Category Archives: environmental news

Why take aim at grizzlies, Mr. President?

Donald J. Trump’s latest executive order has me scratching my head in utter disbelief.

The president has removed the Yellowstone grizzly from the Endangered Species List. I don’t get this one. Not at all!

There are roughly 700 of the beasts in the wild near the fabled national park that sits in the northwest corner of Wyoming and which straddles the state lines of Idaho and Montana.

Seven hundred!

Is that a lot of the big bears? I don’t consider 700 animals as constituting a glut of them. The president, though, suggests that the Yellowstone grizzly population has increased sufficiently to warrant its removed from the ESA.

“The ongoing recovery of Yellowstone grizzly bears is an undeniable example of how the ESA can bring a species back from the brink. However, we are concerned over how grizzly bears and their habitat will be managed after delisting,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former congressman from Montana, hailed the delisting. So did Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and Montana U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, both Republicans.

Call me an unapologetic animal lover. I don’t want these magnificent beasts’ habitat compromised any more than it already has been, even with its listing on the ESA.

I’m not at all clear on the ill effects that the bear’s presence on the Endangered Species Act has brought to any human being. Where is the harm? What does its removal from that list mean for the beasts’ future?

Let’s not set a new water-use record, OK?

Amarillo residents think they need to be No. 1 … apparently.

City Hall staff reports that water usage Tuesday tied an all-time daily record, set in August 2002. Residents and businesses pumped 92 million gallons of water in a single day.

That’s a lot of, um, lawn irrigation, car washes and pool fillups.

The city’s Every Drop Counts water conservation mantra needs to be placed on the top of residents’ minds.

Yes, the city took a lot of rain early this month. My wife and I were on the road, but we heard about it. Our favorite playa, Lake McDonald, has been revived thanks to the abundant moisture.

News about heavy water use does concern me. I’m sure it concerns you, too.

I want to harken back about two years ago when the city’s administrative staff was run by a certified water expert. City Manager Jarrett Atkinson could talk water policy, conservation and management with the best of ’em. Then he quit as city manager because — as I understand it — he had difficulty working with the then-new City Council majority. He landed in Lubbock, where as city manager he is now lending his water-conservation expertise to that city’s governing council.

The message ought to remain the same in the city Atkinson left behind. Our water is not infinite.

I get that it’s hot! Summer has arrived. However, every drop of water does count. Really. It does!

Tillerson’s ‘loyalty’ has its limits on Paris accord

Donald John Trump’s version of loyalty seems to have gotten lost on the secretary of state.

To which I say to Rex Tillerson, you go, Mr. Secretary!

Tillerson told a U.S. Senate committee today that he respects the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change accord, but that he disagrees with him.

I disagree with Trump, too. That’s no surprise to those who read this blog. What does surprise me is that Tillerson, given his business background as CEO of ExxonMobil, would support the Paris accord.

It’s a pleasant surprise, to say the very least.

I also will give the president props as well for finding a secretary of state who would have the courage to challenge Trump’s infamous penchant for total loyalty among his senior administration officials.

I believe Tillerson qualifies as one of the president’s top hands.

Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he still supports the climate change accord hammered out and signed by more than 190 nations. Trump blathers about “lost American jobs” and regulations that force fossil fuel companies to reduce their payrolls. What he never discusses are the jobs created by alternative energy endeavors.

I don’t expect Tillerson’s testimony to persuade Trump to change his mind. It does give me hope that reasonable minds at least can have a voice in an administration that that seems to have too few of them.

NYC might have answer to Trump decision on Paris accord

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed an executive order that might reverberate all across the greatest nation on Earth.

His order mandates that the city he governs adheres to the Paris climate accord that Donald J. Trump decided isn’t worth the United States’ participation.

Oh, no. The president declared that the United States no longer will take part in a worldwide agreement hammered out and signed by more than 190 nations. The nations have pledged to promote worldwide efforts to curb the impact of climate change around the world. The United States was one of them. Until this week!

Not to fear. NYC will adhere to it. So might other major cities across the nation. Ditto for governors who also have executive authority to exercise.

Now, do I expect Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to buck the president? Umm. No.

Do I expect newly Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson to issue an order from City Hall that commits this city to adhere to the climate change mandates? Not holding my breath for that, either.

But there might be an answer to the president’s decision which, all by itself, has managed to enrage world leaders across the globe.

It well might occur at the hands of local government officials who’ll buck the president’s own misguided, ill-considered, ill-informed order to flush the Paris accord down the toilet.

Does POTUS believe climate change is a hoax?

Donald J. Trump campaigned for the presidency on the heels of a series of outrageous assertions.

One of them involved climate change.

