1) Congress Passes Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Revenue Sharing Bill
2) TVA New Land Policy Protects Public Land
3) Alabama Scientist Calls For Immediate Global Protection of Seagrasses
4) Sen. Jeff Sessions Named to Senate Environment and Resources Committee
5) BEN Notes: Cahaba River Society Education Director Job Opening, Dept. of Conservation Holiday Gift Ideas, Alabama Rivers Alliance & Sojourns Team Up, 25x25 Bioenergy Goals, Funny Environmental Website/Message
Don't forget to make a contribution to one of BEN's charities before the end of the year. Visit the BEN "Make a Donation Website," to view profiles at:
1. Congress Passes Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Revenue Sharing Bill - On December 9th, right before the 109th Congress adjourned, the "Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act" passed by the U.S. Senate in August was included in a massive tax and trade package that is now on its way to the White House, where President Bush is expected to sign it.
The bill will open energy production in about 8 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico that lie to the south and east of the Alabama coast. The drilling would occur in Gulf waters at least 125 miles off the Alabama shoreline. For the first time, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas will share 37.5 percent of the federal revenues generated by the lease sale and production royalties of oil and natural gas outside state waters. The states presently receive less than 2 percent.
Under the legislation, the new revenue, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in future years, is required to be spent on coastal restoration and conservation.The legislation was championed by Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, along with Mobile Rep. Jo Bonner and the entire Alabama delegation. For additional information about the legislation go to: http://sessions.senate.gov/pressapp/record.cfm?id=266843
2. TVA New Land Policy Protects Public Land - Last month, the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Board approved a new land policy that protects and preserves undeveloped public lands managed by TVA along reservoirs throughout the Tennessee Valley.
The final policy was recommended by the Board's Community Relations Committee after receiving more than 5000 comments from the public. Overwhelmingly, the majority of the comments supported the draft policy which proposed no residential or retail development on TVA managed land. To view the elements of the plan and obtain a copy of the final plan document, go to:http://www.tva.gov/news/releases/octdec06/landpolicy2.htm
3. Alabama Scientist Calls For Immediate Global Protection of Seagrasses - According to the Mobile Register, a scientist from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is "making waves internationally" with the recent publication of an article in Bioscience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
Ken Heck, senior marine scientist at the Sea Lab worked with a team of 12 other scientists to present the findings in the publication. The paper calls for an immediate global conservation effort to protect the world's diminishing meadows of undersea grasses and the ecosystems they support. Their loss may be greater than the decline of coral reefs according to the scientists.
Locally, seagrass beds in Alabama and Mobile Bay have declined dramatically over the last 50 years. Heck speculates that Mobile Bay has lost 50 percent of the grass beds that were present in 1950. A 1998 Gulf Coast Research Laboratory study concluded that Mississippi had lost half of its seagrass beds since 1968. Along with their biological significance, seagrasses are also important to commercial fishing interests and the ecosystem. "You can literally see 100 times more animals in grass beds than you'll see in a sandy or mud bottom area. They really are the nursery habitat." Heck stated in the Register article.
4. Sen. Jeff Sessions Named to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee - Sen. Jeff Sessions has been tapped to serve on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
This important environmental committee develops national energy policy and has jurisdiction over public lands, forests and the National Park Service. For more information on this important appointment visit: http://sessions.senate.gov/pressapp/record.cfm?id=266930
5. BEN Notes: Cahaba River Society Education Director Job Opening, Dept. of Conservation Holiday Gift Ideas, Alabama Rivers Alliance & Sojourns Team Up, 25x25 Bioenergy Goals, Funny Environmental Website/Message
Cahaba River Society (CRS) Education Director Job Opening - CRS is seeking an education director to plan, coordinate and implement its education programs, including the Shane Hulsey CLEAN Program. To learn more about this innovative educational program and the position available, visit http://www.cahabariversociety.org/EDjob1.htm
Dept. of Conservation Holiday Gift Ideas - The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has available several new holiday gift ideas including a State Park Gift Card, subscriptions to Outdoor Alabama magazine (or call 877-339-0508) and outdoor gifts located on the Department's new Nature Shop website - http://www.outdooralabama.com/outdoor-alabama/shop.cfm.
Alabama Rivers Alliance & Sojourns Team Up - On Thursday, December 14th, Sojourns, a free trade store located in Birmingham downtown at 1910 3rd Ave. North (205-323-5680) will be dedicating 10% of all purchases that day to the Alabama Rivers Alliance. Sojourns is open from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. For more info contact the Alliance at 205-322-6395 or visit http://www.adventureartpeace.com25x25
Bioenergy Goals - Two new economic studies released in November confirm that it is feasible for America's farms, forests and ranches to provide 25% of the total energy consumed in the United States by the year 2025. To download the full reports go to http://www.25x25.org/ .
Funny Environmental Website/Message - My good friend John Noel of Tennessee sent me this blunt, funny website that drives home the importance of protecting the environment. Check it out - http://www.globalcommunity.org/flash/wombat.shtml