Keystone XL Delayed, Rally a Big Success -- Thank You
News is breaking today that the State Department will delay its decision on the Keystone XL pipeline to allow consideration of an alternative route avoiding Nebraska's ecologically sensitive Sandhills and the critically important Ogallala Aquifer. While this doesn't mean Keystone XL and all of its problems are going away (or that this fight is over), it does mean we're being heard -- thanks to you.
5,600 Center supporters signed up to attend the White House rally Sunday with our staff and polar bear mascot Frostpaw, and clearly the 12,000 souls who jammed the sidewalks sent President Barack Obama a powerful message: The Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster that must be stopped. The next day, the State Department inspector general started a “special review” to determine whether the department had correctly analyzed the pipeline's impacts. And today there was news of a delay to consider rerouting the pipeline.
As proposed, the 1,700-mile pipeline would wreak havoc on habitat for endangered species -- from the whooping crane to the woodland caribou to the piping plover -- while transporting filthy tar sands oil all the way from Canada to Texas. The Center filed suit against the project last month because crews were clearing Nebraska grasslands and removing thousands of endangered American burying beetles even though the project hasn't been approved. We'll continue fighting to make sure this disaster-in-the-making doesn't harm endangered species and ravage precious wildlands. Stay tuned to learn how you can help.
Read more in The Washington Post and check out our new Keystone XL Web page.
Are you fired up about stopping Keystone XL, defending endangered species, fighting climate change or other issues important to the Center? Join us on our brand-new Google+ page and talk about it.
Obama Offshore Oil Plan Disastrous for Wildlife
Has President Obama already forgotten last year's devastating Gulf of Mexico spill? Marine animals and human communities are still suffering from BP's 200-million-gallon oil gusher, yet the government just announced plans to expand drilling in the Gulf. The new plans will also allow dangerous drilling in Alaska's sensitive Beaufort and Chukchi seas, where polar bears, walruses and ice seals are already hurting from melting sea ice and oil spills are impossible to clean up. Meanwhile, ramping up drilling will deepen U.S. dependence on the fossil fuels driving us toward climate catastrophe.
The Center for Biological Diversity has kept oil drilling out of the Beaufort and Chukchi for four years and exposed the lax regulation behind the oil-spill disaster in the Gulf -- and we're still fighting hard for both places. Said Miyoko Sakashita, head of our oceans program, "Last year's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was supposed to be a wake-up call about the dangers of offshore drilling, but it looks like President Obama hit the snooze button and slept right through it."
Read more in The New York Times and watch an interview on Alaska's KTVA.
Watch Polar Bears With the Center
With global warming heating up Arctic sea ice so that it comes on later and melts earlier, polar bears have less time to hunt for seals and therefore emptier bellies. On Canada's Hudson Bay, their increasing hunger is clear. Center for Biological Diversity staffers are up there this month watching as polar bears -- after spending the summer fasting on land -- wait for sea ice to form so they can hunt the seals. Twenty years ago, Hudson Bay bears returned to the ice around Nov. 8. Last year, they had to wait until the first week of December. The longer the bears wait to hunt, the more tenuous their continued existence.
"The bears aren't adapted for hunting on land, and for the most part, they don't even try," said Center attorney Rebecca Noblin, who was watching the bears last week. "They wait, many of them thin and lethargic, for a chance to go out on the ice and hunt for seals."
You can learn more about the bears' plight -- and see some stunning images of them -- next week. The Center's Kassie Siegel (who wrote the petition to protect polar bears) is taking part in Tundra Connections, a series of free webcasts by Polar Bears International that lets you log on and watch bears on Hudson Bay. The next one is 11:30 a.m. PST and 2:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
Learn more about Tundra Connections. Then read a blog post by Rebecca, check out videos of Hudson Bay polar bears and learn more here about these great white bears of the North.
Wolf Protections Demanded in Court
As northern Rockies gray wolves die by the dozens at the hands of hunters and state agents, the Center for Biological Diversity is working double-time to earn them back the Endangered Species Act protections they need to survive. In an unprecedented move last spring, Congress -- not wildlife biologists -- removed the wolves' protections, violating the Constitution by ignoring its separation of powers doctrine. Center attorneys were in Los Angeles on Tuesday to prove that point to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
After protections were lifted, the state of Idaho authorized a hunting and trapping season with no limit on how many wolves can be killed; the state has only committed to maintaining 150 wolves out of the state's 1,000. Montana has set a hunting quota of 220 wolves, with a goal of reducing the population from an estimated 566 wolves to 425 -- a 25 percent decline. And in Oregon, where the wolf population includes 25 wolves at most, state wildlife officials killed two wolves earlier this year; they planned to kill two more, but thanks to your support and quick action by the Center and allies they've been temporarily stopped by our lawsuit.
Read more in The Washington Post and learn about our work to restore gray wolves.
