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Author Topic: Environmental Degradation (in general/ all types)  (Read 1847 times)


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Environmental Degradation (in general/ all types)
« on: July 04, 2019, 03:34:17 PM »
(There are two separate articles here, but both relate to environmental destruction/degradation:)

Desdemona Despair

April 16, 2019
Killing migratory birds has been a crime for decades, but not anymore under Trump – “It will unravel a lot of progress over the past several decades”

David Bernhardt, nominee to be Secretary of the Interior, testifies during his Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing in the Dirksen Building on Thursday,
28 March 2019. Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call / AP Images
By Elizabeth Shogren
8 April 2019
(Reveal) – Under Republican and Democratic presidents from Nixon through Obama, killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. The power to prosecute created a deterrent that protected birds and enabled government to hold companies to account for environmental disasters.
But in part due to President Donald Trump’s Interior secretary nominee, David Bernhardt, whose confirmation awaits a Senate vote, the wildlife cop is no longer on the beat. Bernhardt pushed a December 2017 legal opinion that declared the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act applies only when companies kill birds on purpose.
Internal government emails obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting provide evidence of federal wildlife agents opting out of investigations and enforcement, citing that policy change as the reason.
First enacted to implement a 1916 treaty with Canada, the 1918 law was written to protect migratory birds – as well as their nests, eggs and even feathers – from being captured, sold or killed “at any time, or in any manner.” Similar treaties were signed by the governments of Mexico, Japan and the Soviet Union, now Russia, and included in the law.
The reinterpretation of the bird law by the administration may run afoul of these long-standing treaties. The issue is on the agenda of a trilateral meeting among the U.S., Canada and Mexico this week.
“The Government of Canada continues to interpret the century-old Migratory Bird Convention as to prohibiting the incidental take (killing or harming) of migratory birds, their nests and eggs,” said Gabrielle Lamontagne, a spokeswoman for Environment and Climate Change Canada. She noted that Canada is analyzing how the reinterpretation of the U.S. law will affect conservation of birds that migrate between the U.S.and Canada. Reveal is awaiting responses from the three other nations that have migratory bird treaties with the U.S.
A retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife official who helped negotiate the amendments to the treaties with Canada and Mexico in the 1990s says Trump’s policy is out of step with international obligations.
“I think a good argument could be made that the current Interior policy does not comply with the treaty with Canada,” said Paul Schmidt, a 33-year veteran of the Fish and Wildlife Service who was promoted to assistant director under President George W. Bush.
Emails obtained by Reveal provide evidence of how the revision is affecting law enforcement in the U.S. For example, after a pipeline burst in Idaho last April, spilling diesel into a pond and wetland, two coolers full of dead birds were dropped off at the Fish and Wildlife office in Boise. In an email about what to do with the dead birds, a Fish and Wildlife agent wrote that “we are no longer involved’’ when birds are killed in oil spills.
Agents had a similar reaction when a tugboat spilled oil into Great Harbor in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, killing dozens of birds.
“As this spill involves the incidental take of birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, there is currently no enforcement action planned,” according to an email from a Fish and Wildlife agent.
An email about a timber harvest in Michigan said Fish and Wildlife no longer prohibits loggers from cutting down trees with nests in them, even if it destroys live eggs or chicks. (In this case, however, Michigan’s state agency stepped in, and saved the great blue heron nests and chicks.)
Another email from October 2018 shows that Fish and Wildlife saved $2.5 million by not filling 10 positions primarily related to investigating violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The agency refused to discuss the specific examples or staffing decisions. […]
Scientists caution that weakening the Migratory Bird Treaty Act imperils many types of birds that are endangered or declining in numbers, and it also eliminates an important source of wetlands restoration funding: penalties paid by violators.
“It will unravel a lot of progress over the past several decades,” said Colleen Cassady St. Clair, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta who has studied the impact on birds of the oil sands industry in Canada. Restored wetlands help bolster fish and shellfish, clean water and protect people from big storms.
“Those conservation efforts are benefiting birds, sure. But they’re also benefiting many other species that are using coastal habitats, and they’re also benefiting people,” said Amanda Rodewald, an ornithologist and professor at Cornell University. Doing away with the fines “actually could be putting other communities at risk from storm surges and other negative environmental impacts,” she added. [more]
Killing migratory birds, even unintentionally, has been a crime for decades. Not anymore



Desdemona Despair

June 14, 2019
83 environmental rules being rolled back under Trump

List environmental regulations rolled back by the Trump administration, updated on 7 June 2019. Graphic: The New York Times
By Nadja Popovich, Livia Albeck-ripka, and Kendra Pierre-Louis 
7 June 2019
(The New York Times) – President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses. [cf. Trump regulation rollbacks will result in more than 200 million tons of additional greenhouse emissions each year – “The Trump administration has taken historically unprecedented actions to roll back years of environmental progress” –Des]
A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out under Mr. Trump.
Our list represents two types of policy changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks still in progress. The Trump administration has released an aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks this year.
The Trump administration has often used a “one-two punch” when rolling back environmental rules, said Caitlin McCoy, a fellow in the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School who tracks regulatory rollbacks. “First a delay rule to buy some time, and then a final substantive rule.” [more]
83 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump


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Re: Environmental Degradation (in general/ all types)
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2019, 09:51:51 PM »
ilinda, thanks for posting this. I was not aware of these changes in the laws which leave migratory birds unprotected. This is really a disgraceful state of affairs... and as the second article said, the current actions do not comply with previous treaties with Canada!


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