Protect Threatened Martens From Extinction

Target: Valerie Termini, Executive Director of the California Fish and Game Commission

Goal: Get the dwindling population of Humboldt martens on the endangered species list.

Deforestation in California due to logging, development, and cannabis cultivation has led to significant habitat loss for the Humboldt marten. This adorable mammal has declined in population so significantly that it was thought at one point to be extinct. Fewer than 400 are estimated to remain in California and Oregon, yet the Humboldt marten has not been classified as endangered nor afforded the protections that come with that classification.

The Humboldt marten is a small weasel-like relative of the mink residing in the mature forests of northern California and southern Oregon. Only four isolated populations remain, each with fewer than 100 martens. This is largely due to the threats to the Humboldt marten’s habitat. Fragmentation or loss of habitat for the martens has resulted from significant deforestation from logging operations, road development, and cannabis grows. The martens also contend with toxic exposure to pesticides used in marijuana growing, vehicular traffic and potential collisions, and larger predators such as bobcats.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended an endangered species classification for this dwindling population, but it is the California Fish and Game Commission that must make this determination. Protections under an endangered species designation would begin immediately and include more stringent environmental review of development in Humboldt marten habitats. California must begin action now to prevent further habitat loss and threats to the marten population. Sign the petition to urge the commission to list this species as endangered and get the Humboldt martens the protection they need.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Termini,

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended endangered species status for the Humboldt marten. With fewer than 400 Humboldt martens remaining in the wild, it seems like a no-brainer for the California Fish and Game Commission to make this determination. California needs to take action soon on this dwindling population or risk losing the Humboldt martens forever.

Deforestation from logging, cannabis farming, and other development has severely threatened the Humboldt marten’s forested habitat. Scientists estimate that less than 5% of their historical range remains. Even though trapping is illegal, these small mammals are still threatened by this habitat fragmentation, vehicular collisions, and predators. They even face exposure to toxic pesticides from cannabis farming.

Federal protections for the Humboldt marten are nowhere in sight. Even if the species were to be considered for federal protections, the process is so lengthy that to date, scientists estimate that 42 species have gone extinct waiting on the candidate list for an endangered designation. Even then, the current administration is unlikely to take regulatory action in protecting this threatened species. Although the California considers this animal a “species of concern,” this comes with no regulatory protections. California needs to act immediately to protect the Humboldt marten from extinction. Place the Humboldt marten on the endangered species list immediately.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Neil McIntosh

Stop Natural Gas Leaks Poisoning Our Air

Target: Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Reduce methane leaks from the oil and gas industry that are contributing to climate change.

Natural gas may not be the clean alternative to coal that it is widely believed to be. Methane leaks from natural gas refineries may be emitting just as much greenhouse gases as coal-fired electricity production, and there is no end in sight. This “clean” fuel is contributing significantly to climate change but is unacknowledged by the EPA.

A recent study has shown that the EPA has largely underestimated methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. A compilation of over 100 independent datasets revealed that methane leaks from natural gas processing equate to approximately 2.3% of natural gas production. One researcher used optical gas imaging to spot methane leaks from equipment such as condensate tanks, which would otherwise go unnoticed to the naked eye. Lost methane from the entire natural gas industry, emitted directly to the atmosphere, could power over 10 million houses for an entire year. Estimates by the EPA consider only the emissions from the fuel burning to generate the electricity, not the overall process, and therefore underestimate the total emissions by as much as 60%.

Nearly one third of electricity generated in the U.S. is from natural gas-fired plants. This so-called cleaner fuel is just as polluting as coal overall, and something needs to be done. Rather than rolling back the Obama administration’s attempt to limit these methane leaks, the EPA needs to promote better control technologies and limit these fugitive methane leaks. Sign the petition to encourage regulatory action by the EPA to significantly reduce these methane emissions.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Pruitt,

Methane leaks from supposedly clean natural gas processing are just as polluting as coal-fired power generation, yet this administration is doing nothing to stop these emissions.

