in the size of the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument to President Trump, is advocating for more drilling and mining on public lands and waters.
The former Montana Rep. told Reuters that the development of America's protected federal lands could help the country become a "dominant" global energy force.
"There is a social cost of not having jobs," he said. "Energy dominance gives us the ability to supply our allies with energy, as well as to leverage our aggressors, or in some cases our enemies, like Iran."
Zinke has been tasked by Trump to review 27 national monuments across the country as part the administration's plans to expand development of public land. Reuters notes that at least six of these sites hold oil, gas and coal.
Earlier this month, the interior secretary called for a scaling back of Bears Ears despite vocal opposition from Native American tribes and environmental advocates.
Zinke signaled to Reuters that he is likely to make a similar recommendation for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument—the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.
The monument, which consists of 4,913 square miles of underwater canyons and mountains off the New England coast, was designated by President Obama last September to protect critical ecological resources and marine species, including deep-sea corals, whales, sea turtles and deep-sea fish.
After touring the Canyons monument at the New England Aquarium, Zinke told Reuters he believed "there are legitimate scientific endeavors and research that are recognized and important (around the site), but there are also recognized livelihoods, fishing jobs that are also important." Zinke added he wants to redirect revenue from offshore to fund repairs around America's national parks.
In April, Trump signed an executive order to aggressively expand drilling in protected waters off the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.
This week, Zinke fielded questions from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) over the subject of climate change. As reported by the Huffington Post, when Franken asked if Zinke knows how much warming government scientists are predicting by 2100 under a business-as-usual scenario, the secretary replied:
"I don't think the government scientists can predict with certainty. There isn't a model that exists today that can predict today's weather, given all the data."
Also during the hearing, Zinke answered questions over Trump's 2018 budget request that would slash the Department of the Interior's funding by 12 percent and would eliminate about 4,000 full-time positions.
The White House touts that its Interior Department budget will ensure that "taxpayers receive a fair return from the development of these public resources," however, as Oil Change International noted, "the idea that opening up more public lands and waters for fossil fuel production will result in a windfall for America is wrong. The only windfall from federal fossil fuel production is enjoyed by oil, gas and coal executives."
"The Federal government already hands fossil fuel companies more than $7 billion a year in corporate subsidies related to their production on federal lands and waters," the advocacy group pointed out in a blog post. "For onshore oil, gas and coal production, that includes a giveaway of more than $3.3 billion from below-market royalty rates, unpaid and foregone royalties, inadequate permitting fees, and below-market lease rental rates. And American taxpayers are cheated out of $2.2 billion each year in lost royalties from offshore drilling because of 'royalty relief,' which exempts roughly 20 percent of oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf from paying royalties."
By Tim Radford
Scientists have calculated yet another item on the human shopping list that makes up the modern world: plastics. They have estimated the mass of all the plastic bottles, bags, cups, toys, instruments and fabrics ever produced and tracked its whereabouts, as yet another index of the phenomenal change to the face of the planet made by recent human advance.
Altogether, since about 1950, with the birth of a new industry, more than 8.3 billion tonnes (or 9.1 tons) of synthetic organic polymers have been generated, distributed and discarded. Of that total, 6.3 billion tonnes are classified as waste.
By Jessica Corbett
As Senate Democrats stay silent on an energy bill that environmental groups call "a pro-fracking giveaway to oil and gas interests that would commit America to decades more of dangerous fossil fuel dependence," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is receiving applause for speaking out against it.
"As a nation, our job is to move away from fossil fuels toward sustainable energy and energy efficiency. This bill does the opposite," Sanders said in a statement.
ExxonMobil filed suit against the federal government last week, claiming that a $2 million fine levied against the company by the Treasury Department is "unlawful" and "capricious."
The Treasury Department fined Exxon Thursday morning, alleging that the oil giant displayed "reckless disregard" of U.S.-Russian sanctions in its dealings with Russian company Rosneft in 2014 under CEO Rex Tillerson.
By Andy Rowell
For years, environmentalists have warned that due to climate change, there will be billions of barrels of oil that we will never be able to burn. These reserves will become what has increasingly been called "stranded assets."
To give you one example: In a new report, Friends of the Earth argued that "The coal, oil and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.
Late last year, the tiny house community celebrated a watershed moment—an official appendix in the 2018 version of the International Residential Code, the model building code used by most jurisdictions in the U.S.
"There are many things that are monumental in the adoption of tiny house construction codes by the IRC," cheered Thom Stanton, the CEO of small space developer, Timber Trails. "Among them, that architects, designers, builders, community developers and (maybe most importantly) zoning officials have a means of recognizing tiny houses as an official form of permissible dwelling."
The colossal mass of throwaway plastic—from straws to bags to bottles—has grown much faster than recycling and disposal efforts can contain it. You might even say this is obvious, no matter where you look.
Check out this video from National Geographic to watch underwater photographer Huai Su film a diver collecting an endless amount of plastic bottles that litter the seafloor off Xiaoliuqiu Island, Taiwan.
A reef off the coast of Cancún will become the first in the world with its own insurance policy, testing a new strategy meant to encourage local investment in the wellbeing of the reef.
Under the policy, created by insurance company Swiss Re and the Nature Conservancy, local hotels and other organizations dependent on tourism will pay into the policy, receiving reimbursements to repair the reef and local beaches after natural disasters.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) denounced the USDA's permit for the world's first open-air trials of the Genetically Engineered (GE) Diamondback moth to be released in Geneva, New York.
This announcement came concurrently with the availability of a final environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for the field release of the GE Diamondback moths. NOFA-NY considers the Environmental Assessment lacking comprehensive health and environmental details.