- Previous decision to be re-examined
- Event reaches companies, advocates and lawmakers
- Victory for children's health
- Three new listings, and a revamped website
- New Interior Department leader reverses earlier decision
- Protecting the Oceans and Managing its Many Uses
- New members, EcoSalon, advocacy meetings
- New England update
- San Diego meeting focuses on water issues
- Rick Duke presents next phase of climate legislation
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| ||Figure 1. California’s Channel Islands illustrate the potential for conflict and fragmentation of management of human uses of marine areas. It is important to note that this figure, as complicated as it is, does not include the many "non-consumptive" uses of the ocean such as surfing, diving, swimming and sailing. (Click image to open larger version.) Source: Resolving Mismatches in U.S. Ocean Governance |
In a Crowded Ocean, Marine Conservation Requires Good Planning
Healthy oceans are directly tied to a healthy economy. In 2004 our oceans provided approximately $95.9 billion in goods and services, and 1.8 million jobs from fishing, tourism, recreation and shipping (see NOEP
). These industries rely on robust ecosystems and good governance to continue to thrive. With mounting proposals for new development in the oceans, such as offshore renewable energy projects and aquaculture, it is important to manage these new activities in a way that keeps our oceans, and our economy, healthy. Marine spatial planning promises to help protect and restore ocean ecosystems while minimizing negative impacts and conflicts from human activities. Marine spatial planning
(MSP) is the process of analyzing and allocating ocean space for specific uses in order to achieve specified ecological, economic and social objectives. Ideally, MSP is the first step in a comprehensive and adaptive ecosystem-based management approach.
Worldwide, our ocean systems are experiencing a silent collapse
as a result of pollution, destruction of productive marine habitat, increased strain on fish populations and global warming-induced impacts, such as higher water temperatures, shifts in currents and acidification. The oceans already host shipping, fishing, defense, aquaculture, energy production and many types of recreational activities. Increased activities and development, if not carried out wisely, will cause "ocean sprawl," further stress our valuable ocean resources, and jeopardize the food, jobs and recreation the oceans provide.
Not only does new and expanding ocean activity threaten marine life and ocean ecosystems, it also presents increased potential for conflicts between different types of activities with incompatible objectives. For example: fishing groups are concerned
that renewable energy development in the ocean will oust them from fishing grounds; ship-collisions can be lethal for marine mammals; and scientists have proven that military sonar
can injure and even kill whales and other marine mammals. Box 1 lists some of the human uses of ocean space. Figure 1 provides a visual illustration of the ways these uses overlap. As complicated as Figure 1 is, it does not even account for the many "non-consumptive" uses of the ocean such as surfing, diving, swimming, bird-watching, sailing and more.
Land-based spatial planning and zoning provide historical context and important lessons for MSP in the oceans. Good planning in busy urban areas is critical to making a city enjoyable and functional for its residents. Some cities that were originally poorly planned, like Toronto
, are revitalizing their centers by concentrating restaurants, shops and other businesses within walking distance of homes and offices, while improving the aesthetics of downtown areas. Places in California with poor planning and sprawl - which require residents to drive everywhere - have been particularly hard hit by the mortgage crisis
, and have come under fire
for their high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Although land-based spatial planning differs from MSP for a number of reasons
- different governance structures, ownership and rights, the three-dimensional and dynamic nature of the sea, and a lack (compared to land) of detailed mapping of the oceans - the rationale and good practices from the terrestrial context can be applied to the marine context.
| Box 1. |
Examples of the human uses of ocean space
Source: Visions for a SEA CHANGE, Report of the First International Workshop on Marine Spatial Planning, http://www.unesco-ioc-marinesp.be/uploads/documentenbank/322a25f624fcb940dc70d0b3b510de24.pdf
- Commercial Fishing
- Recreational Fishing
- Oil & Gas Exploration and Production
- Renewable Energy Production (e.g., wind, waves)
- Sand and Gravel Mining
- Dredged Material Disposal
- Recreation and Tourism
- Offshore Housing, Factories, Airports
- Pipelines, Cables, Transmission Lines
- Military Activities
- Scientific Research
- Marine Protected Areas
- Cultural and Historic Conservation (e.g., ship wrecks)
Fragmented governance increases the potential range and severity of conflicts across sectors of ocean users such as aquaculture, energy production facilities and ecosystems. (See Figure 1, above.) Two seminal federal reports and many other studies
have determined that ocean health is undermined by poor governance: lack of coordination, a mismatch between the scale and purpose of governance mechanisms and the needs of ecosystems, and, in the U.S., at least 20 federal agencies working to implement over 140 federal ocean-related statutes.
