Tiny Snail, Big Protections in New Mexico
Chupadera springsnails, which live only in two springs in New Mexico's Chupadera Mountains, are finally protected under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the step last week as part of the Center for Biological Diversity's 2011 agreement to speed up protection decisions for 757 rare species around the country.
The Chupadera snails, whose home springs are beset by water pumping, cattle grazing and climate change, have been on the waiting list for protection since 1984. One-tenth of an inch long and alive for only a year, they clean water sources by feeding on algae and bacteria and are themselves a sign of superb water quality. The Fish and Wildlife Service also designated 2 acres as "critical habitat" for the snails.
Read more in our press release and enjoy this Oregonian profile of one of the noble springsnail's most ardent defenders, Center conservation biologist Tierra Curry.
Shell Wants Weaker Rules for Arctic Drilling -- Take Action Now
Shell Oil now says its Arctic drillship can't meet air-quality pollution limits set out by the Environmental Protection Agency. So what's the oil giant's solution? Ask the EPA to weaken the air-pollution rules that protect public health and the environment so it can rush forward with Arctic drilling plans.
There's more: Shell's same 571-foot Noble Discoverer ship slipped its anchor in Alaska's Dutch Harbor on Saturday, drifting dangerously close to shore. It's the latest evidence that Shell has no business drilling for oil in the pristine Arctic. Drilling will pollute the air, risk catastrophic spills that can't be cleaned up and hurt polar bears, walruses and a suite of other Arctic species already suffering the effects of global warming. President Barack Obama has the power to call off this dangerous project, but he needs to feel the pressure.
Tell President Obama to reject Shell's excuses, then join the Center's Bill Snape for a day of action at EPA headquarters this Monday, July 23. We're going to show the Obama administration that it can't write off the health of Alaskan wildlife and people without a fight.
Clean Air Cities Campaign Adds Miami, Eugene, Burlington
Miami, Fla., Burlington, Vt., Eugene, Ore., and Teton County, Wyo., are the latest to join the Center for Biological Diversity's Clean Air Cities campaign, a growing network of cities around the country calling on President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to address the global climate crisis.
Thirty-one cities and one county, representing more than 13 million people, have now joined the campaign, each passing a resolution urging use of the Clean Air Act to reduce atmospheric carbon to 350 parts per million, the level needed to avoid runaway global warming.
Your city could be next. Learn more at our Clean Air Cities Web page and find out how to get involved through our take-action toolbox.
Lawsuit Launched to Save Rare Alaskan Wolves
The Center for Biological Diversity is taking legal action to make sure Alaska's Alexander Archipelago wolves get the protection they deserve. Last week we told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we planned to sue over its failure to act quickly to protect the wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The Center and Greenpeace petitioned for protection in August 2011; the agency had 90 days to determine whether protection was warranted but still hasn't announced a decision.
The Alexander Archipelago wolf is a rare subspecies of gray wolf found only in old-growth forests across islands in southeast Alaska. More than half of the old-growth forests that the wolves rely on for hunting, denning and raising pups are now gone. With the new Tongass National Forest plan, another 30 percent could be gone in the next 20 years.
Learn more about our suit at the Timber Wolf Information Network and about these amazing wolves at our Alexander Archipelago wolf page.
Condors Threatened by NRA Lead-poisoning Bills -- Take Action Now
One of the greatest threats to one of the world's rarest birds -- California condors -- needs to be addressed right now, as the National Rifle Association and its buddies in Congress insist on defending toxic lead bullets. The NRA is working hard to ensure that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can never prevent the needless lead poisoning of condors.
When condors scavenge carcasses shot with lead bullets, the lead can enter their bloodstream and poison them, often leading to painful deaths. The Center for Biological Diversity has led a multifaceted campaign to stop the poisoning, helping secure powerful new rules on lead ammo in condor habitat in California. But this spring, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to prevent the EPA from regulating toxic lead in hunting ammo. Now the NRA's political allies have snuck a rider onto another House bill that would similarly steal the fed's authority to regulate lead bullets (and lead fishing tackle) under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Please take action now to tell your senators to stop any pro-lead-poisoning, condor-killing legislation and learn about the Center's work to get the lead out. Then please consider a generous donation to our Condor Defense Fund.
Plan Will Help Protect California Whales From Ship Strikes
Ship strikes frequently kill whales in California's waters; now there's hope for relief. Federal maritime officials have OK'd a plan to help whales navigate San Francisco Bay. Starting next year, ships will be rerouted around some areas with high whale traffic, and extra work will be done to monitor whales and better understand where they're congregating.
