COURT SLAPS PRUITT DOWN On the eve of Independence Day, our independent judiciary blocked the first of Scott Pruitt’s attempted rollbacks of vital environmental safeguards. The Environmental Protection Agency chief had yanked protections against leaks of methane and other dangerous air pollution from oil and gas operations. NRDC and our allies immediately took Pruitt to court and, less than a month later, won a ruling that declared the EPA’s action illegal, as well as “arbitrary and capricious.” Our independent courts are insisting on the rule of law, potentially slamming the brakes on the Trump Administration’s pro-polluter agenda.
EPA REVERSES ON MERCURY In response to an NRDC lawsuit, the EPA has reinstated a rule that will protect Americans from the more than five tons of mercury pollution discharged each year from dental offices across the nation. Mercury can disrupt brain development and function as well as harm the nervous system, and it is especially harmful to pregnant women, babies and young children — even at tiny levels of exposure. The EPA withdrew the proposed rule in January after President Trump took office, prompting NRDC to sue. Rather than defend its illegal decision in court, the EPA reissued the rule. Case closed.
GOVERNORS UNITE ON CLIMATE President Trump may have broken our climate promise to the world, but he can’t stop us from keeping it. Just hours after he abandoned the Paris Accord, the governors of New York, California and Washington stepped up to form the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan group committed to meeting our nation’s Paris goals. It now includes 13 states plus Puerto Rico, representing nearly a third of all Americans. In addition, 211 mayors representing 54 million Americans have committed to upholding the global agreement. A recent study shows that the United States can stay on track to meet our climate targets in the short to medium term if enough states adopt ambitious climate and clean energy policies.
C OV E R A RT I C L E
Pebble Mine Would Put America Last I n a shocking about-face, the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump has agreed to drop proposed restrictions that would have effectively banned construction of the Pebble Mine in Alaska. The move paves the way for Northern Dynasty Minerals — the Canadian company behind the mine — to seek permits for building the massive copperand-gold mine at the pristine headwaters of Bristol Bay, where it would imperil the world’s largest run of wild sockeye salmon. The company had sued to block the EPA restrictions, which were advanced during the Obama Administration, and then reached a friendly out-of-court settlement with the EPA after Trump took office. Just weeks after the EPA reversal, fishermen in Bristol Bay were reporting near-record levels for this year’s salmon
run, a testament to the strength of the $1.5 billion sustainable fishery that supports 14,000 local jobs and is central to the culture of Native peoples in southwestern Alaska. This American natural treasure is under threat from the colossal open-pit Pebble Mine, which would plunge as deep as the Grand Canyon and generate 10 billion tons of contaminated mining waste. Indeed, a three-year study published in 2014, commissioned by the EPA and twice peer reviewed, said the mine posed potentially “catastrophic” risks to the Bristol Bay watershed. “In keeping with the Trump Administration’s pro-polluter, pro-extraction agenda, the EPA has utterly abandoned sound science and the people
of Bristol Bay,” says Taryn Kiekow Heimer of NRDC’s Land and Wildlife program. More than 80 percent of local residents oppose the Pebble Mine, and NRDC has partnered with a diverse coalition of grassroots organizations for more than six years to stop it. That campaign succeeded in pressuring international mining giants Rio Tinto, Anglo American and Mitsubishi to walk away from the mine, leaving financially strapped Northern Dynasty scrambling to find new corporate partners to invest in the multibillion-dollar project. “We’ll keep fighting on all fronts,” says Heimer. “Our message is simple: No Pebble Mine. Not now, not ever.” DONATE
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Trump Unleashes Seismic Testing in the Atlantic The Trump Administration has proposed that energy companies be allowed to carry out large-scale seismic exploration for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast, posing grave risks to endangered whales and other marine mammals. If the permits are approved, six survey ships would crisscross tens of thousands of miles of ocean from southern New Jersey to central Florida, setting off powerful seismic blasts every ten seconds. The explosions, which can be heard up to 2,500 miles away, would pound the water 24 hours a day for months on end.
Seismic testing can deafen whales and other marine wildlife and can disrupt vital behaviors such as feeding and breeding. The North Atlantic right whale, one of the most endangered species on earth, migrates and calves in these waters, which are also home to fin whales and humpbacks. “The administration is giving oil and gas companies a license to assault marine wildlife,” says Michael Jasny, director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project. “We’ll see them Endangered North Atlantic right whales in federal court if that’s what it takes to stop this.” In the meantime, tens of thousands of NRDC Members protested the proposal during the public comment period.
LAKE CLARK, BRISTOL BAY WATERSHED © ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM; WHALES © FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
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