There are numerous environmental issues that we are providing information and advocating action on. Detailed information can be found via the following links:
February 14, 2018
From the Morongo Basin Conservation Association (MBCA) – with their permission:
Last week we received disheartening news: the Department of Interior (DOI) announced plans to amend the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) to provide for more utility scale renewable energy development and mining access, while diminishing conservation measures in its Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA). For Samy Roth’s Desert Sun article, Trump administration opens millions of acres up to mining, click here. See more news stories and links at MBCA’s News Update on this topic.
What You Can Do:
The Morongo Basin Conservation Association (MBCA) has suggestions for those opposed to the DRECP amendments that will most certainly weaken the plan. They have been participating in the process since the beginning and if you want to learn more and/or sign a petition to slow the process – see below and go to their website: mbconservation.org. The website also has more information about submitting written comments.
Attend a Meeting:
Attend BLM Scoping meeting to state opposition to reopening DRECP.
WHEN: Thursday, March 1, 2018; 6:00 – 8:00pm
WHERE: Joshua Tree Community Center – 6171 Sunburst Ave., JT
Sign a Petition:
Sign the petition at the MBCA table outside Joshua Tree Health Food store during the Saturday Farmers Market. The petition for your signature at the Farmers market includes a request to extend the 45-day comment period.
February 12, 2018
Don’t Let the Trump Administration Scrap the DRECP!
Here are links to two articles on the possible dismantling of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan’s (DRECP) protections that prohibit mining and large scale renewable energy development on sensitive lands – including those near Big Morongo Canyon and large parts of the Mojave Desert. Many local people worked for 8 years on this plan with the goal of protecting sensitive and scenic lands in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The plan was not perfect for either developers or conservationists, but it did slow down a land grab that threatened our deserts.
- Trump plan could undo preservation of millions of acres of California desert for renewable energy development
- BLM cancels move to restrict mining in environmentally sensitive land in California desert
At the writing of the articles, San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood and Congressman Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) could not be reached for comment.
There is a 45-day public comment period on 10.8 million acres of BLM-managed land for possible changes to the DRECP “to seek greater opportunities for renewable energy generation. Comments should be sent to the BLM-California State Director, 2800 Cottage Way, Rm W-1623, Sacramento, CA 95825, or electronically to BLM_CA_DRECP@blm.gov.
February 4, 2018
67 ENVIRONMENTAL RULES ON THE WAY OUT UNDER TRUMP: The New York Times lists 67 environmental regulations that have been overturned or where rollbacks are in progress or in limbo by the Trump administration—a grim summary. The IMB Environmental Issues Team asks us each to review the list, find the one that is most concerning to each of us, and contact the agency responsible or our members of Congress. Scroll all the way down on the NYT web page to find details and links on the rules and their effects.
Call to support S.1400, The Safeguarding of Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act
Efforts to repatriate tribal property are hitting roadblocks within the Trump administration.
The Trump administration is refusing to take a position on a new cultural protection bill that expands on the legislation calling for the return of tribal items to their rightful place.
“These cultural items are continuing to leave and go across the seas to be sold”, says Governor Kurt Riley, a tribal leader, of the Pueblo of Acoma. Members of the Trump administration want to wait for the results of further study as tribal leaders are calling for immediate action. Given the ongoing sales of sacred cultural items in international markets, Governor Riley could think of no good reason to wait for the Government Accountability Office study, a process that could take many months to complete.
At the same time, Secretary Zinke has put a hold on a key advisory panel that was established by Congress to ensure compliance with the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act. The NAGPRA review committee is in limbo while the Interior department conducts their own review.
But Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) said the freeze in hindering efforts to return sacred items to their rightful place. Without clear U.S. law or policy, officials in France, where tribal items are regularly picked up for auction, have refused to return such items.
In hopes of addressing impasses at the international level, Udall and other lawmakers are pushing for passage of S.1400, the Safeguarding Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act. The bill bars the export of items that are otherwise covered in the U.S. by NAGPRA and other cultural protection laws.
