Nature's Voice Winter 2014
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in the news NRDC Turns up Heat on Mega-Mine EU Takes Aim at Airguns Wolves, Death and Taxes The Obama Administration has announced it will proceed with an investigation of the Wildlife Services agency, which kills some 100,000 native carnivores — including wolves, bobcats, bears and foxes — every year. Wildlife Services, part of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), has wiped out more than 2 million of these animals — 50,000 of them accidentally — since 2000 at the behest of big ranchers and agribusiness. Victims include endangered species and pets. The agency regularly refuses to use nonlethal methods, instead spending millions of taxpayer dollars every year for poison, traps and aerial gunning. Our Members and online activists sent 87,000 messages to the USDA, demanding a full investigation and an end to the sanctioned slaughter. No Sale, No Problem Good news came this month for our natural heritage in Utah when the Bureau of Land Management announced it was canceling a proposal — tenaciously opposed by NRDC and our allies — to auction off oil and gas rights to thousands of acres in the stunning San Rafael Swell wilderness. Known for its rock art sites and rugged landscapes that resemble the surface of Mars, the Swell is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts. The cancellation will protect this national treasure against industrialization by the oil and gas industry as well as support Utah’s important outdoor recreation economy. 2 T Nushagak River, near site of proposed mine. his month, we’re launching a new campaign to focus public pressure on Northern Dynasty Minerals — the last company committed to building the Pebble Mine, which threatens to destroy the untamed wilderness and worldclass salmon runs above Alaska’s Bristol Bay. In December, just three months after the Anglo American corporation quit the project, mining giant Rio Tinto stunned investors by announcing that it was considering divestment from the Pebble Mine. Both companies have faced relentless public opposition, including one million messages generated by NRDC Members and online activists. “Rio Tinto’s announce ment is a big step toward abandoning this reckless project, and we applaud the company for taking it,” says Joel Reynolds, who heads up NRDC’s campaign, “but we’ll keep watchdogging Rio Tinto until it finishes what it started and actually exits the project.” In the meantime, NRDC Trustee Robert Redford will spearhead our campaign targeting Canada’s Northern Dynasty Minerals, which is now leading the charge to build the Pebble Mine. Despite the departure of its major partner, Anglo American, Northern Dynasty has said it will still proceed with the $6 billion mega-mine — seeking permits on its own, if need be, and finding another multinational corporate backer. It has also made clear it could apply for those permits in the first quarter of this year. “Apparently, Northern Dynasty hasn’t gotten the message that we don’t want an American natural treasure turned into an industrial wasteland,” says Redford. The gargantuan, open-pit gold and copper mine would produce some 10 billion tons of contaminated waste, and it directly threatens one of the continent’s most spectacular ecosystems and a $1.5 billion economy built on wild sockeye salmon. It is opposed by a united front of local residents, Native groups and fishermen. Take action at: stoppebble.org Nushagak River © Patrick Clayton/fisheyeguyphotography.com In a landmark development for whales, the European Parliament has voted in favor of a law that would require environmental impact assessments before companies begin hazardous offshore oil and gas exploration. These surveys often make use of high-powered under water airguns, firing blasts every 12 seconds for months on end. Just one of the blasts can harm whales and other marine mammals for miles around, and at close range they can be deadly. If passed by the European Council, the law would set a regional mandate for finding less harmful alternatives.