Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to their old tricks

So, the election is over. Obama is the President-Elect, and gas prices are down to 1.77 or less in some places. But what about those erstwhile former players in the Presidential campaigns?
Well, while Mr. Bush is trying to push through damaging plans to log old-growth forests, and continues his attempts to undermine the endangered species act, Sarah Palin has returned home to Alaska, and continues to be the same woman we know and loathe.

Let's start with that debacle at the turkey farm, which highlights how completely clueless the woman is, not just about wildlife and compassion towards animals, but about her VERY SURROUNDINGS. It is kind of nice to know that she's slid so far down the scale now that she's doing her 'exclusive interviews' while standing in turkey manure. But no sooner has she settled in back up there in the frozen north than she's getting back to her old games.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wild Horse Reprieve; but our work isn't done!

From the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. I've highlighted some important points in this brief for you.

As many of you may recall, last summer BLM announced it was considering putting to death thousands of wild horses in its care, as a way to balance the books. After a massive public outcry, the decision was postponed until the next Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting. The meeting took place this past Monday, following release of a long-awaited Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the federal Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The GAO Report was a disappointment in that it failed to address the systemic problems associated with BLM's wild horse management policies, focusing instead on options available to address the glut of horses in government holding: 'euthanasia,' sale without limitation (i.e. slaughter), or release of the captive horses on some of the 19 million acres lost by the herds since passage of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. The GAO merely sent BLM and Congress back to the drawing board, while failing to investigate the underlying cause of the current crisis: the unnecessary removal of thousands upon thousands of wild horses from our public lands.

At Monday's meeting, BLM Deputy Director Henry Bisson announced that any decision regarding 'euthanasia' would be postponed for a year. In the meantime, BLM will be working with Madeleine Pickens, wife of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, as well as other private parties, who have offered to take thousands of horses off BLM's hands into privately-run sanctuaries. Our deepest gratitude goes out to Mrs. Pickens and the other good Samaritans offering their land in this 11th hour reprieve for the horses.

A looming crisis has been averted, but many concerns remain:

- More than ever, a moratorium on round-ups is in order until actual numbers of wild horses and burros on public lands have been independently assessed, and legally-mandated range studies have been conducted.

- The BLM 'bail-out' by private parties should come with strings attached to ensure that we are not just emptying government corrals so that BLM can continue rounding up more and more horses.

- At Monday's meeting, the Advisory Board made some highly disturbing recommendations, including shipping horses abroad as 'foreign agricultural aid,' removing restrictions against slaughter for horses sold under the Burns Amendment, and extending Burns Amendment sales to younger horses and foreign markets. Death in a Canadian or Mexican slaughterhouse is no better, if not worse, than a government bullet to the head. WE MUST REMAIN VIGILANT.

The incoming Obama-Biden administration presents an opportunity toward a new beginning for the federal Wild Horse and Burro Program. Please contact the Office of the President-Elect and express your concerns and hopes for the future of our wild horses.

On behalf of America's wild horses and burros, thank you for your support,

The AWHPC Team
American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
Click here to join our email list and receive the latest updates.

A big thanks goes out to all of the private parties who have donated time, money, and land to help these horses. However, just as the AWHPC suggests, it will all be in vain if we allow the BLM to use this 'bail out' as an excuse to round up more horses. I hope those parties have let it be known that this is a one time deal, and I hope that they will continue to put effort into encouraging the BLM to change their round-up policies, and stop the problem once and for all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Coyote 'problems' in Washington State

From the Seattle Times:
Coyote Presence Concerns Neighbors: Animals prowling North Spokane kill pet cat.

Get a load of this quote: "[the owners] The Wichtermans got Sylvester, a 12-year-old long-haired black-and-white cat, when he was a kitten. Tricia Wichterman said Sylvester was a tomcat who liked to be outside at night."

I'm sorry. You leave your cat out at night, I consider you to be completely at fault for his demise. Its sad, yes. But if you took proper care to make sure your cat was INDOORS in a SAFE ENVIRONMENT he would still be alive. Oh yeah, and get your pets neutered, you denizens of the land of dumbassery. Maybe it's the fact that there are little Sylvesters running around all over the neighborhood ripe for the picking that attracts the coyotes!

