January, 28 2016, 09:45am EDT
For Immediate Release
Public Interest Groups Headed Back to Court to Overturn GM Salmon Ruling
Unassessed risks surrounding manufacture of genetically-modified salmon allow for too much uncertainty, groups say
Public interest groups are headed to the Federal Court of Appeal to fight a ruling they say creates far too much uncertainty about the environmental risks of commercial grow-out of genetically-modified salmon.
"Government scientists did not evaluate the grow-out of these genetically-modified salmon in Canada," said Mark Butler, Policy Director at Ecology Action Centre. "We are concerned about the probability of escapes and the risk to wild salmon. There are some unanswered questions about how and where these fish can be used and we are looking for clear answers from the court to protect the environment and wild salmon."
Ecojustice lawyers, acting on behalf of Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society, filed the appeal. The groups seek clear direction from the Federal Court of Appeal about the implications of the government's 2013 decision which could allow AquaBounty's genetically-modified salmon to be used at locations and in ways that were not assessed according to requirements under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).
"Although the lower court agreed with us that the law prohibits the federal government from allowing AquaBounty to use this genetically-modified organism at locations other than at its assessed facility in P.E.I., our clients are still concerned that the decision leaves too many questions unanswered," said Kaitlyn Mitchell, Ecojustice lawyer. "Decision-making about genetically-modified organisms must follow the requirements in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The safety of human health and protection of biodiversity depends on it."
Under CEPA, before a new genetically-modified organism can be manufactured in Canada, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health must collect and assess all required information in order to determine whether the organism is toxic or capable of becoming toxic to human health or biodiversity.
"We want to see the Federal Court's decision overturned," said Karen Wristen, executive director of Living Oceans Society. "The Canadian Environmental Protection Act was designed to ensure that new products of biotechnology are assessed in a precautionary manner. If the risks posed by the use and commercial grow-out of AquaBounty's genetically-modified salmon were not assessed, then it should not be given the go-ahead according to the Act. It's that simple."
As Canada's only national environmental law charity, Ecojustice is building the case for a better earth.
"End Fossil Fuels is pretty clear," said one advocate. "Not 'hold slightly fewer lease sales,' not 'talk about climate action'—End. Fossil. Fuels."
Sep 29, 2023
Gulf communities, added Beard, "refuse to be sacrificed" for fossil fuel profits.
Rejecting the corporate media's narrative that U.S. President Joe Biden's newly-released offshore drilling plan includes the "fewest-ever" drilling leases, dozens of climate action and marine conservation groups on Friday said the president had "missed an easy opportunity to do the right thing" and follow through on his campaign promise to end all lease sales for oil and gas extraction in the nation's waters.
The U.S. Interior Department announced Friday its five-year plan for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, including three new areas in the Gulf of Mexico where fossil fuel companies will be permitted to drill.
Biden promised "no new drilling, period" as a presidential candidate, and the plan was announced six months after climate advocates were incensed by the administration's approval of the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.
The new leases will be added to more than 9,000 drilling leases that have already been sold, and is "incompatible with reaching President Biden’s goal of cutting emissions by 50-52% by 2030," said the Protect All Our Coasts Coalition, citing the findings of Biden's own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Office of Atmospheric Protection earlier this year.
While the final plan scales back from the eleven sales that were originally proposed, said the coalition, "the plan is a step backwards from the climate goals the administration has set and for environmental justice communities across the Gulf South, who are already experiencing the disproportionate impact of fossil fuel extraction across the region."
The coalition includes the Port Arthur Community Action Network, which has called attention to the risks posed to public health in the Gulf region by continued fossil fuel extraction.
"Folks in Port Arthur, Texas die daily from cancer, respiratory, heart, and kidney disease from the very pollution that would come from more leases and drilling," said John Beard, the founder, president, and executive director of the group. "If Biden is to truly be the environmental president, he should stop any further leasing and all forms of the petrochemical build-out, call for a climate emergency, and jumpstart the transition to clean green, renewable energy, and lift the toxic pollution from overburdened communities."
