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- Smart Reforms Key to Global Fish Recovery, Even with Climate ChangeRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 18, 2017 - 5:00 am
- Don't Let the Senate Put Oil and Gas Above Your InterestsTogether, we worked to put in place first-ever limits on the dangerous climate pollution that the oil & gas industry is leaking, venting, and flaring on our public and tribal lands. Now, all of that is at risk. C4.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 17, 2017 - 10:50 pm
- Don't Let the Senate Put Oil and Gas Above Your InterestsTogether, we worked to put in place first-ever limits on the dangerous climate pollution that the oil & gas industry is leaking, venting, and flaring on our public and tribal lands. Now, all of that is at risk. C4.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 17, 2017 - 10:42 pm
- Senate Rams Through Pruitt Confirmation in "Irresponsible Rush Vote"Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 17, 2017 - 5:00 am
- New Illinois Data-Sharing Program to Spur Clean Energy Solutions, Cost SavingsRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 17, 2017 - 5:00 am
- It's risky to start curvina season in the Upper Gulf without sufficient protections for vaquita
By Rafael Ortiz
Before curvina fishing starts, the Government and fishing sector must urgently adopt additional measures to differentiate legal and orderly fishing from illegal activities, and to demonstrate that the curvina fishery does not interact with neither vaquita nor totoaba.
Fishing for curvina could start earlier than expected in the Upper Gulf of California, without the necessary management measures in place to demonstrate that this fishery does not affect the critically endangered vaquita. EDF has advocated (2016, 2017) for significantly improving management measures, has advised officials and has offered help with implementation. Allowing any fishing activity in the Upper Gulf without necessary measures in place has serious implications. We urge the Government of Mexico and the fishing communities to adopt them as soon as possible.
The curvina fishery is one of the best managed fisheries in Mexico, thanks to measures that ensure the sustainable use of the resource. These include selective fishing methods and a rights-based management system, which together have managed to protect the resource by reducing the total catch to half the historic maximum, while increasing economic performance, stabilizing prices and reducing costs.
Despite these advances, the outlook for the curvina fishery has become very complex due to the increase in illegal poaching of totoaba and the impact poaching has on the vaquita population. According to the latest report from the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) there are only 30 vaquitas left, an extremely delicate situation, about which EDF is extremely concerned. Although there is no evidence that the fishing gear used specifically for the curvina fishery interacts directly with vaquita or totoaba, there is a perception that this fishery could serve as cover for totoaba poaching.
We agree with other experts that poaching has been occurring year-round, regardless of what legal fisheries are on the water. Hence, to ensure the future of any and all legal fishing in the Upper Gulf, there is a critical and immediate need to have management and monitoring measures in place to differentiate legal activities from those that are illegal.
While the Mexican Government has implemented measures to protect vaquita, including increased enforcement and surveillance and a temporary suspension of most of the fishing activity of the Upper Gulf, illegal poaching of totoaba has persisted. Faced with this situation, scientists, NGOs and the fishing sector have called on both federal and state authorities to deploy more effective enforcement and monitoring, and to find ways to ensure legal fishing can continue in the Upper Gulf through both fishing gear development and management measures.
It is critical that a system is implemented that can allow officials to differentiate legal fishing activities from illegal poaching in the Upper Gulf. EDF, together with the fishing sector, authorities, scientists and key partners, developed and validated a series of measures to achieve this objective; including a roadmap for their implementation that has not yet been applied in a timely manner. These measures include:
- Mandatory use of location devices 24 hours a day on all fishing boats.
- A reliable boat census with clear and unambiguous registration.
- Transparent and accessible information so that everyone, including authorities involved in the enforcement of the Upper Gulf of California, can quickly differentiate between those conducting illegal activities and those who are complying with the law.
- Spatial and temporal segregations to ensure that there are no fishing boats in areas with the highest concentration of illegal poaching.
- Rapid action contingency protocols that in the case of observing a vaquita the curvina fleet as a whole halts fishing in that area.
These measures do not replace, but complement existing regulations, including the total allowable catch, the Official Standard for Responsible Fishing of Curvina (NOM-063-PESC-2005), the Curvina Golfina Fishery Management Plan, the curvina temporal closure, as well as the Management Plan of the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve.
Failure to implement these additional measures puts responsible curvina fishing at risk. Without transparent mechanisms and commitments to ensure protection of the vaquita, and which can provide evidence that fishery does not interact with illegal activities, the progress achieved so far could be reversed at the expense of species and communities in the region.
