Federal court dismisses Trump’s rollback on regulating carbon emissions

January 20, 2021 by  
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A federal court has turned down the EPA’s efforts to lessen carbon emission regulations for coal plants. The move has been celebrated and welcomed by opponents of the Trump administration’s actions to weaken environmental protection laws. Many critics of the regulations say that the rollback would give coal plants too much power in deciding their carbon control actions or lack thereof. The ruling now reduces the list of actions that the newly inaugurated President Joe Biden has to take in his first days in office. Biden is expected to get things going right from day one by reversing some of the harmful environmental policies put in place by the Trump administration. Related: EPA finalizes rule to make efforts against climate change more difficult The 2019 regulation would have required individual states to make coal-fired plants more efficient in the long run. However, the regulation left a wide margin within which states could operate in regards to reducing emissions, as long as they can show some effort toward making coal plants efficient. EPA officials had earlier said that the Clean Air Act imposes major limits on the freedom to go beyond the changes that can be made at specific power plants. Further, one EPA official said that the agency is not an energy regulatory authority. While the EPA might be on the defensive, the judge ruled that the agency is incorrectly reading the statute. The ruling said that the statute section “does not, as the EPA claims, constrain the Agency to identifying a best system of emission reduction consisting only of controls ‘that can be applied at and to a stationary source.’” The ruling indicates that the EPA’s rollback ignores some elements that power plants might use to achieve emissions reduction. Following the ruling, environmental lawyers and other groups expect Biden’s administration to take a broad approach to the regulation of power plants. However, some lawyers have cautioned that if the administration gets too ambitious with the regulations, it may have to face the Supreme Court’s conservative majority. Via Axios Image via Benita Welter

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LEED Gold-targeted Knight Campus advances scientific innovation

January 13, 2021 by  
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The University of Oregon recently welcomed the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, a 160,000-square-foot campus built to accelerate groundbreaking scientific discovery and development in a collaborative multidisciplinary environment. Designed by New York-based  Ennead Architects  and Portland-based Bora Architecture & Interiors, the Knight Campus raises the bar for research facilities with its human-centered design that prioritizes wellness and socialization as well as energy efficiency. The eco-conscious campus features high-performance glazing as well as cross-laminated timber materials and is on track to achieve LEED Gold certification.  Named after benefactors Penny and Phil Knight who contributed a $500 million lead gift, the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact comprises a pair of L-shaped towers that frame an elevated terrace and courtyard at the heart of the campus. Transparency is emphasized throughout the design from the glass bridge that connects the two towers to the large expanses of glazing that make up the buildings’ unique  double-skin facade  and put the interior lab and office spaces on display. “So much of research is about improving the human condition,” said Todd Schliemann, Design Partner at Ennead Architects. “Our goal for the Knight Campus was the creation of a humanistic research machine – one that supports practical needs and aesthetic aspirations, but more importantly, one that inspires the people who work in it, those that move through it and those that simply pass by, and that contributes to the  university  community and the greater context.” Related: Oregon Ducks hit a home run with über-green Jane Sanders Stadium The campus was designed with input from University of Oregon faculty and staff, who helped inform the building’s open workspaces of varied sizes and highly adaptive spaces that give researchers the freedom to change their lab spaces to nimbly work across fields as needed. The new labs also boast cutting-edge technologies, such as  3D-printing  and rapid prototyping, to speed up the process of taking scientific discovery to market.  + Ennead Architects Images via Ennead Architects

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LEED Gold-targeted Knight Campus advances scientific innovation

