Posted on December 27, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A bearded seal pup on the Arctic ice. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Obama administration under political pressure to permit new drilling in fragile Arctic Ocean ecosystem; public comment taken through Feb. 13
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal officials say plans to drill for oil in the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska will cause only “minor to moderate” impacts to rare bowhead and beluga whales — despite the potential for another spill on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and no good way to clean it up.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a draft environmental impact statement on the drilling plan just before Christmas, outlining the potential impacts, as well as mitigation measures that could be implemented to minimize effects on the marine environment. The draft EIS is open for public comment through Feb. 13. All the documents for the project are online here. (more…)
Filed under: endangered species, energy, Environment, federal government, Marine biology, oil drilling, Summit County news | Tagged: Arctic oil drilling, Beluga whales, bowhead whales, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Chukchi Sea, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Marine Mammal Protection Act, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 22, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A pod of Beluga whales. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE.
Decision offers some hope for dwindling populations of endangered cetaceans
By Summit Voice
A federal judge this week rejected an attempt by Alaska to strip Cook Inlet beluga whales of Endangered Species Act protections. Last spring, the National Marine Fisheries Service designated critical habitat for the whales despite state’s lawsuit.
“Today’s decision again clarifies that the belugas are in serious trouble. Now it’s time to get serious about finding solutions. Legal sideshows by the state are getting us nowhere,” said Sue Libenson, executive director of the Alaska Center for the Environment.
“This is clearly a case where science and the rule of law prevailed,” said Taryn Kiekow, staff attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Cook Inlet belugas are an iconic species in Alaska and it is now absolutely essential that we protect them and their habitat if the population is to survive.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: Alaska, Beluga whales, biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, Cook Inlet Beluga whales, Defenders of Wildlife, endangered species, Environment, national marine fisheries service, Natural Resources Defense Council, Summit County News | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 12, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Concentrations of toxic pollutants are building up in bottlenose dolphins living in coastal waters near urban areas.
Marine mammals living along urbanized coasts are most affected by PCBs and other industrial compounds
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The tissue and blood of dolphins and whales living in waters near urbanized areas are showing increased concentrations of toxic pollutants known to cause cancer and disrupt endocrine and immune systems as well as neural development.
One team of researchers with the Hollings Marine Laboratory, a government-university collaboration based in Charleston, S.C., studied levels of persistent organic pollutants in bottlenose dolphins living along the the U.S. East and Gulf of Mexico coasts and Bermuda. Another team looked at concentrations of perfluorinated compounds in beluga whales in Alaskan waters. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, Summit County news | Tagged: Beluga whale, Beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, Chukchi Sea, Cook Inlet, Environment, PCBs, Persistent organic pollutant, PFCs, pollution, Polychlorinated biphenyl, POPs, Summit County News, toxic chemicals in marine mammals | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 19, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A pod of beluga whales.
State challenging feds on listing of genetically distinct population of marine mammals near Anchorage
By Summit Voice
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SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite a pending challenge from the State of Alaska, the National Marine Fisheries Service last week took a huge step to protect the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale by designating 3,013 square miles of critical habitat in upper Cook Inlet, near Anchorage, Alaska. The rare white whales are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The rule finalizes critical habitat first proposed in December 2009, following a notice of intent to sue by the Center for Biological Diversity. The designation means the federal government can’t approve any action that would adversely modify the habitat. Environmental groups say endangered species with critical habitat protections are more than twice as likely to recover than those without it.
“The designation of critical habitat for the Cook Inlet beluga whale gives this highly imperiled whale a real chance of recovery,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director at the Center. “The Fisheries Service has thrown Cook Inlet belugas a much-needed lifeline.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: Beluga whales, biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, Cook Inlet, Cook Inlet Beluga whales, endangered species, endangered species act, national marine fisheries service, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, wildife | 2 Comments »