May 2010

By John Driscoll

The Times-Standard

May 25, 2010

Landowners and businesses that pump water from California streams now face hundreds of dollars in fines if the use of that water isn’t recorded. The State Water Resources Control Board, in an effort to better identify the amount of water being used in the state’s watersheds, is now requiring that a statement outlining the amount of water diverted be submitted every three years. Those who haven’t filed a statement must do so by July 1.

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Obama to announce suspension of Arctic drilling

• President Obama is expected to announce today that offshore oil drilling in the Arctic will be postponed for one year, and planned lease sales off the coast of Virginia and in the western Gulf of Mexico have been cancelled.

• New deepwater offshore permits will reportedly be put on hold for six months.

• However, shallow water permits will reportedly be allowed to proceed.

WASHINGTON (May 27, 2010) – The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife executive vice president Jamie Rappaport Clark:

“Safeguarding the Arctic Ocean for another year from dirty, damaging oil drilling is absolutely the right thing to do. We thank President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar for their leadership and for taking this important step. Any spill in the Arctic would have devastating consequences for the region’s fragile wildlife and ecosystems, and there is no technology in existence that could clean up a spill in the area’s broken sea ice and frigid waters. We’re relieved that Arctic drilling will not go forward this summer, and we hope that ultimately these leases will be permanently cancelled.

“Much more remains to be done, however. In particular, the practice of categorically excluding offshore oil and gas activities from meaningful environmental review must be ended. The tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico is a reminder that offshore oil drilling is never safe for the environment or for the communities along our coasts. Oil in the water is dangerous for fisheries, wildlife and ecosystems no matter the depth of the water. It’s good news that President Obama is extending a moratorium on new deepwater permits for six months. Hopefully, his review of the Gulf oil disaster will lead to a permanent moratorium on new offshore drilling anywhere along our coasts. America’s coastal communities, human and natural, are far too precious to risk the devastation we’re now seeing as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Moreover, as the President recognized in his remarks in California yesterday, the disaster in the Gulf is a wake-up call to the nation that it is time to move away from continued reliance on dirty, polluting fossil fuels and to move toward responsible development of clean, renewable energy.

“We remain convinced that a renewed presidential moratorium on new offshore drilling, including the Arctic and all other sensitive American waters, is the right next step. And in light of recent revelations about MMS and the short shrift that agency has given to environmental reviews and the potential for catastrophic accidents, clearly all existing leases should undergo a comprehensive review in light of these changed circumstances to insure that accidents like the Deepwater Horizon, and the heartbreaking impacts we’re seeing in the Gulf, never happen again.”


  • Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center today notified BP that they would file suit against the company for the unauthorized take of endangered species caused by the continuing oil spill and use of dispersants.
  • The oil gushing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig directly imperils 32 threatened or endangered species such as the sperm whale, gulf sturgeon, manatee and five kinds of sea turtles (leatherback, loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and Kemp’s ridley), as well as the waters, coastal wetlands and National Wildlife Refuges that many of these species call home.
  • Endangered species are also adversely affected by the chemical dispersants BP has applied to the Gulf in response to the continued release of oil resulting from the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
  • The Endangered Species Act prohibits the “take” of endangered species. The ESA defines “take” as meaning “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.”
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have interpreted “harm” as meaning “an act which actually kills or injures fish or wildlife. Such an act may include significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures fish or wildlife by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns including breeding, spawning, rearing, migrating, feeding or sheltering.”


The following are statements from Defenders of Wildlife and Southern Environmental Law Center:

Mike Senatore, vice president for Conservation Law at Defenders of Wildlife:

“BP must be held accountable for the grave threat posed to sea turtles, whales, seabirds and other endangered wildlife as the result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Not only does the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico pose an immediate and long-term threat to endangered wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, but the company’s unprecedented application of chemical dispersants poses additional risks.”


Catherine Wannamaker, attorney for Southern Environmental Law Center:

“We’re concerned about the oil-covered wildlife that we may see onshore, but we’re also extremely concerned about what’s happening below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. This is shaping up as an unprecedented disaster for the people and wildlife of the Gulf. From plankton to endangered sperm whales to fishermen, BP has put an entire ecosystem at risk and must be held accountable.”


