Monthly Archives: May 2011

You are browsing the site archives by month.

5/4/2011 – 306,000 Comments submitted today in support of 1-million-acre protection of the Grand Canyon

5/4/2011 – Forgotten People just learned, a total of 306,000 comments were submitted in support of Alternative B (full 1-million-acre protection), which is nothing short of historic. Great work Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and the People!
Grand Canyon Uranium Mining PSA
vimeo.com
Please take action by May 4th to protect the Grand Canyon! Narrated by Craig Childs and directed by James Q Martin, this short video makes a compelling case for the Obama administration’s proposal to protect 1 million acres of public land surrounding…,

Save the Grand Canyon from uranium mining
Posted on April 30, 2011 by forgottenpeople

Uranium mining rips up huge tracts of land to extract radioactive material for use in nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.1 For the past two years, the Grand Canyon has been protected from these ravages. But now, the temporary mining moratorium is set to expire. The Grand Canyon’s fragile ecosystem, stunning beauty, and vital water supply are threatened by 1,100 new mining claims that have been filed within five miles of this priceless “crown jewel.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering a 20-year ban on mining to protect the Grand Canyon’s entire one-million acre watershed. But there are other proposals on the table, and industry lobbyists are encouraging BLM to open the floodgates for the uranium mining rush. It’s essential that we urge the BLM to protect the Grand Canyon.

Tell the Bureau of Land Management: Ban uranium mining at the Grand Canyon. Submit a public comment now. The high price of uranium makes its extraction extremely lucrative for mining companies, but shockingly, the practice is regulated by the antiquated 1872 Mining Law which has no environmental standards to limit the devastation and radioactive damage that results to wildlife, soil, ground and surface water. In fact, the law actually makes exploitative mining a priority over all other uses of public lands. The legacy of mining in the Grand Canyon and has already wrought lasting damage to surrounding areas and tribal communities, who have banned mining on all their lands…. Read More

5/2/2011 Gallup Independent: Northeastern Arizona water rights settlement 'too expensive'

5/2/2011 Gallup Independent Northeastern Arizona water rights settlement ‘too expensive’ By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent:   WINDOW ROCK – The proposed $800 million Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement approved by the Navajo Nation last November is “too expensive” and will not be introduced to Congress in its current form, according to court documents.  An April 19 report from Arizona Superior Court Special Master George A. Schade Jr., states that parties to the settlement were informed March 24 by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that the proposed settlement is too expensive. Navajo Nation water rights attorney Stanley Pollack stated in the report that Kyl is unwilling to introduce legislation to authorize the settlement in its current form given the current political and fiscal climate in Washington.

However, Kyl encouraged the parties to reach new settlement language by June so that he might submit legislation to Congress prior to his retirement in 2012 at the end of the current Congress. Pollack informed Schade that the parties were scheduled to meet with Kyl last week in Phoenix to discuss possible terms. Since being advised that the proposed settlement is too expensive, the negotiating parties have been meeting to revise the terms and make it less costly.

The Navajo Nation’s San Juan River water rights settlement also had an estimated price tag of $800 million.

Pollack noted that terms approved Nov. 4, 2010, by the 21st Navajo Nation Council for the Northeastern Arizona settlement are no longer up for consideration because the settlement does not have a chance for success in Congress. No action was taken by the Hopi Tribe, as the document had not gone out to the villages for consideration by the Hopi people.

Under the proposed agreement – which had grassroots Navajos marching on Window Rock in protest – the Navajo Nation would receive 31,000 acre-feet of “fourth priority” water per year, while Navajo Generating Station would receive 34,100 acre-feet per year of Upper Basin water for its continued operation.

Any new settlement terms will require approval by the 22nd Navajo Nation Council and the 32 other parties to the settlement. Pollack reported that he does not anticipate that the terms will be approved by the time federal legislation is introduced.

When contacted Friday, Pollack said he was “hamstrung” from discussing the matter by confidentiality orders, however, he did say, “The Arizona discussions are not dead.”