Freedom Cove: an off-grid floating homestead at one with nature

January 5, 2021 by  
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Off the coast of Tofino, British Columbia, floats a forested, eco-fairyland of greenhouses, ramps, towers and small buildings, most of them painted fuchsia and teal. It’s the innovative and whimsical off-grid project of two artists, Catherine King and Wayne Adams. King and Adams began constructing Freedom Cove in 1992. They did most of the work themselves, building four greenhouses, an art gallery, dance floor (adorned with an enormous painted lotus flower) and lighthouse, all on 12 connecting platforms. At different times in Freedom Cove’s evolution, they’ve harnessed solar power with photovoltaic panels or used a generator. Water comes from rain and a nearby waterfall. Related: Christophe Caranchini proposes resilient floating houses for Kiribati King is a dancer, painter, wood carver and writer; Adams is a sculptor who carves wood and fossilized ivory and mammoth tusks. They support themselves by selling their artwork and greenhouse-grown fruits and vegetables . Fishing also provides much of their diet. This paradise off Vancouver Island may look idyllic to people fantasizing about off-grid living. But Freedom Cove took a huge amount of imagination and experience to build, and it requires a lot of work to keep running. Especially when you think about raising two children here, which King and Adams did. You have to be tough and self-sufficient to live where the nearest town is 45 minutes by boat. Fortunately, they installed internet on Freedom Cove, so King was able to take time away from her vegetables, artistry and myriad other tasks necessary to run a floating homestead to answer a few questions in an interview with Inhabitat. Inhabitat: Okay, basic physics question — how does it float? King:  Our system floats on armored. That is, covered with PVC plastic blocks. That is what makes everything float. Inhabitat: What are your favorite things about living at Freedom Cove? King:  Living in Freedom Cove is special as I am in nature . There is nature all around me. There is peace, quiet. I get to live my life according to the rhythms of nature. I am inspired by nature to be creative. This keeps me whole and healthy mentally, emotionally and spiritually. These are my favorite reasons for loving life here. We have learned to do things by figuring them out ourselves by living off-grid. We have been allowed to think for ourselves about everything. We have been given the opportunity to really be in touch with our inner selves … really live life from this place, create our outer life from our true authentic inner natures. Inhabitat: How do you interact with people on the mainland? King:  We are people people and interact with everyone well. People have come to visit us from all over the planet and we enjoy all those interactions. We have internet since 2013 and that has added to our communication with family and friends. Prior to that, I wrote letters to everyone. Inhabitat: Could you tell us a little about how you developed relationships with your animal neighbors? What have you learned from them? King:  We have a good relationship with all the animals around us. The bears walk all around us on low tide, and we have never had an issue with them as we don’t leave anything out that would smell and attract them over to us. Otters, mink, martins, seals go about their lives around us and we enjoy their presence … the otters and seals have even stuck their heads up in our plexiglass square in the floor we have in our living room while they are chasing fish. The fish see us as a protective floating island they can hide under and reproduce under. The water birds swim all around us, and the crows, gulls and buffleheads come to our back window for bread. They enjoy us being here as much as we enjoy them. We enhance nature by our presence. It is a symbiotic relationship. Inhabitat: Tell us about the Freedom Cove Tofino boat tour. King:  While COVID-19 is happening, tours are shut down. Hopefully the spring will open things up again. Browning Passage (250-726-8605), Tofino Water Taxi (250-725-8844) and our son Shane Adams (email us to reach him, freedomcove4@gmail.com) will all bring people out to us. The tour of our place is given by us and is an hour. We ask $10 per person for a donation. We are open for tours (outside of COVID-19) from June to October, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shane asks $150 return trip for the half hour each way boat ride for one person and $25 more for two people and 50 more for three people. People should phone the other companies listed for their costs. They can take more than three people. Inhabitat: Do you rent out space so visitors can spend the night at Freedom Cove? King:  We do not rent space for accommodations. + Freedom Cove Photography by Aaron Mason

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Jane Jacobs and leaf blowers

