Hold Big Oil Accountable for Climate Change Impacts

Target: Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., Attorney representing Chevron Oil

Goal: Make oil companies pay for the destruction caused by climate change and their own greed.

Big oil has perpetrated a fraud against the American public by ignoring climate science in order to line their pockets. In the past, these huge oil and energy companies have purposely muddied the waters when it comes to the impacts of climate change from the production and use of fossil fuels in order to maintain their profit margin from these activities and obscure the truth to the public. These companies need to be held accountable for the catastrophic impacts of their activities.

Now this issue has been taken to court in People of the State of California vs. BP P.L.C. et. al. Several large U.S. cities have sued several big oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell. This momentous court case aims to make big oil pay for the current and future damages to infrastructure and real estate caused by rising sea levels due to climate change. Finally, the public may see some reparations for the damage caused by the oil industry.

These companies knew the damage they were causing before much of the public was aware of the issue of climate change. According to the LA Times, a presentation in 1980 made to the American Petroleum Institute (API) warned these companies of the dangers of (then) global warming, both environmentally and economically, and the potential consequences of their actions. Rather than alert the government or the public, the API chose to sow chaos and confuse the public by becoming one of the loudest deniers of anthropogenic climate change. This has been proven with literature disseminated within the API seeking to emphasize the “uncertainties” of climate science, rather than share the truth. This occurred after climate change became widely publicized with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.

These unethical business practices in order to turn huge profits are unacceptable. The oil industry perpetrated a fraud against the public for decades in order to make money rather than do the ethical thing by sharing the truth and making changes to way we use fossil fuels and energy. Instead, this industry has led us on a path of fossil fuel dependence. Sign the petition for the attorney of these companies to stop blaming the public and to hold them accountable for the impacts due to their greed.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Boutrous,

Your client, big oil, has knowingly exaggerated the uncertainties related to climate science in the past in order to obfuscate the issue and continue to profit from the destruction of the environment. The court case People of the State of California vs. BP P.L.C., et. al. is of the utmost importance in holding these companies accountable for their unethical practices. Stop defending these companies by blaming climate change on “how people are leading their lives.”

Decades have gone by and oil companies have continued to profit without any consequences. The scientific community has long since come to a consensus on climate change, which has finally been admitted by your client. Big oil knew about the potential dangers related to climate change even before the issue was widely known to the public. Yet still they think only of their shareholders’ interests. Still they prevent the spread of renewable energy and technologies. Still they unapologetically promote fossil fuel dependence and its disastrous consequences.

Your client should be held accountable for the fraud perpetrated against the public. Don’t support the ridiculous notion that this is somehow the public’s fault, when your clients knowingly withheld information for years regarding the impacts of climate change. Big oil deserves to pay for the impacts they have caused due their greed and unethical activities.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Walter Siegmund

Stop Offshore Drilling from Destroying Deep-Sea Ecosystems

Target: Ryan Zinke, U.S. Secretary of the Interior

Goal: Prevent U.S. coastlines from being opened up for unfettered oil exploration.

Our planet’s rare and endangered aquatic ecosystems are once again under attack in the name of “energy exploration.” The U.S. Government is currently proposing oil drilling along the country’s coast. Opening up the entirety of the U.S. coastline for offshore drilling will kill deep-sea ecosystems. The more drilling that is allowed, the more likely a spill or accident will occur and affect the sensitive deep-water coral reefs that form the base of the ocean ecosystem. The proposed program for developing the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for oil exploration needs to be stopped before there is irreparable damage to our coastlines.

The new plan under consideration by the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management would open up 90% of the federally owned offshore areas for oil exploration without any regard for the potential environmental consequences. Oil exploration includes a number of different steps, such as investigative surveys, drilling, and pipe laying, any one of which has the potential to damage sensitive deep-water coral reefs. Oil spills can occur, as well as physical damage to the reef itself during drilling. In some cases, cleaning up the spills can be just as harmful, with the oil dispersants poisoning the coral reefs. Drill cuttings, or tiny pieces of metal that are produced during drilling, can float up to the surface of the water and smother the coral reefs. Scientists believe, at the current projections for development and the historical spill rates, that an additional 5,000 new oil spills, anywhere from small to catastrophic, will occur in the next five years due to this development plan.

