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The Fair Climate Connection 
July 7, 2011

We use this newsletter as a means to communicate news, best practices and upcoming opportunities related to fair climate solutions.
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In this issue...
House Spending Bill Halts Endangered Species Listing, Blocks Clean Water Protections and Guts Clean Air Act
Floods: Widespread threats to continue through summer
Study: Climate change to hike ozone-related illnesses
Leadership Training Opportunity from the Institute for Conservation Leadership
Funding Opportunities

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About Us

The goal of NWF's Fair Climate Project is to build and engage a national network of leaders representing underserved communities to advance equitable and just solutions to climate change. We work to forge connections between community leaders and decision makers to jumpstart local projects and national initiatives that promote green communities, clean energy, and green jobs.

Clean air, clean water and abundant wildlife sustain Americans from all walks of life. We all have a shared responsibility to protect these resources for our children's future.  At NWF, we are working to bring together diverse voices to affect decisions that will create safe and healthy communities for all.

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House Spending Bill Halts Endangered Species Listing, Blocks Clean Water Protections and Guts Clean Air Act

Leaders of the House Appropriations Committee this week released the fiscal year 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.

According to NWF's Adam Kolton, the bill is "riddled with special interest policy riders, pet provisions and unprecedented cuts to virtually every program that protects the air we breathe, the water we drink and the public lands and wildlife that we cherish."

"Does anyone really believe gutting the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act have anything to do with the budget? This bill is clearly about advancing an extremist political agenda under the guise of deficit reduction, while Congress separately continues billions in subsidies for the oil, gas and corn ethanol industries.

"This is a polluter bailout bill, and any effort to call it otherwise is a masquerade... It's a manifesto from Capitol Hill's polluter pals who have long sought to get the federal government out of the business of ensuring a safer and cleaner environment for American families."

The bill slashes investments for agencies charged with providing clean water, protecting public health, and safeguarding wildlife. This includes an 18% cut in investments for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a 7% cut in investments for the Department of Interior.

In addition to these deep cuts, harmful provisions tacked onto the bill seek to:
  • Put the health of people and wildlife at risk by hamstringing the EPA's court-ordered responsibility to control carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants and oil refineries for one year.
  • Undermine EPA's ability to restore Clean Water Act protections for millions of wetland acres and stream miles by undercutting a new rulemaking that clarifies which waters are "Waters of the U.S." protected by the Clean Water Act.
  • Weaken Clean Water Act protections against pesticides by removing Clean Water Act tools that protect rivers and streams from these toxic pollutants. This new loophole will endanger countless rivers and streams and take away the tools that are currently used to clean up impaired streams.
  • Restrict EPA's authority to implement strong, national safeguards on coal ash disposal. Coal ash is a dangerous waste generated by burning coal for energy, and it contains many toxic metals and chemicals like arsenic, lead, hexavalent chromium and selenium. 

Floods: Widespread threats to continue through summer

by Paul Quinlan, E&E reporter, as featured on E&E News Daily

Still-swollen rivers and saturated soils combined with forecasts of more wet weather in the upper Midwest and northern Plains mean flood threats will stay high this summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned today.

NOAA forecasters say record-breaking floods along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and the likelihood of additional rains in vulnerable areas in the coming weeks could make 2011 rival 1993, when flood damages exceeded more than $25 billion.

"The sponge is fully saturated -- there is nowhere for any additional water to go," said Jack Hayes, director of the National Weather Service. "While unusual for this time of year, all signs point to the flood threat continuing through summer."

Already, 2011 ranks as a year of unprecedented natural disasters, and they could not come at a worse time. Munich Re, the global reinsurance company, estimates that 100 events so far this year in the United States alone -- including floods, tornadoes and droughts -- incurred $27 billion in
This photo of oil in Montana's flooded Yellowstone River was taken by NWF's Tribal Lands Program Coordinator Alexis Bonogofsky on her land.
damages, well above the 10-year average of $11.8 billion.

