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

Trump fills his wildlife protection board with big-game trophy hunters

March 16, 2018 by  
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A new federal advisory board commissioned to rewrite rules governing the import of hunted animal trophies has been packed by President Trump with big-game trophy hunters. Many of them maintain close relations to President Trump and his family and are most likely to support Interior Secretary Zinke’s agenda, which is guided by the belief that the most effective way to protect endangered animals is to facilitate their killing by American hunters. The Associated Press conducted a social media and background review of the board’s 16 members and found that their governing philosophy will echo Zinke’s. The assembly of Trump’s wildlife protection board follows news of recent rules changes that would have banned the import of big-game trophies from certain African countries, including Zimbabwe. Although Trump initially claimed he would carry out the Obama-era ban on a practice he called “a horror show,” he quietly reversed this decision in early March . The rule reversal is particularly concerning given reports of corruption in Zimbabwe that indicate that little of the money spent by big-game hunters in the country has actually gone to conservation efforts. Related: Ryan Zinke claims wind energy contributes to global warming Despite the questionable current policies, Trump’s hunter-packed advisory board has some historical precedent. President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter, brought conservation to the forefront of American life through his enthusiastic advocacy for wildlife and public access to wild spaces as well as the bills he signed into law, including the Antiquities Act of 1906. It was through this law that presidents were granted the power to create national monuments through executive action. President Obama harnessed this law to create several significant national monuments , including the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine and the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. President Trump is now attempting to use the same power to dismantle Bears Ears. The Trump Administration’s policies raise concerns that the current president will fail to live up to his Republican predecessor Roosevelt’s legacy and will instead threaten the survival of all kinds of life on this planet. Via The New York Times Images via Depositphotos and Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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Trump fills his wildlife protection board with big-game trophy hunters

Trump plan to reduce marine monuments could put vital ecosystems at risk

January 2, 2018 by  
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A report from United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking three ocean monuments and opening them up to commercial fishing . The monuments, two in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Atlantic Ocean , are undersea treasures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s administrator between 2009 and 2013, Jane Lubchenco, who told The Guardian , “These ‘blue parks’ harbor unique species, a wealth of biodiversity , and special habitats.” President Donald Trump may not just take aim at land-based national monuments , but at the following three marine monuments. The over 490,500-square-mile Pacific Remote Islands monument, created by George W. Bush and expanded by Barack Obama, includes largely untouched coral reefs and is “the last refugia for fish and wildlife species rapidly vanishing from the remainder of the planet,” per the Fish & Wildlife Service . The 10,156 square mile Rose Atoll monument “protects diverse marine ecosystems and the millions of wildlife dependent upon the Central Pacific.” And the 4,913 square mile Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument is the United States’ only protected area in the Atlantic Ocean, featuring underwater mountains and canyons, deep-sea coral, and endangered whales and sea turtles. Related: Patagonia is suing the Trump administration over Bears Ears: “The President Stole Your Land” In his report Zinke said, “While early monument designations focused more on geological formations, archaeological ruins, and areas of historical interest, a more recent and broad interpretation of what constitutes an ‘object of historic or scientific interest’ has been extended to include landscape areas, biodiversity, and viewsheds.” Fishing organizations aren’t always pleased about the monuments. In March, a New England coalition sued the federal government over fears fishers would be out of a job due to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument. The challenge is based on the idea Obama exceeded his authority in designating the monument. Conservation groups worry activities like seabed mining or oil drilling could be next if monuments are opened for fishing. Pew Charitable Trusts Director of U.S. Oceans, Northeast Peter Baker told The Guardian, “It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect two percent of the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations.” Lubchenco said, “Creation of highly protected blue parks like these monuments is beginning to re-establish the all-important balance of places to be used and places to be treasured. We need both.” Via The Guardian Images via USFWS – Pacific Region on Flickr and NOAA photo by Hatsue Bailey

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Trump plan to reduce marine monuments could put vital ecosystems at risk

NASA scientists identify unknown microbes aboard International Space Station

January 2, 2018 by  
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Hurricane Harvey couldn’t stand in the way of a groundbreaking experiment on the International Space Station (ISS) this summer. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and the Genes in Space-3 team have identified unknown microbes in space . Their work could help future astronauts monitor crew health and diagnose ailments in real time – without needing to send a sample back to Earth. Astronaut Kate Rubins sequenced DNA for the first time in microgravity in 2016 , which NASA described as a game changer. But scientists knew what the samples contained, as they’d been prepared on Earth. This past summer, the Genes in Space-3 team conducted an experiment with samples collected in space to see if they could sequence unknown organisms. Whitson was in the process of performing the investigation when Hurricane Harvey hit – and the Earth-based principal investigator Sarah Wallace was in Houston. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama came to the rescue, enabling the two women to communicate by patching Wallace’s cell phone into the space to ground loops. With a hurricane whirling outside, the experiment continued. Related: The International Space Station is a germophobe’s nightmare “Right away, we saw one microorganism pop up, and then a second one, and they were things that we find all the time on the space station,” Wallace said in a statement. The samples were sent to Earth, so biochemical and sequencing tests could confirm the ISS findings, which they did: the results were the same on our planet as in orbit. “As a microbiologist, my goal is really so that when we go and we move beyond ISS and we’re headed towards Mars or the moon or wherever we are headed to, we have a process that the crew can have that great understanding of the environment based on molecular technology,” said Wallace in a NASA Johnson video . She was the lead author on a study published in Scientific Reports in December. A team of 21 scientists from NASA and institutions in the United States and United Kingdom collaborated on the article. Via NASA Images via NASA Johnson on YouTube , NASA , and Rachel Barry

