Tag Archive for 'U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  On April 2 USDA and EPA kicked off “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month.”  Unbelievably, in the US, more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste!  One third!   Food is the single largest type of waste in daily trash.  On April 1 President Trump issued a Presidential Message addressing food waste.  Next week EPA will host an event that will announce additional joint agency actions to reduce food waste, including ways for localities and states to become more active on this set of issues.  The agencies are asking for corporate and business leaders to join their peers who have already made a public commitment to reducing food loss and waste in their U.S. operations by 50 percent by the year 2030.
*  In March I referenced a major deep-water port project getting started in Texas.  An interesting comment came in last week by an affected property owner first claiming lax notification for people directly impacted.  But that was small potatoes compared to her subsequent comments.  She wrote that it seems unbelievable that such a project could even be considered, much less proposed, “given all the warnings recent events have shown (about?) the hazards of similar projects.”  (Seems she left out a word…)  But her sentiment is clear:  Fears from the recent Houston storage tank fire.  A submerged leak in the Louisiana Gulf.  The proximity to wildlife preserves.  “Can you not imagine,” she writes to MARAD, “the impact when 28 miles of underwater line is involved was a leak to occur, to say nothing of the impact of installation? Is there no ‘saturation point’ for potential pollution and Gulf disruption for this area?”  Hmmmm….
*  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposes to establish a “nonessential experimental population” (NEP) of the California condor in the Pacific Northwest.  An NEP could facilitate reintroduction of California condors to the region and provide for “allowable legal incidental taking of the California condor” within a defined NEP area. “Take” or “taking” is the official word for, uh, killing – not casually, of course, but unavoidable deaths associated with otherwise legal activities that can proceed only if project managers have done everything possible to avoid situations in which a “take” might occur.  The NEP would include northern California, northwest Nevada, and Oregon. FWS writes that “the best available data indicate that reintroduction of the California condor into the Pacific Northwest is biologically feasible and will promote the conservation of the species.”  Regulatory restrictions are considerably reduced under an NEP designation.  However, FWS explains that regulatory flexibility can make a reintroduction process more palatable to apprehensive stakeholders. “We have seen stronger support for conservation efforts when stakeholders are involved and have a voice in the process.”  Comments are due by June 4.
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

 *  Frances A. Ulmer is the Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC), appointed by President Obama in 2011. She is one of the international experts, influencing US maritime and oceanographic policies, participating in the oceans/climate change symposium next month in Washington.  Her paper: the “Geopolitical Implications of Arctic Warming.”  If you need a correspondent at this international event please advise; I will be attending.

*  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking comments on a draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for the potential issuance of a “take permit” for bald eagles linked to the operation of the Courtenay Wind Farm in Stutsman County, North Dakota.  The applicant is Northern States Power Company—Minnesota, doing business as Xcel Energy, which operates an approximately 200.5-megawatt commercial wind energy facility in Stutsman County. The 100-turbine project became operational on December 1, 2016.  The DEA evaluates risks to eagles versus the offsetting conservation measures within Xcel’s eagle conservation plan.  A “take permit” means a permit holder can avoid federal charges from eagle deaths if those deaths are truly accidental, occurring despite all reasonable efforts to avoid such deaths from otherwise lawful activities.  Comments are due June 18.

*  U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the availability of a draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) for review and comment pertaining to environmental impacts that may result from the potential approval of a permit application for the environmental release throughout Florida of genetically engineered (GE) Citrus tristeza virus (CTV).  The purpose: to use GE CTV as a biological control agent to help manage “citrus greening disease” (also known as Huanglongbing – HLB) which presents devastating impacts: reducing yield, causing misshapen, bitter and small green fruit that is unmarketable and, if that’s not enough, causes the citrus trees to die. HLB is always preceded by the appearance of an insect known as the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), which introduces a disease-causing bacterium into the plant. Presently, tree removal and intensive insecticide applications are the only available management options for HLB. These options are unlikely sustainable, USDA writes.  Comments are due June 25.

Tom Ewing
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