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One-two Punch for Arizona Open-pit Copper Mine

OcelotThis month the Rosemont copper mine, which would blow a 1.5-square-mile, 3,000-foot-deep hole in Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains, received a double-blow itself.

First there was a letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saying the company's required plan to comply with a Clean Water Act permit doesn't do enough to protect water supplies, wildlife habitat, natural springs and wetlands. Then the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew its earlier approval of the harmful copper mine, which would decimate important habitat not only for jaguars and ocelots, recently spotted in the area, but also for several smaller species the Center for Biological Diversity has worked to protect, including the Chiricahua leopard frog and two endangered fish, the Gila chub and Gila topminnow.

"Taken together, these decisions are a one-two punch that could be a knockout," said the Center's Randy Serraglio.

Read more about Fish and Wildlife's move in our press release and the Army Corps' letter in the Arizona Daily Star.

Busted Boom Adds Pressure for Brown to Halt California Fracking

Fracking rigA new federal report is raising serious doubts about fracking's future in the Golden State. The U.S. Energy Information Administration revealed last week that it was suddenly cutting estimates of the amount of recoverable oil in the state's Monterey Shale by a mind-blowing 96 percent.

But the oil industry reacted by vowing to experiment with risky new ways to frack the state's oil. And despite new state rules aimed at imposing more transparency on this dangerous form of oil and gas extraction, a recent Center analysis found, Californians still aren't being told about fracking in their communities.

Two-thirds of California voters now want a fracking moratorium, according to a recent poll, and efforts by state lawmakers to impose a moratorium are gaining strength. The growing sense that fracking is all pain and no gain is pressuring Gov. Jerry Brown to avert a dangerous scramble for dirty oil and lead California into a clean-energy future.

Watch as NBC Bay Area confronts California oil officials over a Center report on violations of fracking disclosure rules; then read more in a Huffington Post op-ed by the Center's Kassie Siegel.

Save Monarch Butterflies, Stop an Agent Orange Herbicide -- Take Action

Monarch butterflyMonarch butterflies have habitat where you wouldn't expect it -- for instance, agricultural fields across the Midwest. But this habitat is in danger of being lost to a deadly new herbicide.

The EPA is planning to approve a Dow Company herbicide that contains glyphosate, the active chemical in Roundup, and 2,4-D, a major component of the infamous Agent Orange toxin used in the Vietnam War. Wildlife habitat, plants and crops that haven't been genetically engineered to withstand this dangerous cocktail will be harmed.

The increase in genetically engineered crops and herbicides in recent years has already reduced milkweed populations by 51 percent, and monarch populations have plummeted by 81 percent.

The use of 2,4-D will also hurt threatened species like California red-legged frogs, Alameda whipsnakes and several types of salmon by destroying plants where these species live.

Act now to tell the EPA you don't support its approval of this herbicide.

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NAFTA Commission: Investigate Canada's Failure to Protect Wild Salmon

Sockeye salmonSpurred by a 2012 petition by the Center and allies, a key NAFTA commission is recommending a formal investigation into Canada's failure to protect wild salmon from disease and parasites due to industrial fish farms in British Columbia.

The decision is an important step forward in a long effort to ensure that Canada's wild salmon, vital to ecosystems as well as native people, aren't destroyed as large-scale aquaculture operations proliferate. Our petition challenged the Canadian government's violations of its Fisheries Act in approving more than 100 industrial salmon feedlots in British Columbia along wild salmon migration routes.

"Wild salmon shouldn't continue to be subjected to viruses, toxic chemicals and parasites from open-water industrial fish operations in their migration routes," said the Center's Jeff Miller.

The commission's recommendation now goes to a vote among representatives of the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Read more in The Globe and Mail.

How's the View? Pretty Fracking Ugly -- Take Action

Fracking wellWhat does a massive expansion of fracking look like? The Center has partnered with the Post Carbon Institute to deliver a powerful new photo essay that pulls back the veil on the ugly realities of fracking, whether it's radioactive waste pits in Pennsylvania or a gas compression terminal in Texas.

But this may only be the beginning. Right now Congress is considering fast-tracking exports of liquefied natural gas, which means more natural gas production here at home -– and more fracking in our communities. Fracking blasts millions of gallons of water mixed with toxins, including known carcinogens, to break up the earth and release oil and gas. This technique poisons our air and water and prolongs our dependence on fossil fuels.

Check out the fracking photos and then take action to tell Congress that we refuse to sacrifice our health and environment so that fossil fuel companies can enjoy an export boom.

