Health Care and the Environment

by Stephen Capra
 
The last few weeks have shown a new depth in Republican thinking. What would at first glance seem crazy, stealing heath care from up to 24 million Americans is at best going to be a very close vote that will likely mean less for average Americans and more tax cuts for the wealthiest in our country.

To accomplish this Republicans are willing to lie repeatedly, obfuscate and threaten. They will use misleading facts and create fear among the most vulnerable, to cajole their way to this warped vision of victory.

So when a party that dominates both Houses of Congress and the Presidency is willing to literally kill people to gain a tax cut, what is the potential that they will have concern or a sense of responsibility when it comes to the environment?

The answer is unfolding before our eyes. From Bear Ears and Monuments across the West to the fight on Climate Change or methane releases and the countless environmental regulations they have placed in the shredder, we are witnessing genocide of the planet on a level that few can remember. Republicans continue to use terms like freedom and choice to conceal and define a narrative that enriches corporate American off the backs of native wildlife, protected habitat and the health and welfare of people that love and respect wild nature.

Democrats in this process are fighting back, but also share some of the responsibility in the delays and Blue Dog member’s conflicts with important environmental legislation that stalled or was not implemented through Executive Orders until the final year of an Administration, regulations that should have passed in year one.

It has taken the Trump Administration 100 days to tack public opinion against environmental protection and to inspire this congress to go for the jugular in destroying generations of responsible environmental progress. While many in America are fighting back and town hall videos represent new voices of hope, we remain trapped with a President that has shown his shallowness, his vindictive nature and his willingness to destroy the foundations of our democracy. In his disturbed mind, he sees only those loyal to him and those who oppose him. Friendship and critical analysis are fed through money and his ability to profit. Dissension is met with paranoia and callous retribution.

So we stand at a precipice in time. In the next forty days a report will come back that could very well be the paper work the President desires to remove some of our most precious lands from Monument protection. What on the surface seems to be a very misguided and unthinkable prospect is in the Trump world another opportunity to harm those who most vehemently opposed him in the campaign-the conservation community. For those in the Steve Bannon inner circle, it is another way to blow up the Federal government, leading us towards an inevitable anarchy.

So the question for many remains what can we do? The answer is to first, never stop fighting. The second is to realize that we are approaching the bottom, many have spoken about. It is true Trump could move to disband our National Parks, but that is something that for now seems a remote possibility. No this President is trying to break our spirit and push us into a national depression that will force people to tune out and give him free reign. Next we must continue to educate ourselves, friends and family, it is simply amazing how many people are already tuned out. Finally, we must vote out these bastards, our planet simply cannot continue a cycle of bust and boom in terms of protection of our natural heritage, we are approaching life support and that demands our energy and perseverance. We can never surrender to evil, or ignorance.

This Republican Congress is making clear from Health Care to the removal of James Comey, that they are putting party first before the American people and our values. Power and control are the mechanisms that feed their trough and what was once considered a sacred responsibility to put county before party, has been destroyed in the haze of Citizens United and the thirst to move their radical agenda.

Should Democrats retake control of congress or eventually the White House, they must move in the first, not the eighth year of a Presidency to change environmental regulations or use Executive Actions so that they have a sense of permanency. Democrats must also be strong, not weak, in pushing aggressive environmental protections, wilderness and Monument protections and designations. That includes those in coal country.

Until such time as the American people fight in one voice to protect our environment, Republicans will continue to flourish from the poisoned money that flows from the fossil fuel, mining, NRA and corporate agenda. That money is breaking the Arctic ice packs, fouling our air and water, it is killing wolves in the West and Mid-West, and it is stealing protected lands from all Americans and allowing a deranged man to lead our county, while simultaneously tearing us apart.

We can do so much better, and we will. But we are in a war, there really is no other way to describe it and we have no choice but to fight with every fiber of our being. For those in the rust belt that made Trump our President, I would remind them that their vote and actions are helping to destroy our quality of life in the West. So we can fight one another, or we can unite to save our planet, our wildlife and the moral compass of a nation that has lost direction.

Get out into the Parks and Monuments, allow your spirit to heal and flourish, soak in the energy and life that nature provides, in that place of love and beauty, find the strength and resolve to save it from those who can never understand or fear that which is wild.

The road is long, but you are not alone, we are many and fierce in our love of that cathedral of life, that endless bounty that is nature.

We will fight and we will win.

