Jan 152015
 

Aquatic ecosystems are bodies of water that support communities of marine or freshwater organisms dependent upon each other and their environment. Human development, encroachment and pollution have damaged more than 70% of our nation’s rivers and streams -some of them severely. Nearly 40% of our nation’s rivers and streams do not meet standards for swimming safety or fishing sustainability. Non-point source pollution such as soil erosion from logging, oil runoff from urban streets, acid mine drainage and nutrients from farm fertilizers are blamed for some of the destruction to our streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries, islands, wetlands, beaches and vernal pools. Healthy aquatic ecosystems greatly benefit us by filtering pollutants from our water supply and reducing the strength of storms, hurricanes and flooding. They also provide countless recreational opportunities for millions of Americans. Advocates say that in order for these degraded ecosystems to regain their functionality they must be returned to their original condition -or as close to it as possible.

Pending Legislation: none

I oppose reforming current aquatic habitat policy

I support establishing a National Clean and Safe Water Fund for the EPA to carry out water quality projects including: wetland protection and restoration projects; contaminated sediment projects; drinking water source protection projects; land acquisition projects for water quality protection, and wish to identify a legislator who will reintroduce S.1539 – National Clean and Safe Water Fund Act of 2003 (108th Congress 2003-2004)

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Arsenic is a chemical element that occurs in many minerals such as sulfur and metals. As such, groundwater contains much higher concentrations of arsenic than surface water. Unfortunately, as groundwater depth increases, so does the amount of arsenic. It is known that arsenic from drinking water can cause hypertension, diabetes and skin, lung, kidney and bladder cancers. The developing nervous systems of small children are particularly vulnerable to arsenic. About 80% of our public water systems serve less than 4,000 people. Since many of these small communities depend on wells for drinking water, this natural contaminant is harming these Americans most. Until relatively recently, the amount of arsenic we allowed in our drinking water was 50 parts per billion (ppb). After studies revealed this 1942 standard would cause bladder and lung cancers, the Clinton and Bush administrations reduced arsenic limits to 10ppb, as recommended by the World Health Organization. However, the maximum safe contaminant level for arsenic continues to be debated. Health advocates say that an even stricter standard of 5ppb is needed. They say a 10ppb arsenic standard will still cause 30 deaths per 10,000 people, well above the EPA’s acceptable death rate of 1 in 1 million. In 2004, New Jersey adopted this 5ppb standard. Opponents claim implementing a stricter arsenic standard will do more harm than good. They claim the financial burden of forcing this standard on 20,000 small American communities will keep them from funding other important services.

Due to being grown in soil and water, scientists have long known that rice is good at absorbing inorganic arsenic, mercury, tungsten and other metals. And if water is reduced during growth, rice absorbs toxic cadmium instead of these metals. Advocates say that even low levels of arsenic can affect health. Rice is somewhat unique among plants in that it stores metals in its grain rather than its leaf. Brown rice has the highest levels of this contaminant because arsenic accumulates in its bran and husk, which are removed during the processing of white rice. Arsenic studies have raised concerns we may be getting too much of this known carcinogen in everyday foods such as cereal, baby food, noodles and even some juices and beer. Scientists are now researching ways to block rice’s metal-absorbing properties, some attempting to genetically engineer rice to filter out these metals. Advocates are particularly concerned about the amount of rice that is typically consumed by infants. They are calling on the FDA to set federal standards for arsenic in rice and other foods containing rice.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current arsenic policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to mandate a 5ppb arsenic standard for all drinking water supplies