EDF can only support the curvina fishery if it adopts the necessary measures that demonstrate it does not interact with totoaba or vaquita. Therefore, we urgently appeal to the Mexican Government and fishing sector that catches curvina to commit to these measures. Otherwise, the future of this fishery will be at risk. We are convinced that if authorities, the fishing sector and NGOs take immediate action, we can stay on the path to sustainability and prosperity. With everyone’s commitment we can continue to work in favor of legal and orderly fishing, securing a thriving future for the Upper Gulf species and its communities.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 16, 2017 - 8:07 pm
- EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Makes Progress but Misses Forest for Trees
By David Lyon
In its draft 2017 GHG inventory, published this week, the EPA estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas industry were lower than their previous estimate in the 2016 inventory.
The vast majority of the decrease comes from methodological changes in how EPA does these estimates and does not represent actual reductions from improved industry practices. We expect to see fluctuation in EPA estimates in future inventories as the agency continues to revise their accounting methods; this inventory should be viewed as the final answer. But, to see the actual trend in emissions, you should compare 2015 emissions to their updated estimate of 2014 emissions, not the estimate from last year’s inventory. EPA estimates a mere 2% reduction in actual emissions, largely attributable to reduced drilling activity and well completions, which is a result of lower oil and gas prices in 2015. This points to the importance of recently enacted regulations, like the EPA NSPS and BLM rule, to drive the much greater reductions needed to minimize waste and the climate impacts of oil and gas.
What about super-emitters?
While the draft inventory represents progress in that EPA is continuing the process of incorporating new data such as the EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, much work remains to be done. For example, the inventory still largely ignores “super-emitters,” which science has shown to be a major source of emissions. EPA has made an important step by including emissions from the Aliso Canyon blowout, but they exclude other transmission and storage super-emitters, which an EDF/CSU study found to account for almost a quarter of the T&S sector’s emissions. They also have started to account for production super-emitters by including estimates of emissions from stuck dump valves, but the underlying data for this source are flawed and likely greatly underestimate emissions. EPA’s current estimate of production super-emitters only account for 0.2% of production sector emissions.
In contrast, our recent paper in Nature Communications found that super-emitters account for one-third of well pad emissions in the Barnett Shale. Although the science supports some of EPA’s revisions that emissions from individual sources like processing plants have lower emissions than previously estimated, if they had fully accounted for super-emitters, those emissions would have more than offset the paper reductions reflected in the current draft. It is important to see the forest for the trees: emissions may be lower for some sources, but you’re not seeing the true magnitude of total emissions if you ignore the biggest emitters.
In order for EPA to continue their progress in updating the inventory, it is critical that they are allowed to rely on the best science without political interference. We must not be misled by interest groups who claim that the updated inventory is the final answer because it gives the false impression of a large emissions decrease. As a start, EPA should continue collecting data from the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program and Information Collection Request, assure the data is publicly available, and make scientifically supported changes to the GHGRP to increase the accuracy of reported emissions. EPA should also review existing and forthcoming studies that evaluate the contribution of super-emitters and determine the best approach for fully incorporating super-emitters into the inventory.
EPA is accepting comments on the draft inventory until March 17 and plans to release a final inventory by April 15.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 15, 2017 - 3:44 pm
- Protecting the Endangered Species Act Protects People and NatureRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 15, 2017 - 5:00 am
- A Toxic Scavenger Hunt: Finding the First 10 Lautenberg Act Chemicals
By Jack Pratt
Jack Pratt is Chemicals Campaign Director
Recently, EPA identified the first 10 chemicals for evaluation under our country’s newly reformed chemical safety law. That motivated me to see how easy it would be to find these chemicals in consumer products. The answer: very easy. In fact, while you’ve probably not heard of many of these chemicals, the products that contain them are likely all too familiar.
For decades our main chemical safety law offered little protection against toxic chemicals. Badly outmoded and outdated, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 could not even restrict a known carcinogen like asbestos. Fortunately, last year, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress passed legislation to reform the law. Included in that new law, the Lautenberg Act, was a requirement that EPA identify the first 10 chemicals to undergo risk evaluations. EPA released that list in late November, and included chemicals ranging from household names like asbestos to less well-known ones like Pigment Violet 29. All 10 chemicals had already been designated by EPA as chemicals in need of additional scrutiny.
To begin my toxic scavenger hunt, I had to first figure out which products use these chemicals. That is harder than it might sound. Companies are not required to include most ingredients on product labels (you can see that for yourself right now, if you have a cleaning product within sight). Nor are there comprehensive databases listing where chemicals are used—even chemicals that pose serious health and environmental concerns, like these 10 chemicals.
