Lawsuit Defends Birds, Other Wildlife From Toxic Lead
The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday for failing to protect eagles, California condors, loons and other wildlife from lead poisoning. The suit challenges the EPA's recent denial of the Center's petition to ban lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle. The petition included nearly 500 scientific papers on the dangers of lead exposure from these sources in the wild. Millions of birds and other animals die each year after ingesting lead ammunition (often while scavenging carcasses) and lost fishing weights. Humans can also ingest lead from lead-shot game.
"The EPA has the ability to protect America's wildlife from ongoing and preventable lead poisoning, but continues to shirk its responsibility," said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center. "The EPA's failure to do the right thing is astonishing given the mountain of scientific evidence about the dangers of lead to wildlife. There are already safe and available alternatives to lead products for hunting and fishing, and the EPA can phase in a changeover to nontoxic materials, so there's no reason to perpetuate the epidemic of lead poisoning of wildlife."
Read more in the Los Angeles Times.
Times Square Extinction Crisis Ad to Reach 25 Million
The extinction crisis facing plants and animals around the world will be writ large this holiday season in the heart of New York City's bustling Times Square. Just in time for the massive Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, the Center for Biological Diversity today launched a public service ad that will appear on CBS's Super LED Screen, a 520-square-foot television screen on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues in the heart of Times Square Plaza. The ad features iconic endangered species, including the jaguar and the polar bear, that will be wiped off the Earth if we don't act fast; it encourages viewers to act to save them.
The ad -- scheduled to run once an hour for 18 hours a day until the ball drops on New Year's Eve – arrives just in time for the holiday shopping season. An estimated 2.5 million people will pass by the screen for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Another 23 million or so will see it by the end of December. During this massive consumer season, we will be reminding people that there's something much bigger happening -- the extinction of hundreds of species and loss of biodiversity on the planet.
If you're in Times Square this holiday season and spot the ad, let us know. And if you're not in the Big Apple, you can still watch the ad and learn more at ExtinctionCrisis.org, the new Center Website created just for this ad.
Center in Appalachia to Fight Mountaintop Removal -- Take Action
Activists, attorneys, scientists, students and members of the faith community gathered at the University of Tennessee last weekend for the first annual Appalachian Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, an event to connect people working for environmental justice in the region. Center for Biological Diversity biologist Tierra Curry travelled to Knoxville for the conference, where she spoke to an enthusiastic audience about the Center's work to protect endangered species in the Southeast, including our campaign to end mountaintop removal.
Already threatened by rampant coal mining, Appalachia faces new threats from natural gas "fracking" (a harmful drilling technique) and biomass incinerators. Other topics at the conference included longwall underground mining, big corporations like Massey Energy suing grassroots activists, and how citizens can collect quality field data on air and water pollution. A local church hosted a showing of the soon-to-be-released documentary Low Coal, produced by Jordan Freeman, an L.A. filmmaker who's been living in West Virginia to give the world a firsthand look at the communities being ripped apart by the coal industry. And that's literal: Since the movie's filming, 20 percent of the land shown in the film has been lost to blasting for coal mining.
Learn more about the Center's ongoing efforts to stop mountaintop-removal mining and take action to fight it yourself.
New Study Links Overpopulation, Warming -- Get New Pop X Newsletter
It's increasingly clear that human-caused global warming stands to push more and more plants and animals toward extinction. A new report by the Worldwatch Institute says curbing human population growth is essential for limiting climate change's potentially catastrophic effects. In "Population, Climate Change, and Women's Lives," author Robert Engelman says overpopulation makes it more difficult to adapt to the effects of global climate disruption. He includes a reliable prescription for stabilizing population: stressing the empowerment, education and equal rights of women; access to family planning; and a reduction in the vast number of unintended pregnancies.
The Center for Biological Diversity has been working too to raise awareness about overpopulation and its impacts on endangered species and wild lands. Now it's easier than ever for people to stay on top of this critical environmental issue with the launch of Pop X, our new monthly e-newsletter tracking the scientific and social connections between overpopulation and species extinction.
Get more on Engelman's study from Time. Then sign up to subscribe to Pop X and get a monthly dose of exciting news and activist opportunities to help slow overpopulation and overconsumption and stop the global extinction crisis.
Coal-fired Power Plant Expansion Stopped in Kentucky
In other Appalachia news, a coalition of conservation and ratepayer advocates last week achieved a remarkable victory: convincing the East Kentucky Power Cooperative to abandon plans for two new coal-fired generating units at its Smith power plant. The proposed plant expansion could have harmed a number of imperiled species in the region, including bats already at severe risk from air pollution, mercury and the spread of white-nose syndrome. But instead of increasing its reliance on dirty, coal-burning technology, the Cooperative now plans to work with local citizens and activists to develop efficiency strategies and renewable-energy alternatives.
