SEC Asked to Check Out Suspicious Shell Drilling Plans
Shell Oil is still poised to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer, with federal approval. Since 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity has stopped oil drilling in the Arctic's Bering and Chukchi seas -- habitat necessary to the survival of polar bears, walruses, seals, whales and many other threatened species.
Now, continuing our fight to save these animals' pristine home, we've asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate some of Shell's statements about its readiness to drill in the Arctic. The letter we sent notes our concerns about the difficulty of cleaning up any kind of oil spill in the frozen North, which boasts some of the world's harshest waters.
"Shell's claims that it's ready to drill must be closely scrutinized," said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center. "The BP spill caused tremendous damage to the environment and local communities, costing billions. Shell's drilling in remote, icy waters risks even more."
Get more from the Kansas City infoZine and learn about the Center's campaign against Arctic oil development.
Center Opens Florida Office
To expand our work for sea turtles, Florida panthers, Miami blue butterflies and hundreds of other southeastern species, the Center for Biological Diversity has opened a brand-new office in Florida. Center attorney and native Floridian Jacki Lopez is heading the office, and she's already enjoying being on the scene for some of our most important campaigns -- from saving elkhorn and staghorn corals off the Florida coast to forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to research the effects of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil-spill disaster.
"I'm thrilled the Center has solidified its presence in the region by opening a local office," said Lopez. "With thousands of miles of coastline, a multitude of rivers and streams, and millions of acres of forest, the Southeast is blessed with an incredibly rich diversity of wildlife."
Read more in our press release.
Stop the Polar Bear Extinction Plan -- Take Action
Without our swift and decisive help, more than two-thirds of the world's polar bears will likely be gone by 2050 -- pushed off the planet by shrinking sea ice.
Yet the Obama administration recently announced plans to reissue a Bush-era regulation that sharply limits protections for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. This regulation refuses to address the leading threat to polar bears: greenhouse gas pollution that's warming and melting the Arctic.
Unless the public speaks out forcefully, this polar bear extinction plan will go into effect. But there's hope: We have the technology to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and we have strong, successful laws that can help make it happen.
Take action now by telling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to drop this misguided extinction plan and replace it with meaningful action for saving the polar bear.
Wyoming to Allow Killing of Hundreds of Wolves
Wyoming has passed legislation and an amendment to its "wolf-management plan" that will meet federal approval and trigger the removal of Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the state. The new law and plan -- to take effect later this year when the wolves are removed from the endangered species list -- increase the area in which Wyoming wolves could be shot without limit.
"Wyoming's wolf-management plan is a recipe for slaughter that will only serve to incite more of the prejudice against wolves that led to their destruction in the first place," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Michael Robinson. The Center has been working for two decades to save and recover wolves throughout the West.
Read more in the Summit County Citizens Voice; learn about our work to save northern Rockies gray wolves.
Suit Launched to Keep Grazing From Hurting Tortoises on 300,000 Acres
To help save desert tortoises and other rare creatures of the Mojave desert, the Center for Biological Diversity on Monday filed a notice of intent to sue two federal agencies, plus a southern Nevada county, for not protecting the tortoises from livestock grazing.
Cattle roaming the arid Southwest hurt the desert tortoise by wreaking havoc on its home -- destroying native vegetation, disturbing natural processes, taking up precious water, spreading invasive weeds and more. But the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Clark County, Nev., have failed to take steps required under the Endangered Species Act to guard the desert tortoise's federally protected "critical habitat" on more than 300,000 acres.
The desert tortoise, with its venerable visage, impressively large shell and elephantine hind legs, has been roaming the American desert since the Pleistocene and now risks winking out.
Read more in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and learn about the Center's work on Nevada, desert tortoises and harmful livestock grazing.
Legal Action to Save 35 Snails From Las Vegas Water Grab
Standing in the way of a plan to pump up to 57 billion gallons of water every year from the Great Basin to Las Vegas sprawl are 35 springsnails and the Center for Biological Diversity. The proposed pipeline would, according to the developer's own environmental projections, drain 305 springs and lower the water table by 200 feet.
The snails -- whose federal protection the Center petitioned for in 2008 -- are part of last year's landmark agreement between the Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that set a timeline to move 757 species toward Endangered Species Act safeguards. The Center has given notice that the Service must decide whether or not the snails will receive protection; if it doesn't, we'll have to take legal action.
The springsnails are an integral part of their ecosystem, cleaning the water of decaying matter and algae and providing food for amphibians and birds. They would be the first species to disappear along with the water, but they would not be the last. Other wildlife, rural communities and future generations in the Great Basin are also threatened by the pipeline.
