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WINTER 2018

’ NATURE SVOICE For the 3 million Members and online activists of the Natural Resources Defense Council

IN THIS ISSUE

Arctic wolves and other wildlife are threatened by Trump’s order to lift the ban on Arctic drilling.

Stopping the Attack on Our National Monuments 10 Environmental Victories, Thanks to You! Administration Moves to Kill Fracking Safeguards Legal Action Slows Trump Onslaught

NRDC works to safeguard the earth — its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.


G O O D N EWS

Victory

NRDC FILM WINS TWO EMMYS

NRDC’s breakthrough documentary on ocean noise, Sonic Sea, has won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Nature Documentary and Outstanding Music and Sound. The film, made possible by Member support, is the first to document the destructive impacts of noise pollution on whales and other marine wildlife. NRDC has repeatedly faced down the U.S. Navy, energy companies and others in our fight to save whales from an increasingly noisy ocean. You can watch this acclaimed film for free by going to https://vimeo.com/ondemand/sonicsea and using the promo code “bluewhale.”

(Click the “Buy $2.99” icon, then register and enter the promo code before completing the transaction.)

Victory

TRANSCANADA PULLS PIPELINE

The company behind Keystone XL is abandoning a proposal for a different tar sands pipeline, long opposed by NRDC, that would have had the world’s largest capacity. TransCanada’s Energy East project would have carried more than one million barrels per day of climate-wrecking tar sands oil across Canada to its Atlantic coast. From there, supertankers would have carried the crude south to the Gulf Coast, threatening shorelines from Maine to Texas with the possibility of a catastrophic spill. Disaster averted — for now. NRDC is calling for a ban on all tar sands tankers in U.S. coastal waters.

Victory

CHINA TO GO ELECTRIC

Delivering a one-two punch to air pollution and oil consumption, China has announced plans to ban cars that run on gas and unveiled new rules that could boost the nation’s electric vehicle production to more than one million per year by 2020. That’s more electric cars than the entire world makes today. The time line on the ban is still in the works, but the announcement adds China, the world’s largest vehicle market, to the list of countries planning to phase out conventional cars. These electrifying moves will help clear China’s air and accelerate a global shift toward EV production.

C OV E R A RT I C L E

LEGAL ACTIO

A

s President Trump’s tumultuous first year in office draws to a close, our nation’s courts are proving to be the best line of defense against his headlong rush to roll back environmental protections and destroy our natural heritage. In recent months, NRDC attorneys have notched six important victories, forcing the Trump Administration to abandon extremist policies on issues ranging from oil industry pollution to endangered species protection. NRDC began building a legal firewall just 12 days after Trump’s inauguration, racing to court to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from rolling back safeguards against

The environmental campaigns and victories featured in Nature’s Voice are all made possible through your generous support. You can help NRDC defend the environment by making a special contribution. NRDC.ORG/GIVE


mercury pollution. The agency relented, putting the global warming pollution from cars and trucks. protections back in place rather than defending its Meanwhile, when the administration has refused illegal action in court. Since then, NRDC attorneys to retreat it has been stymied by judges upholding have filed dozens of suits against the administration, the law. After NRDC sued EPA chief Scott Pruitt for taking legal action about every withdrawing protections against seven days. leaks of methane from oil and “As quickly as they open up gas operations, a court ruled that a new front in their war on the Pruitt’s action was “arbitrary and environment, we fire back in capricious.” In a different methane court,” says NRDC Chief Counsel pollution case, a judge ordered the Mitch Bernard. The Trump administration to stop delaying a Administration has bowed to rule to protect against “flaring” this legal pressure and reversed and leaking on public lands. itself three other times — when Many other legal battles are still Arctic wolves and other wildlife are threatened by Trump’s order to lift the ban on Arctic drilling. it blocked endangered species raging, including efforts to stop protection for the rusty patched the Keystone XL pipeline and to bumblebee, when it balked at putting in place energy defend the Arctic and Atlantic coastlines from drilling. efficiency standards for ceiling fans that will save “I expect we’ll have 100 cases going before too long,” our planet from 100 million tons of climate-wrecking says Bernard. “It’s the single best way to combat this pollution and when it suspended a rule for tracking president’s autocratic ways.” S P E C I A L R E P O RT

