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  • Latest Mississippi River Delta News: May 29, 2015

    La. coastal plan, including local projects, wins approval
    By Keith Magill, Daily Comet. May 28, 2015
    "Louisiana's 2016 coastal restoration master plan has won final legislative approval. It provides $884 million for projects next year, an increase of approximately $159 million over the year prior.” (Read More)
    At State of City, Mayor Landrieu Announce Plans for Katrina 10th Anniversary Commemoration – ‘K10-Resilient New Orleans’ Will Be Months Long Commemoration
    PR Newswire. May 28, 2015
    "The months-long commemoration, 'K10-Resilient New Orleans,' will showcase for the country and the world the growth, recovery, and long-term resilience planning the City has embarked upon in the years after the catastrophic storm.” (Read More)

    Read more »
  • Congress Shouldn’t Destabilize Our Fisheries

    By Monica Goldberg

    iStock_000014939237_MediumNext week, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1335, a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  Fisheries issues often avoid the partisanship that otherwise rules (some would say cripples) Washington, but the Natural Resources Committee voted out H.R. 1335 strictly on party lines, and we expect the same outcome next week.  That’s a shame, not only because of the breakdown of bipartisanship, but also because this is a bad bill.

    Many have written about how much U.S. fisheries management has improved over the last several years. A recent report from NOAA Fisheries confirms that overfishing numbers hit all-time low in 2014, and that 37 species around the country have rebuilt since 2000. EDF is proud to have worked side-by-side with the fishing industry as these gains have been made – not only because they’re delivering a healthier marine environment but also because they’re supporting more profitable fishing businesses and more prosperous coastal communities.  Unfortunately, H.R. 1335 would jeopardize this progress.  It would also put unnecessary restrictions on the decisions of the regional fishery management councils, long the bedrock of fishery management in the United States and a means for local fishermen and others to participate directly in the rulemaking process.

    Weakening rebuilding and quota provisions:  Legal requirements to rebuild fisheries and prevent overfishing via quota management have played an essential part in bringing back fish like red snapper and summer flounder.  H.R. 1335 creates loopholes that would materially weaken these bedrock provisions, for example by waiving the quota requirement for vaguely-defined “ecosystem component” species or extending rebuilding timelines to avoid short-term economic hardship.  These and other exemptions would delay and in some cases eliminate the benefits to the environment and the economy that come from sustainable management of rebuilt fisheries.

    Charter boats allow recreational fishermen who do not have their own boats to fish for iconic species such as this Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper. Photo Credit Gulf Wild™

    Photo Credit Gulf Wild™

    Limiting options for fishing industry participants:  EDF champions rights-based management, including catch shares, where fishermen chose to adopt them to maximize catch and income while protecting the environment.  H.R. 1335 would unnecessarily restrict this option by requiring a referendum on new catch share programs in certain areas, which could allow permit-holders who rarely fish to stymie the wishes of active fishermen.  The regional councils are capable of making these decisions for themselves; federal lawmakers should not prevent them from taking a reasonable range of actions.

    Mandating revisiting allocations to different fishing sectors:  H.R. 1335 also unnecessarily dictates to regional councils by compelling the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils to revisit within two years all of the allocations between commercial and recreational fishermen in their regions.  All fishery management councils can and do periodically revisit this contentious issue.  Compelling these two councils to do so will divert resources from other important work and potentially exacerbate tensions between sectors.

    Weakening red snapper science and management:  The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission plays a valuable role in the region, but it does not have the capacity to undertake red snapper stock assessments, as H.R. 1335 would direct it to.  Further, extending Gulf state waters boundaries for the purposes of red snapper management would disadvantage charter/for-hire vessels that are pursuing innovative ways to allow more anglers to access red snapper.

    Restricting data from the public:  Publicly available data is crucial to informed participation in the regional council process.  Yet H.R. 1335 would further restrict the public’s access to fisheries information, although this data is often collected at taxpayer expense.

