Support Harsher Sentences for Wildlife Poachers

Target: Najib Balala, Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya

Goal: Support the decision to enact more stringent laws to protect Kenya’s wildlife by making poaching a capital offense.

Following the tragic death of Sudan, the last male white rhino left on earth, Kenya has announced its intention to strengthen laws against wildlife poaching and ensure that criminals who break these laws face the most severe consequences. Kenya’s Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, made the announcement at an event to launch a commemorative stamp in honor of Sudan and raise awareness of the plight of animals like the white rhino. The new laws will face offenders of wildlife poaching with capital punishment.

Balala stated, “We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of $200,000 U.S. dollars. However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.” He says that under the new laws, “offenders of wildlife crimes will face the death penalty in accordance with the laws of the land.” This is a momentous stand for humanity, compassion, and the preservation of wildlife. Sign below to support Kenya’s dedication to treating poaching as the serious offense it is, and ensuring that it is not condoned or tolerated.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Balala,

Your statement of Kenya’s intent to strengthen the consequences of and laws against poaching are an important victory for wildlife preservation and for humanity. Poaching is an inhumane and unacceptable crime. Thank you for recognizing that and taking action to discourage and punish poachers for breaking the laws of the land.

As you stated, the laws Kenya currently has in place are evidently insufficient in curbing poaching. Additionally, the move to make wildlife poaching a capital offense sets a positive example for other countries where poaching is a widespread problem. I support these new laws, and I thank you for taking a stand to protect wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bernard Spragg

Stop the Barbaric Slaughter of Thousands of Kangaroos

Target: Mick Gentleman, Minister for Planning and Land Management of the Australia Capital Territory

Goal: Stop the Australian government from needlessly killing thousands of native kangaroos.

Australian officials have approved the culling of kangaroos in the Australian Capital Territory for yet another year. For the next three months, thousands of the native marsupials will be massacred in an attempt to control their population. Kangaroos are an essential part of Australia’s natural ecosystem and help reduce the risk of damaging brush fires, and therefore must be protected against this needless form of cruelty.

As part of the annual cull, unlicensed hunters are allowed to participate and kill virtually any animals that they find in a variety of inhumane ways, including the clubbing of young kangaroos and their mothers. Additionally, those opposing the cull have faced prosecution, making it difficult for animal rights groups to rally against the ongoing cruelty.

The Australian government must listen to the voices of those who stand against this cull that lacks any scientific basis and results in the suffering and death of thousands of animals. Sign below to demand that officials seek non lethal alternatives to controlling the kangaroo population.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Gentleman,

Each year since 2009, thousands of kangaroos have been ruthlessly killed each year in the Australian Capital Territory as part of a misguided attempt to control their population. While kangaroos are prolific by nature, they are an integral part of the ecosystem and help maintain Australia’s biodiversity while reducing the risk of damaging fires by clearing away excessive brush.

Unless government officials intervene, thousands of kangaroos will be killed in a host of inhumane and cruel ways, including the brutal clubbing of young joeys and their mothers. These native creatures should be allowed to thrive as they have for millennia, not killed in mass numbers to make way for livestock or other human endeavors. If population control is indeed necessary, we urge you to find humane, non lethal alternatives that do not cause harm to one of Australia’s most iconic species.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bilby Summerhill

Don’t Defund America’s Greenhouse Gas Police

Target: Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations

Goal: Invest in technology that helps curb greenhouse gases.

President Donald Trump dealt another blow to environmental conservation efforts by eliminating one of the strongest tools for tracking dangerous pollutants worldwide. NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System tracks emissions of two of the most prevalent and environmentally damaging greenhouse gases: carbon and methane. Systems such as the CMS play a critical role in monitoring and evaluating initiatives designed to curb pollution, such as the Paris Climate Accord.

This latest move represents another in a continued effort at preventing organizations like NASA from initiating and enforcing environmental protections. Under the guidance of the climate change skeptic whom the President hand-selected to head NASA, the organization has seen a massive cut in funding and prominence for earth science programs. Now this environmentally hostile administration—and the President in particular—have in their crosshairs another NASA fixture that analyzes the earth’s carbon levels. If the President’s expectations are met, within two years the Orbiting Carbon Conservatory will be no more.

Sign this petition and demand Congress provide full funding for this critical environmental tool.