A study of over 100 natural gas sites using optical gas imaging revealed that over 20% of facilities examined were releasing methane into the atmosphere. These fugitive emissions were from parts of the process that are not typically regulated as emissions sources, such as leaking condensate tanks. An independent compilation of similar studies by the Environmental Defense Fund has estimated emissions from natural gas-fired power generation are up to 60% greater than EPA estimates due to fugitive gas leaks that the EPA does not account for. The approximate 2.3% methane loss from these leaks could power 10 million homes for an entire year. That represents a significant revenue loss and a significant emission of greenhouse gases.

These methane leaks are destructive to the environment and frankly a waste of resources. The EPA needs to mandate better control technologies to prevent these significant methane emissions from contributing further to climate change. Do not reverse the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce this emissions source. Promote better control technologies in this industry and crack down on these unplanned releases.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Dirk Ingo Franke

Clean Up the Mt. Everest Garbage Dumps

Target: Rabindra Prasad Adhikari, Nepalese Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation

Goal: Enforce stricter standards to prevent the significant deposition of climbers’ waste on beautiful Mt. Everest.

They say to take only pictures and leave only footprints, but booming popularity in summiting Mt. Everest has led to a devastating impact on the mountain’s beauty. Hundreds of tons of garbage and human waste have been left behind by climbers, polluting the environment and the area’s natural beauty. The world’s highest peak is also the world’s highest rubbish heap.

Nearly 4,000 climbers have summitted Mt. Everest since the first completed climb in 1953, with an increasing number of climbers every year. The Nepalese and Tibetan governments have different requirements, but both levy fines for climbers who don’t return to base with the requisite amount of their waste. According to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC), which has overseen attempts to clean up the mountain, only about half of climbers return to the bottom with the required amount of waste. Evidently, these fines are insignificant enough to ignore in comparison to the approximately $20,000 to $100,000 that climbers spend on expeditions. Last year the SPCC collected and removed an equivalent of three double-decker buses worth of trash from Mt. Everest. However, this barely scratches the surface of the tents, equipment, and human waste already left behind, in addition to the estimated 130 more tons of trash each year.

With increased interest in climbing Mt. Everest every year and climate change melting the ice and snow cover, this problem will only worsen. Human waste buried at base camp, which becomes uncovered and runs into the valley during monsoon season, threatens the villages below. This problem must be rectified in order to return Mt. Everest to its natural beauty. Sign the petition to urge the Nepalese government to levy harsher penalties for climbers leaving more behind than just their footprints.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Adhikari,

The pollution of Mt. Everest by rich, uncaring climbers is astounding. The SPCC has brought down many tons of garbage already, and plans to bring more, but they may never catch up to the devastating impact climbers have already made with human waste and garbage left behind.

The mountain is estimated to be covered in hundreds of tons of waste, with an additional 130 tons added by climbers every year. The Nepalese government needs to take action to incentivize climbers to pick up after themselves and not destroy this beautiful landmark for future generations. As it stands now, the cost of climbers returning with their own waste is insignificant compared to the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the expedition to begin with. The fines for descending without all of what a climber brought with them need to be prohibitive.

Climbers take pride in summiting the world’s highest peak but seem to have no care for how they leave that accomplishment for others. And every year, the trash heap grows. Please, don’t allow the continued deposit of rubbish on one of the world’s most incredible landmarks. Make these climbers return with everything they brought or pay the consequences.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Malianand

Applaud Hawaii on Deadly Pesticide Ban

Target: David Ige, Governor of Hawaii

Goal: Congratulate Hawaii on pursuing environmental and public safety despite the Trump administration’s continued push for environmental deregulation.

Hawaii has banned the use of dangerous chlorpyrifos in pesticides. Lawmakers have chosen to protect the environment and their children’s safety despite the Trump administration’s refusal to ban this toxic substance nationwide. Hawaii is the first state to take a stand on this issue and should be applauded for its leadership.

