Interior Department Unveils Proposed Stream Protection Rule to Safeguard Communities from Coal Mining Operations
Proposal updates 32-year old regulations, provides protections for communities and environment, while setting expectations for responsible mining
WASHINGTON – Following a robust public process, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) Director Joseph Pizarchik today released proposed regulations to prevent or minimize impacts to surface water and groundwater from coal mining. The proposed rule would protect about 6,500 miles of streams nationwide over a period of 20 years, preserving community health and economic opportunities while meeting the nation’s energy needs.
“This proposed rule would accomplish what Americans expect from their government – a modern and balanced approach to energy development that safeguards our environment, protects water quality, supports the energy needs of the nation, and makes coalfield communities more resilient for a diversified economic future,” said Secretary Jewell. “We are committed to working with coalfield communities as we support economic activity while minimizing the impact coal production has on the environment that our children and grandchildren will inherit.”
The proposed Stream Protection Rule released today would include reasonable and straightforward reforms to revise three-decades-old regulations for coal mining in order to avoid or minimize impacts on surface water, groundwater, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. The proposed rule, which reflects updated science, would replace the 1983 regulations and would better protect the resources.
Safe Harbor Agreements are voluntary agreements between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and cooperating non-Federal landowners. They are designed to benefit federally endangered and threatened species by giving landowners assurances that at no future time would the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service impose restrictions on their land as a result of conservation actions on their part. In other words, these agreements essentially relieve landowners of liability under the Endangered Species Act if conservation practices on their land attract and/or perpetuate federally listed species. To date, nearly three million acres of land have been enrolled in Safe Harbor Agreements, benefiting a variety of listed species.
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, Waco Mammoth National Monument & Basin and Range National Monument
Christy Goldfuss July 10, 2015 02:36 PM EDT
Today, we joined community members from California, Texas, and Nevada to celebrate the President’s announcement of three new national monuments. The new monuments include Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, Waco Mammoth in Texas, and Basin and Range in Nevada. Together, these striking places demonstrate the wide range of historic, cultural, and natural values that make America’s public lands so treasured.
With these new designations, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 19 national monuments. Today’s addition of three national monuments will protect more than 1 million acres of public land, adding to the more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters President Obama has protected for future generations – more than any other President.
Protecting our lands is about more than just protecting our great outdoors. These designations provide a boost to the local economies of surrounding communities by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs, building on an outdoor recreation industry that already generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year.
The public lands President Obama designated today protect significant cultural and historical landmarks. Native Americans have inhabited the Berryessa Snow Mountain area for at least the last 11,000 years, leaving behind their cultural influences and artifacts, such as seasonal hunting camps and earth-covered round buildings. The Basin and Range National Monument tells the story of a rich cultural tradition from petroglyph and prehistoric rock art panels, to the earliest human inhabitants 13,000 years ago, to miners and ranchers in the past century. The unique cultural and historic City installation by artist Michael Heizer captures the natural beauty of the Basin and Range, and is one of the most ambitious examples of the distinctively American land-art movement.
FACT SHEET: President Obama Designates New National Monuments
As part of the Administration’s commitment to protect our country’s significant outdoor spaces for the benefit of future generations, today President Obama will announce the creation of three new national monuments that demonstrate the wide range of historic and cultural values that make America’s public lands so beloved.
The new monuments are:
Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, a landscape containing rare biodiversity and an abundance of recreational opportunities; waco in Texas, a significant paleontological site featuring well-preserved remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths; and Basin and Range in Nevada, an iconic American landscape that includes rock art dating back 4,000 years and serves as an irreplaceable resource for archaeologists, historians, and ecologists.
Together, the new monuments protect over one million acres of public land. These monuments will also provide a boost to local economies by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs for local communities, further supporting an outdoor recreation industry that already generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year.
Remarks by the President at Signing of Monument Designation
2:02 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: As many of you know, one of the great legacies of this incredible country of ours is our national parks and national monuments. It is something that we pass on from generation to generation, preserving the incredible beauty of this nation, but also reminding us of the richness of its history. And I am especially pleased to be able to announce three new designations that are going to be taking place in varied landscapes, but all of them speak to some incredible history.