Kendall Dix, national policy director of Taproot Earth, dismissed political think tanks that applauded the "historically few lease sales" on Friday.
"The earth does not recognize political 'victories,'" said Dix, pointing to an intrusion of saltwater in South Louisiana's drinking water in recent weeks, which has been exacerbated by the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis.
"As the head of the United Nations and has said, continued fossils fuel development is incompatible with human survival," he added. "We need to transition to justly sourced renewable energy that's democratically managed and accountable to frontline communities as quickly as possible."
Along with groups in the Gulf region, national organizations on Friday condemned a plan that they said blatantly ignores the repeated warnings of international energy experts and the world's top climate scientists who say no new fossil fuel expansion is compatible with a pathway to limiting planetary heating to 1.5°C.
"Sacrificing millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas extraction when scientists are clear that we must end fossil fuel expansion immediately is a gross denial of reality by Joe Biden in the face of climate catastrophe," said Collin Rees, United States program manager at Oil Change International. "Doubling down on drilling is a direct violation of President Biden's prior commitments and continues a concerning trend."
Rees noted that 75,000 people marched in New York City last week to demand that Biden declare a climate emergency and end support for any new fossil fuel extraction projects.
"End Fossil Fuels is pretty clear," said Rees, referring to campaigners' rallying cry. "Not 'hold slightly fewer lease sales,' not 'talk about climate action'—End. Fossil. Fuels."
Despite Biden's campaign promises, Rees noted, the U.S. is currently "on track to expand fossil fuel production more than any other country by 2050."
"I feel disgusted and incredibly let down by Biden's offshore drilling plan. It piles more harm on already-struggling ecosystems, endangered species and the global climate," said Brady Bradshaw, senior oceans campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, another member of the Protect All Our Coasts Coalition. "We need Biden to commit to a fossil fuel phaseout, but actions like this condemn us to oil spills, climate disasters, and decades of toxic harm to communities and wildlife."
The lease sales, said Sarah Winter Whelan of the Healthy Ocean Coalition, also represent a missed opportunity by the administration to treat the world's oceans "as a climate solution, not a source for further climate disaster."
Under the Inflation Reduction Act, negotiated by the White House last year, the government is required to offer at least 60 million acres of offshore gas and oil leases before developing new wind power projects of similar scope.
"A single new lease sale for offshore oil and gas exploration is one too many," said Whelan. "Communities around the country are already dealing with exacerbating impacts from climate disruption caused by our reliance on fossil fuels. Any increase in our dependence on fossil fuels just bakes in greater impacts to humanity."
Gulf communities, added Beard, "refuse to be sacrificed" for fossil fuel profits.
"We say enough is enough," he said.
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CP2, which the Biden administration is expected to either approve or reject in the coming months, would emit 20 times the climate pollution expected from the controversial Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.
Sep 29, 2023
Democratic Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has joined the growing movement to stop the Calcasieu Pass 2, or CP2, a liquefied natural gas export terminal planned for Louisiana's Gulf Coast.
Experts warn that CP2, which the Biden administration is expected to either approve or reject in the coming months, would emit 20 times the climate pollution expected from the controversial Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.
"The Calcasieu Pass 2 LNG export terminal in Louisiana is the next climate litmus test," Merkley tweeted Thursday. "CP2 would poison communities and fly in the face of our climate goals."
Directly addressing President Biden, Merkley added: "Say no to CP2!"
Merkley's statement came less than a week after longtime climate activist Bill McKibben wrote an article in The New Yorker detailing how CP2—and the broader expansion of LNG exports it represents—threatens to undermine U.S. climate goals and force the 1.5°C temperature-rise target out of reach.
The U.S. is already the world's leading exporter of LNG, and CP2 is only the largest of at least 20 Gulf export terminals in the pipeline.
"If this buildout continues, and if you counted the emissions from this gas against America's totals, it would mean that American greenhouse gas emissions would not have budged since 2005," McKibben wrote on his Substack.
