Bush Finalizes Species-killing Plan, Center Already in Court to Block It
Despite massive public opposition, the Interior Department published its final plan this Tuesday to eviscerate our nation's most successful wildlife protection law -- the Endangered Species Act. The plan, which exempts thousands of federal activities -- including those generating greenhouse gases -- from environmental review, was rushed through at the 11th hour before Bush leaves office. In an unusual legal maneuver, however, the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and Defenders of Wildlife filed suit against the plan last Thursday as soon as it was announced. When species' lives are at risk, there is no time to wait for publication notices.
Get more of the story in the New York Times.
Alaska Sea Otter Wins 3.7 Million Acres of Protection
Obeying a court order won by the Center for Biological Diversity, this Monday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect more than 3.7 million acres of southwestern Alaskan coastline as federally protected sea otter habitat. Alaska sea otters, declared threatened under the Endangered Species Act thanks to a Center petition, are fading fast -- especially in the Aleutian Islands -- with increased predation, warming-caused ecosystem changes, and overfishing as likely factors. Proposals to open Bristol Bay in the Bering Sea to oil development are a looming and serious threat.
Get more from the Associated Press.
Seven Penguins March Toward Federal Protection
Responding to a Center petition and lawsuit, this Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect seven penguin species: the African, yellow-eyed, white-flippered, Fiordland crested, Humboldt, erect-crested, and southern rockhopper penguins. Unfortunately, the Bush administration decided not to protect the majestic emperor penguin, concluding that global warming's impacts on the species are too "uncertain" to warrant shielding it under the Endangered Species Act -- despite the fact that the emperor is the most ice-dependent of all penguin species. The administration also denied protection to two other penguins, the northern rockhopper and macaroni penguins. All 10 penguin species need protection due to global warming, reduced food supply, and a host of other threats.
Get more from ABC News.
Polar Bear Protections Pummeled Again
Flouting a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, last Thursday Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne made permanent a "4(d)" rule weakening protections for the polar bear. This rule, replacing the rule he announced in May when the bear was listed under the Endangered Species Act, not only exempts oil development and greenhouse gases from regulation to protect the bear, but it uses broader language than the May rule to allow for yet more harmful activities to escape regulation. Our lawsuit opposing the original 4(d) rule is ongoing, and we'll keep defending the bear's federal status from all challenges.
Read more in Anchorage Daily News.
Fed Report: Bush Interior Department Systematically Corrupt
This Tuesday, the Interior Department's inspector general released a scathing new report accusing Bush administration officials of gross misconduct, illegal actions and systematic abuse in their efforts to ignore, undermine and violate environmental laws. The report found that dozens of endangered species and hundreds of scientists suffered at the hands of corrupt officials.
Get more dirt on the report from the New York Times.
Center Opposes, Exposes Obama's Secretary of Interior Pick
In other Interior Department news -- to the Center for Biological Diversity's great disapproval -- President-elect Barack Obama seems set on making a disappointing new appointment, this week nominating Colorado Senator Ken Salazar as the next Interior Secretary, the most important position in the protection of America's lands, waters, and species. While Salazar has promoted some good environmental actions, his overall record is decidedly mixed, and it's weak in important areas: He even supported President Bush's past regrettable choice of Gale Norton as Interior Secretary -- the very woman who initiated her department's scandals. We need a strong and science-minded Secretary to keep Interior outrage-free.
Read more on the Salazar pick in the New York Times, hear Center executive director Kierán Suckling speak about it on National Public Radio, and check out the Center's statement.
Administration Releases Final List of Languishing Species
Even while facing a pending lawsuit against deferred species protections by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, last week the Bush administration issued its final notice of review identifying 251 plants and animals deemed "candidates" for Endangered Species Act protections, from the Oregon spotted frog to the Sonoyta mud turtle -- whose actual protections have been detrimentally delayed for ages. The notice affirms that this administration has the worst species-protection record on record.
Check out our press release and learn about our Candidate Project.
Petition May Trigger Swordfish Ban for Sake of Sea Life
Thanks to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network, this Monday the U.S. Commerce Department announced it may ban the importation of foreign swordfish until exporting countries can prove their fishing practices are at least as good as U.S. methods at protecting whales, dolphins, sea lions, and other marine mammals. Evidence shows that foreign fishing fleets kill hundreds of thousands of marine mammals each year, and swordfish fleets' deadly gillnets and longlines make them by far the worst.
Check out our press release and learn about our Fisheries Campaign.
Center Defends Imperiled Songbird from Invading Beetle
Three years after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released an imported beetle to control invasive tamarisk trees in the Southwest, the beetle has been found infesting the nesting areas of the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher -- so last week, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue. The Department has neglected its promise not to let the beetle set up camp within the bird's range. If the insect invader spreads further, it could seriously threaten the survival of one of our most endangered songbirds.
Get background in our press release and learn more about the southwestern willow flycatcher.
Tortoise, Condor Face New Threats on Arizona Strip
The Center for Biological Diversity stepped up for the California condor, desert tortoise, and other species last week when we told two federal agencies we'll take them to court if they don't craft better management plans for the Arizona Strip, which contains huge tracts of public land near the Grand Canyon. The agencies' current plans would allow a number of wildlife-harming activities, from road-building to livestock grazing to oil and gas exploration -- as if the imperiled condor and tortoise didn't already have enough to worry about.
Read details in our press release and learn what else ails the desert tortoise and California condor.
Lawsuit Threatened to Protect Giant Garter Snake
Heedless of the safety of California's giant garter snakes, a federal agency has approved a water transfer that would ruin thousands of acres of the threatened reptiles' habitat, drawing a warning of a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Butte Environmental Council. The giant garter snake, which can be up to 64 inches long, has lost up to 90 percent of its natural wetland habitat -- and the proposed water transfer from Yolo County, California would remove 3,500 acres of the rice fields and managed marshes the snake has been forced to call home.
Read more in our press release and peek at our brand-new giant garter snake Web page.
Butterfly Makes Top Ten Imperiled-without-protection List
A new report, aptly titled Without a Net, names the beautiful island marble butterfly -- which the Center for Biological Diversity is working hard to save -- one of 10 species most in need of protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The butterfly, threatened by development, road maintenance, invasive plants and severe weather events, is down to fewer than 2,000 individuals, yet the Bush administration unjustifiably refused to protect it after a scientific petition by the Center and friends.
Check out our press release and learn more about the island marble butterfly.
Species Ringtones Reach New Level of Wild Success
This week, downloads of the Center for Biological Diversity's endangered species ringtones topped 200,000, bringing the growls, trills, and cries of 90 endangered animals to thousands of people in more than 150 countries. To celebrate, the Center has added the calls of seven new species: a flock of six beautiful and imperiled birds, along with the entirely flightless but equally charismatic elephant seal pup.
See what all the clamor is about at www.rareearthtones.org.
Photo credits: emperor penguins by Michael Van Woert, NOAA; bald eagle by Lee Emery, USFWS; Alaska sea otter courtesy of NOAA; emperor penguin, public domain image; polar bears by Pete Spruance; California red-legged frog (c) Dan C. Holland; Ken Salazar courtesy of U.S. Government; Oregon spotted frog by Kelly McAllister, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; North Pacific right whale courtesy of Marine Mammal Commission; southwestern willow flycatcher courtesy of USGS; desert tortoise by Beth Jackson, USFWS; giant garter snake (c) Gary Nafis; island marble butterfly (c) Bill Yake; elephant seal pup (c) Monica Bond.
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