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Jaguars Win 1,200 Square Miles of Final Protected Habitat in Southwest

JaguarAfter years of intensive advocacy by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday finalized protection for 764,207 acres, or 1,194 square miles, of habitat for endangered jaguars in southern Arizona and New Mexico.

"Welcome home, American jaguar," said the Center's Michael Robinson. "I'm hopeful that decades from now, we'll look back on this historic decision and see it as the first on-the-ground action that eventually led to the return of a thriving population of these beautiful big cats to this country."

The Center and allies won this historic "critical habitat" designation to help jaguars recover five years after a federal court rejected the Service's absurd argument that jaguars are too rare in the United States to merit habitat protection here. The decision comes almost 17 years after the Service first protected jaguars under the Endangered Species Act in response to another court case brought by the Center. Federal agencies are prohibited from destroying or damaging critical habitat, such as by granting permits for mining or other commercial activities that would ruin jaguar habitat. There's currently one jaguar living on U.S. Forest Service land in the Santa Rita Mountains outside Tucson -- in the footprint of the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine.

Read more in TIME.

Helicopter Shooters Gun Down 23 Idaho Wolves -- Take Action

Gray wolfMore gruesome news out of Idaho: Sharpshooters in helicopters just gunned down 23 wolves in the Clearwater National Forest. And now state lawmakers are gearing up to spend $2 million to kill hundreds more.

Wolves in Idaho lost federal protections in 2011, and already 954 have been killed by recreational hunters and trappers. Earlier this year Idaho officials hired a wolf killer to wipe out two entire packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

It's clear that Idaho is launching a new attack in its war on wolves. The Center will keep working to stop the killing, but we need your help. Please take action to tell Idaho and the U.S. Forest Service that it's time to end the brutality against Idaho's wolves.

Help Deliver a Million Comments Against Keystone XL -- Take Action

KXL protestTomorrow at midnight the State Department's final public comment period closes for Keystone XL. This is our last chance to convince Secretary Kerry that a decades-long investment in tar sands oil is not in our national interest.

Proponents claim fatalistically that the oil will come out no matter what, and that there's nothing we can do about it. Or they point to how pipelines are better than trains for moving explosive oil, as if that were something worth bragging about. But in the big picture, both the science and the economics are clear as day: More investment in oil means more greenhouse gases. Our money should be spent elsewhere -- like on renewable energy.

Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., the Center and allies will deliver to Secretary Kerry comments from more than a million people who believe passionately in our clean-energy future.

RSVP for the rally if you live near D.C. And if you haven't taken action already, tell Secretary Kerry to say no to Keystone XL in his final recommendation to President Obama.

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Key Court Win in Long Fight Against Privatization of California Water Bank

Parched landscapeThe Center has been fighting for years against the privatization of California's Kern Water Bank, the country's largest underground water banking operation. On Wednesday a state judge issued a key ruling in our legal work, agreeing with our claims that the state didn't properly analyze the environmental impact of the water bank.

We'll be asking the judge now to shut it down until a complete environmental review can be done.

The state handed over control of the Kern Water Bank near Bakersfield -- which is four times larger than the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir -- to private interests some 20 years ago. Today it's used by rich agribusiness moguls who make millions growing pomegranates, almonds and pistachios. We've been working for years to get it back it the hands of the public so it can benefit people and wildlife.

"These guys have spent 16 years avoiding this moment," the Center's Adam Keats told the Los Angeles Times. "It's always been a possibility that a court would come in and shut it down."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

On Point: Frostpaw Drops Some Knowledge on Keystone -- Watch Video

FrostpawThe Center's own Frostpaw the Polar Bear released a rap video on Monday as part of a campaign to get college-age students in all 50 states to speak out against the Keystone XL pipeline. The video comes on the heels of a huge, youth-driven protest over the weekend against Keystone outside the White House.

The video is the latest creative blast from Frostpaw, who has brought his unique brand of activism to dozens of President Obama's fundraisers over the past year or so, from Martha's Vineyard to Hawaii. Now Frostpaw is trying to gather public comments from young people before Friday's deadline for Keystone XL comments at the State Department.