These deep-sea ecosystems provide food and shelter for other marine life. Impacting the coral reefs will impact all aquatic life and could mean disaster for the ocean environment. According to experts, coral reefs could take decades to rebound from catastrophic events such as the Deepwater Horizon spill and may never function the same. It is imperative that these delicate ecosystems be protected from oil exploration activities. Sign the petition to prevent the Department of the Interior from causing irreversible damage to the deep-sea coral reefs and all ocean life.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Zinke,

Offshore drilling of U.S. coastlines could cause irreparable damage to deep-sea coral reefs that form the foundation for ocean life in these ecologically sensitive areas. I implore you to consider the environmental impacts before allowing unfettered development of these areas, which will increase the risk of a spill or accident and could cause irreversible damage to the ocean environment.

Scientists estimate that an additional 5,000 spills, ranging in size and extent, could occur over the next five years based on this development plan and the historical rate of spills. Any number of activities during oil exploration can negatively impact the environment, including not only oil spills, but the drilling itself into the ocean bottom, the release of metal particles during drilling which smother the coral reefs, and even the toxic dispersants used to remove oil spills. No spill could be considered inconsequential when any minor impact to these deep-sea coral reefs will subsequently affect all of the organisms that rely on these coral reefs for food and shelter. The more drilling is allowed, the more likely there is to be environmental harm to these delicate ecosystems. If that is not enough to convince you, consider the implications, economic and otherwise, to our beaches and fishing industries.

Don’t ignore the facts in the name of “energy dominance.” Once you lead us down this path, the impacts to these important ecosystems could be irreversible. Please take time to consider the environmental consequences before approving oil exploration up and down our coastlines.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: US Coast Guard

Combat Invasive Plants Threatening South Africa’s Ecosystems

Target: Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa

Goal: Protect South Africa’s biodiversity and limit the consumption of scarce water by thirsty invasive plants.

Hundreds of different invasive plant species in South Africa are running rampant. The country’s invasive control program, Working for Water, is one of the most successful in the world, creating local jobs while eliminating established invasive plant species, and yet cannot keep pace. This control program is underfunded and insufficient to stop the growth of so many different invasive species threatening South Africa’s natural resources.

South Africa is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, boasting over 9,000 plant species, two-thirds of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. However, at least one-third of those unique species are now threatened with extinction by invasive plants. Invasive species cover 25 million acres and consume an estimated 1 billion gallons of water annually. Water is scarce as it is in this drought-stricken nation without invasive species consuming more water on average than native plant species. These invasive species also alter the fire regime, which is necessary for the regrowth of native plants, causing hotter fires which threaten not only the native plants by infrastructure as well. They can also change the composition of the soil, compromising the ability of native plants to survive. These species threaten the unique biodiversity of South Africa and the scarce water supply in an area of the world that is already undergoing extreme rationing.

Controlled burns and invasive tree felling have been shown to be effective in controlling invasive plants in certain areas. Prioritization of the most egregious species needs to be implemented. Widespread use of these techniques is needed but cannot be realized without additional funding on a much larger scale if positive impact is to be made, rather than just slowing the invasion. Sign the petition to promote funding for the Working for Water program to continue its good work in the protection of the environment and the creation of South African jobs.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Ramaphosa,

South Africa’s natural resources are being consumed by invasive plant species. Even under the Working for Water program, largely considered to be one of the world’s most successful invasive control programs, South Africa’s biodiversity and water availability are threatened. This program, even in its success, is underfunded and under-prioritized.

South Africa is home to thousands of plant species that are not found anywhere else in the world. Invasive plants threaten the existence of these unique native species by consuming more water on average, changing soil composition, and altering the fire regime for native plant regrowth. The controlled burns and invasive tree felling has been successful in inhibit the growth of established invasive plants but is not nearly enough at its current scale to impact the over 10 million hectares covered by invasive plants. These unwelcome plants consume over 3.3 million cubic meters every year, water that is already scarce. The Working for Water program simply cannot keep up.

