Get Involved: Contact Congress — Sugarcane Ethanol, the Sweeter Alternative

Get Involved: Contact Congress — Sugarcane Ethanol, the Sweeter Alternative.

Information included in the link above to contact your members of Congress!!!!

Leading environmental officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and in California agree: ethanol made from sugarcane is an ideal renewable fuel that can help reduce greenhouse gases while diversifying America’s energy resources. EPA has designated sugarcane ethanol as an Advanced Renewable Fuel – an important category of superior biofuels that, along with cellulosic biofuels and others, will make up 21 billion gallons of America’s fuel supply by 2022. This is equal to about 15% of today’s gasoline market. In California, the state’s air regulators have classified sugarcane ethanol as a “low-carbon” fuel that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s transportation sector.

What is it about sugarcane ethanol that makes the fuel so environmentally friendly?

  • Renewable – Sugarcane ethanol, unlike coal or oil, is produced from sugarcane plants that grow back year after year.
  • Sustainable – Since sugarcane only needs to be replanted every five to seven years – as a semi-perennial crop it can be harvested without uprooting the plant, its cultivation has less impact on the soil and surrounding environment. Learn more about sustainable sugarcane agriculture in Brazil.
  • Energy-Intensive – Sugarcane is highly efficient in converting sunlight, water and CO2 into stored energy.  Sugarcane produces seven times more energy compared to corn when used in ethanol production.
  • Lower Carbon Emissions – Compared to gasoline, sugarcane ethanol cuts greenhouse gases by more than 60%. That’s better than any other liquid biofuel produced today in large quantities.

In addition to these significant environmental benefits, sugarcane ethanol also is more affordable compared to other alternatives. That’s why many observers point to sugarcane ethanol as a good option for diversifying U.S. energy supplies, increasing healthy competition among biofuel manufacturers and improving America’s energy security.

 

No Species Is an Island – Coming Clean: Michael Brune’s Blog

No Species Is an Island – Coming Clean: Michael Brune’s Blog.

For several years now, the U.S. Senate has proclaimed the third Friday in May to be Endangered Species Day. This year, the day has extra significance. The Endangered Species Act (the only thing standing between countless species and extinction) has come under unprecedented attack.

To paraphrase John Donne, “No species is an island.” Humans, too, depend on biodiversity and the richness of the web of life. Aldo Leopold, compared the loss of species to “throwing away, one-by-one, the engine parts of an airplane while flying.”

What’s more, the airplane’s facing some serious turbulence. All living things — including humans — face new and daunting challenges in a world where the climate has been disrupted. Habitats are shifting and pressures on species are increasing. You can’t preserve that web of life without also protecting the places it lives. We might think we’re protecting habitat for this or that creature — but in truth we’re doing it for all living things, not least ourselves. That’s the basis for the Sierra Club’s Resilient Habitats campaign, which is working to protect places where plants, animals, and people can survive and thrive.

Full article at above link.

Increase in Beached Whales

More Frequent Whale Strandings Has Experts on Edge

Full story at above link

While the National Marine Fisheries Service has declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, it’s more than just oil spills that are causing increased strandings worldwide.

The occurences of beachings has increased.  It could be any number of things at this point from nutrition to sonar throwing them off their intended path.  The BP oil spill is a possible cause but might not be the only one.

NOAA provides this chart of whale strandings in the Gulf of Mexico, showing the marked increase:

Speculations continue.  It is still very uncertain as to why this is happening in different parts of the world.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation | Improving Water Quality Through Streamside Tree Buffers

Chesapeake Bay Foundation | Improving Water Quality Through Streamside Tree Buffers.

Spring is the perfect time to plant trees. And establishing a streamside forested buffer will not only help protect water quality, it will attract wildlife by providing much-needed habitat. The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), a federally funded program, provides landowners and farmers with the resources to design and install these buffers. CREP also pays annual rental payments to the landowner.

There are many benefits to forested buffers, including preventing pollutants from reaching streams, creating wildlife habitat, and improving water quality. Streamside trees also help reduce stormwater and flooding problems by slowing down and absorbing rainwater as it moves across the land. Buffers also provide recreational opportunities like wildlife and bird watching, and they improve property values.

The following information is from www.creppa.org:

WHAT IS CREP?

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary conservation program which rewards producers and landowners for installing conservation practices on their land, and offers up to 100% cost share reimbursement for installation, annual rental payments, and cash incentives.

For more detailed information visit the PA Game Commission website.

Any producer or landowner can enroll in CREP, which is available for eligible marginal cropland, pastureland, and land along non-forested streams.

Continuous enrollment in CREP is available for a limited time,so don’t wait until the last minute to take advantage of this opportunity to cash in on conservation!

