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Marching Toward Extinction: Bush Administration Delays Protection of Penguins

The Center for Biological Diversity gave official notice December 3 that it will sue the Bush administration for delaying Endangered Species Act protection for penguins threatened by global warming. After the Center filed a petition to list 12 penguin species as threatened or endangered, the government had exactly one year to determine whether the penguins deserve protection; now, after a July finding that 10 penguin species may warrant protection, the decision is overdue. By delaying protection for these penguins, the Bush administration continues to ignore the reality of global warming and yet again shirks its responsibility to protect imperiled species.

According to Dr. Shaye Wolf, a biologist with the Center: “Global warming is an overarching threat for the world’s penguins. Absent prompt action to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the survival of these penguin species will be in doubt along with that of many other wildlife species.” While the federal government flouted its duty to protect penguins threatened by global warming Monday, delegates from around the world were discussing climate change at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia. Countries will set new targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, which the United States refuses to ratify.

Jellyfish Clear Winner in Age of Global Warming and Overfishing

In the waters off the United Kingdom, Mediterranean jellyfish species are becoming more and more common — so common that recently a massive swarm killed all 100,000 fish in an Irish Sea salmon farm. Global warming seems to be nurturing a worldwide explosion of jellyfish, not only allowing greater numbers of jellies to survive through the winter but also heating up north Atlantic waters where conditions are becoming favorable for Mediterranean jellyfish to thrive.

Also boosting jelly populations are current fishing practices. Overfishing removes species that would otherwise eat jellyfish and control their populations; overfishing also creates the need for more fish farms, which in turn makes it easier for jellies to thrive with fewer, free-ranging predators.  Eventually, a massive swarm of jellyfish emerges and overtakes every fish contained within a north Atlantic salmon farm.  You can read more about this vicious circle in New Scientist.

Exposure of Secret Logging Plan Shuts Down 8,000-acre Logging Project

Last February the Forest Service secretly issued a new guide substantially changing its wildlife management rules in Arizona and New Mexico. The new plan will jeopardize goshawks in particular by increasing the logging of mature forests and large trees. The Center helped expose this covert logging plan by obtaining records showing that the Forest Service ignored state biologists' concerns and excluded other wildlife agencies from commenting on the new rules. As the Center's Taylor McKinnon put it: “Good forest restoration requires careful public and scientific review. It's both illegal and counterproductive for the Forest Service to unilaterally change wildlife-protection rules across two entire states without consulting anyone."

In November, the Center successfully halted an 8,000-acre logging project near Flagstaff, Arizona, that would have been the first to implement the rules. That project's on hold pending further review, and all indications are that the Forest Service will press forward — and the Center will continue to engage the emerging battle. You can read more about the new rules in the Houston Chronicle.

Rebuked Again! Bush Required to Deal With Air Pollutants

Just two weeks after a landmark ruling on fuel-economy standards, on November 19 the Center scored another victory in the battle against global warming. In a court settlement, the Bush administration agreed to review the environmental hazards of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides, major air pollutants mostly emanating from coal-fired power plants and motor vehicles. The EPA has not reviewed sulfur or nitrogen oxide standards since 1996, and sulfur standards have remained unchanged since 1971.

The Center’s Brian Nowicki offers this insight into the victory: “It’s high time our regulations took into account the high costs of these pollutants to human health, agriculture, buildings, and natural places. Stronger standards are critical to reducing the impacts of global warming and the long list of serious threats these pollutants pose for the environment.” According to the settlement, the EPA must complete all reviews and submit revisions by October 2010.

End Off-Road Vehicle Use Along the San Francisco and Blue Rivers

On November 19 the Center and a coalition of conservation organizations petitioned the U.S. Forest Service to protect the San Francisco and Blue rivers from off-road vehicle use. The river corridors, located in Arizona and New Mexico, are rich in cultural resources and critical riparian habitat and offer opportunities for quiet recreation. If the Forest Service goes ahead with the closure, the river corridors, adjacent lands, and water would be immediately protected from off-roading. “Given the fact that we’ve already lost more than 90 percent of riparian areas in Arizona and New Mexico, we can’t afford to delay safeguarding this area from further off-road damage,” said Chris Kassar, a Center wildlife biologist.

Learn more about the Center’s off-road vehicle campaign.

Holiday Gifts: Give a Center Membership!

If thoughts of bumper-to-bumper traffic, crowded shopping malls, and seemingly endless to-do lists leave you feeling overwhelmed and eager to hibernate straight through to Groundhog Day, steer clear of the fray and give a gift that matters with a Center for Biological Diversity gift membership.

You can make a gift in honor of someone special that will also be a gift to the endangered plants and animals we’re working to protect. Donate now and we’ll send your special someone a personalized note about your gift and what it will mean for the wild places and animals we protect. Your giftee will also receive a subscription to our quarterly newsletter, Endangered Earth.

It’s easy to add T-shirts and other Center merchandise to a gift membership, too. Just give our team a call toll-free at 1 (866) 357-3349. We’ll help complete the package. So easy you won’t even have to leave the house, let alone drive to the mall.

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