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Fish or animals that are accidentally caught in commercial fishing operations are called bycatch. These dead or dying creatures are usually discarded overboard. Fisheries now throw away more than 20% of all the fish they catch. This translates into more than 2 billion tons of edible fish and drowned animals each year. It has recently been reported that 9 American fisheries, which produce just 7% of the fish sold here, are responsible for more than half of America’s bycatch. Some of these companies throw away as much as 66% of their catch, wasting this precious ocean resource. Fishing bycatch often includes young sharks, striped bass, swordfish, lingcod and halibut as well as animals such as dolphins, whales and seabirds. Marine advocates say the loss of young fish greatly limits the ability of a species to breed successfully. Bycatch often results from long-line and drag-net fishing methods and wastes food that tuna, salmon, sea lions and others depend upon for survival. It is estimated that about 1,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises drown each day after becoming entangled in nets and other fishing gear. Nearly 20% of all shark species are facing extinction from inadvertent long-line capture and as many as 250,000 unwanted loggerhead and leatherback turtles are also killed this way each year. Advocates say these commercial fishing practices are not sustainable and that we are endangering the health of our oceans.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current bycatch fishing policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to reduce fishing bycatch and prohibiting fisheries from wasting more than 20% of their catch, with enforcement provided by onboard observers and sharply escalating penalties for repeat offenders

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Our nation’s water treatment plants treat sewage and wastewater for safe release, and treat drinking water to ensure it is safe for consumption. In some places these two water treatment facilities are located in proximity to one another, their efficiency plainly interdependent. In 2004, there were 21,604 publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants in operation. Advocates claim many of these industrial-scale facilities are operating at capacity or past their expected lifespan. They say most of these plants were constructed when technology was relatively primitive, water was abundant, and people and pollution were not. It is estimated we need to spend about $1 trillion on rebuilding our water purification and wastewater treatment plants over the next 25 years in order to keep up with our needs. Advocates warn that failure to do so will likely have dire effects on the safety of our water supply, saying this critical infrastructure has been neglected far too long.

Pending legislation:

S.335 – Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current water treatment policy and wish to defeat S.335

I support authorizing the EPA to make direct loans to an entity that owns or operates a water treatment works that serves the general public, including a municipal, tribal, or regional separate storm sewer system management agencies; authorizing entities to carry out activities for an eligible project that includes: a capital project to construct, replace, or rehabilitate a treatment works or community water system, to reduce energy consumption needs of a treatment works or a community water system, to increase water efficiency, reduce the demand for water, or reduce the demand for treatment works or community water system capacity, to manage or control storm water, to re-use municipal wastewater, or to increase drinking water source protection; and an associated non-capital project that promotes the use of environmentally sustainable projects, including utility-backed storm water and water efficiency retrofit programs, and wish to pass s.335

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Illegal, unregulated or unreported (IUU) fishing now accounts for about 20% of all marine fish caught and at least a quarter of all fish caught. IUU fishing includes catching undersized fish, fishing in closed waters or taking more fish than allowed. Most coastal nations have exclusive economic zones in which offshore fishing is prohibited. International agreements also prohibit the fishing of protected species on the high seas. However, advocates say there is little enforcement or punishment for illegal fishing. Much of the damage to fisheries is caused by fleets of large international commercial fishing trawlers. Advocates say most of these large fishing operations abide by the law. That said, many others fish without licenses, use illegal fishing gear, conceal their identities and fail to report catches. Fishing fleets now use modern technology to pursue and catch fish in virtually every part of every ocean. These fleets offload their catch onto large processing vessels which process, freeze and transport huge quantities of fish, allowing trawlers to continue fishing nearly non-stop. Some now call commercial fishing operations “the last buffalo hunt,” with too many fishing boats chasing a dwindling number of fish which have no place to hide. Many millions of people throughout the world depend on fisheries for employment, sustenance and recreation. Advocates say that if there is to be enough fish for current and future generations, everyone involved in fishing must help conserve and manage the world’s fisheries at sustainable levels.

