The new guidelines encourage "smart from the start" wind-energy development.
BREAKING: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released today voluntary guidelines for wildlife and wind energy development.
The guidelines could improve on how wind energy development is done today — encouraging the use of the best available scientific information and early public engagement in a project’s planning phase, as well as post-construction wildlife monitoring and a comprehensive strategy for mitigating unavoidable impacts.
“Wind energy is an important part of our clean energy future, but to fully realize the benefits of wind power, projects have to be built in the right ways and right places to avoid and minimize their impacts on wildlife,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders’ president and CEO. “If implemented correctly, these guidelines will become part of a larger approach that encourages renewable energy companies to be ‘smart from the start’.”
The guidelines apply to private and public lands, imperiled wildlife (like many bat species) not already protected by the Endangered Species or Migratory Bird Treaty acts, and habitats not under FWS’ jurisdiction – lessening the likelihood that wind energy projects will further threaten species in decline.
“Responsible wind energy development means requiring strong standards for protecting wildlife and their habitats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wind energy guidelines are a good first step,” she said.
Defenders of Wildlife sat on the federal advisory committee – comprised of scientists, industry representatives, state and federal agencies, tribes, conservation organizations and others – whose recommendations formed the foundation for the new guidelines.
“These guidelines were developed after lengthy discussions with scientists, conservation organizations, wind industry representatives, tribes, state wildlife agencies and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Wind-energy developers who choose to follow the voluntary guidelines will have more certainty that their projects can move forward,” Clark said.
BREAKING: Congressman Norm Dicks of Washington state announced on Friday plans to retire at the end of the year after completing 18 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he stood as champion for wildlife and conservation.
The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife:
“The retirement of Congressman Norm Dicks is a major loss for our nation’s environment and natural resources. From the day he entered Congress in 1977, Mr. Dicks has been a true champion and force for conservation, willing to step forward to defend vital laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
“Mr. Dicks has led the way; from acquiring critical wildlife habitat across the nation to achieving the historic reintroduction of wolves to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and helping address the impacts of climate change on people and our natural resources. As chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, he provided vital funding assistance to federal environmental agencies and programs, and championed innovative new approaches to deal with mounting environmental problems. One of his signature efforts was the creation of the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Programs that provides assistance to states in protecting wildlife before it becomes endangered. Most recently, he led an effort that defeated one of the most egregious attacks on the Endangered Species Act in years.
“Mr. Dicks is retiring, but he has left us with a tremendous gift, his conservation legacy, which we will enjoy for generations to come. There are many challenges ahead of us in the years to come as we continue to address the needs of imperiled wildlife and the impacts of a changing climate. I hope we will see other members of Congress step up to fill the huge void that will be left by the Honorable Norm Dicks.”
Defenders of Wildlife recognized Congressman Dicks with the Spirit of Defenders Award for Public Service, our highest award. Just last month, he was recognized by 13 major environmental groups for his work in upholding the Endangered Species Act.
These days it isn’t often that you see Democrats and Republicans doing anything together, let alone raising a glass in celebration. But that’s exactly what happened last week as Defenders and other conservation groups gathered at a local Washington, DC watering hole to pay tribute lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for their role in last summer’s defeat of the “extinction rider.”
Rewind to last July. The House leadership had attached to the bill funding the Department of the Interior numerous anti-conservation riders — unpopular policy changes that get tacked onto funding bills. Among the host of bad riders on this bill was a particularly nasty one that would have blocked any and all new species from being added to the endangered species list. Oh, species could still come off, but no new listings could happen, a longstanding goal of Big Oil, Big Developers and other special interests.
Wildife champion Rep. Norm Dicks
Passage of this crazy rider seemed almost assured. Almost. Because our longtime champion Rep. Norm Dicks had other ideas. He came to Defenders and other conservation groups and said, “I think we can do this! I think we can get defeat this thing!” And thus followed a vigorous push to yank the rider when it came to the House floor, with Rep. Dicks working the channels in Congress while conservation groups lobbied individual members and activated the grassroots.
Now, Rep. Dicks fighting the good fight for conservation is nothing new. Nor is it unusual for conservation groups to rally against a bad bill. But this time we had help from the other side of the aisle. Because part of the push in Congress involved outreach to moderate Republicans that we knew took their environmental stewardship responsibilities seriously. And that outreach was successful because in the end, 37 Republicans broke from their own leadership to support an amendment killing the species listing rider. Conservation groups, pro-environment Democrats and moderate Republicans had teamed up to stop the extinction rider. And we won.
So to reward those friends on the Hill who had worked so hard on behalf of endangered species, Defenders on other conservation groups gathered and presented to four key members plaques commemorating their principled stand.
Rep. Mike Thompson
First was Rep. Dicks, our long-time champion, who was recognized for volunteering to lead the fight and teeing up the battle in Congress. Then came Rep Thompson who stepped up and was crucial in bringing along moderate and conservative Democrats and Rep. Fitzpatrick who courageously broke party ranks and brought 36 other Republicans with him. And last but not least was Rep. Hanabusa, who eagerly stepped into the fray, even though she was only a freshman.