To ensure our oceans’ environmental and economic health, we must pair new development in marine spaces with ocean protection, in part through application of ecosystem-based management (EBM). Ecosystem-based management has been widely accepted as the concept that underpins good ocean governance (see Box 2 for details).
|Box 2. |
What Is Ecosystem-Based Management For The Oceans? Ecosystem-based management is an integrated approach to management that considers the entire ecosystem, including humans. The goal of ecosystem-based management is to maintain an ecosystem in a healthy, productive and resilient condition so that it can provide the services humans want and need. Ecosystem-based management differs from current approaches that usually focus on a single species, sector, activity or concern; it considers the cumulative impacts of different sectors.
Specifically, ecosystem-based management:
Source: Scientific Consensus Statement on Marine Ecosystem-Based Management, Released March 21, 2005 http://www.compassonline.org/pdf_files/EBM_Consensus_Statement_v12.pdf
- emphasizes the protection of ecosystems and overall ocean health;
- is place-based in focusing on a specific ecosystem and the range of activities affecting it;explicitly accounts for the interconnectedness within systems, recognizing the importance of interactions between many target species or key services and other non-target species;
- acknowledges interconnectedness among systems, such as between air, land and sea; and
- integrates ecological, social, economic and institutional perspectives, recognizing their strong interdependences.
Properly executed, MSP can be a holistic EBM approach to addressing social, economic and environmental objectives, including long-term sustainability, in our oceans. MSP offers many potential environmental benefits over the current, fragmented approach to ocean governance:
- Comprehensive planning for, and management of, the cumulative impacts of myriad human activities in the ocean;
- Identification of ecologically important and sensitive areas to ensure that activities (such as the siting of renewable energy projects) do not jeopardize sensitive ocean resources; and
- Improved quality, transparency and efficiency of decision-making in a geographic and regulatory area that is highly complex.
Many groups are looking to MSP for its promise in managing the objectives of a diverse array of activities. For example, fishing groups in Oregon have realized the importance of spatial mapping as part of the State’s commitment to marine spatial planning. On the east coast of the U.S., interest in development of offshore wind projects has motivated states - particularly Massachusetts , Rhode Island and New York - to develop an MSP approach (see below).
Essential Elements of MSP
Various governments have developed their MSP approach in different ways. Some started with mapping and planning for only one or a few uses or purposes, gradually adding layers of planning for new uses. Australia’s MSP
began with planning for protected areas. Others, such as the Netherlands
, launched an integrated, comprehensive approach from the outset. Consultants from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have conducted workshops and extensive study to distill the key characteristics of good MSP (see Figure 2 below). In May 2009, they will release a set of guidelines for MSP
Key characteristics of good MSP:
- Ecosystem-based, with biodiversity conservation as an explicit goal
- Area-based on a large enough scale to cover ecosystems
- Factors in multiple objectives - ecological, socio-economic and governance
- Integrated across economic sectors, government agencies and with other spatial management plans, such as marine protected areas
- Takes a long-term perspective
- Integrates adaptive management, which includes monitoring and evaluation
- Developed through a highly participatory process
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| ||Figure 2. (Click image for larger version.) |
Source: Fanny Douvere & Charles Ehler, "International Experience with Marine Spatial Planning"; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and Man & Biosphere Programme (MAB), UNESCO; Presentation; 13-14 August 2008, New York.
While this article primarily discusses planning, as Figure 2 demonstrates, planning is only one element of the marine spatial management process. This process includes additional elements of implementation, enforcement, monitoring, evaluation, research, public participation and financing - all of which must be present to carry out effective management over time. Ideally, a successful MSP approach will produce a comprehensive ocean plan, developed through stakeholder outreach, collaboration and consensus building, which includes the following components:
- Authority to engage in MSP.
- Financing of the MSP development, implementation, monitoring and future iterations of spatial management.
- Stakeholder participation, made effective by selecting the right group of stakeholders, ensuring they have the opportunity for meaningful participation.
