Week of July 25, 2005

National

Regional

2nd Amendment issues

Michigan

Ohio

Ontario

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National

Ballast lawsuit update

 “We’re involved in briefing the court on matters concerning what happens next, and the Great Lakes States are now  official intervenors in the suit”, says Nina Bell,

 ExecutiveDirector of Northwest Environmental Advocates.  Bell adds; “and there's a bill -- S363 -- that contains provisions to exempt ballast water discharges from the Clean Water Act.”


Bill Undermines Clean Water Act and State Efforts to Curb Invasive Species!

A bill has quickly gained momentum that threatens to preempt Michigan’s state bill, exempt pollutants and activities from the Clean Water Act, as well as undermine existing efforts to prevent aquatic invasive species. 

 

The Ballast Water Management Act of 2005 (S. 363) sponsored by Sen. Daniel Inouye [D-HI] and co-sponsored by Senators Daniel K. Akaka [D-HI], Maria Cantwell [D-WA],  Frank Lautenberg [D-NJ], Paul S. Sarbanes[D-MD], all Democrats, would establish treatment standards and timelines for ships to treat ballast to prevent aquatic invasive species.  S. 363 contains weaker ballast water standards, and much longer timelines for implementation, than the widely supported, comprehensive National Aquatic Invasive Species Act (S. 770).  S. 363 also contains some dangerous provisions that would undermine efforts in the Great Lakes, including:

 

Preemption of Stronger State Efforts

Frustrated with the lack of federal action, many states nationwide are currently moving forward to require ships to treat their ballast for invasive species. For example, Michigan’s new state legislation requires treatment options for ocean vessels operating within the Great Lakes by 2007. S. 363 would undercut these efforts by preempting the ability of states to take action and delay treatment until S. 363 standards are implemented, for over a decade or more depending upon the pending federal program’s implementation.

 

Without enforcement provisions to ensure deadlines are met, and without a guaranteed source of federal funding, states have little confidence that even the lengthy federal deadlines will be met.  The preemption section must be stricken from the bill. (Section 3(r) (1), July 1st 2005 Committee Draft).

 

Removal of EPA Clean Water Act Authority

S. 363 would exempt the discharge of pollutants- both biological and chemical- from ballast water from regulation under the Clean Water Act (or CWA).  Any exemption from the Clean Water Act is a dangerous precedent.   

 

The bill’s timing is poised to undercut a recent court ruling requiring EPA to move forward in regulating discharges under CWA, with the court’s expected order for the agency expected this fall.  See, Northwest Environmental Advocates et.al vs. U.S. EPA, No. C. 03-05760 SI (March 20, 2005).   Again frustrated by the lack of federal action, Great Lakes states intervened in this lawsuit. The EPA, with its environmental protection mission and expertise in developing discharge standards, is a critical partner with the Coast Guard in protecting national waters from invasive species.  EPA’s role in S. 363 has been relegated to one of merely ‘consultation’ to Coast Guard.

 

As drafted, S. 363 not only directly usurps the court order requiring EPA to address ballast water discharges under the CWA, but is so loosely drafted that it would additionally remove all federal authority to address pollutants other than invasive species in ballast water, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Exemption of any pollutants or activities from the CWA is a direct assault on the Act itself and must be stricken from the bill.  

 

Promotes Loopholes and Exemptions in Ballast Water Management 

S. 363 would allow NoBOB vessels that carry invasive species to be exempted from having to clean their tanks. Approximately 90% of ocean vessels entering the Great Lakes are classified as “No Ballast on Board” and in current practice are being exempted from regulation under existing legislation. In January 2005, again largely due to Great Lake states petitioning, the Coast Guard recognized this loophole and agreed to move forward to tighten regulation of the NoBOB vessels entering the Great Lakes. S. 363 contains a section called “Great Lakes regulations” that would lock in the existing regulatory exemption for these ships, and require the Great Lakes to wait until S. 363 standards are implemented in a decade or more to see NoBOBs regulated.  