    Undercutting other environmental laws:  H.R. 1335 would make the MSA govern where the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Antiquities Act, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act would usually apply.  These statutes serve important, independent purposes and should not be undercut.

    H.R. 1335 has strengths, including encouraging greater incorporation of data collected by non-governmental sources and focusing on assessing the condition of understudied fish populations.  But on balance, if it were enacted fisheries in the United States would be worse off than under existing law.  As a result, we hope Representatives will vote no on this problematic piece of legislation.

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  • Results: The Bright Side of Getting Into a Routine

    By Erica Morehouse

    By: Erica Morehouse, Senior Attorney, and Katie Hsia-Kiung, High Meadows Research Fellow

    1440893210_4bf8520f5c_zWhat do we call regularly occurring activities? A routine. Which, let’s face it, can sometimes feel tired and uninteresting. But other times, getting into a routine can mean good things. When you get an all-clear at a check-up with the doctor or dentist, you’re not disappointed, right? Well, here’s another example of a smooth routine: as of May 28, we’ve now chalked up 11 auctions that have taken place as part of California’s cap-and-trade program. And the latest results tell us yet again that a good routine is just what the doctor ordered.

    The auction results released today reflect a stable and healthy carbon market, in line with results we’ve seen consistently over several of the past quarterly auctions. (Click here for background on how the auctions work under cap-and-trade). One hundred percent of the allowances offered – which can be used for compliance as early as this year – were sold in the current auction, at a price of $12.29, 19 cents above the minimum floor price set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). This is only eight cents above the price per allowance seen at the last auction, and the lack of any significant price movement from auction to auction is indicative of the stability and maturity of the market. It also shows that companies are becoming more comfortable with the requirements of the cap-and-trade regulation. To date, none of the current vintage allowances offered in the California auctions have gone unsold.

    In addition, approximately 94 percent of future vintage allowances, which can be used for compliance starting only in 2018, were purchased in this auction at the floor price of $12.10. With a strong showing of demand for these future vintage allowances, as well as the very slight rise in prices as compared to the last auction, it’s worth noting several recent announcements that have raised expectations about the program’s longevity. Governor Jerry Brown recently issued an executive order setting California’s emission reduction target at 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, further establishing the state as a leader in taking action on climate change. In addition, last week, California signed the “Under 2 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)” with 11 other states, provinces, and countries.  Through this MOU each state or province committed to either reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050 or achieve a per capita annual emission target of less than two metric tons by 2050. One of the signatories to the MOU was Ontario, Canada, which also recently announced that it would be establishing its own cap-and-trade program, with the intention of joining California and Quebec’s linked market.

    Two weeks ago, California also got an important reminder about the critical role auctions play in the strong design and ultimate success of the cap-and-trade program. Seventeen economists from around the world signed onto an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief to oppose a legal challenge – led by the California Chamber of Commerce and some other business interests – on the use of auctions within the cap-and-trade program. This latest legal challenge is an appeal of a 2013 lower-court decision in which the Sacramento Superior Court decided that auctioning carbon allowances was within the Air Resources Board’s authority and did not constitute an illegal tax under California law. Briefing is now almost complete in the appeals process, and the economists’ brief is notable for highlighting three major reasons why including an auction component in an emissions trading program has been a favored strategy of most economists since trading programs began in the 1990s:

    1. Auction systems are more equitable. Auctions promote equity in several ways. First, they avoid “windfall” profits, when polluters are able to unfairly profit from allowances that they didn’t have to pay for. Instead, in California, at least a quarter of all proceeds from the auctions go to reducing pollution and delivering health and economic benefits to disadvantaged communities overburdened by socioeconomic and pollution challenges. Auctions also promote equity among businesses by providing a transparent and accessible forum for any business to purchase allowances regardless of their size or expertise with the private market.
    2. Auctions systems are more transparent and economically efficient. One of the benefits of a carbon market is that businesses only need to buy an allowance if they can’t reduce pollution on site for less. In order to make this decision effectively businesses need information about the going price of reducing a ton of emissions, the price of an allowance. Public auctions allow better access to this information than relying only on the private two-party transactions that constitute “trading” without an auction. This promotes economic efficiency by ensuring all participants know and are able to pay for the true value of an allowance.
    3. Auctions further environmental benefits. Buying an allowance at auction places a clear price on carbon pollution that cannot be ignored and incentivizes innovation and on-site pollution reduction. Even if allowances are given away for free, each ton of pollution carries a theoretical price, but for a business still acclimating to a carbon market or not properly factoring the carbon price into its business planning, this theoretical price is easier to ignore. A clearer carbon price can mean a more direct path to reductions and achievement of environmental goals.

    The analysis offered in the economists’ brief, taken together with the real-life experience of 11 successful California auctions so far, provide a wealth of examples and evidence for any government to draw upon when designing their own set of climate policies. And, judging from the many cities, states, and provinces lining up side-by-side with California to make bold climate commitments, well-designed cap-and-trade programs might be just the routine we’ve all been looking for.

    Photo source: Flickr/David Schott


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  • Diane Regas Named Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund
    May 28, 2015
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  • Federal agencies embark on largest-ever wildlife conservation effort on public lands
    May 28, 2015
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  • New climate commitments from subnational governments set strong example for Paris

    By Jennifer Andreassen


    Twelve states and provinces representing 100 million people from seven countries have committed to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) hosted the May 19 event in Sacramento commemorating the official signing of the agreement by so-called "subnational" state and provincial governments.

    The Subnational Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding is part of a growing momentum on climate action in the lead-up to the UN climate talks that will be taking place in Paris at the end of the year.

    The founding signatories of the agreement are from three continents and have a combined GDP of $4.5 trillion, which would constitute the fourth largest economic entity in the world; they are:

    Acre, Brazil*
    Baden-Württemberg, Germany*
    Baja California, Mexico*
    British Columbia, Canada
    California, United States*
    Catalonia, Spain*
    Jalisco, Mexico*
    Ontario, Canada*
    Oregon, United States
    Vermont, United States
    Wales, United Kingdom
    Washington, United States





    (* indicates the jurisdiction attended the May 19 signing ceremony)

    The signers committed that by 2050 they would cut total emissions 80-95% percent below 1990 levels or achieve a per capita emissions target of below two metric tons.

    The agreement is being referred to as the “Under 2 MOU,” a play both on this per capita target of two metric tons, and the goal of limiting global temperature rise to under 2 degrees, which Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists say is needed to avoid dangerous climate change.

    The jurisdictions will take a number of steps to achieve these goals, including: establishing midterm emissions reductions targets for 2030 or earlier; increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy; and coordinating on specific areas such as science, transportation and short-lived climate pollutants.

    The governments have also agreed to collaborate on climate change adaptation and resilience measures.

    Fred Krupp, president of EDF, said in a news release on the day of the signing:

    "This agreement is further proof that states, provinces, and cities are forging ahead with climate solutions, not waiting for others to act. By taking this bold step, California and the other partners will not only secure significant emissions reductions but also demonstrate that climate action and prosperity go hand in hand. As we look ahead to the climate conference in Paris at the end of the year, today’s announcement sets a strong example for countries to follow."

    Why action by subnational governments is important

    Subnational governments are particularly well suited to address climate change because their decisions can influence 50-80% of greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation initiatives needed to address climate change, according to the UN Development Program.

    For example, subnational governments develop and implement policies that have the most impact on climate change, including in the areas of air quality, transportation, and energy. These governments can also serve as the laboratories for policy innovations that are adopted at national and international levels. And these jurisdictions can provide the critical link in the integration of climate policies between national and local governments.