Chlorpyrifos is a widely used chemical in pesticides and has been linked to neurological damage in children exposed to it. Children run a higher risk of developmental disabilities, lower IQ, and ADHD when exposed to the chemical. Farmers who spray this chemical are also at a higher risk of developing lung cancer and immune disorders. Yet a 2017 CNN report identified chlorpyrifos as the most widely used pesticide nationwide. Hawaii’s ban, which will begin in 2019, will prevent the use of chlorpyrifos, ban the spraying of pesticides within 100 feet of schools during school hours, and require the reporting of controlled chemicals to Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture.

Despite an EPA study recommending the ban of this substance from use due to its negative health effects, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt denied the request for a nationwide ban. It has been widely reported that this is likely due to the Trump administration’s close ties with a chlorpyrifos manufacturer, Dow Chemicals, which lobbied heavily against a ban and contributed significantly to the Trump administration.

Nationwide calls for a ban of this dangerous substance, including several ForceChange petitions here, here, here, and here, have been largely ignored by Pruitt and the EPA. We must show our support in protecting our children. Sign the petition to applaud Hawaii for its environmental stewardship and leadership in taking a stand against the destructive Trump administration.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Ige,

Hawaii’s recent ban on chlorpyrifos, despite the Trump administration’s continued assault on our environment, is admirable. I applaud you and your state legislature for your unanimous support of this law, which will protect our children from dangerous neurological health impacts.

Chlorpyrifos has been shown to have negative health impacts in those exposed, especially children. An EPA study recommended a ban of this toxic substance, yet President Trump and Scott Pruitt have bowed to the demands of the industrial lobby to allow continued use of this substance nationwide. It is unspeakably dangerous to take this stand, when the environment and public health is at stake.

If our federal government will not care for our children and the environment, the states must do so themselves. Thank you for your leadership in environmental and public health issues, especially in regards to this ban on dangerous pesticides. I hope you will encourage your fellow governors to do the same.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Zeynel Cebeci

Don’t Mine Our Beautiful National Monuments

Target: Saf Dhillon, CEO of Glacier Lake Resources, Inc.

Goal: Prevent the destruction of previously protected national monuments from mining.

A Canadian mining company has purchased property that was formerly part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. With the Trump administration’s rollback of federally protected lands last year, this area is now going to be stripped and destroyed for a profit.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was dedicated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. It encompassed 1.9 million acres southeast of Boulder, Utah and was previously America’s largest national monument. In December of 2017, the Trump administration committed the largest reversal of federal land protection, reducing the area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half, to about one million acres. This means that the former federal protections will no longer prevent mining and development; what was once a pristine landscape could now be gone forever.

Conservation organizations currently suing the Trump administration maintain that only Congress has the authority to revoke or modify national monument status. This means that President Trump’s action in reducing the federally protected area of the affected national monuments was illegal and the 200 acres of the Colt Mesa sold to Vancouver-based mining company, Glacier Lake Resources, Inc., was not Trump’s to sell. This land should not be available for commercial development, which would destroy the beauty and environmental treasure that is Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Sign the petition to encourage this mining company to show some restraint in favor of environmental protection and stop efforts to mine this land which, even if not in name, is still a national treasure.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Dhillon,

Your company’s proposed development of land formerly included in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is deplorable. Glacier Lake Resources should not be mining this area. Even if the federal protections have been revoked in name, and even this is debatably legal, the Colt Mesa is still considered a national treasure.

Under the Antiquities Act, Congress delegated authority for the establishment of national monuments to the president. However, Congress maintained the authority to revoke or modify these federal protections. President Trump sold you something that wasn’t his to give. Proponents of these rollbacks might tell you that his power in revoking protection is implicit in this regulation. I for one am not comfortable staking a claim, literally or figuratively, based on implicit power.