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NASA scientists identify unknown microbes aboard International Space Station

Scientists construct new theory of Yellowstone’s supervolcano hotspot

January 2, 2018 by  
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Scientists at the University of Illinois have constructed a new theory on how the hotspot beneath Yellowstone National Park ‘s supervolcano gets its heat. “A robust result from these models is that the heat source behind the extensive inland volcanism actually originated from the shallow oceanic mantle to the west of the Pacific Northwest coast,” said Lijun Liu, lead researcher and geology professor. Liu’s team monitored seismic waves that reverberate after an earthquake to create an X-ray-like map of subterranean activity. Using the intense processing power of a supercomputer to analyze the data, the team constructed models of various geologic outcomes and determined that the most likely explanation is that Yellowstone’s heat originates from the tectonic Pacific Coast. The conclusion drawn by the research team at the University of Illinois contradicts alternative, previously accepted theories on the roots of Yellowstone’s heat. “This directly challenges the traditional view that most of the heat came from the plume below Yellowstone,” said Liu. Known as mantle plume theory, the broadly accepted explanation for Yellowstone’s heat contends that much volcanic activity in North America has been caused by the slow stretching of the continent. This movement then results in a thinner, more easily breakable crust in certain regions, such as Yellowstone, that are far from areas of traditional tectonic-volcanic activity. In this scenario, Yellowstone’s shallow magma reservoir is fed by a much deeper mantle plume, from which heat is able to escape due to the thinner crust. Related: Two giant volcanic eruptions formed Yellowstone’s iconic caldera Liu believes that the plume below Yellowstone matters less than the westward movement of the hot Pacific mantle. Although his theory may be incomplete, so too is the conventional mantle plume theory. “If the vast body of mantle plume research has done nothing else, it has revealed the difficulties inherent in trying to plumb the depths of Earth’s interior ,” wrote Sarah Platt in Earth Magazine . “Reaching to a depth of 1,800 miles, the mantle cannot be sampled by fieldwork; it must be remotely sensed and modeled.” This lack of certainty has provoked a healthy debate that may lead to unexpected places. “Controversy in science is a good thing,” said Michael Poland, the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge, according to Independent Record . “That’s when we learn.” Via Independent Record Images via DepositPhotos ( 1 ,2) 

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Scientists construct new theory of Yellowstone’s supervolcano hotspot

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"

President Trump expected to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by two-thirds

December 4, 2017 by  
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President Trump flew to Utah today to announce plans to drastically reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. The unprecedented move would rip apart land that is invaluable to the Native American tribes who hold the land sacred, will open pristine wilderness to coal mining and energy exploration and will prevent people from visiting the priceless environment that a majority of Americans want protected. Trump is expected to shrink Bear’s Ears by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by half – even more than Utah officials have previously requested. Leaked maps obtained by the Wilderness Society reveal that the monuments will be selectively chopped up, which could expose archaeological and sacred Native American sites to destruction. The monuments are also home to diverse plant and animal life, including the endangered desert tortoise, and have been the location of invaluable paleontological discoveries. Related: Trump signs executive order aimed at eliminating national monuments Thousands of people gathered at the state Capitol on Saturday to protest the move, and again on Monday while Trump was making his announcement in the Capitol building. Tribal leaders and Salt Lake City mayor Jackie Biskupski spoke, calling on Americans to fight for protecting the land. Mayor @jackiebiskupski says “the future will judge us by what we leave behind”. Trump wants to destroy our past and future. #StandWithBearsEars #grandstaircase #handsoffourlands pic.twitter.com/AY4YrZvXIq — Kristine Lofgren (@Livingston761) December 3, 2017 If you want to help, head to the Bears Ears Coalition , where you can find links to support a lawsuit being brought by the Five tribes coalition in Utah, made up of representatives from the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Mountain Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe and the Pueblo of Zuni. You can also head to Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to make your voice heard as Secretary Zinke finalizes plans on the monuments. photos by Kristine Lofgren for Inhabitat

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President Trump expected to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by two-thirds

Trump signs executive order aimed at eliminating national monuments

April 26, 2017 by  
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President Trump just signed an executive order that threatens millions of acres of public land. The order seeks to reduce or eliminate multiple national monuments across the US, potentially eliminating public access and water and land protection safeguards. It’s an unprecedented (unpresidented?) move that will likely be challenged in courts. The executive order wouldn’t eliminate the national monuments just yet, since the President doesn’t have the power to do that. Instead, it orders a review of any existing monuments (which Presidents have the power to create under the 1906 Antiquities Act ) designated in the past 21 years that are over 100,000 acres in size. The Department of the Interior will review monuments and determine which it recommends changing. Related: Patagonia launches campaign to protect Utah’s Bear Ears National Monument 21 years might seem like an arbitrary timeline, but the executive order is aimed directly at the newly-designated Bear’s Ears Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument, designated by President Clinton 21 years ago. Republicans called the designations an over-reach of federal power and have been fighting to have the monuments eliminated ever since. Polls show that a vast majority of Americans support maintaining or adding more public and protected lands in the US rather than reducing them. The legal battle will likely begin after the Department of the Interior makes its determination. Via The Verge images via The Bureau of Land Management

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Trump signs executive order aimed at eliminating national monuments

2 New National Monuments Preserve America’s West

January 10, 2017 by  
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In his last weeks in office, President Barack Obama designated two national monuments in an effort to conserve environmentally and culturally significant natural areas. The monuments are situated in Nevada and Utah and make up more than 1.6 million…

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2 New National Monuments Preserve America’s West

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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