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Los Angeles Joins Call for Action on Global Warming

Los Angeles

Big news from our Clean Air Cities campaign: Los Angeles is the latest -- and largest -- city to join the call to our national leaders to finally address the global climate crisis. The city council in L.A., where global warming is expected to triple the number of days warmer than 95 degrees, voted unanimously on Wednesday for a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to use the Clean Air Act to cut greenhouse gas pollution.

The Center for Biological Diversity started the Clean Air Cities campaign last year to get city leaders around the country to speak out on the climate crisis and the importance of the Clean Air Act. So far, more than 25 cites representing more than 12 million people have joined the campaign. Others include Chicago, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Tampa.

Your city could be next. Learn more at our Clean Air Cities Web page, find out how to help with our take-action toolbox and get more from KPCC News, Southern California's public radio network

Court Upholds EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules

Smokestacks The fight to curb climate change got another boost Tuesday in a ruling by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which upheld, in their entirety, the Environmental Protection Agency's rules for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Now that the D.C. Circuit has affirmed the reality of the climate crisis and EPA's duty and ability to address the problem, it's time for the agency to aggressively combat the most serious social and environmental threat of our age," said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, of the decision. "All parties need to put politics aside right away and work toward the solutions that are so readily available -- because the moral case for action could not be stronger."

Read more in our press release.

Toxic Lead Ammo Causing Condor Poisoning Epidemic

California condor

A study released Monday confirmed what the Center for Biological Diversity has long known: Lead bullets are causing an epidemic of often-fatal lead poisoning in endangered California condors. Environmental toxicologists concluded that the lead poisoning of these rare birds is preventing their recovery -- and could lead to extinction. Condors and other animals scavenge on game shot with lead ammo and consume lead fragments that enter their bloodstreams, sickening or killing them. These birds almost went extinct once before, when the last 22 individuals were pulled from the wild for captive breeding in the 1980s. Now hundreds fly free in California and the Southwest -- but this fledgling population is still threatened by lead poisoning, along with millions of other birds and wildlife poisoned by spent toxic lead each year.

The study examined more than 1,150 wild-condor blood samples; 48 percent of the birds had lead levels so high that they could've died without treatment.

The Center and allies sued the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month to force steps to control this crisis. We also filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service for legal violations on Arizona's Kaibab National Forest because of failures to control toxic lead ammunition, the leading cause of death for Arizona's condors.

Read more in Nature, then take action against needless lead poisoning.

Suit Targets Delayed Protections for False Killer Whales

False killer whale

The National Marine Fisheries Service has sailed past a deadline to enact a plan to reduce the number of false killer whales killed by Hawaii's longline fishery. These large dolphins survive only 10 percent of encounters with the longline fishing industry -- and the Center for Biological Diversity, represented by Earthjustice, is suing to get the rare mammals the protections they should have received last December.

False killer whales only calve every seven years, and their population within 87 miles of the Hawaiian islands -- the "insular stock" -- is falling prey to longline fishing, with losses of 9 percent every year since 1989. The population outside this area is declining by 4 times the rates a population can sustain. These highly social creatures most often drown in the lines, while the few that escape either starve or die of wound infections.

The Center is suing the Service, prompting it to move forward with common-sense solutions that both satisfy the fishing industry and save these amazing marine mammals.

Read more in the Honolulu Civil Beat

Scary Sea-level Rise Predicted for Both Coasts

Sea rise map

A new report from the National Research Council predicts global sea levels are likely to rise 2 to 3 times higher within this century than previously thought -- between 2 to 4 feet by 2100. On the West Coast, California could see a foot of sea-level rise in 20 years, and as much as 51/2 feet by the end of the century. And a large earthquake could cause the sea level to jump suddenly another 3 feet or more.

Another study, released Monday by the U.S. Geological Survey, found that sea levels along a stretch of the East Coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts are rising 4 times faster than the global average, putting major cities like New York and Boston at severe risk of flooding. But instead of acting to curb climate change and reduce carbon to 350 parts per million, right-wing politicians in Washington are attacking the Clean Air Act, our nation's best hope for lowering carbon emissions.

"Today's warning, coming from our country's leading scientific advisors, sends an urgent message to our president and other policymakers: We need strong action, right now, to avert climate catastrophe," said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Learn more about these studies and why we need to reduce global carbon to 350 parts per million in the San Jose Mercury News, or visit our 350 or Bust page

Grand Canyon Uranium Mine Re-approved Without Re-analysis

Grand Canyon

Would you let a uranium mine in the Grand Canyon watershed reopen based on impact studies done two dozen years ago? The U.S. Forest Service is allowing Denison Mines Corp. to begin excavating the "Canyon Mine" -- south of Grand Canyon National Park on the Kaibab National Forest -- without updating its 26-year-old "environmental impact statement" looking at the mine's impacts on surrounding lands, waters and wildlife. The Service claims no new public review or analysis is needed.

