Patagonia strikes back at Trump over public lands policies

April 2, 2018 by  
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Outdoor clothing company Patagonia is calling out  President Trump  and his administration as liars regarding the role that fossil fuels played in the administration’s recent public land decisions . When the Trump Administration announced that it would shrink Bears Ears National Monument , Patagonia embarked on an activist campaign that featured the words “The President Stole Your Land” against a black background. In light of the recent evidence that shows the administration lied to the public about its motivation for changing the boundaries, the company added “And You’ve Been Lied To,” highlighting the way in which land belonging to all Americans has been sold to the highest bidders. In a video on their website, Patagonia states “the five indigenous tribes that call this place home set aside their differences and asked President Obama to designate Bears Ears as a national monument.” After a century of struggling to protect the area, Obama finally made it happen in 2016. But right after Trump took office, it became clear that Bears Ears was in the new administration’s crosshairs. In addition to its bold text message, Patagonia also published a blog post entitled It Was Always About Oil, Coal, Gas and Uranium , in which the company elaborates on its stance against the current administration. “The redrawing of boundaries was deliberate and directly influenced by an industry that spends millions of dollars lobbying the government to get what it wants,” said the company in a statement . The idea that the administration was motivated to shrink Bears Ears and nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in order to extract resources from the ground was initially refuted by US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke . “We also have a pretty good idea of, certainly, the oil and gas potential—not much! So Bears Ears isn’t really about oil and gas,” said Zinke. Related: Chile creates five new national parks from 10 million acres of land in historic act However, scores of documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests paint a different picture. “The Kaiparowits plateau, located within the monument, contains one of the largest coal deposits in the United States,” reads one Interior Department memo, referring to the Kaiparowits plateau on which Grand Staircase-Escalante is located. The oil and gas industry have also expressed interest in developing 90,000 acres of land along the eastern edge of Bears Ears. Up to 500,000 tons of uranium could also be extracted from the ground over the next twenty years if permitted by the administration. This is of particular concern for the Navajo Nation , which has had its drinking water supplies contaminated by the more than 500 uranium mines that have operated in the region. While court challenges against the administration’s move are pending, Patagonia urges its customers to take action. “It is your voice and your vote that are the two most important tools we have to remind elected officials that Americans—everyone from sportsmen and women, to outdoor enthusiasts, to conservationists and the tribes who have known these lands longer than anyone—want public lands protected,” said the company in a statement. Via Outside Online Images via Patagonia and  Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management

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Patagonia strikes back at Trump over public lands policies

Huge graveyards of abandoned bikes are piling up in China after sharing craze reaches peak

April 2, 2018 by  
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Bike-sharing took off in China , where many city dwellers battle smog and bikes offered a potential clean alternative. Now, without the infrastructure to support them, and an over-saturation in the sharing market, abandoned bikes have piled into massive graveyards in cities like Shanghai and Beijing  – forcing us to ask: are bicycles polluting metropolises they were intended to aid? The Atlantic reported  bike sharing growth surpassed demand and  Deutsche Welle (DW) said  that bikes are piling up into massive graveyards. 16 to 18 million bikes hit streets in China from around 60 companies, TIME said , and most cities weren’t prepared to handle the influx. There aren’t any set docking stations or bike stands, so most bikes are just parked on the side of the road, according to the publication. Back in December, Fortune reported the co-founder of bike-share startup Ofo , Zhang Siding, said, “The bike-sharing phenomenon has grown very quickly in the last few years, but the layout and infrastructure [of] cities in China aren’t something that can be changed as quickly to accommodate this new trend.” Related: China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens Bike graveyards have grown as some bike-sharing companies fold, and their surplus bicycles sprawl in vacant lots. DW said police now have to gather unwanted vehicles from roads and parks, and pile them in fields out of city centers. According to Fortune, last year Ofo launched a credit score system: users would be penalized for antisocial behavior like traffic violations or bike dumping, and rewarded for positive behavior, like reporting damaged or lost bikes. If users’ points were all deducted, they’d be barred from the service. They were also reportedly working with interest groups in cities to come up with new strategies — for example, in Guangzhou, traffic wardens or local groups can send feedback to the company if bikes are accumulating and Zhang said, “we’ll send people down to deal with it.” Health and air quality benefits are still present with bike-sharing, and The Atlantic said the trend is still popular, and bike-sharing will likely keep growing — just maybe at a slightly more sustainable rate. Via The Atlantic , TIME , Deutsche Welle , and Fortune Images via Philip Cohen on Flickr , Chris on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Huge graveyards of abandoned bikes are piling up in China after sharing craze reaches peak