 

Preclude Comprehensive Legislation to Address All Vectors of Invasive Species

S. 363, by only targeting invasive species carried in ballast water would do nothing for many states that are currently affected by invasive species brought by other means, including through unintentional introductions and commercial importation, as weed or pest controls, on the hulls of ships, and through aquaculture. Currently there is wide support for legislation in Congress that would provide for comprehensive federal authority for all relevant agencies to coordinate together and with states to address all aquatic invasive species, the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act (NAISA), S. 770.  

 

NAISA would provide a comprehensive EPA-Coast Guard partnership on ballast water management that protects EPA’s

Clean Water Act authority, as well as provide much needed tools to other agencies and the states such as rapid response, monitoring, screening and research provisions.  These tools would enhance efforts to prevent, detect and respond to all aquatic invasive species, not just those passed by ballast water.  S. 363’s momentum in the Senate would preclude efforts to pass this more comprehensive, stronger legislation. 

 

It is critical that Senators oppose S. 363 and support S. 770 to ensure protection of the Clean Water Act, support existing state efforts on ballast water management, provide further federal leadership, and most importantly, to prevent devastation from aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes.

 

TAKE ACTION!

Call and write your Great Lakes Senator and the following Great Lakes Senators expressing your concerns with S. 363. At this time, immediate calls and emails are needed the most.

 

Senator George Voinovich from Ohio

(202) 224-3353 ask for Greg Carter

Email Sen. Voinovich’s staff at: Greg_Carter@voinovich.senate.gov   

 

Senator Carl Levin from Michigan

(202) 224-6221 ask for Joy Mulinex

Email Sen. Levin’s staff at: joy_mulinex@levin.senate.gov   

 

Senator Richard Durbin from Illinois

(202) 224-2152 ask for Jessica Lenard

Contact Sen. Durbin’s staff at: jessica_lenard@durbin.senate.gov   

 

Senator Barak Obama from Illinois

(202) 224-2854 ask for Christopher Lu

Email Sen. Obama’s staff at: Christopher_lu@obama.senate.gov     

 

Senator Hillary Clinton from New York

(202) 224-4451 ask for Dan Utech

Email Sen. Clintons staff at: Dan_Utech@clinton.senate.gov    

 

Indiana

Bayh, Evan- (D - IN)

(202) 224-5623

 

Lugar, Richard- (R - IN)

(202) 224-4814

E-mail: senator_lugar@lugar.senate.gov  

 

Michigan

Levin, Carl- (D - MI)

(202) 224-6221

Web Form: levin.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm

 

Stabenow, Debbie- (D - MI)

(202) 224-4822

Web Form: stabenow.senate.gov/email.htm

 

Minnesota

Coleman, Norm- (R - MN)

(202) 224-5641

Web Form: coleman.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm

 

Dayton, Mark- (D - MN)

(202) 224-3244

Web Form: dayton.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm

 

Ohio

DeWine, Mike- (R - OH)

(202) 224-2315

Web Form: dewine.senate.gov

 

Voinovich, George- (R - OH)

(202) 224-3353

Web Form: voinovich.senate.gov/contact/index.htm

 

Pennsylvania

Santorum, Rick- (R - PA)

(202) 224-6324

Web Form: santorum.senate.gov/contactform.cfm

 

Specter, Arlen- (R - PA)

(202) 224-4254

Web Form: specter.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactInfo.Home

 

Wisconsin

Feingold, Russell- (D - WI) 

(202) 224-5323

E-mail: russell_feingold@feingold.senate.gov  

 

Kohl, Herb- (D - WI) 

(202) 224-5653

Web Form: kohl.senate.gov/gen_contact.html


Bush picks Dale Hall as Director of USFWS

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­ Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton praised President Bush's intention to nominate H. Dale Hall to serve as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The announcement is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate, once the official nomination is made by the President.  A 27-year career employee, Hall has served in Albuquerque, N.M. as the Southwest Regional Director of the Service since 2001.

 

"Dale brings to the job a wealth of experience and a record of being part of the answer to complex problems," said Norton. "As a qualified scientist, he has worked on everything from the Northwest Forest Plan to the California Bay/Delta water settlement, to the plan for restoring the Everglades. He has dealt with wetlands across the nation and water issues on the Middle Rio Grande and the Missouri Rivers. In every instance he has sought consensus and solutions. I am confident he will continue that record."