January 5, 2021 by  
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Jane Jacobs and leaf blowers Stephen Linaweaver Tue, 01/05/2021 – 01:00 Jane Jacobs, in her seminal 1961 work on urbanism, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” noted that what cities need above all else is “a constant succession of eyes”: Wherever the old city is working successfully is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. Anyone who has spent time in downtown centers during the past year will know Jacobs was right. Lockdowns have brought boarded-up shops with a trickle of passers-by. Trash builds up in pockets, junk gathers in piles and lights flicker. Anxiety follows. Carbon reduction goals, diversity targets or ESG leaderboard rankings cannot be achieved until we understand the human behavior and decision processes behind our current actions. Jacobs’ comment, however, applies to far more than buildings and urban centers. The fabric of a functioning and just society requires “a constant succession of eyes” on all fronts, in order to inspire and reinforce the keystone of progression: personal accountability. My most vivid memory of my first job, walking countless blocks in the city of Baltimore as a teenager campaigning for the mayor, was the constant, daily sweeping I witnessed in every neighborhood, dawn to dusk, whether in Little Italy, the Greek part of town or the predominantly African-American West side. On those impeccably clean stoops lay a deep personal accountability for one’s own house and an underlying respect for those who have to look at it. Successfully solving a public health crisis, tackling climate change, battling racism — all require, at the core, a personal commitment from each of us to do our part. That foundation of individual accountability is solidified by the acknowledgment and trust of our neighbors, families, business suppliers and colleagues who “see” us on a regular basis. Collective personal accountability leads to societal progress. Unfortunately, societies are more fickle than they appear, and the past year’s pandemic has turned millions inward. Whether literally or figuratively, we see less, acknowledge less, respect less and, as a result, trust less. Examples from politics to public health are too many to mention. Examples from front yards are too obvious to overlook. The leaf blower is a tool seemingly purpose-built for avoiding personal accountability. It expediently transports your problem to your neighbor’s lawn or a municipal street, generates more pollution in one hour than an economy car does in 1,000 miles and achieves a decibel level that causes damage to hearing after two hours, according to the CDC. Leaf blowers are ubiquitous in states red and blue alike, sales continue to boom and the United States is the world’s largest market. The lesson for business in all of this? Carbon reduction goals, diversity targets or ESG leaderboard rankings cannot be achieved until we understand the human behavior and decision processes behind our current actions: Why an aircraft manufacturer would mislead regulators during self-certification or why a pharmaceutical firm would misrepresent the risks of an opioid drug that since has ravaged the nation. In both of those examples, and many more across the corporate sector, the “constant succession of eyes” and the accountability that comes with it were missing. “Stakeholder Capitalism” is on the rise, not because capitalism is failing, but because personal accountability is. And it is far easier to look outward for a new constituency to serve productively than it is to look inward and stop serving existing ones destructively. While we certainly need directors of diversity and inclusion and green supply chain managers to help start new, overlooked initiatives, companies also desperately need behavioral psychologists to unravel why we already do what we do. Clean stoops, fewer leaf blowers, “freedom,” to use Jacobs’ term, and progress await. Pull Quote Carbon reduction goals, diversity targets or ESG leaderboard rankings cannot be achieved until we understand the human behavior and decision processes behind our current actions. Topics Leadership Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

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Jane Jacobs and leaf blowers

This glamping hideout in Bali is made entirely out of bamboo

June 30, 2020 by  
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Adventurous glamping meets the soft sounds of the Indonesian rainforest at Hideout Horizon in East Karangasem, Bali. This entire home is made out of bamboo and completely open, with ladders and ramps connecting floors and bedrooms. A custom, overhanging grass roof helps shelter occupants from the elements. Designed by Studio WNA for Hideout Bali, the property measures over 860 square feet in size. The open design helps guests get up-close-and-personal with the unique natural environment of Bali, with added creature comforts such as options for meal service, a fully functional kitchen and multi-layered mosquito nets. Related: Treehouse hotel in Bali offers maximum views with a minimal footprint Start on the ground floor, where the kitchen opens to a comfortable living area with a hanging hammock. You’ll also find an exposed bathroom with an artfully designed outdoor shower and a sink made of bamboo and stone. Just outside the kitchen, access a serene indoor-outdoor plunge pool surrounded by tropical greenery. The second floor contains a bamboo ramp that leads to the master bedroom and a 240-centimeter-wide round bed. The third floor is dedicated to a small loft area with two single beds in the highest point of the house. Potential renters will want to keep in mind that there are no doors on the property, and the company reminds guests that privacy is hard to come by in the open-air setting (time to get comfortable with your traveling companions!). Climb up via the bamboo shelves or through the master bedroom to access an overhanging net, which elevates guests above the pool and provides treehouse-like views of the property. From here, the active volcano of Mount Agung, the highest point in Bali, is visible in the distance. Because of the natural ventilation achieved by the open layout and the surrounding environment, Hideout Horizon has no need for air conditioning or fans. The bamboo used in construction also helps stabilize the temperature. Hideout Horizon is available to rent on Airbnb through Hideout Bali . + Studio WNA Images via The Freedom Complex via Hideout Bali

