EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists https://www.environews.tv The Final Frontier of Investigative Reporting Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:48:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 21904165 ‘Zombie Deer’ Apocalypse: Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease Exploding Across U.S., New Data Reveals https://www.environews.tv/041718-zombie-deer-apocalypse-fatal-chronic-wasting-disease-exploding-across-u-s-new-data-reveals/ https://www.environews.tv/041718-zombie-deer-apocalypse-fatal-chronic-wasting-disease-exploding-across-u-s-new-data-reveals/#comments Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:14:49 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15372 (EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — From Alaska to Florida, states are bracing for the spread of chronic wasting disease, or CWD, an incurable and inevitably fatal malady that afflicts deer, elk, moose, and caribou. It is now found in 25 states, two provinces in Canada, as well as…

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(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — From Alaska to Florida, states are bracing for the spread of chronic wasting disease, or CWD, an incurable and inevitably fatal malady that afflicts deer, elk, moose, and caribou. It is now found in 25 states, two provinces in Canada, as well as Norway, Finland, and South Korea.

Testing of animals killed during the most recent hunting season, from fall 2017 to early winter 2018, showed CWD appearing in places it’s never been seen before. Two mule deer killed in two different locations in Montana in October 2017 tested positive for CWD, representing the first time the disease has been detected in the wild there. On January 25, 2018, a white-tailed deer found dead in Mississippi tested positive, marking the first case in that state.

It’s a disease that “continues its slow, methodical progression,” Matt Dunfee, Project Coordinator at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, told EnviroNews during an in-depth interview. “Managing this disease is incredibly difficult.”

Neither bacteria nor virus are responsible for chronic wasting disease. Often called the “zombie deer disease” for its effect on the animals’ motor skills, it is caused by abnormal, misfolded proteins called prions (pronounced: pronounced: \ˈprī-än\, or pree-on). CWD primarily affects brain and spinal tissue, leading to a long, slow, neural degeneration. Infected animals also lose weight and may act strangely.

Chronic wasting disease is part of a class of illnesses known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), the most notorious of which is mad cow disease. To date, no humans are known to have contracted illness related to CWD, but recent research reported by EnviroNews shows that it is possible.

Deer With Chronic Wasting Disease

The spread of CWD worries wildlife managers, hunters and conservationists alike. Immediately after finding infected deer last fall, Montana established two special deer hunts to test additional animals.

“The reason for those special hunts [was] solely to determine the prevalence of disease in the herds,” said John Vore, Game Management Bureau Chief with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Eight additional animals near Bridger tested positive, but results are still coming in.

The sudden appearance of the disease in Montana prompted neighboring states Oregon and Washington, which are still officially CWD-free, to prohibit bringing animals or animal parts from the Big Sky state. It also led to a brouhaha with Wyoming — a state which has lost 19 percent of its mule deer in one herd, while suffering a 10 percent annual decline from 2003 to 2010 of a white-tailed deer herd to CWD.

Wyoming CWD Map

Montana’s Fish and Wildlife Commission asked Wyoming to stop feeding elk in the wintertime. In a December 7, 2017 letter to his counterpart at the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, Chairman Dan Vermillion wrote, “As westerners, we all intimately understand that feeding wildlife is a mistake and ultimately harms the very wildlife we all cherish.” Vore said the letter has prompted conversations in both states. He added, “Anytime where you artificially congregate animals like that it’s just a breeding ground for not only CWD but all kinds of diseases.”

Wyoming began elk feeding unusually early last year, and the state resumed wolf hunting after the Trump Administration removed the species from protection under the Endangered Species Act on April 25, 2017. Despite the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission’s own 2016 presentation that reads, “Modeling suggests selective wolf predation may decrease CWD prevalence,” the state allowed the killing of 76 wolves out of a population of only 380.

Michigan found itself with so many deer heads to test during the 2017 hunting season that they were lined up on a laboratory floor like a spooky animal factory waiting for bodies. As the disease spread north in the state, test results were delayed due to a nationwide shortage of CWD testing kits.

In Wisconsin, another hotspot for chronic wasting disease, testing declined from 30,271 animals in 2006 to just 9,685 in 2017 – even though the number of infected deer has risen, with positives jumping from 205 to 593 during this period. Local journalist Ron Seely told Wisconsin Public Television, “The [Department of Natural Resources] isn’t collecting enough data in a scientific way.” Meanwhile, CWD has just spread to Milwaukee County, home to almost one million people.

Testing Deer for Chronic Wasting

2017 saw the spread of chronic wasting disease in many states. Positive tests for CWD in Pennsylvania deer doubled while Lancaster County saw its first recorded infection. In Arkansas, 70 new cases of CWD were found and the disease spread to three new counties. The first case of CWD in southern Iowa was confirmed, while Nebraska found chronic wasting disease in five new counties. In South Dakota’s Wind Cave National Park, a 2017 research study found 24 percent of deer in the eastern area of the park are infected, while six percent in the western section are carriers.

Unfortunately, it’s not only the U.S. that is experiencing an increase in CWD. In Saskatchewan, Canada, testing found at least one area where 43 percent of the herd was afflicted with CWD. A 15-year old moose was found dead of chronic wasting disease in Finland, the first-ever case in that country.

The disease spreads among animals, both captive and wild, as prions are shed through feces, saliva, urine or blood. These prions can persist in the environment for very long periods of time, where healthy animals can pick up the disease from plants or soil. Studies have shown that CWD prions remain infectious in pastures for at least two years, while prions from scrapie, a related prion disease affecting sheep, remain active up to 16 years.

“The natural environment is a reservoir for prions that cause chronic wasting disease,” states a new study published December 22, 2017, in Scientific Reports. Researchers from the University of Illinois found a connection between the clay content of soil and its ability to hold onto and immobilize CWD prions. Soil acidity was also a factor. Where the soil is less than 18 percent clay and pH is greater than 6.6, the disease spreads more readily. A pH value of 7 is neutral; values below that indicate acidity, and levels above 7 are considered alkaline. The data could prove valuable to wildlife managers in the future.

The relentless spread of CWD has recently garnered the attention of federal legislators. A bipartisan bill, H.R. 4454, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), would authorize $35 million for the implementation of CWD management strategies by state and tribal wildlife and agriculture agencies. A similar Senate bill, S.2252, introduced by Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D), would allocate $60 million.

“In Montana, hunting is a part of our way of life because it helps provide our families with food, manage our wildlife, and sustain rural economies,” Tester said in a statement. “It is critically important that we stop the spread of chronic wasting disease before it diminishes our big-game herds and undercuts our outdoor economy.”

Vore told EnviroNews that additional resources “would help Montana a lot” but added that he is concerned about the long term. Right now, he said that CWD is top-of-mind in the state, with residents and hunters understanding the threat, but he’s seen other states where people lose interest after a time. “We need to keep CWD management on people’s minds.”

Chronic wasting disease “presents greater challenges than anything we’ve ever seen,” said Darrel Rowledge, Director of the Alliance for Public Wildlife. It’s an issue that goes beyond the hunting and wildlife community. It has the potential to infect humans and there are emerging concerns about its potential impact on agriculture.

With chronic wasting disease moving relentlessly across state lines, even areas far from current infections may not be safe. The nearest infected area to Alaska is in Alberta, Canada, but the state’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Bob Gerlach, is sounding the alarm. And with Mississippi now showing CWD-infected deer, Florida is warning hunters to be on the lookout.

Dunfee, who is a conservation biologist and a hunter, sees the growing involvement of organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation, which supports Tester’s bill, as good news for improved public awareness and political action. “I’m passionate about our wildlife resources, and I want to see better, more science-based management techniques for CWD.”

OTHER REPORTS ON PRION DISEASE BY ENVIRONEWS:

HEALTH ADVISORY: Venison, Elk May No Longer Be Safe to Eat – Study: Deadly Chronic Wasting Disease Could be Moving to Humans

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Alberta, Canada – Early results from an ongoing study testing human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic among deer and elk, has led Health Canada to warn “that CWD has the potential to infect humans.” Chronic wasting disease is an…

Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk

(EnviroNews Colorado) – A Colorado State University scientist is investigating the role wild horses may play in slowing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a 100 percent fatal and contagious brain-destroying infection, ravaging the country’s deer and elk herds. The findings take on increased significance considering recent…

Invasion of the Zombie Elk – Chronic Wasting Disease Spreading Fast, Nearing Yellowstone Herds

(EnviroNews Nature) – In the late 1980s, farmers in Great Britain started to notice their cows stumbling around, acting strangely and losing weight. The problem got continually worse, until in 1993, more than 36,000 cattle in the UK died in a single year from mad cow disease. Prior…

PRION BOMBS! – Physicians Group Says Stericycle Undoubtedly Releasing Deadly Prions and Radiation

(EnviroNews Utah) – PRION: a word that many have never even heard before, but little do they know that this deadly and virulent “pest” may be lurking right on their dinner plate, or inside their cute little pets Fluffy and Rover, or even right in dear ol’ Gramma’s…

Dr. Tyler Yeates MD Calls Out Stericycle For Incinerating Deadly Brain-Attacking Prions Into the Environment – Stericycle Owns Up to it

(EnviroNews Utah) – North Salt Lake City – In a shocking admission Thursday night at a heated town hall meeting, a VP from Stericycle has admitted that the company is allowed to accept and burn deadly and arguably indestructible brain-destroying prions at its North Salt Lake incineration facility…

Dr. Brian Moench of UPHE Discusses the Potentially Deadly Burning of Prions by Stericycle Medical Incinerator

(EnviroNews Utah) – Following Stericycle’s simply flabbergasting admission last Thursday night where they acknowledged that they are allowed to accept and burn deadly and largely indestructible prions, protestors took to the streets outside one of the country’s last standing hazardous medical waste incineration plants. Prions are the malformed…

Amy Uchida, 4th Year Medical Student at the U of U, is Asked About Stericycle’s Incineration of Deadly Prions

(EnviroNews Utah) – According to documents on the Department of Environmental Quality website, Stericycle’s permit needs to be renewed by August 19, 2013. The company’s current permit expires on Feb. 19, 2014. Regg Olsen is listed as the contact at the Department of Air Quality (DAQ) in charge…

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Big Win for ‘El Lobo’: Fed. Court Strikes Down ‘Egregious’ Management Rule For Mexican Wolves https://www.environews.tv/040418-big-win-el-lobo-fed-court-strikes-egregious-management-rule-mexican-wolves/ https://www.environews.tv/040418-big-win-el-lobo-fed-court-strikes-egregious-management-rule-mexican-wolves/#respond Wed, 04 Apr 2018 16:08:24 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15356 (EnviroNews Nature) — In a win for nature fans, the United States District Court in Arizona struck down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service/USFWS) management rule for the endangered Mexican grey wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), finding that it “provides only for short-term survival of the species…

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(EnviroNews Nature) — In a win for nature fans, the United States District Court in Arizona struck down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service/USFWS) management rule for the endangered Mexican grey wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), finding that it “provides only for short-term survival of the species and fails to further the long-term recovery of the Mexican wolf in the wild.”

