Article

2017 Policy Resolutions

08/03/2017

Resolutions Passed at the 2017 National Convention
Izaak Walton League of America

 

Solar Energy Protection Resolution

There are many forms of energy that will be vital to the maintenance of sufficient energy supplies in the near future. Without them, energy shortages will reduce growth, increase hardships, and lead to political instability. Of these sources, one that has both immediate and long-term benefit to consumers and the environment is solar energy.

Strongly supported by the federal government initially, solar power has recently come under attack at the state level by utility companies. Although there is some merit to their claims, the problems stem largely from the unwillingness of the utilities to change their billing models. As a result, many utilities, instead of supporting growth of solar power, are applying sanctions against customers adopting that technology. The most comprehensive source of information on this subject is a quarterly report by the NC Clean Energy group called The 50 States of Solar.

Why Solar Is Necessary

1. Solar home and business sites can supplement conventional generation when demand is highest during the period when people are at work and home usage is lowest.

2. Summer daytime hours represent the highest air conditioning demand and is when solar generation can provide the most energy back to the utility grids.

3. Solar is a renewable source of electrical power.

4. Solar can contribute to the lowering of carbon dioxide emissions.

5. Solar can help the US reduce its dependency on imported energy sources.

What is Net Metering?

Net metering is a process where privately owned sources of electrical energy, regardless of the generation method, feed power back to the utility grid and receive a kilowatt hour credit for that energy generated. Generally, the utilities that conform to that process allow a credit to be carried for up to 12 months.

Negative Actions by Utilities

1. Modifying simple net metering to include caps on generation, system size limits, and compensation rates for net access generation.

2. Applying charges to residential-only customers with solar such as added monthly fixed charges, stand by charges, demand charges, or interconnection fees.

3. Ten percent or greater fixed charges or minimum bills for solar residential customers.

4. Changes to the legality of third-party solar ownership, including solar leasing and solar power purchase agreements.

These punitive actions have increased to the point that in the second quarter of 2016, a total of 121actions were taken related to solar policy, including rate design. If these actions increase at the current rate, the adoption of solar will be negatively impacted.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Izaak Walton League of America, assembled in convention in Sandusky, Ohio, July 28, 2017, opposes punitive actions against solar energy such as limiting net metering, the imposition of additional monthly fixed charges, demand charges, and interconnection fees, changes to the legality of third party solar ownership, and any future actions that would negatively impact the adoption of solar power on a wider basis. Utilities should be encouraged to find reasonable ways to integrate growing solar generation capabilities into the mechanisms they currently use for outside energy generation as part of existing customer choice programs.

Soil Health

Soils contain living organisms that perform eco-services to enhance the production of food and fiber. The soil carbon stock has been depleted by 50 to 70 percent in the world, according to Dr. Rattan Lal at Ohio State University. Using the Morrow Plots at the University of Illinois as another example, in 1876, the prairie grass borders were 5 to 6 percent soil organic matter. Today, those plots are less than half at 2 to 3 percent. Carbon is the main source of energy for all the soil microbes and drives all life on earth. Photosynthesis is key to plant life and improving our soil through the exuded substances that feed soil microbes. Photosynthesis is the most powerful force on our planet.

Thirty-one states comprise the Mississippi River basin that flows to the Gulf of Mexico. The Dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico in 2016 covered some 5,898 square miles or an area about the size of Connecticut. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were measured at 404.68 parts per million December 31, 2016. A 1% increase in soil organic matter increases water-holding capacity by an amount ranging from 16,000 to 27,000 gallons per acre.

The soil ecosystem teams with billions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes to form an elegant system that can be managed to provide nutrients for plant growth, absorb and hold rainwater for use during dry periods, and filter and buffer potential pollutants.

Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops and forests, productive grazing lands, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes.

Soil provides five essential functions:

  • Soil helps control where rain, snowmelt, and irrigation water flows. Water and dissolved matter flow over the land or into and through soils.
  • Diversity and productivity of living things depend on soils.
  • Soil minerals and microbes are responsible for filtering, buffering, degrading, immobilizing, and detoxifying organic and inorganic materials.
  • Nutrient cycling occurs in the soils – carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and many other nutrients are stored and transformed in the soil.
  • Soil structure provides physical stability and support for plant roots and construction.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Izaak Walton League of America, assembled in convention in Sandusky, Ohio on July 28, 2017, advocates that agricultural producers utilize the following soil health principles to improve soils to enhance ecosystem processes of water, mineral, and energy cycling and the biological community:

  • Use plant diversity to increase diversity in the soil
  • Minimize tillage by disturbing soil less
  • Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil
  • Keep soil covered as much as possible
  • Integrate livestock into production systems, if possible
  • Discourage removal of organic matter.

