Celebrating Success: 2012 Environmental Wins

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In 2012, California's National Marine Sanctuaries were expanded with the support of EarthShare members (Photo: NOAA)

From new fuel efficiency standards for automobiles to landmark conservation protections, 2012 was a successful year for EarthShare member organizations, thanks to the support of people like you. Here's a small sample of the accomplishments you helped make possible in 2012:

 

National Wildlife Federation: In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States, causing astounding devastation—in loss of life, destruction of property, and widespread ecological damage—that will be felt for years to come. NWF is working to pass policies to keep people and wildlife safe from storms and floods, and working with on-the-ground partners to protect and restore habitat in areas vulnerable to extreme weather events.

American Farmland Trust stepped up efforts to implement the Nutrient BMP Challenge® program that encourages on-farm conservation and helps reduce the amount of fertilizer flowing from farm fields into waterways. Through the program, farmers have reduced fertilizer use by 24 percent, lessened greenhouse gas emissions by 69 percent and soil erosion by 78 percent on thousands of acres in the Midwest alone.

Wildlife Conservation Society: Five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles hatched at the WCS Bronx Zoo in December 2012. The hatchings are a part of WCS’s strategy to save some of the most critically endangered turtle species in the world. Chinese yellow-headed box turtles are considered to be one of the 25 most endangered turtles in the world, with fewer than 150 individuals remaining in the wild.

Natural Resources Defense Council: The Obama Administration issued clean car standards in August 2012 that will raise automobile fuel efficiency to the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon—on average—by 2025. That’s roughly twice the mileage our cars get today. NRDC has long advocated for improving fuel economy and documented the benefits of such a policy, from domestic job growth and reduced oil imports to less pollution.

American Forests released the 2012 National Register of Big Trees, which shows that despite the extreme weather in the U.S. over the last year, most of the nation’s champion trees endured. The new register recognizes more than 760 of the country’s biggest trees, many of which lived through massive destruction over the last year. Since 1940, American Forests’ National Big Tree Program has promoted the importance of planting and caring for trees and forests in helping to sustain healthy ecosystems.

The Conservation Fund: After nearly five years of hard work, The Conservation Fund conveyed the final piece of Rocky Fork, the largest tract of unprotected land in the southern Appalachian Mountains, to the Forest Service in September 2012. Located along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, Rocky Fork has nearly 10,000 acres of forest, blue-ribbon trout streams and recreational opportunities that attract visitors and support the local economy.

Oceana: The European Parliament approved a strict ban on shark finning in 2012, closing a crucial loophole in EU law by requiring that all sharks caught in EU waters, and by EU vessels in international waters, be landed with their fins attached. This is a monumental achievement for sharks and one that Oceana campaigned for. The EU is the world’s largest exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong and mainland China and the new EU rule represents a huge step forward in the conservation of sharks.

Defenders of Wildlife: On March 19, 2012, about 60 genetically pure bison were relocated from a quarantine facility outside Yellowstone National Park to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in eastern Montana. Defenders has been a long-time proponent of restoring Yellowstone bison to their historic home on the Great Plains. Defenders, through the generous support of their donors, helped the tribes pay for fencing, purchase additional grazing allotments, and transport the bison 500 miles to their new home. Defenders members also sent thousands of letters to state officials, urging them to restore bison to Montana’s tribal lands.

Environmental Defense Fund: California's landmark global warming law—the world's first mandatory limit on greenhouse gas pollution—is crucial to fighting climate change. After beating back a polluter attack on AB 32 in 2010, EDF is ensuring California meets its emissions goals through a well-designed cap-and-trade program that was implemented in November 2012.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: This summer, the Shooting Star State Trail in southern Minnesota added five miles on its western end. At 19 miles long, the paved trail offers a beautiful array of countryside views as it follows the Upper Iowa River, enters Lake Louise State Park, and continues through open prairie, wetlands and small patches of woodland. RTC supported similar rail-trail projects around the country in 2012.

Clean Water Fund: The Clean Water Act turned 40 on October 18, 2012. Clean Water Fund has played an important role helping implement, enforce and protect the Clean Water Act. They've stopped illegal pollution by dischargers in dozens of states, protected local waterways and our drinking water, and helped states and local governments find new ways to reduce pollution from runoff.

EarthJustice: The Danskammer coal plant in the Mid-Hudson Valley will be retired and torn down. The plant was purchased for just $3.5 million through a proceeding with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The plant was riddled with problems including a recent lawsuit over regional haze pollution filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Sierra Club and National Parks Conservation Association, the release of modeling showing how the plant contributed to violations of federal air quality standards for sulfur dioxide, workers on strike and recent flooding damage from Superstorm Sandy.

American Solar Energy Society: The ASES National Solar Tour continued running the world’s largest grassroots solar event.  More than 160,000 participants visited some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the U.S. in October 2012 to learn about renewable energy installations in their regions. 

World Wildlife Fund: Critically endangered Amur leopards received vital sanctuary with the establishment of the Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia. The park, which WWF lobbied for, contains 60 percent of the cats’ remaining habitat. Scientists estimate that fewer than 50 Amur leopards still exist in the wild. WWF also helped finalize Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue standards that address environmental and social impacts associated with salmon farming, while enabling the industry to grow responsibly. They were developed in cooperation with more than 2,000 stakeholders, including Marine Harvest, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer.

Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide advocates helped achieve a moratorium on mining activities in Goa, India. Like West Virginia, Goa is a relatively small state, but it holds 60% of India’s iron ore, which is in high demand for construction. Shutting down the entire industry in the state is no small thing.


All of this is good news for our air, land, water and wildlife, and none of it would happen without donor support. Feeling inspired? Please consider making even more progress possible in 2013 by giving a year-end gift to help us continue to support the vital work of our member charities.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better, greener place for all of us. We can’t wait to share more good news with you in 2013!

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