Here is the list of pretty much every environmental accomplishment Romney wants to roll back to the last century.
The primary culprit in unleashing a hungry hoard of invasive lake trout on native fish populations of the Flathead has decided to step away from the table and give up the fight to save our remnant populations of native fish in favor of protecting an exclusive and declining lake trout fishery. Since the 1980s, Montana FWP has been working in a collaborative process with other agencies and organizations designed to restore native bull trout and cutthroat trout in northwest Montana. On March 1,
Just over a week after the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes decided to expand an environmental review process for a controversial lake trout netting project on Flathead Lake, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has withdrawn its support for the process.
The current process has been under way since 2009 when CSKT proposed a reasonable plan to remove lake trout from Flathead Lake using netting and angling. FWP agreed to sit down with other stakeholders to craft a reasonable solution. At that time, Jim Satterfield, Regional Manager for FWP Region 1 in Kalispell said;
…the department’s legal counsel has determined that such an effort would have to be preceded by a full environmental impact statement and public review process.
“It’s reasonable to say that when you’re talking about removing 50,000 fish from the largest natural lake in the West that probably rises to the level of an EIS,” Satterfield said. “It’s a substantial impact on the environment and the public.”
Last week the Tribes agreed to move to a full-blown EIS process and FWP backed away once again. Even though the EIS is undeniably incomplete at this point, Bruce Rich, FWP State Fisheries Bureau Chief gave the lame excuse, “Our staff believes that the draft EIS, in its present state, is incomplete in both content and process.” and they walked away from the table. He is, of course, talking about a plan that FWP has been intimately involved in crafting for the past three years.
North Fork Bull Trout
In 1999, in setting up a collaborative panel to create a rational plan to restore bull trout in Montana, former Governor Marc Racicot said;
The bottom line of all this is simple: the bull trout is a native Montana fish, and Montanans have not only a legal but a moral obligation to maintain viable populations of native species. We owe it to future generations of Montanans to be good stewards of resources that are as much theirs as ours.
In 2000, that Montana-created Bull Trout Restoration Plan set a goal;
The goal of the Montana Bull Trout Restoration Plan is to ensure the long-term persistence of complex (all life histories represented), interacting groups of bull trout distributed across the species range and manage for sufficient abundance within restored RCAs [Restoration/Conservation Areas] to allow for recreational utilization.
FWP has never been comfortable with that goal. Since 2002, CSKT has hosted the Mack Days fishing contests on Flathead Lake in an attempt to control the exploding lake trout population. FWP reluctantly agreed to support this weak effort. From 2000 to 2010, the lake was jointly managed under a co-management plan by both FWP and CSKT. In 1999, FWP estimated the population of catchable-sized lake trout (>16 inches) at 353,732. Today that population has swelled to over 500,000 with a total population now estimated to be near 2 million fish. Clearly attempts to reduce the lake trout population by recreational angling have failed. Research indicates that the current management has only succeeded in keeping the lake trout population at about 5% below carrying capacity.
With Flathead Lake overstocked with lake trout, they have been pioneering out into the rest of the watershed, invading 10 of 13 lakes in Glacier National Park connected to Flathead Lake that were once home to healthy populations of bull trout and cutthroats. They have invaded the Swan Lake drainage and are decimating perch populations in the upper Stillwater.
The bull trout population continues to decline. In the last round of redd counts in the North Fork Flathead spawning streams, only single-digit redd counts were found for four of the five index streams. Under these conditions, the agreed-to co-management plan clearly calls for exploring taking further steps to reduce the lake trout population. Those steps will likely involve netting to remove a greater proportion of nonnative lake trout. FWP has never been on-board with this obvious escalation, but decided to join other stakeholders in exploring prudent solutions to restoring declining native fish populations. When the obvious solution became one that did not agree with the FWP’s narrow view, they decided to no longer support the entire collaborative process.
For generations, Montanans had access to a truly unique and productive fishery. Inland salmon to more than 20 pounds and large healthy cutthroat roamed the Flathead River Watershed. We lost access to that fishery due to declining numbers of native fish more than 20 years ago. We have lost more than 50% of those native populations. Now we are in danger of entirely losing those native fish to predation by an excessive and impaired lake trout population exclusive to Flathead Lake and due to mismanagement of the fishery. The agency charged by the citizens of Montana with protecting and recovering our outdoor legacy has unilaterally decided that they don’t even want to talk about making changes to the current untenable management. Like a petulant child, FWP has decided that they don’t want to be associated with any plan that may actually have a chance to succeed in accomplishing a recovery of our native fishery. The real losers, other than our valued native fish, will be the sportsmen of Montana who will now have no voice in crafting the ultimate plan.
Email Bruce Rich, FWP Bureau Director, and let him know that the sportsmen of Montana deserve to have a voice in this important decision. We need to be a part of a reasonable solution.
(cross-posted from Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited)
There were a couple of good articles on Salon.com yesterday about the bizarre goings on in the Finance Committee. Alex Koppelman reminded us that Max Baucus actually supports a public option. During the hearing, Max said, “The public option would help hold insurance companies’ feet to the fire…” Yep, that’s our boy. The public option is a good idea, he just can’t get some Democrats to vote for it. Like Max Baucus of Montana. Republican arguments continue to come more and more from Fantasyland .
“Nevada Republican John Ensign said the U.S. healthcare system is actually better than people think it is — because certain types of bad health outcomes simply can’t be compared to those in other countries. Namely, gun deaths, which add a lot to U.S. mortality stats every year. “We like our guns in the United States,” he said.”