PETITON LETTER:

Dear Representative Frelinghuysen,

GEDI—a carbon monitoring instrument—will debut at the International Space Station this year. And by the day, European countries are investing in revolutionary technologies that can protect our environment and help build a better future.

How has the United States contributed to these efforts recently? Within the past few days and against the advice of qualified scientific professionals, NASA was unceremoniously stripped of its own key carbon monitoring system. More cuts are looming, with the target currently being trained on another NASA mainstay that helps track detrimental pollutants. If left unrestrained, these destructive pollutant forces can and will turn our own earth against us.

Other countries are more than willing to step into the future and fill a critical environmental leadership gap that the United States has abandoned. These countries will reap the rewards, financial and otherwise. Make a statement to the world and to the citizens of this country that the planet we call home will not be forsaken.

The Carbon Monitoring System fell in large part because it did not receive needed funding. Do not let the same fate befall another important tool for earth scientists. Fund the NASA Orbiting Carbon Conservatory—and invest in earth science—for your next budget and for years to come.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michael Draeger

Stop Trump Donor From Grabbing Ownership of Yosemite Away From American People

Target: Donald Trump
Goal: Denounce your donor for grabbing iconic places like “Yosemite National Park” and “Half Dome” away from the American people.

Trump donor Jeremy Jacobs, who is the owner of the billion dollar concessions corporation Delaware North, is leading a charge to wrestle ownership of iconic Yosemite names, such as Curry Village, Ahwahnee Lodge, Wawona Hotel, Half Dome, and even Yosemite National Park itself, away from the American people. This greedy corporate owner and Trump backer is sour that his lucrative contract to sell food and services at the national park was not renewed by the Obama Administration, and has responded with a scorched earth strategy that is attempting to assert ownership over the park’s most iconic names.

Delaware North’s greed does not just effect Yosemite National Park, as they also have government contracts to provide services at other parks, including Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Olympic, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Shenandoah. The idea that a private for-profit company could own and control the names of some of America’s most iconic public places is outrageous and must be opposed.

Trump’s silence to date speaks volumes. Just because a rich billionaire gave Trump a big donation, does not entitle that fat cat to grab the people’s most treasured landmarks. Demand Donald Trump denounce this donor for his greedy attempts to wrestle iconic American names away from the people.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Donald Trump,

Your donor Jeremy Jacobs, who controls Delaware North corporation, is suing the United States in order to wrestle control of iconic place names, like “Half Dome” and even “Yosemite National Park” away from the American people. So far you have remained silent on this attempted heist of the public trust.

Just because someone gives you money, doesn’t mean they should be immune from accountability. Delaware North lost their concession to provide services at Yosemite, and they should have walked away with honor, rather than sour grapes. As a politician who received a large sum of money from Delaware North’s owner, you have a responsibility to speak out.

Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Lyel Ritter

Stop Cruel Dolphin Hunting Practices

Target: Helder Barbalho, Brazilian Minister of State for Fisheries and Aquaculture

Goal: Enforce existing ban on dolphin hunting in order to protect this critically endangered species.

Amazon river dolphins are experiencing a significant population decline due to hunting of these beautiful creatures for use as bait in commercial fishing. This cruel practice is causing the loss of these animals, much like the freshwater dolphins of China before them, who are now functionally extinct due to human activities. If these practices continue and the dolphins remain unprotected, soon there will be no freshwater dolphins left.

Two species of freshwater dolphin live in the Amazon River Basin: the boto and the tucuxi. Scientists in Brazil recently examined dolphin population surveys over the past 22 years and discovered that both species are approximately halving in population every ten years. Yet the International Union Conservation of Nature lists their conservation status as “Data Deficient.” If these scientists’ latest findings were taken into account, however, the conservation status for both species would likely be “Critically Endangered.” Scientists have examined every possibility for the cause of the dolphins’ decline, including commercial fishing, reduced food sources, river water quality impacts from mining or industry, and subsistence hunting. None of these appear to have caused this significant population loss, with the exception of commercial hunting.

The Brazilian government instituted a temporary ban on hunting these dolphins for use as bait, but this appears to be largely disregarded. Even with a hunting ban in place, these populations continue to decline due to illegal activities and their naturally slow reproduction rate. Females bear calves only once every four to five years, making population revival slow and difficult. Sign the petition to urge the Brazilian government to extend the existing dolphin hunting ban indefinitely and actually enforce it, before the Amazon river dolphins disappear as the Chinese river dolphins did.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Barbalho,

Commercial fishing is significantly reducing the Amazon river dolphin populations. These freshwater dolphins are a unique treasure in the Amazon river basin, but they are cruelly being captured and used as bait by commercial fishermen. Although these dolphins are technically protected under the temporary hunting ban, it seems the ban is largely unheeded.

