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The Service published a proposed rule to revise critical habitat for public comment in February 2006. Comments were received during two public comment periods, as well as during a public hearing. Service biologists carefully reviewed each of the comments received before preparing the final rule.

Critical habitat is a term in the ESA. It identifies geographic areas that contain features essential to the conservation of a threatened or endangered species and may require special management considerations or protection. A critical habitat designation does not set up a preserve or refuge and only applies to federal land or situations where federal funding or a federal permit is involved. It does not allow government or public access to private lands. Federal agencies that undertake, fund or permit activities that may affect critical habitat are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat.

As a listed species under the ESA, the Alabama beach mouse is already protected wherever it occurs, and federal agencies are required to consult on any action taken that might affect the species. The designation of critical habitat will help the species by ensuring that federal agencies and the public are aware of the mouse?s habitat needs and that proper consultation is conducted by federal agencies when required by law.

As part of designating critical habitat, the Service has also taken into account the economic impact, as well as any other relevant issues when considering any particular area for critical habitat designation. no areas were excluded based on an economic impact.

The rule was prepared pursuant to a declaration to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama made by the Service as the result of a lawsuit filed against us by the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. In the December 2004, declaration, the Service stated it would submit a proposed rule revising ABM critical habitat to the Federal Register by January 18, 2006, and a final rule by January 15, 2007.

In 30 years of implementing the Endangered Species Act, the Service has found that the designation of critical habitat provides little additional protection to most listed species, while preventing the Service from using scarce conservation resources for activities with greater conservation benefits.

In almost all cases, recovery of listed species will come through voluntary cooperative partnerships, not regulatory measures such as critical habitat. Habitat is also protected through cooperative measures under the Endangered Species Act including Habitat Conservation Plans, Safe Harbor Agreements, Candidate Conservation Agreements, and state programs. In addition, voluntary partnership programs such as the Service?s Private Stewardship Grants and Partners for Fish and Wildlife program also restore habitat. Habitat for endangered species is provided on many national wildlife refuges, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife management areas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 546 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.



It's Time to Bury the Fossil Fuel Dinosaur

Exxon is a fossil fuel dinosaur: It's time to embrace clean energy technology like wind and solar.

United states — We all know by now that fossil fuels are causing global warming, and that it’s time to make the switch to renewable energy and find a way out of our oil addiction. But someone forgot to share the news with ExxonMobil. When it comes to dinosaur fossil fuel companies, Exxon is the biggest and the meanest of the pack.

ExxonMobil has spent millions to confuse the public about global warming by denying scientific findings and derailing policies that would solve the problem. And Exxon has been directly linked to influencing the Bush administration’s backwards policies on global warming. Exxon is not part of the solution, they ARE the problem.

That’s why Greenpeace has been working to expose
Exxon’s secrets since 2001. And now, some of the nation’s largest and best-respected environmental and political organizations are joining the fight with the ExxposeExxon campaign.

We’ve proven that Exxon is a beast. Now it’s up to you to slay the dragon and save the world. It’s simple:

  •    Don’t buy ExxonMobil gas

  • Don’t invest in Exxon stock

  • Don’t work for Exxon

Help make Exxon exxtinct.

Tell Exxon’s CEO to get out of the Stone Age and embrace clean energy technology.



Clawing for More: Blue Crab Report Warrants Continued Concern

Blue CrabOn June 22, 2005, Bay scientists released a report that details the health of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. The report, prepared by the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee, addresses the number of juvenile and mature crabs found in the Bay through scientific monitoring, as well as how many crabs were harvested in 2004.

What do the scientists recommend?

The main points of the 2005 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Advisory Report PDF File (824 kb) include:

  • blue crabs over five inches remains below the long-term average for the eighth consecutive year
  • mature females, or spawning stock, remain below the long-term average. Data show a slight decrease in 2004, despite modest increases in the three previous years
  • juvenile crabs increased moderately in 2004, after a period of decline that began in the early 1990’s
  • management measures implemented between 2001 and 2003 have helped stem the decline in the crab stock, and at minimum, they should remain in place to continue to improve the stock
  • the 2004 baywide blue crab harvest (approximately 60 million pounds) was below the long-term average, but it was a 25 percent increase over the previous year

Why are these findings important?

By annually tracking the number of blue crabs in the Bay, resource managers better understand annual and long-term trends in the species’ population. Knowing the number of mature females, for example, is important because each mature female crab can release millions of fertilized eggs into the Bay each year, and each of those fertilized eggs has the potential to grow into an adult blue crab.

It is also important that resource managers review the Bay states’ crab fishery management plans to see how the year’s crab harvest data relates to the management plans. If the blue crab population increases to meet the set management goal, then the resource managers may consider revising the fishery management plans to allow more crabs to be harvested. Similarly, if the blue crab population shows a declining trend, the resource managers may revise the fishery management plans to make sure that there are enough crabs in the Bay to sustain a harvestable population over the long run.