Repatriation is extremely personal for tribes and their citizens. They are able to utilize NAGPRA to reclaim ancestors that were removed — sometimes inadvertently but in many cases, not — from their resting places. Items used in ceremonies and other practices can also be repatriated under the 1990 law. But once any items leave the U.S., it’s virtually impossible to get them back.
The STOP Act enjoys bipartisan support — six of the nine co-sponsors are Republicans. While the Trump administration’s silence on the bill might not hinder passage, it isn’t helping either, advocates argue.
Hi my name is (NAME) and I am a constituent from (city,zip) I’m calling today to ask (SENATOR OR CONGRESSMAN) to support S.1400-The Safeguarding of Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act. The bill bars the export of items that are otherwise covered by NAGPRA and other cultural protection laws.
I am concerned that the Trump administration is refusing to take a position on this bill and that Native American cultural items are continuing to leave the U.S and go across the seas to be sold.
November 12, 2017
Call Rep. Paul Cook regarding fee increase in National Parks (with sample script):
The Trump administration just proposed massive fee increases in 17 national parks — increases that could see entrance fees jump from $25 to $70. And they’re only giving the public 30 days to comment.
The administration claims this fee hike will help address the $11.3 billion maintenance backlog in national parks, but Interior Secretary Zinke estimates that the new fees could raise around $70 million annually. That’s just a tiny fraction of the maintenance backlog! The solution to the parks’ repair needs should fall to Congress, and cannot and should not be shouldered by its visitors. There is a bill, the National Park Service Legacy Act (S. 751 and HR 2584), pending in Congress that addresses the National Park Service maintenance backlog and it deserves the Department of the Interior’s support. This bipartisan legislation would provide a more substantial — and sustainable — investment in our parks. They could also use revenue from oil, gas, coal and other mining revenues and/or extend the Land and Water Conservation Fund to allow off shore oil and gases lease revenue to help maintain public lands.
Finally, the Administration is also considering to reduce NPS annual budget from $400 million to $300 million, which will further reduce America’s commitment to our precious National Park System.
Call Representatives and say, “Hi, my name is (NAME) and I’m calling to express my opposition the Administration’s proposal to raise fees at 17 National Parks. I live in a gateway community that depends on the Park and I know that this will reduce many American’s opportunities to visit National Parks as well as negatively affect the communities that rely on revenue generated by Park visitors. I am also concerned about how fee increases might affect average American’s ability to take advantage of our precious National Parks
At the very least, the comment period for fee increases should be increased well beyond 30 days so that American citizens have an adequate opportunity to respond to the proposal. We should also explore other ways to address the backlog, including the National Park Service Legacy Act (S. 751 & H.R. 2584) or using oil, gas, coal or other mining revenues.
Congress needs to come up with stable, sensible, long-term solutions to address the maintenance backlog — not put the burden on park visitors.
Call Rep. Paul Cook regarding Mojave Trails and Castle Mountains National Monuments (with sample script):
On June 8 Rep. Paul Cook sent a letter to Secretary Ryan Zinke to eliminate the southern portion of the Mojave Trails National Monument, cutting its overall size by about 1/3. The eliminated portion includes the Cadiz dunes and surrounding desert. He reasoned that the monument ended up larger than its original intention and requires the exclusion of multiple private holdings. Many conservationists are convinced that this proposal’s true intention is to aid Cadiz Incorporated’s plan to pump groundwater on land adjacent to the monument and sell it to cities. Cadiz Inc. plans to pump as much as 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater, transporting via a 43 mile pipeline along an existing railroad line, part of which would also be removed from the monument.
Though Cook denies this allegation, he was among 18 members of Congress who wrote to Zinke in March, urging him to support the Cadiz project and ignore restrictions to the potential uses of railroad lands. The appointment of David Bernhardt, partner and shareholder in the law firm that owns shares in Cadiz, as Deputy Interior Secretary is also of concern to conservation groups. Scott Slater, Cadiz Inc. president and CEO has stated that whether or not the lands bordering his project are removed makes no difference to the project.
