Wyoming Wolves Face a Dangerous Delisting Decision

Environmental News: Media Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press contact: Josh Mogerman at 312-651-7909
If you are not a member of the press, please write to us at nrdcinfo@nrdc.org or see our contact page

Wyoming Wolves Face a Dangerous Delisting Decision

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drops federal protections in favor of Wyoming’s “Shoot on Sight” wolf plan

LIVINGSTON, Mont. (August 31, 2012) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is lifting federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming. An unprecedented act by Congress removed wolves from the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho last year, but kept protections in Wyoming because Wyoming’s inadequate management plan threatened the population. Though little has changed in that plan, which allows the animals to be shot on sight throughout much of the state, the Service will green light the state to take over.

Following are comments from Dr. Sylvia Fallon, Senior Scientist and Wildlife Conservation Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Today’s decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service allows Wyoming to return to the days of random wolf killing that led to the species’ endangerment in the first place. Rather than provide the leadership necessary to ensure true recovery of wolves in the West, the Service has once again allowed politics to win out over science and the law.

The Wyoming plan is a case of history repeating itself. It’s masquerading the same shoot-on-sight strategies that wiped wolves out as a management plan. And it will only serve to reverse what had been one of the world’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories.”

Dr. Fallon just added a post to NRDC’s Switchboard blog on today’s decision at:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sfallon/today_the_fish_and_wildlife.html

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Concerned citizens call for more information on mountaintop removal in West Virginia – 9/3/2012

Concerned citizens call for more information on mountaintop removal in West Virginia – 9/3/2012

8/31/2012

Jodi Jarrell just had her third bout with brain cancer, receiving a
stem cell transplant in July. She can’t prove her ailments are the
result of exposure to mountaintop removal coal mining, but she
believes they are. A score of scientific studies seem to back her up,
and now residents of Appalachia who live near mountaintop removal
sites are joining together to demand a moratorium on new mining
permits until comprehensive health studies are done. MT reports from
Fayetteville, W.V.
————–
Peer-reviewed studies published in the past four years show that
serious health problems like elevated rates of birth defects and
cancer afflict residents who live near mountaintop removal mining
sites.

Jodi Jarrell, who’s 36, grew up in the West Virginia town of Prenter,
population about 2,500. She is just one of a half dozen neighbors
diagnosed with brain cancer in the past few years, several of whom
have died. Other residents have contracted other sometimes fatal
cancers. Continue reading “Concerned citizens call for more information on mountaintop removal in West Virginia – 9/3/2012”

Despite Drought, Some Corn Farmers Reap Bounty

Grimes Sweetcorn worker Paulette Vandyke waits to sell fresh corn in Grimes, Iowa. The drought has pushed the price of corn per bushel up nearly 40 percent in the past two months.
Enlarge Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesGrimes Sweetcorn worker Paulette Vandyke waits to sell fresh corn in Grimes, Iowa. The drought has pushed the price of corn per bushel up nearly 40 percent in the past two months.

August 30, 2012 fromNPR

For every farmer who is hurting this year during the drought, others are benefiting. Many fields in the South, Northwest and Upper Midwest are producing bountiful corn crops. And because the drought has pushed prices to record highs, farmers who have corn to sell expect a terrific payday.

“The corn has actually really, really taken off all the way through season. It’s grown fast. It’s been accelerated. The corn looks really good now,” says John Scott, whose family farm in Sargeant, Minn., is just bursting with corn. Continue reading “Despite Drought, Some Corn Farmers Reap Bounty”

Taxpayers on the line for Midwestern drought losses; good stewardship can limit damages

Taxpayers on the line for Midwestern drought losses; good stewardship can limit damages

Posted August 30, 2012 in Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

corn with hand for reference.JPG

All summer long, news outlets have been chock-full of rather depressing headlines about the record-breaking drought gripping the center portion of the country.  Although it’s too soon to tell just how bad this year’s crops will be, my sources in Nebraska tell me the dryland corn they are harvesting this week is yielding about a third of the kernels it typically does.

Despite these dismal yields, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released a report that predicts farm income will rise by 3.7 % over last year, making it the second most profitable year for agriculture since 1970 (after inflation adjustments).

How can farmers make money during a drought?