But, says the Center for Biological Diversity's Taylor McKinnon, in fact we've learned plenty in the past quarter-century that could, and should, affect the decision to reopen. "We now know uranium mining threatens permanent, irretrievable damage to Grand Canyon's watershed. This dangerous proposal should never have been approved back in 1986, and rubber-stamping it a generation later is an insult to the public, American Indian tribes and Grand Canyon National Park."

The Canyon Mine lies within the 1 million-acre watershed where new uranium mining was banned by the Obama administration in January, after much work in and out of court by the Center and a large coalition of allies, including our supporters.

Read more in our press release and find out about our tireless defense of the Grand Canyon.

Feds Extend Own Deadline to Protect Hawaiian Monk Seal Habitat

Hawaiian monk sealThe National Marine Fisheries Service is extending its deadline for deciding how much habitat to protect for endangered Hawaiian monk seals. The final decision on federally protected "critical habitat," prompted by a 2008 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, was due June 2.

The proposal calls for the protection of 11,000 square miles of coastal areas in the main Hawaiian Islands as critical habitat for the seals, which number approximately 1,100 animals and are among the most endangered marine mammals in the world.

Hawaiian monk seals have lived in the Hawaiian archipelago for millions of years, yet their population is now declining by about 4 percent per year. Monk seals on the main islands are giving birth to healthy pups, and this population is essential to the seals' recovery. Critical habitat there would help management and prevent federal activities that might harm monk seal habitat. 

Read more in The Republic and learn about the Center's work to save the Hawaiian monk seal.

Florida Freshwater Springs at Risk

Black rail

Florida has 700 freshwater springs -- and they're all in trouble, degraded by a century of unbridled development.

One of the loveliest and diverse of these, Silver Springs -- with species including anhingas (slender, long beaked water birds), native hibiscus and alligators lounging in the stream it has fed -- is in bad trouble. Its springs now barely bubble up and are swathed in invasive grasses and coated with algae. The culprit is overconsumption of groundwater to slake the thirsts of a skyrocketing human population.

Florida's freshwater species need the protections of the Endangered Species Act. The Center last month filed a formal notice of intent to sue over the protection of 10 Florida freshwater-dependent species, from the purple skimmer dragonfly to the black rail. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already determined these species "may warrant" federal protection -- but it hasn't moved to protect them. We're making sure it decides soon.

Read more on Silver Springs in The New York Times and get details on our work to expedite protections in our press release.

World's Oldest, Rarest Giant Tortoise Dies Childless -- R.I.P., Lonesome George

Lonesome George

Lonesome George -- the last known Pinta Island giant Galápagos tortoise -- was needed as a stud tortoise if his subspecies was to escape complete extinction. But sadly, George never developed a penchant for the ladies.

In 2008, the 80- or 90-something reptile (a tortoise's reproductive prime!) finally hooked up with some giant, shelled hotties of a related subspecies, in the hope that they'd help him out. Alas, most of the eggs were infertile, and scientists guessed George might be sterile.

And now the last of his kind has shuffled off this mortal coil; George died late last month, and now will never be the Galapagos' number-one dad. Rest in peace, George. We won't forget.

Read more and see a video in The Washington Post.

Wild & Weird: Shagged by a Rare and Pudgy Parrot

KakapoWhen zoologist Mark Carwardine headed into the dense jungle landscape of New Zealand in search of one of the last remaining wild kakapos -- pudgy, nocturnal parrots that can't fly -- little did he know he was entering a meat-market singles scene.

Male kakapos are polyamorous birds known for sexual freedom and inquisitiveness, which extends, it seems, even to British zoologists. At Carwardine's meeting, the kakapo leapt onto his neck and engaged in a carnal, wing-flapping gyration of ecstasy. Unfortunately for the lovestruck bird, his tryst with Carwardine may prove a sterile venture.

Kakapos are the only species of flightless parrot in the world, and use a rare tactic of "freezing" when threatened -- and they're critically endangered. These birds' niche adaptations worked well for the species for thousands of years, but European introduction of nonnative weasels, ferrets and stoats has taken its toll on their success.

See the video "Shagged by Rare Parrot" (complete with impromptu commentary by Stephen Fry). We promise it's worth your while.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Lonesome George courtesy Flickr Commons/Davey; Los Angeles courtesy Flickr Commons/kla4067; smokestacks courtesy NASA; California condor by Scott Frier, USFWS; false killer whale; sea rise map courtesy Flickr Commons/Maitri; Grand Canyon courtesy Flickr Commons/Mordac; Hawaiian monk seal courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Kent Backman; black rail courtesy USGS; Lonesome George courtesy Wikimedia Commons/puneymerk; kakapo courtesy Flickr Commons/Mark Whatmough.

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