Congress took the first step last week toward gutting the 30-year old Endangered Species Act, America's safety net for fish and wildlife at the edge of extinction, voting 229 to 193 for legislation crafted by House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo. If it becomes law, the bill will eliminate the requirement for "critical habitat" for endangered species and make the government pay developers and polluters not to kill publicly owned fish and wildlife.
The landmark Endangered Species Act, signed into law three decades ago by President Nixon, has prevented 99 percent of all species ever placed under its care from becoming extinct and has helped foster the return of wildlife such as the bald eagle.
Pombo's dangerous bill can still be stopped in the U.S. Senate. Take action to tell your Senator that you support protection for endangered species such as the bighorn sheep, the American bald eagle and the grizzly bear.
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Mississippi Chapter Chair Rose Johnson, right with fellow Sierra Club volunteer Lark Mason, has 14 relatives staying at her tarp-covered home since Hurricane Katrina. She's spent the past three weeks volunteering in North Gulfport providing meals and other relief supplies. But the damage to homes in the low-income minority neighborhoods of North Gulfport didn't prepare her for the scene south of the tracks in Gulfport. The neighborhood was surrounded by razor wire to keep people out, and mounds of debris stood eight to ten feet tall, like broken shipping containers with pork and chicken products. "The stench was so bad you could taste it on your tongue," she said.
Paul Stewart, who's now living in Maryland because his home was destroyed, used to live across the bay from DuPont's DeLisle titanium dioxide plant and its waste pits containing dioxin and heavy metals. He doesn't believe DuPont's insistence that everything is safe. "Katrina did not pollute our land," he says. "DuPont did. By locating that plant directly on the bay in a hurricane prone area, DuPont played Russian roulette and lost, and our land is now toxic."
And Becky Gillette, from Ocean Springs, reports on how the Bush administration, using the hurricane and its aftermath as cover, is working on a bill to give the EPA broad powers to declare an emergency and suspend the Clean Air Act without notice or public comment.
Read more reports from the front. And learn how you can help by contributing to our Gulf Coast Environmental Restoration Project.
"It's the difference between we're-all-in-this-together and you're-on-your-own-buddy."
-- George Lakoff, speaking at the Sierra Summit on how Katrina highlighted the difference between progressive and right-wing political philosophies.
The recent hurricanes put a new spin on climate change, even though climatologists are careful to clarify that no single hurricane can be blamed on global warming. Climatologists do agree, though, that global warming is real. So why does the media keep reporting that there's uncertainty about it?
In an interview with the Planet's Timothy Lesle this summer (before Katrina), Stanford University climatologist Steven Schneider explained that the "uncertainty" stems in part from how the media tries to cover science the same way it does politics, with a balance presentation of two sides. But in science, he says, "there aren't two sides."
It's official: The evils of urban sprawl are not inevitable. Last month, Governor Jon Huntsman, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), the Sierra Club, and Utahns for Better Transportation reached a win-win agreement on the Legacy Parkway project. The new agreement jump starts plans for a new TRAX light rail or bus rapid transit in south Davis County. Contemporary parkway features will also reduce impacts to the wetlands of the Great Salt Lake through a narrower footprint, lower speeds, and less noise by prohibiting trucks and utilizing quiet, rubberized asphalt pavement. The settlement addresses transportation challenges, saves money, and enhances the environment.
To learn more about how sprawl can be stopped, visit the Sierra Club's Challenge to Sprawl website.
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