Obama Halts Keystone XL Pipeline
President Barack Obama finally heeded calls from the public, including thousands of Center for Biological Diversity supporters, and rejected the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline this Wednesday. The decision, which comes as a result of very hard work by green-energy advocates like the Center's Amy Atwood and 350.org's Bill McKibben, is an important step toward protecting our climate, endangered species and wild places. But Obama also left the door open for a similar pipeline in the future -- so we know this battle isn't over yet.
The 1,700-mile Canada-to-Texas pipeline would be bad news for so many reasons: encouraging the destruction of boreal forests in Canada, deepening our addiction to climate-killing fossil fuels, jeopardizing hundreds of rivers and streams and cutting through the heart of hundreds of species' habitat.
Obama's decision denying Keystone XL is already under heavy fire from Republicans in Congress who are almost certainly going to try to overturn it. We'll be fighting them every step of the way with your support -- and will be sure to let you know what you can do to ensure this destructive project never becomes a reality.
Read a column on Keystone by the Center's Noah Greenwald in the The Huffington Post.
Mysterious Disease Has Killed up to 6.7 Million Bats
In major news this week the crisis facing North American bats is far worse than previously thought. A new estimate, released Tuesday, says as many as 6.7 million bats have already been killed by white-nose syndrome -- a mysterious, fast-moving disease first discovered in the United States six years ago. The latest estimate is dramatically higher than one issued in 2009, which estimated the disease had killed 1 million bats.
The outbreak is the worst wildlife epidemic in North America's history and the Center for Biological Diversity has helped lead the campaign to protect bats since the outbreak began. Congress recently allotted $4 million for research and management of the disease, but much more work, and money, is needed.
"America's bats are in the throes of an unprecedented crisis, and some species face the very real prospect of extinction," said the Center's bat expert, Mollie Matteson. "While it's heartening to see some money allocated for white-nose syndrome, this new mortality estimate is a wake-up call that we need to do more, and fast."
Read more in the The Washington Post and like the Center's Save Our Bats page on Facebook.
Suit Seeks Endangered Species Act Protection for Alabama Shad
The Alabama shad was once abundant across the Southeast, from Florida to Oklahoma. After decades of pollution and dams on of our waterways, only a few fragmented populations of this rare fish are left. That's why the Center for Biological Diversity sued this week to get Endangered Species Act protection for the shad.
The silver-sided, foot-long shad is the only fish in Alabama that lives mostly in the ocean but migrates to rivers to spawn. If it's going to survive and recover, it needs the protection of the Act, which has saved 99 percent of species designated for protection over the past four decades. The National Marine Fisheries Service has recognized the dangers facing the shad since 1997, but has failed to act to save it. Here's hoping our suit gets this fish the protections it deserves.
Read more in our press release and learn more about the extinction crisis facing hundreds of other species in the Southeast.
Protect Arctic Animals From Oil Spills -- Take Action
More than 600 whales and dolphins have been stranded in the Gulf of Mexico since the catastrophic BP oil spill, and hundreds of dead sea turtles have been washed ashore. Yet the Obama administration plans to expand ocean drilling in the next five years. Its new plan will divvy up the waters off the Alaskan coast among oil companies, opening up a pristine ecosystem -- home to sensitive, imperiled wildlife like polar bears, ice seals, whales and walruses -- to destructive drilling. The Coast Guard itself admits there's zero oil-spill response capacity in the remote, ice-packed and stormy waters of the Arctic Ocean.
For the past half-decade, the Center for Biological Diversity and our Alaskan allies have successfully blocked offshore oil development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas through a series of lawsuits. But now we're on the brink of a terrible decision, so please take action to tell President Obama: No more risky drilling in our oceans.
Watch a video of our Alaska director, Rebecca Noblin, explaining why we need to shift to clean energy that will keep us safe from both spills and climate change; then learn more about the Center's work against Alaska oil development.
Fixing Climate Is About Carbon -- and Other Pollutants Too
A new study highlights the importance of tackling methane and soot as contributors to global warming. The findings are no surprise for the climate team at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been working for years to reduce both pollutants, not only because these reductions are essential to saving the Arctic but also for their immediate public-health benefits. Soot (also known as black carbon) is especially bad: These particulates from diesel engines, cook stoves and wood incinerators absorb solar radiation and drive up the Earth's temperature -- and also clog the lungs of those who breathe them in.
The new study, which appeared in a recent issue of the journal Science, identified 14 measures that could reduce warming from these pollutants by 90 percent, reduce total Arctic warming by about two-thirds over the next 30 years, and save millions of lives through direct health impacts alone. These steps, combined with rapid and sustained carbon pollution cuts, constitute a real solution to the global climate crisis.