Researchers have estimated the dolphins’ population to be halving every ten years based on a recent study of surveys taken over the past 22 years. Despite a plethora of proof to the contrary, the International Union Conservation of Nature conservation status of the Amazon river dolphins remains “Data Deficient.” Human activities have already caused the Chinese river dolphins to become functionally extinct, and the Amazon river dolphin is not far behind. Scientist believe if the recent study were taken into account, that these dolphins would be listed as “Critically Endangered” and require far more protection than a temporary hunting ban.

Acknowledging the detrimental effects of commercial hunting by instituting the temporary ban on commercial hunting is an important first step in righting this wrong. However, this ban appears to be ineffective and is only temporary. The dolphin hunting ban needs to be vehemently enforced and indefinitely extended before these beautiful creatures disappear completely.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michelle Bender

Require Solar Panels on New Houses

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

Goal: Follow in California’s footsteps and require that new homes be built with solar panels to protect our environment nationwide.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a major and dangerous contributor to global warming, but California has approved a proposal to great reduce greenhouse gases by requiring that all new houses constructed beginning in 2020 be built with solar panels. According to an EPA report on the consequences of climate change in California, global warming is tied to critical issues including the death of trees, retreating glaciers and warming waters, and catastrophic droughts and wildfires. However, the report also noted that the state’s “pioneering policies” have cut greenhouse gas emissions in spite of a growing population, which provides hope.

California will be the first state with this type of requirement, which has been passed by the California Energy Commission and now awaits approval from the Building Standards Commission. Although construction costs will be higher, this will be offset by lower utility costs and the significant benefits to the environment. A report commissioned by the state found that this measure will ultimately be cost effective, and is the only effective way of ensuring that homes produce as much energy as they use. Sign below to demand that our federal government do its duty to protect the environment and enact the same requirements for solar energy in newly built homes.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Administrator Pruitt,

The EPA has released reports that show the ties between global warming and environmental catastrophes, and has pointed out that California’s “pioneering policies” and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions despite a growing population provide hope for the future. One such policy is California’s recently approved proposal to require solar panels on all new houses built starting in 2020. As the leader of the EPA, it is your responsibility to protect and preserve our environment for future generations. Following California’s lead in these measures are the best way to do that.

Although solar panels will increase the price of building, those costs are projected to be balanced out by lower utility costs. Reports have determined that these measures are cost effective, and provide the only practical long-term solution to ensuring that homes produce as much energy as they deplete. These new measures do provide exceptions for structures that don’t get much sunlight, and are a huge step in the right direction when it comes to cleaner energy and hopefully combatting the devastating natural disasters that are shown to be tied to global warming. I urge you to preserve our environment and to emulate California’s example by requiring solar panels in the construction of new homes nationwide.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gray Watson

Stop Personal Care Products from Poisoning Our Air

Target: Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration

Goal: Ban the use of siloxane in personal care products to reduce air pollution.

Emissions from personal care products are contributing to urban air pollution. The additives in personal care products need to be vetted not only for their direct impact on humans, but for the secondary impacts caused as they evaporate into the air. Until those impacts are determined, the FDA should enact a moratorium on the use of siloxane in personal care products.

Siloxane is a volatile organic compound (VOC), meaning it evaporates into the atmosphere quickly. VOCs are contributors to urban air pollution. They react with other compounds to create ozone and particulate matter, both of which are regulated and can have negative impacts on human health and air quality. Siloxane is a common ingredient in personal care products, such as shampoo, deodorant, and lotions.

A study performed in Boulder, Colorado measuring over one hundred different VOCs over time revealed peaks in emissions of siloxane during rush-hour traffic. The peak was of approximately the same magnitude as benzene emissions, which are an indicator of vehicle exhaust. However, upon further investigation, scientists discovered that the siloxane emissions were not emitted with vehicle exhaust. Scientist correlated the siloxane emissions with commuter traffic but not with the vehicles – the pollution was coming from the commuters themselves. The peaks occurred during morning rush hour after people get ready for work and leave their homes and again to a lesser extent during evening rush hour due to the VOCs evaporating throughout the day. As other sources of air emissions decline, VOC emissions from personal care products emitted from our own bodies are becoming a huge contributor to urban air pollution.