There are two major factors at work here.  First, farmers who are able to produce a crop this year will reap the benefits of unprecedentedly high prices, bumping up average profits across the nation. But, perhaps the more broadly applicable factor is that farmers affected by this year’s uncooperative weather hedged their risk, reducing nation-wide average losses.

The most common risk management tool used by U.S. farmers is the federally subsidized Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP); about 279 million acres in the U.S. are covered by crop insurance.  Although the FCIP is a federally subsidized program, it is administered by private insurance companies, many of which are part of large insurance conglomerates, such as ACE and Everest Re.  FCIPexplanation.JPG

Last year, the Federal Crop Insurance Program paid a record-breaking $10.7 billion in indemnities.  This year’s indemnities are likely to be even higher—some have estimated as much as $20 billion.

The private companies who administer the FCIP will likely take a hit in their profits, but even their bottom lines will be relatively unscathed.

So if the farmers with low yields aren’t going belly up, and if the insurance companies who are indemnifying the farmers aren’t really going to be hurt by $20 billion in claims,who is bearing the brunt of the costs associated with the dry weather this year?

The U.S. taxpayers will pick up the bill.

The reason the private insurance companies are able to make a profit despite record indemnities is that they too hedged their risk.  The federal government reinsures the policies sold by the private companies, which means U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for a large portion of the agricultural losses this year.chart.PNG

That’s right.  At the same time U.S. consumers can expect to pay higher prices at the grocery store and the U.S. credit rating is downgraded due to politicians’ inability to deal with massive amounts of government debt, there’s yet another huge bill coming—crop insurance indemnities.

To be sure, there is value in having an effective “safety net” for farmers.  The Federal Crop Insurance Program was born out of the Dust Bowl when thousands of farmers lost their land after several dry years in a row left them unable to pay their bills.  The fact that most farmers, even the ones hit hardest by this year’s drought, will plant again next year is a testament to the level of sophistication we’ve been able to achieve in the financial risk management tools available to U.S. farmers.

But, as former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman noted earlier this week, “we have yet to apply the same level of enthusiasm to the [farming] techniques and policies that producers can use to mitigate climate risk.” We should be taking a more holistic approach to agricultural risk management and work harder to reduce the need for crop insurance indemnities in the first place.

Agricultural Best Management Practices can hedge the risk of financial losses.

Secretary Glickman recognizes that good stewardship of farmland is among the most valuable risk management strategies available to farmers.  For example:

  • No-till farming– Farmers who use no-till plant directly into the stubble from last year’s crop.  The stubble helps trap precipitation on the field, and leaving the soil undisturbed helps preserve moisture.  USDA data shows that corn farmers who used no-till were about one-third less likely to receive a crop insurance indemnity than their conventional tilling peers.  And a recent USDA study shows that no-till can be an effective tool to help farmers cope with a warmer climate and changes in precipitation patterns.
  • Crop diversity– Growing a variety of crops can hedge risks in two ways.  First, if the weather is bad for one crop, it might be good for something elseDiversifying allows farmers to make up the difference of one poor crop with another product that might do better.  Second, different crops impact the soil in different ways.  A diverse operation helps build healthy soil that is better suited to produce good crops despite uncooperative weather.

Bad years are part of farming; not every year will be a bin-buster.  But there are ways to prevent the bad years from being even worse.  A holistic approach to agricultural risk management that recognizes the advantages of best management practices would benefit farmers, insurance companies, and taxpayers.

corn harvest.JPG

Join the Fight for Clean Air

Last week, Lydia Rojas told her story about her daughter, Steph, who she tragically lost to an asthma attack. Lydia asked us to stand up to the big polluters and to make sure the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hears from the public that we want clean air; we want less soot that can trigger deadly asthma attacks and we want them to save lives.Share Lydia’s story with your friends and ask them to take action against soot pollution.

Thank you to those who have joined Lydia’s fight for healthy air by sending in your comments to EPA, asking them to set the strongest health standards possible to clean up soot pollution. Because of you and thousands of others who also sent in comments, we delivered a strong message to EPA to set the strictest limits on dangerous soot pollution. Continue reading “Join the Fight for Clean Air”

In Drought, Should Corn Be Food Or Fuel?

 Drought has taken a toll on corn this year, and as a result, a growing number of ethanol plants have closed.

Enlarge Saul Loeb /AFP/Getty Images

Drought has taken a toll on corn this year, and as a result, a growing number of ethanol plants have closed.