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This glamping hideout in Bali is made entirely out of bamboo

Reward offered to identify Mojave burro killer

August 30, 2019 by  
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A total of 42 wild burros from the Clark Mountain Herd Area in the Mojave Desert in California have been found shot to death since May in what officials declare as one of the largest killings of its kind on land overlooked by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Currently, BLM and animal rights groups have pooled their funds to offer nearly $60,000 in reward money to find the guilty party. “The cruelty involved in shooting these burros and leaving them to die warrants prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” BLM’s Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley said in a statement Wednesday . “We thank the animal welfare groups for adding their voices to those organizations who value these iconic symbols of the West.” Related: Trail use by outdoor enthusiasts is driving out an elk herd in Colorado BLM spokesperson Sarah Webster told the Washington Post that many of the slain burros appear to have been shot from a distance with a rifle aimed at their necks. Victims include both adult burros and foals who were innocently drinking from a water hole when the killer struck. The Platero Project— a collaboration between the BLM and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS)— has offered $32,500 in reward money. Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, American Wild Horse Campaign, Return to Freedom and The Cloud Foundation have also contributed to the fund, plus additional donations by both BLM and HSUS independent of Platero. Originally from North Africa, burros were first introduced to North America by the Spanish but wound up wild when they wandered off, were set free by dejected miners or survived their prospector owners. After finding a home in the desert land of Southern California, the wild burro populations grew exponentially, doubling every four to five years. By the 1950s the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals intervened due to excessive killings and called upon the government to enact proper legislation for their protection. The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act has protected them against animal cruelty and animal abuse since 1971, charging anyone caught harming, capturing or killing a burro with fines up to $2,000 or a year in prison. If apprehended, the offender responsible for the 42 burro deaths can face up to 42 years in prison. Via Ecowatch Image via BLM

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Reward offered to identify Mojave burro killer

Zero-carbon masterplan on the water aims to revitalize Bergens urban growth

July 22, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize the Norwegian city of Bergen, London-based architectural practice Waugh Thistleton Architects has proposed Trenezia, a masterplan that would transform the coastal city into a shining example of zero-carbon urban development. The mixed-use development would consist of over 1,600 homes and be built on the waters of Store Lungegårdsvann, a bay that separates the city center from the southern boroughs of the city. Energy demands and the carbon footprint would be minimized through site-specific, environmentally responsible design and the use of carbon-sequestering timber as a primary construction material for all of the houses. Created in collaboration with local architects Artec, Urban System Design, Degree of Freedom and landscape design firm East, the zero-carbon Trenezia masterplan was created for the BOB, a Norwegian housing association with a goal of building sustainably in urban areas. In addition to promoting sustainable ideals, Trenezia aims to revitalize the city center, which the architects said is currently suffering from depopulation as people move to the outskirts to live in suburban family homes. Related: Industrial building is reimagined as a zero-carbon paragon for Paris 2024 Olympics Edged in by mountains and water, Bergen’s city center has little land left for development. As a result, the architects decided to build on the lake. “Perfectly placed between the historic town and the new cultural arts hub to the east, the Store Lungegårdsvannet Lake is the ideal site for a new cultural and residential center,” the team explained in a press release. A new boardwalk would span the lake and serve as a ‘central spine’ that connects the public-facing elements, which includes a swimming pool and sailing club, retail, performance spaces and cafes. More than 1,600 homes would be placed behind the boardwalk . The new homes would stress intergenerational interaction and offer a range of accommodation from family houses to co-living to student flats to sheltered housing both for private sale and rent. The homes, which will be built from timber, echo the gabled rooflines of Bergen’s iconic wooden houses that helped earn the city a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. “The masterplan, by virtue of its form, responds to the local climate through the creation of solar corridors through the site to maximize sunlight and daylight into every home,” the architects said. “Residential fingers are separated by canals with individual and communal boat moorings and pontoons for residents, creating a comfortable environment where people can be healthy, happy and productive.” + Waugh Thistleton Architects Images by Darc Studio and Artec via Waugh Thistleton Architects