This “welcome addition” to your portfolio is a pristine landscape and a national treasure. It is not too late to prevent development of this important landmark. Stop your company’s assault on our environment and do not mine Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Peter Fitzgerald

Stop Hydroelectric Dams from Destroying Cambodia’s Ecosystems

Target: Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister

Goal: Prevent dams constructed for hydropower from negatively impacting fishing migration patterns and fishers’ and farmers’ livelihoods.

Eleven hydroelectric dam projects along the Mekong River in Cambodia threaten the area’s river ecology and fish populations. These dams could irreparably harm seasonal flood patterns and the livelihoods of the farmers and fishermen who rely on the river. Permanent environmental destruction will occur with the development of the hydroelectric dams.

During monsoon season, the Mekong River floods May through November and backs up into the Tonle Sap River and Tonle Sap Lake. After the rain ends and water recedes, the river flow reverses in the Tonle Sap River and it returns to being a tributary to the Mekong River. Farmers rely on the flood waters bringing nutrients and sediment to their farm fields and fishermen rely on the predictable fish migration patterns. Residents in the area have built their lives and culture around the flooding, constructing floating or stilted homes and using the natural patterns of the river for their income. The dams would significantly alter this hydrology, changing fish migration patterns, altering sediment deposition, and otherwise threatening the food security of the area. Fish and rice are food staples not only in Cambodia but in all of Southeast Asia.

The hydroelectric dams might be a step towards modernizing Cambodia but they will come at a cost. The livelihoods of the residents that the hydropower will purportedly help could be destroyed by this development. That is not to mention the significant environmental destruction. Sign the petition to prevent the destruction of the Mekong River and irreversible damage to the residents who rely on it.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,

The hydroelectric dam projects up and down the Mekong River threaten Cambodia’s ecosystems and residents. It is understood that the hydroelectric dams are meant to modernize Cambodia and provide electricity to the half of the population without, but this comes at a significant cost. The residents here have adapted to the predictable flood patterns during monsoon season, building their lives and culture around it. Farmers and fishermen rely on fish migration patterns and sediment deposition to feed themselves and the region. The majority of the region’s fish, rice, and vegetables come from small farms. Cambodia’s food security would be threatened, not to mention all of Southeast Asia. All of this would be permanently and negatively impacted by changing the hydrology of the Mekong River with more hydroelectric dams.

Please, do not let modernization destroy your ecosystems and residents’ lives. Consideration needs to be made for the damage to the Mekong River hydrology, fishing migration patterns, and the residents who rely on the river to feed their families. Stop the development of these hydroelectric dams and allow your citizens to carry on their way of life unimpeded.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Steven Pavlov

Protect Us from Polluters: Eliminate Corruption in the EPA

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Remove political appointees with conflicts of interest from the EPA.

Close to 50% of EPA political appointees have ties to industry under the current administration, according to a study by the AP. With high-ranking officials in positions to ignore or bend the rules for former employees, questions regarding conflict of interest are raised. How can the EPA protect the public and enforce environmental regulations with so many employees having questionable loyalties?

The EPA recently named Steven Cook as the new chair of the Superfund Task Force, after the former chair resigned amid scandal. Cook has been at the EPA since February of 2018 as the deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, but prior to that spent over two decades as a lawyer for LyondellBasell Industries, one of the country’s largest chemicals, plastics, and refining companies, and a known past and allegedly present-day polluter. Of the approximately 1,300 toxic cleanup sites that the Superfund Task Force is in charge of monitoring, six are the responsibility of Lyondell Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Cook’s former employer. In 2010, Lyondell Chemical Co. settled with the U.S. government for $250 million for the cleanup of these six Superfund sites as well as nine other polluted sites. LyondellBasell is suspected by the EPA of polluting over thirty other sites.