Hall said he was humbled and honored to be nominated by the President and to have the confidence of Secretary Norton. "I'm looking forward to this position and to using my experience to lead our outstanding employees in finding science-based, cooperative solutions to the tough issues before the Fish and Wildlife Service."

 

He also helped in bringing consensus to the Multi-Species Conservation Plan for the Lower Colorado River. That plan is a 50-year conservation initiative that provides more than $620 million in federal and local funding to protect fish and wildlife along 400 miles of the lower Colorado River, while meeting the needs of farmers, tribes, industries and urban residents

who rely on the river for water and power supplies.

 

Hall's experience includes a term as Deputy Regional Director in Atlanta, Ga. and one as Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services in Portland, Ore. He started his career with the Service in 1978 when he did field work in wetlands ecology in Vicksburg, Miss. He continued in ecological services in Galveston and Houston where he worked as Outer Continental Shelf Coordinator with responsibility to work with Minerals Management Service to protect sensitive areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico. He was also the office supervisor in Texas for four years. Along the career path he worked as Deputy Assistant Director for Fisheries in Washington,

D.C.

 

"I've worked in Washington before, but one of the things I will miss about New Mexico is all the great hunting and fishing in the state," said Hall, who is an avid sportsman.

 

A native of Harlan, Ky., Hall served in the Philippines and Italy during his stint with the U.S. Air Force. Hall also has private sector experience having managed catfish farms in the Mississippi Delta after returning to civilian life. His education includes a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Cumberland College in Kentucky and a master's in fisheries science from Louisiana State University.

 

Hall has been honored with the Department of the Interior's Meritorious Service Award. He and his wife, Sarah, have three children.


NRA Pulls out of Columbus

Citing the City Council's vote to ban semi-automatic firearms, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre announced that the NRA was pulling its 2007 convention out of Columbus, costing

the city an estimated $20 million in business.  According to an NRA news release, LaPierre said the NRA would return to Columbus when the Ohio legislature enacts a preemption law that would override the ban. 


Regional

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for July 22, 2005

Lake Level Conditions:

Lake Superior is currently at the same level as last year, while the remaining lakes are 5 to 7 inches below the levels of a year ago.  Dry conditions this spring and summer are the main reason that water levels on the lower Great Lakes are below last year’s levels.   Looking ahead, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are expected to remain steady over the next month.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are all expected to fall 3 to 4 inches over the next month.  Levels on Lake Superior will be similar to the summer of 2004, whereas levels on the lower Great Lakes are expected to be lower than the summer of 2004. See our Daily Levels web page for more water level information.

 

Current Outflows/Channel Conditions:

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is projected to be significantly above average during the month of July.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are anticipated to be below average during July.  Flows in the Niagara River are expected to be near average while St. Lawrence River flows should be below average in July.

 

Alerts:

Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by

changing water levels.  Users of the St. Marys River should be aware that regulated flows will be close to 40% higher during July than they were in June

 

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels Data Summary

 

 

Superior

Mich-Huron

St. Clair

Erie

Ontario

Expected water level for July 22 in ft

601.7

578.1

574.2

571.6

245.9

Chart datum, in ft

601.1

577.5

572.3

569.2

243.3

Diff from chart datum, in inches

+8

+7

+22

+29

+31

Diff from last month, in inches

0

0

-3

-3

-3

Diff from last year in inches

0

-7

-6

-5

-6


2nd Amendment issues

The Right to Self-Defense

As a matter of survival it's an obligation

On June 27, in the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to police protection even in the presence of a restraining order. By a vote of 7-to-2, the Court ruled that Gonzales has no right to sue her local police department for failing to protect her and her children from her estranged husband.

 

The discussion on Gonzales misses an obvious point. If the government won't protect you, then you have to take responsibility for your own self-defense and that of your family. The court's ruling is a sad decision, but one that every victim and/or potential victim of violence must note: calling the police won’t cut it. You must also be ready to defend yourself.