How do the scientists develop this report?

Each year, researchers review four independent Bay crab fishery surveys to see how many crabs they find:

Because it is not possible to get an exact number of crabs in the entire Bay, these four surveys provide researchers with estimates about the crab population. Fishery managers use the collected information to see whether the crab fishery management plans are effective or need to be revised.

What happens with this report?

This annual report assists the Bay states in determining whether harvest targets are being met, and whether current blue crab management actions are adequate for reaching those targets in years to come. If management actions are inadequate, this report guides the Bay states and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission on revising their fishery management plans.


Scientists tell Canada to be more cautious on GM food

Description:  "Ask your doctor" is the new American credo as we face a National epidemic of illness. It is time for America to see what Congress has done to our food in the interest of petrochemical prophets. For nearly a decade Americans have been denied the right to know what they're eating. There is one word for the act that occurs when someone forces their seed on me, against my will. For ten years, that is what Congress has done. Round Up Ready Nation is an Independent, Documentary film by Pamela Drew and Billy Shell of Shellshock Productions. The film opens the door to worldwide opposition, provides an overview of the legislation, politics, science and spin behind genetically engineered foods. We pose some of the questions prohibited by corporate owned media and introduce groups and individuals looking for answers in what is rapidly becoming a Roundup Ready World.


TORONTO, (Reuters) - Canada should improve testing of genetically modified food products and ensure the public is more engaged in their regulation, a panel of scientists recommended Monday.

The 15-member panel, created in December 1999 at Ottawa's request, said the attitude of the federal government's health department, Health Canada, towards the new GM industry was not sufficiently cautious and that it was too close to major biotech companies.

``There is a definite lack of transparency in the current process,'' said Dr. Brian Ellis, co-chair of the Royal Society of Canada panel and professor of biotechnology at the University of British Columbia.

He criticized the secrecy surrounding testing and regulations enacted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which he said also carries out a promotional role for biotech products. ``There is a perception of conflict there, and it seems very inappropriate to us,'' he said in an interview.

The 260-page report recommended creation of an independent review panel to try to ensure that experiments approved by regulatory agencies are meeting scientific standards.

As one of the world's major grain exporters, Canada is already the third most important user of transgenic crops -- after the United States and Argentina -- and Ellis said that half of the processed food in Canada contains extracts of transgenic canola, soybeans and corn.

Ellis underlined the need for a long-term monitoring program and for the public to become more engaged in the process.

Health Canada official Karen Dodds told Reuters the department was examining ways to improve transparency, but was confronted with confidentiality laws that are stronger in Canada than in the United States.

``Health Canada agrees with the intention of being more transparent. It's a matter of how far we can go given current legislation,'' she said.

Dodds said the government was trying to establish a surveillance system to monitor GM's long-term health effects.

Ellis regretted that Canada has not taken Europe's wait-and-see approach and has approved GM products before having all the data. ``Changes are taking place so fast that we don't even have baseline data that we can compare to. We are already playing catch-up.''
Information from Enviro News Letter

Greenpeace Urges Panama to Spurn Nuclear Shipments -- The environmental pressure group Greenpeace called on Panama on Thursday to exercise its newly gained sovereignty over the Panama Canal to review transshipments of ``hazardous'' nuclear waste. (Reuters)

U.S. Coasts in Crisis -- On the first day of the annual hurricane season, more people than ever are living along the U.S. coasts and scientists are undertaking a large-scale look at the natural disasters facing coastal residents and how to prevent the damage. (Discovery)

Dawn of a thirsty century -- The amount of water in the world is limited. The human race, and the other species which share the planet, cannot expect an infinite supply. (BBC)

EPA Partners with Pollution Control Agency to Create Innovative Environmental Project -- The first project of this kind with a community, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) formed an agreement with communities and businesses in Steele County, MN, to carry out an environmental project designed to reduce pollution. (Water Online)

Airborne Pollutants Pose Rising Risk -- Once the epitome of purity, rainfall and winds are becoming major transporters of pollutants like mercury and ammonia to North America's rivers and streams. This was the recent conclusion of scientists at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington. (Discovery)

Sri Lanka ruling seen shelving phosphate mine -- Sri Lanka's Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a plan by a U.S.-Japanese consortium to mine a phosphate deposit in the country's north-central province threatened to violate the rights of local residents. (Reuters)

South Carolina developers see green in green -- When Jim and Betsy Chaffin bought Spring Island in South Carolina in 1990, they planned to put into practice their own unique form of land development - developed underdevelopment. (Environmental News Network)

Feisty Canada farmer battles Monsanto over GM seeds -- A lone Canadian farmer will defend himself against big agribusiness Monsanto Co. (MTC.N) in Canada's Federal Court on Monday in a case that will get close attention from groups on both sides of the debate over genetically modified organisms. (Reuters)

Study: N. America Pollution Rises -- Industrial pollution in North America has increased for the first time since it's been monitored under the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a report released Tuesday. (Discovery)