A Steal of a Deal How Ranchers Take Advantage of Public Lands

This week's investigative reporting, analysis and environmental news.
The Revelator

No. 81, May 23, 2019

Hello Revelator readers,

$1.35 a month. That's how much ranchers pay to graze their cattle and other livestock on public lands, including national forests. This subsidized fee (which the Trump administration just lowered) doesn't even cover the cost to administer the program — let alone the environmental cost of millions of grazing cows. Find out more in our latest video.

Well, it happened again. Congress just punted — for the 11th time in less than two years — on an opportunity to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. Meanwhile storms and floods are getting worse, and the program is $20 billion in debt. With threats from climate change looming, what's the future of this essential program?

South Africa is failing its lions. Thousands of lions live in the country's captive-breeding centers, where they're destined to be shot in canned hunts or slaughtered for their bones. Our latest essay examines how South African law fails to stop this gruesome business.

Dam removal is ... complicated. Most dam removals take years, if not decades, of political, ecological and financial wrangling. A new book, Same River Twice, looks at three dam removals in the Pacific Northwest and what made them possible. We have a review.

Finally this week: monsters. A series of paintings by artists Laura and Gary Dumm shows pop-culture monsters like the "Creature from the Black Lagoon" facing new threats from coal, plastic and pesticides. They're fun but also frightening — check 'em out.

Subscriber bonus: The Wild 5

Let's go a little deeper. Here are five stories from around the web that we're watching this week.

1. Republicans — at least a few of them — are talking about climate change, as several new bills aimed at reducing carbon emissions are expected from a handful of GOP senators.

2. Will New England ramp up its use of hydroelectric power to meet its climate goals? That depends on how a fight plays out over transmission lines from Canada's Hydro-Québec utility.

3. The International Monetary Fund recently calculated that the fossil fuel industry benefited from $5.2 trillion in subsidies in 2017.

4. Louisiana hopes to boost its climate resilience with a new plan for how coastal communities will survive rising seas and increasing flood risks.

5. Scientists have made the first-ever global map of the "wood wide web" — the underground fungi networks that help trees and plants connect.

In case you missed it:

Memorial Day is coming up this Monday — an opportunity to remember that wars sometimes cause extinctions.

What should we cover next?

Drop us a line anytime. We welcome your ideas and inside scoops.

Coming up:

We have some amazing new articles and essays coming your way in the next few weeks, including a look at how many species are going extinct, a solution to overfishing, and the latest on the Colorado River.

Look for our links in next week's newsletter — or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the headlines as they go live. We share other interesting news there, too!

As always, thank you for reading.

John R. Platt

John R. Platt
Editor, The Revelator


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