The person previously entrusted to defend a known polluter is now in charge of supposedly expediting cleanup at their pollution sites, and many others. Rather than recuse himself, Cook, along with many other EPA officials previously from these industries, hides behind the flimsy belief that the ethics briefings mandated by the EPA are enough. But these are not sufficient to guarantee impartiality or the public’s safety. Sign the petition to call for the investigation and removal from the EPA of political appointees with ties to companies being regulated.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

The EPA under your administration has become a corrupt, toothless organization. Rather than protecting the environment and enforcing regulation, the EPA under your guidance is being systematically dismantled from within by employees who formerly represented or worked for the companies they are supposed to be regulating. The AP identifies one-third of last year’s 60 hires to the EPA as former lawyers or lobbyists for EPA-regulated companies. Nearly half of political appointees under your administration have some connection with industries regulated by the EPA. Steven Cook, the chair of the Superfund Task Force, spent over twenty years as a lawyer for a company whose sites he is now in charge of remediating.

This kind of flagrant ethical violation will not be tolerated by the American people. Discontinue the appointment of regulators from companies that are regulated, and remove people like Steven Cook, Nancy Beck, and countless others from positions where they can benefit their former employers. We need and deserve a clean environment, free from unregulated and unmitigated pollution.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: WhisperToMe

Reduce Toxic Fumes in Rural India

Target: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister for Environment, Forest, & Climate Change

Goal: Reduce air pollution threatening rural populations in India.

Air pollution in India threatens rural citizens’ health, but monitoring and regulations focus on urban areas. With 70% of India’s population living in rural areas, the majority of India remains unprotected from inhaling hazardous air pollutants.

Researchers have modeled concentrations of ozone and particulate matter in the air across India and correlated these to premature mortality. Of the 7.6 million air pollution-related deaths per year worldwide, one million are estimated in India. The majority of these premature deaths are in rural populations from circulatory and respiratory conditions due to low air quality. Although the rural areas lack the industry and high transportation numbers generally associated with significant air pollution, rural areas experience other contributors such as indoor cooking over open flame and rural energy fueled primarily by wood, dung, or biomass. These, in addition to the pollution from factories and increasing use of cars in urban areas, contribute significantly to India’s air pollution, which disproportionately impacts often overlooked rural populations.

Monitoring and regulations associated with tracking and minimizing air pollution often focus on industrial and/or urban areas. However, as is the case in India, rural populations suffer as much if not more from the ill effects of poor air quality. Sign the petition to encourage Indian officials to focus pollution control efforts on their rural populations.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Vardhan,

Industry, increased transportation, and the use of wood, dung, and biomass as fuel in rural areas is polluting India’s air. An estimated one million Indians die prematurely every year due to circulatory or respiratory conditions related to toxic air pollution. Many come from rural areas of India, where 70% of your population is living. Yet most of the resources and research on the effect of air pollution is focused on urban areas. This leaves the majority of your populations vulnerable to the adverse health effects of increased ozone and particulates in the air, taking an average of 3.4 years off the average lifespan of your citizens. Industry and transportation are often targeted in urban areas as the major polluters, but the burning of wood, dung, and biomass as primary fuel sources in rural areas are significant contributors to declining air quality.

Monitoring and research is required to understand and evaluate the health effects of inhaling these toxic pollutants. Education will also help in reducing the significant contributors to air pollution from rural life. Minister Vardhan, please, focus resources on curbing air pollution not just in urban areas but in rural areas, where the majority of India’s population suffers.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: McKay Savage

Stop Killing Cambodia’s Endangered Animals for Meat

Target: Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister

Goal: Stop the illicit trapping of wild game in Cambodia that threatens many endangered species in the area.

Many endangered species in Cambodia are threatened by the population’s demand for bushmeat. This demand has burgeoned into a significant illicit market for commercial hunters and is decimating wildlife populations in the tropical forests of Cambodia.