The settlement springs from the Little Colorado River adjudication which has been ongoing since March 14, 2003, when the Navajo Nation took legal action challenging the Secretary of the Interior’s operation of various management programs in the Lower Basin of the Colorado River. Numerous parties have since intervened, among them the state of Arizona, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Salt River Project, Arizona Power Authority, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the state of Nevada.

The Navajo Nation and the United States stipulated to granting all motions to intervene and to a two-year stay of the litigation so the Interior could appoint an Indian water rights settlement team and pursue efforts to resolve the Nation’s water rights claims through negotiation and settlement.

On April 12, parties involved in the case requested a four-month extension of stay until Aug. 15 in the federal court case, the Navajo Nation v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., and U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt granted the stay April 19. The court has repeatedly granted extensions of the original stay issued in October 2004.

Water from the Little Colorado River system could affect the magnitude of the Nation’s claim to water from the main stem Colorado River. In 2005, the parties acknowledged that resources within the Little Colorado River Basin are not sufficient to secure a permanent homeland for the Navajo people. The “Kyl Report” and other studies have reached the conclusion that there would be a need for some imported water supplies from the Colorado River.

During November’s protest in Window Rock, Jeneda Benally said the Navajo people were opposed to having their water rights “sold out underneath us, because our future generations … are going to be affected by this decision, and 31,000 acre-feet of water is not enough. We need to be able to sustain ourselves as a people, and for that we need water. Water is life.”

Many of the grassroots people also were upset that the language called for waiving all “past, present and future claims for water rights arising from time immemorial” that are based upon aboriginal occupancy. Navajo also would waive any claims for injury to water quality – another concern of residents who have been impacted by past coal and uranium mining.

5/1/2011 Boston Globe: A nuclear cautionary tale turns 25

A nuclear cautionary tale turns 25. By Katharine Whittemore Globe Correspondent / May 1, 2011 “They’re safer than samovars!” Soviet propagandists once crowed about the country’s nuclear power plants. “We could build one on Red Square.” That’s how things rolled before Chernobyl, recalls Arkady Filin. And as one of 600,000 “liquidators,” or cleanup workers, sent in after the April 26, 1986, disaster — who dropped, from helicopters, tons of sand and lead atop the molten core, then built a concrete sarcophagus over the reactor and plowed under countless acres of radioactive topsoil, all the while soaking up immense doses themselves — he’s realistic (Chekhovian?) about what happened.  “People who weren’t there are always curious,” says Filin, who appears in a gut-punching oral history called “Voices from Chernobyl’’ by Svetlana Alexievich (Dalkey Archive, 1997). But “it’s impossible to live constantly in fear,” he adds. “[A] person can’t do it, so a little time goes by and normal human life resumes.” A little time has gone by, but lately normal life feels not so normal. We are thinking hard about nuclear power again, in rising panic about radiation contamination. It’s all a terrible coincidence, isn’t it? This spring marks the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe — just as the severity of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant gets rated at the highest level. The level, that is, of Chernobyl.

Many (including President Obama) still plug for nuclear power amid our falling stores of fossil fuels, but trust me, it’s hard to go there after you read about the event that brought Ukraine and Belarus to its knees. Then again, the genie’s out of the bottle; the European Nuclear Society currently lists 442 power plants in 30 countries. Five are operating right here in New England. Are they all safe as samovars? As long as there is human error (see: Chernobyl, Three Mile Island), you have to say no. As long as there are natural disasters (see: earthquakes, Japan), no again.

So let’s brave the Chernobyl literature, and see what it really means to live with a calamity. I chose to focus on titles published after 1991, when the Soviet Union fell. That’s because later authors had access to declassified material and could craft a fuller story. The best of these is 1993’s “Ablaze: The Story of the Heroes and Victims of Chernobyl’’ by Piers Paul Read (Random House). Read, the author of “Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors,’’ is a robust narrator who provides unblinking, abundant context from the Soviet archives and his own interviews. His chronicle of the dying victims in Hospital No. 6 in Moscow left me utterly shaken.

