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September 28, 2009

Houses Passes Corals Bill

On September 22, the House advanced two important ocean-related conservation measures, introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), Chairwoman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife.

The Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization and Enhancement Amendments of 2009 (H.R. 860), would bolster America’s coral reef conservation efforts by promoting international cooperation to protect coral reefs and codifying the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.  “Coral reefs are truly the ‘rainforests of the sea.’  The House of Representatives’ proactive action on the Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization and Enhancement Amendments of 2009, we are taking important steps today to protect these unique and valuable ecosystems for the future,” Bordallo said.  H.R. 860 has received the support of a bipartisan group of 19 Members of Congress, and has also been endorsed by the Administration; the Governors of Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; and marine conservation interests.
To read the bills: http://www.thomas.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.860

September 18, 2009

SECFRI Reef Newsletter

You can view the Summer 2009 Issue of Southeast Florida Reef News by clicking on the link below. It contains contributions from six staff members here at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coral Reef Conservation Program and is a great way to keep up with some of the many projects we are working on.

View the Newsletter by clicking here: http://www.southeastfloridareefs.net/Newsletter.aspx?id=15

Study over 40 species of stony corals at http://www.southeastfloridareefs.net/gallery.aspx
View over 150 coral reef activities for students at http://www.southeastfloridareefs.net/k5grade.aspx
Watch all four of our public service announcements at http://www.southeastfloridareefs.net/videos.aspx

September 18, 2009 | 1 Comment

Cruise Ship Report Card

As part of our commitment to improve water quality, Surfrider has been working with our partners Friends of the Earth in promotion of more stringent national standards for discharges of cruise vessels.  In this vein, we have supported the federal legislation Clean Cruise Ship Act, which is set to be introduced by Rep. Sam Farr in the coming weeks.  To promote these efforts, Friends of the Earth has put out a Cruise Ship Report Card (below), which compares the 10 major cruise ship lines on their environmental and human health impacts.  You can read more on their website at www.foe.org/cruisereportcard

Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card
Millions of Americans take cruise vacations every year. However, most don’t realize that cruising is more harmful to the environment and human health than many other forms of travel. With ships that can carry up to 7,000 passengers and crew, these floating cities pollute the air we breathe and the water we use and enjoy.


What Can You Do About It? You Can Choose a Greener Cruise!
All cruise lines are not the same! You can choose a cruise line that is reducing its environmental and human health impacts! To help, Friends of the Earth has put together the following report card comparing 10 major cruise lines:
formation* Final Grade
Holland America Line
B
Norwegian Cruise Lines B
Princess Cruises B
Cunard Cruise Line C
Regent Seven Seas Cruises C
Celebrity Cruises D+
Carnival Cruise Lines D
Silversea Cruises D
Royal Caribbean Int’l F
Disney Cruise Line F

We evaluated the cruise lines on four environmental factors:
Sewage Treatment Whether a cruise line has installed the most advanced sewage and
wastewater treatment systems available instead of dumping raw or minimally treated
sewage directly into the water;
Air Pollution ReductionWhether a cruise line has retrofitted its ships to “plug in” to
available shoreside electrical grids instead of running polluting engines when docked;
Water Quality ComplianceTo what degree cruise ships violated 2008 water pollution
standards designed to better protect the Alaskan coast; and
Accessibility of Environmental Information How easy the cruise lines have made it
for the average consumer to find information on their websites about cruise industry environmental practices and technology.
Visit website –
www.foe.org/cruisereportcard – for an explanation of our grading system, to learn
more about the environmental efforts of individual cruise ships, and to find out what actions you can
take to make cruise lines clean up their act.

September 14, 2009

Clean Water Act Online Course is Live!

The River Network is proud to announce version 2.0 of our Clean Water Act online course. This course is based on the content of our very popular Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual.

The course is perfect for both Clean Water Act new-comers and old-timers.  New-comers (new staff, volunteers, board members) will find a great introduction to the key programs of the Act, and how to use them.  Those with more expertise using the Act’s tools will benefit from an extensive collection of “Digging Deeper” items that provide regulatory information, links to more advanced tools, and more, as well as interesting “Local Stories” providing case studies on how other river leaders have used the tools.

The course is free. It is divided into individual lessons, so you can pick and choose your topics or simply move through each lesson in order.

In the future, we will add recorded webinars, powerpoints, and other tools to the course.  To help us make this as useful as possible, please feel free to share your feedback and ideas with Merritt Frey at mfrey@rivernetwork.org.

Visit www.cleanwateract.org <http://www.cleanwateract.org/> to learn more about using the power of the Clean Water Act to protect and restore your watershed!

What’s new in 2.0?

