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Judge Rules Against Massive Arizona Copper Mine
Great news for jaguars, rare plants, and people in southern Arizona: A federal appeals court today upheld the invalidation of the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the controversial Rosemont Mine.
In 2017 the Center for Biological Diversity and conservation allies filed a lawsuit challenging the approval of the huge open-pit copper mine, which would’ve blasted a mile-wide, half-mile-deep pit in the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson. It would’ve dumped toxic waste across 2,500 acres — including the headwaters of a creek replenishing Tucson’s groundwater — and destroyed habitat for jaguars, ocelots, Coleman’s coralroot and other imperiled species.
Today’s ruling also upholds the lower court’s ruling in favor of the Tohono O’odham, Pascua Yaqui and Hopi tribes, who filed a similar lawsuit.
“This momentous decision makes it clear that the plan to destroy the beautiful Rosemont Valley is not only a terrible idea — it’s illegal,” said Center attorney Allison Melton. “The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important for Tucson’s water supply and many species of rare plants and animals. We won’t let them be sacrificed for mining company profits.”
Defending Pronghorns and Sage Grouse From Fracking
In southwestern Wyoming the Center and our allies just appealed a federal court’s decision to uphold a Trump-era plan allowing 3,500 new gas wells to disrupt the ancient Path of the Pronghorn, a 170-mile corridor used by imperiled pronghorns to move from Grand Teton National Park to their winter range farther south.
A massive gas-field could eliminate all 300 of the area’s pronghorns while also destroying key habitat for greater sage grouse — all to further fracking that worsens the climate emergency.
“If any part of the Path of the Pronghorn is developed, we could lose the extraordinary Grand Teton herd and its 6,000-year-old migration forever,” said Center Senior Attorney Wendy Park.
In Court — Again — for Southwestern Willow Flycatchers
The Center and allies just went back to court to protect southwestern willow flycatchers, a species we first petitioned to protect in 1992. These tiny yet fierce (to insects, anyway) songbirds depend on the streamside forests of the U.S. Southwest — more than 90% of which have been destroyed by livestock grazing, dams, water withdrawal and sprawl.
We’re intervening in a suit brought by a grazing group that challenges a federal finding that southwestern willow flycatchers deserve Endangered Species Act protection as a unique subspecies.
“This lawsuit is yet another flawed attempt to sideline science and advance an anti-wildlife agenda by undermining the Endangered Species Act,” said the Center’s Noah Greenwald.
There’s Still Hope for Vaquitas
Vaquita porpoises, known for their small size and unique-looking faces, are the world’s most endangered mammals. Fishing and other threats have reduced them to just 10 individuals in Mexico's Gulf of California.
But new research shows the small population still has enough genetic diversity to recover — if we act now to protect these precious animals from gillnets. The Center is working to make the Mexican government properly enforce its laws regulating these enormous nets, which trap and drown the 100-pound porpoises.
“This adds to the argument that the species can be saved and can recover, even though there are only a few individuals left,” said the Center’s Mexico Representative Alex Olivera. “But the vaquita's population won't recover without protection.”
Feds Say SpaceX Is Hurting Plovers
At a Texas site called Boca Chica, where billionaire Elon Musk wants to build out a rocket-launch facility, populations of tiny snowy plovers and piping plovers — both rare native shorebirds — are already in drastic decline, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Other species, including sea turtles and birds called red knots, may also be threatened by space-race development in the area.
And yet, says the Center’s Jared Margolis, the Fish and Wildlife Service — which is proposing minimal mitigation measures for SpaceX — seems to be “bending over backwards to figure out a way to permit more of what has been a very detrimental use of the Boca Chica site as far as impacts to wildlife go.”
We’ll be keeping an eye on you, Elon.
New Mural Celebrates Death Valley Species
The latest installment of our Endangered Species Mural Project was unveiled this spring in Shoshone, California, on the edge of Death Valley. Beautifying a wall of the town’s post office, it features three rare species found only in this area: the Amargosa vole, the Shoshone pupfish and the Amargosa niterwort.
All three species rely on the scarce water of this harsh desert environment — particularly the Amargosa River, which runs mostly underground — and are being pushed toward extinction by pollution, water withdrawals, and climate-change induced drought.
The Attack on Roe v. Wade
Multiple recent leaks indicate that the U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision protecting the right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.
The Center’s Population and Sustainability program works at the intersection of wildlife, habitat, biodiversity protection, and gender and reproductive justice — all of which are inextricably linked.
We believe that universal access to quality, culturally sensitive healthcare is a basic human right, including access to safe abortions and other reproductive health services.
Revelator: Eco-Crimes Need a Crackdown
Uncovering crimes against the environment — and holding the perpetrators accountable — has never been prioritized. We need to correct that injustice, protecting people and the planet from environmental harms caused by corporate polluters, lax oversight, and poor enforcement of existing laws
Learn more in The Revelator, and don’t miss out on the e-newsletter bringing you each week’s best environmental articles and essays.
Check Out This Harlequin Butterfly Festival
The imperiled Puerto Rican harlequin butterfly, or Atlantea tulita, is a small brown butterfly with black-and-orange markings. After a 2009 petition by an ally in Puerto Rico — plus a lawsuit by the Center — in 2020 the Fish and Wildlife Service finally proposed to protect the butterfly under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
You can learn more about this beautiful, unique insect via talks, exhibitions, art and more at the Festival de la mariposa Atlantea tulita in Quebradillas on May 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check out the Facebook event page and stay tuned for more Center action to save the butterfly.
That’s Wild: A Fish Like a Golden Torpedo
In the depths of Monterey Bay, researchers have captured rare video of a hard-to-find beast: a highfin dragonfish, or Bathophilus flemingi.
While other species of dragonfish are bioluminescent — with glowing red eyes like the Terminator — or feature frightening snaggleteeth, flemingi wears an iridescent coat of shining coppery scales. Check out the footage for yourself.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
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Photo credits: Jaguar by Peter Hopper/Flickr; manatees courtesy NOAA; southwestern willow flycatcher courtesy USFWS; pronghorn by Dan Arndt/Flickr; vaquita porpoise by Barbara Taylor/NOAA; snowy plovers by Mick Thompson/Flickr; Death Valley Endangered Species Mural by Roger Peet; women's rights protest by Gayatri Malhotra/Unsplash; bee via Pixbay; Puerto Rico harlequin butterfly by Jan Paul Zegarra/USFWS; screenshot of highfin dragonfish video by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702