But we will also suffer and hurt, yet in that pain is the resolve to never allow this to happen again. The health, not just of people, but of the planet is in our hands.
In such destiny is the power to change, and change we must or we will bear witness to our own demise.
I choose to fight.

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Obama blocked this controversial Alaskan gold mine. Trump just gave it new life.

May 12 at 7:37 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency has reached a legal settlement with a Canadian company hoping to build a massive gold, copper and molybdenum mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, clearing the way for the firm to apply for federal permits.

The settlement reached late Thursday between the EPA and the Pebble Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., could revive a controversial project that was effectively scuttled under the Obama administration. And it underscores how President Trump’s commitment to support mining extends far beyond coal, to gold, copper and other minerals.

While the move does not grant immediate approval to the Pebble Mine project,which will have to undergo a federal environmental review and also clear state hurdles before any construction takes place, it reverses the agency’s 2014 determination that a large-scale mine in the area be barred because it would imperil the region’s valuable sockeye salmon fishery.

In a statement, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said that the agreement “will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but will provide Pebble a fair process for their permit application and help steer EPA away from costly and time-consuming litigation.”

“We are committed to due process and the rule of law, and regulations that are ‘regular’,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.  “We understand how much the community cares about this issue, with passionate advocates on all sides … We are committed to listening to all voices as this process unfolds.”

 

A coalition of fishing operators, native Alaskans, environmentalists and local businesses have fought the mine proposal for more than a decade, ever since Northern Dynasty Minerals began exploring for minerals in 2004. While this area in southwestern Alaska contains a reservoir of gold worth an estimated $120 billion, its pockmarked lakes and tributaries feed into the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home to a fishery that generates $500 million a year.

In 2014 the EPA invoked a rarely used clause of the Clean Water Act, 404(c), to issue a proposed determination that the company could not apply to the Army Corps of Engineers for any permits because a massive mine could have “significant” and potentially “catastrophic” impacts on the region.

Alannah Hurley, executive director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay, said in an interview that opponents of the mine “are outraged that this is happening.”

“If there’s damage to the watershed and the fisheries, then it would be devastating to our identity as indigenous people,” Hurley said, adding that tribes and other local residents “invited” the EPA to intervene on the issue. “For the company to paint it as federal intervention is completely misleading. The people of Bristol Bay basically cried out to EPA to help us.”

The company has sued EPA on three different fronts, arguing that the agency violated the Clean Water Act, colluded with outside groups to reach its determination and violated the Freedom of Information Act. The suit concerning the outside groups, filed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, was the one settled Thursday in federal court in Alaska.

Under the terms of the agreement, EPA will begin the process of withdrawing its proposed determination, which will be subject to public notice and comment. It will not take the next step in the process until 48 months from the settlement or until the Army Corps of Engineers issues its final environmental impact statement, whichever comes first.

Northern Dynasty Minerals, which has never filed federal permit applications for Pebble Mine, would have to do so within 30 months.

“From the outset of this unfortunate saga, we’ve asked for nothing more than fairness and due process under the law — the right to propose a development plan for Pebble and have it assessed against the robust environmental regulations and rigorous permitting requirements enforced in Alaska and the United States,” the company’s chief executive, Ron Thiessen, said in a statement early Friday. “Today’s settlement gives us precisely that, the same treatment every developer and investor in a stable, first world country should expect.”

The firm’s stock price has already been bolstered by Trump’s election victory. After falling to as low as 25 cents a share at one point last year, the price soared after the November election, jumping 25 percent overnight and reaching as high as $3.18 earlier this year. The company has touted the likely benefits of having a new, friendlier administration in office. A series of investor presentations by Thiessen included a PowerPoint slide titled “Trump Election Victory — A Return to Normal.”

While many congressional Republicans, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and House Science  Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) oppose what they’ve described as EPA’s “preemptive” veto of the project, public opinion in Alaska on the mining proposal remains split.

Last fall a ballot measure passed with more than 65 percent that would require the state legislature to pass a measure approving any large-scale mine in the Bristol Bay region, and they would have to determine that such an operation would not imperil the area’s sockeye salmon fishery.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, has said that constructing Pebble Mine “presents formidable challenges” given the valuable fishery and the rural village life that depends on it.

“Based on the information available to me now, I do not support the Pebble Mine,” reads a statement from his 2014 campaign site.

