Posts Tagged ‘North Coast’

Action Alert: Protect Marine Mammals from Navy Sonar and Weapons Testing

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
By

NOAA_whalecalfTake Action Now! The US Navy has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the impacts associated with a five-year authorization of military testing and training operations off the coast of the Pacific Northwest in an area that stretches from Cape Mendocino all the way north to the Canadian border, including Alaskan waters. The proposed activities are expected to injure, disturb or kill more than a hundred thousand individuals consisting of 29 different marine mammal species, which are supposed to be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Proposed activities would subject marine mammals, fish, sea turtles and other sea life to countless impacts including mid-frequency sonar, which is noise that is billions of times more intense than natural sound. The use of sonar has been directly connected to many instances of beached whales that have died from baro-trauma after military sonar exercises.  Even 300 miles from the source, sonar can be up to 140 decibels, which is 100 times more intense than the level known to alter whale behavior.

Additional testing and training activities that would affect marine mammals include the use of explosives, electromagnetic devices, physical strikes from missiles, underwater detonations and ships, entanglement and ingestion of toxic chemicals and munitions. These activities often result in the disruption of basic behaviors of marine mammals including activities necessary for survival such as migration, surfacing, navigating, hearing, nursing, breeding and feeding.  Many of the species that would be affected are listed as threatened or endangered, making the Navy’s proposed project a direct violation of the Endangered Species Act.

EPIC has participated in the scoping process of this project, attended public meetings, compiled related action alerts and will continue to stand up to the Navy in an effort to stop the unnecessary killing of marine mammals and other marine species. We need your help to show the Navy that people on the North Coast care deeply about ocean life.

There are several things you can do to help:

  • Attend public meetings, including a meeting this Thursday, March 6 at the Red Lion Hotel in Eureka from 5-8pm.
  • Submit comments to the Navy.
  • Share this action with your friends via social media networks.
  • Contribute to our efforts to fund this campaign.

Please click here to take action now.  Tell the US Navy to rescind the proposed training and testing activities and explore other alternatives to train military personnel that do not significantly degrade the environment and put hundreds of thousands of marine animals at risk in the global commons. If you can add a personal touch, your comment will go even further in letting the US Navy know that the public does not approve of the Navy’s destructive training operations.

Public “open house information sessions” will be held at multiple locations along the Pacific Coast, including one in Eureka this Thursday, March 6, at the Red Lion Hotel Redwood Ballroom at 1929 4th Street.  If you live outside of the Humboldt Bay area, you may be able to attend one of the other sessions in your area.  All written and verbal comments delivered during these meetings will be added to the administrative record, so please urge as many as you can to turn out and let the Navy hear your voice.

Click Here to Take Action Now!

Click here to see EPIC’s past efforts to stop the Navy’s unnecessary killing of marine mammals for their testing and training operations.


Public Action has Exposed Caltrans Need for Reform

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
By

RGRoadnoTruckOriginally published in the Eureka Times-Standard.

Caltrans is seriously out of step with the times, with the needs of the state of California, and with the North Coast community. EPIC has been voicing this criticism of Caltrans since we first rose to the defense of the ancient redwoods of Richardson Grove. Now an independent study has come to that same conclusion.

The independent report, the SSTI Assessment and Recommendations, commissioned by Governor Brown and authored by the State Smart Transportation Initiative, was released in January 2014. The study finds that Caltrans is stuck in a car-centric culture, perpetually looking to build bigger, faster highways at a moment in history in which Californians are becoming acutely aware of the true financial and ecological costs of addiction to an outdated transportation model. The study also finds fault with the pattern of inadequate response to community concerns about social and environmental impacts of highway development, as well as a “culture of fear” within the agency.

Three Caltrans projects on California’s North Coast stand as examples of this “stuck-in-the-past” project planning.

The Willits Bypass is draining 90 acres of precious wetlands for a giant interchange made for a four-lane freeway that will do little to relieve local congestion. The argument for the need for the Bypass is based on traffic studies from decades ago. Caltrans implementation of the Bypass has been a circus of permit violations, spiced with the destruction of a cultural site, and clouded by an underfunded and unproven mitigation plan.

The highway “realignment” through Richardson Grove State Park seriously threatens mammoth ancient redwood trees, a fact confirmed by the state court of appeal, which recently ruled that Caltrans failed to adequately analyze the impact of their proposed project on the ancient redwoods. Incredibly, instead of designing alternatives and doing an in-depth environmental review that better reflect the desires of Californians and the environmental realities of our times, Caltrans wastes time and tax-payer money disregarding the intent of the courts by arrogantly steamrolling forward with the project. This “bully” behavior confirms the independent review conclusion that Caltrans is oblivious to the concerns of the public while unabashedly promoting environmentally damaging projects.

A related highway development project planned for Highway 199 in the northwestern-most corner of California poses direct and indirect threats to our redwood parks and the unparalleled salmon habitat of the wild Smith River in Del Norte County. EPIC has taken legal action in state and federal court to defend the Smith from this irresponsible highway development.

Our North Coast community deserves an honest, transparent, and open discussion about the impacts of highway development on our irreplaceable natural treasures, and about the costs and the benefits of this infrastructure development. This discussion must include recognizing the viability of alternatives that will meet needs for goods movement and transportation, as well as protect the rare and sensitive environments that make Northwest California such a special place. The imperative for Caltrans to respond positively to the demands of our community is emphasized by the successful efforts to challenge the agency in court, and by the independent review recommending serious reform of the agency.

Yet, Caltrans has refused to be forthright with residents about the direct impacts of their highway development projects, much less been willing to engage the public in a productive manner when concerns are raised, or even when the courts rule against the agency. In the absence of credible leadership by Caltrans, EPIC has challenged the legality of these projects with the immediate intent of protecting rare and sensitive environments, and with the long-term goal of leveraging successful court action into political momentum that will lead to a serious reform of the agency. A major restructuring of the California Department of Transportation is already under way; the question remains whether the recommendations of the independent review combined with the reality check of the court orders will be sufficient impetus to bring Caltrans out of the past.

There is no question that Caltrans needs significant reform to bring it into step with best practices in the transportation field, with the state of California’s policy expectations, and the true needs of North Coast residents. While the lawsuits are effective for enforcing the law, they do not permanently stop projects, and reform is what will lead to viable transportation solutions for our rural communities. This reform is not only the demand of citizen organizations from around the state; it is the recommendation of one of the nation’s leading authorities on sustainable transportation. The time has arrived to rein in Caltrans.


A New Era (and Website) for EPIC

Friday, January 15th, 2010
By

kruleweb

After two years of working with EPIC, I am so excited to see the swelling enthusiasm of our small but dedicated team of activists and organizers. EPIC’s work over the years has ebbed and flowed from an epicenter of information based in the heart of the struggle to defend redwood forests in Garberville to sparse offices in Eureka and skeleton staff with board leadership. Our totally redesigned website is a step into a new era for the organization, but we haven’t lost sight of where we came from. (more…)