The Center for Biological Diversity and allies last year petitioned for mandatory speed limits for ships traveling through California's marine sanctuaries. While the feds denied our request, the petition helped prompt these latest proposals for San Francisco Bay. California's waters are home to some of the country's rarest whales, including blue whales and humpback whales -- both of which have been recent victims of fatal ships strikes in the region.
Read more about the California plan in The Huffington Post and then about our latest filing to set ship speeds to protect whales in the Atlantic.
Settlement Requires Revisions to Plan for West's Energy Corridors
Under a new settlement reached by the Center for Biological Diversity, its partners and federal agencies, a Bush-era plan creating energy corridors across the western United States will be revised to reduce environmental harm. Announced in 2008, the plan connects coal and other fossil-fuel power plants to the West's electric grid; as first written, it missed vital opportunities for solar, wind and geothermal energy and threatened wild places.
"This landmark agreement could make a world of difference to renewable energy development -- and at the same time, minimize messy energy corridors on our public lands to avoid harm to wildlife, parks and wilderness," said the Center's Amy Atwood. "The Obama administration needs to seize the opportunity created by this settlement to do right by both nature and our energy future."
Read more about the agreement, now awaiting court approval, and the Center's work to reform energy development on public lands.
80,000 People Urge More Protection for Bluefin Tuna
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just got an unmistakable message from thousands of Center for Biological Diversity activists: Protect western Atlantic bluefin tuna. These incredible fish -- which can grow to 10 feet and swim 50 miles per hour -- have been hit hard by overfishing, huge bounties and the 2010 oil spill in their Gulf of Mexico spawning grounds. As the climate warms, scientists predict some of the tunas' spawning habitat will be too warm for reproduction by 2100.
If these fish are going to survive and recover, they need sustainable fishing levels. NOAA is looking at changes to how it manages the Atlantic bluefin fishery, and more than 80,000 people signed Center petitions, submitted this week, to pressure the agency to do right by the majestic bluefin. Thanks to everyone who spoke out.
Learn more about our campaign to save bluefin tuna.
Bill Would Finally Address Grazing Fees on Public Lands
Here's a crazy idea: How about finally tackling the absurdly low cost of allowing cows to graze on public lands? A new bill by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) would do just that. Nelson's legislation would hike the nonsensically low grazing fee, which applies to 258 million acres of public land, to a rate comparable to nearby private rangeland.
Right now, the livestock industry pays just $1.35 to graze one cow and calf for a month on public land. That's less than a nickel a day. It's not even enough to cover 15 percent of the costs for the government to administer the program, much less the environmental damage that grazing can do to the land and wildlife. (Grazing on private land can cost around $20 per month.) Nelson's bill would finally reform this upside-down public-lands policy -- something the Center's been urging for a long, long time.
Read more in The Atlantic.
Wild & Weird: Government Takes Bold Step, Denies Existence of Mermaids
At long last, the truth can be revealed, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: There's no such thing as mermaids. Yes, apparently the federal agency finally felt compelled to weigh in on the mermaid question -- no doubt in the face of much high-profile public controversy on the matter.
In a post on its website, the ocean agency stated: "Magical female figures first appear in cave paintings in the late Paleolithic (Stone Age) period some 30,000 years ago, when modern humans gained dominion over the land and, presumably, began to sail the seas . . . But are mermaids real? No evidence . . . has ever been found."
The Discovery Channel chimed in too, asserting it believes the agency has been contacted by numerous citizens regarding the existence of mermaids following an Animal Planet program "which used a documentary-style format for its science-fiction TV show titled 'Mermaids: The Body Found.' "
Should the Center for Biological Diversity unearth new evidence for the existence of fish-tailed maidens we'll obviously fight for their Endangered Species Act protection.
Read more in CBC News.
Photo credits: Humpback whale courtesy Flickr Commons/Paul Jones; Chupadera springsnail by Robert Hershler, Smithsonian; Pacific walrus courtesy USFWS; Miami courtesy Flickr Commons/batLO; Alexander Archipelago wolf (c) Michelle Rogers; California condor by Scott Frier, USFWS; humpback whale by Joseph Mobley, NMFS; smokestacks courtesy Flickr Commons/nathanmac87; bluefin tuna; grazing cow courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Mark J. Sebastian; mermaid courtesy Flickr Commons.
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