Grand Canyon Uranium Mine Stopped . . . for Now
In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Trust, a federal judge stopped uranium drilling near the border of Grand Canyon National Park April 5. The Kaibab National Forest approved uranium drilling by Britain's Vane Minerals with no environmental review whatsoever despite the obvious threats to human health, water quality, and one of America's most treasured national parks. The order immediately halted the active exploratory drilling and will remain in place until the case is fully decided.
In a legal stunt gone awry, Vane revved up a Geiger counter in the courtroom to prove the "safety" of its operations. Unconvinced, the judge reminded Vane that her courtroom, unlike the Grand Canyon, was not one of the seven wonders of the world. And in what is either a triumph of wry British humor or a remarkable misunderstanding of American law, the British company sent a letter to the Center equating the horrific 1872 mining law to the U.S. Constitution. If you're listening, Vane, we prefer the Constitution, and no, we won't be dropping the lawsuit anytime soon.
The Grand Canyon isn't out of the woods yet: Vane's project is only the first of five slated for the area in the wake of the recent uranium boom. The Center is hopeful that a recently introduced bill prohibiting new Grand Canyon uranium projects will be passed by Congress.
Read more in the Arizona Daily Sun.
Massive California Development Bites the Dust
Shadowrock -- a "luxury" development that would have ruined much of California's Chino Canyon -- was stopped dead in its tracks this week when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revoked its permit. The move came just in time to prevent the bulldozing of the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep's protected critical habitat area and the home of the endangered least Bell's vireo.
The permit was yanked due to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, which forced the Army Corps to re-examine the impact of the project on the sheep and vireo.
Read more about it in the Palm Springs Desert Sun.
Vermont National Forest Retracts Snowmobile Plan
Under heavy pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Green Mountain National Forest has abandoned a plan to build more than three miles of new snowmobile trails in a pristine area of Vermont. Also, instead of relocating the current snowmobile trail to areas of undisturbed forest, the Forest Service will minimize fragmentation of wildlife habitat by keeping the trail within a few feet of an existing road.
The Green Mountain National Forest snowmobile network has never had a thorough environmental review, and over the last couple of decades has grown to contain more miles of trail than all other recreational trails -- motorized and non-motorized -- on the national forest combined.
Read more in our press release.
Oil Drilling Targets World's Rarest Whale
As its term in office winds down, the Bush administration is becoming increasingly schizophrenic. On Tuesday it designated 23.6 million acres of the Bering Sea as a protected "critical habitat" zone for the endangered North Pacific right whale, and at the same time proposed to issue offshore oil and gas leases on 5.6 million acres that partially overlap the critical habitat zone. The situation is reminiscent of the administration's proposal to list the polar bear as a threatened species at the same time that it pushed forward offshore oil and gas leases in the bear's habitat in the Chukchi Sea.
The Center for Biological Diversity and its allies have sued the administration over the Chukchi Sea oil leases and is also in court over the Bering Sea leases.
The Bering Sea lease will impact not only right whales, but Pacific walruses, ribbon seals, humpbacks, beluga whales, many seabirds, and one of the world's most productive salmon fisheries. With perhaps fewer than 50 individuals left, the North Pacific right whale is hanging on by a thread.
Read more in the Anchorage Daily News and Kodiak Daily Mirror.
Put Your Money Where the Action Is: the Center's New Web Store
Mother's and Father's Days are coming up -- are you looking for a gift to give? Or are you ready to head for the hills for a hike -- and you need something to wear yourself? Whomever you may be buying for, check out the Center for Biological Diversity's brand-new Web store, where you can grab a soft, organic-cotton T-shirt and a new cap to shade your eyes and show your support of endangered species conservation at the same time. Our gear has style and substance -- and it's a great conversation starter. (We have kids' shirts now, too.)
Just visit http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/support/store/index.html.
Threatened Sea Turtles May Get More Protection
The government is seeking public comment on whether loggerhead sea turtles of the western North Atlantic -- currently listed as a "threatened" species -- should be upgraded to "endangered" status. These turtles, which nest in Florida and make up more than 90 percent of U.S. loggerheads, are also the most imperiled of their kind -- in fact, thanks to longline fishing, habitat destruction, global warming, and other threats, nesting numbers have been nearly halved in a decade.
The evaluation of these turtles' status results from a 2007 Center for Biological Diversity petition.
Read more about it in the Ft. Myers Press.
Center Director to Introduce Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet: Tucson, April 17
Join us next Thursday, April 17 when Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, introduces W.S. Merwin in a poetry reading and discussion called "Poetry in the Green World." Merwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and a Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress. His latest work is called "The Book of Fables."
The reading continues a Center tradition of collaborating with poets and writers such as Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Haas, and Lydia Millet to provide a unique spiritual perspective on environmental issues.
The reading is at 8pm, at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, 1508 East Helen Street. Directions are available here:
Mysterious, Fatal Disease Strikes Connecticut Bats
Last week two separate populations of bats in Connecticut were found with white-nose syndrome, a disease of unknown origin that has wiped out 80 to 90 percent of bats in some areas of New York, including endangered Indiana bats. Affected bats grow a white fungus on their snouts and show dehydration and weight loss before they die, but biologists are baffled as to the actual cause of death or the way the disease is transmitted.
The syndrome has already been known in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts, but its latest appearances in Connecticut show it's spreading fast. In January the Center for Biological Diversity wrote a letter to the government requesting action to help prevent the disease's spread, and in February we petitioned for the re-evaluation of projects that might add to the bats' danger.
Read more in the Litchfield County Times.
Photo credits: Grand Canyon (c) Edward McCain, least Bell's vireo (c) Douglas Aguillard, forest (c) Edward McCain, North Pacific right whale (c) Rick LeDuc, loggerhead sea turtle by Donna Dewhurst/USFWS, W.S. Merwin courtesy of University of Arizona Poetry Center, and gray bat courtesy of USFWS.
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