The notice of intent letter sent today by the Southern Environmental Law Center and Defenders of Wildlife outlines both immediate and long-term exposure concerns for the well-being and survival of endangered species caused by the continuing oil spill and use of dispersants. The Gulf of Mexico is home to numerous endangered and threatened species all of which face acute and/or chronic risks from the Deepwater Horizon disaster including: five species of whale (blue, fin, sei, humpback, and sperm); five species of sea turtle (green, hawksbill, leatherback, Kemp’s ridley, and loggerhead); seven species of beach mice (Alabama, Choctawhatchee, Anastasia, St. Andrew, Southeastern and Perdido Key); seven species of bird (piping plover, roseate tern, whooping crane, Mississippi sandhill crane, Everglade snail kite, wood stork, and least tern); four species of fish (gulf sturgeon, Alabama sturgeon, pallid sturgeon and smalltooth sawfish); two species of coral (elkhorn and staghorn); Florida salt marsh vole; and the West Indian manatee. Several hundred species in the Gulf are at risk of being harmed by the oil from this spill, including several endangered and threatened sea turtles, whales, and seabirds. Already there is reason to believe that species such as seabirds, turtles, and dolphins may have been affected and even killed by the spill. Oil has begun to appear in the coastal wetlands used by seabirds and other species, and much of the marine life in and around the Gulf Coast has been exposed to oil and thus likely will experience its toxic effects.

Marine mammals are further imperiled by the release of other contaminants into the environment in connection with oil development. Regarding the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, additional contaminant risk is posed by dispersants used to break up the oil. By BP’s own account, it has mobilized a third of the world’s supply of dispersants, including Corexit. Dispersants can cause genetic mutations and cancer, further adding to spill toxicity.

On May 17, 2010, Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center filed suit challenging the Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) continued lax oversight of oil drilling operations. The lawsuit details MMS’ failure to require a thorough examination of spill risks from exploratory drilling operations like the Deepwater Horizon—eight of which would be at even deeper depths than the well currently spilling oil into the Gulf. It also seeks to prohibit the MMS from continuing to exempt from environmental review new exploratory drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center also notified MMS that they would file suit for violations of the Endangered Species Act related to insufficient analysis of the impacts of exploratory drilling on threatened and endangered species.

Salmon release changed to prevent ‘straying’

Published Tuesday, May. 11, 2010

For most fall-run chinook salmon in Central Valley rivers, youth is more akin to a factory assembly line than some aquatic nirvana.

Life begins in the concrete tanks of a hatchery on a four-month diet of manufactured food pellets. Teenage independence comes in the spring, with a tanker truck ride to Vallejo and a trip through a giant hose into San Pablo Bay.

Clean and programmed as this early life is, it hasn’t worked too well. The fall-run chinook population set a historic low in 2009, after two years of fishing closures imposed to protect the species from extinction.

So officials are tweaking the formula this year. On Monday, the California Department of Fish and Game released 2 million baby salmon, raised at Nimbus Hatchery near Rancho Cordova, into the American River instead of trucking them to Vallejo.

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This is a really interesting article…

– Jeremy

By Garth Stapley
Modesto Bee


Fascinating growth issues around Modesto are capturing the fancy of scholars in places such as Illinois, New York and even Paris.

Interest in rampant sprawl before the recession has evolved into morbid curiosity at the valley’s subsequent foreclosure scourge. Other nonvalley academics are drawn by misery and lack of representation in poor neighborhoods resulting from past land-use decisions.

“The valley is a great laboratory,” said David Hosley, president of the Great Valley Center based in Modesto. “Because the Central Valley is so large and is growing so quickly, we are a great place to study what works and what doesn’t when it comes to development.”


Click here to read more at Modesto 

Stockton Record’s Alex Breitler has written a lovely article  about Sarah Primack, who has raised $1,600 for Friends of the Lower Calaveras River (FLCR) for her Senior Project by selling hand drawn cards for donations. FLCR has used for our river signage project and to expand our environmental education programs in the greater Stockton area.

 Click here to see images of Sarah’s cards on Alex Breitler’s Blog

Three cheers for Sarah, and a special thanks to Alex for helping us spread the news!

Posted at 09:47 PM on Monday, May. 03, 2010

By Michael Doyle / Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Monday set up a new task force to wrangle California water decisions, with long-term hopes of consolidating protections for smelt and salmon.

The new task force eventually envisions one unified environmental management plan assisting the fish species dependent upon the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta.

Guided by an Interior Department veteran with considerable California experience, the task force has shorter-term goals, as well.

“[This will] ensure that we are coordinating to use state-of-the-art science and to find the best alternatives to protect both endangered fish and water supplies,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a prepared statement.

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