CREP BENEFITS

  • Protects Pennsylvania’s streams, lakes and wetlands.
  • Provides wildlife habitat for biodiversity.
  • Covers the cost of streambank fencing, stream crossings, and stock tanks.
  • Pays for planting native trees, shrubs and grasses.
  • Reduces wear and tear on farm equipment, (through enrollment of wet or steep “problem acres.”)
  • Protects animals from diseases that can be transmitted by waterborne bacteria, such as mastitis, Johne’s disease, BVD and foot rot.
  • Saves you time and earns you money.

CREP KEYWORDS

  • Soil Rental Rate (SRR) – Calculated cash payment dependent upon soil type.
  • Erodibility Index (EI) – Calculation based on soil type and slope.
  • Highly Erodible Land (HEL) –  Land susceptible to erosion (usually found on steep slopes, but depends on soil type and vegetative cover).
  • Marginal Pastureland – Land near a stream or water body not currently covered with trees or woody growth.
  • Riparian Zone – Land adjacent to stream channels and other waterways.
  • Riparian Buffer – Strips of trees, shrubs and/or grasses along the edges of waterways that stabilize banks and filter runoff.
  • Wetland –  An area that frequently is inundated by surface and/or groundwater, providing a unique habitat for wildlife, improving water quality and protecting against floods.  A wetland is different than a pond.
  • Shallow Water Area – A source of water with an average depth of 6 – 18 inches which provides wildlife habitat.
  • Native Grasses – Warm and cool season grasses naturally occur in western PA.  Warm season grasses include indiangrass, big bluestem, and switchgrass.  Cool season grasses include orchardgrass, timothy and perennial ryegrasss.

A variety of wildlife depends on grassland habitats and adjacent riparian areas year-round. Birds use the many layers of vegetation cover (trees, shrubs, and grasses) and plentiful plant species found in these habitats for food and cover. During the breeding season, many ground-nesting bird and mammal species build nests in the vegetation and use the cover to raise and protect their young. In the winter, seeds are foraged and dead vegetation creates pockets where ground-dwelling birds can take shelter. Butterflies, and other enjoyable insects, feed on the flowers that grow in the grassland. Unlike the specific vegetation of riparian corridors, wetlands, and grasslands, the wildlife that depend on these areas commonly travel between them for both food and shelter.

Before And After

Shutiz Fence Before

Shutiz Fence After

Wandrisco Before

Wandrisco After

Food Prices Driven Up by Global Warming, Study Shows | Common Dreams

Global warming ubx

Image via Wikipedia

Food Prices Driven Up by Global Warming, Study Shows | Common Dreams.

Full article at above link.

Global warming has already harmed the world’s food production and has driven up food prices by as much as 20% over recent decades, new research has revealed.

  An Indian farmer displays wheat after harvest on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Thursday, May 5, 2011. Global warming has already harmed the world’s food production and has driven up food prices by as much as 20% over recent decades, new research has revealed. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) The drop in the productivity of crop plants around the world was not caused by changes in rainfall but was because higher temperatures can cause dehydration, prevent pollination and lead to slowed photosynthesis.

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, Washington DC, said the findings indicate a turning point: “Agriculture as it exists today evolved over 11,000 years of reasonably stable climate, but that climate system is no more.” Adaptation is difficult because our knowledge of the future is not strong enough to drive new investments, he said, “so we just keep going, hoping for the best.”

“It is vital,” said Wolfram Schlenker, at Columbia University in New York and one of the research team. “If we continue to have the same seed varieties and temperatures continue to rise, then food prices will rise further. [Addressing] that is the big question.”

“We actually have enough calories to feed the world quite comfortably, the problem is meat is really inefficient,” as many kilogrammes of grain are needed to produce one kilogramme of meat, he said. “As countries get richer and have a preference for meat, which is more expensive, they price people in poorer countries out of the market.”

Global food prices have risen by about 200% in recent years, says Schlenker. Other causes of the rise are the increased demand for meat and the diversion of food into biofuels. Nonetheless, the researchers conclude that the negative impact on crops overall is “likely to be incurring large economic and health costs”.

1Sky and 350.org Merge under 350.org Banner to Unite Large-scale Powerful Grassroots Climate Movement | Common Dreams

350.org

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1Sky and 350.org Merge under 350.org Banner to Unite Large-scale Powerful Grassroots Climate Movement | Common Dreams.

More information at above link.

Grassroots groups 350.org and 1Sky today announced they will combine under the 350.org banner and dramatically expand their work. “In light of last night’s vote, it is more important than ever to unite and train a bigger, more powerful grassroots movement capable of attacking our corporate polluter opponents and fighting for a real clean energy future. This moment is our call to action,” said Liz Butler, Campaign Director of 1Sky.

