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Tennessee Valley Authority to Be Sued Over Plans to Close Endangered Species Breeding Facility to Make Room for Coal Equipment, Waste
Fore Immediate Release, December 20, 2012
|Contacts:||Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 522-3681
John McFadden, Tennessee Environmental Council, (615) 330-5364
Jenna Garland, Sierra Club, (404) 607-1262 x 222
Charlie Wilkerson, Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, (615) 351-0586
Mary Mastin, Tennessee Environmental Council, (931)-268-2938
Tennessee Valley Authority to Be Sued Over Plans to Close Endangered Species Breeding Facility to Make Room for Coal Equipment, Waste
NASHVILLE, Tenn.— A coalition of environmental groups today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for forcing the closure of a rearing facility for endangered fish and mussels at the Gallatin Fossil Plant for a controversial construction project. The project would shutter the Cumberland River Aquatic Center to make room for coal combustion equipment and a series of 15-story-tall coal-ash dumps. The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Tennessee Environmental Council and Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association jointly filed the notice under the Endangered Species Act.
“It’s just ludicrous that the Tennessee Valley Authority’s shutting down one of the most successful endangered mussel hatcheries in the country to make room for coal ash and equipment — and without any regard for the law,” said Tierra Curry, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Cumberland River Aquatic Center is critically important to preserving endangered freshwater mussels, which serve an important role in protecting water quality throughout Tennessee and the Southeast. Nearly $800,000 of public funds has been spent to build the center’s conservation program, but TVA has unilaterally ordered the center to close to make way for its broader plans to spend more than $1 billion to overhaul the obsolete and polluting Gallatin Fossil Plant. TVA is required to support the center’s operations in order to compensate for damage its dam systems do to endangered wildlife throughout Tennessee. With the breeding facility closed, that damage will continue unabated while TVA continues to pollute.
“It’s bad enough that the TVA plans to continue to burn coal, putting our health and climate in danger; now it’s busy hammering nails into the coffin of the region’s endangered fish and mussels. It’s adding insult to injury,” said John McFadden, executive director of the Tennessee Environmental Council.
TVA, a federal corporation, announced its plans to shutter the aquatic center last month in an “Environmental Assessment” document required to install air-pollution-control equipment at the coal-fired power plant. The corporation ordered the aquatic center to be dismantled without undertaking public review and without consulting with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the effects on endangered species, both of which are required by law. The closure of the facility also directly harms endangered mussels, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
“At a time when other major electricity providers are moving into the future with cleaner, more efficient options, TVA is taking a major step backwards by doubling down on a plant that’s over 50 years old. TVA customers will foot the bill for this outrageously expensive plan that locks Tennessee into an outdated and destructive energy system for decades to come,” said Louise Gorenflo, lead volunteer for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Tennessee.
Independent economists have criticized TVA’s plans for ignoring lower-cost options that could preserve the aquatic center while also meeting customers’ energy needs. The coalition is calling on the corporation to save the hatchery and transition the plant away from burning fossil fuels. Upgrades on the plant’s pollution equipment would cost more than $1 billion; the groups are urging TVA to spend the money on energy efficiency and clean-energy alternatives instead of extending the life of the old coal-fired power plant.
The Cumberland River Aquatic Center has been remarkably effective at rearing endangered mussels; last year alone the facility produced 18,000. It is the most productive hatchery in the country for rearing the endangered pink mucket mussel, and also rears lake sturgeon and alligator gar.
“Freshwater mussels are amazing animals that serve as barometers of stream health and water quality. They are a critical part of our river ecosystem, and the impact of shutting down the Cumberland River Aquatic Center would be immeasurable,” said
Charlie Wilkerson, president of the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association.
More species of freshwater mussels are found in the American Southeast than anywhere else in the world, but 75 percent of the region’s mussels are now at risk of extinction. Freshwater mussels are the most imperiled group of animals in the United States, with 35 species already having been declared extinct. Once widely used to make buttons and jewelry, mussel shells, like trees, accumulate growth rings that can be used to determine their age. Freshwater mussels can live for centuries, making them among the longest-lived invertebrates.
“Tennessee’s freshwater mussels have beautiful shells, beautiful names, and play a crucial role in the natural and cultural heritage of the region. We should do everything we can to help save them from going extinct,” said Curry.
Man and beast have tussled for eons on who gets to be on top of the food chain. In the end, man came out on top with guns blazing. Such the tables have turned, that it has sent the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in to a scramble to protect a fledgling yet endangered leopard population in the wildlife reserve of Ayubia National Park, Galiyat.
“The focus of advance research is to find out threats to common leopard, check out its migration range and for adopting latest measure on scientific grounds for conservation of wild cats in the region”, Wasim Ahmad, a coordinator for the international non-governmental organisation, working to save the endangered species of wild cat.
Talking to APP, Wasim said that their target was to install radio collars on at least two leopards in order to track their movement. For this purpose traps have been set up around the park.
Though the population of big cats in Galiyat is satisfactory, but still the species continues to face numerous threats like a fast shrinking habitat, human-leopard conflicts and reducing forests, Waseem added. Galliyat, he continued, is home to the largest population of common leopards in the country and reduction of habitat for the rare wild species is posing a threat to its survival in the region.
Kuito — The head of department of the Forest Development Institute (IDF) in central Bié province, Rosário Lopes Teixeira, Thursday in Kuito admitted the extinction of some species of trees in the region, given the disorderly cutting of trees by coal makers.
The official was speaking to Angop while assessing the activity carried out by the institution in 2012.
He underlined that among the trees threatened with extinction, stress goes to the native species of Ombango, Ossesse and Omanda.