Drought Hasn't Dried Up Population Growth

Jollyville Plateau salamanderThe U.S. Census Bureau released its report on the fastest-growing cities in the United States, and once again the spotlight is on the Southwest. Three out of the top five fastest-growing cities are in Texas, the other two in Utah. That's a lot of pressure on the water resources of an already-thirsty region.

Drought headlines have turned dire: "Texas Town Is 45 Days From Running Out of Water" and "Drought-stricken Texas Town Turns to Toilets for Water." As city managers scramble to figure out how to provide water from shrinking resources for growing populations, wildlife and habitat are also feeling the squeeze.

That's why the Center works to ensure species like the Jollyville Plateau salamander and the Austin blind salamander -- both of which share their home with the fastest-growing cities in the country -- have protected critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.

Read more in our press release and learn about the Center's Population and Sustainability program.

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Help Stop Massive Logging in California's Rim Fire Area -- Take Action

Recovering forest near Rim FireIn California's Stanislaus National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service is planning to log so much post-fire habitat that the amount of timber yielded would be nearly four times the amount sold for all national forests in California in 2013. The sale, proposed in a new draft "environmental impact statement," would ignore longstanding rules protecting old-growth trees and destroy habitat for roughly 60 percent of imperiled black-backed woodpeckers.

This destructive sale, in the wake of the 2013 Rim fire, is being proposed despite decades of science showing the importance of preserving burned areas for wildlife like black-backed woodpeckers and the critical function of these complex ecosystems.

In an unusual move, the Forest Service held collaborative workshops to develop its proposal, including inviting recommendations from wildlife experts on how to best protect habitat and watersheds. Woodpecker experts, for example, recommended retaining burned trees, or snags, to protect at least 75 percent of the Stanislaus's black-backed woodpecker habitat. But the agency's proposal rejected this recommendation without any sound basis.

The Center has submitted comments, and we need your help -- act now to tell the Forest Service to cancel this destructive sale.

Study: Global Warming Will Make Oceans Even Trashier

Plastic garbage in Los Angeles RiverThink our oceans have a problem with plastic? You're right: In the Los Angeles area alone, tons of plastic pieces pour into the Pacific daily, from bags to straws to bottles. And then there's the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling refuse vortex twice the size of Texas -- and growing. This immense plastic gyre is just one of five similar monstrosities.

Now, a new study says, global warming is worsening the plastic problem: As climate change melts the northern polar ice cap, it releases "microplastics" into the Arctic Ocean. More than a trillion of these tiny bits of plastic debris, once locked in the ice, could be sent into the ocean within a decade.

Plastics harm habitat and injure animals, often killing them. So the Center has stepped up our ocean plastics pollution campaign, and last year, in response to our petition, the EPA pledged to take action, including a scientific review of the human-health effects of eating fish that have ingested plastics and other trash.

Read more on the new study in USA TODAY and learn about our ocean plastics campaign.

Wild & Weird: Lynx Roam Once More Near Chernobyl -- Watch Video

Eurasian lynxRecent footage from game cameras set in the contaminated forests around the site of the infamous 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown reveals a remarkable paradox of the disaster. Following the evacuation of the region's human population, abandoned farms have reverted to forests and swamps, and wildlife desperate for human-free habitat are returning in abundance. Species diversity is greater within the nuclear exclusion zone than it is beyond the zone's perimeter, where people dominate land use.

Biologist Sergey Gashchak's cameras have captured images of large populations of boars, roe deer, moose, wolves and, most recently, Eurasian lynx.

Lynx have vanished from most of Europe and Russia under pressure from hunting, livestock production and habitat loss. No one really knows how radioactive the Chernobyl cats are, but one thing is sure: Few places outside the exclusion zone offer the vast swaths of land they need to live.

Watch Gashchak's new footage of lynx near Chernobyl in our video, then read more in Slate.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Jaguar courtesy Flickr/a_wilson; ocelot courtesy Flickr/Giorgio Quattrone; fracking rig courtesy Wikimedia Commons/BLM; monarch butterfly courtesy Flickr/Martin LeBar; wolves by John Pitcher; sockeye salmon courtesy Flickr/D. Young, NPS; fracking well (c) J. Henry Fair/Flights provided by LightHawk; Jollyville Plateau salamander courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Piershendrie; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; snag forest by Doug Bevington; plastic in Los Angeles River courtesy Flickr/kqedquest; Eurasian lynx courtesy Flickr/Tom Bech.

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