October 19, 2011
Conservation Roundup: Expensive Pollution, Missing Shrimp, Feds Open More Land to Drilling
By Bob Marshall
Dirty Air Hurts the Economy, not just Fish, Wildlife and Sportsmen
The more industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress tell Americans they need dirtier air and water to "help the economy" the more the actual evidence shows what they're actually looking for is quicker profits - and the health of humans and critters be dammed.
The latest revelation comes via the paper "Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy" which shows current regulations on coal powered plants are actually too lenient because the ultimate costs to the U.S. economy in human and ecosystem damages is higher than the price we pay for that power.
This paper didn't appear in some lefty-environment magazine, but in the prestigious American Economic Review and was authored by three economists considered center-right. You can find the paper here.
A clear lay review is found here.
Why should sportsmen wade though a paper like this? Because pro-industry forces have mounted a full-court press in Congress pushing for a rollback of many regulations that have been key protectors of the fish and wildlife habitat that is the platform for all we cherish. Understanding these issues gives you the ammunition to fight back when someone says "we can't afford to protect the environment." The truth is, we can't afford not to.
Where's the Shrimp?
More troubling signs that the post-BP Gulf is an ailing giant: The white shrimp season has been disappointing or a bust in some section of southeast Louisiana, and more dead dolphins washing ashore on Gulf beaches.
This comes shortly after LSU researchers revealed the Gulf killifish, a minnow that occupies a key place in the food chain of Louisiana's coastal estuaries, was showing symptom of poisoning from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a known carcinogen that can result in total population collapses.
While those stories have raised alarms, it's important to note that the slow shrimp season could be related to other environmental conditions - such as the spreading dead zone in the Gulf, - and that steady testing of Gulf fish since the blowout have turned up no levels of carbon pollution considered dangerous to human health.
But the entire region remains on edge because the long-term impact of the spill won't be known for years.
Little Snake Basin Given to Oil and Gas Industry
Western sportsmen are beginning to suspect the oil and gas lobby didn't lose much of its power when Barack Obama replaced George W. Bush. The latest example is the final Resource Management Plan (RMP) that the Bureau of Land Management released for Colorado's Little Snake Region: While the treasured Vermillion Valley was protected, oil and gas got 90 percent of the rest. The RMP puts habitat essential to the imperiled greater sage-grouse and Colorado’s largest and most prized game herds at risk.
Look for more on this in the days/weeks ahead. Colorado sportsmen put a lot of effort into this battle.