The Time for Clean Energy is Now

It is clear that the world’s climate is experiencing an unprecedented warming trend and that the burning of fossil fuels has precipitated that warming trend through dramatic increases in the amount of CO2 that has been released since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the 1800s. CO2 levels have risen from 200 ppm to 400 ppm in just two centuries. Scientists the world over have researched this subject exhaustively and there is no legitimate question about the validity of their conclusion. The last three years have been the hottest on record. The process of climate change has begun, is caused by human activities, and the only question remaining is how rapid the warming will be, and where it will stabilize, if it stabilizes.

We know that the ocean contains significant amounts of CO2 dissolved in water, and that that CO2 may be released if the ocean sufficiently warms. We also know that the ocean and Arctic permafrost contain very large amounts of methane, which will be released as the ocean sufficiently warms and as the permafrost melts. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. The potential exists for much more dramatic warming than we are now experiencing. We recognize that the extreme example of global warming can be seen on our nearest neighbor, Venus, where the atmosphere is 95% CO2 and the surface temperatures are 900 degrees. Obviously, Earth’s surface would become uninhabitable if it reaches only a small fraction of that level, but we are already noticing adverse changes in rain patterns, dry spells, and forest fires.

Ancient air bubbles trapped in ice enable us to step back in time and see what Earth's atmosphere, and climate, were like in the distant past. Such examination reveals levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are presently higher than they have been at any time in the past 400,000 years. During ice ages, CO2 levels were around 200 parts per million (ppm), and during the warmer interglacial periods, they hovered around 280 ppm (see fluctuations in the graph). In 2013, CO2 levels surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history.

This recent relentless rise in CO2 shows a remarkably constant relationship with the burning of fossil-fuels, and can be well accounted for based on the simple premise that about 60 percent of fossil-fuel emissions stay in the atmosphere.

We now stand on the threshold of a new geologic era, which some term the "Anthropocene," one where the climate is very different to the one our ancestors knew. 

If fossil-fuel burning continues at a business-as-usual rate, such that humanity exhausts the reserves over the next few centuries, CO2 will continue to rise to levels on order of 1500 ppm, the atmosphere would then not return to pre-industrial levels even tens of thousands of years into the future. The graph (see below) not only conveys the scientific measurements, but it also underscores the fact that humans have a great capacity to change the climate and planet.

Oceanographers are concerned that increased levels of acidification in the ocean is beginning to impact the ability of sea life to accumulate calcium, potentially preventing shell formation, coral reef growth, or fish bone development. The implications for the health of the ocean are grave. Experts on the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps are observing extreme decline in the amount of ice in the ice caps, at the same time as the world’s glaciers, which provide water supplies for some of the world’s most populous countries, are disappearing. Rising sea levels threaten over 120 million Americans in coastal cities, and billions who live along the coasts or in low-lying nations around the world. The potential for global unrest as large populations are displaced by rising sea levels, plus the tremendous loss of property values, are good reasons to work against the processes of climate change.

Because of recent developments in solar photovoltaic, wind, battery storage, and other technologies, we now know that it is within our ability to relatively easily replace the energy presently produced by burning fossil fuels with clean solar and wind energy.

It has also recently become clear that due to increased competition, solar energy is, over time, less expensive than coal, oil, or natural gas as an energy source, and can be implemented without production of large amounts of CO2 as a side effect.

Solar power is more affordable, accessible, and prevalent in the United States than ever before and since 2008, U.S. installations have grown seventeen-fold from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 30 GW, enough capacity to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes. Since 2010, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped more than 60% and the cost of a solar electric system has dropped by about 50% [1].

The Indianapolis Indiana International Airport now has the world’s largest airport solar farm, 183 acres having 87,488 solar panels, producing enough electricity to power 3,650 American homes.