Taryn Kiekow Heimer, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview that “the opposition in Alaska has grown stronger” since EPA blocked the mine’s construction.

But in Washington, the political climate has shifted.

Administration officials are reopening the question of whether to construct Pebble Mine, and may even reconsider the Interior and Agriculture Departments’ move in December denying another company’s request to renew a lease on the southwest border of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

In one of the last big mining decisions of the Obama era, the two departments rejected Twin Metals Minnesota’s lease renewal bid, and set in motion a formal review to examine whether all mining activities in 234,000 acres abutting the wilderness should be barred for the next 20 years. Twin Metals Minnesota is a subsidiary of Antofagasta Mining PLC.

Minnesota Reps. Rick Nolan (D) and Tom Emmer (R) met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on April 26 to discuss whether to reverse that decision, according to individuals who asked for anonymity to discuss a private conversation. Bob McFarlin, Twin Metals Minnesota’s government affairs adviser, said in an email that the firm has met with lawmakers and top federal officials “in both the previous and current administrations to express our concerns” about the decision to deny the company’s lease application.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to work with the new administration to allow this initiative to move forward,” Nolan said in a statement Thursday. “Having met with all the involved agencies and parties, I know renewing these leases is the sensible and correct thing to do.”

And Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, said in a statement that his industry stands to “benefit most from the administration’s willingness to lift the regulatory burden that has impaired our ability to compete in the energy market.”

That will ease restrictions on “access and development of much needed domestic minerals and metals,” Quinn added, which “are needed  for everything from infrastructure and manufacturing to cutting edge technologies.”

The really big Trump scandal (almost) everyone is missing

<snip> from:   http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/The-really-big-Trump-scandal-almost-everyone-is-missing-.html

…Consider these developments in the last few days:

The Trump administration is working on a budget that would gut environmental enforcement in this country — slashing $2 billion and 3,000 jobs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For example, an EPA program that seeks to reduce algae blooms and pollution that threatens the Great Lakes — yes, the same region where voters gave Trump his Electoral College victory — would be reduced from $300 million to just $10 million.

— Team Trump also wants to cut a whopping $500 million or so from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program that sends satellites aloft to monitor extreme weather and the effects of climate change. The former head of the agency told the Washington Post, “Cutting NOAA’s satellite budget will compromise NOAA’s mission of keeping Americans safe from extreme weather and providing forecasts that allow businesses and citizens to make smart plans.” But given the president’s hostility to global warming science, that was probably the idea.

— In the same vein, Big Auto asked the Trump administration for help in rolling back tough rules on curbing tailpipe emissions and converting to electric cars that would have reduced America’s greenhouse gas emissions by about one-third. The Trump administration asked industry, in so many words, how fast would you like us to get that out to you?

— Those rules won’t get as much attention as Trump’s looming order on a new travel ban — ignoring findings from his own Homeland Security Department that visitors from the affected countries aren’t committing terrorist acts — or his immigration crackdown. While Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) continues to operate on steroids in major American cities, the administration is weighing a new policy that would separate migrant children from their mothers at border crossings. “That type of thing is where we depart from border security and get into violating human rights,” U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, said.

That type of thing also used to be major news — but not in a time when we are so easily distracted by President Trump’s roving thumbs. But the reality is that — for all the media coverage of a White House implosion — the Trump administration really is “a fine-tuned machine” when it comes to serving its corporate benefactors and gutting any pretense of regulatory oversight. I did, however, add the word “(almost)” to the headline of this piece because the New York Times is out tonight with a really good overview of all the favors that the new president’s crew has performed for Big Business, even as they poison the air and the water that Trump’s blue-collar voters ingest.

The newspaper chronicled more than 90 rules affecting the public’s health or safety or protecting consumers that have been rolled back, eliminated or gutted in just the first six weeks of the Trump administration. It’s a startling change — one that the Times called the “leading edge” of top Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s scheme for “the destruction of the administrative state.”

I guess you could say that screwing over the little guy to benefit billionaire campaign donors and corporations isn’t exactly brand new — but it’s never been done this fast, this blatantly, and with this little compassion. I don’t know if Trump’s policies are “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” but I do consider them a crime against human decency. And even if Trump were to be miraculously impeached over Russia or gets 25th Amendment-ed to a farm upstate, do you think that a President Mike Pence would care a flying fig about the purity of your tap water?