* Updated with pages and pages of more information from the 2nd edition of the Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual and newer policy updates.
* Additional quizzes test what you’ve learned in each lesson.
* Local stories provide real-world examples of how river leaders like you have used the power of the Clean Water Act to protect and restore rivers.
* And so much more!

Lessons cover:

* Water quality standards
* Pollution control permits (NPDES)
* Stormwater pollution control permits in more detail
* Impaired waters identification and listing
* Impaired waters restoration (TMDLs)
* 401 water quality certifications
* Dredge and fill permits (wetlands/stream alterations)
* Nonpoint source pollution control
* State Revolving Funds
* Enforcing the Act
* Other related laws

September 14, 2009

NOAA: Smart Growth Guide for Coastal and Waterfront Communities

On Wednesday, September 9, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the International City/County Management Association, and Rhode Island Sea Grant, released “Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities.”  Developed in consultation with the national Smart Growth Network, the interagency guide builds on the network’s ten smart growth principles to create coastal and waterfront-specific strategies for development. The guide includes an overview of the unique development challenges and opportunities along the water and provides specific approaches to development that include a description of the issues, tools and techniques, and case studies.  “Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities” is intended for planners, local government officials, developers, residents, and other stakeholders.  For more information and a PDF version of the publication, visit the web site: http://coastalsmartgrowth.noaa.gov

September 14, 2009

NEW USACOE Sea Level in its Guidances Policy

The USACOE has issued new guidance and will have to account for rising sea levels under a new federal policy aimed at shoring up the region’s main line of defense against climate change. The new guidance applies to all phases of Corps planning, including “managing, planning, engineering, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining USACE projects and systems of projects.”

It’s the first comprehensive policy by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers  to require that projects under its jurisdiction be designed with higher sea levels in mind. Failure to consider this increase in new coastal structures – such as buildings, water intakes and wastewater outfalls – could mean these investments are jeopardized later, or that people are put at risk. The new policy is a stand-alone document that describes how engineers should design for sea level rise. The authors included scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Geological Survey. While the policy does not specify a water depth, it does lay out a procedure engineers must follow to estimate low, medium and high sea level projections for their area.

Click Here to Review Document

September 14, 2009

Obama Creates Ocean Task Force Hearings

President Obama has put together an Ocean Policy Task Force to help develop a National Ocean Policy and framework for Marine Spatial Planning. The Task Force is currently holding ‘listening sessions’ around the county to gather public input. Needless to say, this is a great opportunity to express support for ocean conservation – in particular, an Executive Order to protect, maintain, and restore our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes!

A strong National Ocean Policy will prioritize lasting ecosystem protection, while providing much-needed coordination for the 20 agencies and 140 laws that currently govern these resources. Meanwhile, Marine Spatial Planning provides an opportunity to plan for all the various existing/ emerging uses of the ocean – while ensuring we protect our oceans for future generations. For more info, see Surfrider’s A-Z article http://www.surfrider.org/a-z/MarineSpatialPlanning.php

Listed below are the scheduled dates for listening sessions around the country. Note that some are tentative, but updated info including meeting details will be posted at the website of the Ocean Policy Task Force. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/oceans/> We urge any of you who are able to attend and provide public comment to do so! This is one of the best opportunities we are going to have to help shape ocean protection in a generation – your support will matter!

  • San Francisco, CA – Sept 17
  • Providence, RI – Sept. 24
  • Honolulu, HI – Sept 29
  • New Orleans, LA – Oct. 19 (tentative)
  • Cleveland/Great Lakes – Oct. 29 (tentative)


In addition, chapters and individuals can also submit written comments through the website of the Ocean Policy Task Force. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/oceans/> While comments should come from you, we’ve included some general concepts based on Surfrider’s mission and strategic initiatives. I hope others will weigh in with their thoughts and ideas! FYI – to see comments that Surfrider Foundation submitted in partnership with American Canoe Association and American Whitewater click here <http://www.surfrider.org/files/OPTF_commentsACA_AW_Surfrider.pdf> .
Sample comments

  • We need a unifying National Ocean Policy that will protect, maintain, and restore the health of our ocean ecosystems. A national policy is needed to address the enormous challenges faced by our oceans and Great Lakes – including pollution, habitat loss, fishing pressure, climate change, energy projects, etc.
  • We urge President Barack Obama to issue an Executive Order that will establish such a National Ocean Policy and help unify and strengthen our country’s current approach to ocean and coastal management.
  • We need to prioritize the permanent protection of ‘special places’ including critical habitats and recreational areas (surfing spots, wildlife viewing, kayaking, etc.)
  • Our Surfrider Chapter is willing/ interested to participate in marine spatial planning discussions in our area to provide input on behalf of local recreational ocean users

Also, for a more in-depth set of recommendations, here is a link to the NRDC letter

http://www.surfrider.org/files/nrdc_final_ocean_comments.pdf

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