Suit Defies Polluting Power Plant in California
To stop further pollution of one of the most polluted areas in the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity and allies have sued over a flawed air permit given to central California's Avenal Power Plant. Proposed for San Joaquin Valley, the plant wouldn't comply with new Clean Air Act rules limiting emissions of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, two pollutants extremely harmful to public health -- and it would emit high levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to boot. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted it a pollution permit anyway.
"Instead of retreating from pollution reductions again and again, the EPA should do its job and protect Americans' health by enforcing the environmental laws that have served this nation so well for 40 years," said Center attorney Vera Pardee. The Clean Air Act is our best tool in place for combating global warming and preserving public health from pollution.
Read more the Hanford Sentinel, learn about our Clean Air Cities campaign and become one of the Center's Clean Air Advocates.
Virginia Mountain About to Be Blown Up for Coal -- Save Ison Rock Ridge
Your voice is needed to save a mountain from being blown to bits for coal. Ison Rock Ridge, a mountain in Virginia, is slated to be destroyed for a 1,200-acre mountaintop-removal coal mine. Mountaintop removal is a devastating form of coal mining where the top-third of a mountain is blasted off with explosives and the waste is pushed directly into streams, killing aquatic life and poisoning downstream communities.
Ison Rock Ridge sits above some of the most biologically diverse rivers on the planet and five small communities that are home to some 1,800 people. If the project is approved, the mine will bury headwater streams that feed the creeks running through the communities and destroy the quality of life of people living nearby; mining would start just 300 feet from some of their homes.
The Environmental Protection Agency can deny the permit for mining on Ison Rock Ridge. Please take action now to urge the EPA and White House to save Ison Rock Ridge and ban mountaintop-removal mining in Appalachia. Then check out the Virginia Rising anti-mountaintop-removal rally in D.C. on Nov. 16 -- attend if you can -- and learn more about this destructive form of mining.
Arctic Wilderness, Species Need Protection -- Take Action
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the country's most splendid remaining wild places, home to polar bears, musk oxen, wolves, birds and many other animals. Global warming is pushing these species to the brink as it melts sea ice, thaws permafrost, raises the sea level and dries up lakes. Meanwhile oil companies are itching more than ever to drill there -- ruining habitat and driving global warming.
This year, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will make significant decisions on the refuge's future. He needs to hear from us that it is critical to protect this landmark's irreplaceable resources, character and living residents.
Take action now to demand that Salazar protect the refuge area and learn about our campaign to save the Arctic from oil development.
Vote Now to Help the Center Save Biodiversity
Here's an easy way to help earn money for the Center for Biological Diversity: the free click of a button.
Each year, the philanthropy-minded company Working Assets and its CREDO Mobile branch donate a portion of their members' charges to a select group of progressive organizations like ours. We're excited to be on the ballot in 2011, but the amount of money we receive at the end of the year will depend on how many of you vote for us. If you're not a Working Assets or CREDO customer, all you have to do is sign up as a CREDO action member, which lets you take online action with CREDO on important issues. Then you can go to the Working Assets voting page and assign maximum points to the Center. It's easy, quick and very helpful to our cause of saving species, from the great polar bear to the tiny Miami blue butterfly.
Please support us -- sign up and vote here now. Then tell your friends to do the same.
Wild & Weird: Baby Lumpsucker Makes a Splash in Britain
It wasn't exactly the deadliest catch, but a crabber in Cornwall, Britain recently pulled in an oddball specimen: a baby lumpsucker.
Lumpsuckers are extraordinary looking fish with no scales, a near-spherical shape, warty nodules often adorning their heads and bodies, and small, conical teeth for chomping on invertebrates. A poor swimmer, this fish also has pelvic fins that have evolved into adhesive discs it uses to attach itself to rocks and other parts of the ocean floor. We can't decide whether it was named for sucking on lumps or for being a lumpy-looking sucker.
Lumpsuckers prefer the colder waters of Greenland and are a rare sight near Britain. But the recently caught specimen was all alone, and just a baby -- measuring less than an inch -- when it turned up in its Cornish captor's crab pot. Luckily it found a new home at a local aquarium, where it's been a highly popular attraction, deemed both "incredibly comical and very cute."
See a photo and read more about it on the BBC.
Photo credits: Frostpaw and Barbara Kingsolver (c) Bill Snape; Frostwaw at Keystone XL Rally; Pacific walrus by Captain Budd Cristman, NOAA; polar bear (c) Rebecca Noblin; gray wolf courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Todd Ryburn; power plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Adilettante; Black Mountain, Virginia (c) Kent Kessinger, flight courtesy Southwings; musk ox (c) Taylor McKinnon; Miami blue butterfly (c) Jaret C. Daniels, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera Biodiversity; baby lampsuckers courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Fisheries Science Center.
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