The first, we are going to be designating the Waco Mammoth National Monument. This is one of the most incredible collections of mammoth fossils anywhere in the country. And for us to be able to preserve this space is going to be important not only to scientists but also to many people who are able to take a look at this incredible landscape down in Texas.
We’re also designating the Basin and Range area of southeastern Nevada — the Basin and Range National Monument. This is one of the most undisturbed corners of the Great Basin region, and its topography is unique. It is a place that attracts already a large number of visitors because of some of its unique geological aspects. And we’re going to be able to make sure that even more visitors are aware and take advantage of this incredible landscape.
And finally, we’re going to be designating the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in California’s wild Inner Coast Range. Once covered by ocean waters, it’s a landscape that is shaped by geological forces that are unique, and it has been a refuge for Native American inhabitants for 11,000 years — so that gives you a sense of the time scales that we’re working off of with some of these national monuments.
Girl Scouts Inaugural Guests at First Ever White House Campout
June 24, 2015 gsblog
On June 30, First Lady Michelle Obama will host the first-ever White House Campout as part of the Let’s Move!Outside initiative. The Campout is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior and will celebrate the National Park Service Centennial as well as Great Outdoors Month. The Campout will take place in one of the most historic backyards and National Parks in the Nation – the White House South Lawn.
As Honorary National President of Girl Scouts of the USA, the First Lady will welcome fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts to participate in activities to earn their Camper Badge, and to celebrate the release of the new Girls’ Choice Outdoor badges. The Girl Scouts will engage in both new and traditional outdoor activities, including rock wall climbing, knot tying, orienteering, and tent pitching. Later that evening, the participants will be joined by NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, who will join a stargazing activity led by NASA staff and scientists on the South Lawn before the girls settle in for the night.
Let’s Move!Outside was created to encourage kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors—which abound in every city, town, and community. Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, the Department of Interior leads Let’s Move!Outside to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.
As part of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service, in which the First Lady serves as honorary co-chair, President Obama launched the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative. This new initiative calls on each of our agencies to help get all children to visit and enjoy the outdoors and inspire a new generation of Americans to experience their country’s unrivaled public lands and waters. Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters — for them and their families — for a full year.
Regular exercise in nature is proven to improve children’s physical and mental health. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity and bone health, and lowers stress. Let’s Move!Outside was created to get kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors – which abound in every city, town, and community. Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, the Department of Interior leads Let’s Move!Outside to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve, and work outdoors.
Kids need at least 60 minutes of active and vigorous play each day to stay healthy, and one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to meet this goal is by playing outside. By linking parents to nearby parks, trails and waters – and providing tips and ideas – Let’s Move!Outside can help families develop a more active lifestyle.
Here Are the Six Major Rulings We’ll Get From the Supreme Court This Week
Jun 24, 2015 12:14 PM PDT Greg Shohr – bloomberg
The U.S. Supreme Court is saving the best for last.
The nation’s top court will issue a series of major rulings over the next several days as it closes its nine-month term. In addition to landmark gay-marriage and Obamacare cases, the court will decide on potentially far-reaching disputes involving housing discrimination, redistricting, air pollution and lethal injection.
“Almost all of the remaining rulings have huge implications and promise to be closely divided,” said Tom Goldstein, a Washington appellate lawyer whose Scotusblog website tracks the court.
The first of seven rulings will come at 10 a.m. Washington time Thursday, with more scheduled for Friday and Monday. The court doesn’t say in advance which decisions are being released which day, but it almost always resolves all its pending cases by the end of June.
Before they pack up, the justices will also say whether they will supplement the session that starts in October with new cases on abortion, affirmative action and union fees.
Here’s what’s coming from the Supreme Court over the next week:
No case is bigger than the one that could legalize same-sex weddings nationwide. Only 11 years after Massachusetts became the first gay-marriage state, the court would be putting the capstone on the biggest civil rights transformation in a half-century.
Three years after upholding President Barack Obama’s signature health-care [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] law against a broad constitutional challenge, the court will decide whether a four-word phrase will severely undercut the measure.