Bushmeat is wild game (often trapped illegally) from non-domesticated animals in tropical forests. Some poor rural areas use bushmeat for sustenance but more often than not hunters are urban elite who view bushmeat and the hunt as a status symbol. Many consider bushmeat to be a delicacy or to have health benefits over domesticated meat, but often eating bushmeat is a pathway for the transfer of tropical diseases such as Ebola from animals to humans.

Cambodia is a prime location for illegal game trade, which can include many endangered species such as sun bears, hog deer, and the Sunda pangolin which are caught for eating. Other animals such as baby Asian elephants can also become accidentally ensnared in bushmeat traps. Experts estimate that over half of the species illegally trapped are nearing extinction. Many Cambodians are unaware that many of these species are endangered; to those who are aware, the scarcity makes bushmeat even more desirable to obtain.

The demand for bushmeat has decimated populations of many endangered species in Cambodia and there is no end in sight. Crackdowns on individual hunters and the removal of traps has been largely inadequate to curb the trapping of these protected species. More education is needed to change the public’s view on bushmeat and reduce demand. Additional enforcement will also help to limit activities of larger-scale bushmeat trade organizations. Sign the petition for Cambodia to educate its citizens and crack down on illicit bushmeat trade and protect endangered species from extinction.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,

Illegal bushmeat trade in Cambodia has reached unprecedented levels, pushing many endangered species near extinction. Trapping of endangered species for sale as food, especially rare tropical animals, should not be tolerated by the government.

Although some may blame subsistence hunters for the decreasing wildlife populations, the trapping and consumption of bushmeat is seen as a status symbol for elite, who simply don’t care that these animals are critically endangered. They also don’t care when other animals, such as baby Asian elephants, not intended to be trapped become ensnared and die at their hands. This cruel practice needs to end.

Cambodia should educate the public on the ill effects of bushmeat trade, including loss of biodiversity, unintentional trapping of non-game animals, and the potential transfer of tropical diseases to humans. The current enforcement resources are not sufficient to end the illegal bushmeat trade and protect these endangered species. Please, educate your citizens to reduce demand for bushmeat and enforce restrictions on commercial hunting organizations participating in this illicit activity. It is critical to the conservation of your nation’s precious wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: A. J. T. Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF

Do Not Bail Out Dirty Energy

Target: Rick Perry, Secretary of the United States Department of Energy

Goal: Stop intervention into the energy industry on behalf of aging coal-fired power plants.

A leaked memo from the Department of Energy revealed plans by the Trump Administration to force power grid operators to purchase electricity from declining coal-fired power plants in order to prevent their shutdown.

The proposal would use two federal laws, the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act, to direct electricity grid operators to purchase power from “more reliable” sources that have fuel located on-site, i.e. coal-fired, power plants. These plants are noncompetitive with cleaner, cheaper power plants that use natural gas and renewables, and are facing decommissioning and switchovers to other fuel sources. The leaked memo cites national security issues in encouraging the support of struggling dirty energy plants, however, grid operators and other experts reject the administration’s premise that there are reliability concerns with the current mix of natural gas and renewables for power generation. Instead, the Trump Administration is feeding into public concerns for national security in order to support ailing industries that should be eliminated by attrition in the marketplace.

This is an unacceptable intervention by the government to instill fear and force an agenda of dirty energy. Sign the petition to discourage the Department of Energy from intervening on behalf of aging coal-fired power plants and instead bolster our energy independence using clean, renewable energy.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Perry,

The bailout of dirty energy companies under the guise of national defense is despicable. Coal-fired power plants are rightfully being eliminated by attrition because they cannot compete with cheaper, cleaner power such as natural gas and renewables. The energy industry is not experiencing any of the alleged reliability issues used to justify this unprecedented intervention.

This is not an issue of energy security or national defense, but one of politics. America wants cleaner energy, not a federal bailout of coal-fired power plants undergoing decommissioning. Do not collapse under pressure from President Trump to promote an agenda of dirty energy.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Rahm Emanuael