 

In 1999, Gonzales obtained a restraining order against her estranged husband Simon, which limited his access to their children. On June 22, 1999, Simon abducted their three daughters. Though the Castle Rock police department disputes some of the details of what happened next, the two  sides are in basic agreement: After her daughters' abduction,

Gonzales repeatedly phoned the police for assistance. Officers visited the home. Believing Simon to be non-violent and, arguably, in compliance with the limited access granted by the restraining order, the police did nothing.

 

The next morning, Simon committed "suicide by cop." He shot a gun repeatedly through a police station window and was killed by returned fire. The murdered bodies of Leslie, 7, Kathryn, 9 and Rebecca, 10 were found in Simon's pickup truck.

 

In 1856, the U.S. Supreme Court (South v. Maryland) found that law enforcement officers had no affirmative duty to provide such protection. In 1982 (Bowers v. DeVito), the Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit held, "...there is no Constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen."  Later court decisions have concurred.

 

The Right to Self-Defense, as a matter of survival is an obligation - to take responsibility for your own self-defense and that of your family.  The first rule of society is survival.

 


Hunting being protected

Two states recently have passed laws to ensure public hunting land will always remain open to hunting. In Maryland, HB 1086, the Hunting Heritage Protection Act, directs the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to manage state land to prevent the loss of available hunting parcels. This "no net loss" directive requires the opening of compensatory huntable land if an area is closed to the sport. It was signed by Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

   

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed similar legislation in May.

Georgia Senate Bill 206 was amended to include language that ensures no net loss of hunting lands. The bill states, "To the greatest practical extent, department land management decisions and actions shall not result in any net loss of land acreage available for hunting opportunities on department managed state owned lands."

   

For more info, see the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance's Web site www.ussportsmen.org

 


 

Michigan

NRC Approves Disease Control Replacement Tags

Hunters who kill an elk or white-tailed deer that test positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB) will be offered a replacement kill tag this hunting season following action taken today by the Natural Resources Commission . The Commission had issued an interim order for the 2004 hunting season, and today's action makes the issuing of these permits a permanent order for deer and elk that test positive for TB.

 

Under the order, when a hunter presents a deer or elk carcass that has visible TB lesions to a DNR check station, a

replacement kill tag will be issued so the hunter may take another deer or elk in the specific management unit. Bovine TB-positive carcasses will be collected and burned as a human health precaution.

 

"The ongoing cooperation of hunters is appreciated as we continue to fight TB," said DNR Director Rebecca Humphries. "This new order is a way to encourage hunters to voluntarily submit their deer head for TB testing. Without this, infected carcasses may be left in the field, further jeopardizing our deer herd."


Ohio

Improving Lake Erie Fishery will provide increased anglers opportunities

Increase in bag limits will be proposed for 2006 season

COLUMBUS, OH - Lake Erie anglers may enjoy an increased bag limit next year for walleye and yellow perch if a proposal by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife is approved.

“Due to the success we’ve had in rebuilding Lake Erie’s walleye and yellow perch stocks, we are now able to increase the bag limits for these two popular sportfish,” said Gary Isbell, fish management administrator for the Division of Wildlife. “Over the past several seasons we have set bag limits carefully in order to rebuild populations, and we are now seeing the benefits of that strategy. We will remain cautious with this resource, but feel we can now provide anglers the chance to enjoy the increased fishing opportunities.”

 

Walleye

The division will propose an increase in the daily bag limit on

walleye from three to four fish between March 1 and April 30. The existing 15-inch size limit would remain in effect, as would the six-fish limit in place for the remainder of the year. Additionally, a minor modification in the spring use of treble hooks in the Sandusky Bay area will be brought up for consideration.

 

Yellow Perch

Yellow perch anglers will benefit also. Perch numbers, which have been low since the mid-1990s, have rebounded to healthier levels since the bag limit was reduced in 1995. As such, the division will propose an increase from the current 30-fish daily bag limit to 40 fish.

The division will continue to monitor the walleye and perch populations and work with state and provincial partners to insure the continued vitality of the fishery. The proposed changes will be presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council in the fall.