- Pre-planning, including developing the planning team; organizing ecological and economic information; establishing the exercise’s principles and goals; defining the area boundaries for analysis and management; and setting conditions, including timeframes.
- Analysis, including characterizing and mapping of existing conditions; estimating of future conditions and possible conflicts; specifying objectives, targets and indicators for management, and criteria for evaluating these measures; cost/benefit analysis; specifying what authorities/institutional arrangements will implement these measures; and presenting the plan.
- Plan adoption and implementation, which requires effective interdisciplinary communication between the scientists and policy-makers.
- Monitoring and evaluation, including conducting applied research, adapting measures or revising the plan as needed to accomplish the selected goals.
- Capacity building to ensure future iterations of planning and management can be pursued.
Examples of MSP in the U.S.
Many groups look to MSP for its promise in managing the objectives of a diverse array of activities. MSP has been applied around the world - Australia, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand have all implemented, or are working on, some form of MSP. A number of states are already well on their way to implementing MSP in the U.S.Massachusetts Ocean Plan
Massachusetts is currently developing a comprehensive ocean management plan
, following a scientific and stakeholder process. Their Oceans Act of 2008 mandates the development of a comprehensive ocean management plan for a Massachusetts waters and submerged lands. Massachusetts’s ocean management plan, which is due in final form by December 31, 2009 , and to be made available for public review six months prior, will be formally incorporated into the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Plan and enforced through the state’s regulatory and permitting processes. The adopted plan’s baseline assessment and enforceable provisions of relevant statues and regulations is to be reviewed at least once every five years. E2 New England was actively involved in getting the Massachusetts Oceans Act passed - see our webpage on this advocacy project
. Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan
The Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP)
will define use zones for Rhode Island’s ocean waters through a research and planning process that integrates the best available science with open public input and involvement. To be prepared between 2008 and 2010, the Ocean SAMP will zone offshore waters for diverse activities including renewable energy development. This process will also protect current uses and habitats through zones for commercial fishing, marine transport, and critical habitats for fish, marine animals and birds. The SAMP is designed to help the state reach its goal of meeting 15 percent of its energy needs through renewable energy, primarily from offshore wind.Spatial Planning for New York Ocean and Great Lakes
New York recently provided information to its citizens about the state’s intention to engage in spatial planning for New York’s
ocean and Great Lakes waters. The State will begin mapping a region extending from New York Harbor out to the continental shelf, including the Hudson Canyon. In the next two years New York intends to: (1) map the existing natural resource and human uses in this ocean region; (2) research the impacts that different uses have on natural resources; (3) develop criteria to guide the siting of certain activities in a specific location; and (4) create an ocean use plan to identify areas appropriate to consider offshore renewable energy and sensitive areas in need of protection or special management measures. E2’s New York chapter has been following these developments; see supporting activities from June 2006
and October 2007
. Oregon’s Amended Territorial Sea Plan
Oregon’s Governor Ted Kulongoski, responding to the excitement from the renewable energy industry and the corresponding nervousness from fishing groups about the effect of such development on access to fishing grounds, issued an Executive Order requiring that Oregon’s Territorial Sea Plan be amended to incorporate a comprehensive provision for the siting of wave energy. A local pilot initiative, led by the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association
has begun to map key fishing grounds; the state intends to expand this effort statewide and out to the continental shelf, to be completed by 2010. The data from the mapping will then be fed up to the state-level MSP policy approach, used by the state’s Ocean Policy Advisory Council to amend the Oregon Territorial Sea plan. California Marine Protected Areas as a Cornerstone of MSP
California is currently engaged in a form of spatial planning with the designation of a network of Marine Protected Areas
throughout the state. Although this process does not spatially map a broad range of uses, in the example of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
, protected area designation is an important starting point for broader spatial planning. Stanford law professors have found
California’s fragmented, largely use-based and reactive legal and regulatory regime ill-equipped to address the current and future challenges in ocean resource management. EBM-based spatial planning can improve California’s ocean governance - building on the foundation laid by with the designation of marine protected areas - to create an integrated, comprehensive, publicly accountable and politically viable regime to manage all ocean uses while protecting marine ecosystems. E2 chapters in California have been involved in expanding the network of Marine Protected Areas - see our webpage on this advocacy project
Ocean Renewable Energy: A Test Case for National MSP?
