Daily Archives: October 13, 2014


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is getting pressure from environmental and sustainable agriculture organizations and members of Congress to investigate and restrict the use of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides linked to declining pollinator populations.

Neonicotinoids are being cited as one of several factors contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder in bees, leading to sharp population decline in recent years.  In the past year, the abrupt reduction of pollinator numbers has led to a two-year ban on neonicotinoids in Europe, a class action lawsuit from beekeepers in Canada, and a federal strategy outlined by the Obama Administration to promote pollinator health.

On September 30, 2014, Representatives Earl Blumenaur (D-OR), John Conyers (D-MI), and 58 other Democratic Representatives co-signed a letter urging the EPA to restrict neonicotinoid use.

The letter outlines nine policy recommendations, including restricting—and in some cases, suspending—the use of neonicotinoids depending on timing, methods, and location of the pesticide’s application.  The signing Representatives also call for cost-benefit analyses for neonicotinoid pesticide registration and assessing neonicotinoid-treated seeds, which are currently exempt from major federal pesticide regulations.

Six days prior, 17 non-profit organizations submitted an 11-page letter commenting on the EPA’s process for assessing neonicotinoid pesticides.  Among the signers were several NSAC member organizations: Family Farm Defenders, Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service, Northwest Center for Alternatives to PesticidesPesticide Action Network – North AmericaSlowFood USA, and Women, Food and Agriculture Network.

The letter introduces several recommendations echoed by the Democratic Representatives, including tougher regulations on neonicotinoid pesticides and an end to unregulated status for treated seeds.  The groups also provide information on how neonicotinoids pose a threat to plants, pollinators, and birds listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The groups criticize the Agency’s failure to comply with the ESA during the pesticide assessment process, arguing that the Mississippi sandhill crane, southwestern willow flycatcher, and other listed bird species are at risk from neonicotinoids.

Both letters were written as the EPA considers a petition from Syngenta to increase allowable levels of thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid insecticide, for a variety of crops.  As neonicotinoid-coated seeds fail to control pests later in the growing season, Syngenta claims spraying of the pesticide on alfalfa, corn, barley, and wheat is essential—thus prompting the petition to EPA.

Halliburton’s $1.1 Billion Spill Agreement Avoids Bigger Payouts

Halliburton Co.’s agreement to pay $1.1 billion to settle most of the lawsuits over its role in the biggest U.S. offshore oil spill helps it avoid billions more in potential penalties down the road.Haliburton

The oilfield services company, accused of doing defective work on BP Plc’s Macondo well before it exploded in 2010, killing 11 men and dumping millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, said today the agreement resolves “a substantial majority” of its liability in the disaster.

Halliburton’s settlement comes as the federal judge overseeing oil-spill cases weighs fault for the accident, and averts the risk of a more costly judgment against the company in favor of some spill victims. The agreement removes much of the uncertainty that has plagued Halliburton for the past four years as investors waited to see how much the company might be hurt by payouts in the case. With its biggest piece of liability resolved, Halliburton can refocus its attention on developing new oilfield technology that will help it boost profits worldwide.

“It’s actually a pretty decent settlement for them,” said Rob Desai, an analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis, who rates the shares a hold and owns none. “This eliminates an overhang.”

– See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/330396#sthash.5tIG7bFc.dpuf

Act Now to Save Kansas Endangered Species

Red Belly Snake on a leaf. Photo by John White. http://www.herpcenter.com

Red Belly Snake on a leaf.
Photo by John White. http://www.herpcenter.com

Recent actions taken by Kansas have been geared to ignoring or reversing listings for some of Kansas’ Endangered Species. Most recently the attacks have been directed at the Redbelly Snake. The Kansas Wildlife Federation has joined forces with the Kansas Sierra Club to save these species. To learn more about this threat visit http://kansas.sierraclub.org/save-the-redbelly-snake-and-kansas-endangered-species-act/

To sign an online petition to save the redbelly snake and other Kansas Endangered Species, visit http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/save-kansas-endangered?source=c.em&r_by=3004361 before October 16th.

Redbelly Snake

Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) Photo by Ted Levin

Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) Photo by Ted Levin

Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) Photo by Ted Levin / Animals Animals

The following description is taken from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism:

The Redbelly Snake is 8-10 inches long, has keeled scales, and a divided anal scale. On its dorsal side, its color may be slate gray or reddish brown. Two thin darker stripes are on each side. The snake’s belly may be bright orange-red or jet black. Any combination of dorsal and belly colors can occur. There are three light spots on the neck.

Redbelly Snakes prefer deeply wooded regions near rivers and lakes, sandstone woods, wooded hillsides, hillsides near streams, steep slopes of forested hills, moist areas, moist woodlands, woodlands with dense leaf litter, lowlands, forest edge, open fields, the vicinity of old dilapidated farm buildings, and woodlands which remain damp throughout the year. They are usually discovered on damp ground beneath leaf litter, leaf mold, or pine needles mixed with dead leaves; equally as often they are found under flat rocks, logs, rotten logs, boards, and other surface debris.


Redbelly Snakes are protected by the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act and administrative regulations applicable thereto. Any time an eligible project is proposed that will impact the species’ preferred habitats within its probable range, the project sponsor must contact the Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, Kansas 67124-8174. Department personnel can then advise the project sponsor on permit requirements.


As defined by Kansas Administrative Regulations, critical habitats include those areas documented as currently supporting self-sustaining population(s) of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife as well as those areas determined by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to be essential for the conservation of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife.

Currently, the following areas are designated critical for Redbelly Snakes:

(1) All suitable habitat occurring within the section of Cherokee and Crawford counties east of U.S. Highway 69 at the Kansas-Oklahoma border (Sec. 18, T35S, R24E), extending north to State Highway K-7 (Sec. 7, T33S, R24E), then continuing north to the northern border of Crawford County (Sec. 30, T27S, R24E).

(2) All suitable woodland habitat within Douglas, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth, and Wyandotte counties.

The following counties contain critical habitat for REDBELLY SNAKE: