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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