Sometimes I think about the launch of the Trump administration in terms of Ronald Reagan and his famous 1984 re-election ad, “Morning in America.” But morning in Donald Trump’s America is a place where the Houston sunrise struggles to break through the smog, where coal plants are up early dumping toxic goo into your streams, and Latin American families hide behind closed curtains, fearing a knock on their door. And the worst part is that the sun isn’t even over the treetops yet.

The Five Most Pro-Animal House Democrats

http://www.splicetoday.com/politics-and-media/the-five-most-pro-animal-house-democrats

Fighting the good fight.

Don beyer commerce secretary penny pritzker kxnosdhfv4ul.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

The animal movement, for too long, has relied on individual tactics. Many activists spend their time encouraging individuals to adopt a vegan diet. A much smaller number carry out acts of terror against animal exploiters. Far from being diametrically opposed, these groups often share an understandable—but self-defeating—pessimism about collective, political engagement. The truth is we can’t afford to leave the electoral arena to animal abusers. Below are the five most animal-friendly Democrats in the House of Representatives, who we should support and push to do better.

Using the Humane Society Legislative Fund’s 2016 scorecard, there was initially a 37-way tie for most pro-animal House Democrat, which is actually synonymous with most pro-animal representative. All of these politicians received 100-percent ratings from HSLF, while earning extra credit for leadership on animal protection issues. To break this tie, I examined scores going back to 2012. I gave newer representatives the benefit of the doubt, ranking those with shorter, but equally pro-animal records as more compassionate.

Readers may be surprised to see that Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, is not on this list. This probably reflects a flaw in my methodology—and perhaps also that of HSLF. Since Blumenauer has served in the House since 1996, he was hobbled against newer representatives with my approach. Further, Blumenauer voted against final passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014. As the Humane Scorecard from that year notes, “Representatives had many reasons for voting as they did on this large package.”

5. Dina Titus—The representative from Nevada voted for the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which would reduce and eventually replace animal use in chemical testing. Titus also supported the inclusion of animal-cruelty crimes in the National Incident Based Reporting System, saying, “The FBI’s ability to collect data on these crimes not only enhances law enforcement’s ability to monitor and analyze trends, but will also provide evidence-based resources to study the known connection between animal-cruelty crimes and other types of violent crime. This is a significant step forward for animal welfare, our law enforcement agencies, and our communities at large.”

4. Grace Meng—This New York congresswoman voted against the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, which pandered to big-game hunters and other anti-animal groups. In a letter to then-Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack, expressing her concern about the treatment of disabled calves, Meng wrote, “As long as downed animals are allowed to be slaughtered for food, companies will have an incentive to pressure workers to engage in rough handling to try to get those animals up and walking so they can pass inspection. Conversely, once companies are no longer allowed to include downer calves in the food supply, they will have an incentive to treat these animals more humanely.”

3. Susan Davis—The Californian signed a group letter to the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, seeking increased funding for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, the Horse Protection Act, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and a federal animal fighting law, as well as other pro-animal programs. Announcing her flawless rating from HSLF, Davis said, “How we treat animals reflects on how we treat each other. I appreciate the work the Humane Society does on behalf of animals in the wild and in the home. I enjoy working with them on these critical issues and am proud of my perfect score on their report.”

2. Katherine Clark—The congresswoman from Massachusetts was one of two sponsors of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, which would protect human and nonhuman victims of domestic violence. Speaking in favor of the bill, Clark said, “Sadly, domestic violence is something one in every four women will experience at some point in their lives. This isolating experience is made even worse for those who fear for the safety of their pet. Most pet lovers, including me, consider their beloved dog or cat a part of their family. No one should have to make the choice between leaving an abusive situation and ensuring their pet’s safety.”

1. Don Beyer—Beyer, from Virginia, was one of four sponsors of the Humane Cosmetics Act, which would phase out cosmetic tests on live animals and the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. Defending the legislation, Beyer said, “It is time for us to end the painful and completely unnecessary process of testing American cosmetics on animals. Safer, more cost-effective, and completely humane alternatives already exist; and the United States is in no danger of losing its competitive role as a leader in the global cosmetics industry. Now, we need to ensure our place as a moral leader.”

Al Gore to campaign for Clinton, hoping to galvanize young voters on climate change

Former vice president Al Gore will start campaigning for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to individuals briefed on the plan, in an effort to mobilize young voters who see climate change as a key issue.