Pending Legislation:

S.269 – International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act

H.R.69 – Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current illegal fishing policy and wish to defeat S.269 & H.R.69

I support reducing illegal fishing by directing the Coast Guard to enforce laws concerning fisheries and fish products by: providing additional authority for searches, inspections, shipment detentions, arrests and subpoenas; identifying vessels, vessel owners, and nations that are engaged or have been engaged during the preceding three years in illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing, or that have violated related conservation and management measures; taking appropriate action against such vessels and vessel owners in accordance with U.S. and international law; establishing an interagency International Fisheries Enforcement Task Force, through the National Marine Fisheries Service, to investigate illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing activity and trafficking and to enforce the provisions of this Act, and wish to pass S.269 & H.R.69

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Wetlands are usually coastal areas mostly covered by water that support plant and animal species adapted for life in saturated soils. These areas include swamps, marshes and bogs. In addition to providing wildlife habitat, wetlands help control flooding, filter pollutants from water and help absorb the energy of hurricanes coming ashore. Wetlands also provide essential spawning, feeding and nursery areas for three-fourths of the fish caught by our commercial fishing industry. When our Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, there were about 220 million wetland acres. Only about 100 million acres now remain. It is estimated that about 40,000 acres of coastal wetlands are disappearing each year. The coastal wetland areas located in our Atlantic and Gulf States are the most threatened by development and pollution. These fragile ecosystems are frequently damaged by offshore oil drilling operations and pollution deposited by rivers. Increasing land values are also encouraging development in, or near, these wetland areas.

Pending Legislation:

S.741 & H.R.2208 – North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current wetland conservation policy and wish to defeat H.R.2208

I support amending the North American Wetlands Conservation Act to extend through 2017 the authorization of appropriations for allocations to carry out approved wetlands conservation projects and wish to pass S.741 & H.R.2208

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Carbon dioxide gas, released into the air by the burning of fossil fuels, is largely responsible for the greenhouse effect and resulting climate change. Carbon Sinks are areas that sequester, or absorb and store carbon dioxide, removing it from the air. Oceans, soils and vegetation are mediums for such storage. Forests are thought to be the most efficient and beneficial carbon sinks since they replace carbon dioxide with oxygen. Some believe carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, or geosequestration, is a man-made version of nature’s carbon sinks. This theoretical process employs modern technology to capture carbon dioxide gas from large polluters such as factories and power plants. It then envisions transporting this gas by pipeline or ship to depleted oil and gas wells or underground saline formations where it is compressed it into a liquid and injected deep underground. It is necessary to transport CO2 gas to distant locations is because power plants are often located near coal deposits which are unsuitable for carbon storage. Some say CCS technology could be an important tool for reducing greenhouse gas and the need to curb our use of fossil fuels. Opponents say CCS technology is expensive, risky, untested and unlikely to work well. They claim a new generation of modern coal gasified power plants, needed for the CCS process, will require 25% of the plant’s total power output just to keep operating. Once the CO2 arrives at its destination, it must be compressed before being injected into the ground. Including transport, this step consumes an additional 20% of the energy yielded by burning coal in the first place. Not included in these expenses are the costs of equipment, infrastructure and drilling new injection wells should we run out of old oil wells. Also, after being filled and capped, many of these wells will then need to be indefinitely monitored to detect dangerous CO2 leaks that could, under certain conditions, be lethal to humans and animals living nearby. Since 2010, Mississippi has been building the $5.6 billion Kemper County facility which is trying to deploy CCS technology. This facility, initially estimated to cost $2.4 billion, is designed to capture 65% of its CO2 emissions but has been beset with long delays and cost-increases. Critics say CCS technology has not been proven on an industrial scale and that many in industry and government don’t think it will work. They claim carbon capture and storage is being used to divert focus and funding away from the development of cleaner burning fuels, where these funds would be better spent. Kemper County has received at least $500 million in federal aid.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current carbon capture and storage policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to establish an industry-government pilot project to assess the feasibility of carbon capture and storage technology