The litigation was filed by a coalition of conservation organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and Friends of Animals. The suit took aim at a 2015 rule, which decided the fate of the Blue Range Pack in eastern Arizona — the only wild population of Mexican wolves in the U.S.

On April 2, the Court ruled, in making its determinations, the Service ignored the “best available information” for preserving the long-term survival of the species. Specifically, the Court called the agency’s allowance for a single population of 300-325 animals to be “arbitrary and capricious,” saying the agency ignored studies showing the Blue Range Pack is of poor genetic diversity and too far from other packs in Mexico to successfully propagate.

Furthermore, the Court found that the Service’s decision to allow agency personnel to kill wolves for management objectives didn’t contain “adequate protection” for the species.

“Mexican wolves have struggled for almost a century, largely because of human efforts to eradicate the species,” said Judy Calman, staff attorney for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “These embattled, iconic animals shouldn’t also have to struggle against the very agency tasked with saving them, and we’re extremely pleased that the court agrees.”

The Court said the Service chose not to take the best science into account when it crafted the rule, and explained this was central in its ruling, stating in its opinion that the USFWS “misapplied and misinterpreted [scientific] findings in such a manner that the recovery of the species is compromised.”

Part of what the Court saw as an “egregious oversight” involved the Service using findings from 1998 instead of more recent science better representing the Mexican wolf’s current plight.

“This is not a case in which the agency was required to choose between conflicting scientific evidence,” United States District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps wrote. “On the contrary, the best available science consistently shows that recovery requires consideration of long-term impacts, particularly the subspecies’ genetic health.”

“Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the Service’s Mexican wolf reintroduction rule,” said Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center. “It’s amazing we had to go to court to prove that population caps, more killing, and less territory harms Mexican wolves, but the court made the right decision today.”

The 2015 rule will remain in place until the Service drafts a new one. The 2017 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, currently being litigated, was built partially on assumptions from the 2015 rule. It now seems possible that Monday’s ruling could factor into that lawsuit as well.

OTHER GREAT STORIES FEATURING ‘EL LOBO’ FROM ENVIRONEWS

Breaking News: Wildlife Orgs Sue Trump Admin for Failing to Protect ‘El Lobo,’ the Mexican Wolf

(EnviroNews Nature) – Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit on January 30, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Arizona against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), alleging the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by ignoring science relevant to the recovery of the beleaguered Mexican wolf (Canis…

Governments in CO/UT/NM/AZ Deliberately Derailed Mexican Wolf Recovery, Documents Reveal (Investigative Report)

(EnviroNews Colorado) – After decades of deliberation the final revision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan (the Plan) was released at the end of November, but former USFWS officials tell EnviroNews it strays far from scientists’ minimum recommendations for recovery of the…

Victory for Mexican Gray Wolves: Court Stops Injunction, Allows Releases from Captivity to Proceed

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) can continue to release Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) from captivity into the wild after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction halting the program on April 25, 2017, which conservationists say…

OTHER GREAT STORIES ABOUT WOLVES FROM ENVIRONEWS

Wyoming Wolves Stripped of Endangered Species Act Protection – Shoot-on-Sight Policy Restored

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Gray wolves (Canis lupus) will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the state of Wyoming. That was the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 3, 2017, which also happened to be…

These Species Should Be ‘Endangered’ But Aren’t Due to Political Horse Trading, Report Reveals

(EnviroNews Colorado) – Special-interest politics – not sound science – decides the fate of species on the brink of extinction in the U.S., according to a new expose’ from the Endangered Species Coalition. The report, Suppressed: How Politics Drowned Out Science for Ten Endangered Species (Suppressed), profiles ten…

It’s Done: Trump Signs HJR 69 into Law Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On April 3, 2017, President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69) into law. The legislation rescinds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2016 Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule). The Refuge Rule was enacted to protect native…

Bill Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups, Sails Through Senate to Trump’s Desk

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On March 21, 2017, in a 52-47 vote, the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69), a Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule), which has been in…

Center for Biological Diversity Sues Trump for Signing HJR 69 Allowing Slaughter of Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups

(EnviroNews USA Headline News) – Washington D.C. – The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 20, 2017, against the U.S. Department of Interior (Interior) and Secretary Ryan Zinke, after President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution…

Shocking Video Shows the Guts of HJR 69: Trump’s Alaskan Bear Cub/Wolf Pup Killing Bill

(EnviroNews Nature) – Playground, a news and media site, has produced a graphic video showing shocking hunting practices that are now legal in Alaska’s wildlife refuges. These methods, which have been called “scientifically indefensible” and “unsportsmanlike” by defenders of animal rights, include hunting bears from aircraft, killing bear…

Elk Hunting Group Wants to Expand Wolf-Killing Derby into Montana: $1,000 Bounty per Wolf

(EnviroNews Montana) – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), which has funded wolf-killing derbies in Idaho to the tune of $150,000 since 2013, is now seeking to expand its $1,000-per-kill bounty program to the neighboring state of Montana. RMEF provides funds to the Foundation for Wildlife Management (F4WM),…

WA State Stops Bloodshed After Massacring Profanity Peak Wolf Pack To Appease Cattle Ranchers

(EnviroNews Washington) – Olympia, Washington – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced October 19, 2016, that it would spare the remaining four members of the now demolished Profanity Peak Wolf Pack, after already having killed seven of its wolves (Canis lupus) to appease cattle ranchers….

Five Environmental Groups Sue USDA Over Idaho Wolf-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On June 1, 2016, five prominent environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services for killing over 650 wolves in the state of Idaho over the past decade. Wildlife Services is…

Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

Idaho Wolf-Killing Contest Killed for One More Year – Kind of…

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Facing a lawsuit from conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has revoked a permit allowing for a “predator derby” to take place on approximately three million acres of public lands in north-central Idaho near the town of Salmon. The derby originally called for…

California the First to Ban Predator Prizes While Idaho Forges Ahead With Wolf-Killing Derby

(EnviroNews California) – Van Nuys, CA – Will not allowing prizes for California wildlife hunting derbies deter such events from taking place? Groups like Project Coyote certainly think so. On December 3, with a 4 to 1 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission passed a motion prohibiting…

Poll Closed: Should U.S. Government Maintain a Wolf-Killing Program? Yes or No? – View Results

(EnviroNews Polls) – In December of 2015, several environmental groups, spearheaded by WildEarth Guardians, won a pivotal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency, for its wolf-killing program in Washington State. On February 3, 2016, WildEarth Guardians, in concert with four other groups, filed…

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Wyoming Schedules Wild Bison Hunt So a Grand Total of Three Animals Can Be Culled https://www.environews.tv/033018-wyoming-schedules-wild-bison-hunt-grand-total-three-animals-can-culled/ https://www.environews.tv/033018-wyoming-schedules-wild-bison-hunt-grand-total-three-animals-can-culled/#respond Fri, 30 Mar 2018 11:45:08 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15339 (EnviroNews Wyoming) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGF) has sanctioned an upcoming bison hunt on the North Fork because the area’s population has skyrocketed to a whopping 18 animals. There will be two tags available for resident hunters and one tag for non-residents, making a grand…

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(EnviroNews Wyoming) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGF) has sanctioned an upcoming bison hunt on the North Fork because the area’s population has skyrocketed to a whopping 18 animals. There will be two tags available for resident hunters and one tag for non-residents, making a grand total of three animals to be culled. The state’s preferred number of bison for the area is 15.

“The second Wyoming has just a few animals over their ‘goal,’ they start killing,” said Bethany Cotton, Wildlife Program Director at WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), in an email to EnviroNews.

The bison season will run from September 1 to November 1, 2018. Many residents in the North Fork area do not like the buffalo because they can destroy fences and be a road hazard.

At a meeting at Big Horn Federal Savings Bank on March 24, WGF biologist Tony Mong from Cody Region, said when a vehicle hits a 1500-pound bison, “it’s a mess.” The buffalo on the North Fork are older males “who got tired of the fast pace of living in Yellowstone.” According to Mong, “they’re older bulls kind of living on their own.” This will be the first time “in recent memory” people will be able to hunt bison in the North Fork.

Ranchers also fear the bison carry disease that may be contagious to their cattle. As EnviroNews reported earlier this year, there are no documented cases of brucellosis being transmitted from bison to cattle in the wild.

Wyoming has also announced grizzly bear hunts for 2018 — the first such hunt in over 40 years. Hunters will be allowed to kill 10 male and 2 female grizzlies in the tri-state Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA) in the Yellowstone region, and an additional 12 grizzlies outside that area. The Cowboy State will allow the hunting of grey wolves again this year too. Idaho, another state in the DMA, is currently considering opening hunting season for just one male grizzly bear.

The American bison (bison bison) is the state mammal for Wyoming and the U.S. National mammal. Tens of millions of bison once roamed the American prairies. Now, they are only found in the wild in a few places with about 5,000 specimens spanning two different herds in the Yellowstone area.