The decision by Gore to plunge into the campaign during the final weeks shows the extent to which Democrats remain concerned that Clinton has yet to connect with many millennials, some of whom are backing third-party candidates this year. The former vice president, a climate activist, will speak about not just Clinton’s plan to address global warming, but also the idea that voting for an independent presidential candidate could deliver the White House to Republicans in the same way that Ralph Nader’s candidacy helped undermine his presidential bid in 2000.

CNN first reported Gore’s plans Monday evening.

More: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/10/04/al-gore-to-campaign-for-clinton-hoping-to-galvanize-young-voters-on-climate-change/?utm_term=.9e3da9fc940d#comments

Never Kill an Albatross

by George Monbiot

In just seven years 30% of Africa’s savannah elephants have been wiped out. The other African subspecies, the forest elephant, has crashed by more than 60%since 2002. Perhaps this month’s resolution to ban domestic sales of elephant tusks will make a difference, but governments have done so little to restrain the international trade that illegal ivory and other wildlife parts are still sold on the surface web, rather than the dark web.

Last month the whale shark was classified as endangered. Some are still hunted for their meat and fins, and it seems that the revolting practice of live finning – slicing off the fins, then dumping the shark overboard to die slowly – continues. Most are killed as bycatch, in nets used to catch other species, especially tuna. Some fishing boats use whale sharks as markers (tuna tend to congregate under large objects), and deliberately cast nets around them.

Their decline – whale shark numbers have halved or worse in 75 years – reflects the global loss of ocean life. Since 1996 the fish catch has fallen by a million tonnes a year, as stocks are exhausted. Sieving the seas for what remains, fishing fleets will trigger the collapse of entire ecosystems.

Fishing also accounts for what has happened to the bird with the largest wingspan, the wandering albatross – whose population has fallen by about 30% in 11 years. Again, the tuna fishery is the principal threat, in this case through the use of baited longlines. The albatrosses dive for the bait, get hooked and drown.

albatross corpse rotting away to reveal the rubbish it’s consumed
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An albatross corpse rotting away to reveal the rubbish it’s consumed. Photograph: Alamy

Another cause is their junk food diet: the plastic they eat, then feed to their chicks through regurgitation. The photographs taken by Chris Jordan on Midway atoll of the albatross corpses rotting away to reveal the rubbish they contain are a synopsis of our treatment of the living world. However far we travel, our impacts precede us.

A week ago the status of the eastern gorilla, the world’s largest primate, was changed from endangered to critically endangered: it has declined by 70% in 20 years. Its habitat, in central Africa, has been ripped apart by logging, mining and farming, and the gorillas are hunted for meat. All the great apes are now either endangered or critically endangered, in the case of orangutans largely as a result of palm oil production. What does it say about us that we are prepared to drive our closest relatives towards extinction?

The great acceleration towards a bare, grey world is also reflected in this week’s State of Nature report, which shows that over 10% of the remaining species in the UK are now threatened with extinction.

Last week we learned that one-tenth of the world’s wild places, forest and savannahs, and other lands in which human impacts are not obvious, have been lost – de-wilded – in the past 25 years. The trajectory suggests that there could be almost none left by the end of the century.

These should be among the central issues of our age. Yet we treat these losses as sad but peripheral, though we commission them through the things we buy. Elephants, rhinos, lions, polar bears, the great sharks, turtles, condors, whales, rainforests, wetlands, coral reefs: they are all the bycatch of consumerism. We assert both the right to consume – whatever we want, however we want – and the right to forget the consequences.

Flying to Bratislava or Bermuda for a stag weekend, shopping trips to New York, driving our gas guzzlers 300 metres to school, buying jetskis, leaf blowers and patio heaters, furnishing our homes with rare wood, eating tuna, prawns and salmon without a thought as to how they were produced: these ephemeral satisfactions, to judge by the reactions when you question them, occupy a sacred and inviolable space. The wonders of the living world, by contrast, are dispensable.

People who would never dream of killing an albatross or a whale shark are prepared to let others do so on their behalf, so that they may eat whatever fish they fancy. People who could not bring themselves to gut a chicken are happy to commission the disposal of entire ecosystems.

The act of not seeing is sanctioned and normalised, while attempts to explain the consequences are treated as abnormal and impertinent. On the Guardian’s website you can read about the global collapse of tuna populations – then, in a recipe published the following day, learn how to prepare a tuna salad, without a word about the implications.