The Electric Power Research Institute
has estimated that renewable energy technologies in the oceans - including wind, wave, current and tidal energy - have the potential to supply up to 10 percent of today’s electrical demand, making a significant contribution to greenhouse gas reduction.
While ocean renewable energy is appealing, enthusiasm for installing devices in the ocean must be tempered by acknowledgment that these devices will have impacts on the environment and coastal communities. There is limited knowledge about the extent of these impacts because there have been very few pilot projects and, therefore, minimal field-testing of ocean renewable energy technologies, especially wave, current and tidal - collectively referred to as hydrokinetic energy.
MSP can help ensure the successful development of environmentally sound ocean renewable energy projects by:
- Ensuring that all renewable energy projects are sited to minimize negative environmental and social impacts and use conflicts through a coordinated process that engages all relevant state and federal agencies and non-governmental stakeholders;
- Providing greater certainty for regulated communities, which helps reduce the commercial risk and net regulatory burden for many types of industries operating in the ocean;
- Facilitating the collection of baseline data to understand the best, and worst, areas for the installation of small-scale pilot projects (pilot projects are much-needed to better understand the environmental and other impacts of untested ocean renewable energy technologies);
- Allowing for more efficient use of available marine space and resources, particularly as industrial activities are directed towards optimal locations, while conservation and resource protection are prioritized in the most ecologically sensitive areas; and
- Reducing conflicts and opposition to various uses through increased understanding of and proactive planning to address potential adverse impacts.
MSP initiatives for ocean renewable energy siting can also serve as a springboard toward a more comprehensive MSP-based approach that incorporates a broad range of ocean uses, including the conservation and protection of ocean ecosystems. NRDC is working at both the state and the federal levels to assess and pursue opportunities to apply MSP in the U.S.
Our thanks go to Leila Monroe, Policy Analyst in NRDC’s Oceans Program, for preparing this article. For more information on this article or on NRDC’s MSP work, please contact Leila at email@example.com.
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|From left: E2 members Harvey Allon, Sue Allon and Michael Cuddehe; NRDC’s Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.; and E2 members David Readerman, Jane Cuddehe and Andrew Currie (Rocky Mountains Chapter Leader. || |
The Rocky Mountains Chapter has been busy this month! First, we’d like to welcome the many new members to our chapter: Harvey and Sue Allon; Jim Angell and Nicole Pearce; Paul and Renee Berberian; Howard Boigon; Michael Dowling; Ken Gart; Patrick and Christina Hart; Katie Hoffner; Fred Julander; Ilona Major; Steve Schneider and Mary Campbell; and Sam Weaver. We’re happy to have you on board.
On February 11, seventy E2 members, prospects and public officials, including Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, gathered at the home of Harvey and Sue Allon for an E2 EcoSalon, "Moving Toward a New Energy Economy." This special event featured Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., NRDC Senior Attorney, and Ned Farquhar, NRDC Senior Policy Advocate for Energy. Kennedy gave a passionate speech on free markets and the environment as a core American value, inspiring all of us to help spread the word that protecting the environment is crucial to generating economic prosperity. He drove home the point that, right now, we have enormous opportunities to transform the country through a new energy economy.
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| ||NRDC’s Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., E2 Co-founder Nicole Lederer and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. |
Public officials in attendance, in addition to Governor Bill Ritter, included State Senators Joyce Foster (Denver) and Gail Schwartz (Aspen), and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Jim Martin. Also in attendance were representatives from the offices of U.S. Congress members Diana DeGette, Betsy Markey and Ed Perlmutter, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Our deepest gratitude goes out to the hosts of the event, Harvey and Sue Allon, for their generous accommodation and support of E2. We would also like to thank the co-hosts of the event - Michael and Jane Cuddehe, Joann Shernoff and David Readerman - for their tireless efforts to make the event a success. Additional thanks go to E2 Co-founder Nicole Lederer for her patient advice and support. We could not have done it without all of you!
