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News and information about environmental and land management action involving federal agencies

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U.S. Forest Service, BLM, USFWS, NPS, Energy, EPA
John Stewart

Conservation Rule for Polar Bears Retained

Underlines Need for Comprehensive Energy and Climate Change Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May, 9, 2009) – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that he will retain a special rule issued in December for protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, but will closely monitor the implementation of the rule to determine if additional measures are necessary to conserve and recover the polar bear and its habitat.

“To see the polar bear’s habitat melting and an iconic species threatened is an environmental tragedy of the modern age,” Salazar said.  “This administration is fully committed to the protection and recovery of the polar bear.  I have reviewed the current rule, received the recommendations of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and concluded that the best course of action for protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act is to wisely implement the current rule, monitor its effectiveness, and evaluate our options for improving the recovery of the species.” 

The polar bear is listed as a threatened species under the Act, meaning it is at risk of becoming an endangered species throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The law provides civil and criminal penalties for actions that kill or injure bears and bars federal agencies from taking actions that are likely to jeopardize the species or adversely modify its critical habitat.

Click here to read more from MUIRNet-News about Conservation Rule for Polar Bears Retained

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John Stewart

What is climate change?

Information on USGS climate change activities can be found at http://www.usgs.gov/global_change/ and Climate Change: The Science of Impacts. In addition, numerous fact sheets concerning various aspects of USGS scientific research about climate change can be found at http://www.usgs.gov/global_change/fact_sheets.asp.

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John Stewart

GAO Audit Critical of USFWS Monitoring

In a May 2009 audit report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a critical assessment of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracking of required monitoring reports noting the Service has incomplete information about effects on listed species from Section 7 Consultations.

The western United States, including vast stretches of federal land, is home to more than a third of the 1,317 species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Under Section 7 of the Act, federal agencies must ensure that any actions they authorize, fund, or carry out, whether on federal or private lands, do not jeopardize listed species.

The GAO audit found the Service lacks a means of tracking the monitoring reports it requires in biological opinions and does not know the extent of compliance with these requirements. To track monitoring reports, the Service relies on its biologists to keep abreast of biological opinions and follow up on required monitoring reports. At the field offices GAO visited, Service biologists could not account for all required monitoring reports in 40 of 64 consultation files (63 percent) requiring such reports. Service staff said they face a demanding workload, and responding to new consultation requests often takes higher priority than following up on monitoring reports.

Monitoring reports can play a critical role in the consultation process because they provide an evaluation of and a feedback loop on the effects actions have on listed species and the effectiveness of protective measures taken to minimize the impact of take. The lack of monitoring reports increases the risk of litigation to protect species.

Click here to learn more about the Endangered Species Act on MUIRNet-News.

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John Stewart

Forum promotes transparancey in government

New Online Forum Promotes Transparency and Openness in Government

(Washington, D.C. – May 29, 2009) The eRulemaking Program, a federal-wide E-Government project led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has launched Regulations.gov Exchange. Regulations.gov is the one-stop, online source for citizens to search, view and comment on regulations issued by the U.S. government.

In the past, the paper process limited the public’s ability to find rules and comment. Today, the public can explore new features for Regulations.gov, post opinions, engage directly with other users and with eRulemaking program staff. Regulations.gov Exchange will be open for public participation from May 21 – July 21, 2009.

“We’re always looking for new, innovative ways to engage the public, and get more people involved in the regulatory process,” said John Moses, EPA’s eRulemaking program director. “Every member of the public can post their opinion directly on Regulation.gov Exchange without boundaries, shaping and improving Regulations.gov.”

Regulations.gov Exchange promotes public engagement by actively involving citizens in the development of a major government-wide Web site, and uses new technologies that enhance the transparency of government decision-making. The public feedback will shape on-going updates of Regulations.gov, explore the impact of emerging Internet technologies on the federal rulemaking process, foster government-citizen collaboration, and promote government transparency and openness.

In 2008, Regulations.gov received more than 110 million hits and 450,000 comments on new or existing regulations. It holds 2 million documents from more than 160 federal entities.

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John Stewart

Protected Areas Map of U.S. Available

The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) is a national database of federal and state conservation lands. It contains the most current information about publicly held conservation lands (with conservation measures available) in the U.S. It was first published for delivery to the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Center's (WCMC) World Database for Protected Areas (WDPA) in April 2009 by USGS GAP, on behalf of the PAD-US Partnership.

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