    Derek Walker, EDF’s Associate Vice President, U.S. Climate and Energy Program said of the agreement:

    "These subnational leaders understand first-hand that the future of people and the planet are at stake, and they are committing to concrete measures that will help us turn the corner in the fight against climate change. Today’s agreement demonstrates how dynamic climate leaders can create solutions that can be replicated elsewhere and can pave the way for more ambitious action."

    More state, regional and city governments are expected to sign the agreement in the coming months.

    (Photo: Governor Brown and international leaders sign Under 2 MOU. Credit:  Joe McHugh, California Highway Patrol)

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  • Opening of Hurricane Season a Timely Reminder of Urgent Need for Coastal Restoration
    May 28, 2015
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  • Opening of Hurricane Season a Timely Reminder of Urgent Need for Coastal Restoration


    Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781,
    Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849,
    Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543,

    Opening of Hurricane Season a Timely Reminder of Urgent Need for Coastal Restoration

    Leading conservation groups call for action as storm season commences

    (New Orleans, LA—May 28, 2015) Prior to the June 1 start of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, national and local conservation groups working together on Mississippi River Delta restoration– Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – issued the following statement:

    “The start of the 2015 hurricane season and the approaching 10th anniversaries of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are powerful reminders of the need to restore Louisiana’s coast in order to better protect our communities.

    “The looming storm season should serve as a warning flag to state and federal officials of the urgency for implementing and fully funding science-based coastal restoration solutions. Wetlands serve as the primary line of defense against storm surge for New Orleans, Houma, Lake Charles and all of Louisiana’s coastal communities. Restoring the Mississippi River Delta and Chenier Plain are the cornerstones of the Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy, which incorporates natural and manmade features to better protect this vital region.

    “Without restoration of Louisiana’s coast, other efforts to protect against storm surge and damage will provide little more than stopgap solutions. The destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita 10 years ago demonstrated the urgent need to fortify and restore coastal barrier islands, cheniers and wetlands, to provide strong storm defenses that can work in concert with levees and other structural solutions.

    “Our coast is disappearing at the alarming rate of a football field every hour. As our wetlands disappear, so does the natural protection they provide for millions of coastal residents, hundreds of billions of dollars in oil and gas infrastructure, one of the nation’s most productive seafood industries and its critical navigation system.

    “Nearly 10 years after Katrina and Rita, we urge the RESTORE Council to fund large-scale restoration projects in the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan and for the Louisiana Legislature to fully implement this plan before it’s too late.”


    Louisiana has made important strides in the 10 years since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Federal and state authorities have:

    • Instituted the 2012 Coastal Master Plan for restoring Louisiana’s coast and protecting coastal communities.
    • Created the RESTORE Council to prioritize funding for restoration projects with fines received from BP and other companies responsible for the 2010 Gulf oil disaster.
    • Closed the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) channel that increased Hurricane Katrina’s destructive power in the greater New Orleans area.
    • Started implementing over 200 projects across 20 parishes, including those aimed at rebuilding and protecting marshes, barrier islands and other natural buffers.

    But there is a long road ahead before meaningful and sustainable restoration is achieved. For the benefit of all Louisianans and Americans for generations to come, as hurricane season begins, we ask:

    • The RESTORE Council to include projects from the 2012 Coastal Master Plan in its final comprehensive restoration plan, including the 19 priority projects our coalition identified for achieving significant progress.
    • The Louisiana Legislature to prioritize coastal restoration and fully implement the 2012 Coastal Master Plan for sustaining the state’s coast.
    • Our next governor to make coastal restoration chief among his or her administration’s priorities and to protect existing and work to secure future coastal restoration funding.
    • Develop the state’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan with a focus on the best science-based solutions available to achieve large-scale restoration and long-term protection.