GOP Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick receives his award
These days, conservation successes in the House seem few and far between so it was nice to finally win one. And it was even nicer to be able to recognize with friends from both sides of the aisle as important to the effort because I think we can all agree that protecting our natural heritage for future generations shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
Help protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of USFWS
BREAKING: Republican leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee today did the bidding of Big Oil once again and voted to open up the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the protected eastern Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Bristol Bay to oil drilling all under the pretext of funding this year’s transportation bill.
The funding issue is a scam. Even the most generous revenue estimates from this reckless expansion of drilling will not be enough to fund proposed transportation projects in the bill. In addition, what small amounts of revenue might be generated would not be seen for ten years as oil companies will still need to explore, apply for drilling permits and start development. That’s too late to pay for transportation projects starting next year.
This giveaway to Big Oil will expose millions of acres of America’s pristine land and water to dirty and dangerous oil and gas development from which they may never recover.
Jamie Clark in 2010 witnessing the devastation of BP oil disaster firsthand.
“Just in time for Valentine’s Day, House leaders in Congress have come out with a sweetheart deal for their Big Oil allies. Opening the Arctic refuge to drilling has been a long-standing priority of the backwards-looking, drill first crowd and the transportation bill is just the latest excuse to do so. The proposed revenue from this deal won’t even materialize for years, making this one of the most disingenuous refuge-drilling schemes we’ve ever seen, to say nothing of the environmental destruction it would cause.
“Instead of sacrificing some of America’s most pristine wilderness and waters for the profit of Big Oil, Congress should focus on coming up with real solutions to fund the transportation projects that will decrease our addiction to oil and keep our country moving.”
Take Action! Ask your representative to oppose this bill and protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the wildlife that call it home.
“You are making a difference! We’ve made a lot of progress, but we need you to stand strong!” That was the call to arms issued by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) to 16 “citizen lobbyists” amassed for a Capitol Hill reception last week hosted by Cardin and longtime wildlife champion Representative Norm Dicks (WA-6).
Washington Representative Norm Dicks
The 100-person gathering was the culmination of a two-day lobbying marathon organized by Defenders and other conservation groups to help secure funding for wildlife conservation programs. In all, the heads of seven different enviornmental groups partiipated in the lobbying push along with countless other staff. And the 16 citizen lobbyists? They were the stars of the show, all having agreed last minute to put their personal lives on hold, fly to D.C. and speak from the heart about the importance of wildlife conservation funding to their local regions and economies.
They hailed from all walks of life—refuge managers, environmental activists, and local eco-business owners. And each had a unique story to tell about the importance of wildlife conservation in their area. Nathan Varley, owner and operator of The Wild Side, a wildlife tourism business, spoke to the crowd about how important wildlife is to his business and many others. “Put simply,” he said, “take away the wildlife and I don’t have a business and my employees don’t have jobs.”
Nathan’s plea was an apt one considering the total contribution from outdoor sports in the United States is nearly $821 billion a year, generating more than 6.4 million jobs and close to $100 billion in federal and state tax revenue. Wildlife viewing alone brought in close to $49 billion, including nearly half a million jobs and people visiting national wildlife refuges, parks, and other
recreation areas added another $47 billion.
Defenders President Jamie Rappaport Clark
“These programs are so vital to our natural heritage,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, President of Defenders of Wildlife and emcee for the evening. “But we also must remember what they mean for jobs and so many local economies.”
With such earnest citizen lobbyists speaking out in favor of such programs, it’s not a lesson anyone is likely to forget soon.
BREAKING: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar sets a course for conservation in new vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife’s president and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, welcomed the Obama administration’s effort to frame a new conservation vision for the more than 150 million acres that make up America’s National Wildlife Refuge System.
The new vision document released by the Interior Department today gives refuge officials a roadmap for managing these special conservation lands to address emerging threats and challenges such as climate change that weren’t considered in 1999 when the last refuge system vision statement was put in place.
The following is a statement from Defenders’ President, Jamie Rappaport Clark:
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s updated vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System will help ensure that it continues to anchor the conservation of our nation’s wildlife heritage in the face of the rapid transformations in the environment and in our society. Climate change was not a central concern in wildlife management when the last refuge vision statement was developed in the late 1990’s, but it certainly is a major concern today. This new vision reflects that shift and charts a course for enhanced wildlife conservation in the 21st century.
“While the vision lights a way forward, the success of the document will be measured each day in the field, wildlife refuge by wildlife refuge. It’s up to all of us — conservation groups, ranchers, farmers, hunters, anglers, communities, and federal and state land management agencies — to ensure that this vision becomes a reality.
It’s up to all of us — conservation groups, ranchers, farmers, hunters, anglers, communities, and federal and state land management agencies — to ensure that this vision becomes a reality.
“This means working together to add new lands to the refuge system that promote the conservation of a wide diversity of wildlife; to ensure that refuges have the financial resources needed to protect wildlife and provide a high-quality experience for all Americans; and to adapt and modify the way we manage refuges to protect wildlife and habitat from the impacts of climate change.”