The UK’s Blue Belt program–or could putting cameras in the ocean might save the whales, and dolphins and dugongs? Plus Annapolis, MD and Anne Arundel County sue Big Oil. And Sen. Tammy Duckworth wants to keep your drinking and wastewater safe.
Replay–Analyzing The UK’s Blue Belt Program, Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Sue Big Oil, Drinking & Wastewater Bill Passes in Senate
UK GOVERNMENT’S “BLUE BELT PROGRAM, OR, CAMERAS IN THE SEAS
The UK is to become the first country to pioneer a major network of underwater camera rigs is being rolled out across the British Overseas Territories. The network is being set up as part of the UK Government Blue Belt program – which covers more than 4 million square kilometers of ocean.
- the network will collect important biological information across the Caribbean, South Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, making it the world’s largest ocean wildlife monitoring system
- information collected on marine life will support British Overseas Territories to protect their marine environment
Why this matters: The health of the ocean is declining so this camera network will allow scientists to improve their understanding of the marine environment and restore our oceans. The non-intrusive method of capturing information on species will be used to document the incredible marine biodiversity in 10 Overseas Territories: Pitcairn, Ascension, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat and within the British Antarctic Territory. In making the Blue Belt announcement, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The marine wildlife living along the coastlines of our Overseas Territories is some of the most spectacular in the world and we must do more to protect it.”
ANNAPOLIS SUES BIG OIL
The City of Annapolis recently filed a lawsuit seeking to hold major oil and gas companies accountable for lying to the public about their products’ role in climate change ^ and to recover costs associated with sea-level rise, flooding, and other local climate damages that the companies knew their products would cause. Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, released the following statement: “With this lawsuit, Annapolis joins a growing number of communities across the United States that are turning to the courts to demand that Big Oil companies be held accountable for lying about their leading role in causing climate change. Just like Big Tobacco — another industry that lied to the public to protect their profits — Big Oil should pay for the damage they knew their products would cause.”
And here’s why this lawsuit matters to all of us. Annapolis joins 24 other states and localities, including the City of Baltimore, that have turned to the courts to hold companies like Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP accountable for ongoing efforts to lie to the public about their role in causing climate change. It is also the fourth community — after Minnesota, Delaware, and Hoboken, New Jersey — to name the American Petroleum Institute as a defendant.
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY JOINS SUIT…
So, what’s good for Annapolis is better for Anne Arundel. Following the Maryland state capital’s lead, Anne Arundel County is suing more than two dozen oil and gas companies for covering up what they knew to be the truth of their products’ impact on global warming and, seeking to hold them liable for the “costs and consequences” of climate change. “Science has shown clearly that carbon emissions are the cause of this climate change, and there’s a lot of evidence that the leaders of fossil fuel companies were aware of the damage their companies were doing for many years,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said during a news conference. “And rather than shift to green technologies, they paid lobbyists and PR firms to cover up the truth. So, it’s my obligation as representative of the residents of this very vulnerable coastal land that we live on to not only plan for the financing of resilience infrastructure but also to hold these companies accountable for their actions.”
The county has more than 530 miles of shoreline, making it vulnerable to inland and coastal flooding, sea-level rise and storm surge. Annapolis’ downtown area and other parts of the county have already begun to experience an increased number of flooding events per year. Climate change has already hurt the county’s economy and wrought public health impacts on its people “and will disproportionately impact people of color, people living in poverty, and other vulnerable communities,” according to the complaint.
THE DRINKING WATER AND WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE ACT PASSES SENATE
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the first major infrastructure bill in this Congress that would authorize over $35 billion to upgrade the country’s drinking and wastewater systems. The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which passed 89-2, would give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for grant programs and revolving loan funds to help communities upgrade aging infrastructure, invest in new technologies — 40 percent of which would go to underserved, rural, and tribal communities. Why this matters to us? More than 2 million Americans live without access to drinking water and sanitation services — such as safe drinking water, plumbing in the home, and wastewater removal and treatment —According to a 2019 report by the U.S. Water Alliance, Native American households are 19 times more likely to lack plumbing than white households; Black and Latino households are nearly twice as likely. Race is the strongest determinant of whether a household has access to water and sanitation services, the 2019 report found ^ the result of a history of racist policies in the planning and construction of water infrastructure.
If approved by the House and signed into law, funding from the new bill would come in incremental increases to state water infrastructure budgets from 2022 to 2026.