RELATED NEWS FROM ENVIRONEWS

Idaho to Open Grizzly Hunting Season So Yokels Can Kill One Male Bear in Name of ‘Management’

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On March 22, 2018, Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to direct the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to collect comments on a proposed grizzly bear hunting season. Idaho would allow all hunters together to shoot a grand total of…

‘Fantastic Victory’ for Yellowstone Bison as Court Rules USFWS Must Reconsider ESA Protection

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – In what wildlife and conservation organizations are calling a “fantastic victory,” on Feb. 1, 2018, Federal Judge Christopher Cooper ruled U.S. wildlife officials must reconsider their 2015 decision to deny Yellowstone bison protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to the opinion written by…

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(EnviroNews Wyoming) – We’ve taken notice lately that the EnviroNews national newsfeed has been a bit gloomy and has been comprised of mostly gutsy environmental “trench warfare”, and heated protests over nasty industrial source polluters. Take a break from the doom and gloom of the everyday environmental battles…

National Park Service Plans Large Bison Hunt to Thin Arizona’s Grand Canyon Herd

(EnviroNews Arizona) – North Rim, Arizona – The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) gave its final approval this month for a bison (Bison bison) hunt and relocation program that would drastically thin a 600-animal herd, residing in the park’s North Rim, to less than 200 by next year….

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Idaho to Open Grizzly Hunting Season So Yokels Can Kill One Male Bear in Name of ‘Management’ https://www.environews.tv/032918-idaho-open-grizzly-hunting-season-yokels-can-kill-one-male-bear-name-management/ https://www.environews.tv/032918-idaho-open-grizzly-hunting-season-yokels-can-kill-one-male-bear-name-management/#respond Thu, 29 Mar 2018 12:08:12 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15321 (EnviroNews Idaho) — Boise, Idaho — On March 22, 2018, Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to direct the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to collect comments on a proposed grizzly bear hunting season. Idaho would allow all hunters together to shoot a grand total of…

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(EnviroNews Idaho) — Boise, Idaho — On March 22, 2018, Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to direct the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to collect comments on a proposed grizzly bear hunting season. Idaho would allow all hunters together to shoot a grand total of one (1) male grizzly bear (yes, you did read that right), but plans to make grizzly season official are moving forward nonetheless.

Where and when people will be able to comment on the proposed hunting season has yet to be announced. Once comments are received, the IDFG is expected to use them in formulating a hunting plan for the Commission to consider.

“Idaho’s plan to open a grizzly bear hunting season is extremely reckless and dangerous,” Kelly Nokes, a staff attorney with WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), told EnviroNews. “Aside from the fact that Idaho will almost certainly violate its prior commitments under the delisting rule by opening an entire trophy hunting season for only one male grizzly bear, the State is blatantly disregarding the important role its remote wild landscapes play in fostering necessary connectivity amongst isolated grizzly bear populations.”

This hunt, and the one scheduled in Wyoming, would be the first such events in the lower-48 states since 1975 when grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) were protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Last year, on the recommendation of the Obama Administration in 2016, the grizzly was removed from the list of protected animals, allowing states to manage the populations themselves.

“It’s disappointing that another state is moving in the direction of hunting grizzly bears,” Andrea Santarsiere, Senior Attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center), told the AP. She also questioned the ability of hunters in Idaho to hunt just one male bear and not shoot any females.

The Center is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by wildlife advocates and Native Americans in an effort to restore protections for grizzlies under the ESA. According to The Missoulan, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula has “denied the federal government’s request to delay proceedings in six lawsuits” and “rejected requests by three different [environmental] groups to decide the case based on technicalities” in an effort to speed up the judicial process before the Idaho and Wyoming hunting seasons start. Judge Christensen has asked that arguments be reduced to a single set of briefs for a hearing in August.

“I don’t think we always make our best decisions, our best briefs or our best arguments in the context of emergency injunctive relief motions,” U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said in Missoula on March 13, 2018. “It’s not efficient to deal with issues of this importance in the context of restraining orders.”

Using a formula based on a state’s terrain in the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA) around Yellowstone National Park, and the mortality rates of grizzly bears, Montana, which is not looking to open a grizzly hunting season could allow six males to be killed, while Wyoming has opened up the opportunity to shoot 24 grizzlies (10 male bears and 2 females within the DMA and 12 outside the DMA). Toby Boudreau, Assistant Wildlife Chief for the IDFG, said Idaho wasn’t looking at hunting in the area outside the DMA this year. About 700 grizzlies live in Yellowstone and the DMA.

Boudreau also told the AP most hunters would prefer to hunt male bears, but the inadvertent killing of a female bear in the DMA would be subtracted from next year’s planned hunts in Wyoming and Idaho. Multiple killings may lead to the end of hunting seasons altogether.

“This irresponsible hunt will all but prohibit grizzly bears from reclaiming key historic habitats, such as in the Bitterroot Ecosystem. Such careless action provides a concrete example of why federal protections are so critically important for this still struggling iconic species,” Nokes concluded to EnviroNews.

As a subspecies of the brown bear, the grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis) is not considered threatened or endangered internationally because of the large numbers of bears in Alaska and other areas. According to National Geographic, grizzlies can live up to 25 years in the wild, reach about 8 feet (2.5 m) in length and weigh up to 800 pounds (363 kg).

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Recap: Students, Activists, Rock Downtown Oakland at March for Our Lives (Raw Video Coverage) https://www.environews.tv/032818-recap-students-activists-rock-downtown-oakland-at-march-for-our-lives-raw-video-coverage/ https://www.environews.tv/032818-recap-students-activists-rock-downtown-oakland-at-march-for-our-lives-raw-video-coverage/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 13:48:54 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15297 (EnviroNews California) — Oakland, CA — Students, poets, singers and activists took to the podium on March 25, 2018, at the historic March for Our Lives demonstration in Oakland, California. The event was attended by over 3,000 people and was a vibrant part of what news agencies and…

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(EnviroNews California) — Oakland, CA — Students, poets, singers and activists took to the podium on March 25, 2018, at the historic March for Our Lives demonstration in Oakland, California. The event was attended by over 3,000 people and was a vibrant part of what news agencies and research firms are classifying as one of the largest protests in the history of the United States.

The featured video in this story shows Ivan Garcia who turned out to represent the Oakland Youth Advisory Commission. He started off by calling by name, all 17 of the students gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month.

“Oftentimes we fail to understand that these victims were just like us,” Garcia asserted. “They were young people who went to school every single day, just like us… They had to do their homework every night, just like us. They laughed, they cried and they had their own things that they were passionate about, just like us.”

“I don’t want my sister to grow up in a country that normalizes mass shootings — especially in schools,” Garcia continued, adding, “It is our duty to rise up when people in power do not.”

Also amongst the speakers was Sevan Apollo, a local poet who helped organize the event as well. He used his skills with words and letters to make a point: “To the ones who oppose us: Maybe there’s a reason why ‘AR-15’ backwards looks a lot like ‘NRA’ — but not today.”

Apollo continued:

Our safety is more important than your profits. There is no return on investment when it comes to human life. Our self worth is more important than your net worth. Our children’s lives are not for sale, so we’re no longer buying your agenda. We no longer can afford to.

“It’s amazing that people who love guns are surprised that we are now triggered,” Apollo declared. “So, let me hammer this point, because there is something that you need to know: The four chambers of our hearts is more powerful than the chambers in your guns!”

Apollo wasn’t the only poet taking the podium though. 15-year-old Samuel Getachew threw down the gauntlet as well, making one point crystal clear: “Black Lives Matter.” In few other places, could this phrase (and movement), strike more of a chord than in Northern California, where only days earlier the area had witnessed one of the most gruesome police attacks on an unarmed, innocent black man in recent memory. And Getachew made sure people, and the media, heard the name of that man one more time:

Last Sunday, Stophon Clark was shot 20 times by police officers while standing in his grandparents’ backyard in Sacramento. The police thought his cell phone was a gun. It is impossible to talk about guns in America without talking about the criminalization of black bodies.

“I thought a lot about the Second Amendment, and how it doesn’t seem to quite apply to everyone, and how a black man with a gun is a threat, but a white man with a gun is a patriot,” Getachew said. “And I find it fascinating how the right to bear arms comes second only to free speech, but is 11 amendments above outlawing slavery.”

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93% of Bottled Water Tested in ‘Shocking’ Study Tainted With Microplastics — View List of Brands Accused https://www.environews.tv/032218-study-93-bottled-water-contaminated-microplastics-view-list-culprit-brands/ https://www.environews.tv/032218-study-93-bottled-water-contaminated-microplastics-view-list-culprit-brands/#respond Thu, 22 Mar 2018 18:03:08 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15275 (EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — Countless millions of people purchase bottled water believing it’s healthier and safer to drink than tap water. In 2015, the average American consumed about 37 gallons of bottled water, according to bottledwater.org. But now, a new report out of the State University…

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(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — Countless millions of people purchase bottled water believing it’s healthier and safer to drink than tap water. In 2015, the average American consumed about 37 gallons of bottled water, according to bottledwater.org. But now, a new report out of the State University of New York at Fredonia, released in March 2018, found 93 percent of the bottled water it tested was contaminated with microplastics, leaving many consumers stunned.

“This is shocking,” Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program Erik Solheim told Orb Media (Orb). “Please name one human being on the entire planet who wants plastic in his or her bottle.”

Commissioned by the nonprofit journalism project Orb Media, researchers examined 259 bottles from 11 brands with 27 lots. According to the study, a lot is “an identification number assigned by a manufacturer to a particular production unit.” The bottles came from 19 locations in 9 different countries and included international brands: Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestlé Pure Life, and San Pellegrino; and national brands: Aqua (Indonesia), Bisleri (India), Epura (Mexico), Gerolsteiner (Germany), Minalba (Brazil), and Wahaha (China).

“I think [the contamination] is coming through the process of bottling the water. I think that most of the plastic that we are seeing is coming from the bottle itself. It is coming from the cap; it is coming from the industrial process of bottling the water,” lead researcher Sherri Mason told Agence France Press (AFP).

The study reports an “average of 10.4 microplastic particles >100 um per liter of bottled water,” which is “twice as much as [was measured in a] previous study on tap water.” That study was also commissioned by Orb. In response to the new study, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it would review the risks of plastic in drinking water, which the organization says up to this point are still relatively unknown with regards to the microplastics found in bottled water.

“There are connections to increases in certain kinds of cancer, lower sperm [counts], [and] increases in conditions like ADHD and autism,” Mason told AFP. “We know that they are connected to these synthetic chemicals in the environment, and we know that plastics are providing kind of a means to get those chemicals into our bodies.”