Cook also recommended that Zinke look at shrinking Castle Mountains National Monument, which was not on the list of monuments slated for review due to its small size. Cook argues that it was created only to prevent the reopening of Castle Mountain Mine.
Whether Cook’s proposal to shrink the size of Mojave Trails National Monument is linked to the Cadiz project or not, it is clear that Cook did not consult or inform local constituents or environmental groups before making his recommendations. His proposal was made before the public comment deadline and he ignored thousands of local letters of support gathered by environmental groups.
Representative Cook, you have ignored your constituents by refusing to hold town hall meetings. Your proposal to reduce the size of Mojave Trails and Castle Mountains National Monuments even before the public comment period was closed is just another example of your unwillingness to represent us or explain your actions. This is unacceptable and I firmly oppose your support of this Administration in its efforts to shrink lawfully created National Monuments.
CADIZ WATER PROJECT: There will be an Informational Meeting on the Cadiz Water Project at the Pioneertown Mountains Preserve on Tuesday, August 29, at 6:30. Reservations required; call (760) 369-7105 to save a spot. Bring a folding chair for comfortable seating!
Desert Defenders from the Hi-Desert Mark and Matt (Joshua Tree Huggers), Marge (Democratic Club), and Yolanda (Indivisible Morongo Basin) attended the Monuments For All Rally in Indio. Yolanda reports:
On April 26, 2017, an executive order was signed by 45 to review the designation of national monuments under the Antiquities Act. This action directly affects two California desert national monuments: Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails.
On Friday, June 16, 2017 the Mojave Desert Land Trust, in partnership with National Parks Conservation Association, Audubon California, Sierra Club San Gorgonio Chapter, and COFEM, held a rally in Indio from 5-7p.m. at Spanish Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Indio. Representatives voiced the reasons about why the Mojave Monuments are important to them and why they choose to fight. Mark Evans and Marge Doyle received an opportunity to voice their support when they were interviewed by Channel 3.
The rally was led by MDLT’s executive director Danielle Segura. She reminded the attendees of the importance of submitting a public comment to the Department of the Interior to let them know the public supports our national monuments. If you haven’t submitted your public comment, please do so at https://www.mdlt.org/desert-defenders/
Remember, when our desert is under attack, we fight back! Become a desert defender by spreading the word and urging everyone you know to submit their public comment loud and clear in support of our national monuments. #desertdefenders
OUR MOJAVE MONUMENTS: Your comment will count!
On April 26, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of the Interior (DOI) to review the designation of national monuments under the Antiquities Act. This action directly attacks two California desert national monuments designated in 2016: Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails.
The Department of the Interior has announced a public comment period to see whether the public supports our national monuments. The Mojave Desert Land Trust has designed a way to make it easy to let the DOI know we support Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails National Monuments and why they are important to us.
Here’s what you do: Go to www.mdlt.org/desert-defenders and provide your comments. It is a simple on-line form for your name, your email and your comments. They provide an example comment, or you can craft your own. The Mojave Desert Land Trust will collect all comments submitted through this process and will make sure your comments get counted in the public comment process.
Take action today and support our California desert national monuments!
ACTION CALL AND POSTCARD: Do Not Support the Cadiz Water Export Project! Posted April 17, 2017
The Indivisible MB Environmental Issues Team is taking focused action on the Cadiz Water Project this month. Support this action with calls and postcards to your congressman and senators! Sample scripts below.
Cadiz Inc, located in Cadiz, San Bernardino County, is a private company that plans to exploit a natural desert aquifer and destroy pristine public lands for profit.
Cadiz plans to pump ancient groundwater from below the Mojave Desert and sell it to urban areas in Southern California, transporting it in a 43-mile pipeline.
This project would potentially draw down the Mojave Desert aquifer, which could in turn open the area up to increased environmental risks. The National Park Service and US Geological Survey argue that Cadiz would withdraw more water – 50,000 acre feet for year – than nature will be able to recharge the desert aquifer.
