Save The Date! March 8, 2017

Six new areas have been added to the California Coastal National Monument from Santa Cruz County to Orange County. (Credit: Wikimedia commons)

Obama Adds Six Sites To California Coastal National Monument

President Obama on Thursday added six areas to the California Coastal National Monument, including a prized parcel on the Santa Cruz County coast and some small islands off the coast of Orange County. All of the sites, totaling 6,230 acres, are currently managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The monument designation adds another layer of protection by closing the areas to new development, such as gas and oil drilling.

BOEM denied six pending permits for seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean. (Credit: International Association of Geophysical Contractors)

BOEM Denies Airgun Seismic Surveys In Atlantic From Virginia To Florida

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has denied six pending permits for airgun seismic surveys in Atlantic Ocean planning areas from Virginia to Florida, pleasing conservationists and irritating industry groups. In announcing the decision Friday, BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said there was no immediate need for such tests now that the Atlantic Program Area was removed last year from President Barack Obama’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. She said the move was also based on an “abundance of caution.” “We believe that the value of obtaining the geophysical and geological information from new airgun seismic surveys in the Atlantic does not outweigh the potential risks of those surveys’ acoustic pulse impacts on marine life,” Hopper said in a statement.

President Obama Authors Science Article on Clean Energy and Climate Change. (Credit: Dept. of Energy)

The Irreversible Momentum Of Clean Energy

The release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) due to human activity is increasing global average surface air temperatures, disrupting weather patterns, and acidifying the ocean (1). Left unchecked, the continued growth of GHG emissions could cause global average temperatures to increase by another 4°C or more by 2100 and by 1.5 to 2 times as much in many midcontinent and far northern locations (1). Although our understanding of the impacts of climate change is increasingly and disturbingly clear, there is still debate about the proper course for U.S. policy—a debate that is very much on display during the current presidential transition. But putting near-term politics aside, the mounting economic and scientific evidence leave me confident that trends toward a clean-energy economy that have emerged during my presidency will continue and that the economic opportunity for our country to harness that trend will only grow. This Policy Forum will focus on the four reasons I believe the trend toward clean energy is irreversible.

The House Republican Conference officially elected leadership positions for the next Congress. (Credit: Penn State/Flickr)

Federal Regulations And Rulemaking Process Targeted In Bills Introduced In First Days of 115th Congress

It took a matter of hours after the 115th Congress was sworn in on January 3 for bills to be introduced in the House that would significantly impact executive branch regulations and rulemaking. The Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 21) and the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 26) both passed the House (along nearly party-line votes) less than 56 hours after the start of the session.

A new rule aims to protect marine mammals from becoming bycatch. (Credit: Boyd Amanda/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Fishing Rule Aims To Do For All Marine Mammals What It Did For The Dolphin

The vaquita is a small porpoise found only in the northern Gulf of California, in Mexico. Today, the species is critically endangered, with less than 60 animals left in the wild, thanks to fishing nets to catch fish and shrimp for sale in Mexico and America. The animal is an accidental victim of the fishing industry, as are many other marine mammals.

NOAA announced a recovery plan for Beluga whales in Alaska. (Credit: Mike Johnston/Flickr)

NOAA Releases Plan for Alaska Endangered Beluga Whales

A federal plan for the recovery of an endangered Alaska beluga whale calls for a reduction in threats of high concern while scientists try to pinpoint what has kept the population from growing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday announced its recovery plan for Cook Inlet beluga whales, a population listed as endangered since 2008.

Jon White, president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, D. C. (Credit: Randy Showstack)

Scientists Ponder The Way Forward Under Incoming Administration

The recent U.S. presidential election loomed large last week at the world’s largest annual gathering of Earth and space scientists, the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. When Eos asked some of the more than 20,000 scientists at the meeting what they thought the election’s outcome means for the Earth and space sciences, we heard a wide range of responses, from dismissal of the election’s importance to deep concern.

The Obama administration announced moves to ban oil and gas leasing in 125 million acres of the Arctic Ocean. (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr)

Obama Administration To Block Drilling In Parts Of Atlantic, Arctic Oceans

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it would indefinitely block oil and natural-gas drilling in vast swaths of the Arctic Ocean and smaller parts of the Atlantic Ocean, the latest in a string of last-minute actions in the face of President-elect Donald Trump’s vows to undo President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda.

A new study shows that catch or effort limits are effective for successful fisheries management. (Credit: PROVirginia Sea Grant/ Flickr)

Investing In Fisheries Management Improves Fish Populations

Research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that successful fisheries management can be best achieved by implementing and enforcing science-based catch or effort limits. The study is authored by researchers from the University of Washington and California Environmental Associates. The paper shows that, among 28 of the world’s major fishing nations, there is wide variation in the effectiveness of fisheries management systems at meeting their objectives for productive fish populations. The authors considered several aspects of management systems and three elements seem to be critical to their success.

Deep sea corals will be protected from destructive fishing gear in a new protected area in the Atlantic. (Credit: NOAA National Ocean

Atlantic Ocean Area The Size Of Virginia Protected From Deep-Water Fishing

Coral in an area in the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Connecticut to Virginia has been protected from deep-sea commercial fishing gear, by a new rule issued this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The protected area covers some 38,000 square miles of federal waters, NOAA says, which is about the size of Virginia. It’s the “largest area in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico protected from a range of destructive fishing gear,” according to the NRDC, an environmental advocacy group.