Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Conservation

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Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, a documentary that dares to say what no one else will this Earth Day — that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road — selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids.

It’s too little, too late.

The film features footage of Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Richard Branson, Robert F Kennedy Jr., Michael Bloomberg, Van Jones, Vinod Khosla, the Koch Brothers, Vandana Shiva, General Motors,, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Nature Conservancy, Elon Musk, Tesla.

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America has a flooding problem it can’t manage. Vermont’s experience shows a possible way forward.

Nearly ten years ago, Ryan Blitstein wrote an excellent article for Miller-McCune (now The Pacific Standard) looking at America’s problem with flooding. For decades, government at every level has tried to keep floodwaters at bay with levees, but the result has been even worse floods. However, as Blitstein explains, Vermont has come up with some unconventional ideas that have the potential to work a lot better, including designating areas near rivers as floodways where construction is restricted and purchasing river channel management rights from farmers.

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Garbage from Washington State’s booming pot industry clogs gutters, sewers and landfills

“Concentrated nutrients and fertilizers left over from cannabis growing operations are being dumped in public sewers and making their way past wastewater treatment plants into Puget Sound,” reports Kristen Millares Young. “And millions of pounds of weed harvest waste that could be composted are instead getting trucked to landfills.”

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Thousands of marchers in British Columbia say no to Trans Mountain pipeline

“If the opposition movement in British Columbia and Washington state has a totem animal, it is the critically-endangered southern resident killer whale that travels the waters even more tankers will use if the pipeline is built,” writes Lynda Mapes.

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‘If we’re attacked, we’ll die together,’ a teenage anti-mining activist told her family. But when the bullets came, they killed only her.

The Los Angeles Times tells the story of Topacio Reynoso, a farmer’s daughter from a remote village in Guatemala who, at fourteen, “devoted herself to opposing construction of a large silver mine planned for a town nearby”.

Satellite image of former Refuge drilling site

From the New York Times: “These satellite images of a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge show the site of what, so far, is the only oil well ever drilled in the refuge, an exploratory well known as KIC-1 that was completed in the mid-1980s. The well was plugged and abandoned, and the drilling equipment and a special timber pad it sat on have long since been removed. “


The notion that oil prices have fallen and the state has been overly reliant on oil does not mean we should destroy a wildlife refuge… The legislation before the committee would require that the refuge’s coastal plain be placed in oil and gas development. It really does turn regular order on is head.

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell denounces the Republican Party’s latest attempt to open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling

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Brazilian court blocks President Temer’s attempt to open vast stretches of Amazon to mining

Via the BBC, a victory (at least for now) over a blatant attempt to allow the forces of greed to wreak havoc in the Amazon: “A Brazilian court has suspended a government decree that would open up a vast natural reserve in the Amazon to commercial mining. The area covers 46,000 sq km (17,800 sq miles) and is thought to be rich in gold, manganese and other minerals. On Monday, following widespread criticism, the government revised the decree, prohibiting mining in conservation or indigenous areas.”

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Greed wins again: Brazil opens vast Amazon reserve to mining

It’s not just the Trump regime that is harming our environment. The BBC reports that the government of Brazil has “abolished a vast national reserve in the Amazon to open up the area to mining”. Conservationists are — appropriately — gravely distressed.


New rule intended to protect West Coast whales, sea turtles gutted by Trump regime

Ridiculous, absurd, unnecessary:

The Trump administration has thrown out a new rule meant to keep endangered whales and sea turtles from getting tangled in mile-long West Coast fishing nets. The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Monday it was canceling the pending limit on the West Coast’s sword-fishing industry — even though the fishing industry itself proposed the new rule.

Emphasis is ours. In other words, Trump’s minions gutted the rule just because they could. The well-being of wildlife is no concern of theirs.

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Great Barrier Reef: Two-thirds damaged in ‘unprecedented’ bleaching

The BBC recaps the bad news: “Unprecedented coral bleaching in consecutive years has damaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, aerial surveys have shown. The bleaching – or loss of algae – affects a 1,500 km stretch of the reef, according to scientists.”