    As you report on this year’s hurricane season and/or Hurricane Katrina anniversary, please contact us if you’d like to speak with one of our experts. For more information on the projects that can save Louisiana’s coast, please visit:


    The Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Moms and Parents Gather in Sacramento to Show Support for Climate and Clean Energy Action

    By Loni Russell

    Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez with Mama Summit participants

    Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez with Mama Summit participants

    Who among us has not felt the power of a mom? My mom was one of the hardest-working women I’ve ever known, yet she still found the time to do so much for me. So when moms take on the role of advocates and activists, watch out.

    Last week, moms in California showed up big time. And as the lead organizer for that event, I’m here to give you a birds-eye view of what happens when moms decide to raise their voices.

    On Thursday, May 21, over 40 mothers, parents, grandparents, and supporters from across California gathered in Sacramento at the state capitol building for our Mamma Summit California. The Mamma Summit is part of a series of events hosted by Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), an organization which encourages and enables moms and parents to advocate for climate action for the health and future of their families. We at MCAF teamed up with Environmental Defense Fund, Climate Parents, the American Lung Association in California, The Greenlining Institute, and California Interfaith Power and Light to put together a full day of advocacy for participants.

    Our group of moms, motivated to make their voices heard, showed up bright and early to the Capitol.  They came to tell lawmakers that they expect California to continue to lead on fighting climate change and supporting clean energy to protect their air and keep their kids healthy and thriving. We were honored that the Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, architect of this year’s Senate climate package on which the Summit’s advocacy was based, greeted us first thing in the morning to thank the parents for their resolve. Senators Fran Pavley, mother in her own right of California’s climate leadership, and Richard Pan, staunch defender of children’s health, also came by to thank us for being there and reinforce the importance of our presence.

    Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de León with Mama Summit participants

    Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León with Mama Summit participants

    Breaking into smaller groups for legislative office visits, MCAF representatives shared with 25 elected representatives and their staff why issues of clean air, clean energy, and climate action are important to them, their families, and their communities. And, the MCAF representatives highlighted how some pending bills on climate pollution and energy can make a lasting difference. In the Senate, SB 350 (De León, Leno) and SB 32 (Pavley) together set an overarching greenhouse gas pollution reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and call for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use, 50 percent renewable energy target, and a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in existing buildings. In the Assembly, Speaker Toni Atkins is leading her chamber with AB 1288, a bill which also recognizes the importance of long-term targets for California’s cap-and-trade program. Further, Natural Resources Committee Chair Das Williams is advancing AB 645 to strengthen the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030. Finally, the MCAF folks made sure to thank California’s leaders for their amazing work to protect California families on these issues.

    Senators Fran Pavely and Richard Pan with Mama Summit participants

    Senators Fran Pavely and Richard Pan with Mama Summit participants

    After the meetings everyone reconvened for a great lunch hosted by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez – a strong advocate for families and mother of two in San Diego. During the lunchtime program, speakers offered unique perspectives on why we need to continue to fight for the health of our families and communities through climate action. Will Barrett of American Lung Association in California presented the progress made in air quality as well as the work still needed to make air everywhere healthy to breath. Sekita Grant from The Greenlining Institute reminded us of the vitality of making our climate and clean energy solutions equitable and available to all communities, especially low and moderate income communities and communities of color. And then the honorable Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez shared her vision of a future that balances different priorities such as climate, jobs, and equity. But there was one connecting thread: Moms make a difference, are powerful advocates for change, and they’re going to continue to do everything they can to protect the health of our children and keep polluters accountable.

    As Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez remarked, “Nobody is stronger or more passionate for what they want to see in the future than moms.” And from my perspective, even though it’s my job to live and breathe MCAF almost every day, I never, ever fail to get truly inspired by all the passionate moms, parents, grandparents, and supporters who rally together to link the issue of fighting climate change to fighting for the future of our families. Their strong and consistent voices shed a light of hope that we can tackle these problems and make a better future for those who come after us, especially our kids, and I’m glad those voices were heard in California.

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  • World’s carbon markets case studies highlight different models of emissions trading
    May 27, 2015
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