To figure out which products use these chemicals, I had to resort to some advanced Googling. I found some products by searching online for Safety Data Sheets containing the chemicals—these sheets of product information are required by OSHA for potentially harmful substances used in the workplace. Other products and product categories can be found by searching EPA’s CPCat: Chemical and Product Categories database and the National Institute of Health (NIH) Household Products Database. The databases are not exhaustive and are further limited because product formulations change often, so all of these sources had to be confirmed using other information.
Many product categories have no ingredient disclosure whatsoever. For instance, a flame retardant on the list (HBCD) is used in electronics, textiles and elsewhere, but little or no disclosure is required for such products. Even so, product testing has turned up some specific uses—as an example, the Ecology Center tested children’s car seats and found the flame retardant HBCD in certain models. Still, there’s just no way to know for sure where else that chemical might be found in our homes or workplaces.
Where products using these chemicals were identified, however, finding out how I could obtain the products was a cinch (see my list).
Amazon is my go-to vendor for everything from diapers to razors—and it turns out it can also supply me with products containing PERC, 1-Bromopropane, TCE and many more.
I also found that purchasers’ reviews provided interesting insights. Lectra Clean Degreaser uses PERC. One Amazon reviewer gives the product 5 out of 5 stars, noting “I always keep a couple cans of this handy. It's also an amazing bug killer. It will kill any fly, wasp or nuisance bug almost instantly upon contact. Put the small red tube in and you've got about 8 feet of accurate Armageddon for our insect friends.” Now there’s a reasonably foreseen use the product manufacturer perhaps didn’t intend!
The labels on these products are also of interest. At my local hardware store, I picked up a NMP-based paint stripper. That product is sold under the brand “Back to Nature” and includes a logo that urges browsers to “Go Green.” That’s pretty upbeat language for a suspected reproductive toxicant.
Generally, hardware stores are great places to find the chemicals on the first-10 list. Paint strippers using NMP and Methylene Chloride are readily available. Carbon Tetrachloride can be found in adhesives. Craft and hobby stores are good places to find others, like Pigment Violet 29 (used in some permanent violet paints) and 1-Bromopropane in certain adhesives.
Nothing can beat an auto supply provider, however. There you can find TCE, PERC and 1-Bromopropane products for degreasing. It’s also where I located the coup de grace in the toxic chemical hunt: asbestos brake pads. Despite EPA’s inability to ban asbestos under the old chemical law, asbestos use has been curtailed by lawsuits, thanks to a clear link to mesothelioma. Still, both the state of California and domestic brake manufacturers indicate that asbestos remains in use in certain imported brake pads, as well as in some stockpiles of after-market brake pads for older-model cars. An online auto supply vendor shipped me asbestos brake pads, loose and unwrapped, rattling around in a flimsy cardboard box that includes a small warning label “contains asbestos fibers, avoid breathing dust.”
We can chuckle a bit at how casual a company was in shipping a product containing a deadly carcinogen, but this is serious stuff. The men and women who work with asbestos brake pads can get deathly sick, and so can their families when the fibers come home on clothing. Paint strippers containing methylene chloride are responsible for numerous deaths—people killed at work or at home.
Mechanics using brake cleaners in auto shops, janitors using stain removers, and dry cleaners using spot cleaning products are likely putting their health at risk every day at work. Pregnant women using these products, say, to prepare a nursery, might inadvertently be harming their developing fetus.
Tuesday, EPA will take the next step on these 10 chemicals, holding a public meeting to discuss and get input on what the scope of their risk evaluations should be (see their use dossiers on each of the 10 chemicals here). We should all watch closely and participate where we can to ensure that workers, kids, pregnant woman, and everyone else get the protection they deserve. And if you know of any other products containing these chemicals, please let me know. I still have some room on my desk.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 13, 2017 - 4:38 pm
- Will Diversions Introduce Nutrients That Harm Wetland Vegetation?
Within the scientific community, and among the general public, there is controversy over the effects that nutrients, introduced through sediment diversions, will have on wetland vegetation. The speculation is that increased nutrients, especially nitrate, will result in decreased root growth. With increased nutrient availability, plant roots will no longer have to “search” for nutrients, resulting in decreased growth. This results in fewer roots to hold and trap soil and organic matter, creating weaker wetlands. In addition, the increase in nutrients ...
The post Will Diversions Introduce Nutrients That Harm Wetland Vegetation? appeared first on Restore the Mississippi River Delta.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 13, 2017 - 2:55 pm