Microplastics have also been found in beer, fish, and sea salt and no one knows at this point what happens to them in the body. However, a spokeswoman for the UK Food Standards Agency told The Independent it was unlikely the amount of microplastics found in the water would harm consumers. Still, people are concerned about bioaccumulation over time in people who drink bottled water regularly.

“There is no scientific consensus on testing methodology or the potential health impacts of microplastic particles. Therefore, this study’s findings do nothing more than unnecessarily scare consumers,” the International Bottled Water Association wrote in a press release. “Consumers can remain confident that bottled water products, like all food and beverages, are strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, thus, are safe for consumption.”

The report has not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal yet, which leaves it open to criticism. Still, with recent studies by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) showing 170 million homes in the U.S. are drinking water contaminated with radiation, while 250 million Americans are consuming Chromium 6 with their water, many people are wondering where to turn to get safe, pure H2O.

“We don’t even know all the chemicals in plastics,” Jane Muncke, Managing Director of the Food Packaging Forum, told Orb. “There’s so many unknowns here.” According to Muncke, the plastics could be getting lodged in bodily tissue.

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Want Some Salt With Your Plastic? – Study: 17 of 17 Sea Salt Brands Littered With Petrochemicals

(EnviroNews World News) – A study published April 6, 2017, in Nature.com’s Scientific Reports, examined 17 sea salt brands from eight different countries and found chemical impurities in all 17 samples. The primary contaminants include microplastics and pigments associated with textile, rubber and fiberglass products. The study was…

(EnviroNews World News) – Zooplankton have been captured on film feasting on plastic microbeads for the first time New Scientist magazine has reported. The entire three hour event took place inside a single drop of water and was taped under the microscope by Five Films. The unique footage…

(EnviroNews World News) – There can be little dispute: the world is in a plastic conundrum – and the oceans are being hardest hit. Being filled with plastic bags, water bottles, lighters, milk cartons, and countless other plastic consumer items at a flabbergasting pace, things aren’t looking good…

(EnviroNews California) – Lorin Trodderman of the Santa Cruz, California-based company Blue Lotus takes us through a tale of plastic pandemonium as he explains the devastation of plastic bags in our eco system, while simultaneously offering a simple and empowering solution. In this educational interview, Trodderman eloquently explains…

(EnviroNews World News) – It’s no secret the world’s oceans are now completely littered with plastic due to human activities. By now, many people have also been made aware of the gigantic gyres in the midst of the oceans, where plastic is whirled by currents into massive “garbage…

(EnviroNews World News) – First a plastic straw, and now a large plastic fork. These are two of the objects removed from the nostrils of ancient endangered sea turtles this year by researchers. On December 6, 2015, Nathan J. Robinson, Field Director of The Leatherback Trust, was busy…

(EnviroNews California) – Monte Rio, California – Sonoma County, California is considered one of the most progressive, green and environmentally friendly counties in the United States, but a community Easter egg hunt that went down on March 26, 2016, called the area’s green reputation into question. EnviroKids correspondent…

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Chromium 6, the ‘Erin Brockovich Carcinogen,’ Now in the Drinking Water of 250m Americans, Report Reveals

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – Hexavalent chromium (chromium 6), nicknamed the “Erin Brockovich Carcinogen,” is said to “[cause] cancer when ingested at even extraordinarily low levels.” Created as a byproduct from numerous industrial activities, the substance is now in the drinking water of 250…

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – More than 170 million Americans, or around 52 percent of the entire population, may be at risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the country’s leading water testing organizations. The EWG published its…

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WY Legislature Passes Sneaky End-of-Session ALEC Bill Criminalizing Enviro, Pipeline Protests https://www.environews.tv/031618-wy-legislature-passes-sneaky-end-session-alec-bill-criminalizing-enviro-pipeline-protests/ https://www.environews.tv/031618-wy-legislature-passes-sneaky-end-session-alec-bill-criminalizing-enviro-pipeline-protests/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 09:07:05 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15247 (EnviroNews Wyoming) — Cheyenne, Wyoming — EDITOR’S UPDATE: In a surprising move, It was announced that Governor Matt Mead has vetoed this controversial bill, and lawmakers were unable to gather the necessary votes to overturn the veto. The original story on SF0074 is below: As the Wyoming legislative…

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(EnviroNews Wyoming) — Cheyenne, Wyoming — EDITOR’S UPDATE: In a surprising move, It was announced that Governor Matt Mead has vetoed this controversial bill, and lawmakers were unable to gather the necessary votes to overturn the veto. The original story on SF0074 is below:

As the Wyoming legislative session came to a close on March 10, 2018, Senate File 0074 (SF0074), also called the “Critical Infrastructure Bill,” sponsored by State Senator Leland Christensen (R — Teton County), passed the Wyoming House with a vote of 36-23. Called “perhaps the most hotly debated bill in the session” by the Jackson Hole News and Guide (JHNG), the bill levies heavy fines between $1,000 and $100,000 against anyone caught knowingly trespassing on, or impeding access to, “critical infrastructure” sites. The monetary penalties will also be accompanied by up to 10 years in jail.

“[The Critical Infrastructure Bill] targets unarmed, peaceful protestors at oil and gas pipelines, dams, and trans-basin water diversions,’’ wrote the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) in a Facebook post.

In the first version of the bill, fines would have been much greater — between $10,000 and $1,000,000. Non-profits, including the Powder River Basin Resource Council, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Wyoming Outdoor Council and the AFL-CIO, complained alleging First Amendment violations, which convinced the Legislature to amend the bill. That was one of at least 10 amendments required to get the bill to pass the House.

“This was where the big fight came down to in the House,” Rep. Andy Schwartz (D — Teton) told the JHNG. “All the ranchers were saying, ‘I’ve got critical infrastructure on my property and this bill is so badly written I don’t know what I can and can’t do.’ What if you’ve got a pipeline running through your property and 1,000 head of cattle. What happens if the cows damage something?”

Infrastructure sites protected by the bill include pipelines, power plants, refineries, railroad tracks, water treatment and telecommunication facilities. The bill has now moved on to Governor Matt Mead, who opponents are encouraging to veto the bill.

“We need to tighten up security on these facilities significantly,” Christensen told the JHNG. “As a nationwide provider of electricity, oil, and gas, an attack on these facilities could have national repercussions that would greatly affect Wyoming’s economy.”

Co-sponsor, State Senator Ogden Driskill (R — Devils Tower), told the Casper Star Tribune he couldn’t remember any attacks on “critical infrastructure,” but he believes that Wyoming is vulnerable, citing current trespassing laws with fines between $250 and $700, as being too weak to deter acts of sabotage.

Opponents of the bill see SF0074 as a way to keep people from protesting and as a reaction to North Dakota’s Standing Rock demonstration over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Its provision targeting organizations that support protests could make NGOs less likely to send supplies to protestors.

According to Wyofile, Christensen said business interests and national law enforcement groups proposed the bill. However, Wyofile points out “Its language mirrors model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).” One of ALEC’s bills has the same structure and wording as much of SF0074, including the title “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act.” According to Counterpunch, “two of the bill sponsors of SF0074, Republican [State] Senators Eli Bebout and Nathan Winters, are ALEC members.”

“What’s raising red flags for us is that it goes beyond to try and chill free speech or rope organizations into being vulnerable to some kind of unjust accusation we would have to defend against,” Jill Morrison, an organizer with the Powder River Basin Resource Council told the Casper Star Tribune.

In an email, Sierra Club Wyoming Chapter Director Connie Wilbert wrote, the bill is “explicitly designed to crush public opposition to projects like the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, by preventing the kind of protests that occurred at Standing Rock.”

The bill was sent out of committee after an unusual deadline extension, which many in the legislature didn’t even know was possible and thought made “a mockery of the democratic system” according to the JHNG. SF0074 first passed the Wyoming Senate with a 25-5 vote before it went to the House.

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Utah Tribes Demand Cabinet Position, Lawmaker Breaks into Tears over Mistreatment of Natives https://www.environews.tv/031218-utah-tribes-demand-cabinet-position-lawmaker-breaks-tears-mistreatment-natives/ https://www.environews.tv/031218-utah-tribes-demand-cabinet-position-lawmaker-breaks-tears-mistreatment-natives/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 11:39:12 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15200 (EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Amidst frustration over a recent lack of progress on Native American concerns, several tribal leaders aligned with representatives of the Utah House Minority in an effort to advance the discussion. Their demand was simple: they want to see the Director…

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(EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Amidst frustration over a recent lack of progress on Native American concerns, several tribal leaders aligned with representatives of the Utah House Minority in an effort to advance the discussion. Their demand was simple: they want to see the Director of Utah’s Division of Indian Affairs (UDIA), Shirlee Silversmith, elevated to a full gubernatorial cabinet position, “rather than [just] a secondary level position.”

Alongside other tribal leaders, Virgil Johnson, an elder from the Goshute tribe in western Utah, spoke of parity between tribes and state government, and as an example, pointed to places like Washington, Nebraska and New Mexico where gubernatorial cabinet-level positions already exist.

In the past, Utah’s Division of Indian Affairs has administered educational programs, housing assistance, and economic development in cooperation with the federal government, to address the specific needs and concerns of Utah’s Native people. At the March 6 press conference, a coalition of advocacy groups, including the League of Native American Voters, Utah Diné Bikéyah and the Utah Tribal Association, joined in the effort as well — all hoping to increase the power of Native voices in Utah’s government.

While endorsing more involvement and management interaction, Representative Mark Wheatley, (Democrat – Murray, SL County) explained his own history with the Utah Native American Consortium of the early 70’s. Wheatley called for a cabinet-level position; just like exists in other western states. “It is shameful that we have individuals living, in my terms, in third-world conditions,” he said. Wheatley is a member of the Utah House Native American Legislative Liaison Committee.

Joining Wheatley from the Minority block, Representative Susan Duckworth (Democrat — Western SL County) was moved to tears by what she described as a special relationship with her Native friends, adding she felt a “quiet reverence” when in their presence. She described the cabinet role proposal as recognition that’s been “a long-time coming” and endorsed the idea completely.