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Hillary Clinton needs to take a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline

“The fight at Standing Rock is a big damned thing,” writes Bill McKibben. “It’s a Flint-in-the-making, and it’s also a chance to for once do right by the continent’s oldest inhabitants. Surely Hillary Clinton can rise to the occasion. Can’t she?”

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Washington tribes stand with Standing Rock Sioux against North Dakota oil pipeline

“Tribes from across Washington and the Northwest have journeyed to remote Cannon Ball, N.D., to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in a peaceful occupation of ancestral lands where the tribe seeks an injunction to stop construction of an oil pipeline until its waters and cultural resources are protected,” Lynda Mapes reports.


National Park Service calls on visitors to respect wildlife and safety regulations

The National Park Service is asking Americans and visitors to the United States to do their part to keep themselves and wildlife safe. In a press release, authorities cited several examples of how good intentions gone awry can cause problems.

For instance:

Last week in Yellowstone National Park, visitors were cited for placing a newborn bison calf in their vehicle and transporting it to a park facility because of their misplaced concern for the animal’s welfare.

In terms of human safety, this was a dangerous activity because adult animals are very protective of their young and will act aggressively to defend them. In addition, interference by people can cause mothers to reject their offspring. In this case, park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the newborn bison calf with the herd.

These efforts failed. The bison calf was later euthanized because it was abandoned and causing a dangerous situation by continually approaching people and cars along the roadway.

Visitors to America’s national parks should respect wildlife by observing from a distance. Take nothing but photos, and leave the animals alone.

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Birds — and staff — return to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

“In the aftermath of the winter occupation, spring birds are arriving and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge staff are making an uneasy return to their jobs and homes in Eastern Oregon’s Harney County,” reports Hal Bernton for The Seattle Times.

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Power grab topples another defender of California’s environment

“The South Coast Air Quality Management District board fired Barry Wallerstein, center, the agency’s longtime leader, despite pleas from environmentalists and public health experts,” reports Steve Lopez.

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The Elwha River: Roaring back to life

In a special report for The Seattle Times, reporter Lynda V. Mapes tells the story of the resurgence of the Elwha River ecosystem, which is benefiting hugely from the largest dam removal project in human history, completed two years ago. “Today the river roars through the tight rock canyon once plugged by Elwha Dam, and surges past the bald, rocky hill where the powerhouse stood,” Mapes writes. “The hum of the generators is replaced by the river singing in full voice, shrugging off a century of confinement like it never happened. Nature’s resurgence is visible everywhere.”

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Tribe: Armed right wing protesters are ‘desecrating’ Oregon land

“The leader of an Oregon Indian tribe whose ancestral property is being occupied by a small, armed group opposed to federal land policy says the activists aren’t welcome and need to leave,” the Associated Press reports.

President Obama speaking at Everglades National Park

President Obama delivers an Earth Day address at Everglades National Park in Florida (Still via White House Live).

Excerpt from transcript:

Here in the Everglades, you can see the effect of a changing climate.  As sea levels rise, salty water from the ocean flows inward. And this harms freshwater wildlife, which endangers a fragile ecosystem. The saltwater flows into aquifers, which threatens the drinking water of more than 7 million Floridians.  South Florida, you’re getting your drinking water from this area, and it depends on this. And in terms of economic impact, all of this poses risks to Florida’s $82 billion tourism industry on which so many good jobs and livelihoods depend.

Joining President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (a Washington State native!) for today’s Everglades National Park tour were Robert Johnson, Director of the South Florida Natural Resources Center; Shannon A. Estenoz, Director of the Office of the Everglades Restoration Initiatives, Department of the Interior; and Park Ranger Alan Scott, who served as the tour guide.


Mother Nature didn’t intend for forty million people to live here… This is literally a culture that since the 1880s has progressively invented, invented and reinvented itself. At what point does this invention begin to hit limits?

— Kevin Starr, a historian at the University of Southern California who is intimately familiar with the Golden State’s history, via The New York Times (California drought tests history of endless growth).

Video Clip

Great news from the White House: President Obama has announced that the Department of Interior has finished working on revised Comprehensive Conservation plan to better sustain and manage Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This far northern part of Alaska is known to Alaska Native communities as “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins”.