Administration Moves to Kill Fracking Safeguards The Trump Administration has proposed getting rid of safeguards that would help protect communities and water supplies from fracking on federal lands. These commonsense protections represent a years-long effort to fix outdated rules governing oil and gas extraction in some of our last wild places. While the safeguards are far from perfect, they do represent a step forward in shielding the environment and human health from the perils of fracking. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would have us believe that federal fracking protections are unnecessary because state safeguards exist, but even their own analysis shows that state

rules don’t provide the same protection. “By proposing to do away with even these partial fracking safeguards, the administration is making it clear where its loyalties lie: with polluters, not with people,” says Briana Mordick, a senior scientist with NRDC’s Land and Wildlife program. “Our public lands and the communities living nearby are being sacrificed for the benefit of the oil and gas industry.” NRDC is building nationwide pressure on the BLM to Fracking rig in Colorado strengthen fracking protections, even as we file suit against the Trump Administration when it seeks to put our public lands on the chopping block.

ARCTIC WOLF © JIM BRANDENBURG/MINDEN; FRACKING RIG © ISTOCK

ON SLOWS TRUMP ONSLAUGHT


CA M PA I G N U P DAT E

NRDC WILL SUE TO BLOCK TRUMP AT

R

yan Zinke, former congressman and solid ally of the fossil fuel industry, had been in his new job as interior secretary for less than two months when his boss, President Trump, made an unprecedented demand: he ordered Zinke to undertake a so-called review of dozens of national monuments. If Trump’s innocuous-sounding directive was intended to lend Zinke’s task an air of due process, it fooled no one. “We knew from the get-go it was the opening salvo in Trump’s real plan to strip protections from our national monuments and throw them open to the fossil fuel giants and other destructive industries,” says NRDC President Rhea Suh. Ever since Theodore Roosevelt signed the landmark Antiquities Act of 1906 into law, presidents of both parties have used the authority granted them by Congress to permanently protect sites of irreplaceable natural and cultural significance, ranging from ancient southwestern pueblos to Alaskan fjords, giant sequoia groves in California to deep-sea canyons in the Atlantic. Today America’s national monuments represent a remarkable legacy of conservation that is both

Moose in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument

Ryan Zinke called on Trump to shrink four national monuments and to open six others to industrial activities. Coral reef ecosystem in Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument

immensely popular at home and the envy of countries around the world — and now Trump is out to destroy this priceless natural heritage. As Zinke began sizing up national monuments all the way from Maine to the Pacific Remote Islands some thousand miles southwest of

Honolulu, his office was inundated with more than 2.8 million public comments. A staggering 98 percent of them opposed rolling back federal protections. Zinke ignored them. Instead, in a leaked draft of his recommendations to the president obtained by the Washington Post in


TTACK ON NATIONAL MONUMENTS September, Zinke called on Trump to shrink four national monuments and to open six others to industrial activities such as drilling, mining, logging and commercial fishing. “What Trump and his administration are doing is illegal, plain and simple,” says Suh. “The law doesn’t give the president the power to undo the monument designations of his predecessors. If he acts on any of these recommendations, we’ll sue. An attack on one national monument is an attack on all of them because it threatens the underlying principle of conserving these places for future generations.” Among the monuments in Zinke’s crosshairs for immediate downsizing are two magnificent wildlands in southern Utah — Grand StaircaseEscalante and Bears Ears — both home to stunning redrock formations, deep sandstone canyons, colorful desert mesas and a host of wildlife. Grand Staircase-Escalante is also among the world’s premier sites for unearthing fossils of prehistoric species previously unknown to science, and Bears Ears encompasses more than 100,000 archeological and cultural sites of sacred significance to the region’s Native American tribes. Yet both monuments are coveted by the fossil-fuel industry: Big Coal wants to mine the coal reserves beneath Grand Staircase, while oil and gas companies hope for drilling rights within Bears Ears. It quickly became apparent where Zinke’s sympathies lie. When the secretary visited Utah as part of his “review,” he spent but one hour meeting with the coalition of Native tribes who have fought for years to protect the 1.35-million-acre monument and devoted the majority of his time to proindustry groups. The New York Times reported Zinke’s ultimate recommendation: shrink Bears Ears by a shocking 88 percent — to a mere 160,000 acres — and leave the vast majority of the

landscape and its national treasures unprotected. Zinke is targeting two other monuments for downsizing as well. Nevada’s Gold Butte is culturally and spiritually important to the Southern Paiute Tribes, in part for its thousands of ancient petroglyphs, and the rugged natural landscape provides critical habitat for such rare wildlife as the Mojave desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep. Farther west, the CascadeSiskiyou National Monument, straddling the Oregon–California border, is among the most biologically diverse places on earth, sustaining more than 3,500 wild species across more than 100,000 acres of meadows, mountains and forests. The interior secretary further wants to strip six national monuments of their protections from industrial exploitation, including Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks, both

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

in New Mexico, and Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters, encompassing one of the most pristine watersheds in the Northeast. The other three in Zinke’s sights are all marine national monuments. Opening them up to commercial fishing and other extractive uses would imperil the unique undersea formations and biologically [Continued on next page.]