Such cultural norms, positioning us as consumers first and moral beings either second or not at all, grant the disposal of the living planet its social licence. They allow us to compartmentalise, to be conscious of the issues when there is little that we can do about them, and to forget them at the moment when we have the capacity to act (or to refrain from acting). This is the safe space we establish for consumerism.

The costs cannot be computed in financial terms. There is no price that can capture the awe aroused by a whale shark, the deep being of an elephant herd, the way in which your heart soars with the albatross as it mounts a column of air, the gorilla’s fathomless gaze. The albatross hangs around our necks with a weight that defies calculation.

We were here: is this how we choose to be remembered? It is true that we existed: you can see it in the pulse of extinction. Are we to use our gift of life to snuff out other life forms? What will you leave behind, except your contribution to thePacific garbage patch?

fishing boat works amid garbage in Manila Bay, the Phillipines
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‘What will you leave behind, except your contribution to the Pacific garbage patch?’ – a fishing boat works amid garbage in Manila Bay, the Phillipines. Photograph: Erik de Castro/Reuters

I believe we can do better, that we can position ourselves as just one participant in a world of wonders, blessed and cursed with higher consciousness, but using that capacity to embed ourselves within its limits.

We cannot wait for governments or schools or the media to deliver a new environmental ethics. Join the groups trying to defend the living planet; learn about the consequences of what you do; demand – from friends, from parents, from yourself – a better way of engaging with the world. By living lightly we enrich our lives.

George Monbiot will answer questions on this issue in a live Guardian Q&A on Friday, from 10-11am, BST. Post questions now (below), or join us on the day. He will answer questions on any aspect of the problem, but is particularly interested in opening a discussion on consumerism and its ethics.

These Sloths Need Our Help Immediately!!

Shocking news broke two days ago that the Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica has allegedly been mishandling, abusing, and otherwise neglecting sloths. Further, the “sanctuary” has been confining sloths in small pens and using them for photo opportunities, rather than rehabilitating them and releasing them back into the wild.

Click here and sign our petition today demanding the Costa Rican government investigate the allegations made by the Sloth Sanctuary’s former veterinarians. 

Only the Costa Rican government can intervene and assist in the rehabilitation and release of the animals currently confined at the Sloth Sanctuary compound. They must take immediate action to ensure the health and well-being of the ever-increasing number of sloths that are captive there.

Please sign today and demand the Costa Rican government take action!

For the animals,
Carrie LeBlanc, M.A.
Executive Director
CompassionWorks International

623-ft vessel hits object, grounded in Columbia River

http://koin.com/2016/03/21/623-foot-vessel-grounded-in-columbia-river/

Sparna hit submerged object

The motor vessel Sparna, a 623-foot Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier sits aground in the Columbia River near Cathlamet, Wash., March 21, 2016.
The motor vessel Sparna, a 623-foot Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier sits aground in the Columbia River near Cathlamet, Wash., March 21, 2016.

ASTORIA, Ore. (KOIN) – Multiple agencies are monitoring a 623-foot merchant ship that has become grounded in the main shipping channel of the Columbia River.

The motor vessel Sparna, a 623-foot Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier sits aground in the Columbia River near Cathlamet, Wash., March 21, 2016.
The motor vessel Sparna, a 623-foot Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier sits aground in the Columbia River near Cathlamet, Wash., March 21, 2016.

The U.S. Coast Guard says “Sparna” went aground at 12:16 a.m. on Monday in a narrow part of the river near Cathlamet, Wash. It reportedly hit a submerged object.

The vessel took on water in void spaces, but the fuel tanks were not damaged, the Coast Guard said.

“The positive news so far is that responders have not observed any oil in the water,” said Capt. Dan Travers, Coast Guard Captain of the Port for the Columbia River.

The Sparna is fully loaded with grain and was heading west in the Columbia River, towards the ocean, with a river pilot still on-board when it ran into trouble.

The Sparna is weighed down with 218,380 gallons of high sulfur fuel and 39,380 gallons of marine diesel. Two tug boats are on scene to keep the Sparna stabilized, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard, Washington Department of Ecology and Oregon Department of Environmental along with other state and county agencies are on scene monitoring the situation. They say the Coast Guard will need to approve a salvage plan.

The vessel isn’t blocking the navigation channel so it is open to other vessels.

Cathlamet, Wash. is about 1.5 hours from downtown Portland.