The new Administration has put Cadiz on a list of priority infrastructure and has quietly pushed the Federal Bureau of Land Management to rescind an earlier directive that required Cadiz to obtain a federal right of way permit, which would include comprehensive environmental review before being allowed to proceed to build the pipeline.
This project puts corporate profits ahead of the public’s interest.
Cadiz Phone Call Script (Cook)
Hello my name is________________ and my zip code is ___________________.
I know that Congressman Cook was one of a group of Congressmen who wrote a letter expressing support for the Cadiz water export project in the Mojave Desert, and that the BLM guidelines that were blocking this project were recently removed by the Administration, paving the way for this project to move forward.
I am concerned that the Cadiz project developers and their scientists greatly underestimate the environmental impacts of this project and that their estimates of natural recharge of water are exaggerated. This project is about selling our precious desert water resources for corporate profit, and will result in the loss of one more ancient aquifer. It does not help our communities.
I am urging Congressman Cook to not allow this project to move forward. We need him to protect our water resources.
Cadiz Phone Call Script (Feinstein and Harris)
Hello my name is________________ and my zip code is ___________________.
I know that BLM guidelines preventing the Cadiz water export project in the Mojave Desert have recently been removed by the Administration, paving the way for this project to move forward.
I am concerned that the Cadiz project developers and their scientists greatly underestimate the environmental impacts of this project and that their estimates of natural recharge of water are exaggerated. This project is about selling our precious desert water resources for corporate profit, and will result in the loss of one more ancient aquifer.
I am urging the Senator to not allow this project to move forward. We need her to protect our water resources.
Sample Post Card Script:
Dear Rep Cook, Sen. Feinstein or Sen. Harris,
Please do not allow the Cadiz Water project to proceed. Cadiz will sell our precious desert water resources for corporate profit. No corporate profits ahead of our public interest!
Town, Zip code
ACTION CALL AND POSTCARD: Defend the Environmental Protection Agency
Posted Thursday, April 13, 2017
Any attempt to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or slash its budget, would irreparably harm our health and communities. We depend on the EPA to protect our air, water and climate from harm. Without proper resources they will have difficulty enforcing basic rules to protect our communities, which include…
- Monitoring air quality in our communities
- Ensuring our water is safe to drink
- Enforcing protections from industrial discharge of toxic water pollution
- Protecting our air from increased emissions of mercury, arsenic, lead, soot, and the pollution that causes smog
- Cracking down on toxic pesticides that are wiping out our pollinating bees and threaten our food supply
- Holding corporate polluters accountable
- The Clean Power Plan, which limits climate-change-causing emissions and carbon pollution
- Protection of our cherished public lands
The EPA is an essential part of our government that was founded with bipartisan support and remains popular across the country.
Oppose any action that undermines the EPA’s ability to protect the public health. Defend our planet and communities! We need a fully funded EPA to defend the health and safety of the American people.
I stand behind the EPA and find it intolerable to cut the EPA budget!
EPA Phone Script:
Hi, My name is (Name) and I am a constituent from (City, Zip).
I am calling because I am concerned about the Administration’s proposal to cut the funding and staff resources of the EPA. I do not support any cuts to the EPA’s budget.
Will (Rep Cook, Senator Feinstein, Senator Harris) fight cuts to the EPA?
If the person says yes: That is really wonderful to know. Thank you for your work answering calls and please thank (Cook, Feinstein, Harris) for supporting the EPA.
If the person says no: That is terrible. I am very disappointed. I hope (Cook, Feinstein, Harris) know that the majority of constituents believe the EPA is critical to protecting our environment and our citizens and they should not have their resources cut. I hope that he/she will reconsider.
If the person says they don’t know: That’s disappointing. I expect my Senator/Representative to have clear positions on issues that affect constituents. Please ask him/her about their position on this matter and ask them to share that information with our constituents. I will call again to get the answer to my question. Thank you for the work you do answering calls and responding to questions.
EPA Post Card Script:
Dear Rep Cook, Sen. Feinstein or Sen. Harris,
Defend our planet and communities! We need a fully funded EPA to defend the health and safety of the American people. No cuts to the EPA! Thank you.
Town, Zip code