E2 Rocky Mountains Chapter Leader Andrew Currie and a team of E2 members have met with several Colorado public officials this month, including U.S. Congressman Jared Polis; Tom Plant, Director of the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office; Don Elliman, Director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade; Jim Martin, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; and Terrance Carroll, Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives. These meetings served to introduce E2 and raise awareness of our network and mission, to offer our chapter as a resource to each public official and their staff, and to explore possible legislation that E2 could propose or support. We will continue these meetings with other public officials in upcoming months. If you are interested in attending these meetings to represent E2 and the business voice, please email us at E2RockyMountains@gmail.com
Also this month, Andrew Currie was featured in an interview with Susan Viebrock of the web blog "Telluride Inside...and Out." He discussed the synergies between E2 and the Telluride region’s The New Community Coalition. Listen to the interview
We are looking forward to working with all E2 members and friends to build our advocacy efforts in Colorado. If you are interested in getting involved with E2 at a greater level, please contact E2RockyMountains@gmail.com
or (303) 902-4525.
Cold winters, hot summers and high electricity rates combine to make energy efficiency a major priority for residents of New England. Thus, it is not surprising that E2 New England members played a key role in helping ensure that the federal economic recovery package contained more than $20 billion in energy efficiency programs that will create jobs and cut carbon emissions while helping to lift the troubled U.S. economy. Working closely with NRDC, the Alliance to Save Energy, Environment Northeast and over 100 other groups and companies, E2 New England member Steve Cowell helped to form the National SAVE Energy Coalition. Coming together with a unified platform, the group reached out to members of Congress and overcame stiff resistance to ensure that efficiency was a major priority of the stimulus package.
At the state level, E2 New England has been focused on the transportation funding crisis that is facing Massachusetts. In 2007, a blue-ribbon commission documented the unsustainable structural deficits that are endangering our safety, our economic growth and our citizen’s well being. The report concluded that the state’s transportation system faces a $15-$19 billion funding gap over 20 years. E2 New England believes that a responsible gas tax increase must be a central part of a comprehensive solution of revenue and reforms. Moreover, a sufficient portion of the funds must be devoted to ensuring that the state has a public transit system in good repair with reasonable fares, expanded routes and improved service.
On January 29, E2 members Dave Miller, Jay Baldwin and Berl Hartman, together with transportation entrepreneur Robin Chase, met with State Senator Steven Baddour (First Essex), Co-chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, and Bob Ross, Chief of Staff for Senate President Therese Murray (Plymouth/Barnstable). We emphasized that, increasingly, companies look at the quality of a region’s transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand, and that smart transportation decisions can accelerate economic development, improve quality of life and address environmental concerns.
In addition, 52 New England E2 members and supporters signed a letter discussing our position on transportation funding
that was delivered to every member of the State Legislature. We were gratified that on February 20, Governor Deval Patrick announced a comprehensive plan that includes a19-cent gas tax with funding for many of the priorities that we have endorsed.
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|Lee Stein, Chapter Leader and Founding Member of E2 Southern California, prepares to make his remarks in San Diego || |
Water is taking over oil as the likeliest cause of conflict in the future, and with Southern California importing 90 percent of its water from the Colorado River and Sierra Nevada runoff, E2 Southern California has chosen water conservation as one key galvanizing issue and is bringing a team of business leaders together to create a strategy for its chapter advocacy activities 2009. At a January 28 EcoSalon in San Diego, E2 members and guests gathered to learn about this renewed effort. Ronnie Cohen, Senior Policy Analyst in NRDC’s Water Program, offered insight into initiatives around green infrastructure, the nexus between water and global warming, and the California Water Vision - a statewide effort by NRDC Water Program staff to encourage investments in cost-effective tools like water conservation, water recycling, urban stormwater management and groundwater management. Ronnie emphasized that California has a limited long-term supply and that the water savings potential from these strategies, as well as low-impact development, far outweigh potential supply from further Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta diversions. Nicole Lederer, Co-founder of E2, gave a compelling overview of E2 for the many first-time attendees, and inspired further participation and contribution toward future E2 efforts. Lee Stein, E2 Southern California Founding Member and Chapter Leader, organized the meeting and spoke regarding the valuable experiences his association with E2 has made possible. Jeremy Glaser outlined his vision for the E2 chapter and some of the key environmental initiatives for their organization.
E2 thanks Mintz Levin for graciously hosting this event at their eco-friendly offices.