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

In response to the continuing loss of our wetlands resource, our government established a “no net loss” (NNL) policy which requires developers to replace wetland areas destroyed by their projects. The Corps of Engineers grants permits to fill wetland areas for applicants who wish to develop them. However, before a project is approved, developers must convince regulators they have done all they could to avoid filling-in or damaging wetland areas. In order to conform to the NNL policy, developers must also submit a plan to either restore former degraded wetland areas or create new ones. To help developers reduce construction delays, mitigation banking was created. Mitigation banking allows credits from the creation of new wetlands in one area to be sold to developers who want to fill-in natural wetlands in other areas. Mitigation banks broker the transaction of these wetland mitigation credits. However, many say these banks have not delivered the results which were required under the “no net loss” policy. Naturalists and environmentalists claim efforts to create new wetlands in unnatural areas usually do not succeed. They say developers sometimes mitigate unrealistic areas merely to sell credits to others intent on destroying natural wetlands. Often, these new areas do not support life or perform the functions of natural wetlands. They say wetlands mitigation allows natural wetlands to be replaced by these newly created but useless areas, and claim mitigation banking exacerbates this problem. Critics say developers who purchase ecologically-worthless credits rather than preserve natural wetland areas violate the No Net Loss policy and are greatly speeding the disappearance of our precious wetlands resource.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current wetlands mitigation banking policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring the U.S. Corps of Engineers to ensure that permits given to damage or destroy natural wetlands are considered in compliance with the “no net loss” policy only if replacement restoration projects have been shown to provide similar functions and benefits as the natural wetlands destroyed

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

America’s 155 National Forests are managed by our Forest Service. These forests contain about 190 million acres, or about 9% of our total land area. Nearly 90% of these forests are located west of the Mississippi River, with 12% situated in Alaska alone. The U.S. Forest Service manages timber harvesting, livestock grazing, water, wildlife and recreation on these lands. However, unlike our national parks which protect resources, national forests were created to balance resource protection with resource use. This conflicting mission has been the source of endless disputes between parties competing for opposite goals. Environmentalists and naturalists consider logging, grazing and off-road vehicle use as threats to forest ecosystems. However, scientists are now saying climate change is the biggest threat to our national forests. Recent studies have found that longer droughts and higher temperatures are affecting a large majority of tree species worldwide. It suggests that many of these species will perish if the pace of climate change continues. Experts say that many trees in our forests are now suffering from drought, disease and pests. Our forests are also overcrowded with dead or dying trees and thick underbrush which in some cases is 20 times more dense than normal. Advocates say less density and competition between plants enable trees to better tolerate stress from drought. As an added benefit, such “forest cleaning” will also reduce the chance of huge wildfires that our West has come to know and fear so well.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1895 – National Forest Emergency Response Act

I oppose reforming current forest fire policy and wish to defeat H.R.1895

I support responding to extreme fire hazard and unsafe conditions resulting from pine beetle infestation, drought, disease or storm damage by declaring a state of emergency and immediately implementing hazardous fuels reduction projects, and wish to pass H.R.1895

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Coastal ecosystems are located on either saline or fresh bodies of water. Beaches, wetlands, watersheds and estuaries are all part of this ecosystem -as are dunes, reefs and coastal islands. Many of these areas have suffered immense damage from development, overfishing and most types of pollution. These ecosystems are the recipients of most non-point source pollutants such as runoff from farms, city streets and industry. There has been debate over whether the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) protects all American waterways or just our “navigable” waterways from environmental damage and pollution. Wetland protections provided by the CWA were erased in 2001 when our Supreme Court ruled the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers had no jurisdiction over non-navigable waters. That controversial decision enables developers and farmers to drain, bulldoze, fill and destroy so-called “isolated” wetland areas. Many feel the Supreme Court erred in its interpretation of the Clean Water Act. They claim the legislative history of the Act clearly states the statute is meant to apply to all the waters of the United States.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current wetlands protection policy

I support amending the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act) to replace the term “navigable waters” that are subject to such Act with the term “waters of the United States,” defined to mean all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, and natural ponds, all tributaries of any of such waters, and all impoundments of the foregoing, and wish to identify a legislator who will reintroduce S.787 – Clean Water Restoration Act (111th Congress 2009-2010)

 Posted by at 12:00 am