Friday, March 31, 2017

Environment | Week Highlights

[In the News] | [Meanwhile in Massachusetts]

Week: March 25 - 31 2017

News Highlights

[Main topics of the Week] Bees in Europe and here in the US. Earth Hour. Keystone pipeline. Climate Change in the DoE. Dismantling of the Climate Change policies, and more... And locally: Community conservation, Lobbying for our rivers and energy.

A couple of good pieces of news to start this week, and it's all about the bees... here and there. Small progress but progress nonetheless!

Europe poised for total ban on bee-harming pesticidesThe world’s most widely used insecticides would be banned from all fields across Europe under draft regulations from the European commission [The Guardian]

And in the US, Bumble bee species finally lands on endangered species list after Trump admin delay. It is the first time in the history of the continental United States that a bee species is under federal protection. [NBC]

🌏  The World at large celebrated Earth Hour on March 25. It feels good to see that millions of people all over the world -contrary to the current U.S. government- want true actions to alleviate the impact of climate change. Indeed, there’s never been a more critical moment for the world to show solidarity for and a strong commitment to fighting climate change. By going dark, local government, cities, companies, landmarks, and individuals send the message that we will remain steadfast as we deliver on the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.


Trump granted approval for Keystone XL pipeline, calling it “the first of many infrastructure projects” that he would approve in order to put more Americans to work. [Washington Post]

Trump signed an executive order to dismantle Obama’s climate change policies. Trump celebrated the move as a way to promote energy independence and restore thousands of lost coal industry jobs. The executive order directs the EPA to start the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan. [New York Times]

The Energy Department’s climate office banned the use of the phrase “climate change”. It’s also the only office with the word “climate” in its name. Staff were told not to use “emissions reduction” or the “Paris Agreement” in written memos or briefings. [Politico]

EPA chief Scott Pruitt rejected the agency’s scientific conclusion to permanently ban one of the most widely used insecticides at farms nationwide. The agency’s own chemical safety experts said that exposure to chlorpyrifos potentially causes learning and memory declines. The insecticide was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but is still used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples. [New York Times]

Want to know what's going on in the Congress? Check my Congress Watch page  This page highlights urgent issues / bills with actionable items (who to call for support or protest).

Meanwhile in Massachusetts

03/20/14. I joined the Walk on the Wild Side with Dave Brown, a nature event organized by our Friends of Alewife Reservation. The perfect opportunity to connect with our local nature... And it was just great. This little walk on the wild side aside from giving me the excitement of knowing that coyotes and foxes are around our neighborhood (for our benefits), surely reminded me as well that little splashes of wildlife right in the middle of our cities are here for us and not the other way around. They deserve our attention and our respect. They need our protection. I wrote an post about it in Earthwise Aware, enjoy it!

03/31/17. A Day for our Rivers! Realizing that we have some D-rated (water quality) rivers, we're definitely not that protected here because we are in Massachusetts. DYK for instance that we have many rivers that haven't been tested for 10-20 years? You know that water in which our kids swim, and from which we fish fish that we eat (among other things). And do you know that we have right here in our area for instance Arlington, Cambridge, Belmont to name a few D and F EPA rated rivers (just to be clear these are very bad ratings)... Well our group (here group #23 from 24 groups formed today around constituencies) talked, explained, advocated for our rivers to our representatives (here with Mike Connelly)... So that was a chance to tell our State representatives that ensuring that our rivers are safe and clean is not an option... And we took that chance. It's important stuff –It's about the safety and health of us all and our kids! 

03/31/17. We met with our State representative Denise Provost to discuss the Clean Energy Purchasing Requirement bill (H.2700) [Title: An Act to Increase the renewable portfolio standard and ensure compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act]. This is a state bill that would increase the rate of increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), from the current 1% to at least 2% a year, and require municipal electric utilities – currently exempt - to begin complying with the RPS. Our state wants to reach a target of a decrease of green house emission by 80% by 2050 (w/ 25% by 2020). We are not on target, and increasing our RPS would contribute greatly to meet this goal. Our goal with this meeting is multiple: (1) Making sure she supports the bill and she does; (2) Asking how we can help explicitly (we need to digest the info first before communicating this back); and (3) Recording our notes and passing it to our communities so as to create a tangible civic action (we will so stay tuned).

Local Legislature & Campaigns

✧ 350 Mass Legislative Agenda
✧ Massachusetts Sierra Club's Legislative Priorities — 2017-2018 (190th session) 
✧ Environmental League of Massachusetts Legislative  — 2017-2018 agenda
✧ Conservation Law Foundation Campaigns 

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