During a February 3 EcoSalon in New York and a February 18 national TeleSalon, Rick Duke, Director of NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation (CMI) walked E2 members and guests through elements of NRDC’s effort - dubbed "Cap 2.0
" - to move next-generation climate legislation at the federal level. Rick’s key messages were:
- There is growing political momentum for mandatory federal carbon caps;
- Taking steps now to set a carbon cap in place can help ensure economic recovery through green infrastructure investment and give investors some certainty about future profits;
- Quickly passing climate legislation in the U.S. opens the possibility of rapid progress toward an international climate containment plan; and
- Refining the details of a cap-and-invest bill - as NRDC is now working with Congress to do - will transition the U.S. smoothly into an efficient, low-carbon economy.
Rick’s presentation also included discussion about how to translate into U.S. legislation the lessons learned from the European Union’s mishaps and successes implementing its cap-and-trade regime, the advantages a cap-and-invest strategy has over a carbon tax, and what federal climate legislation might mean for states that have in place - or are preparing to pass - their own policies to limit carbon emissions. (E2 members: listen to a recording of the TeleSalon presentation of Cap 2.0: | )
E2 would like to thank Rick Duke for leading these talks. We also thank NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner for being part of the New York EcoSalon, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett for hosting that event.
New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson handed down an important first step toward carbon dioxide (CO2) control February 17 when she announced that her agency will take a new look at a Bush Administration rule preventing the regulation of CO2 from coal power plants and other sources. Jackson granted a petition for reconsideration of the rule following a request by NRDC, the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to re-examine a December 2008 memorandum by former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson excusing the EPA from setting Best Available Control Technology emission limits on large new pollution sources, including coal-fired power plants. NRDC, the Sierra Club and EDF also filed a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the legality of the Johnson memorandum.
Over 2,500 labor, business, government and environmental leaders converged on the nation’s capital for the 2009 Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference February 4-6 to forge a national agenda toward a green economy. NRDC was a sponsor of the event, which highlighted the opportunity to create jobs, reinvigorate communities and move the country in a different direction through a smart green investment program. In addition to the conference, a Green Jobs Expo highlighted the various academic institutions, manufacturers, nonprofit organizations and corporations currently committed to educating, training and hiring workers across a variety of green job sectors. Finally, conference attendees had the chance to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill in coordination with Green Jobs Advocacy Day to educate important decision-makers on the viability of a robust green economy, as the nation currently stands at an important economic crossroads. Read a recent study on green jobs
A federal judge ruled February 5 that children’s toys and other childcare products known to contain toxic chemicals called phthalates must come off store shelves, siding with NRDC and Public Citizen in a lawsuit against the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Despite the Congress-mandated ban on selling products containing the harmful chemicals, the CPSC sought a loophole to allow the continued sale of the products past the February 10 deadline, as long as the manufacture date was before February 10. Phthalates, which have been banned in Europe for nearly 10 years, are used to soften plastics, but are known to interfere with hormones in the human body and have resulted in reproductive abnormalities. NRDC Health Program Scientist Sarah Janssen and Attorney Aaron Colangelo were both instrumental in this win for children’s health and consumer safety.
On February 3, NRDC designated 13 natural areas and six associated wild species to its "BioGems" campaign, which identifies and protects the most ecologically valuable and at-risk places in the Western Hemisphere. Since its inception in 2001, the BioGems campaign has encompassed more than 30 wild and unspoiled places stretching from the Arctic in Alaska down to the Patagonia region in Chile. This newest group of BioGems is especially noteworthy as it includes the first entire country - Costa Rica, which is aiming to become the world’s first carbon-neutral nation. Jacob Scherr directs NRDC’s International Program, which houses the BioGems project. Visit the redesigned website
to see the full list of BioGems and exciting new tools for getting involved in their conservation.
In a move that will protect more than 100,000 acres of Utah wilderness from oil and gas drilling, the Department of Interior (DOI) announced February 4 that it will cancel 77 leases issued by auction in the final weeks of the Bush Administration. This decision by DOI Secretary Ken Salazar sends a strong message that the management of the nation’s public lands and natural heritage will reflect a more balanced approach than was witnessed over the past eight years. After hastily approved resource management plans (RMPs) put a total of seven million acres of American wilderness at serious risk late last year, NRDC and a coalition of conservation groups intervened and won an important delay
in the land permits, after which a U.S. District Court granted a temporary restraining order
preventing the Bureau of Land Management from moving ahead on the sales. NRDC Trustee Robert Redford and NRDC Senior Attorney Sharon Buccino were highly involved in this critical victory and will continue to address the problems remaining with the existing RMPs.