The National Science Foundation is considering a permit application under the Antarctic Conservation Act for “continued research activities studying the health of whale populations in the Southern Ocean and impacts of environmental changes on Antarctic marine ecosystems.” The activities would include aerial observation, drone-collected respiratory (blow) samples, and the collection of remote biopsy samples of whale skin and blubber. The applicant also proposes to conduct opportunistic sampling of dead marine mammals to aid further understanding of killer whale diet and ecology. The proposed activities would occur between December 1, 2021, and April 30, 2026. The comment period is open through November 1, 2021.
National Science Foundation Seeks Comments on Southern Ocean Whale Research
Forest Service Seeks Input on Protection of Tahoe National Forest
The National Forest Service is preparing an environmental impact statement about the effects of climate change (including increasing wildfires) on Tahoe National Forest and its inhabitants in preparation for a vast forest restoration project. One of the stated purposes of the project is to reduce threats to wildlife habitat and align with the Conservation Strategy for the California Spotted Owl in the Sierra Nevada (USDA Forest Service 2019). The Service will be accepting public comments through October 15, 2021, to assist in preparation of the EIS which will be published in 2022.
USFWS Seeks Comment on Protection for Subspecies of Caribou
More than a decade after the International Fund for Animal Welfare petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection of two subspecies of caribou, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced its decision to deny protection for Peary caribou but to solicit comments for proposed 4(d) listing status for Dolphin and Union caribou. Listing under Section 4(d) establishes a “Distinct Population Segment” (“DPS,” or population that is protected only within a specified geographical area). As required for all ESA listing proposals, FWS opened a 60-day comment period on its proposal to establish a 4(d) rule for Dolphin and Union caribou. The comment period closes November 1, 2021.
IPCC Climate Report is “Code Red”
The Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of increased human-caused climate and weather disasters, predicts warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius in the 21st century, urges immediate action.
North Carolina to Establish Permit Scheme for Manure Digester Systems
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has signed into law Senate Bill 605 which directs the state Environmental Management Commission to develop “a general permit for animal operations that includes authorization for the permittee to construct and operate a farm digester system.” The law will also allow preexisting swine farms to construct or renovate farm digester systems if doing so meets several requirements related to capacity and location. The law additionally addresses the formation of voluntary agricultural districts containing animal agriculture facilities to reduce nuisance liability and the scope of local agricultural advisory boards.
Iowa Allows Use of Anaerobic Digesters as Alternative to Manure Storage
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed into law House Bill 522 which will allow “qualified confinement feeding operation[s]” to use anaerobic digester systems “to process manure by employing environmental conditions including bacteria to break down organic matter in the absence of oxygen, and is used for producing, collecting, and utilizing a biogas.” Such systems would be an alternative to the use of a manure storage structure that employs bacterial action maintained by the utilization of air or oxygen and includes aeration equipment.
Marine Mammal Climate Change Protection Act Reintroduced
House Bill 3692, the Marine Mammal Climate Change Protection Act, would direct the Secretary of Commerce along with the Marine Mammal Commission to establish climate impact management plans for the conservation of marine mammals that are at significant risk due to climate change. The bill was previously introduced in 2020.
“Underestimates of Methane from Intensively Raised Animals Could Undermine Goals of Sustainable Development”
A new review by Matthew Hayek and Scot Miller published in Environmental Research Letters suggests that the United States may be understating methane emissions from meat and dairy operations, undermining goals of sustainable development.
Animals and Climate Change
A new book, Philosophy and Climate Change, features a chapter by Jeff Sebo entitled “Animals and Climate Change.”
Groups Petition EPA to Regulate Methane Emissions from Pig and Dairy Operations Under Clean Air Act
Twenty-five groups have filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency asking the agency to regulate pig and dairy operations under the Clean Air Act. The petition also requests the agency make an official finding that methane emissions from animal agriculture “contribute significantly to” air pollution.