"Thank you Sen. Jeff Merkley for calling on POTUS to stop CP2 and protect Louisiana's coast, and our fishermen and shrimpers."
However, the Biden administration has a chance to stop the project. First, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) could reject CP2 at its October commission meeting, though McKibben noted in The New Yorker that this appears unlikely. In July, FERC opined that the project would not have a major impact on local resources, making no mention of its global climate impacts.
Then, the Department of Energy needs to grant CP2 a license to export gas through the terminal. Such a license can only be approved if an export is in "the public interest."
"After a northern hemisphere summer like the one we've just experienced, that should be an easy call," McKibben wrote on his Substack.
Merkley's statement indicates he agrees.
"Many many thanks for standing up here, Senator!' McKibben posted in response.
Climate advocacy group Oil Change International boosted Merkely's call.
"The proposed CP2 LNG export terminal is a climate and environmental justice disaster, many times over," the group wrote. "It's also a clear test for President Joe Biden."
CP2 also faces local opposition. Louisiana's Gulf Coast is on the frontlines of the climate crisis in myriad ways as it suffers sea level rise, more intense storms, and increased pollution that results from fossil fuel expansion.
The LNG buildout in particular destroys habitat for fish and shrimp, threatening the ecosystem and the livelihoods of fishers and shrimpers, according to a press release from local environmental justice group the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. The increase in shipping traffic brought by the terminals also makes fishing and shrimping more difficult.
"Thank you Sen. Jeff Merkley for calling on POTUS to stop CP2 and protect Louisiana's coast, and our fishermen and shrimpers," the group wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "This is the federal leadership we need. We'd love to have you come down and see firsthand how gas exports are decimating our beloved seafood industry."
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade also called on their own Senator, Republican Bill Cassidy, to step up.
"Are you going to protect your own constituents, the fishermen and shrimpers whose livelihoods will be decimated by CP2," the group asked, "or are you going to rely on Sen. Jeff Merkley from Oregon to do it for you?"
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"Trump violated his oath of office and incited a violent insurrection that attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatened the assassination of the vice president and congressional leaders, and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation's history."
Sep 29, 2023
A progressive advocacy group on Friday filed a lawsuit on behalf of Michigan voters seeking to bar former U.S. President Donald Trump from the state's 2024 presidential ballot, arguing his role in inciting the deadly January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection constitutionally bars him from holding public office.
Free Speech for People filed the suit, which contends that Trump—currently the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination—is disqualified from holding public office under a constitutional provision known as the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause.
As the group explains:
Enacted in the wake of the Civil War, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies from public office any individual who has taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution but then engages in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or gives aid or comfort to its enemies. No prior criminal conviction is required. Trump's involvement in the violent attack on Congress to prevent the certification of election results, which resulted in the disruption of the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation's history, disqualifies him from holding any future public office. State election officials do not need permission from Congress to enforce the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause, just as they do not need congressional approval to enforce the U.S. Constitution in general.
"Donald Trump violated his oath of office and incited a violent insurrection that attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatened the assassination of the vice president and congressional leaders, and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation's history," Free Speech for People legal director Ron Fein said in a statement.
"Our predecessors understood that oath-breaking insurrectionists will do it again, and worse, if allowed back into power, so they enacted the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to protect the republic from people like Trump," Fein continued. "Trump is legally barred from the ballot and election officials must follow this constitutional mandate."
Mark Brewer, an attorney for Free Speech for People, said that "the United States Constitution makes Donald Trump ineligible to run for or serve in any public office in the country, let alone president."
"All Michigan voters, including the plaintiffs, have a well-established right to have only eligible candidates on the ballot" he added. "Since Secretary of State [Jocelyn] Benson has announced that Trump will be on the primary ballot unless a court orders otherwise, we are seeking a court order preventing Trump from being on the ballot."
Trump is also under federal indictment for his efforts to overturn his 2020 loss.
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