Moroni Benally, Co-Founder of the League of Native American Voters, told EnviroNews Utah that the tribes in the state believe Governor Gary Herbert’s (R) office is open to a conversation about reorganizing the Division of Native American Affairs. He also expects, a joint standing committee will hold some “reasonable and rational discussions” toward this goal during the legislature’s interim study. Gavin Noyes, Executive Director of the Utah Diné Bikéyah also stood in solidarity with the other advocates at the press event.

Recent frustrations for tribes in the West, and particularly in Utah, include a downsizing of the Obama Administration’s Bears Ears National Monument, created in December, 2017, and located in southeastern Utah near tribal reservations in the Four Corners area. By way of an executive order, President Donald Trump has ordered his Interior Department to reduce the monument by roughly 85 percent. That move is being challenged in court by environmental groups and several tribes.

Tribes throughout the US desire a greater voice in legislative and executive branches of government. An order in Federal District Court is presently re-districting the political boundaries in San Juan County, Utah (one of the state’s poorest), where Native voters say they have been underrepresented for decades.

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(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Salt Lake City, Utah – Only hours after Donald Trump announced his administration would be significantly shrinking the boundaries for much of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah, environmental groups filed a lawsuit, naming President Donald J. Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan…

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(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) delivered an acrimonious attack directed at the members of the nonpartisan National Park Service Advisory Board (NPSAB) who resigned en masse after concluding their “requests to engage have been ignored.” Board meetings…

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WY Oil Co. Clearing Final Hurdles in Preparation to Drill Pristine Bridger-Teton National Forest https://www.environews.tv/030718-wy-oil-co-clearing-final-hurdles-preparation-drill-pristine-bridger-teton-national-forest/ https://www.environews.tv/030718-wy-oil-co-clearing-final-hurdles-preparation-drill-pristine-bridger-teton-national-forest/#respond Wed, 07 Mar 2018 11:57:01 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15221 (EnviroNews Wyoming) — Casper, Wyoming — In February 2018, the Deputy Forest Supervisor of Bridger-Teton National Forest released a set of guidelines and requirements for a proposed oil and gas drilling project within the Forest’s borders. True Oil LLC, a Casper, Wyoming-based petroleum company, wants to explore about…

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(EnviroNews Wyoming) — Casper, Wyoming — In February 2018, the Deputy Forest Supervisor of Bridger-Teton National Forest released a set of guidelines and requirements for a proposed oil and gas drilling project within the Forest’s borders. True Oil LLC, a Casper, Wyoming-based petroleum company, wants to explore about eight square miles of land for a project known as the “Lander Peak Proposal,” which is slated to include road construction, drilling and pipeline building as early as this year.

Despite a local news publication reporting on February 28 that True Oil had already been given the green light, Lisa McGee, Executive Director of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, a group that objects to the project, told EnviroNews no final decision notice has been issued. She added that the park district ranger informed her that the news reports were premature and inaccurate. However, the decision is expected this month and a Forest Service press release states that once stipulations are met, “True Oil may begin work on their exploratory activities on their two well pads.”

“True Oil is seeking to expand development in one of the best native cutthroat trout fisheries on national forest land in the entire country,” McGee said. While she approves of the new conditions, which include a requirement for baseline water-quality testing and a prohibition on diesel fracking fluids, she said, “As managers of lands all Americans own and value for multiples uses, the Forest Service could have done more to safeguard these uses.” She said she and her co-objectors will encourage additional changes be made to the approval and potential mining process, stating, “An adequate reclamation bond would be a good start.” Reclamation bonds are aimed at assuring land altered by mining will be returned to its original state.

Objections to the Lander Peak project were formally placed by The Wyoming Outdoor Council, The Wilderness Society, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Trout Unlimited and the owners of the nearby High Lonesome and Cottonwood Ranches. In their letters, these parties cited concerns about the project’s impacts on the environment and local infrastructure. The first three groups also stated in their shared objection that the Forest Service “impermissibly limited the scope of the [environmental assessment] to two wells.”

They point to a three-phase master development plan (MDP), submitted for approval by True Oil in 2010, for 40 gas wells. This MDP would start with two exploratory wells and then expand if those wells show promise. But, True Oil later withdrew that plan and submitted environmental assessments (EA) for approval on only the first two wells.

“The Forest Service complied with the request — despite public comments in 2012 and 2015 urging it to acknowledge the MDP in its analysis — and prepared an environmental assessment for just the two wells,” the groups wrote in May 2017. They suggested the Forest Service require a full-scale environmental impact statement (EIS) “that acknowledges the company’s full-field [MDP].”

In response to the objections, Derek Ibarguen, Deputy Forest Supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, issued a letter to the Big Piney district ranger outlining a series of conditions and tasks to be completed before the final decision notice is issued for True Oil. These include requirements for the inspection of equipment for invasive aquatic species, spraying for invasive plants, a road-maintenance plan, pipeline pressure tests and a prohibition of using diesel-based fracking fluids.

“Discussions during the objection process have resulted in a number of improvements to the project,” Big Piney District Ranger Don Kranendonk said.

While Wyoming’s 2009 Range Legacy Act generally forbids new oil and gas explorations in the Bridger-Teton portion of the Wyoming Range, the 4,800-acre Lander Peak leases were grandfathered in because they were issued in 1969. In 2013, the Trust for Public Land purchased and retired a series of similar preexisting energy leases owned by Plains Exploration & Production Company in the Wyoming Range.

True Oil has had three natural gas wells in production in Bridger-Teton since the 80s and another was drilled in 2001. In January 2017, the Forest Service decided to permanently protect Bridger-Teton from oil and gas drilling. However, along with being pre-leased, the Lander Peak area was not part of the areas protected in 2017.

If True Oil later seeks to punch more wells and resubmit an MDP, it will be subject to an additional National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, which could include a full EIS.

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800 Students, Grades 5-12, Shake the Walls at Utah State Capitol over Hazardous Air Pollution https://www.environews.tv/030618-students-grades-5-12-shake-walls-utah-state-capitol-hazardous-air-pollution/ https://www.environews.tv/030618-students-grades-5-12-shake-walls-utah-state-capitol-hazardous-air-pollution/#respond Tue, 06 Mar 2018 21:49:56 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15196 (EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Marching to the state capitol in Salt Lake City on a beautiful but chilly, pre-spring day, more than 800 students from campuses like Rowland Hall (one hour, three minutes, one-way on foot) the Madeleine Choir School (seventeen minutes, one-way), the…

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(EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Marching to the state capitol in Salt Lake City on a beautiful but chilly, pre-spring day, more than 800 students from campuses like Rowland Hall (one hour, three minutes, one-way on foot) the Madeleine Choir School (seventeen minutes, one-way), the McGillis School and Judge Memorial Catholic High School, brought pickets, speeches and song, as they converged on the State Capitol on Monday, March 5, to tell Utah lawmakers they’ve had enough bad air days. The event was titled, Utah Students for Clean Air Rally.

Besides offering scientific evidence to back up their demands, they also added some unique perspectives during the last week of this year’s state legislative session. “As a kid, I’m going to be breathing the bad air longer than all of the adults here, unless we start cleaning it up,” said Milo Shaw, age 12, of the Madeline Choir School. He called on Utah lawmakers to put funding into a wood-fired heater exchange program that aims to reduce particulate pollution during winter days.

For students like Milo, each “red air day” advisory for the Wasatch Front comes with mandatory confinement indoors to avoid exposure to Utah’s toxic air when it becomes trapped by atmospheric inversions and the mountainous bowl surrounding the Salt Lake Valley. Young lungs and airways reside at the very bottom of the poisonous soup – a cocktail containing nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter (PM 2.5). These substances, along with many others, collect when winter air is heavy and still, begetting a dangerous and even deadly environment.

After arriving and assembling in the Capitol Rotunda, the student speakers, along with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and state Representative Patrice Arent (D), were introduced by Brian Moench, MD, Founder of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE). As an anesthesiologist at the University of Utah Medical Center, Dr. Moench has been instrumental in exposing the medical hazards of the Beehive State’s noxious air, and he explained his views on additional public health problems that have gone unaddressed by state and federal lawmakers.


Utah has long-suffered from poor air quality and activists have been stymied recurrently by the manufacturing, mining and refining lobbies, in a state where lawmakers receive most of their election funds from special interests. Governor Gary Herbert (R) himself was called out last year for accepting more than $18,000 in campaign contributions from the coal industry. EnviroNews wanted to know what has changed in the past five years since this issue boiled to the surface, nowadays even being compared to the hideous air in Beijing. Dr. Moench asked the student mob why they were in school to begin with. He then suggested it was because they were there to learn and then went on to let them know that “by coming [there] today, they [were] making the world a better place for [themselves], for [their] family, for [their] city and for [their] state.”

Dr. Moench told the students that pollution affects the proper function of their lungs, heart, and even their brain, the organ most crucial for becoming an effective learner. He compelled them to contact their lawmakers and gave them the phone number to do it. Meanwhile, students called upon all adults to either get busy on the issue or to get out of their way.

Jessica, of Judge Memorial Catholic High School, expressed her concern as an asthma patient like 25 million others in the country. She pointed out that chronic Pulmonary obstruction disease affects 4% of Utah’s population, including people who have never used tobacco. She told the assembled audience that her research has informed her understanding that pollution, especially pervasive in the air, causes pre-term deliveries, low birth weigh, stillbirths and other avoidable complications in expecting mothers.

“People 65 years of age or older now have a higher chance of heart attacks and lung disease,” Jessica continued. She went on to say that care for the environment was a Christian value that should be addressed not just on Sunday but “lived every day.”

Olivia, age 11, from Salt Lake City’s Madeleine Choir School declared that the young generation was being denied a common resource, that of clean air, and that the students were at the Capitol on this day “not to ask, but to demand action and accountability now.” She went on to ask how all the adults have failed in making the world she is growing up in and inheriting, better for her and her generation.

Utah policymakers have not addressed specific clean air bills to this point in their 45-day legislative session, but under the leadership of a former Utah Transit Authority (UTA) board member and the retiring Speaker of the House of Representatives, the state is overhauling its approach to transit, including the adoption of more electric mass transit from the 2017 session. Last November, Governor Herbert announced that the UTA Board would be revised and that a new Transit Commission would replace the former Board. In addition, Speaker Greg Hughes declared on KSL Radio that the changes would completely overhaul the way that transportation is considered in the Beehive State.