I also like how the cat owners stated that they were worried because the coyotes are so 'bold'. Coyotes are like that. If you knew anything about coyotes you would know this. Of course they hung around and kept coming back to where they had killed the cat, you basically took their dinner away from them and they were looking for it. Coyotes are opportunist who will eat just about anything, including Fluffy Tinkletoes, the family Persian. This does not make them evil. This makes them wild animals. So keep your pets indoors, and start making an actual concerted effort to coyote/skunk/raccoon proof your trash cans, don't leave pet food outside, and stop calling the POLICE for god's sake when you see a coyote in your yard. The police have better things to do. Rant over, and out.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Say no to Coal. Even clean coal!

From the Sierra Club:

Are you in on the truth?

Tens of thousands of people have learned the truth about coal through our new website and online video at Despite the coal industry’s $40 million slick advertising campaign to mask the harmful and polluting nature of coal fired power plants, we are just not falling for it.

Now it’s time to take the truth about coal to the masses. We are launching a public awareness campaign to rebut the coal industry’s misleading claims. And we need your help.

Click here to come up with a new slogan for coal. One that tells the truth.

The best entries will be used on our ‘truth truck’ that will a carry a mobile billboard around D.C. and straight to the coal industry’s headquarters. (Don't worry, we've made sure our campaign is carbon neutral, which is more than we can say about the coal industry!)

Hundreds of comments have flooded in to the website from people telling their own story about coal. Here are a few of the most powerful:

Cathy in Ohio: I worked for a respiratory doctor and we would get coal miners in our office for treatment with black lung disease, emphysema. Poor souls had worked all their lives and basically gave their lives to that miserable coal mine. Their families felt helpless because it was the only job they knew and they worked and suffered. My utility bill was horribly expensive and they burned coal for our power and we paid dearly. There's got to be a better way for all involved.

Bill in Wyoming: I live in Wyoming, and we are coal country, and I live and breathe coal, but I do agree we have many, many options, so who will take that leap into the future? So instead of mining coal, we can get good jobs building wind turbines, solar panels, and set up incentives for research and development in alternative renewable energy sources. We can do it!

John in West Virginia: I grew up with coal in WV. For people who like to continue breathing, coal is not an answer. The strip miners are also polluting the beautiful state of my birth, making it impossible for people to live anywhere near their mining operations. Coal is part of the problem, and no part of the solution.

Real people, telling real stories about how coal affects their lives and communities. Let’s make sure that these are the types of messages that get out to the public, not the misleading sound bites the coal industry uses to mask the truth.

Submit your slogan today and let the country know what you really think of coal.

Thanks for all you do to protect the planet.

Bruce Nilles
National Director, Sierra Club Coal Campaign

I have long been on the anti-coal bandwagon, first for the health and saftey hazards of coal mining for miners, and now for the health and viability of our planet, and our economy. If you've ever been in coal country (WV, PA, etc) you've probably seen the damage done by coal mining. Slag heaps, and acres of countryside left unliveable because underground seaming (removing layers of coal from between layers of rock) has left the surface unstable and prone to caving in.

I still see no good reason why we should continue to kill workers in polluting coal mines to fuel polluting coal power plants, when we have so many better options available to us.

For more information about the evils of coal mining, visit the Stop Mountaintop Removal campaign.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Eleventh Hour Action for Wild Horses

From Front Range Equine Rescue:

The link below will give you some information about the upcoming meeting (November 17) where BLM will again promote and possibly decide its horrific plan to kill and/or sell to slaughter wild horses in government holding facilities.

Please continue to leave messages for your Congressional representatives, call your local media and respond to “comments” on news articles on the internet. The public outcry must become deafening for our horses.


This link is to the GAO (Government Acct’g office) recommendations; see the final one. Feel free to contact Robin at the number provided with your thoughts and humane recommendations. One simple solution would be to raise the nominal $1.35 per animal unit fee charged to livestock permittees on our public lands to cover the cost needed to feed wild horses (and burros) in holding facilities.

If the cost could be raised, I'd like to then argue that Wild Horses should be allowed to roam free for the same cost! We may only have until tomorrow to sway the BLM, so make the next few hours count!