President Ramaphosa, please, invest in this important program and implement the broad changes necessary to not only combat the invasion of these unwelcome plants, but beat them back completely. It is vital to South Africa’s water conservation efforts and diverse ecosystems.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Singhira

Stop Underwater Noise Pollution From Harming Marine Life

Target: Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service

Goal: End underwater noise pollution that is endangering the survival of marine life.

Marine life, including whales, fish, and invertebrates, are constantly inundated with humanmade noise that interferes in their ability to thrive, and the NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) has done nothing but monitor the situation. Scientists are well aware of the problems associated with underwater noise pollution, but no concrete progress has been made regarding a firm regulatory stance by the NMFS. Rather than passively monitoring the effects on marine life, the NMFS should take action to limit humanmade underwater noise pollution and protect these species.

Underwater noise pollution, or sound propagated through the ocean waters, is largely humanmade and includes noise from ship traffic, military sonar, and exploratory drilling. This sound can travel miles across the ocean and impact marine life from many directions at once. Many types of marine life use sound to interpret their environment and to communicate, which is now threatened by constant noise underwater. Whales, for instance, use sound to find mates, let others know where food is located, and to escape predators. Other types of marine mammals, fish, and even invertebrates, rely on the ability to hear and transmit sounds to other animals. Meanwhile, noise pollution from offshore drilling and ship traffic is increasing every year, impacting the ability of these animals to find food and to reproduce. Offshore oil exploration for instance involves a series of what sounds like mini explosions every few seconds for months at a time until a survey area is completed. Ship traffic is said to be doubling every ten years. The sound levels impacting marine life will only worsen with time.

There are technologies available to dampen the sound from ships and exploratory drilling equipment but it is not being implemented. Small areas have experimented successfully with implementing “quiet zones” in sensitive habitat areas to protect wildlife, but it is not widely known. Instead of affecting real change to protect these species, the NMFS only monitors noise levels. Sign the petition to encourage the NMFS to take action to regulate these noise sources and protect the marine life dependent on a quiet ocean for survival.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Oliver,

Marine life is under siege by anthropogenic underwater noise pollution. Underwater noise pollution is a well-known issue to scientists and has many solutions that could be implemented. Yet the NMFS has not taken a definitive regulatory stance to protect marine life who rely on sound to survive. While it is important to study this phenomenon, it is equally important, if not more so, to take action.

Many species of marine life rely on sound to communicate with their groups in order to find food and mates and warn others of predators. It is crucial for their survival that they be able to hear the sounds from others, and with ship traffic and oil exploration increasing every year, this is made nearly impossible.  “Quiet zones” have been successfully implemented in sensitive marine habitats. Technological advances exist to dampen sound from oil exploration equipment and ship engines. These tools are at our disposal but are not being used to protect marine life.

With underwater noise pollution worsening every year and a myriad of solutions available, there is reason to take immediate action. The NMFS has the ability and the power to regulate these anthropogenic noise sources to protect marine life. Please, take action to implement acoustical protections for these sensitive animals.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Editor5807

End the Siege Against Endangered Pollinators

Target: Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: End siege against endangered pollinators and protect them from extinction.

Rare animals that perform a crucial function in agriculture and the wild are currently fighting to survive against an increasing number of human-made obstacles. Pollinators need to be protected, and not just honeybees.  Honeybees typically receive the most attention but only represent approximately one-third of crop pollination and an even smaller percentage of wild pollination. Meanwhile, many other pollinators are in danger, including bumblebees, butterflies, flies, and many other types of bees. We need to implement broad changes in agriculture and development in order to protect these species.

The decline of wild pollinators over the last several decades has gone largely unhindered. Several factors contribute to the loss of these important members of our ecosystems and are linked to loss of pollinators’ food sources and habitats, including widespread pesticide use, land cover changes, monoculture farming, climate change, and increased competition from commercial beekeeping. Land cover changes for farming or other uses destroy the habitats and diverse food sources for pollinators, Monoculture farming, although efficient for food production, has a secondary effect of providing food for pollinators in the immediate area only for a small window of the year. Climate change has impacted seasonal cycles and when plants bloom, endangering the pollinators’ food sources. Climate change and monoculture farming impacts are then exacerbated by the competition with commercial beekeeping for the limited food supply.

Efforts to save these species include pollinator gardens, but these are often small, isolated, and insufficient to make significant changes. Single-focus conservation such as this on one species of pollinator is not enough to maintain all species. A wide array of conservation efforts is necessary, including large and connected pollinator gardens, pesticide bans, movement away from monoculture farming, and consideration of these species during land cover changes. Species such as the bumblebee are already endangered and their challenges will only worsen.

Honeybees are a main focus when it comes to saving pollinators, and rightly so; however, honeybees represent only a small portion of both crop and wild pollination. Other pollinators need protection as well and face a multitude of challenges. Sign the petition to encourage regulators to assign resources to broad, multi-faceted conservation of all pollinators.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Perdue,

Pollinators are under siege from human-made obstacles, including land cover changes, monoculture farming, and commercial beekeeping, and it is not limited to honeybees. Actions by humans constantly threaten the habitats and food sources of all types of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and flies. An estimated 75% of food crops depend on pollination, half of which is provided by wild pollinators. Honeybees are often the focus of conservation efforts, but only provide approximately one-third of our crop pollination. The remainder still require our attention.

Wild pollinators are very important to our ecosystems and to farming. Many crops and wild plants cannot proliferate without them. Although the conservation focus on honeybees is just and admirable, many other pollinators exist and require multi-faceted conservation efforts to combat the many different factors impacting food sources and habitats. Conservation attempts thus far have been insufficient to reverse the growing number of endangered pollinators.

Please mobilize the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement broad, multi-faceted conservation efforts to protect all pollinators and the important work they do. Industry and farming has yet to feel the impacts of declining pollinator populations and will not make changes on their own. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tony Hisgett

Stop Toxic Runoff From Killing Coho Salmon in Puget Sound

Target: Director Maia Bellon, Washington State Department of Ecology

Goal: Stop polluted runoff from killing Coho salmon near urban areas.

Unknown pollutants from urban runoff are killing Coho salmon in the Puget Sound. Coho salmon have already been identified as a species of concern under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and will continue to experience population decline as long as this toxic runoff is allowed to impact Coho salmon habitats.

Researchers at Washington State University conducted a study of Coho and chum salmon due to recent concerns with a decline in the Coho salmon population. These scientists believe that the premature mortality of younger adult salmon prior to spawning, or urban spawner mortality syndrome, has been occurring for decades due to polluted urban runoff near salmon habitats. The study conducted on both Coho and chum salmon, however, revealed that chum salmon are not as susceptible to the impacts of this toxic urban runoff. Although these species are similar, the Coho salmon is very sensitive to one or more pollutants in the runoff, resulting in a high mortality rate. The specific contaminant has not yet been identified, only correlated to high-traffic areas around the Puget Sound. Since most pollutants associated with highway runoff are metals, and scientists have determined that metals alone are not causing this population decline, it is assumed that the pollutant causing these impacts is not currently regulated with a water quality standard or limit.

Without identification of the specific pollutant causing Coho salmon mortality or how the chum salmon can survive in it, all runoff should be targeted for reduction and/or treatment prior to release into the Puget Sound. In addition, further research should be funded to determine the exact pollutant that has been causing the decline in the Coho salmon populations and what, if anything can be done to help the Coho salmon thrive as the chum salmon do.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Bellon,

The storm water runoff from high-traffic areas around the Puget Sound has been killing Coho salmon for decades and scientists cannot identify what contaminant is causing the population decline. While research continues, this species of concern will continue to die off unless this contaminated runoff is stopped from entering their habitats.

The population decline of Coho salmon has been linked to the runoff from high-traffic areas around the Puget Sound. With the Washington State Office of Financial Management, Forecasting Division estimating significant population growth in the area over the next two decades, this problem will likely worsen. The contaminant in this runoff has yet to be identified and cannot be controlled through water quality standards. Something must be done to prevent this runoff from poisoning the Coho salmon habitats.