[Continued from previous page.] rich ecosystems that prompted both George W. Bush and Barack Obama to protect these areas in the first place. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the New England coast includes canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and undersea mountains higher than any peaks east of the Rockies, sheltering more than 1,000 species, among them endangered sperm whales and deep-sea corals more than a thousand years old. No less unique are the underwater mountain ranges and deep coral forests of Pacific Remote Islands and the stunning reefs of Rose Atoll, which provide refuge for an abundance of wildlife, including sea turtles, reef sharks and dolphins. “If President Trump and Secretary Zinke think they can use a sham four-month ‘review’ to torpedo a century-old, bipartisan legacy of conservation and surrender our national monuments for the enrichment of corporations,” says Suh, “they’ve got another thing coming. We’ll see them in court.”

Your Membership Supp Made a World of Differ

Here are a few of the landmark envi your donations made possible over t

CHINA BANS IVORY TRADE

NRDC worked with China to put an end to its legal ivory market — the world’s biggest — helping pull elephants back from the brink of extinction.

An attack on one national monument is an attack on all of them. TAKE ACTION

nrdc.org/monuments

KFC GETS CHICKEN OFF DRUGS

NRDC’s attention-grabbing campaign helped convince KFC to only sell chicken raised without human-use antibiotics in all of its U.S. restaurants by the end of 2018.

NUKES OUT, CLEAN ENERGY IN

New York’s problem-plagued Indian Point nuclear power plant, whose relicensing NRDC has long opposed, will close by 2021, its power replaced by clean, renewable energy.

CALIFORNIA FOR CLIMATE!

New laws, advocated by NRDC, extend California’s cap-and-trade program to cut global warming pollution while improving air quality in neighborhoods hit hard by air pollution.


ironmental victories the past year:

y

Please help us win even more victories in 2018 by making a tax-deductible contribution at NRDC.ORG/GIVE

AMERICA’S WILD FORESTS SAVED

A BIG WIN FOR BUMBLEBEES

PROTECTION AGAINST MERCURY

STANDING UP TO BIG OIL

JUSTICE FOR THE PEOPLE OF FLINT

SAFER TOYS FOR ALL KIDS

NRDC and allies fought off a court challenge to the “roadless rule,” saving 50 million acres of wild national forests, including Alaska’s Tongass rainforest.

After NRDC sued, the Trump EPA reinstated a rule that will protect Americans from tons of dangerous mercury pollution that enters waterways and the fish we eat.

In response to a lawsuit co-filed by NRDC, officials in Michigan agreed to replace lead water pipes in Flint, helping address the city’s years-long water crisis.

Under pressure from an NRDC lawsuit, the Trump Administration granted endangered species protections for the disappearing rusty patched bumblebee, an essential native pollinator.

NRDC and allies prevailed over Trump’s EPA in court, stopping an attempt to roll back safeguards on methane leaks and other dangerous oil and gas pollution.

NRDC legal action led the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban five dangerous phthalate chemicals from plastic used in toys and child care articles.

MOOSE © MARK PICARD; BERRYESSA © BOB WICK/BLM; CORAL REEF © USFWS; VERMILION © BOB WICK/BLM; ELEPHANTS © CHRIS WERNER/STOCKSY; TONGASS © STEVE BLY/AL AMY; INDIAN POINT © TONY FISCHER/FLICKR ; FISH © A . VISCONTI/ISTOCK; GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE © ISTOCK; LIT TLE GIRL © MO MORAD/ISTOCK; BEE © DAN MULLEN; METHANE FL ARE © L ANO L AN/ SHUT TERSTOCK; YOUNG BOY © ISTOCK; CHICKENS © IVONNE W./ISTOCK

port of NRDC rence in 2017!