Siloxane is simply a marker for other VOCs in these studies. The large number of VOCs used in personal care products, and other consumer products, could be contributing significantly to air quality decline and the related health impacts. The FDA regulates substances in cosmetics and needs to be studying all the impacts on our health. Sign the petition to ban the use of siloxane in personal care products until we have more information about the impacts on our health and the environment.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Commissioner Gottlieb,

Siloxane used in personal care products is contributing significantly to urban air pollution. Studies of VOCs in the atmosphere over time indicate that these emissions peak with commuter traffic but are not emitted from vehicle exhaust. Scientists believe that these emissions are coming from the commuters themselves, having applied these products prior to leaving home.

VOCs evaporate into the atmosphere and react with other compounds to form ozone and particulate matter, which compromise air quality. They are also known to bioaccumulate, increasing in concentration as they are passed along the food chain, making removal nearly impossible.

Even if these substances are safe to use on our skin, they may be causing secondary health impacts from emission into the air and other impacts on animals and the environment. The FDA needs to crack down on the use of siloxane and other VOCs in consumer products until more is known about the potential impacts on human health and the environment.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kulmalukko

Protect Loggerhead Turtles from Microplastic Pollution

Target: Rick Scott, Governor of Florida

Goal: Expand microbead ban in Florida to protect species that live along the Gulf of Mexico, such as the loggerhead turtle.

Unseen pollution on the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico endangers wildlife such as the loggerhead turtle. Tiny bits of plastic pollution called microplastics are barely noticeable to humans but can significantly impact species that use these beaches, such as loggerhead turtles, who lay their eggs there. Florida needs to reduce this plastic pollution through enforcement of existing laws and the expansion of the Obama administration’s microbead ban in order to protect this wildlife.

Microplastic pollution, made of bits of plastic smaller than 5 mm, is caused by the use of tiny bits of plastic called microbeads in consumer products such as exfoliants and wash-off cosmetics. President Obama banned microbeads by executive order in 2015, which went into effect mid-2017, but this has not been enough. Microbeads can still be used in some products such as leave-on cosmetics and detergents and still find their way into the ocean and onto the beaches. These plastics are nearly impossible to remove from the wastewater stream through conventional treatment. This pollution can impact wildlife directly by accidental digestion or more insidiously by secondary impacts such as through the deposition of these nearly invisible plastics on beaches.

Loggerhead turtles lay eggs in the sands along the Gulf of Mexico and are significantly impacted by this microplastic pollution. Gender determination in loggerhead turtles is largely dependent on the temperature of the sand in which they develop. Plastic holds heat and causes greater temperature increases in the sand compared to moderate fluctuations in air temperature. Scientists have discovered in some cases of extreme plastic pollution that 99% of turtle hatchlings are female. This heat retention is causing dangerous impacts to the turtle populations and their abilities to reproduce, and scientists simply do not yet know the extent of these impacts.

The microbead ban has not tangibly reduced microplastics pollution. Several more loggerhead turtle breeding seasons could take place before the effects of the ban are seen, and even then more microbeads will have entered the environment through their continued use due to loopholes in the ban. By that time, significant changes could occur in the loggerhead turtle populations. Florida needs to expand this ban to cover all products with microbeads before it is too late. Sign the petition to encourage Florida’s governor to take the existing microbead ban further and institute real change to protect this sensitive turtle.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Scott,

Microplastic pollution is impacting loggerhead turtle populations that use Florida’s beaches to lay their eggs. This pollution is caused by the use of microbeads in consumer products that were not included in the 2015 ban by the Obama administration. This ban should be expanded to include all microbeads, especially in areas where impacts to sensitive populations could occur, such as along the Gulf of Mexico.

Loggerhead turtles who lay their eggs in the sand along these beaches are greatly impacted by microplastic pollution. The microbeads hold heat, unduly increasing the sand temperature compared to changes in ambient temperature. The temperature of the sand impacts the gender determination of the turtles, in some cases resulting in groups of eggs hatching that are nearly 99% female. Scientist do not yet know the extent of the impacts, only that microplastics have been found at every breeding site examined and are the likely culprit of the significant gender skewing in the turtle population. These microbeads are nearly impossible to remove from water using conventional wastewater treatment techniques, so a ban on the use of microbeads in all consumer products is critical to reducing this pollution.