Coho salmon are a food source and an integral part of the Puget Sound ecosystem. Don’t allow urban sprawl to completely kill off this species. Put policies in place to stop or treat this runoff while this important research continues.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

Stop Loggers from Damaging Solomon Islands Drinking Water

Target: Rick Houenipwela (Hou), Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands

Goal: Don’t allow developers to damage residents’ drinking water.

Land clearing in the Solomon Islands is causing excessive soil erosion that is negatively impacting residents’ drinking water. Developers have prioritized logging and their own economic gains over public health in an area where residents don’t have access to alternative clean water sources. These forested tropical areas are being consumed by logging with no regard for the downstream impact on water quality and delicate ecosystems.

Developers on the Solomon Islands are promoting excessive logging with no plan for the protection of sensitive areas. Deforestation leads to bare soil conditions, which can cause significant erosion. Erosion of soil into downstream areas degrades the quality of water that residents rely on for drinking and bathing. In an island area, no drinking water alternatives exist for these residents. Soil loss also prevents the regrowth of vegetation in logged areas, which slows reforestation. Soil cannot quickly be replaced naturally, and the infertile soil or rock left behind is unfit for residents to farm on to feed themselves or to reestablish these sensitive forested areas. Downstream ecosystems can also be destroyed.

A national policy is needed to link these loggers’ activities with metrics for the protection of drinking water resources instead of just economic growth. Please, sign the petition below to take a stand to protect these remote residents and their access to clean water.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Hou,

Loggers’ destruction of the Solomon Islands’ tropical forests for economic gain will only continue without action to protect water resources. It is vital to protect both your citizens’ drinking water and your country’s unique tropical forest ecosystems.

The impacts of erosion on drinking water resources and downstream ecosystems can be devastating to residents. They have limited access to alternative drinking water sources, if clean water sources are negatively impacted by land clearing activities. In addition, the resulting soil loss will slow reforestation and choke downstream ecosystems. These factors need to be considered when weighing the economics of development.

Don’t allow these developers to prioritize their own economic gain over the well-being of your citizens. We urge you to adopt a policy to protect clean water and the beautiful ecosystems of the Solomon Islands.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Roosevelt Garcia

Don’t Increase Pollution From Cars and Trucks

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Don’t allow car companies to increase climate change and air pollution.

Trump’s EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, wants to roll back car and truck efficiency standards that were created by the Obama administration to reduce pollution and climate-warming carbon emissions. Vehicular tailpipe emissions contribute significantly to the degradation of local air quality as well as to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. Several states, including California, have already declared their intentions to maintain the stricter standards in the face of the federal rollback, which would cleave the automobile industry market in two, causing conflict in industry standards as well as potential economic impacts to consumers.

Carbon pollution from transportation are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and also imperil public health by releasing pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and others. Greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles contribute directly to manmade climate change while other air pollutants, in addition to acting as secondary contributors to greenhouse gases, are a risk to public health. The previous progress made to curb these emissions will not only be nullified, but reversed, continuing on the path to worsening impacts from climate change.

The proposed change in vehicle emissions standards is simply a political move to setback the progress set into motion by the previous administration, and represents a detriment to the environment and a potential economic burden on consumers. Please, take a stand by notifying your government that we will not tolerate this assault on our health and the environment.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump:

The EPA’s proposed reversal of automobile emissions standards set in place by the Obama administration will degrade local air quality and increase greenhouse gas emissions. Whether or not you believe in human-made climate change, these tailpipe emissions can cause issues for human health and the environment, and many states have already declared intentions to support and uphold stricter standards.

Transportation is one of the leading contributors to air pollution and reversal of the stricter standards could cause significant negative impacts to the environment, as well as to public health. On top of that, the constant changing of tailpipe emissions standards will create an economic burden on manufacturers that will most certainly be passed along to consumers, your constituents.

Don’t allow auto companies and the oil industry to take us backwards. Prevent this reversal of emissions standards that could negatively impact consumers and their environment.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Salvatore Arnone