Ohio moving to control numbers of cormorants

AKRON, Ohio -- Double-crested cormorants, are destroying key Lake Erie habitat and bird sanctuaries used by other birds, with their highly acidic droppings, but Ohio may not be doing enough to reduce the populations of these critters

 

Ohio DNR's Division of Wildlife has finally responded to the invasion of these burgeoning and invasive critters by beginning to thin out the population by shooting 500 of the birds for the first time on two islands in western Lake Erie.  However, cormorants are now spreading to Ohio's inland lakes, and that does not bode well for the state's resources.

 

The state plans to conduct an aerial survey of Ohio's inland lakes this summer to determine how big the cormorant

problem is. The state also wants to do radio tracking to better understand the movement of the birds.

 

Ben Doepel, longtime president of Akron -based Goodyear Hunting and Fishing Club and a GLSFC member says " We finally have the attention of Senator Voinovich and State Legislator Mary Turner, and Ohio but we don't have any legislation to control these birds yet."

 

Michigan, New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin are among the Great Lakes states that are now taking aggressive action to control cormorant populations. Even so, most of them are implementing  far to minimal actions, and bird populations continue to expand in the region to inland lakes.


Ontario

Strategy for Wolf Conservation

TORONTO - The Ontario government is helping protect the province's biodiversity by finalizing a wolf conservation strategy and taking stronger measures to protect the province's wolf population, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced.

 

The Strategy for Wolf Conservation in Ontario provides strategic direction for the province's wolf program and addresses such key objectives as ensuring sustainable wolf populations and raising public awareness about the role of wolves in healthy, natural ecosystems. It also includes researching, monitoring and a closed season on wolf populations.

 

The government is taking the following important conservation measures. Effective September 15, 2005, hunters wishing to take wolves or coyotes will be required to purchase a special seal, in addition to a small game licence. The cost for residents will be $10, and non-residents will pay $250. Both resident and non-resident hunters will be limited to two seals per year.

 

Mandatory reporting on wolf and coyote hunting and harvesting

activity will also be put in place for hunters and for landowners who kill wolves or coyotes in protection of property.  These new regulations apply in Wildlife Management Units (WMU) in parts of central and northern Ontario (WMUs 1-42, 46-50 and 53-58) and do not apply to most of southern Ontario.

 

The ministry is not considering any changes to the current provisions under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act that enable landowners to protect their property from wildlife damage, or to use agents to do so on their behalf.

 

These measures build on previous actions, including the introduction in 2005 of a closed season in northern and central Ontario that runs from April 1 to September 14, and a ban on hunting, trapping and chasing of wolves and coyotes in and around Algonquin Park in 2004.

 

The final Strategy for Wolf Conservation in Ontario is available on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) Registry. To view the strategy, visit www.ene.gov.on.ca/samples/search/Ebrquery_REG.htm and enter EBR Registry Number PB04E6020

 


OMNR & tribes sign commercial fishery agreement for Bruce Peninsula waters

Five-Year Agreement Supports Sustainable Fishery; Ensures Conservation

OWEN SOUND – The Ontario government and the Saugeen Ojibway Nations announced the signing of a five-year agreement that will manage the commercial fishery in the waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay around the Bruce Peninsula.

 

The new agreement – signed by the OMNR, the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and the Saugeen First Nation – builds on the historic 2000 agreement that successfully established a coordinated fisheries management approach for the area’s waters.

 

The agreement establishes a protocol on how the three parties will work together to ensure compliance with the agreement and to exchange data on the fishery.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the two First Nations will be responsible for designating community fishers and monitoring the commercial fishery through catch sampling.  All assessment data collected by First Nations and ministry biologists and technicians will be shared at a joint biotechnical committee which makes recommendations on safe harvest levels. 

 

The First Nations will not use commercial gill nets in the majority of Owen Sound and Colpoy’s Bay (inside of the solid line shown on the map below), although they maintain the right to do so.  In addition, no commercial fishing will take place in the outer bays from August 1 until Labor Day in recognition of increased boat traffic during the popular Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular fish derby.

 

The agreement addresses commercial fishing only and does not seek to regulate the Aboriginal right to fish for food, social or ceremonial purposes.


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