August 30, 2012 from MPR

Standing outside the Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-Op in Little Falls, Minn., there’s not a lot going on. The pungent smell of fermentation that typically hangs in the air here is absent. And trucks piled high with corn are nowhere to be seen.

They’re idled in part because of high corn prices. And it’s unclear when that will change.

“Most of the industry is just breaking even in terms of profitability or actually running at slightly negative margins,” says Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis at the Renewable Fuels Association.

Cooper says since the start of the summer at least seven ethanol plants are now idle in states like Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana and Kansas. Including shutdowns from past years, Cooper says about 10 percent of the nation’s ethanol plants are now offline. Others, though still operating, are running at 75 percent or 80 percent of capacity. Continue reading “In Drought, Should Corn Be Food Or Fuel?”

The Candidates on Climate and Energy: A Guide to the Key Policy Positions of President Obama and Governor Romney

 

This voter guide outlines the records and positions of President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney on key climate and energy issues. A side-by-side summary at the top links to more details below.

The nonpartisan guide is based on an examination of the candidates’ actions in office, public statements, campaign materials, news reports, and other publications. It is offered to inform the electorate and contribute to public debate about the nation’s pressing climate and energy issues. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) does not endorse candidates.

C2ES is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Continue reading “The Candidates on Climate and Energy: A Guide to the Key Policy Positions of President Obama and Governor Romney”

Pepsi Water Efficiency Wins Plaudits

Pepsi Water Efficiency Wins Plaudits

 Click to show "PepsiCo" result 7

PepsiCo’s more than 20 percent improvement in global water efficiency since 2006 has won it the Stockholm Industry Water Award during World Water Week.

Pepsi received the award for its water conservation efforts including:

  • Conserving about 16 billion liters of water in 2011, from a 2006 baseline, by using water-saving equipment and technologies, creative recycling and re-use, and by deploying a water management system throughout its manufacturing facilities.
  • Reducing water- and energy-related costs by more than $45 million in 2011, compared to 2006.
  • Implementing agricultural practices and technologies around the world designed to reduce water use in farming through new irrigation techniques, and introducing tools that help farmers deliver fertilizer and water to their crops at the most efficient time.
  • Providing access to safe water for more than 1 million people with the PepsiCo Foundation and other partners. Continue reading “Pepsi Water Efficiency Wins Plaudits”

UAW Supports Finalized EPA CAFE Rules That Double Mileage Standards- 08/29/12

UAW Supports Finalized EPA CAFE Rules That Double Mileage Standards- 08/29/12

8/28/2012

By Doug Cunningham

The United Auto Workers union is happy about the EPA’s final rules on fuel economy for vehicles and greenhouse emissions. UAW President Bob King says the new standards will propel the auto industry forward. He says the standards provide certainty for manufacturers in planning their investments. The UAW says the new standards cap a remarkable set of achievements by President Obama to save the domestic auto industry and put it on the path of future prosperity. A 2012 Blue Green Alliance study found that these CAFE standards rules will create 570,000 new jobs by 2030, largely because consumers will spend less on fuel and more on other goods and services.

One Million Americans Lead Grassroots Effort for Clean Energy Agenda

 

Photo by Stefan Falke.

Environmental Working Group

Fed up with the undue influence of the energy companies, utilities, lobbyists and other interests that are making it impossible for Washington to move forward decisively in achieving America’s clean energy future, 36 citizen organizations with more than 1.1 million combined members are joining forces to advance a nine-point “American Clean Energy Agenda” and to push for a serious renewable energy agenda no matter who is the next president or which party controls Congress.

The American Clean Energy Agenda is available online by clicking here.

As crafted by the groups, the new American Clean Energy Agenda calls for a number of bold steps, including: phasing out nuclear power, natural gas, coal and industrial biomass in favor of efficient use of renewable, non-polluting resources; opposition to a “clean energy standard” that includes coal, nuclear, oil, gas and unsustainable biomass; retooling federal “loan guarantees” to make smarter investments in renewable energy; greater emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency programs; and avoiding a future in which Americans suffer the consequences of mountaintop mining for coal and fracking of shale gas that is then exported for use in other nations. Continue reading “One Million Americans Lead Grassroots Effort for Clean Energy Agenda”