This individual would travel around the country and declare that climate change is a “hoax” — perpetrated by nations such as China. He would buck the consensus developed by the worldwide scientific community. Many scientists, including more than a few Nobel laureates, have concluded that Earth’s climate is changing, the temperature is warming — and that humankind is largely responsible for the change.

Polar ice caps are shrinking; animal habitats are being threatened; rampant development is ridding the world of millions of acres of forestland; yes, sea levels are rising and vast expanses of coastline around the world are being threatened.

A hoax? I don’t think so.

So the president pulls the United States out of the Paris Accord meant to unite the world’s nations in the fight against the changing climate. He wants to “make America great again.” How does this move accomplish that? By taking the world’s greatest nation out of the global discussion?

The president keeps harping on jobs, how regulations rob Americans of jobs. He never mentions all the jobs being created by the development of alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear power.

Trump yaps about bringing back the coal industry, about boosting the production of petroleum. He rolls back environmental regulations with the blessing — and this is hard to stomach — of the Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

And yet, when the media keep asking the president’s representatives about whether he still believes climate change is a hoax, they won’t answer. They hem and haw, they bob and weave, they won’t provide a direct answer to a direct question.

I’ll ask again here: Does the president still insist that all the evidence we are witnessing in real time is a hoax, a figment of our imagination?

Kushner, Ivanka get stiffed by POTUS/Dad

Just when you thought Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner were deputy presidents of the United States, the actual president stiffs them on their staunch support of the Paris Accord aimed at dealing with climate change.

What gives? Oh, I think I know, actually.

The nationalist wing of the White House inner circle got to the president; it had his ear for the final time before announcing Thursday that he would pull the United States out of the worldwide alliance to fight the planet’s changing climate and the consequences it is bringing.

So much, then, for Ivanka and her husband’s legendary influence over the president. Frankly, I stand with them — and against Trump and his nationalist buddies — in this crazy development.

The president’s daughter and son-in-law weren’t alone in their support of the climate agreement. National security adviser H.R. McMaster wanted to stay involved; so did Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; same with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. I should add, too, that a number of key Republicans in and out of public office wanted the president to stay the course.

No can do, he said.

The issue is American jobs, which the president believes would be lost because this country would work with other nations in seeking to curb the causes of global warming and climate change.

What … utter … crap!

This isn’t how you ‘make America great … again’

Donald J. Trump’s vision of “making America great again” now means that the United States of America will sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world wages war against climate change.

This isn’t surprising. Neither is it acceptable in any form or fashion.

The president today announced his decision to pull out of the Paris Accords, which aligns more than 190 nations in the fight against climate change.

It isn’t, as opponents have contended, a top-down edict forcing nations to adhere to some sort of global mandate. The agreement, hammered out among the participating nations, allows for individual countries to adapt to policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions and scale back on the myriad causes of climate change and, yes, the warming climate.

Scientists around the world have concluded that human activity has played a major role in the changing climate. The Paris Accords are meant to bring nations together to hold humans accountable for their actions.

The United States is the big dog on the planet. We are the greatest nation on Earth and we need a place at the world’s table.

The president today just pushed us away from that table. Why? To satisfy the electoral base that help elect him.

This is a sad day for those of us who are concerned about the fate of the world.

This isn’t how the greatest nation in that world is supposed to lead it.

Climate change, Mr. President?

Let’s take a breather from “negative press covfefe” for a moment or two and zero in on something of considerably more significance.

That would be climate change and the future of Planet Earth — and whether the world’s most powerful nation will take part in a worldwide effort to protect the planet.

Reports have surfaced that Donald J. Trump is leaning toward pulling the United States out of the Paris Accord, which was signed by virtually every nation on Earth to battle climate change.

It’s a measure, according to the media, for the president to “put America first.” Good grief!

Two nations didn’t sign the accord: Syria and Nicaragua. The rest of the world signed on. It is meant to signal a global commitment to mitigate the consequences of what the vast majority of pertinent scientific minds have concluded: that humankind’s activity has contributed to the changing climate. Carbon emissions and deforestation are products of industrial development and all of it has taken a devastating toll on the world’s ecosystem.

If the president goes through with this effort to yank the United States out of the agreement, most of us can predict worldwide outrage. A Trump decision to pull out of the Paris Accord would be nothing more than a sop to the Republican Party base that got him elected in 2016.

It also would be a bow to the nationalist wing of his inner circle, led by Stephen Bannon, the former Breitbart editor and spokesman for the far right wing of the Republican Party. Trump pledged to “make American great again.” How in the world does a “great” nation refuse to lead the world in fighting a global crisis?