The Center for Biological Diversity salutes the coalition of activists and community advocates who achieved this remarkable success -- one that will help protect the climate, threatened species and public health while also saving the Cooperative and its customers money. Center staff worked with the coalition to identify and oppose the planned plant expansion's environmental threats, helping submit comments on the project early on that led to the lawsuit spurring the agreement. We hope to look back on this agreement one day as a turning point in our nation's transition away from reliance on dirty energy.
Read more in The Richmond Register.
Bluefin's Fate Debated in Paris
Support continues to grow for the Center for Biological Diversity's effort to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act. Since we filed our petition earlier this year, 22 other environmental groups have gotten behind it, and more than 26,000 of our supporters have told the National Marine Fisheries Service to give this remarkable fish the protection it desperately needs.
Bluefin tuna -- a huge, fast, far-ranging ocean creature that unlike most of its fishy peers is warm-blooded and can regulate its body heat, like mammals -- has been in steady decline in recent decades, mostly because of overfishing. (BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico didn't help: Scientists estimate it killed 20 percent of the just-spawned juveniles in the area.) And this week, the species' future is really on the line -- the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas is meeting in Paris to set quotas for the coming years on how many tuna can be legally caught. Whatever happens in Paris -- and we aren't optimistic that regulators will do the right thing -- it's vital that the United States do everything it can to make sure bluefin tuna survive and, one day, thrive in our waters.
Read more in the Montreal Gazette.
National Geographic Profiles Deadly Bat Disease
Millions of National Geographic readers are getting an up-close look at the devastation of white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease that's affecting bats in the East and moving westward fast. The magazine's latest issue features an in-depth story, "Bat Crash," detailing the march of the disease and, so far, the difficulty of stemming its spread.
The Center for Biological Diversity has been a driving force in seeking protections for bats from this fatal and mysterious disease, which has already killed more than a million bats. Earlier this year, we petitioned to prohibit nonessential human traffic into caves and mines on federal land. (Scientists suspect the fungus may travel on shoes, clothing and caving equipment.) Access to some caves has been restricted but, overall, the government response has been too slow and too small. The Center has also petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for two bat species likely to be vulnerable to the disease. Mollie Matteson, a Center conservation advocate in Vermont, says in a recent guest column in the Burlington Free Press that saving bats isn't just about saving one of nature's great insect regulators, but about retaining the full suite of nature's rich array of plants and animals.
Read the National Geographic story and Matteson's guest column in the Burlington Free Press. Then watch the Center's animated map of the spread of white-nose syndrome.
Center Op-ed: Protect Wolves in Great Lakes, Nationwide
Wolves in the Great Lakes region have made important progress since they were protected under the Endangered Species Act, but they still face a long list of threats. In a recent Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune opinion piece, Center for Biological Diversity attorney Collette Adkins Giese makes the case that it'd be premature to lift federal protections now. Wolves in that region still struggle with hybridization with coyotes, disease, illegal shootings and vehicle kills. Unfortunately, largely under pressure from the livestock industry, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is for the third time considering taking Great Lakes gray wolves off the list of protected species. Bills have also been introduced in Congress that would remove protections for all gray wolves, including those in the Great Lakes.
The Center for Biological Diversity has been working to protect gray wolves for years, including repeatedly defending their Endangered Species Act protections in the Great Lakes. This summer, we petitioned for a national recovery plan that would restore wolves to portions of their former range across the 48 states. Adkins Giese makes it clear just how important it is to help gray wolves recover, both in the Great Lakes region and nationally. "Pulling the plug now," she says, "will not only shortchange the commitment we made to restore this majestic animal but also the collective commitment this nation made to itself to protect and enhance the wild places that, in turn, help restore us all."
Read more in the Star Tribune and check out our brand-new Great Lakes gray wolf Web page.
It's Almost Thanksgiving -- So Thank You
As the holidays approach, we at the Center for Biological Diversity are giving thanks for all you've done to help plants and wildlife. This year, you've responded to our calls for action again and again to save species great and small from polar bears to Pacific salmon to Southeast snails. You've also added your voice to thousands speaking out for cleaner air and water, a healthier climate, protection of public lands and support of our oceans.
It makes a difference. After 17,700 of you told the federal government to grant jaguars a recovery plan and protected habitat, the government pledged to do just that -- and we'll make sure it lives up to its word. And when there were reports that endangered sea turtles were being burned alive during the Gulf of Mexico oil-spill cleanup this summer, 150,000 people signed a petition and the sea turtles received extra protections a few days later. Those are just a few amazing examples of what you've done. Know that we -- and all the wildlife that the Center fights for every day -- are grateful to you for speaking out and making a difference.
So . . . thank you.
Check out some other actions you can take now. And have a happy Thanksgiving.
Photo credits: ExtinctionCrisis.org ad; California condor by David Clendenen, USFWS; jaguar (c) Robin Silver; Buck Creek, Kentucky by Tierra Curry; crowd in Manhattan courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Futurebird; power plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/luchegorsk.ru; Atlantic bluefin tuna (c) Paul Colley; Indiana bat by Adam Mann, Environmental Solutions and Innovations; Great Lakes gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Sakarri; loggerhead sea turtle hatchling courtesy USFWS.
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