Learn more about our work on black carbon and find out how the effects of climate change are already setting in.
Report: Top 10 U.S. Species Threatened by Fossil Fuels
Hot off the presses from the Endangered Species Coalition, in which the Center for Biological Diversity is a partner, comes a new report called Fueling Extinction: How Dirty Energy Drives Wildlife to the Brink. The report lists the 10 U.S. species most urgently threatened by our country's addiction to fossil fuels.
The 10 species include seven the Center is already working to save: bowhead whales, dunes sagebrush lizards, greater sage grouse, Kentucky arrow darters, spectacled eiders, tan riffleshells and whooping cranes. Besides these animals, chosen by scientists, one more Center species was chosen by activists as a top-tier target for protection: polar bears.
Threatened by oil spills, mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia, and plans to develop the Arctic for oil and build destructive pipelines like the Keystone XL, the 10 high-risk species on the list all stand to gain from the same steps we need to take to save ourselves from catastrophic global warming: immediate, dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Click here to read our press release and get a copy of the report, and read more here about the Center's work to shift the United States -- and the world -- to saner energy sources.
Suit Filed to Save Mississippi Woodpecker From Logging
The Center for Biological Diversity and our local allies just filed suit to stop logging on endangered red-cockaded woodpecker habitat on Mississippi's Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, charged with managing the refuge to save rare wildlife, has allowed increased logging in the woodpecker's home despite the fact that the bird's numbers are declining and logging was a major cause of that decline in the first place.
"National wildlife refuges are meant to be safe homes for America's animals and plants, not large-scale commercial logging sites," said the Center's Public Lands Forest Director Marc Fink.
Fish and Wildlife prepared a conservation plan for the refuge in 2004 that identified a target population of 88 groups of the rare woodpeckers. At the time, there were 45 groups. Today only about 31 groups are left; meanwhile logging has significantly increased. The agency routinely issues permits to timber companies without environmental analyses or public notice. Even long-time volunteers at the refuge are not told of logging plans.
Read our press release to find out more.
Take Action Against Massive Puerto Rico Pipeline
Who would name one of the single most environmentally destructive projects in Puerto Rico's recent history the "Green Way" pipeline? That's what "Vía Verde" means in Spanish, and it's a massive, species- and habitat-destroying pipeline proposed by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. Locals more appropriately call the project el gasoducto de la muerte -- "the pipeline of death" -- because of residents' fear of a deadly explosion.
In addition to endangering the homes and lives of Puerto Rican people, the pipeline would also harm a long list of imperiled animals and plants, from the Puerto Rican boa to the Puerto Rican crested toad to the leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles -- as well as a tiny, newly discovered frog called the coquí llanero. The project would cut the island in half, leaving a 150- to 300-foot-wide path of destruction through some of the island's most important biodiversity hotspots and affecting 1,114 ecologically sensitive acres.
Take action against this dangerous project now, and then learn details about the Center for Biological Diversity's work to fight it.
Rare Treetop Animal Creeps Closer to Protection
After its old-growth forest home was logged extensively, the Humboldt pine marten was thought extinct for 50 years until its rediscovery in 1996. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the very rare, cat-sized predator may qualify for Endangered Species Act protection, and it will conduct a formal review. The Center for Biological Diversity first filed a petition for the marten's protection in 2010.
An elusive member of the weasel family with short limbs and a bushy tail, the Humboldt marten has disappeared from 95 percent of its historic range in Northern California and Oregon. With fewer than 100 members left, the martens are in danger from the poor genetic diversity that derives from fractured populations and sheer scarcity: Each struggling population is believed to be in decline. They move only under cover of closed canopies and shrubs, so restoring their native old-growth forests is vital to their recovery.
Read more in the The Sacramento Bee.
Wild & Weird: Snowboarding Crow Caught on Video
Crows have long been considered highly intelligent birds; some researchers even refer to them as "feathered apes" (though admittedly the term hasn't spread like wildfire). But there are always those who want to bring a brother down, which is no doubt why a recently shot video of a crow apparently sledding on a Russian roof has some observers claiming the bird can't really be having fun, being an animal and all. No, crow-fun detractors argue, it must be trying to eat its makeshift bottle-cap sled.
See for yourself here and make your own call. Also, read more about the brains of so-called "feathered apes."
Photo credits: whooping crane (c) Robin Silver; whooping cranes courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/USFWS; Indiana bat courtesy USFWS; Alabama shad courtesy Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; diesel train courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/mickLumix; greater sage grouse (c) Carol Davis; Red-cockaded woodpecker courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/US Army Environmental Command; coqui llanero (c) Neftali Rios; Humboldt pine marten courtesy USFWS; crow courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Ingrid Taylar.
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