Fw: Audubon Advisory May 2007
---------- Forwarded Message ----------
May 10, 2007
Vol 2007 Issue 5
Global Warming "Speak"
The global warming legislative scene is populated with a lot of terms. Here are some key ones to know.
Cap and Trade
You'll hear a lot about this�it's the main program being proposed to reduce global warming pollution. A cap and trade system caps pollution at a certain level and reduces the overall amount of pollution over time. Polluters (like coal-fired power plants) can either reduce their emissions or buy credits from other industries that have lower emissions.
Renewable Electricity Standards (RES)
RES requires utilities to purchase a percentage�usually 10-25%�of their electricity from clean renewable sources, like wind, geothermal, solar by a certain date, usually 2015 or 2020. Currently, 21 states and Washington, DC have RES standards. We are pushing for a federal bill that would mandate 20% renewable energy by 2020.
Ethanol is the most familiar example. Converting corn into fuel is not a particularly efficient process and other types of plants�grasses or flaxseed�offer greater efficiencies. Care must be taken so that biofuels result in lower emissions of global warming pollution and that important habitat and public lands are not destroyed.
No, not your favorite cup of coffee, CAFE stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy. Currently our CAFE standard is 27.5 mpg for passenger automobiles and 20.7 mpg for light trucks, a classification that also includes sport utility vehicles (SUVs). CAFE standards have not been raised in years and are long overdue. The European Union and Japan have standards almost double those of the U.S.
Myth Buster No. 3
Myth: The science of global warming is too uncertain to act on.
Fact: There is no debate among reputable scientists about the basic facts of global warming.
The most respected scientific bodies have stated unequivocally that global warming is occurring, and people are causing it by burning fossil fuels (like coal, oil, and natural gas) and through land use practices, like cutting down forests. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which the White House called "the gold standard of objective scientific assessment," issued a joint statement with 10 other National Academies of Science saying, "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions." (Joint Statement of Science Academies: Global Response to Climate Change, 2005 - PDF)
The only debate in the scientific community about global warming is the pace and the degree of warming that will occur as a result of heat-trapping emissions. More recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have warned that changes could come more quickly than originally estimated. Scientists have given a clear warning about global warming, and we have more than enough facts�about causes and fixes�to implement solutions right now.
Senate Begins to Move Forward with Energy Legislation
Last week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed new legislation, sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM), aimed at increasing the use of biofuels in the United States and improving energy efficiency standards for a variety of appliances. The legislation is expected to be turned into a larger energy package that may be voted on by the Senate in early June.
While expanding the production and use of biofuels can be a good step toward reducing reducing global warming pollution and America's dependence on oil, Audubon has significant concerns that this legislation lacks environmental safeguards. Audubon and 15 other organizations raised these objections in a letter to committee members before last week's committee vote; however, changes to the legislation were not allowed.
Another controversial issue, liquid coal technology, was offered as an amendment. Liquid coal creates transportation fuel from coal. It requires large amounts of energy to produce and can result in twice as much global warming pollution as gasoline. Fortunately, the amendment to promote the use of this harmful technology was defeated in committee.
The Senate is expected to move its energy package to the floor in early June and two other issues�RES and CAFE (see sidebar)�may be part of the debate as well. Audubon will be working to keep liquid coal out of the mix and secure changes that provide the necessary environmental safeguards for the production of biofuels. We'll need your help, so stay tuned for an alert. >> Get More Info.
Navy Looks for Alternatives to Pocosin Lakes NWR
Responding to public outrage and unanimous opposition from the North Carolina congressional delegation, the U.S. Navy is reconsidering their decision to build a landing field adjacent to Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
On March 9, the House Armed Services Committee included language in the Defense Authorization Act for FY08 that would deauthorize the Outlying Landing Field (OLF) that the Navy had proposed building near the Refuge.
Rep. David Price (D-NC), along with Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and others, has been working for several weeks to stop funding for the OLF. This is a great victory for the birds and wildlife that depend on a critically-important wildlife refuge. However, it is also the first step; the next effort will be to stop funding for Site C in the Military Construction Appropriations bill, due later this month.
The landing field site being demanded by the Navy would necessitate extreme measures that include shooting�and even poisoning�birds that arrive in the area seeking the safety of a wildlife refuge.
Although the Navy appears headed toward a positive resolution of this conservation issue, please stay tuned! More pressure will be needed until a final decision is made! Thanks to all who responded to recent alerts on this issue. >> Get More Info
Congressional Champions Defend ESA from Stealth Attacks
On March 27, a whistleblower within the Department of the Interior released a document providing evidence that the Bush Administration has been secretly rewriting regulations governing the Endangered Species Act, with an eye to weakening it.