Oil and gas leases open up in Bears Ears National Monument area

March 20, 2018 by  
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Despite all its rhetoric to the contrary, the Interior Department is offering up 51,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the areas surrounding Bears Ears National Monument . Conservationists warn that fossil fuel extraction threatens priceless Native American artifacts, historical sites, dinosaur fossils and the southern Utah environment. The move comes just weeks after it was revealed that mining and extraction interests played a primary role in determining the new boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments. Today, officials will auction off 51,000 acres of land near areas previously protected under the Bears Ears monument boundaries. It also opens extraction near Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments, and the cultural rich Alkali Ridge area. “BLM’s ‘lease everything, lease everywhere’ approach to oil and gas development needlessly threatens iconic red rock landscapes and irreplaceable cultural history in the ill-conceived push for ‘energy dominance,” said Stephen Block, legal director with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance . Related: New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears Local officials cheered the move, saying it will help bring economic opportunity to the rural towns of San Juan County. However, when the region was opened to mining on February 7 this year, no one submitted an application for a plot in the area. Oil and gas developers also hold stockpiles of unused land they have leased from the government – less than 40 percent of leased land is actually under development in Utah. Via Reuters Images via Larry Lamsa  and John Fowler

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Oil and gas leases open up in Bears Ears National Monument area

New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears

March 2, 2018 by  
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Despite lip-service to the contrary, new evidence reveals that oil and mining played a central role in the decision to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has repeatedly stated that mineral extraction was not a factor in drawing up the new boundaries for the monuments, but documents obtained by the New York Times show that this is untrue, and that Zinke – along with Utah Senator Orrin Hatch – encouraged removing protections from areas known to have oil, coal or uranium deposits. Documents show that in March 2017, Hatch asked the Interior Department to look at the boundaries of Bears Ears in order to “resolve all known mineral conflicts.” In May, Bureau of Land Management officials asked for information on a uranium mill within the monument. The resulting map, which was drawn to exclude protected areas that were thought to contain minerals, is almost exactly the same as the map Trump unveiled as he cut the size of Bears Ears. Documents also show that Zinke’s staff used coal deposit estimates when determining which parts of Grand Staircase-Escalante should be excluded from protection. “The Kaiparowits plateau, located within the monument, contains one of the largest coal deposits in the United States,” a Spring 2017 Interior Department memo said. Staff members were asked to research “annual production of coal, oil, gas and renewables (if any) on site; amount of energy transmission infrastructure on site (if any).” Minerals weren’t the only determination used in changing the boundaries. Cattle grazing and timber were also factored in. When Trump reduced the national monuments, the Bureau of Land Management started to ramp up for a practice known as “chaining” in Grand Staircase-Escalante. Chaining involves putting a large chain between two bulldozers, which then move through forests to destroy native vegetation and open the land for cattle – a devastating practice that decimates the local environment. Related: President Trump shrinks Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by 2 million acres Zinke claimed in December that he had recommended reducing the size of Utah’s protected areas because he wanted to take “an approach in which we listen to the voices of the people, not Washington, D.C., special interests,” citing the fact that Utah government leaders were opposed to the designation of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. While about half of Utahns want Bears Ears reduced , a vast majority oppose the break-up of Grand Staircase-Escalante. Local Utah leaders have sought to reduce the monuments since they were established in order to generate money by leasing the land – but even they were surprised by the size of the ultimate reduction. “Obviously they were looking at facts other than the ones we had raised, we assume,” said John Andrews, associate director of the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. Despite Zinke’s language, it was clear early on that mining and oil extraction were the real focus for reducing the national monuments. In December it was revealed that large Uranium firms were lobbying for access to the areas . At the time, Zinke denied that energy extraction was a factor in the decision-making process. “This is not about energy. There is no oil and gas assets. There is no mine within the Bears Ears…” he said. Via The New York Times Images via Patrick Hendry and the BLM

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New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears

Treasure trove of Triassic fossils found at Bears Ears

February 26, 2018 by  
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What may perhaps be the world’s greatest cache of Triassic-era fossils was discovered by scientists at Utah ‘s Bears Ears National Monument, which recently lost its protected status. Despite vociferous opposition from the Native community and environmentalists, President Trump issued an order in December that shrunk the Monument, which was established by President Obama in late 2016, by 85 percent. This monumental fossil discovery is a reminder of what we stand to lose if protections and support for public land are dismantled. Looting, oil and gas extraction, and loss of essential research funding are just some of the potential consequences that researchers are contending with at Bears Ears and other formerly protected sites. The site itself represents a rare, rich look into our planet’s distant past.“Based on our small, initial excavation, we believe that this 69-yard site may be the densest area of Triassic period fossils in the nation, maybe the world,” paleontologist Rob Gay said . “If this site can be fully excavated, it is likely that we will find many other intact specimens, and quite possibly even new vertebrate species.” Unfortunately, Gay’s team is at risk of losing funding from the Bureau of Land Management, which supported the team’s 2017 dig but no longer has jurisdiction over what was Bears Ears . Related: Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking two more national monuments Despite previous protections, the fossils were not entirely unscathed. “It is extremely rare to find intact fossil skulls of specimens from this period,” Gay said. “It is rarer still to recover fossils that have been looted, which was the case with one specimen that was missing a portion of its skull. We did a little more digging before realizing this site had been looted by someone without a permit for this kind of fossil removal.” Nonetheless, the protection granted through National Monument status is key to protecting sites of scientific, cultural, and scenic importance. “That President Trump acted to revoke protections for these lands is outrageous,” said Scott Miller of the Wilderness Society,  “and that he did so despite the Department of the Interior knowing of this amazing discovery is even more shocking. I hope the courts will act quickly to restore protections for Bears Ears National Monument before any more fossils are looted from the area and lost to science .” Via Washington Post Images via The Wilderness Society