Florida Drought Restrictions tighten

Kudos to whoever wrote this article in the Tampa Tribune.
People need to learn to do their part, and the governing body needs to learn to uphold its edicts. If Bob on Palm Lane keeps watering his lawn every morning regardless of restrictions, Bob on Palm Lane needs to be held personally accountable for this water crisis.
Maybe we need special water police. Oh, I know, lets appoint a Water Czar! All joking aside, water shortage is a bad, bad thing for everyone, and everyone needs to do their part to help.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Cape Wind" project is a great environmental news site I discovered through another agri-enviro blogger recently. Today browsing the 'most popular articles' list I discovered this old article and had to look into it:
RFK Jr. and other prominent enviros face off over Cape Cod wind farm.

Large scale clean energy projects like this one are the ones that really scare people. I've said before that I'm more of a proponent for personalized energy than large scale commercial energy projects. But the plain fact is we're going to need at least some of these large arrays in order to meet the energy quotas necessary to keep our homes and businesses running. So in this case the question comes down to whether or not historic Cape Cod is really off limits.

I have to argue with myself over this one. I've never actually been to Cape Cod, so I can't say exactly what the impact to the historic lighthouse views would be. Some concern has been expressed about light pollution due to the flashing lights necessary to warn away aircraft from the wind turbines...I hate light pollution. Still, to me 130 scattered wind turbines away-out-there in Nantucket Sound seems preferable to me than those ugly inland windfarms like I saw out near Palm Springs, California. California has about 13,000 or so wind turbines.
So we'll put the view aside for now, since I can't make an informed decision on that. Next of course is economic impact...will building a wind farm off the coast really put hundreds of fishermen out of work? I doubt it. Some, sure, but wind farming isn't going to stop fishing in the Sound. Already some folks such as this man in Iowa who lost other factory jobs are making a living building new green economy products such as turbine blades and solar panels.
I consider recreational boating impact to be of least concern, so I'm not even going to talk about sailing.
Now we come to the environmental impact. Even the big name enviro funds are split on this issue. The Massachusetts Audubon Society and The Humane Society are concerned about seabirds and ocean life, while World Wildlife Fund and GreenPeace have given the project their blessing. Certainly any place that is a good place to build a wind farm is going to be a place where eagles, hawks, seabirds and other avians like to circulate, and the impact on those populations needs to be weighed. Also the impact on ocean life due to the drilling and digging that will need to be done to the seabed to anchor the turbines and bury the electric cables. You can check out the Cape Wind Project FAQ for more details on these subjects.
So, in closing, this Cape Wind project sounds to me like a well planned, well thought out, and ultimately necessary step toward energy independence...pending of course the final Environmental Impact Statement.
I leave you to make your own decision.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Addressing Climate and Economy

Via the Environmental Defense Fund:

You say you want a Climate Action Mandate?

According to an election night national poll sponsored by Environmental Defense Fund that's exactly what the new President has.

The poll found a majority of Americans believe that given the current economic crisis, now is the time to address climate change—because investing in clean energy will create millions of new jobs and rebuild the economy.

The survey, conducted by respected Democratic pollster Douglas E. Schoen, also found that two-thirds of Americans think investments in economic stimulus should be funded with revenue from large companies paying for the global warming pollution they emit—rather than tax hikes or more borrowing that increases the national debt.

A Clear Message

The public thinks there's not a minute to waste. They want economic revitalization and action to address global warming to go together, and they want it paid for by polluters.

A few of the other poll highlights include:

  • 78% of voters think it is very or somewhat important to address the problems of global warming and climate change, while 22% do not.
  • 35% of voters think it is most important for Congress to pass a plan that creates new jobs by investing in renewable energy projects. This compares with 26% who said expanding health care coverage is most important and 23% who said regulating the financial services industry should be the top priority.
  • 50% of voters said that our oil addiction and economic problems are linked and should be dealt with together, compared with 26% who said we must deal with our oil addiction now and only 13% who said we should deal with our economic problems first.

(For full poll results, here is a link to the pdf file.)

It's clear that the public no longer buys the tired argument that economic progress and environmental protection are at odds with one another.