Read also parses the factors of the accident and stresses that the fault must be spread broadly. Workers were paid bonuses to finish the reactor ahead of schedule, and thus took shortcuts. Equipment and materials were often substandard. The Communist Party, broke and on its last legs, forced the men to also build hay storage facilities, distracting them from their first priority. It’s the tragic trifecta: hubris, error, scarcity.

“Chernobyl is the catastrophe of the Russian mind-set,” explains historian Aleksandr Revalskiy in “Voices from Chernobyl.’’ Maybe, but you must honor the sacrificial heroics of those same Russians. If the workers and liquidators hadn’t sacrificed their health and their lives by shoveling burning graphite into pits and fixing valves in radiation-laced water, the scourge might have spread to all of Europe. “Voices’’ teems with piteous details: how thousands of the 200,000 residents, just before evacuation, wrote their names on fences, houses, asphalt. How one of the hunters hired to shoot radiation-exposed dogs and cats (the fear was they’d stray outside the contaminated zone) says, “[I]t’s better to kill from far away so your eyes don’t meet.”

There may be few dogs or cats left in what has become Europe’s largest de facto nature sanctuary. But in the 30-kilometer Chernobyl Zone of Alienation around the plant, there are eagles, bears, moose, lynx, storks, wild boars, and more. Surprisingly, it turns out that humans are a greater threat to animals than cesium and strontium. With us gone, nature thrives, as you learn from Mary Mycio’s eerily gripping “Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl’’ (Joseph Henry, 2005).

But aren’t there six-eyed mutants or something? Actually, no, though animal reproduction rates are lower. And pine trees grow out like bushes, rather than up. Mycio, a Ukrainian-American biologist, also tells us about the 3,000-plus workers (all part-time, it’s the law) who maintain the zone. They’re able to be here because much of the radiation-contaminated material has since been buried. In fact, shockingly, tourists can now visit certain areas. And in 300 years, your descendants can move back to the inner 30-kilometer region. As for The Ten, as the 10-kilometer hot spot by the reactor is called, people can live there one day too. In 24,110 years.

Katharine Whittemore is a freelance writer based in Northampton. She can be reached at katharine.whittemore@comcast.net.
© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

4/27/2011 US EPA Water News Release (HQ): Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water

Please submit comments. The draft guidance from U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is open for 60 days of public comment, will protect waters that many communities depend upon for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act. 4/27/2011 US EPA Water News Release (HQ): Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water CONTACTS: (CEQ) Taryn Tuss, 202-456-6998 (EPA) 202-564-6794; press@epa.gov (USDA) 202-720-4623 (DOI) Kendra Barkoff, 202-208-6416 (DOA) Moira Kelley, 703-614-3992 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Obama Administration Affirms Comprehensive Commitment to Clean Water WASHINGTON – Recognizing the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, environment and communities, the Obama administration released a national clean water framework today that showcases its comprehensive commitment to protecting the health of America’s waters. The framework emphasizes the importance of partnerships and coordination with states, local communities, stakeholders and the public to protect public health and water quality, and promote the nation’s energy and economic security.

For nearly 40 years, the Clean Water Act, along with other important federal measures, has been a cornerstone of our effort to ensure that Americans have clean and healthy waters. The administration’s framework outlines a series of actions underway and planned across federal agencies to ensure the integrity of the waters Americans rely on every day for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and that support farming, recreation, tourism and economic growth. It includes draft federal guidance to clarify which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act nationwide; innovative partnerships and programs to improve water quality and water efficiency; and initiatives to revitalize communities and economies by restoring rivers and critical watersheds.

“Clean water and healthy waterways are vital to the health and vibrancy of our communities and the strength of our economy,” said Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Working with our partners across communities, governments and sectors, we are taking comprehensive action to ensure Americans have the clean and healthy waters they need and deserve.”