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Treasure trove of Triassic fossils found at Bears Ears

Patagonia is suing the Trump Administration over Bears Ears: "The President Stole Your Land"

December 5, 2017 by  
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Patagonia won’t let President Donald Trump shrink Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments without a fight. After the president announced yesterday he aims to slash the monuments by around by two million acres, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said they’ll continue the fight to protect the land in court. Today, the company’s home page – instead of featuring photographs of adventurers exploring nature – is black, bearing the stark statement “The President stole your land.” Patagonia calls Trump’s move illegal, and says his decision marks “the largest elimination of protected land in American history.” Trump aims to reduce Bears Ears from 1.35 million acres to a mere 220,000 acres, and cut Grand Staircase-Escalante, which is nearly two million acres, in half. The area, which includes sacred Native American lands and archaeological sites, could be opened up to energy exploration and coal mining . Related: President Trump shrinks Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by 2 million acres Patagonia points to overwhelming public support for public lands – there were more than 2.7 million public comments during the Department of the Interior’s 60-day period – and over 98 percent supported maintaining or even expanding national monuments. The company also says it’s a myth that America needs to open more public lands for oil and gas development. They quoted a 2017 statistic from The Wilderness Society: “90 percent of U.S. public lands are open to oil and gas leasing and development; only 10 percent are protected for recreation, conservation , and wildlife.” Meanwhile, the company pointed out the value of the outdoor recreation industry. According to Patagonia, relying on information from the 2017 Outdoor Industry Association Economic Report, the industry contributes 7.6 million jobs and $887 billion in consumer spending every year, “far outpacing the jobs and spending generated by the oil and gas industry.” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard told CNN , “I’m going to sue him. It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits. I think it’s a shame that only four percent of American lands are national parks . Costa Rica’s got 10 percent…We need more, not less. This government is evil and I’m not going to sit back and let evil win.” Patagonia has a take action page on their website allowing users to tweet to the administration telling them they can’t take these lands away. They also listed 15 organizations fighting for public lands that you can support. + Patagonia Images via Patagonia , Depositphotos , and IIP Photo Archive on Flickr

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Patagonia is suing the Trump Administration over Bears Ears: "The President Stole Your Land"

Obama creates two new western national monuments in last minute effort

December 29, 2016 by  
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The clock is ticking. Before the United States and the world is snapped by political whiplash on January 20, 2017, the Obama Administration is working quickly to secure its environmental legacy by creating new national monuments in environmentally sensitive areas of the Western United States: Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and Gold Butte National Monument. As usual, the land on which these new public resources have been created has been fiercely contested for their political and economic significance. President Obama has nonetheless pushed forward with the national monuments to cap off an ambitious and sometimes controversial environmental agenda that his successor will likely seek to dismantle. The establishment of Bears Ears National Monument in the Four Corners region of Utah , a state where two-thirds of the land is owned by the federal government, represents a victory for the American Indian tribes that have called the region home. In an historic first, an inter-tribal commission composed of members from the Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Pueblo of Zuni will be established to provide management input of the national monument, which contains sacred sites, ancient petroglyphs, and remnants of Pueblo structures over 3,500 years old. Most elected officials in Utah are opposed to the site’s protection, though the state’s congressional delegation had supported a scaled-back plan. “The midnight move is a slap in the face to the people of Utah, attempting to silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes,” said Republican US Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz intends to seek assistance from President-elect Trump in abolishing the national monument. Related: President Obama establishes controversial new National Park in Northern Maine The Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada is similarly packed with politics. Supported by retiring Democratic Senator Harry Reid but opposed by Nevada’s Republican Representatives, the national monument outside of Las Vegas will preserve 300,000 acres of ecologically sensitive, pristine land that contains important archaeological sites and rare fossils. Gold Butte carries special significance because of its proximity to the site of the armed standoff led by rancher Cliven Bundy in 2014. The establishment of these national monuments “protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archaeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes,” said President Obama in a statement. “Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes.” Through authority granted under the 1906 Antiquities Act, President Obama has protected more land than any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His successor and his supporters seek to use the Act, which allows for the creation of national monuments without congressional approval, to unilaterally remove protections, a policy that has not been attempted in modern times. Via the Guardian  / Washington Post Images via Ron Reiring   (1)

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Obama creates two new western national monuments in last minute effort

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