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<< News >>

Environmental News

"EARTH TALK"

From the Editors of E / The Environmental Magazine

THIS WEEK'S COLUMN

Dear EarthTalk: What are “Clean Energy Victory Bonds?”
—Max Blanchard, Wilmington, DE

The Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2012, if enacted, would generate some 1.7 million new jobs in and around the renewable energy sector across the U.S. The bill was introduced by California Democrat Bob Filner and 10 other co-sponsors. It is the brainchild of Green America, which has over 40 other advocacy groups and green investment institutions allied with it in supporting the legislation.

Photo © iStockImages/Thinkstock

Green America, a non-profit membership organization that promotes ethical consumerism, created the “Clean Energy Victory Bonds” concept as a way to give everyday Americans the opportunity to invest in clean energy and related fields in a fashion similar to how the federal government raised billions of dollars for the war effort during World War II over a half century ago. At that time, four out of five American households purchased the original Victory Bonds, raising $185 billion (over $2 trillion in today’s dollars) to support the war effort.

Green America first offered up the new spin on the Victory Bond idea in 2009 as something people on both sides of the political spectrum could get behind. The group has been lobbying federal officials and legislators to consider the benefits ever since. New legislation, the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2012, introduced into the House of Representatives this past August by California Democrat Bob Filner and 10 other co-sponsors, gets Green America a step closer to turning their vision into a reality. More than 40 other non-profit and advocacy groups and green investment institutions have allied with Green America in supporting the legislation as well.

If the bill becomes law, the new Victory Bond program would generate some 1.7 million new jobs in and around the renewable energy sector across the United States, and would extend the imperiled Production Tax Credit and other federal renewable energy incentives for as long as a decade. The beauty of the plan is that it allows everyday Americans to encourage cleaner, greener energy with a minimum investment and a guaranteed return—without requiring any direct budgetary allocations or expenditures by the federal government. Purchasers will be able to get in on the action for as little as $25, and will get the purchase price back plus interest in 10 years. Furthermore, projects supported through Clean Energy Victory Bonds will create jobs and business revenues that will bring in federal tax dollars while simultaneously reducing health and environmental costs nationwide.

The bill was referred to committee and could potentially come up for a floor vote before year end. Green America is encouraging everyday Americans to call their Congressional representatives and ask them to support H.R. 6275. Another way to get behind the effort now is to pledge to buy the bonds (via cleanenergyvictorybonds.org) after the legislation passes.

Yet another way to help is by spreading awareness about the bill and the good that can come from its passage. “Everyone who hears about this strategy loves it, because the bonds advance goals that both Republicans and Democrats can get behind,” reports Green America, urging everyday folks to tweet, blog and talk about the campaign and legislation—and to post a link to cleanenergyvictorybonds.org on their Facebook pages—so more conscientious Americans will find out about and get behind the concept.

CONTACTS: Green America Clean Energy Victory Bonds; H.R. 6275

 
A NEW SET OF ANSWERS IS FEATURED EACH WEEK!

 

Dear EarthTalk: A friend of mine told me that our government kills thousands of wild animals like bears and wolves every year in the name of protecting livestock. How can the government, which is supposed to protect dwindling numbers of animals, instead be killing them?
—Amy Pratt, Troy, NY

The U.S. government kills 100,000 carnivores each year under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) Wildlife Services program, mainly to protect livestock. However, the USDA's own statistics show that most livestock losses result from weather, disease, illness and birthing problems—not predation.

Photo © iStockPhoto/Thinkstock

Actually, the federal government kills some 100,000 carnivores every year under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Wildlife Services program. While the program does much more than so-called “predator control”—threatened and endangered species conservation, invasive species mitigation, wildlife disease monitoring, airport bird strike prevention, rabies and rodent control—killing bears, wolves, coyotes and mountain lions to protect livestock does take up $100 million of the federal budget each year.

Animal advocates say it’s not fair to kill animals owned in essence by the public trust and indispensable to ecosystem health just to protect privately held livestock, let alone spend millions of tax dollars doing it.

“Working directly with commercial operators and state and local governments, Wildlife Services uses a combination of lethal control methods, like trapping, aerial gunning, poisoning, and denning (killing young in their dens), and some non-lethal control methods,” reports the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “But driven by narrow agricultural interests, these predator control activities often ignore the greater public need for a healthy environment, fiscal responsibility, and safe public lands.”

NRDC cites USDA statistics showing that most livestock losses result from weather, disease, illness and birthing problems—not predation. They also argue that the lethal methods employed by Wildlife Services have led to dozens of human and pet injuries and deaths and degrade ecosystems that rely on healthy predator populations to function. Also the two most commonly used poisons, Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide, go beyond killing animals and wreak havoc on entire ecosystems.

Predator Defense, another group committed to ending federal predator control efforts, says that it is important to maintain healthy populations of the very predators Wildlife Services works to kill. When, for instance, predators are around to keep deer and elk populations in check, more and varied kinds of plants are given space and time to grow, in turn preserving and creating habitat for many different species.

“Wildlife Services’ predator control work cries out for reform,” says NRDC. The group recommends bringing more transparency to the process so the public can assess how tax dollars are being used; taking a more scientific approach instead of centering the program around the demands of commercial interests; holding the program to higher environmental standards; ending the cruelest, most hazardous and environmentally harmful killing methods; and requiring non-lethal methods when possible.

There has been no decisive legislation to stop predator control efforts, but a bill introduced into the House by California Republican John Campbell III calls for amending the Toxic Substances Control Act to prohibit the use of Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide for predator control. The bill (H.R. 4214) was referred to committee and may or may not see a floor vote this year.

CONTACTS: NRDC; Predator Defense; H.R. 4214.

A SYNDICATED COLUMN ONLY ON AMERICAJR.COM

 

 

 

 

 

SEND IN YOUR QUESTIONS...

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/thisweek/, or e-mail: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php.

 

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