Utah doctors like Brian Moench and the next generation of researchers, health advocates, administrators and new physicians are becoming experts in the comprehension of environmental threats to public health. They say that previous policy in Utah has been killing people and making them sick and that the epidemiology is clear even if the air is not.

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Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk https://www.environews.tv/022718-wild-horses-may-hold-solution-slowing-spread-fatal-chronic-wasting-disease-deer-elk/ https://www.environews.tv/022718-wild-horses-may-hold-solution-slowing-spread-fatal-chronic-wasting-disease-deer-elk/#comments Tue, 27 Feb 2018 10:06:34 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15128 (EnviroNews Colorado) — A Colorado State University scientist is investigating the role wild horses may play in slowing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a 100 percent fatal and contagious brain-destroying infection, ravaging the country’s deer and elk herds. The findings take on increased significance considering recent…

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(EnviroNews Colorado) — A Colorado State University scientist is investigating the role wild horses may play in slowing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a 100 percent fatal and contagious brain-destroying infection, ravaging the country’s deer and elk herds.

The findings take on increased significance considering recent research by Canadian and German scientists who found that the dreaded prion disease is easily transmitted to cynomolgus macaques (Macaca cynomolgus). Genetically speaking, this monkey is the closest thing to humans that can be used in laboratory research. Last year, Health Canada (the country’s equivalent to the Centers for Disease Control) issued a health advisory, warning that the “most prudent approach is to consider that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”

Making the situation even bleaker, the first cases of CWD were recently diagnosed in Montana and an explosion of the disease in other herds around the country, even the notion of a mitigating technique is welcome.

But can wild horse really help slow the spread of this deadly disease across the vast landscapes of the West? We explore that proposition below, but first a little background on the prion itself.

Prions: The Unkillable Killer

Prions (pronounced: \ˈprī-än\, or pree-on) are malformed proteins that cause abnormal folding of certain otherwise normal proteins in the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Lacking a cell nucleus, a prion is not a bacteria or a virus, nor is it even alive — though it behaves much like a living, reproducing pathogen.

Prion diseases include transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) in cattle, “scrapie” in sheep, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

First discovered in Colorado in 1967 in captive mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), CWD has since spread to wild and captive cervids including mule deer, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), moose (Alces alces shirasi) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Thus far, the infected animals span the U.S., two Canadian provinces, Norway, and South Korea.

Captive Elk With Chronic Wasting Disease at the Sybille Wildlife Research Unit

Symptoms of the “zombie deer disease” include severe weight loss (wasting), stumbling, and listlessness, with the disease eventually leading to death in all cases. The spread of the sickness has exploded in cervids throughout the West over the past decade, with about one-half of Colorado’s deer herds and one-third of its elk herds believed to now be infected.

CWD spreads through animal-to-animal contact and the contamination of food sources. Humans can increase the dispersal through the transportation of live animals, infected carcasses or contaminated crops; products made with cervid urine, saliva, or feces; and wildlife management practices that cluster animals together, such as federal and state agencies baiting and rounding up elk into wintertime herds.

Testing a Deer for Chronic Wasting Disease

While a single case of CWD has yet to be found in humans, the CDC and other government agencies recommend that hunters take precautions when dressing deer and to test meat before eating. Disturbingly, prion illnesses can incubate in the human body for several decades before manifesting symptoms.

For years, Dr. Mark Zabel, Associate Director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, has been trying to stop the spread of CWD. In a phone interview with EnviroNews, he said studies have shown that horses are “atypically resistant” to prions and that there has “never been any case of naturally occurring horse prion disease.”

Good News for Horses, But What About Deer and Elk?

Zabel said he has “pretty strong evidence” he hopes to publish this year demonstrating that one of the most common ways for CWD to spread is when cervids browse on vegetation contaminated from infected saliva, urine, and feces. Hence, he said it’s possible that horses can consume some of the CWD-tainted material and “interrupt that indirect transmission of CWD prions from cervid to cervid.”

There are of course many obstacles to this plan, the most obvious being whether horses could even make a dent in the sheer amount of contaminated vegetation in the forest and whether the resulting ecosystem impacts would outweigh any benefits. Another hitch is that after consuming the prions, the horses would just release them back into the environment in their manure.

Wild Horses in Wyoming — Photo: Images by Ottilia

While acknowledging the limitations of the proposal, Zabel said that, “As prions traverse through the alimentary tract of an animal… the titers decrease.” What that means is, even though the prions would still be present in a horse’s manure, after it digests them, they would be far less concentrated, as well as sequestered in a substance cervids have no interest in browsing.

With his expectations firmly in check, Zabel is curious to find out if “[by tweaking] the indirect transmission just a little bit… [if] those processes would be enough to interrupt the indirect transmission of prions, and [if] that might be enough to stop the spread across the landscape into new areas.” He has applied for funding to test the hypothesis.

If Horses Can Put a Damper on CWD Prions, What Then?

As of March 2017, a total of 59,483 wild horses (Equus ferus) roam free on public lands across 10 western states, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Since the 1971 passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM has managed these creatures through sterilization and by setting population limits in herd management areas (HMA) to “protect scarce and fragile resources in the arid West and ensure healthy animals.”

Additional specimens are rounded up and kept in pens or sold. The BLM currently houses 44,493 horses in off-range pastures, corrals, and sanctuaries and removes thousands more from the wild every year, with anywhere from half to the majority of the creatures getting adopted, though advocates offer evidence of some horses being sold for slaughter.

Wild Horse on the Western Landscape — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Author and wild horse advocate William Simpson told EnviroNews in a phone interview that he wants the BLM to release captured wild horses into the forest to gobble up vegetation that may be contaminated with prions and reduce wildfire fuels, the way he’s doing on his WildHorse Ranch in the Cascade-Siskiyou region of Northern California.

Does The Wild Horse Belong on the American Landscape?

Most studies estimate wild horses, along with dozens of other species of megafauna, such as giant sloths, wooly mammoths, and saber-tooth tigers, disappeared from North America around twelve thousand years ago — the most likely extinction culprits being rapid warming and overhunting.

Some scientists, such as Ross Macphee, curator of the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, claim that domestic horses contain much of the same genetics as their wild ancestors, with other studies corroborating that evidence.

Wild Horses Battling for Position — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Wild horse advocates assert that returning the animals to their ancestral range, including the forest, makes ecological sense. Indeed, a 2017 study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution concluded that wild horses likely lived in “post-glacial forests,” a finding backed by several other studies.

“Horses have evolved on this biome, so putting them out there is just reintroduction of a proven native species,” said Simpson, adding that this method is the only one “that [would allow] scientists to study wild native horses in their environment, abating the prion problem.”

For Simpson, it’s not only about prion mitigation. He argues wild horses can also cut back on vegetation responsible for fueling California’s recent large wildfires, though a recent body of science points to climate, rather than fuels, as the main driver.

Wild Horse — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Gary MacFarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater in Moscow, Idaho, maintains that releasing horses in public forests would do more harm than good. “I think [the introduction of horses is] kind of a manipulation of the national forests and I don’t think it’s right, especially in wilderness [areas],” MacFarlane said in a phone interview with EnviroNews. “The idea of wilderness is to have a few places where we decide not to consciously exert our will and let nature roll the dice.”

Though CWD has yet to be found in free-roaming deer or elk in Idaho, MacFarlane is concerned about the spread. However, informed by his degree in range management and the interaction between animals and the vegetation they eat, he points to what he believes to be the root cause of CWD’s spread: “[the] North American wildlife management model.”

MacFarlane asserts that over the last century, state fish and game agencies focused so heavily on propagating game species that they “didn’t look at the unintended consequences.”

Wild Horse on Western Landscape — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Combined with development and grazing that have reduced available habitat, an increasing number of deer have been forced to congregate in the few remaining winter ranges, MacFarlane explained. And it’s in those ranges that the highest disease transmission likely occurs.

Other than Simpson’s ranch and Zabel’s still unfunded proposal, there are no concrete schemes to introduce wild horses onto the land for the purpose of prion abatement or fuel reduction, and certainly not in national forests or wilderness areas.

Wild Horse — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Even if the horse angle is unfeasible, as CWD continues to spread like wildfire, perhaps Zabel’s research will open other doors that might lead to a solution.

All of the excellent photographs of wild horses featured in this article were provided by Images by Ottilia. You may visit their Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/ohmphotos/

OTHER REPORTS ON PRION DISEASE BY ENVIRONEWS:

HEALTH ADVISORY: Venison, Elk May No Longer Be Safe to Eat – Study: Deadly Chronic Wasting Disease Could be Moving to Humans

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Alberta, Canada – Early results from an ongoing study testing human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic among deer and elk, has led Health Canada to warn “that CWD has the potential to infect humans.” Chronic wasting disease is an…

(EnviroNews Nature) – In the late 1980s, farmers in Great Britain started to notice their cows stumbling around, acting strangely and losing weight. The problem got continually worse, until in 1993, more than 36,000 cattle in the UK died in a single year from mad cow disease. Prior…

(EnviroNews Utah) – PRION: a word that many have never even heard before, but little do they know that this deadly and virulent “pest” may be lurking right on their dinner plate, or inside their cute little pets Fluffy and Rover, or even right in dear ol’ Gramma’s…

(EnviroNews Utah) – North Salt Lake City – In a shocking admission Thursday night at a heated town hall meeting, a VP from Stericycle has admitted that the company is allowed to accept and burn deadly and arguably indestructible brain-destroying prions at its North Salt Lake incineration facility…

Dr. Brian Moench of UPHE Discusses the Potentially Deadly Burning of Prions by Stericycle Medical Incinerator

(EnviroNews Utah) – Following Stericycle’s simply flabbergasting admission last Thursday night where they acknowledged that they are allowed to accept and burn deadly and largely indestructible prions, protestors took to the streets outside one of the country’s last standing hazardous medical waste incineration plants. Prions are the malformed…

(EnviroNews Utah) – According to documents on the Department of Environmental Quality website, Stericycle’s permit needs to be renewed by August 19, 2013. The company’s current permit expires on Feb. 19, 2014. Regg Olsen is listed as the contact at the Department of Air Quality (DAQ) in charge…

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Stunning Report: 170m Americans Now Drinking Radioactive Water — See if Your H20 is Affected https://www.environews.tv/022218-stunning-report-170m-americans-now-drinking-radioactive-water-see-h20-affected/ https://www.environews.tv/022218-stunning-report-170m-americans-now-drinking-radioactive-water-see-h20-affected/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 17:37:27 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15084 (EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — More than 170 million Americans, or around 52 percent of the entire population, may be at risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the country’s leading water testing organizations. The EWG published its…

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(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — More than 170 million Americans, or around 52 percent of the entire population, may be at risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the country’s leading water testing organizations. The EWG published its findings based on a compendium of data collected from over 50,000 public drinking systems nationwide between 2010 and 2015. The report reveals a shocking trend: much of the nation’s drinking water “contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer.”