In an essay announcing the merger, McKibben and new 350.org board member, author and activist Naomi Klein, wrote, “The idea is not to supplant the Washington green groups, but instead to give the whole movement new clout—enough clout to withstand the crushing power of oil money.”

Use Your Outside Voice | The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy: Protecting nature. Pre...

Image via Wikipedia

Use Your Outside Voice | The Nature Conservancy.

More information at the above link.

The spending bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives disproportionately cuts conservation programs by 90-100%. While conservation and environmental programs should shoulder a fair portion of the burden of the budget reductions needed to reduce our national debt, disproportionate cuts run counter to America’s long bi-partisan tradition of protecting land and water for people and nature.

These are programs that protect the health and safety of the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe and habitat for America’s plants and animals. These are the programs that protect our national parks and landmarks, our national wildlife areas, our coasts and waterways.

There is another link on the page that will give you information on how you can take action by calling and mailing your Representative.  There is a sample letter in case you are not used to having to write letters about saving things in this world you are passionate about.  Now is as good a time as any!!

Vote For the 2011 BioFool of the Year for April 1st: Friends of the Earth U.S.

Friends of the Earth U.S..

Vote at the link above and to read more.

According to Friends of the Earth, it has been a good year for Biofools: ethanol subsidies were slipped into the December tax cut deal, EPA approved a 15 percent ethanol blend for cars up to a decade old, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico covered up that region’s other ecological disaster — a dead zone the size of Massachusetts caused by agricultural runoff from the Midwest.

Learn more about the 2011 Biofools nominees:

Defenders of Wildlife: Compromised the Battle but the War is Not Over

Northern Rockies Wolf Settlement

Message from the President of Defenders

Dear fellow Defenders of Wildlife,

Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife
Rodger Schlickeisen
President
Defenders of Wildlife

Since last fall, it has become increasingly likely that Congress would pass legislation that would be disastrous for wolves and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although Defenders has steadfastly opposed that legislation, we became convinced that the only real hope of stopping it was to reach a settlement of the litigation we brought in 2009 successfully challenging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s illegal decision to remove federal protection from wolves in the Northern Rockies.

Accordingly, on March 18, 2011, we joined with nine other conservation organizations in filing with the U.S. District Court in Montana a settlement agreement we negotiated with the Interior Department. Like any settlement agreement, this one is a compromise, but one that we are convinced was necessary to help avert what could easily be the most disastrous assault on the ESA since that monumental law took effect nearly four decades ago. We are also convinced that, if the agreement is approved by the court and all parties live up to their responsibilities, it will provide a path in which wolves will continue to recover in the Northern Rockies and science, not politics, will prevail.

Whatever happens now, we will continue to lead the effort both for wolves and the ESA going forward. Below you will find more detailed answers to questions about the settlement and what our next steps will be to ensure the long-term future of wolves across the Northern Rockies.

All of us at Defenders of Wildlife are extremely grateful for your continued support in our ongoing efforts to save America’s wolves.

Sincerely,
Rodger Schlickeisen

Frequently Asked Questions About the Settlement

Why are you settling?

As we entered the current congressional session, the politics surrounding this issue could not have been worse. Since August 2010, when a Montana federal court restored ESA protections for wolves across the Northern Rockies, anti-wolf sentiment in the region has continued to grow. In particular, anti-wolf extremists have provoked political responses from state governors and the Idaho and Montana congressional delegations, including federal legislation to permanently remove Northern Rockies wolves from the protection of the ESA.

Though we were able to block bad wolf bills last session, pressure continues to mount in Congress to resolve the issue through legislation. Barring some alternative resolution of the controversy, wolf delisting language would almost certainly be included in any final bill to fund the federal government this year. In an effort to avert damaging legislation that would not only be very harmful to wolves but would establish a very dangerous precedent of political interference with species protection under the ESA, Defenders pursued a settlement agreement with the Interior Department that will allow for wolf recovery to continue and eliminate the rationale for legislation delisting wolves.

What would happen if Defenders didn’t settle?

At the very least, we would expect Congress to pass legislation that would reinstate the same 2009 wolf delisting rule that was struck down twice by the courts, allowing Idaho and Montana to resume killing wolves without any additional scientific safeguards to ensure the long-term survival of the species and without any legal recourse against it.  If that’s not bad enough, other bills have been introduced that seek to permanently delist wolves throughout the Northern Rockies, including Wyoming, and throughout the entire lower 48 states. This means wolves in Washington, Oregon and Utah would have no federal protection whatsoever, even though populations there have just started to recover. And wolf recovery in the Southwest, where there are currently only 50 Mexican gray wolves remaining in the wild, would effectively grind to a halt.

What does the settlement mean for wolves now?