Read a CBS News story on the current appeal to kill the pipeline, then read more about the Center's work to save Great Basin springsnails.
Colbert Rips Anti-immigration Group on Global Warming
In a scathing rebuke, Stephen Colbert last week ripped into a television ad by Californians for Population Stabilization that blames immigrants for global warming.
Cynically co-opting the very real problem of overconsumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the ad targets not America's biggest consumers but the poorest of the poor -- the people who produce the smallest amount of greenhouse gases.
Colbert's faux-conservative deadpan response? "Immigrants cause global warming. I never noticed the connection before, but it makes sense. It is always an immigrant who is cutting my grass with that exhaust-spewing lawnmower." Then he goes on to wonder if anti-immigration activists are working with the Klan "to make their cross burnings carbon neutral." Ouch!
Our planet and our nation are surely overpopulated and overconsuming. The toll of 7 billion people is driving other earthlings extinct at an unprecedented rate and making it difficult for poor communities to rise out of grinding, intergenerational poverty. It makes adapting to a warming planet dangerously more difficult. But closing borders and blaming the poor is not part of the solution -- it's part of the problem.
Check out Colbert's spot-on skit, then pop over to the Center's 7 Billion and Counting website to learn about overpopulation impacts, why the world needs free, universal access to reproductive health services, and how what's at stake is not just "our" community but the quality of life of all people and all living things.
Bat-killing Epidemic Strikes Two Treasured National Landmarks -- Take Action
This week white-nose syndrome, the fungal infection that has already killed nearly 7 million bats and is still spreading like wildfire westward across the United States, has reached two high-profile sites: C&O Canal National Historical Park, a popular nature retreat for residents of the Washington D.C. area, and Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, a Civil War battleground that sprawls from Tennessee into Georgia.
"Each new report of this disease's catastrophic march across the country reaffirms this is the worst wildlife epidemic in U.S. history and demands decisive action from our leaders in Washington," said Mollie Matteson, the Center for Biological Diversity's bat specialist.
For years the Center has advocated for increased funding for research on the disease and restricted cave access to save bats. We're now supporting passage of the Wildlife Disease Emergency Act under consideration in Congress.
Take action to tell your senators to pass the Wildlife Disease Emergency Act, then learn all about white-nose syndrome and what we're doing about it.
Challenge Filed to Destructive Northern California Freeway
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed a lawsuit on Tuesday opposing a four-lane freeway in Mendocino County, Calif., that would run through extensive wetlands and the headwaters of native salmon streams, also harming oak woodlands and endangered plants like the Baker's meadowfoam -- a delicate, flowered annual herb.
The Willits Bypass, being pushed by the California Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, would damage wildlife habitat and biological resources in Little Lake Valley, including nearly 100 acres of wetlands, and would require the largest wetlands fill permit in Northern California in the past 50 years.
The Center is also in court against Caltrans working to stop a highway-widening project in Northern California that would damage old-growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park, a locally famous and treasured grove of amazing redwood trees.
Read more about the Willits Bypass in our press release and learn about saving Richardson Grove.
Wild & Weird: Mystery Pelican Dieoff in Peru Linked to Dolphin Deaths?
Scientists are on the trail of a grim mystery in Peru. This week -- following the deaths of at least 800 dolphins on the nation's beaches over the past couple of months -- Peruvian authorities announced they're also investigating the demise of more than 500 pelicans, along with hundreds of other birds, over the past two weeks on the same stretch of coast.
It's unknown whether the mass deaths of different species are linked; the Peruvian deputy environment minister told CNN that the dolphins -- 90 percent of which were long-beaked common dolphins -- may have died from an outbreak of Morbillivirus or Brucella bacteria. Officials say the dolphins' deaths were not due to starvation, fisheries interactions, poisoning with pesticides or biotoxins or heavy-metal contamination.
Get more from CNN.
Photo credits: Florida panther courtesy Flickr Commons/Monica R.; Pacific walrus by Captain Budd Christman, NOAA; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr Commons/Brian Gratwick; polar bear (c) David S. Isenberg; gray wolf courtesy USFWS Pacific; desert tortoise courtesy Flickr Commons/sandman; Amargosa River courtesy Flickr Commons/Stan Shebs; Stephen Colbert courtesy Wikimedia Commons/David Shankbone; Indiana bat courtesy USFWS; Richardson Grove; common long-beaked dolphin courtesy NMFS, Southwest Fisheries Science Center.
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