The EWG reported its findings after President Donald Trump re-nominated Kathleen Hartnett White as head of the White House’s own Council on Environmental Quality. In an interview in 2011, Hartnett White admitted to falsifying data while she was head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), in a scheme to show radiation levels were below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limit in communities where levels actually exceeded those thresholds. She justified the falsification because she said she “[didn’t] believe the science of [radiation-caused] health effects” espoused by the EPA. Hartnett White also said she “placed far more trust” in the work of the TCEQ, which she admitted again in 2017 ignored EPA regulations. While her name has been withdrawn at her own request, many remain concerned about the safety of America’s drinking water.

According to EWG’s research, radium is the most common radioactive element found in U.S. water systems, and the problem is pervasive coast to coast. The non-profit NGO found radium 226 and radium 228 lurking in tap water in all 50 states. The EPA on the other hand, lumps the two isotopes together when measuring. So, in at least one capacity, the EWG went a step further than the federal government in testing America’s water supplies.

Radium is naturally occurring and usually found in drinking water at levels less than one picocurie per liter. The EPA has set the maximum level for safe drinking water at five picocuries per liter. As reported repeatedly by EnviroNews, any exposure to ionizing radiation presents a risk. Radiation is also bioaccumulative, and like many other contaminants, can bioconcentrate its way up the food chain. The EPA classifies all ionizing radiation carcinogenic.

“Radium in drinking water is a nationwide problem, in the same way that radon in homes has become a primary health concern. Although radium in water is often natural, certain industries can exacerbate the problem. Oil and gas production can cause local groundwater contamination by radium,” said Marco Kaltofen in an email to EnviroNews. Kaltofen is the Affiliate Research Engineer for the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program in the Department of Physics at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on radiation in the environment.

About 20% of radium consumed through drinking water is absorbed by the body. Some of that will be excreted through the urinary tract; the rest, the body interprets as calcium, which in turn gets deposited in tissues and bones. Exposure to high levels of alpha radiation, the primary form in radium, for extended periods, may depress the immune system and cause anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, and some types of cancer.

“The most visible human-caused radium problem is at the West Lake Landfill near St. Louis, Missouri. This is an illegal radioactive waste dump where [the] EPA has recently agreed to spend more than $200,000,000 to begin removing some of the radium and other radioactive materials,” said Kaltofen, whose paper about that ongoing crisis is set to be published in the Journal of Applied Radiation and Isotopes soon.

As for the EWG, the group is not impressed with EPA standards, saying that the agency relies on science collected in the 1970s, and is more concerned with the feasibility and cost of removing contaminants from the water system, rather than placing human health first.

Bill Walker, Editor-in-Chief and Vice President with the Environmental Working Group wrote this:

Radiation in tap water is a serious health threat, especially during pregnancy. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limits for several types of radioactive elements in tap water are badly outdated. And President Trump’s nominee to be the White House environment czar rejects the need for water systems to comply even with those outdated and inadequate standards.

The EWG decided that instead of assessing the threat to public health by comparing its data to the “EPA’s 41-year-old legal limits,” that it would instead stack the findings against the “respected and influential” California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment. That agency set health goals in 2006, and maintains separate safety thresholds for both radium 226 and 228 – levels that are “hundreds of times more stringent than the EPA limit for the two isotopes combined.”

For example, where the EPA’s safety limit is five picocuries per liter, the California public health goal for radium 226 is 0.05 picocuries per liter, while for radium 228 it is just 0.019 picocuries per liter. The public health goals set by the California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment are not enforceable by law.

Radium isn’t the only contaminant the EWG found though. The group looked for six different types of radiation, including radon and uranium. The EWG also created a tap water database and interactive map to help citizens learn more about the water quality where they live and to display highlighted areas where radium is a pervasive problem.

EWG Interactive Radium Map

The EWG has been conducting extensive water testing throughout the U.S. for years. In August of 2017, EnviroNews published an article about another EWG study that revealed at least 250 million Americans are also drinking Chromium 6, a.k.a. “the Erin Brockovich carcinogen,” in their tap water. In that article, Robert Colman, a project manager with the EWG, pointed out that the contamination numbers are almost certainly even higher than their research indicated because “water from most smaller utilities and private wells usually is not tested for chromium 6,” leaving people to wonder if that may also be the case for radiation.

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(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – Hexavalent chromium (chromium 6), nicknamed the “Erin Brockovich Carcinogen,” is said to “[cause] cancer when ingested at even extraordinarily low levels.” Created as a byproduct from numerous industrial activities, the substance is now in the drinking water of 250…

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(EnviroNews World News) – Fukushima Prefecture, Japan – On February 5, 2018, a mere seven years after a disastrous triple nuclear meltdown, Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture is once again harvesting and shipping green laver seaweed as a food product. An article in the Japan Times cited “officials” as having…

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It’s Finally Here: Radioactive Plume From Fukushima Makes Landfall on America’s West Coast

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Tillamook County, Oregon – Seaborne cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint of Fukushima,” has been detected on US shores for the first time researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) said this month. WHOI is a crowd-funded science seawater sampling project, that has been monitoring…

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Enriched Uranium 235 Found Floating over Alaska — Experts Suspect North Korean Bomb-Making https://www.environews.tv/021718-enriched-uranium-235-found-floating-alaska-experts-suspect-north-korean-bomb-making/ https://www.environews.tv/021718-enriched-uranium-235-found-floating-alaska-experts-suspect-north-korean-bomb-making/#comments Sat, 17 Feb 2018 11:42:33 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=15064 (EnviroNews Alaska) — A consortium of researchers announced this week that back on August 3, 2016, for the first time in two decades of atmospheric observations by plane, they discovered enriched uranium 235 (U-235) in the troposphere. The submicron aerosol particle, found 7 km (4.3 miles) above Alaska’s…

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(EnviroNews Alaska) — A consortium of researchers announced this week that back on August 3, 2016, for the first time in two decades of atmospheric observations by plane, they discovered enriched uranium 235 (U-235) in the troposphere. The submicron aerosol particle, found 7 km (4.3 miles) above Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, appears to have come from Asia. And although the particle may have been small and flying solo, researchers say it is a significant discovery and may point to an undeclared release of the long-lived isotope.

“During 20 years of aircraft sampling of millions of particles in the global atmosphere, we have rarely encountered a particle with a similarly high content of [uranium 238] and never a particle with enriched [uranium 235],” the researchers wrote in their abstract. They used a high-tech, high-altitude NASA WB-57 plane to collect the samples.

Uranium 235 is used in nuclear bombs and reactors. The researchers said the particle, which contained between three and five times more U-235 than would be expected in a naturally occurring compound, was the only one found. Its small size precludes it from coming from any recent nuclear disasters like Fukushima. It is “definitely not from a natural source,” said Dan Murphy, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist and one of the paper’s authors.

Uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element on Earth. But how these scientists know this particular particle isn’t natural is because a typical subdivision of uranium ore contains about 0.7 percent uranium 235, but this “mystery particle” contains between 2.6 and 3.6 percent. U-235 is the coveted element for bomb making and nuclear power reactors because it is one of the only elements that when split, perpetuates a sustainable nuclear chain reaction.

“Particulate matter containing uranium can originate from sources such as combustion of coals with trace uranium, windblown crustal material, and mining and processing of ores, whether it be for the uranium itself or other minerals such as rare earth [minerals] and phosphate,” the authors explained.

The process of concentrating U-235 through centrifuges or gaseous diffusion is a dirty one, and is challenging to say the least. During World War II, the U.S. Government spent colossal amounts of tax dollars to erect entire cities wielding befuddlingly large industrial complexes (like the one at Paducah, Kentucky) for this purpose, only to extract a few paltry pounds of the substance. The process of enriching U-235 remains arduous and costly today.

“It’s not a significant amount of radioactive debris by itself,” Murphy continued to Gizmodo. “But it’s the implication that there’s some very small source of uranium [out there] that we don’t understand.”

These scientists don’t know where the particle originated from but published their findings because “it may indicate a novel source where enriched uranium was dispersed.” Air patterns suggest that it could have origins “in a variety of areas across Asia.”

“We’re hoping that someone in a field that’s not intimately associated with atmospheric chemistry can say ‘a-ha!’ and give us a call,” Thomas Ryerson, one of the researchers from NOAA, told Gizmodo.

“My best guess is that the source is North Korea,” wrote nuclear energy expert Arnie Gundersen in an email to EnviroNews. “North Korea has a small reactor and does have gas centrifuges for slightly enriching uranium 235. After running the enriched uranium in the reactor, they remove the used fuel and extract plutonium 239 for their bomb program. It is possible in either creating new fuel or in extracting plutonium from fuel that has already been in their reactor, some enriched uranium escaped and went airborne,” Gundersen concluded, emphasizing that North Korea was only his best supposition. The material could have also come from nuclear programs in either China or Japan.

Scientists from NOAA ESRL Chemical Sciences Division, the University of Colorado, the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the University of California participated in the research and paper, published in the Journal of Environmental Radiation. They plan to release their full findings of the discovery in April of this year.