That should serve as a warning to those who plan to try marshaling old scare tactics when the climate debate starts back up in January.

Our single-minded goal for 2009 is to leverage this transformational opportunity into real change.

EDF scientists, economists and policy experts are already deeply engaged in the rapidly evolving conversation.

It's going to be one heck of a year. We'll use regular Transition Report updates to keep you posted.

Thanks for all you do,
Sam Parry
Director Online Membership and Activism

P.S. What do you think? Sound off in the EDF Green Room – our online soapbox for the EDF Action community.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tell the BLM to stop mismanaging wild horses

From Front Range Equine Rescue:

Dear Friends:

As you know the BLM proposed a massive killing of wild horses in holding facilities as a way to manage their budget. The next BLM Advisory Board meeting has been scheduled for Monday, November 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Reno, Nevada.

Written comments pertaining to the meeting can be sent to Bureau of Land Management, National Wild Horse and Burro Program, WO-260, Attention: Ramona DeLorme, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno, NV 89502-7147.

Written comments must be submitted by November 12 (close of business). Ramona’s number is 775-861-6583.

Please contact her to express your opposition to any plan to kill wild horses (they call it euthanasia) in holding pens. BLM has been presented with both short and long term strategies to help the horses by numerous wild horse advocates. We have no indication they plan to implement any of these suggestions.

Ideas to suggest:

Raise the cost to public land permittees from the meager $1.36/acre that they pay

Expand the range back to areas where wild horses were allocated usage per the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act

Let wild horse herds back into zeroed out areas

Start a “sponsor a wild horse” program where the public can donate to help feed horses in holding facilities

Fire those at management level who grossly mismanaged the BLM’s budget for the wild horse and burro program; use their salaries to help pay for the horses’ needs

Offer any other constructive ideas you have and express your concern over the proposed killing. Let them know how important wild horses (and burros) are to the American people.

For the horses,

Hilary T. Wood


P.S. – Our attorney, a long time wild horse advocate, will be attending the meeting to express our views.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Weighing in on Whale Wars

I have been waiting with much anticipation for Animal Planet's new series Whale Wars to start. Last night was the inaugural episode, and I was both delighted, and disappointed. The episode started out promisingly with a confrontation with the Japanese whaling fleet, then quickly became just another reality show, with strife and conflicting personalities among the crew. While these incidents are surely important to the outcome of the mission, I still felt time is being wasted on the people, rather than the whales. Either way, I plan to continue to tune in and watch.
Now from reality TV, to actual reality.
In 1982 the International Whaling Commission instituted a moratorium on commercial whaling. Japan fought the ban for several years, then in 1986 withdrew their opposition to commercial whaling...and announced their plans for large scale *scientific* whaling. Under these guidelines they were able to whale within certain limits, conduct their supposed research, and then because it's illegal to waste the meat from whales slaughtered for research, sell the meat on the open market. Smell fishy to anyone else? It certainly does to most anti-whaling advocates. Especially since OUR research shows that most Japanese prefer beef to whale meat these days, and the majority say they rarely if never touch the stuff. It is my understanding that Japan has thousands or more TONS of the stuff frozen and stockpiled on floating refrigerator ships. So why do they keep whaling?
One reason they claim is tradition. Whaling is a tradition in Japan and many other countries such as Russia, Norway, and yes, even here in the United States where certain Eskimo tribes still practice subsistence hunting. But I seriously doubt the Eskimo have an arctic cache full of enough muktuk to feed all of Alaska, while they go out and kill more whales. The Eskimo communities work closely with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to impose sustainable limits - limits that sustain both the bowhead whale population in the Bering Sea, and the Eskimo whaling communities that depend upon the annual harvest.
Another reason Japan might be insisting it be allowed to continue its whaling practices is a desire to thumb their noses at anti-whaling countries. From some of the footage shown on Whale Wars, it seems like the Japanese whalers are treating it all like a big joke, holding up giant plaquards for the GreenPeace and Sea Shepherd helicopters to read that claim they are 'Weighing stomach contents' or 'measuring brain mass' or doing other so-called 'research'. The fact of the matter is, we learn a hell of a lot more from whales when they are still alive and breathing than we do by cutting them up.
Now from the question of Japan's right to whale, to the question of whether the Sea Shepherd oversteps their bounds in trying to stop them. This is where I have trouble forming a good solid opinion. The Sea Shepherd and its crew are the rogues of the Anti-Whaling movement. The flagship (harhar, pun) anti-whaling organization most people think of is GreenPeace. Ironically, the Captain of the Sea Shepherd is one of the founders of GreenPeace, but he was later asked to leave the group. Captain Paul Watson and GreenPeace don't get along, these days. GreenPeace, as the name suggests, is a group who's ultimate goal is a peaceful resolution to the issues they protest. They practice a passive form of protest, following the whaling fleet, taking pictures, holding up signs, and 'bearing witness' as they say to the tragedy of whaling. I have an immense respect for GreenPeace. But I have to agree with Captain Paul Watson when he said "You don't just stand by and watch while someone kicks a puppy."
The line between the Sea Shepherd's aggressive form of protest and eco-terrorism is thin. I think the question that would define it better is whether or not Japan really IS breaking international law by whaling in the southern waters. Personally, I think they are. I think they cleverly dodged the bullet, and would love to wag their behinds and say 'nany nany boo boo' to us. They're kicking the puppy and just daring someone to do something about it, and I, for one, am the type of person who would kick back. But the line is thin, my friends, and crossing that line will do more harm to our cause than good. Chain yourself to trees if you must, but don't blow up the loggers.
My thoughts will be with the Sea Shepherd and her crew, as I watch the rest of the season unfold.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Victory for Prop. 2!