"If it's built, Keystone XL will leave a bleak legacy for young people and future generations as they struggle with the effects of climate change and the extinction crisis," said Valerie Love, the Center's anti-Keystone campaigner. "We know young people are engaged on this issue and understand the stakes. The question now is whether the Obama administration will listen."

Check out the video and share it with your friends.

Los Angeles Moves to Halt Fracking -- Will California Be Next?

Fracking protestLos Angeles just became the first oil-producing city in California to take a major step toward halting fracking. The City Council voted unanimously to draft an ordinance that would prohibit the controversial technique, along with other types of "well stimulation," until it's clear that it doesn't threaten public health and safety. The vote came after pressure and support from a growing number of anti-fracking groups, including the Center and our activists. Thanks to everyone who helped push it through.

We're hoping the decision in Los Angeles helps build momentum for a new statewide fracking moratorium bill recently introduced by Sen. Holly Mitchell. Senate Bill 1132 would safeguard California's air, water and climate from toxic fracking, which has already been documented in 10 counties -- as well as along the coast.

Read more about the historic vote in the Los Angeles Times.

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Center Op-eds: People, Wildlife Need Protection From Oil Trains, Water Grabs

Atlantic sturgeonLas Vegas and Albany, N.Y., may not have much in common, but they're the epicenters of two key fights involving the Center and our work to protect wildlife and wild places from the price of greed, pollution and excess.

In Las Vegas, we're working to halt a $15 billion water grab that would siphon away 27 billion gallons of groundwater each year from eastern Nevada and profoundly hurt sage grouse, fish and other wildlife. "Let's not allow politicians and pundits to pull us into a misleading debate on whether we need to protect Nevada's fragile and irreplaceable environment or its growth-based economy," wrote the Center's Rob Mrowka in a Reno Gazette-Journal op-ed this week. "A growing number of Nevadans understand that the key to ensuring the long-term health of our environment and our economy is to understand they are one in the same."

Across the country in Albany, we're taking action on oil transport on trains and barges, where crude oil shipping has gone from virtually none two years ago to a permitted capacity of 2.8 billion gallons per year today. As the Center's Mollie Matteson wrote in another op-ed this week in the Albany Times Union, "Despite the rush to dramatically boost the movement of crude oil through the region, regulatory officials have failed to update the oil spill response plans that, in theory, would protect residents and wildlife -- including 17 endangered species -- from the rapidly escalating risks."

Read Rob's water-grab op-ed and Mollie's piece on oil transport.

Wild & Weird: Primordial Virus Reawakened From the Permafrost

VirusA team of researchers has reanimated an ancient virus that had been dormant beneath Siberian permafrost for more than 30,000 years. Scientists collected the slumbering virus from deep in the ice, then placed it in a Petri dish alongside amoebas and watched as the single-celled blobs exploded, killed by the primeval pathogen.

Fortunately this hitherto-unknown virus only attacks single-celled organisms, not the rest of us. But what other plagues lurk beneath the Arctic, biding their time until oil drillers, miners or warming temperatures unleash them? After all, when modern humans and Neanderthals lived in Siberia less than 30,000 years ago, so did deadly diseases like smallpox.

But one virologist isn't too alarmed by the thought of archived viruses in the Arctic: "I would be much more concerned about the hundreds of millions of people that will be displaced by rising sea levels than the risk of being exposed to pathogens from melting permafrost," he said.

Read more at Yahoo News.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Jaguar courtesy Flickr/Eric Kilby; jaguar courtesy Flickr/Tambako the Jaguar; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Bernard Landgraf; Keystone XL protest by Bunker Films; parched landscape courtesy Flickr/William Warby; Frostpaw by Valerie Love, Center for Biological Diversity; fracking protest by Patrick Sullivan, Center for Biological Diversity; Atlantic sturgeon courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources; virus courtesy Flickr/Microbe World.

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Center for Biological Diversity

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Tucson, AZ 85702