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A Breakthrough in How We Work to Protect Our Oceans

2:18 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

Rockfish and sponges in Zhemchug Canyon, Bering Sea.

The Bering Sea is known to scientists and conservationists as one of the most remarkable places on Earth — a home to sponges, coral, fish, crab, skates, sperm whales, orcas, Steller sea lions, and a vast array of other species all part of a delicate ecosystem extremely vulnerable to human activity. Take a look.

But here’s what’s new — as of this week, the Bering Sea is remarkable for another reason — it’s the impetus for a an amazing breakthrough in the way we work to protect our oceans.

On Monday in Juneau, Alaska, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to identify key coral areas in the Bering Sea canyons and consider measures to protect them. While this may sound like a routine decision in a far off place, it’s anything but the status quo.

The council’s decision comes in the middle of an ongoing campaign to protect the “Grand Canyons of the Sea” from the impacts of fishing gear like massive pollock trawl nets that destroy fragile corals and threaten life in the Bering Sea. You may not have heard much about pollock day-to-day, but it’s in fish sticks, fast food fish sandwiches, and even imitation crab. It’s a big deal fish–in fact, calling it the “billion dollar fish” is an understatement.

This campaign, like most conservations initiatives, has gathered together numerous green groups like Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Oceana, and Mission Blue. But what’s different about this campaign is that major seafood retailers like Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and, yes, even McDonald’s have looked beyond their next quarters’ earnings to the long-term viability of our environment (and their products) These business leaders have admirably urged the Council to look further into the available science to protect the canyons from destructive fishing, because they too want the Bering Sea to have a sustainable foundation for the future. We know from what we’ve seen from the oceans around the world that a thriving ecosystem today can turn into a wasteland tomorrow without sustainable management, so the problem is urgent.

What else is new with this campaign is the truly remarkable amount of citizen engagement. This week, as the Council deliberated in Juneau, everywhere they went flyers, posters, and banners held by activists reminded them that more than 100,000 people were urging them to protect the canyons — an unprecedented amount of public input in this process. When Council member John Henderschedt spoke to his breakthrough motion yesterday he began by saying, “thanks to all who provided comments — your voices are important to this process, and they have been heard.”

If the industry and government operated in secret, who knows what it would take for them to work sustainably. But because Greenpeace and other conservation groups have been able to show the wider world what’s at stake in the Bering Sea, people have been able to decide for themselves how they want their world. Greenpeace has had the privilege of taking this message to the decision-makers in government and industry to create a new way forward, one that includes more voices than just that of the highest bidder.

The struggle to protect the “Grand Canyons of the Sea” is far from over, but on Monday in Juneau something remarkable happened, something that might just signal a sea change in how we protect our oceans. Read the rest of this entry →

Victory: Shell Announces They Won’t Drill Offshore Oil in Alaska in 2011

2:21 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

The Arctic has won a reprieve from offshore oil drilling this year. Oil giant, Shell, just announced they won’t pursue offshore oil drilling in the fragile Arctic environment in 2011.

This one-year delay was a hard-fought victory for environmentalists.

On the heels of the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill, thousands of Greenpeace members wrote the federal government asking them to halt offshore oil drilling.

Greenpeace activists took action on one of the vessels Shell was planning to use in the Arctic. Others stood up at government hearings, calling on President Obama’s team to stop offshore drilling. And, last summer, our ship, the Arctic Sunrise, documented and exposed the truth around the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, bringing important information to the government and the public.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to stand up with us to fight for the people and wildlife of the Arctic.

As you know, we have been persistent in urging President Obama and Secretary Salazar to deny Shell permission to drill in the Arctic. Shell acknowledged that the continued delays in the federal permitting process were the primary reason for canceling drilling in 2010.

But, before we celebrate too much, we have to make sure that Shell’s plans for offshore drilling in the Arctic are canceled, not just for one year, but permanently. And we won’t result until the government bans ALL new offshore drilling. The stakes – and the risks – are just too high.

[Philip D. Radford is the Executive Director of Greenpeace US.]

Thoughts on Whose Ass Obama Should Kick

6:39 am in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

President Obama asked yesterday "whose ass to kick" over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. I have a few ideas.

1. Tony Hayward. BP CEO Tony Hayward and his company should be criminally charged for the reckless endangerment of their workers, for violations of the Clean Water Act by dumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, and for stealing the income of the people who rely on the Gulf for their livelihoods. Instead, seven of my colleagues are being aggressively charged with felonies for peacefully calling on the President to stop offshore Arctic drilling. Arrest the real criminals.

2. Lisa Murkowski. Senator Lisa Murkowski is just one of many of our elected officials who seem to be working for the fossil fuel industries instead of in the interest of the American people. As the Gulf Region watches in horror at the impacts of the oil spill on its coasts, its waters, and its economy, the US Senate is scheduled to consider a proposal tomorrow from Senator Lisa Murkowski that would protect oil companies and other big polluters by gutting America’s Clean Air Act.

3. His Own and His Staffs’. Obama and his top staff must take responsibility for their distinct lack of vision in a time of oil, national security, and climate crises, clinging to weak Senate climate legislation instead of pivoting towards a vision of getting the U.S. off of oil by 2030. A smart first step would be to call for all cars to be plug-in electrics by 2030.

The Energy [R]evolution

To eliminate the risks of another BP Deepwater Disaster, we must look away from the dinosaur fossil fuel companies of our past and towards a bright future of clean, renewable energy. It is possible right now to make the changes we need for that future. Don’t believe those who tell you that it’s too hard or too expensive.

Today, my colleagues at Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council released the new Energy [R]evolution report to illustrate the way forward. The report is one of the most comprehensive plans for future production and distribution of sustainable energy systems.

The report provides a detailed practical blueprint for cutting carbon pollution while achieving economic growth by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and energy efficiency. This phase-out of fossil fuels leads to energy security, independence from world market fuel prices, and a reduction in pollution-related illnesses.

The Energy [R]evolution shows how by 2050 renewable energy sources could provide around 96% of electricity produced in the USA and 74% of our total heating demand, accounting for around 71% of our overall primary energy demand. The blueprint would create about 800,000 jobs in the renewables sector alone, by 2030. The total fuel cost savings in the scenario described could reach a total of $4.5 trillion, or $107 billion per year.

Lack of vision by politicians and a pocket full of corporate contributions has held us back for too long. Our children are counting on us to leave them a planet free from the threat of rig explosions, devastating oil spills, and unchecked climate change, and we have that power. The Energy [R]evolution is here.

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