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‘This Will Be The Biggest Loss Of Clean Water Protection The Country Has Ever Seen’: Trump Finalizes Clean Water Rule Replacement

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‘This Will Be The Biggest Loss Of Clean Water Protection The Country Has Ever Seen’: Trump Finalizes Clean Water Rule Replacement
Photo Credit: Getty

Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch

Today, the Trump administration will finalize its replacement for the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in a move that will strip protections from more than half of the nation’s wetlands and allow landowners to dump pesticides into waterways, or build over wetlands, for the first time in decades.

President Donald Trump has been working to undo the 2015 rule since he took office, but his replacement goes even further, The New York Times explained. In addition to rolling back protections for some wetlands and streams that run intermittently or temporarily underground, it will also get rid of a requirement that landowners seek permits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which had considered permits on a case-by-case basis before 2015.

“This will be the biggest loss of clean water protection the country has ever seen,” Southern Environmental Law Center lawyer Blan Holman told The New York Times. “This puts drinking water for millions of Americans at risk of contamination from unregulated pollution. This is not just undoing the Obama rule. This is stripping away protections that were put in place in the ’70s and ’80s that Americans have relied on for their health.”

The administration announced the repeal of the WOTUS rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, in September of 2019. That rule had expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” under the 1972 Clean Water Act from larger bodies of water to include streams and wetlands. The rule was controversial before Trump took office. Many farmers and businesses thought it gave the federal government too much power, and court rulings had suspended it in 28 states.

Trump appealed to this logic when he touted his repeal Sunday at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention and Trade Show in Austin, Texas.

“I terminated one of the most ridiculous regulations of all: the last administration’s disastrous Waters of the United States rule,” he said. “Thank you. It’s gone. That was a rule that basically took your property away from you.”

However, the rule was also based on a review of 1,200 scientific studies that found that streams and wetlands were connected to waters downstream. And legal experts say Trump’s replacement goes even further than repealing the 2015 rule to deny decades-old protections to smaller headwaters.

“This is rolling back federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act further than it’s ever been before,” Vermont Law School environmental law professor Patrick Parenteau told The New York Times “Waters that have been protected for almost 50 years will no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act.”

The science behind Trump’s new rule is already being challenged, including by some of Trump’s own appointees.

Late in 2019, the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, which is staffed with many Trump picks, questioned the science behind three of the administration’s deregulatory moves, including its WOTUS repeal. The board wrote that the administration’s proposed replacement “neglects established science” by “failing to acknowledge watershed systems,” The New York Times reported at the time. The board also said it found “no scientific justification” for denying protections to certain bodies of water.

The board’s comments will likely prove useful to environmental groups and the attorneys general of several states, who are expected to sue to block the new rule, The New York Times reported.

“The legal standing all has to do with whether you have a rational basis for what you’re doing,” Parenteau told The New York Times. “And when you have experts saying you’re not adhering to the science, that’s not rational, it’s arbitrary.”

The rule is also already being challenged by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which has called for an investigation into how it was finalized, E&E News reported Monday.

“The writing of the final Rule was controlled solely by [EPA] Headquarters political appointees,” the complaint, signed by 44 current and former EPA employees, said. “The final Rule contradicts the overwhelming scientific consensus on the connectivity of wetlands and waters, and the impacts that ephemeral streams and so-called ‘geographically isolated’ wetlands have on downstream navigable waters.”

The group filed the complaint with the EPA’s Office of Inspector General and asked it to determine if the rule violated the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy.

The final rule is due to be announced in Dallas, Texas today by EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials, as well as Texas Republican Representatives Louie Gohmert and Ron Wright, Courthouse News Service reported.

About the Author

Olivia is a freelance reporter for EcoWatch.

The views in this article may not reflect editorial policy of Collective Spark.

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Environment

‘Extinct’ Large Blue Butterfly Is Reintroduced In The Wild After 150-Year Absence

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Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) – A large blue butterfly that was previously extinct has been successfully reintroduced to the UK, with the pollinator repopulating large parts of the country after an absence of 150 years.