Please, enact a more stringent microbead ban in Florida to include all microbeads. It is crucial to the loggerhead turtles’ survival that they be able to lay their eggs on clean beaches. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

EPA: Stop Ignoring Potentially Lethal Air Pollution

Target: Cami Grandinetti, Manager for Remedial Cleanup, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Goal: Perform air quality testing in areas of Washington State that may be exposed to high levels of toxic cadmium, lead and other cancer-causing substances.

Residents living in the Washington town of Northport could be breathing in air contaminated by pollutants, including cancer-causing cadmium, arsenic and other heavy metals, from one of the world’s largest lead and zinc refineries, located just across the border in Canada. Yet because the EPA refuses to test for these substances, the true scope of this threat remains unknown. Protecting American citizens against the harmful effects of pollution is exactly what  this government agency was established to do, and it is time that officials start doing their job.

While the cost of air monitoring in the area for two years is estimated to be roughly $300,000, this pales in comparison to the amount of money that EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has allegedly spent on his own personal comfort, including reportedly spending up to $400,000 on first-class flights and a private soundproof phone booth in his office. The state of Washington should not have to struggle to fund its own testing when such wasteful spending is occurring at the federal level.

American citizens deserve to know about any potential health threats they may be facing from the environment in which they live. Sign the petition below to demand that air monitors be installed along the U.S.-Canadian border in Washington.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Manager Grandinetti,

Recent reports from Washington State’s Department of Ecology have shown the possibility that harmful levels of cadmium, arsenic and other known carcinogens from the Cominco lead smelter in British Columbia could be affecting air quality in the northern part of the state. Despite this fact, the EPA has not done any air quality monitoring in Washington since 2009, and has declined to begin testing in light of this recent evidence.

Heavy metals, such as those suspected of being present in the emissions from the Cominco smelter, could prove life-threatening with long-term exposure, including greatly increasing the chances of developing certain kinds of cancer. Washington State residents deserve to know what public health risk exists, if any, as a result of this exposure. That is why we demand that you begin necessary air quality testing on the U.S.-Canadian border immediately.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: under_volcano

Clean Up Spill Threatening Reservation Water Quality

Target: William Dutcher, President of Anadarko Minerals, Inc.

Goal: Hold Anadarko Minerals accountable to quickly clean up an oil spill threatening a Montana reservation’s water supply.

An oil well on the Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana failed, spilling an unknown quantity of oil and contaminants into the environment in an area that is already marginalized. Even without the well in active operation, environmental impacts occurred, and the company responsible, Anadarko Minerals, Inc., needs to be held accountable. Days after the event, there has still been no action on Anadarko’s part or any indication of the time and cost for the required cleanup.

The duration and extent of the spill and its impacts are unknown at this time, even days later. The date and cause of the spill is not known because the company was not actively monitoring the well, since it was not operational. However, what is known is that the well discharged approximately 600 barrels of oil and 90,000 barrels of brine and extended over 200 yards to a pond used to water livestock. This pond at a minimum will likely need to be drained to eliminate the contamination. It is also likely that the oil and brine have impacted the surrounding soils. In short, the spill has endangered the reservation’s water quality and residents’ livelihood, and still nothing has been done to fix it.

Marginalized areas, such as Native American reservations, are often impacted by companies looking to make a profit without caring about the consequences. Sign the petition to encourage swift responsible action by Anadarko Minerals to clean up the environmental contamination as efficiently as if it was in their own backyard.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Dutcher,

The lack of response on the part of Anadarko Minerals, Inc. regarding the oil spill on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana is simply unacceptable. The spill was reported on April 27th, and days later, still nothing has been done, and no indication has been made by your company as to the extent of the contamination or the mitigation measures necessary.

The lack of transparency regarding this latest spill is sadly not surprising. The Fort Peck Tribes have long been vocal opponents of oil development. Communities that oppose your work take a backseat to your priorities, even when directly impacted by your actions. Not only does the complete inaction on your company’s part prove their point about these environmental disasters, but now it threatens their water quality and livelihood. This marginalized community is one of many that have known what companies like yours don’t want to admit – that there are potentially significant risks to human health and the environment caused by oil production, even inactive wells.

Oil companies need to take responsibility for the consequences of their business practices before irreparable harm is done. Stop taking advantage of marginalized communities in order to make a profit. Take action now to clean up this latest disaster.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Antandrus