The biggest race case of the term may produce a long-sought legal victory for lenders and insurers, as well as social conservatives. The court is poised to say whether people suing under the U.S. Fair Housing Act can win their case without showing intentional discrimination.
The April 29 argument over lethal injection methods might have been the most heated of the term, with one justice accusing death penalty opponents of waging a “guerrilla war” and another saying she couldn’t trust a state lawyer.
The court may deal a fresh blow to efforts to make federal elections more competitive by barring states from setting up independent commissions to draw congressional district boundaries. The issue is whether an Arizona commission strips state lawmakers of power reserved to them by the U.S. Constitution.
Pollinators, such as most bees and some birds, bats, and other insects, play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits and vegetables.
Examples of crops that are pollinated include apples, squash, and almonds. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. The fruits and seeds of flowering plants are an important food source for people and wildlife. Some of the seeds that are not eaten will eventually produce new plants, helping to maintain the plant population.
In the United States pollination by honey bees directly or indirectly (e.g., pollination required to produce seeds for the crop) contributed to over $19 billion of crops in 2010. Pollination by other insect pollinators contributed to nearly $10 billion of crops in 2010.
A recent study of the status of pollinators in North America by the National Academy of Sciences found that populations of honey bees (which are not native to North America) and some wild pollinators are declining. Declines in wild pollinators may be a result of habitat loss and degradation, while declines in managed bees is linked to disease (introduced parasites and pathogens).
Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops
May 07, 2013 6:03 PM by DAN CHARLES – NPR
Pettis says beekeepers can afford to lose only about 15 percent of their colonies each year. More than that, and the business won’t be viable for long.
According to a new survey of America’s beekeepers, almost a third of the country’s honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter.
That’s been the case, in fact, almost every year since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began this annual survey, six years ago.
Over the past six years, on average, 30 percent of all the honeybee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter. The worst year was five years ago. Last year was the best: Just 22 percent of the colonies died.
“Last year gave us some hope,” says Jeffrey Pettis, research leader of the Agriculture Department’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.
But this year, the death rate was up again: 31 percent.
Six years ago, beekeepers were talking a lot about “colony collapse disorder” — colonies that seemed pretty healthy, but suddenly collapsed. The bees appeared to have flown away, abandoning their hives.
Beekeepers aren’t seeing that so much anymore, Pettis says. They’re mostly seeing colonies that just dwindle. As the crowd of bees gets smaller, it gets weaker.
“They can’t generate heat very well in the spring to rear brood. They can’t generate heat to fly,” he says.
The most obvious need for pollinating species is a diversity of nectar and pollen sources. Consider the following when choosing plants for your garden:
Choose plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season
Plant in clumps, rather than single plants, to better attract pollinators
Provide a variety of flower colors and shapes to attract different pollinators. NAPPC’s Pollinator Syndrome table provides information on the types of flowers that different pollinator groups (bats, hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, etc.) find attractive.
Pesticides can kill more than the target pest. Some pesticide residues can kill pollinators for several days after the pesticide is applied. Pesticides can also kill natural predators, which can lead to even worse pest problems. Consider the following when managing pests in your garden:
Try removing individual pests by hand if possible (wearing garden gloves)
Encourage native predators with a diverse garden habitat
Expect and accept a little bit of pest activity
If you must use a pesticide, choose one that is the least toxic to non-pest species, does not persist on vegetation, and apply it in the evening when most pollinators are not as active. Read and follow label directions carefully.
Follow these simple steps to create a pollinator-friendly landscape around your home or workplace.
Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.
Help pollinators find and use them by planting in clumps, rather than single plants. Include plants native to your region. Natives are adapted to your local climate, soil and native pollinators. Do not forget that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.
Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with “doubled” flowers.
Often plant breeders have unwittingly left the pollen, nectar, and fragrance out of these blossoms while creating the “perfect” blooms for us.
Eliminate pesticides whenever possible.
If you must use a pesticide, use the least-toxic material possible. Read labels carefully before purchasing, as many pesticides are especially dangerous for bees. Use the product properly. Spray at night when bees and other pollinators are not active.