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Zero-carbon masterplan on the water aims to revitalize Bergens urban growth

Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata

January 10, 2019 by  
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West Bengal’s biggest annual festival recently saw the addition of a strikingly contemporary pavilion that is 100 percent recyclable in Kolkata , India. Designed by Abin Chaudhuri of the firm Abin Design Studio , the metal mesh pavilion was one of many temporary pavilions — or pandals — constructed to honor the goddess Durga as part of a five-day Hindu festival called Durga Puja. Unlike the other pandals, which are typically built of natural materials and reference traditional motifs and artworks, Abin Design Studio’s creation is architecturally modern with a dynamic form made from steel wire cubes. Installed inside an alley surrounded by buildings, Abin Design Studio’s Festival Pavilion stands out from its predecessors for the way it embraces the site. Rather than covering up the buildings, Abin Chaudhuri regarded the structures as a backdrop for his stacked cubes of steel wire mesh. The pavilion , which appears as a heap of cubes threatening to topple at any moment, is not only used to frame the deity, but it has also been manipulated to create an entrance arch and immersive sculptural artwork. “The installation is based on the idea of ‘Childhood,’” Abin Design Studio explained. “At the entrance of the installation, an abstract flight of birds overhead depicts the freedom of thought and creativity in young children. The wings gradually diminish and the birds tessellate into an array of boxes. Along with the deconstructed arrangement, the boxes put forward a commentary on the scenario of a child’s immense inherent potential getting slowly confined into a metaphorical box. The form of the installation then compels the viewer into a ‘void’, a place to sit and contemplate, in the axial presence of ‘Maa Durga.’” Related: A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor All parts of the temporary 350-square-meter pavilion are recyclable , from the steel mesh cubes and bamboo framing system to the plywood support system for the platform and stage as well as the old newspaper folded into origami birds. Moreover, the pavilion was also created as a module that could be replicated to activate forgotten urban spaces throughout the city, even in non-festival times. + Abin Design Studio Photography by Suryan/Dang, Abin Chaudhari, Sohomdeep Sinha Roy and Nancy Mandhan via Abin Design Studio

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Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata

These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials

October 12, 2018 by  
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Ambitious tiny cabin crafter  Jacob Witzling  has taken inspiration from childhood fairytales to build some seriously dreamy woodland dwellings for himself and his friends. Using  reclaimed wood  and other materials scavenged from construction sites, Witzling has designed and handcrafted a series of gorgeous tiny cabins tucked deep into lush forestscapes. Inspired by a deep respect for nature, all of his amazing cabins run 100 percent off the grid with no running water. It seems as if Witzling was destined to be close to nature. As a teenager, he moved into a 1920s cabin tucked into a wooded forest near his parents’ house. Although he would go home to do laundry and eat, he said that he always found himself drawn back to his real home in the woods. He has always preferred to live with simple pleasures. “Inside was a wood stove that I fed and stoked through the harsh winter nights,” Witzling explained. “I had my freedom and my fire. They were all I needed to be happy.” Witzling has taken his love of simple living and turned it into an amazing craft based on sustainability. Not only are all of his cabins built with reclaimed materials , but they are completely off-grid. They are powered by 12-volt D/C systems using deep cycle batteries. All water needed for drinking, cooking and bathing is collected from a well, and separate outhouses are equipped with composting toilets . Most of his wooden cabins are built on land owned by friends or acquaintances. He builds the structures with the agreement that he will have complete access after their completion. To date, he has built six amazingly unique cabins, including an innovative home on the bed of a pickup truck. Take a look below. Cabin 1 Witzling’s very first cabin was built for just $800. The two-story structure with a sloping shed roof was constructed out of reclaimed building materials , including salvaged wood, nails and screws leftover from construction projects, a local reuse store and straight from garbage pits. The cabin has two levels, a ground level of 100 square feet and a 70-square-foot sleeping loft. Witzling lived in this cabin for three years. Related: 9 brilliant backwoods cabins for reconnecting with nature Cabin 2 The second tiny cabin was built with wood salvaged from an old warehouse. Certainly fairytale-inspired, this 200-square-foot cabin takes on a cruciform shape with two pitched roofs covered in thick moss. Inside, there’s a compact living area and a 90-square-foot sleeping loft, all illuminated with natural light. Cabin 3 The third cabin (perhaps the most impressive) is a tiny octagonal structure with a pyramid roof featuring eight A-frame dormers. Witzling built the geometric cabin with his lifelong friend Wesley Daughenbaugh. Two large wooden doors open into the 135-square-foot interior, where many windows flood the space with natural light . The roofs are covered with metal sheets, chicken wire and a layer of moss. Cabin 4 The fourth cabin is quite distinct from the previous work in that the roof design is so eccentric. The cabin, which he built with his brother, Ethan Hamby, is set on an 80-square-foot, irregular base and topped with an  undulating pitched roof layered in small wooden shingles. The cabin was built with all reclaimed materials and is 17 feet long, 11 feet tall and 7 feet wide with a small, 30-square-foot sleeping loft inside. Cabin 5 The fifth cabin was a collaborative effort between Witzling, his brother Ethan and a childhood friend, Scott Pearson. The 200-square-foot wooden cabin , again made out of reclaimed lumber, is built on 25-square-foot alcoves on each side. A pitched 4-foot spire adds a chapel-like aesthetic to the cabin, which is surrounded by forest and adjacent to a small lake. Truck Cabin From off-grid cabins nestled into evergreen forests to homes on wheels roaming the highways, Witzling’s sixth project is a surprising twist to the traditional tiny cabin. Using the roof design from Cabin 4 as inspiration, he and his partner, Sara Underwood, built a tiny asymmetrical cabin on the bed of a 1979 pickup truck. The crafty duo are currently exploring the U.S. in their amazing creation. You can follow their adventures on Jacob’s Instagram . + Jacob Witzling Via Dwell Photography by Jacon Witzling, Sara Underwood, Forrest Smith, Chris Poops, Andrew Kearns, Erik Hecht, Justin D. Kauffman, Allen Meyer, Peter Crosby all via Jacob Witzling

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These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials

Hunters issued permits to import lion trophies to United States

July 27, 2018 by  
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A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has revealed that the U.S. government has issued over three dozen permits allowing trophy parts hunted from lions to be brought back into the United States from Africa. Despite the permits’ issue, lions remain on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to their threatened survival status in the wild. Friends of Animals obtained the documents and released them through The Huffington Post , which reported the animal rights violation on Thursday. The memorandum , released by the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service on March 1, 2018, removes trophy import bans dating as far back as 1995. “If African wildlife is to survive the next few decades in their homelands, these elephants, lions and other animals—coveted by hunters for their strength and beauty—must be worth more alive than dead. That means safeguarding habitat along with photographic safaris and ecotourism must outpace blood-drenched trophy hunting expeditions,” declared Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals, in a press release. Related: The Trump Administration decides to allow the import of elephant trophies after all New rules by the Fish and Wildlife Service require the filing of a FOIA request to see the details of government-issued permits that are determined on an individual basis – information that used to be publicly available . In this case, the majority of the permit recipients are Republican donors or are part of Safari Club International, a hunting advocacy group. While big game hunters argue that their activities help conservation efforts and local economies, animal rights supporters say that killing big game animals only further endangers their already at-risk populations. + Friends of Animals Via EcoWatch and The New York Times

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