Some 750 of the large blue butterflies, which are marked by distinct rows of black spots on its forewing, have been spotted this summer around Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire, southwest England – a higher number than anywhere else in the world.

In 1979, the butterfly was declared extinct and hasn’t been seen in the Rodborough region for 150 years. The Large Blue is one of the rarest of Britain’s Blue butterfly species, reports BBC.

Last year, conservationists released some 1,100 larvae to the region after meticulously preparing the landscape for the butterflies’ return.

The globally endangered large blue butterfly has a unique life cycle that begins with tiny caterpillars tricking the area’s red ant population (myrmica sabuleti) into hauling them to their nest, while even “singing” to it, after which the parasitic larvae feast on ant grubs before emerging a year later as butterflies.

“In the summer when the ants are out foraging, nature performs a very neat trick — the ants are deceived into thinking that the parasitic larva of the large blue is one of their own and carry it to their nest,” said research ecologist David Simcox in a statement.

“It’s at this point that the caterpillar turns from herbivore to carnivore, feeding on ant grubs throughout the autumn and spring until it is ready to pupate and emerge the following summer.”

Controlling the red ant population was a crucial component of the project to reintroduce the blue butterflies.

For five years, a range of experts from the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation, the Limestone’s Living Legacies Back from the Brink project, Natural England, Royal Entomological Society and the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Committees of Commoners collaborated to prepare the area for the butterflies.

Cattle grazing were kept in check and the area’s scrub cover was reined in to help the area’s ant population, while wild thyme and marjoram plant growth was encouraged to ensure that the butterflies have their natural source of food and egg-laying habitats.

“Butterflies are such sensitive creatures, and with the large blue’s particular requirements they are real barometers for what is happening with our environment and the changing climate,” said commons area ranger Richard Evans. “Creating the right conditions for this globally endangered butterfly to not only survive but to hopefully thrive has been the culmination of many years work.”

The butterfly was reintroduced to the UK after caterpillars were brought to the country from Sweden in an ecologist’s camper van, writes The Guardian.

Experts now say that the large blue butterfly has “stronghold” sites around the country and have also naturally colonized areas across southern England, reports CNN.

The return of the rare large blue to the region marks one of the most successful insect reintroduction projects to date, and marks the culmination of a nearly four-decade conservationist effort in Europe.

“One of the greatest legacies of the re-introduction is the power of working together to reverse the decline of threatened species and the benefit the habitat improvements will have for other plants, insects, birds and bats on the commons,” Evans said.

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With 194 BILLION Masks And Gloves Used Monthly, New Wave Of Pollution Hits Oceans And Beaches

With 194 BILLION Masks And Gloves Used Monthly, New Wave Of Pollution Hits Oceans And Beaches

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With 194 BILLION Masks And Gloves Used Monthly, New Wave Of Pollution Hits Oceans And Beaches
Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) – When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world earlier this year, plunging much of the world into lockdown conditions, it seemed that nature was finally being given a major breather – so much so that breathless stories spread across the world about animals taking back their environs, along with memes and social media posts about how “the earth is healing.”

However, the scant silver lining of the global lockdown was much thinner than believed, and instead, the pandemic has given rise to a new, sad side effect – millions of pieces of discarded personal protective equipment (PPE) that is littering the planet in shocking ways.

According to a new study published in the Environment, Science & Technology journal, no less than 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves – 194 billion units of PPE in total – are being used on a monthly basis around the world, resulting in “widespread environmental contamination” and a catastrophic new wave of waste material in our oceans and rivers.

To make matters worse, watchdogs with WWF (World Wildlife Fund) warned in a report earlier this year: “If only 1% of the masks were to be disposed of incorrectly and dispersed in nature, this would result in up to 10 million masks per month polluting the environment.”

An environmentalist in the UK is already seeing the results of the improper disposal of the mountain of PPE being used and discarded on every month.

Emily Stevenson, a marine biologist widely known as the “Beach Guardian,” recently went to collect litter from a beach in Cornwall, along England’s southwestern coast, and found no less than 171 pieces of discarded PPE only in the span of one hour – a shocking rise from the six PPE items she had found on a previous beach cleanup.