Here’s the Way to Meet Our Climate Goals Under the Paris Accord To avoid climate catastrophe, scientists say, the United States needs to do its share by cutting fossil fuel pollution 80 percent (from 1990 levels) by 2050. There’s no question we need to do it. But how? NRDC has just produced an authoritative new report, America’s Clean Energy Frontier: The Pathway to a Safer Climate Future , that puts forward an action plan to reach that all-important goal — no matter who’s in the White House. Perhaps most surprisingly, the far-reaching cut in climatewrecking pollution can be achieved almost entirely with tools we already have at our fingertips. NRDC’s plan relies on proven clean

OUR CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE IN 2050

energy technology, and a few simple strategies will get us 90 percent of the way there. We can cut our energy use almost in half by investing in more-efficient cars, appliances, buildings and industrial plants. We need to get 70 percent of our electricity from wind and solar while modernizing our grid and utility regulation to best manage all that new clean power. And we need at least half of all passenger vehicles running on clean electricity, helping the entire fleet achieve an average of 100 miles per gallon. If treading such an ambitious clean energy pathway seems daunting while Donald Trump is president, there is still real

reason for hope. “The clean energy economy is booming, and we’re making enormous progress at the city and state levels,” says Kit Kennedy, codirector of NRDC’s Energy and Transportation program. Energy efficiency is on track to save consumers $1 trillion by 2030. America’s solar energy capacity in 2016 was 4,500 percent higher than experts predicted ten years earlier. We’re also building some of the best electric and hybrid cars in the world. “If we aggressively pursue these pathways, a climate-safe future is within our reach,” says Kennedy.

Wind and solar energy account for 70% of electricity

Clean electricity provides nearly 1/2 of all energy demands

Hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs are created

Electric cars account for 60% of vehicle miles traveled

U.S. GHG emissions are cut by 80% of 1990 levels

Fossil fuel use falls by 70%

Climate and health costs are hundreds of billions of dollars lower

Energy usage is cut by 50%

HELP PROTECT FUTURE GENERATIONS

Make a bequest to NRDC and defend our natural heritage for decades to come. LEARN MORE AT NRDC.ORG/FUTURE


N R D C VO I C E S

By Joshua Axelrod, policy analyst As we go to press, the next chapter in the battle over the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is being written in federal district court in Great Falls, Montana. In a suit brought by NRDC and our allies, we’ll argue that the State Department violated three different environmental laws in its rush to issue TransCanada a cross-border permit. The case comes at a time when many observers are questioning the basic economic viability of the project. Following the pipeline’s revival by President Trump, TransCanada has struggled to find interested shippers willing to reserve space on the deeply contentious pipeline. Meanwhile, the growth of the tar sands industry

may be flagging as projects that were started before the oil crash in 2014 finally near completion. Keystone XL’s woes are only magnified by competition from other pipeline builders, all of whom are facing growing public opposition to new, unneeded pipelines that would be routed across farms and ranches, over pristine rivers and streams and through vulnerable communities. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline proposal, which threatens the U.S. West Coast, is now being challenged in Canadian federal courts. Enbridge’s attempts to build a new cross-border tar sands pipeline across the Midwest have hit a wall of opposition in Minnesota. Even TransCanada has been forced to

T O P R AT E D B Y C H A R I T Y N AV I G AT O R . O R G N AT U R A L R E S O U R C E S D E F E N S E C O U N C I L 40 WEST 20TH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10011 WWW.NRDC.ORG/NATURESVOICE NATURESVOICE@NRDC.ORG | 212.727.4500

EDITOR IN CHIEF STEPHEN MILLS, MANAGING EDITOR LIZ LINKE WRITERS JASON BEST, SHANTI MENON DIRECTOR OF MEMBERSHIP GINA TRUJILLO

cancel its $15 billion Energy East pipeline (see front page). Meanwhile, numerous other legal challenges stand in the way of Keystone XL. In Nebraska, the state’s Public Service Commission is reviewing TransCanada’s route permit application, with a decision expected in November. That decision, regardless of its outcome, is likely to be appealed, a process that could take two or more years. Even then, the fight is far from over, as other obstacles loom on the horizon, including fights over the use of eminent domain by a foreign corporation to seize farmland in Nebraska. Our own federal case against the Trump Administration is another important reminder that our clean water, clean air and climate are all put at risk by fossil fuel mega-projects like Keystone XL.

JOSHUA AXELROD © REBECCA GREENFIELD; SEAL PUP © DMY TRO PYLYPENKO/AL AMY; WINTER BERRIES © ALEX POTEMKIN; ICONS © ILYA LIREN/ISTOCK

Our Day in Court Versus Trump and Keystone XL

Nature's Voice Winter 2018  

All of the environmental projects and victories described in Nature’s Voice are made possible through the generous support of Members like y...