Biden Administration greenlights offshore wind for NC

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May 26, 2021

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina is ramping up plans to lease offshore wind-energy areas to developers, as the Biden administration expresses support for those efforts.

The green light comes one year before a decade-long Trump-era moratorium on offshore development is slated to go into effect – on July 1, 2022. Despite the pending moratorium, which includes wind energy, U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., said the state is poised to be a leader in offshore power generation and manufacturing.

“And,” she said, “with a bipartisan effort in our delegation to seek the ability to harness the best offshore wind in the country – and associated research and technology that will go with it – it will benefit North Carolina for decades to come.”

Lawsuit launched over Piney Point wastewater leak in Florida

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May 21, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Conservation groups say Florida’s environmental regulators ignored a decade of warning signs – including advice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – and it ultimately led to the Piney Point wastewater leak. Now, they plan to file suit.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, HRK Holdings, and the Manatee County Port Authority have all been named in the Notice of Intent to Sue, after April’s leak of a phosphogypsum stack, releasing about 215 million gallons of wastewater into Tampa Bay and prompting evacuations.

Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director and senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the suit calls for permanent closure of the site and better solutions than dumping the remaining waste into Florida’s groundwater. “If we don’t file this lawsuit,” said Lopez, “our concern is that the DEP, the county and HRK is going to choose a path of least resistance for getting rid of the waste that they’re left managing, and deep-well injection appears to be such a path.”

Elected Officials to Protect America backs federal bill to reduce plastic pollution

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May 20, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Conservation groups are calling for passage of a bill to phase out single-use plastics.

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would hold companies accountable for the full life cycle of their products and packaging and expand reuse and refill programs.

Heidi Harmon, mayor of San Luis Obispo and co-chair of the California chapter of Elected Officials to Protect America, said less than 10% of plastic has ever been recycled. Most of it goes from our recycling bins to the incinerator, the landfill and ultimately the oceans. “The industry conned us into believing that plastics were being recycled,” Harmon asserted. “And as a result, since 2005 our plastic waste has doubled. At this rate, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, by weight, by 2050, which is crazy.”

Kennebec River dams in Maine threaten endangered Atlantic salmon

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May 18, 2021

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine conservationists say four dams on the Kennebec River are the biggest threat to Atlantic salmon populations, and groups intend to sue to get them removed.

Brookfield Renewable Partners is an international energy company that owns four dams on the Kennebec River between Waterville and Skowhegan.

Nick Bennett, staff scientist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, noted one of the best spawning habitats for Atlantic salmon is in the Sandy River, a tributary above Brookfield’s dams. Atlantic salmon are known as “sea-run” fish, they spawn in fresh water but spend much of their lives in salt water.

He said the dams pose an often fatal hazard for the fishes’ path to the ocean. “They really need to be removed if we want to have any chance of restoring Atlantic salmon and the other species of sea-run fish that are necessary for them to be restored like river herring, shad and eels,” Bennett asserted.

Groups claim the dams violate the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

MT program makes building efficiency upgrades affordable

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May 17, 2021

HELENA, Mont. — Montana lawmakers passed a measure this year which will make it easier for commercial building owners to upgrade aging infrastructure.

Commercial Property Assessed Capital Enhancements (C-PACE) financing spreads out what can be expensive upfront costs for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation improvements.

Ed Gulick, vice president of High Plains Architects and chair of the Clean Energy Task Force for the Northern Plains Resource Council, said energy efficiency in buildings has a high return on investment.

“It’s a mechanism that allows us to harvest the wasted energy in a useful way to pay for efficiency,” Gulick explained.

To some, VA gas shortage spotlights need for electric vehicles

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May 14, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. – As gas stations in Virginia wait for refueling after the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, advocates of electric vehicles say the gas shortage highlights the need to diversify America’s energy system.

The pipeline is the Southeast’s primary source of fuel, so this week’s cyberattack on it has disrupted daily life for millions.

Harry Godfrey – executive director of the group Virginia Advanced Energy Economy – said some folks couldn’t get to work or get kids to school, and points to the vulnerability of a fossil-fuel transportation system because of its reliance on oil, a single source.

Godfrey said an electric system draws power from multiple sources and can bounce back more readily from a breakdown. “From wind and solar generators, from nuclear plants, from hydro,” said Godfrey, “a whole range of resources so that you’re not overly reliant upon one individual fuel source. I think that reduces not just the risk of failure but the risk of, you know, sudden price spikes that we’re seeing occur now.”

Fishing to play key role in next decade of Maine conservation efforts

The Interior Department’s “America the Beautiful” report outlines key principles to guide the next decade of conservation efforts.

May 12, 2021

Please listen HERE.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Members of the Maine fishing industry are among those looking forward to having a seat at the table, to make progress toward the White House’s goal to protect 30% of U.S. ocean waters by 2030.

The U.S. Interior Department released its “America the Beautiful” report last week, which outlines steps to restore biodiversity, curb climate change and increase access to natural spaces.

Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, said it’s important to bring together different stakeholders, including the fishing industry, to make decisions such as where and when to designate protected marine areas. “Fishermen are the best conservationists that we have,” Martens contended. “They need fish in the oceans to make a living. They need more fish in the oceans to build a future.”

Groups urge Governor Polis to support major climate bill

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May 11, 2021

DENVER — Environmental groups are urging Gov. Jared Polis to support a major climate bill pending in the Colorado Legislature.

Senate Bill 200, which aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and increasing environmental justice, would set caps on emissions for various business sectors and give an Air Quality Control Commission the power to enforce them.

Ean Tafoya, Colorado field advocate for the nonprofit GreenLatinos, said it also would establish an environmental justice ombudsperson and advisory board to listen to the perspectives of front-line communities feeling the effects of the climate crisis. “Rural communities that are on the front line are facing wildfires, drought, crop loss and irregular crop seasons,” Tafoya explained. “If you live in an urban setting, the impacts are air pollution, and we’re seeing the connections to COVID.”

It also would classify greenhouse-gas emissions as regulated pollutants, thus requiring businesses to pay fees for emitting carbon dioxide like they do for other pollutants.

Conservationists praise Biden’s Bureau of Land Management pick

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May 10, 2021

DENVER — President Joe Biden’s pick to direct the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is getting high marks from conservationists.

Aaron Kindle, director of sporting advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation, believes Tracy Stone-Manning, currently the federation’s senior advisor, is the right person for the job.

There hasn’t been a Senate-confirmed BLM director since 2017, and Kindle said the agency needs someone who understands what needs to be done to conserve, restore and steward America’s public lands for all users.

“Responsible energy development, hunters and anglers, hikers, agricultural businesses that rely on the area for grazing,” Kindle outlined. “We need somebody who understands all those things and is ready to work with all of those folks to get the job done.”

CA clean-Air advocates press to end oil, gas drilling faster than Newsom wants

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April 29, 2021

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — Environmental-justice advocates are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to wind down oil and gas drilling in California by 2035, instead of by 2045 as he proposed.

Last week, Newsom announced the state will work to end all fossil-fuel extraction and will stop issuing permits for fracking by 2024.

Salvador Solorio-Ruiz, a member of the city council in Delano, said the communities of color living near the wells in Kern County need relief sooner rather than later.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Solorio-Ruiz asserted. “We need to tackle this issue with urgency in order to end California’s legacy of environmental racism as well.”

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