Emily and her father Rob founded The Beach Guardian project in 2017, and have organized 200 community cleanups involving 6,000 volunteers. In recent months, she has noticed how the litter they are collecting has shifted from single-use plastic bags and straws to gloves and protective face masks.

“We’ve already found evidence of PPE actually sinking below the ocean surface,” Stevenson said, according to The Independent. “This means that there could be a totally unaccounted for concentration of PPE pollution on the seafloor, which can remain as dormant debris for centuries.”

“Once on the seafloor, it smothers any biological structures such as important Sea Fan beds in the UK, or coral reefs further afield,” she continued. “Also, this debris entails a ‘plasticizing’ effect when on the seafloor – potentially inhibiting gas exchange between the water column and sediment.”

Stevenson noted that if the entire UK wears one disposable protective face mask per day for a full year, this would result in an extra 57,000 tons of plastic that is difficult to recycle – along with an additional 66,000 tons of contaminated PPE trash.

“This has been the first time I have been legitimately frightened by PPE pollution,” Stevenson said. “To see it in the water, in the environment that holds my heart and my passion. To see it at home, on my doorstep. It hit me very hard.”

Well prior to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic, experts and conservationists were urgently warning that plastic waste was inundating the world’s oceans and water supplies, leaching carcinogenic toxins and chemicals into the marine environment, with plastic drink containers trapping and confining—and ultimately killing—marine wildlife.

The pollution has reached such monstrous proportions that an estimated 100 million tons of plastic could be found in the oceans, according to the UN. Between 80 and 90½ of it comes from land-based sources. A report prepared for the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, warned that by 2050, plastic waste in the ocean would outweigh all fish.

Stevenson retains hope that given the unifying effect of the pandemic, people will be more open to embracing a conscientious attitude toward problems on a global scale.

“The saving grace of COVID-19 has been our unity; the whole world has faced the virus together,” she noted. “If we continue with the same global collaboration, we can resolve this. PPE is in all of our lives; we use it or see it every day. But it is for this very reason that we can all do something about it.”

“It is those daily, individual, small steps that happen on a global scale that is going to be our greatest ally in this fight against plastic,” Stevenson said.

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Environment

You Can Pedal Through The Redwood Forest On Rail Bikes In Northern California

There are currently about 50 rail trails in the USA, which are disused railway tracks that have been converted into multi-use paths.

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Photo Credit: TMU

(TMU) – From the glory days of train travel to forgotten, overgrown rail tracks and abandoned stations, many unused and forgotten railways have been resurrected to take their place in the 21st century.

To the delight of those who enjoy time in nature, rail biking provides a new opportunity to explore the outdoors in a unique way for an awesome adventure definitely worth the experience.

There are currently about 50 rail trails in the USA, which are disused railway tracks that have been converted into multi-use paths, mostly for walking, cycling, horse riding and snowmobiling.

The historic Skunk Train railroad has run in the North Coast since 1885 and up until March 2019. At one stage it was the only way used by visitors to visit the majestic ancient redwood forest.

Generations of young and old took the Skunk Train to enjoy and admire the beauty of the trees.

We added some last-minute railbikes to the schedule for Valentine's Day! Join us out of Fort Bragg at 10:30am or 12:30pm on February 14th for the best couple's outing you could wish for!

Skunk Train paylaştı: 13 Şubat 2020 Perşembe

The Redwood Forests are located just 3 hours north of San Francisco along the Pacific coast and offers something for every nature explorer and it offers a fabulous Skunk Train rail bike route through the redwoods.

Each custom-made rail bike seats two per bike and literally whispers through the forest with pedal power. The bikes are safe on the tracks with no trains or other traffic to disrupt the journey, guaranteed! Low noise electric motors fitted to the bikes give tired legs running low on ‘steam’ to take a recharge break, without disrupting the peaceful surroundings.

Spend your Saturday exploring the wild beauty of Fort Bragg via a rail bike from the Skunk Train Depot. These open-air,…

Visit Fort Bragg, California paylaştı: 2 Mart 2019 Cumartesi

It’s a gloriously tranquil 1.5 to 2 hour round trip which starts at Fort Bragg, from where the tracks wind along the scenic Pudding Creek then cross over the wooden trestle bridges and continues into Mendocino County, heart of the magnificent ancient redwoods, estimated to be more than 1,000 years old, some reaching as high as 300ft into the sky.