The floods are stressing the federal flood insurance program, while high waters along the Yellowstone River in Montana are expected to worsen the spread of oil spilled from a Exxon Mobil Corp. pipeline over the weekend.

According to NOAA, the highest flood risks this summer include:
  • North-central United States, including Souris River (North Dakota) and Red River of the North (border of North Dakota and Minnesota), Minnesota River (Minnesota), Upper Mississippi River (Minnesota and Iowa) and Des Moines River (Iowa).
  • Lower Missouri River from Gavins Point (Nebraska and South Dakota border) downstream along the border of Nebraska and Iowa, continuing through the borders of Kansas and Missouri, then through Missouri to the Mississippi River.
  • Tributaries to the lower Missouri River including the James and Big Sioux rivers in North Dakota.
  • Lower Ohio River Valley including the White, Wabash and lower Ohio rivers.
  • East of the Rocky Mountains, North Platte River in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.
  • Yellowstone River in Wyoming and Montana.
  •  West of Rockies, Utah and Colorado.



Study: Climate change to hike ozone-related illnesses

by Wendy Koch for USA Today

Left unchecked, climate change could increase breathing problems and health costs by exacerbating ground-level ozone, warns a report Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Higher ozone levels could trigger 2.8 million additional serious respiratory illnesses and 944,000 extra missed school days in the United States in 2020 that could cost $5.4 billion, according to the peer-reviewed report by the Cambridge, Mass.-based environmental group.

"Even a small increase in ozone due to a warmer climate would have a significant impact on public health," said report co-author and UCS public health expert Liz Perera in announcing the findings. "It would mean more asthma attacks, respiratory illnesses, emergency room trips and premature deaths."
(Photo credit: Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Image)

The most vulnerable U.S. states? The study used a mapping model by the Environmental Protection Agency to calculate national impacts and rank the 10 states most likely to be harmed in 2020.

In terms of costs, the research found that California would be hit hardest, followed by Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey and Virginia. It said these states have large numbers of urban residents, children and seniors as well as high levels of nitrogen oxides and VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions from vehicles and power plants.

Ground-level ozone, smog's primary component, is generated by the chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and VOCs that come from heat and sunlight. Warmer average temperatures from a changing climate may boost ozone concentrations and stagnant air that can cause ozone pollution to settle over an area for a long time.

The study says EPA's Clean Air Act has reduced ozone-forming pollutants, but many counties and states are still unable to meet the federal ozone standard. EPA is expected soon to strengthen this standard, which is increasingly important since average U.S. temperatures have risen more than 2 Fahrenheit in the past century.

If global warming emissions continue to increase, the study estimates that average U.S. temperatures could rise 3 to 5.5 F by 2050 and result in about 11.8 million additional serious respiratory illnesses, 29,600 more infant and senior hospitalizations and 4.1 million additional lost school days in 2050. Yet it says these health impacts could be cut about 70% if emissions decline and temperatures rise 2 to 4 F instead.

"The good news is we can address both ozone pollution and climate change by cutting fossil fuel emissions," Todd Sanford, a UCS climate scientist and report co-author, said in a statement.


Leadership Training Opportunity from the Institute for Conservation Leadership

Discover your unique capacity to lead in the Institute for Conservation Leadership's Leading from Within program.  This five-month program offers workshops, a 360 degree leadership assessment, coaching, and peer learning. 
  • By the end of Leading from Within participants will:
  • Know their leadership strengths and how to use them,
  • Have a greater impact as a leader in one-on-one, group, and organizational settings,
  • Choose actions strategically from a place of centeredness, rather than reactivity,
  • Develop a toolbox of skills for effective leadership in a variety of situations, and
  • Address current leadership challenges that they are facing.
There may be grant funding to cover the cost of tuition for eligible leaders in the Philadelphia area, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River. There is a free preview webinar scheduled for June 28 at 1 pm EST.  For more information, including workshop dates and an application please visit www.leadingfromwithin.org or contact ICL's Peter Lane at peter@icl.org.


Funding Opportunities