”The steps we’re outlining today will be instrumental to protecting the waters of the United States, and ensuring that the vital natural resources our communities depend on for their health and their economy are safeguarded for generations to come,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “After four decades of progress on clean water, there is still work to be done to address unfinished business and tackle new threats to our waters. American families and businesses are counting on us to maintain and improve the rivers, lakes, streams and other waters that support thousands of communities and millions of jobs across the country.”

“Healthy rivers and clean waters are fundamental to our economy, our health, and our way of life,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “With growing pressures on our natural systems, we must work to secure cleaner, safer, and more reliable water supplies for our communities.”

“As our nation’s foremost conservationists, farmers, ranchers and forest owners have a values system rooted in rural America that recognizes we cannot continue to take from the land without giving something back,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At USDA, we are working with farmers, ranchers and forest owners to conserve land, plant stream buffers for cleaner water, and install other conservation practices. We also will continue to invest in rural water and community facility projects that help small towns ensure their citizens have access to safe and reliable drinking water. The draft Clean Water Act guidance released today reflects USDA’s work with our federal partners by maintaining existing exemptions for ongoing agricultural and forestry activities, thereby providing farmers, ranchers and forest landowners with certainty that current agricultural and forestry activities can continue.”

“The Army is very proud of our ecosystem restoration efforts across the nation,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. “The proposed joint EPA and Army guidance will clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction and help the Corps and its partner agencies protect important aquatic resources and watersheds that communities rely on for their quality of life and essential services.”

Clean water provides critical health, economic and livability benefits to American communities. Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has kept billions of pounds of pollution out of American waters, doubling the number of waters that meet safety standards for swimming and fishing. Despite the dramatic progress in restoring the health of the nation’s waters, an estimated one-third of American waters still do not meet the swimmable and fishable standards of the Clean Water Act. Additionally, new pollution and development challenges threaten to erode our gains, and demand innovative and strong action in partnership with federal agencies, states, and the public to ensure clean and healthy water for American families, businesses, and communities.

The Obama administration is safeguarding clean water by: Promoting Innovative Partnerships. Federal agencies are partnering with states, tribes, local governments and diverse stakeholders on innovative approaches to restore urban waters, promote sustainable water supplies, and develop new incentives for farmers to protect clean water.

Enhancing Communities and Economies by Restoring Important Water Bodies: The Obama administration is dedicating unprecedented attention to restoring iconic places like the Chesapeake Bay, California Bay-Delta, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico and Everglades, investing in action and helping states, local governments and stakeholders find pollution control solutions that are tailored to their specific needs.

Innovating for More Water Efficient Communities: The administration is working with policymakers, consumers, farmers and businesses to save water – and save money – through 21st century water management policies and technology.

Ensuring Clean Water to Protect Public Health: The Obama administration is aggressively pursuing new ways to protect public health by reducing contaminants in Americans’ drinking water. We are updating drinking water standards, protecting drinking water sources, modernizing the tools available to communities to meet their clean water requirements, and providing affordable clean water services in rural communities.

Enhancing Use and Enjoyment of our Waters: The administration is promoting stewardship of America’s waters through innovative programs and partnerships. These efforts include expanding access to waterways for recreation, protecting rural landscapes, and promoting public access to private lands for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.

Updating the Nation’s Water Policies: The administration is strengthening protection of America’s waters and American communities. We are modernizing water resources guidelines, and updating federal guidance on where the Clean Water Act applies nationwide. The draft guidance will protect waters that many communities depend upon for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act. The guidance is open for 60 days of public comment to all allow all stakeholders to provide input and feedback before it is finalized.

Supporting Science to Solve Water Problems: The administration is using the latest science and research to improve water policies and programs and identify and address emerging pollution challenges.

More information and to read the Obama administration’s clean water framework: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/clean-water

R150

Note: If a link above doesn’t work, please copy and paste the URL into a browser.