It’s fascinating in the extreme, though, that other senior Trump administration officials want the United States to adhere to the Paris Accord. They include, and get a load of this list of heavy hitters: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, for crying out loud; Energy Secretary Rick Perry; son-in-law/senior policy adviser Jared Kushner; economic adviser Gary Cohn; and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Can there be anything more that the president can do to infuriate our nation’s allies? He seems to be working overtime to find methods of angering our closest allies. Canada, Mexico, Germany, the UK, Australia and France all have felt the sting of Trump barbs; meanwhile, the president remains stunningly silent about Russia and that nation’s effort to meddle in our 2016 presidential election.

Trump says he’ll announce his Paris Accord decision “in a few days.” This ongoing story has tossed yet another crisis element into the stew that’s brewing inside the White House.

Here’s one more plea to the president from Flyover Country: Don’t pull us out of these accords.

EPA boss seeks to boost oil allies … but at what cost?

It might be that two decades ago, I would be committing heresy by espousing energy development that does not emphasize oil and natural gas.

Not so these days. The Texas Panhandle — indeed much of West Texas — is sprouting wind farms faster than spring dandelions. Wind is a clean source of renewable energy. Yes, it’s expensive to produce, but those who produce it must find ways to keep the turbines turning at a price they can afford.

That all said, the Environmental Protection Agency is being run by a guy who is in the hip pocket of fossil fuel producers. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt once served as Oklahoma attorney general; he sued the daylights out of the EPA whenever he could.

Now he runs the agency.

A lengthy New York Times story published Sunday detailed how Pruitt’s work as AG benefitted companies such as Devon Energy, an Oklahoma-based fossil fuel producer.

Pruitt is overseeing a rolling back of EPA rules and regulations that are helping his good friends at Devon, according to the Times.

Here’s what I do not get: How is it that oil supposedly supersedes the production of clean energy alternatives? Pruitt seems to think the EPA needs to roll back regulations intended to mandate more fuel-efficiency, cleaner production of fuels that protect our air and water, and development of cleaner alternatives to coal and oil.

Pruitt and Donald Trump both bemoan what they insist is a “disastrous” energy policy. Is it? The United States has become the world’s leading producer of oil; the nation has reduced dramatically its dependence on imported oil; meanwhile, we have invested over the past eight years into development of wind and solar energy.

I must declare that I also support nuclear power as an alternative to oil production. Utility companies have gone many miles in the development of safer nuclear technology. Yes, disposal of nuclear waste is an issue, but its disposal can be done in an environmentally responsible manner.

The president’s Cabinet-level appointments have been, to say the very least, a mixed bag. I think he has more clunkers than winners in his Cabinet, although I do think a great deal of Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly; national security adviser H.R. McMaster also is a keeper.

EPA boss Pruitt, though, remains among the worst of Trump’s picks.

As the Times reported: “Mr. Trump and his team believe that loosening the regulatory grip on business will help the economy, create jobs and allow Americans ‘to share in the riches,’ as he said during the campaign. But in the energy field, environmentalists, Democrats and even some in the industry fear the efforts will backfire, harming health and safety without creating much economic benefit.”

Doesn’t the EPA boss know that the very title of the agency he leads requires him to “protect” the environment?

Time to discuss merits of trophy hunting?

Theunis Botha likely wouldn’t want to be considered a poster person for any cause.

He was a South African outfitter and big-game hunter who died in the act of killing a dangerous animal. A lot of folks know the story already.

Botha was leading a group of hunters in Zimbabwe when they encountered a group of elephants. Three of the beasts charged the hunters, one of whom shot one of them. The mortally wounded elephant then grabbed Botha with her trunk and then collapsed, crushing Botha to death.

The man’s death leaves me with terribly mixed feelings. Part of me feels badly for the family he leaves behind. Another part of me questions the whole notion of trophy hunting.

I’ll stipulate that I am not a hunter. Yes, I’ve packed a rifle into the woods in search of game. I have done so a couple of times in my life. To be candid, I do not grasp the thrill of shooting a creature just so I can have it stuffed and displayed.

That’s the kind of activity that Botha engaged in.

This man’s death has reopened some discussion about the merits of this type of hunting. Indeed, tracking and hunting the biggest of game animals — such as elephants — is dangerous in the extreme.

Wildlife experts have had this discussion already in recent months. You’ll recall the Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, who shot Cecil the Lion to death in a notorious incident that called attention to hunting methods; outfitters lured Cecil away from his protected refuge and then Palmer shot the big cat repeatedly before the beast died.

I suspect this story about Theunis Botha will rattle around the planet for a time before receding as the world’s attention gets yanked away to other matters.

At least his demise — caused by one of his victims — might spur some more constructive discussion about this notion of hunting trophy animals that already are facing increasing pressure from humans encroaching on their habitat.