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(EnviroNews DC Bureau) – Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the first in a 15-part mini-series titled, Nuclear Power in Our World Today, featuring nuclear authority, engineer and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen. The EnviroNews USA special encompasses a wide span of topics, ranging from Manhattan-era madness to the…

Radiation Cloud Over Europe, Not ‘Harmless’ to Those near Unknown Source, Nuclear Expert Says

(EnviroNews World News) – An airborne plume of radioactive ruthenium 106 from a nuclear accident was detected “in the atmosphere of the majority of European countries,” from late September through mid-October, according to France’s Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN) – but the source is still unknown. As…

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EU Leaders Put Foot Down over Climate, Telling Trump: ‘No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement’ https://www.environews.tv/021018-eu-leaders-put-foot-climate-telling-trump-no-paris-agreement-no-trade-agreement/ https://www.environews.tv/021018-eu-leaders-put-foot-climate-telling-trump-no-paris-agreement-no-trade-agreement/#respond Sat, 10 Feb 2018 14:08:17 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=14990 (EnviroNews Headline News Desk) — In June of 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States would leave the Paris Climate Agreement (the Accord/Agreement) unless the terms were changed to be more favorable for America. That decision has become a point of contention in trade negotiations with the…

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(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) — In June of 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States would leave the Paris Climate Agreement (the Accord/Agreement) unless the terms were changed to be more favorable for America. That decision has become a point of contention in trade negotiations with the European Union (EU). But last week, European leaders sent a strong message to Trump: no Paris Agreement, no trade deals.

“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground,” said France’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne, drawing a hard line in the sand. “No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement. The U.S. knows what to expect.”

This puts the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in jeopardy. The TTIP is supposed to encourage trade and enrich both the EU and the U.S. However, with Trump’s election, TTIP talks were delayed. And now, with the Paris Accord tied to trade agreements, the TTIP may have seen its last gasp.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has the responsibility and authority to reopen TTIP talks. If there was any doubt about her position on the Paris Agreement, she made her thoughts clear when she tweeted support for LeMoyne, her position reiterating that the Paris Agreement needs to be included in all EU trade deals, also saying it will be part of trade deals with Japan and Mexico. The Accord has already been tied to pacts with Mercosur countries – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Malmström hopes the trade agreement with Japan will “enter into force” by the end of 2018.

Per United Nations (UN) treaty rules, the U.S. can’t leave the Paris Agreement until 2020. The United States is the only country that has opted out of the treaty. At the time of its original signing, 195 of 197 nations agreed to the historic climate change treaty: Nicaragua felt it wasn’t strong enough, while Syria was engaged in a civil war. Both countries have since indicated they will come on board with the agreement.

Currently, 174 countries have ratified the Paris Accord. Russia will likely ratify the treaty in 2019. Turkey however, has moved away from the Agreement because its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, believes developing countries need more money to meet the demands of the Accord — an assertion Trump opposes.

In the final analysis, the Agreement has no mechanism for enforcement, and each country will need to decide on the measures it will take to keep the overall global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialization levels, while encouraging sustainable development with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

OTHER BIG CLIMATE STORIES FROM ENVIRONEWS

Explosion of Deadly Ticks Fueled by Climate Change, Ravaging Moose, Infecting People and Pets

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – EnviroNews Exclusive: Warmer, shorter winters due to climate change are a boon for the ticks that harm people, their pets and wildlife, scientists told EnviroNews in a series of exclusive interviews for this report. A walk in the woods can be refreshing, fun…

Climate Destabilization Causing Thousands of New Species Migrations: Plant, Animal, Insect, Bird

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – A spate of new research studies has confirmed a disturbing pattern: climate disruption is confusing migratory birds, causing trees to relocate and allowing tropical diseases to spread northward. “Human society has yet to appreciate the implications of unprecedented species redistribution for life on…

Alaska’s Fast-Melting Permafrost Now Releasing More Carbon Than it Can Absorb, Worsening Climate

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Alaska’s warming permafrost is now giving off more greenhouse gases than it traps during the growing season, according to a new study published May 8, 2017, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The amount of carbon trapped in Arctic soil is…

Forest Conservation Report: U.S. Gov. Severely Underestimating Impact of Logging on Climate

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – The North Carolina forest conservation group Dogwood Alliance published a report called, “The Great American Stand: U.S. Forests and the Climate Emergency,” in late March 2017. In the analysis, the authors evaluate the effects of U.S. logging on carbon emissions and climate…

Colossal Pacific Salmon Run Reduced to Rubble – Climate Change To Blame Say Scientists

(EnviroNews Nature) – British Columbia, Canada – Salmon returning to the Fraser, the longest river in British Columbia (BC), were at their lowest level since record keeping began this fall. Fewer than 900,000 sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) are projected to have returned to their traditional breeding grounds, causing commercial…

NASA Launches ‘Operation OMG’ After 10 Ft. Sea Level Rise Predicted in Next 50 Yrs.

(EnviroNews World News) – Falling in line with an alarming new paper spearheaded by climate-science guru Dr. James Hansen, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched its own urgent five-year study – a project that will “stress-test” Hansen’s new, and downright dire predictions. The operation titled,…

Six Tiny Island Countries To Sue Big Oil For Disrupting the Climate

(EnviroNews World News) – Port Vila, Vanuatu – On Monday, June 8, 2015, members of the G7, the world’s seven largest countries, met in Germany where an historic promise was made by world leaders – a pledge to rid the earth of carbon burning by the year 2100….

Nauru, World’s Smallest Island Country, Going Under Water From Climate – 10,000 in Jeopardy

(EnviroNews World News) – Nauru – A worldwide petition has been launched by the Nauriana International Project imploring the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) to forge a rescue plan for 10,000 people on the island of Nauru, previously know as “Pleasant Island.” The South Pacific island…

Obama’s Natural Gas Whoopin’ – Oil CEO Says Pres. is Wrong, Go Green Instead (Video)

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – To begin this brief exposé on natural gas, we’re going to take a peek at a couple of snips of President Barack Obama in what looks like little less than a blatant sales pitch for the expansion of natural gas as a solution…

Climate Hero Tim DeChristopher Free From Prison at Last

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – The day has finally arrived, and climate hero Tim DeChristopher, a.k.a. “Bidder 70” is free of the Federal prison system, well minus three years of crummy and cumbersome probation. In this segment, we recap what was truly one of the most inspiring, yet…

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‘Fantastic Victory’ for Yellowstone Bison as Court Rules USFWS Must Reconsider ESA Protection https://www.environews.tv/020418-fantastic-victory-yellowstone-bison-court-rules-usfws-must-reconsider-esa-protection/ https://www.environews.tv/020418-fantastic-victory-yellowstone-bison-court-rules-usfws-must-reconsider-esa-protection/#respond Sun, 04 Feb 2018 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.environews.tv/?p=14970 (EnviroNews Wyoming) — In what wildlife and conservation organizations are calling a “fantastic victory,” on Feb. 1, 2018, Federal Judge Christopher Cooper ruled U.S. wildlife officials must reconsider their 2015 decision to deny Yellowstone bison protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to the opinion written by…

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(EnviroNews Wyoming) — In what wildlife and conservation organizations are calling a “fantastic victory,” on Feb. 1, 2018, Federal Judge Christopher Cooper ruled U.S. wildlife officials must reconsider their 2015 decision to deny Yellowstone bison protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

According to the opinion written by Judge Cooper, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rejected a study by Natalie D. Halbert showing the number of animals in Yellowstone may be too few to sustain the park’s two genetically distinct herds. On the other hand, Cooper said the agency prioritized a study by Patrick J. White and Richard L. Wallen, which stated genetic diversity wasn’t important to maintaining the herds because it was artificially created in the first place. Hence, in his ruling, Judge Cooper said the agency couldn’t “simply pick and choose” whatever scientific studies it wanted to support its findings. Cooper also said USFWS must consider research that undermines its own position and explain why the undermining studies are “unreliable, irrelevant or otherwise unreasonable.”

“The Fish and Wildlife Service made a political decision to suppress and ignore science in order to deny the Yellowstone bison the protection they deserve,” said Josh Osher, Montana Director for Western Watersheds Project (WWP). “The Administration is clearly bowing to the influence of the livestock industry and its agenda to minimize bison populations and their natural migrations, despite their status as the national mammal.”

The Yellowstone bison (Bison bison), also known simply as “buffalo,” number about 5,000 animals, comprising two herds. While there are herds of bison scattered throughout the United States, most of them exist because they have been restocked in those areas. In many cases, these herds have also been interbred with cattle, compromising their genetic integrity. Yellowstone’s herds are the largest pure bison left in the wild, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) is the only place in the U.S. where the creatures have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

“This is a huge victory,” said Ken Cole, Executive Director of the Buffalo Field Campaign, in a press release. “This is a long battle but we won a significant round for the buffalo today.” The Buffalo Field Campaign partnered with WWP and Friends of Animals to file the first petition in the lawsuit.

The park’s animals are routinely hunted and slaughtered to assuage the fears of nearby ranchers. Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that can wreak havoc on bison. According to the National Academy of Sciences, there has never been a documented case of the disease being transferred from Yellowstone’s wild bison herd to domestic cattle. Nevertheless, ranchers, especially in Montana, support a seasonal culling because they fear their cattle will become contaminated. These ranchers say they are also concerned about the competition for grass and the possibility of property damage. Thursday’s court ruling will not affect culling in 2018.

Bison were named the National Mammal of the United States in 2016. Much like the Bald Eagle, these animals have represented the West for years because of their iconic physicality and sheer numbers when America expanded westward.

Hunters and sportsmen, like Buffalo Bill Cody, would shoot the animals from trains and leave the carcasses to rot on the prairie. Wild herds dwindled from tens of millions of animals, reaching a dismal low of 1,091 animals by 1889. Though the creatures were nearly wiped from the face of the earth in the 1800s, there has been a modest rebound today, including those found in Yellowstone and smaller herds elsewhere. Now, the USFW will have to reconsider how it classifies American buffalo in Yellowstone and carefully ponder all of the scientific data, rather than just reports supporting its own position.

Mountain of American Bison Skulls

In light of Judge Cooper’s ruling, bison are now back in line to receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. For now, the court has ordered the Government to take a step toward protecting these last remaining pure bison in their natural habitat.

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