Concurrently with these conditions, American farmers, along with farmers in other nations, are learning new ways to manage their farms to utilize cover crops and novel animal grazing practices to reduce erosion, improve the ability of farms to absorb water, and reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers, while simultaneously improving crop yields.

These practices increase the vegetative and animal organic content of the soil, meaning increasing the carbon content of the soil, which has the potential to reduce a significant portion of the CO2 in the atmosphere, since plants use the CO2 to produce cellulose and other carbohydrates in the plants and their root systems, and worms, insects, bacteria and fungi live on the byproducts of the root function. The results are healthier soils, improved crop production, and reduced pollution in watersheds, which should result in healthier fish stocks, healthier aquatic habitats, and lower water treatment costs for municipalities that get their drinking water from America’s rivers.

Numerous cities and states have made commitments to convert their jurisdictions to 100% clean energy, and are moving forward to meet those commitments.


 

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

U.S Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.

Indianapolis Solar Farm.com.

Indianapolis Star, Dec. 23, 2014.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.


 

The Izaak Walton League of America, as a leader in science-based policies for the protection of soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife, should speak out strongly for the most aggressive policies to stop further emissions of CO2. The League also recognizes that agricultural practices encouraging growth of carbon-holding root systems can be a positive force in addressing the storage of carbon and encourages its members, in communities across America and government at all levels, to implement clean energy strategies. The League’s great tradition as a defender of America’s natural resources can continue as an advocate and leader in the effort to stop the increases in atmospheric CO2.


global climate change graphic

Therefore, be it resolved that the Izaak Walton League of America, assembled in convention in Sandusky, Ohio, on July 28, 2017, commits to :

  1. Encourage the education of farmers and all land owners and land managers about techniques to improve the carbon content of their soils and to advocate for practices that implement those techniques;
  2. Encourage and assist, whenever and wherever possible without unduly threatening bats and birds, the installation of clean energy wind and solar energy production systems;
  3. Encourage individuals and every level of government to switch from fossil fuels to clean solar and wind energy;
  4. Encourage and advocate for development and improvement of energy storage options to make clean solar and wind energy useful at all times, day and night, and in all weather conditions.

Oppose Legislation That Harms The Wilderness Act


The Izaak Walton League of America strongly supported passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

The Wilderness Act now protects nearly 110 million acres of federal public land for current and future generations in the National Wilderness Preservation System, including the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.

Various versions of the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act have been introduced in recent Congresses.

H.R. 2406 (the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act) in the 2015-2016 Congress contained language that would have weakened the Wilderness Act by allowing any state or federal agency to build roads, dams, structures, etc., and to conduct logging, chaining, or other activities in all Wildernesses in the nation if even remotely connected to hunting, fishing, shooting, or fish and wildlife, as well as exempting such activities from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

New versions of such bills are likely to be reintroduced in the current 115th Congress.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Izaak Walton League of America, assembled in convention in Sandusky, Ohio, July 28, 2017, opposes any federal legislation that would weaken the 1964 Wilderness Act, such as by elevating particular uses over the preservation of wilderness characteristics or authorizing the recreational use of any form of mechanized transport, including human-powered transport.

Amendment to the Lacey Act

The Lacey Act is a conservation law implemented in 1900 prohibiting trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold and also regulates introduction of birds and other animals to places where they have never existed before. Today, the Lacey Act is used primarily to prevent poaching and the importation or spread of potentially dangerous non-native species. The Act also makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant in violation of the laws of the United States, a state, an Indian tribe, or any foreign law that protects plants.  It has been amended several times since 1900 to meet current concerns over the importation of fish, wildlife and plants.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has interpreted the Lacey Act since 1960 as giving them the authority to enforce the act and prohibit interstate shipments of federally designated live injurious animals until a 2017 Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision set aside the interpretation of the shipment clause in the Act.

This ruling causes concern for further spread of non-native species, many of which have had significant ecological and economic impacts, to be moved to all areas of the United States.  Asian carp are an example of a non-native species that could be spread without federal regulation in conjunction with state-level enforcement

Therefore, be it resolved that the Izaak Walton League of America, assembled in convention in Sandusky, Ohio, July 28, 2017, supports an amendment to the Lacey Act giving clear authority to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to promulgate and enforce regulations banning the interstate shipment and transport of injurious species.