If approved by the Montana federal court, this settlement will allow wolf recovery to continue across the Northern Rockies, especially in places like Wyoming, where an adequate state management plan has yet to be approved, and Oregon, Washington and Utah, where wolves have only started to recover. Idaho and Montana will be allowed to resume managing wolf populations within their states, but with critical scientific safeguards in place to make sure wolves are protected, including monitoring and independent scientific review. Now it’s up to Idaho and Montana to hold up their end of the bargain and demonstrate that they can manage wolves responsibly. If they fail to do so, wolves could once again be placed under the protection of the ESA.

What are the terms of the settlement?

The agreement reached will provide a critical scientific safety net that will allow wolves to be delisted in Idaho and Montana while retaining protections across the rest of the region. The Interior Department will help ensure that the states are adequately managing wolves by monitoring the status of wolves in Idaho and Montana on an annual basis. After three years, the Interior Department will also seek an independent scientific review of the status of wolves in the region to more clearly define what constitutes a viable and genetically connected wolf population in the Northern Rockies. Finally, when Wyoming develops a wolf management plan that meets the requirements of the ESA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will issue a new delisting rule based upon the best available science.

What are the next legal steps?

If the court accepts the terms of the settlement, wolf management will be returned to state fish and wildlife agencies in Idaho and Montana. If the court does not accept the terms of the settlement, wolves will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act throughout the Northern Rockies as they are currently, but only so long as Congress does not adopt delisting legislation.  We would expect that, if the settlement agreement is not approved, anti-wolf sentiment would continue to grow, making it nearly inevitable that Congress would adopt damaging delisting legislation.

How will Defenders continue to protect wolves?

Regardless of what happens with this settlement, Defenders will continue fighting to ensure the successful long-term recovery of wolves across the Northern Rockies. We will continue to oppose efforts by anti-wolf extremists to strip vital protections for wolves where the long-term survival of the species is still in jeopardy. And we will also continue to work closely with ranchers to develop and implement the tools and techniques they need to coexist with wolves, including expanding our program into Oregon and Washington where wolves have only recently returned.

If the settlement is approved, we are prepared to work together with the states to make sure sustainable wolf populations are maintained. Idaho and Montana have made commitments in the past to manage wolves responsibly and we plan to hold them to their word. And if populations are ever threatened with serious decline in the future, we will petition the federal government to restore ESA protections once again.

If the settlement is not approved, we will continue to oppose federal delisting legislation and work toward a solution that protects the long-term recovery of the species and upholds the scientific principles of the Endangered Species Act.

What can you do to help wolves now?

We need your support now more than ever. This settlement provides a path forward that upholds the scientific principles of the ESA and ensures continued wolf recovery across the Northern Rockies. But we need to send a strong message to Congress that legislating away protections for wolves is the exact WRONG approach. For many years, the American people, and members of Defenders of Wildlife in particular, have shown support for wolf recovery and protecting imperiled wildlife. Please, continue to tell Congress that you support wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies and the Southwest, and you oppose any efforts to place politics above science in the conservation of endangered species.

Protecting Livestock, Saving Wolves

The Defenders of Wildlife Wolf Coexistence Partnership is demonstrating ways that conservationists and ranchers can work together to protect livestock and save wolves by avoiding and minimizing conflicts.

The program helps prevent conflict between imperiled wolves and humans by supporting the use of nonlethal deterrents and best management practices, including:

  • Range riders or cowboys to protect livestock
  • Guard dogs to alert herders and range riders of nearby wolves
  • Portable fencing or fladry (brightly colored flags strung across a rope or electrified wire that scare wolves) to secure livestock overnight
  • Nonlethal hazing techniques, such as shining bright lights or firing a loud starter pistol, to drive off wolves
  • Good husbandry practices, such as removing carcasses, which attract wolves
  • Moving livestock to grazing pastures away from wolf dens

Check out our video above, Keeping Wolves out of Harm’s Way, to see some of these successful techniques in action.

The program works directly with landowners and communities to:

  1. reduce conflicts between wolves and humans;
  2. keep wolves from being unnecessarily killed by agencies in response to human conflicts; and
  3. increase general acceptance of wolves across the landscape.

What Defenders Is Doing

To date, Defenders has implemented wolf and livestock co-existence projects throughout wolf ranges in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alberta, and Oregon. These include four major range rider projects in key corridor wolf conservation areas: northwestern Montana (connecting the USA and Canadian northern Rockies); Greater Yellowstone ecosystem in southeastern Montana and northwestern Wyoming; and, most recently, the first ever rider project in northeastern Oregon.

Our project partners include ranchers, state and federal agencies, livestock associations, and other conservation organizations.

How Climate Change Became A “Liberal Hoax”: Big Business vs. Science

Photograph of Noam Chomsky

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The sixth video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth Productions.

Linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky talks about the Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute and other business lobbies enthusiastically carrying out campaigns “to try and convince the population that global warming is a liberal hoax.