In the latest chapter of an ill-advised and politically unpopular effort to attack our shared natural heritage, a House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT) is corralling his anti-conservation allies in Congress to form a congressional working group aimed at finding ways to hand
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced Senate and House versions of the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act, which would provide incentives for states to combat the trend of kids and families spending less time outside.
Deb Furry brings 30 years’ experience in workplace fundraising on both the local and national level. As the director of Community Works in Boston Massachusetts, she worked closely with Federal, State, and City campaign leadership to help implement fair and equitable campaigns for all participants. She also worked with over 50 private businesses and local universities to support their campaign activities.
As the director of the National Alliance for Choice in Giving, Deb supported networking, training, and resource sharing among the 32 local environmental, social justice and women’s federations as they worked together to build their capacity and a movement for broader workplace choice. As director of NACG, Deb coordinated the development of a training institute for new federation executives, which trained more than 110 key leaders.
Deb has served as a nonprofit consultant for the last 15 years, first through Technical Assistance for Community Services (now the Nonprofit Association of Oregon), and now through her own business. Deb works with organizations on strategic planning, resource development, board development, and a variety of other organizational issues. Her approach is to work with organizations to build their capacity to identify, develop and effectively use their resources through consultation, training, and coaching. Her client base includes organizations in the northwest as well as around the country.
Clients include the State of Oregon Employees Charitable Fund Drive, where Deb serves as Team Leader and is a key part of the management team implementing the employees’ campaign which raises approximately $1 million a year in support of 11 statewide funds and federations and 16 local United Way organizations. Deb has also provided strategic planning assistance to a number of the Community Shares federations and staffing support to Community Shares USA.
Deb has served on the board of EarthShare Oregon since 1999 and served six years as the board chair. She has served on the EarthShare board since 2003 and has been a member of the Affiliations Committee and Executive Committee.
One of the great opportunities for movement on energy priorities in Congress in the next two years lay in energy efficiency legislation. While bipartisan agreement is hard to come by these days, energy efficiency is an issue primed for progress.
Two new efforts to undermine ongoing planning efforts to conserve sage brush habitat and block protections that may be needed for the greater sage grouse have come out of Congress in the past two weeks.
1. Protecting Our Waterways: Because animals are so densely packed on today’s industrial farms, they produce more manure than can be absorbed by the land as fertilizer. The runoff from these facilities often leaks into nearby rivers and streams.
2. Halting Habitat Destruction: According to the Center for Biological Diversity, reducing meat consumption is one of the best ways to save endangered species.
3. Saving Water: Animal agriculture uses a whopping 56% of water in the United States. In fact, just one hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce—the equivalent of 2 months’ worth of showers.
4. Preventing Deforestation: Animal agriculture is culpable for nearly 91% of Amazon destruction, according to The World Bank.
5. Saving the Oceans: As far as we’re concerned, any fishing is overfishing; however, a census of marine life completed in 2010 estimated that over 90% of large fish had vanished from the oceans, primarily because of overfishing.
6. Protecting Wildlife: Thousands of wild animals, including bears, coyotes, and foxes, are killed because they are seen as a threat to the livestock industry.
7. Battling Climate Change: Climate change is easily one of the biggest issues threatening our very existence on the planet. By ditching meat and other animal products, everyone can significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
Clearly, leaving meat off our plates is the best thing we can do for the planet. For more information on adopting a sustainable vegan diet, click here.
[ Outdoor Recreation and Local Government Groups Urge Congress to Keep Trails Open in National Forests; Bipartisan bill would reduce maintenance backlog ]
The legislation was introduced today in the United States Senate by Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and is identical to a House version introduced earlier this year by Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN).
An industry-backed bill changing the way the federal government regulates dangerous chemicals won’t do enough to protect Pennsylvania families, a coalition of consumer watchdogs say.
Senate Bill 697, also known as the Vitter-Udall bill, is being considered by a Senate committee – but the legislation is also drawing criticism from public health advocates, environmental groups and chemical workers’ unions.
Andy Igrejas, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, says in too many cases it would tie the hands of the EPA – and would largely prevent states from doing what the EPA can’t.
“The legislation does not adequately reform the federal law,” says Igrejas. “But at the same time, it would chill state activity, which has been the main thing that has been protecting the public from toxic chemicals for the last 30 years.”
The watchdog coalition says slow safety testing and grandfathering under the current law has resulted in 62,000 chemicals being sold on the marketplace despite unknown impacts. According to the coalition, the EPA would only test a handful of these substances in the years after this bill became law.
That scenario concerns Maureen Swanson, a mother and the director of the Healthy Children Project for the Learning Disabilities Association of America.
“Flame-retardant chemicals are extremely dangerous to brain development,” says Swanson. “Under this bill, EPA would not be able to act swiftly and get those chemicals out of our products.”
Senator Bob Casey has not signed on as a sponsor of the bill, but Igrejas says pressure and donations from the industry have swayed many senators.
“The two largest recipients of campaign contributions in the last year were the two sponsors of this bill,” he says. “The chemical industry’s primary champion in Congress, Senator David Vitter from Louisiana, and also Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, who’s a Democrat.”
Chemical regulation reform has been gridlocked for years, so watchdog groups say the public is now subject to exposure due to the huge backlog of untested chemicals.
While supporters say the bill is intended to deal with that issue, critics say it was largely written on industry terms – the result of lobbying and campaign spending by chemical manufacturers.
Source: Dan Heyman, Keystone State News Connection
The 114th U.S. Congress gets a failing grade from conservation and environmental groups for the lawmakers’ first four months of the session.
The Climate Action Campaign, Defenders of Wildlife, The Wilderness Society, Clean Water Action – among others – have tallied a report card for the Republican-led Congress under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner.
Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, says the lawmakers haven’t done much of anything to protect land, water or wildlife, or to fight climate change.
“It’s an F from our perspective,” Karpinski states. “Polluters and their allies in Congress, who invested over $700 million in this new Congress, are doing all they can to try to wreck with our public health protections and destroy the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.”
Congressional Republicans say they are trying to promote growth by easing regulations. But critics contend GOP lawmakers are helping the corporations that have been major campaign donors.
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed stronger protections for drinking water and limits on carbon pollution from power plants, and GOP lawmakers have tried – so far, unsuccessfully – to stop the agency.
Polls show strong national support for action to slow climate change, even among Republican voters.
Karpinski says under McConnell, party members seem to be answering to the big-money donors in the fossil fuel industries.
“EPA’s mission is to protect our health, protect our air, protect our water,” he stresses. “They’re moving forward with historic steps – and Sen. McConnell is trying to block them.”
Karpinski accuses Republicans in Congress of trying to undermine some bedrock conservation laws – threatening a longtime consensus that’s protected the national parks and forests, wildlife refuges and federal wilderness.
Ed Zahniser is the son of Howard Zahniser, the Pennsylvania conservationist and principal author of the Wilderness Act. He says the Act has preserved what are now some of the nation’s greatest treasures – but he thinks today, it would not have passed.
“One could hardly think of a vote today – even on motherhood or apple pie – that would result in a vote of 370-some to one in the House, and 78 to 12 in the Senate,” Ed Zahniser says.
Source: Dan Heyman, Keystone State News Connection