Another victory for animals to come out of Tuesday's election was the passing of California's Proposition 2. Prop 2 banned the use of battery cages (small cages in which chickens are kept for egg laying purposes. Animal advocates have long argued that confinement in such small cages is cruel and unusual punishment.) in California, and will hopefully set a precedent to begin eradicating this practice throughout our country.
The proposition also contained legislation which bans other types of cruel confinement on factory farms such as gestation crates for pigs, and veal crates for calves. This is a huge step in the right direction that has taken a long time to come to pass. Don't let us lose momentum now! Please contact your state legislators and encourage them to introduce similar measures in your own home state!
On a related note, Farm Sanctuary Campaign Associate Casey Martinson has reminded me that tail docking is only one of many atrocities facing dairy cows.
Casey says: "In light of the many pressing concerns currently on Farm Sanctuary’s legislative agenda—downed animal protection, the use of cruel factory farm confinement systems, foie gras production and so on—I’m not sure that efforts to ban tail docking will be given high priority during the next session of Congress. However, we would certainly give our full support to any tail docking measures that are introduced, and if we see any opportunities for our members to lobby in support of such measures, we will issue alerts accordingly."
I can certainly understand how tail docking can be considered a minor concern, when one considers all the other issues facing dairy cows. I can certainly understand that it would be difficult to engage people's interest and raise funds for a fight against tail docking in the face of so much other suffering. However, just because the issue is small, I see no reason to pass it by completely, and hope it will simply 'go away'. I encourage everyone once again to write to their representatives and inquire as to whether any legislation concerning the welfare of cows in the dairy industry is pending, and urge them to condemn cruel practices. I don't expect anyone to go writing a bill specifically to ban tail docking, but I definitely think efforts should be made to insert a ban on tail docking into any current legislation upholding the health and well being of dairy cattle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A President for Conservation

Congratulations Barack Obama and all the new democrats who were elected to office yesterday! By electing these new leaders, we the voters have been instrumental in bringing change to Washington, and will soon be helping to reverse the damaging environmental policies America has suffered from for the past 8 years. Read Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen's statements about the election:

Obama Administration offers opportunities to advance environmental issues
Nov. 4 Press Release

You can also try to dig up Obama and Biden's Conservation Report Cards here.

Just remember, folks, that the work doesn't stop here. Just because we've elected new administration does not mean that our job is done, and we can sit back and let them take it from here. It's as important as it ever was that we continue to vote when necessary, petition, rally, fund raise, and continue to make our voices and thoughts heard, not only to our new leaders but to our friends, enemies, family, and neighbors as well. Animals don't have a voice. The oceans, our rivers, and our air cannot speak for themselves. We must do it for them.