Better than what? The more people we shoot, the healthier we become? “Republicans painted both amendments as nothing less than the beginning of the end of the free market in America.” I’m glad we have Max to stand with crazy people and keep us from ruining the country.
Joan Walsh said that “Montana Sen. Max Baucus had to decide whether he represented Montana or the insurance industry. Tuesday he made his choice,“
“It’s not Baucus’ role to prejudge what can or can’t ultimately prevail, when the real action is probably going to come in the conference committee that reconciles what the more liberal House passes with what the Senate decides on.
Baucus didn’t vote against the public option despite the fact that it would “hold insurance companies’ feet to the fire,” but because it would. His insurance industry contributors got their money’s worth today, but the people of Montana did not.“
Baucus keeps saying that he can count and there aren’t enough votes to pass a bill with a public option through the Senate. Well Senator, we can count too. I count 60 Democrats in the Senate. If Democrats cannot govern after we gave them the Presidency and a hefty majority in both houses of Congress, maybe they don’t deserve to be there. You guys just vote on what’s good for Montana. We’ll do the math later.
Republicans never had a problem pushing their agenda with smaller majorities. We gave Democrats two jobs, get us out of Iraq, and fix the health care system. If Democrats don’t stop telling us how hard it is and get the job done, we will find someone who will. Just take the vote and any Democrat who votes against decent health care can go home and explain to his constituents why he sold out the American people and prepare for a tough challenge.
Pennsylvania – “As of October 1, 2009 Aetna health insurance will be increasing the Aetna HMO rates in Pennsylvania“. “10.3% is the average overall increase amongst all the Aetna health insurance HMO plans“.
New Jersey – “Health insurance premiums for public employees in more than 250 school districts will rise by 25 percent next year, after a state commission voted to approve it today“.
Michigan – “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has tentatively agreed to raise rates for nearly 200,000 of its health insurance customers by an average of 22 percent, a significantly lower rate increase than originally sought“.
Utah – “For the past three years, Kelly Moynahan of Park City has struggled to deal with average annual increases of 20 percent in her family’s health insurance premiums“.
Indiana – “Employers who offer health insurance coverage could see a 9% cost increase next year, and their workers may face an even bigger hit, according to a report Thursday from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers“.
Even if we were to pass health care reform tomorrow, you would still see a couple of more years of these double digit insurance premium increases. If we don’t pass reform this year, you can expect to see your premiums double in the next 8-10 years. Double. That means that if you now pay, on average, $13,000 in Montana, you can expect to see your annual health insurance premium to rise to around $26,000. In Montana, you are also paying $2,100 a month in your premium to pay for health care for those without insurance. It’s called “uncompensated care” in insurance-speak. If we don’t pass health care reform this year, I don’t expect to hear ONE SINGLE REPUBLICAN whine about the cost of health insurance.
Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading producer of agricultural chemicals and the people who brought you such environmentally friendly products as Roundup, NutraSweet, Bovine Growth Hormone and Agent Orange, wants to gouge a new open pit, mountain-top-removal mine just yards from the Blackfoot River… No, the other Blackfoot River. The one in southeastern Idaho. The Idaho Blackfoot River is situated just north of Soda Springs, Idaho and just east of Pocatello. It does have some similarities with the Montana Blackfoot River. According to the blog Fly Fishing Frenzy, the Idaho Blackfoot “can offer some of the best ‘Cutt’ fishing a river could offer“. In May, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality added Sheep Creek, a tributary to the Blackfoot, to its list of streams polluted by selenium. The state says that they now have 15 streams in the southeast that exceed selenium standards.
Monsanto wants to mine phosphate, which is the main component in it’s signature weed killer Roundup. There are some problems. Monsanto is already responsible polluting 17 sites in the region. Three of it’s former phosphate mines are now EPA-administered super fund sites and their current mine has been in violation of state and federal water-quality rules for seven years, polluting surface and groundwaters with selenium and other heavy metals. The company has never been able to find a way to stop the pollution. “The measures they have implemented aren’t working,” said Eva DeMaria, an EPA enforcement official in Seattle”. The mining permit for the Rasmussen mine requires that Monsanto leave no selenium pollution problems when they finish mining. So ““We have not finished our mining in that area, and our commitment is, we will be addressing these issues,” the company reports. Monsanto says they have learned their lesson and the new mine will be a high-tech, eco-friendly marvel. I wonder if they said the same thing about their other new mine seven years ago?
Monsanto has a heavy investment in the weed killer Roundup. They have developed a strain of “Roundup Ready” crops, which allow farmers to drench their soil with the herbicide without killing crops. Some farmers claim that over-dependence on herbicide-resistant chemicals could lead to an infestation of resistant weeds. Glyco-phosphate weed killers mostly show low toxicity to humans though there is a possible link to lymphoma in farm workers. However, fish and invertebrates are more sensitive to the chemicals. The company is also under attack from generic versions of the product although, Monsanto showed a profit of $256 million in the third quarter of 2008 with income from Roundup and other herbicides of $1 billion. The company must also now deal with more stringent environmental regulations following a large kill-off of sheep and horses in southeast Idaho in the 1990s due to selenium poisoning.
Bill Stout, a BLM geologist in Pocatello stated the obvious when he said “…problems sometimes occur despite the best intentions of his agency and mining companies“. I’m not really opposed to new mining if it is done correctly, but it seems that Monsanto has a responsibility to clean up one mess, or 17, before it moves on to creating new problems.