The official stated as well that another factor threatening the survival of some species is the cutting of trees for timber.
Rosário Teixeira said three inspectors are required in each municipality to arrest the situation crippling mainly the localities of Kuito, Andulo, Kunhinga, Chinguar, Chitembo, Kamacupa, Katabola, Kuemba and Nhârea.
According to him, Andulo is currently the municipality suffering most with the threat owed to the cutting of trees for coal.
The province of Bié has an area of 70,314 square kilometres and about two million inhabitants. It hosts a dense game forest, mainly in the municipalities of Chitembo, Kuemba, Chitembo, Kamacupa and Andulo.
Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Hong Kong Customs seized a batch of health-care food, dried seafood and endangered species with a total value of about $8 million in a smuggling case at Lok Ma Chau Control Point last Saturday (January 5) and arrested a 52-year-old male driver.
During an anti-smuggling operation at Lok Ma Chau Control Point last Saturday, Customs officers intercepted an outbound cross-boundary truck with a 40-foot-long refrigerated container which was declared as carrying 9 675 kilogrammes of “deer antlers”.
Upon X-ray examination and detailed cargo inspection, Customs officers found a batch of unmanifested cargo, including dried crocodylia meat, bird’s nests, dried syngnathus, dried seahorses, dried snake galls, dried deer tails, dried deer tendons, dried geckos and New Zealand honey, worth around $8 million inside the refrigerated container. Among the seizures, the dried crocodylia meat and dried seahorses were endangered species. Customs investigation is continuing.
A Customs spokesperson said today (January 7) that smuggling and exporting endangered species are serious offences.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of attempting to export unmanifested cargoes is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animal and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of exporting a specimen listed on Appendix II of the Ordinance without a licence is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.
He added that Customs will take continuous action against smuggling activities and urged members of the public to report any suspected smuggling activities to Customs through Customs’ 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.
Source: HKSAR Government
New Zealander Pete Bethune, founder of marine activist group Earthrace Conservation, who lost his boat ‘Ady Gil’ in a collision with Japanese whalers in 2010, has sent a strongly worded message to his Prime Minister John Key, asking him to immediately implement increased protection measures for the last remaining Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins, indigenous to the country.
There are only an estimated 50 Maui’s dolphin remaining, and the population of Hector’s dolphins has declined by 75% over the last 40 years.
Despite denials to the contrary by those in the industry, the dolphins’ biggest threat is acknowledged by experts to be fisheries by-catch from the use of commercial and recreational set and gill nets and trawling.
Bethune says he has spoken to commercial fishermen who have admitted to ‘accidentally’ killing multiple Hector’s dolphin through by-catch on numerous occasions but not reporting it in order to avoid fines. Fishing is also allegedly regularly happening under the radar within the current small exclusion zone designed to protect Hector’s and Maui’s.
Other threats include seabed mining, the introduction of tidal energy turbines, disease and recreational pursuits within the boundaries of the dolphins’ habitat.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (which includes fisheries) and the Department of Conservation invited interested parties to submit recommendations and comments to inform a review of the Threat Management Plan for the Maui’s last year. So many animal welfare, environment, marine conservation and other groups and individuals from all over the world responded that it crashed the DOC website.
As yet, nothing more has been heard about the introduction of additional protection measures since the closing date for submissions in November 2012 and Bethune is demanding answers.
In the letter to the Prime Minister, copied to the Ministers for Primary Industries and Conservation, Bethune accuses the Government of stalling tactics, saying, “I have genuine concerns that the New Zealand Government’s real Threat Management Plan is to avoid any confrontation with the fishing industries and continue prevaricating until there are no more Maui’s dolphin remaining, perhaps in the hope that once they’re gone, the world will simply forget about them. I can promise you, we won’t.
A review of the Hector’s component of the TMP is scheduled to be undertaken this year. Bethune hopes that things will progress a great deal more speedily than they have for the Maui’s or as he warns the Prime Minister, ‘you risk global condemnation and irreparable damage to New Zealand’s reputation as a leading proponent for the environment. You will find yourself having to explain why a complete lack of action has resulted in the loss of the last remaining Hector’s dolphin too.’
In addition to those that took part in the submission process including Bethune and others from Earthrace Conservation, many thousands signed petitions like that organised by renowned US surfer, artist and activist, Peggy Oki, who to date has collected 5,341 photographs of people from across the world including Australia, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and South Africa, all of whom want action for the Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins.
Peggy Oki said, “I sent a follow up to my initial submission to DOC and MPI to the Prime Minister before Christmas, anticipating a possible announcement of the new Threat Management Plan just prior to the holidays, with a link to all the visual petitions we’d collected. It now seems the announcement has been postponed indefinitely.
“The NZ government seem unwilling to take any necessary actions to fully protect and prevent the extinction of the critically endangered Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphins. The dolphins are running out of time but the public can still stand up for them by taking part in Let’s Face it. We need to keep the pressure on Prime Minister John Key.”
Another petition organised by NABU International – Foundation for Nature collected almost 15,000 signatures.
Bethune, who says he was lucky enough to see a small pod of Maui’s whilst on board his vessel, Earthrace in 2006, concludes his letter to John Key by saying, “There has already been one cetacean (Lipotes vexillifer) that has become extinct as a result of human activities. I hold you responsible for ensuring that my country, under your stewardship, avoids the dubious honour of being wholly and directly responsible for the disappearance of the second and third, replacing the Dodo – last seen over 300 years ago – as being synonymous with extinction for generations to come.
“The New Zealand Government must stop prevaricating, grow some balls, stand up to the fishing industries and act now.”