Congressional champions have rushed to protect the Endangered Species Act from this secret overhaul. On April 25, five senators, including the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and the chair of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Endangered Species Act, Joe Lieberman (I-CT), wrote to Interior Secretary Kempthorne requesting that a series of pointed questions be answered before the agency moves any closer to promulgating regulations. On May 1, Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) called for language to be added to the Interior Appropriations bill "to limit the Administration's ability to impose drastic changes to the Endangered Species Act through behind-the-scenes regulatory processes."
Thanks to your help, congressional opposition continues to build! Stay tuned for upcoming news and alerts on this important issue.
ESA Day to the Rescue?
Celebrate Endangered Species Day
The U.S. Senate has unanimously endorsed May 18 as "Endangered Species Day," the national celebration of America's commitment to protecting and recovering our nation's endangered species. It's a great opportunity to raise the visibility of some of our most imperiled plants and animals.
On May 18th, America will celebrate endangered species success stories, including the American Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Gray Wolf, Grizzly Bear, Humpback Whale and many of our nation's other wildlife, fish, and plants. Young and old will learn about other plants and animals on the brink of extinction, the threats to their survival and what people can do to protect our nation's endangered species.
There are many creative ways to celebrate Endangered Species Day, including: lead a bird walk focusing on an endangered species in your area, host an event at a local nature center, prepare an educational lesson plan for a local school about endangered species, and include articles in your newsletters or outreach materials. For everything you need to plan your own Endangered Species Day event, get the Endangered Species Day Toolkit.
Down on the Farm
Congress looks poised to take action on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill in the next several weeks. Both the House and Senate will likely have draft legislation available by the first week of June. Of major concern to Audubon is the funding of the conservation section of the bill. In 2002, the federal government was still operating at a surplus, and there was lots of funding available for the farm programs. Since 2002, we have run record annual deficits and turned a record surplus into record debt. For the Farm Bill, this means that the legislators drafting the bill have less money for conservation.
Audubon believes that though dollars are tight, priority funding should be made available for the conservation programs offered by the Department of Agriculture. Our top priorities within the conservation programs remain those that offer a benefit to birds and wildlife. We will continue to strongly advocate for increases in funding levels for the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, as well as other programs within the USDA. Stay tuned for alerts and information as we get closer to floor action.
Salton Sea Restoration
Your letters and emails made a difference�in late April, the California Resources Secretary proposed a Salton Sea restoration plan that provides substantial habitat for the Salton Sea's more than 400 bird species and protects air quality and the endangered Desert Pupfish. It would be a big victory for birds and wildlife except that it also includes the construction of two lakes primarily for recreation and development that triple the cost and pose enormous risks to the environment.
Audubon is working to ensure the legislation authorizing the restoration plan keeps the provisions that protect habitat and guard air quality, and puts the onus on local entities to take responsibility for additional costs of any lakes constructed for recreation. We'll also insist that the construction of such lakes comply with all environmental protection laws.
Thanks to all who responded to our alerts on the Salton Sea! >> Get More Info
Polar Bears Get Support
In just 90 days, more than 500,000 Americans urged federal officials to list polar bears as officially threatened under the Endangered Species Act due to the profound effect of global warming on the bears' habitat, according to U.S. government statistics. That figure is almost double the former record for the number of comments in an endangered species listing case. A big thank you to everyone who submitted comments. Stay tuned to future issues of the Advisory for updates on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision.
- AUDUBON TESTIFIES ON WIND POWER - On Tuesday, May 1, Audubon�s Director of Conservation Policy Mike Daulton testified before Congress at a hearing entitled, �Gone with the Wind: The Impacts of Wind Turbines on Birds and Bats.� Audubon supports properly-sited wind power as a necessary solution to global warming but recommends further action to ensure migratory birds are provided with adequate safeguards. Read Audubon's testimony here.
- NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES - On the heels of the Congressional hearing, the National Academy of Sciences released a major report on the impacts of wind power on birds and wildlife. The report rightly concludes that our challenge is to design and locate wind-power projects to minimize the negative impacts on birds. Read more here.
- BIRD KILLS AT COMMUNICATIONS TOWERS - Audubon joined with Defenders of Wildlife, the American Bird Conservancy, and other groups in filing comments on a Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to reduce bird kills. To comply with its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the FCC must adopt regulations to require analysis of the effects of its licensing and permitting actions on migratory birds. The comments, filed April 23, advocate changes such as:
- All new and existing lit towers should use only white strobes or red strobes/blinking lights (no steady burning red lights).
- Guy wires should be kept off new towers.
- Co-location of antennae on existing towers should be encouraged. Where co-location is not possible, tower height should be less than 200' where possible.
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