Include larval host plants in your landscape.
If you want colorful butterflies, grow plants for their caterpillars. They WILL eat them, so place them where unsightly leaf damage can be tolerated. Accept that some host plants are less than ornamental if not outright weeds. A butterfly guide will help you determine the plants you need to include. Plant a butterfly garden!
Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees.
Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your bird bath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of table salt (sea salt is better!) or wood ashes into the mud.
Spare that limb!
By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees. Make sure these are not a safety hazard for people walking below. You can also build a bee condoby drilling holes of varying diameter about 3 to 5 inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
You can add to nectar resources by providing a hummingbird feeder.
To make artificial nectar, use four parts water to one part table sugar. Never use artificial sweeteners, honey, or fruit juices. Place something red on the feeder. Clean your feeder with hot soapy water at least twice a week to keep it free of mold.
Butterflies need resources other than nectar.
They are attracted to unsavory foodstuffs, such as moist animal droppings, urine and rotting fruits. Try putting out slices of overripe bananas, oranges and other fruits, or a sponge in a dish of lightly salted water to see which butterflies come to investigate. Sea salt provides a broader range of micronutrients than regular table salt.
Learn more about pollinators
Get some guidebooks and learn to recognize the pollinators in your neighborhood. Experiment with a pair of close-focusing binoculars for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s Pollinator Partnership™ has launched a new curriculum, Nature’s Partners: Pollinators, Plants and You, designed to help students in grades 3-6 study the interactions of plants and pollinators. The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign is coordinated by the non-profit Pollinator Partnership, formerly known as the Coevolution Institute. The Fish and Wildlife Service has partnered with the two groups to protect pollinators by working together to help conserve pollinators and raise awareness of the importance of pollinators.
June 03, 2015
Remarks by The First Lady at The White House Kitchen Garden Harvest Event
3:35 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: I’m excited that you guys could be here. I really am. Unfortunately — we usually do our garden harvest where? Outside in the White House Kitchen Garden. But the weather is bad, and we didn’t — wouldn’t want you guys to get soaked. We didn’t want to put you in inclement weather. So we had some folks go down and harvest everything — all of the vegetables you see here were harvested this morning from the garden.
So we’re going to do the fun part today, and we’re going to cook — chop, cook, eat, celebrate, okay? Is that okay with you guys?
MRS. OBAMA: I’m excited about it too. But we’re also celebrating the fifth anniversary of Let’s Move! And one of the things that I issued was a challenge — I called it my Gimme Five Challenge. Have you all heard of that? I’m challenging folks across the country to do five new healthy things. And when we planted the White House garden earlier in the season, we planted five new vegetables and challenged other people to do the same. And we also got some help from our friends at the National Pollinator Garden Network.
Now, do you guys know about pollinator gardens? Tell me something about pollinator gardens. Don’t be shy. Why are they important?
CHILD: Because they pass pollen around —
MRS. OBAMA: They do. And as a result, it helps our food grow. One out of every three bits of food that we take in this country is the result of a pollinator garden somewhere. So if we don’t make sure we have enough of those gardens for pollinators like butterflies — didn’t you have a sign for butterflies? You were supposed to do something when I said “butterflies.” (Laughter.) Okay. Butterflies, bats, bees, birds — all of those, they get attracted to the gardens, and then they go and sprinkle life around so that food grows.
So we planted a pollinator garden in the White House Kitchen Garden last year, but we challenged others to do the same. So there is the Pollinator Network have issued so that we get millions of more pollinator gardens planted out there around the country so that we don’t lose these important pollinating species.
6/24/14 American Beekeeping Federation President Tim Tucker “On behalf of the American Beekeeping Federation, I would like to express our appreciation to President Obama for his recent Presidential Memorandum, “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.”
Offshore oil drilling banned along new stretch of California coast
6/10/2015 By Paul Rogers mercurynews.com
In the largest expansion of national marine sanctuaries in California in 23 years, the Obama administration on Tuesday more than doubled the size of two Northern California marine sanctuaries, extending them by 50 miles up the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino coasts.