The freedom rail peddling provides to survey the beautiful surroundings is amazing. It’s that exuberant feeling of ‘look Ma, no hands!’, leaving you free to look, slow down, take pictures and notice and discover so much more than any other mode of transport allows. Naturally, there are plenty of birds, including blue herons and osprey, as well as deer, otters and turtles around the rivers – and perhaps, during peak berry season, you might even spot a bear enjoying a berry feast.

Good news for our local Fans! In accordance with the updated Shelter in Place order allowing certain activities for…

Skunk Train paylaştı: 11 Mayıs 2020 Pazartesi

You’ve reached the halfway mark one you reach the Glen Blair Junction, which is a great spot to stretch your legs, enjoy a picnic and a walk into the forest to pay homage to the giant redwoods. With all that pure, clean air in your blood, the short trip back to Fort Bragg will be over far too quickly, albeit with plenty of beautiful photos and memories, it’s a sure bet you’ll be wanting to do it again, soon.

For bookings and rules safety, visit: www.skunktrain.com as well as www.railexplorers.net and www.themanual.com for other railbike adventures.

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Animal World

Incredible Photos Of A Rare Black Panther Roaming In The Jungles Of India

Jung explored the Kabini Forest in Karnataka, India and captured stunning film and photographs of the elusive and majestic black cat of the forest.

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Photo Credit: Shaaz Jung

(TMU) – After studying Economics at the Utrecht University in Europe, wildlife filmmaker and photographer Shaaz Jung returned to the forests of south India where he spent most of his childhood.

His lifelong fascination with the jungle and its wild cats, leopards and the mysterious black panthers in particular, was instrumental in changing his career path from corporate to conservationist and photographer extraordinaire.

Jung’s goal was to discover and understand the lives of the masters of darkness, the black panthers. To fulfill his dream, Jung explored the Kabini Forest in Karnataka, India over the past couple of years and returned not only wiser, but also with stunning film and photographs of the elusive and majestic black cat of the forest.

“I spent two and a half years in the Kabini Forest, between December 2017 and January 2020, on a filming permit. This filming permit allowed [me and the team] to make a documentary on the black panther for National Geographic.”

According to Jung, every day was like a journey into the unknown and their attempts to discover the panther’s secrets ended up being one of the most challenging projects he had ever worked on.

“This black panther is a leopard with an abundance of melanin. Unlike other cats in the Kabini Forest, there is only one black panther,” Jung explained. “This of course makes him far more difficult to photograph. However, since 2015… photographers have been fortunate enough to see him and take pictures. We are, however, the first to make a dedicated movie on him.”

Patience is definitely one trait all wildlife photographers need to learn early in their careers and it’s probably safe to say the entire team on the project have mastered this particular art during their time in the jungle.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” Jung said. “I would like to thank the Karnataka Forest Department for protecting these forests. Their hard work enables us to catch glimpses of these beautiful animals that are thriving in our Indian forests.”

Raised in South India, with jungle forests on his doorstep and several of India’s best national parks in the area, Jung grew up in wonder and respect for the jungle. “The jungle is a labyrinth riddled with secrets that are waiting to be uncovered. Every day in the forest was like a puzzle and I had to put the pieces of this puzzle together in order to successfully unlock its secrets,” he said of his 30 month jungle journey.

Unlock the secrets he most assuredly did, capturing these stunning moments on film. “The camera allowed me to take photographs, immortalizing these moments, relishing life, and inspiring the world. Wildlife is unpredictable and I love the challenge of tracking your subject before you can photograph it. It feels far more rewarding,” Jung said.

Shaaz Jung followed his dream, a dream turned into reality, taking him all over the world to capture the amazing creatures that roam Earth. Now also an ambassador for Nikon India and Samsung, Jung runs Safari Lodges in South India and in East Africa, where he also guides private safaris.

More info: shaazjung.com | Instagram

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