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Manchin Deal Revealed, Center Founder Arrested
This morning, in solidarity with the frontline communities most threatened by Manchin's dirty deal, the Center for Biological Diversity's Executive Director Kierán Suckling was arrested at a protest at the Capitol, saying, “They can arrest us, but they can't stop us from speaking out.”
The protest came a day after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin released the details of their secret deal, which Manchin demanded as payment for voting to pass the Inflation Reduction Act. As the leaked draft foretold, this legislation overwhelmingly benefits the fossil fuel industry, weakening the National Environmental Policy and Clean Water acts.
The deal would also ram through the approval of the disastrous Mountain Valley Pipeline, causing yet another environmental justice catastrophe and driving two beautiful, endangered fish to the edge of extinction.
Join the Center and more than 650 climate, social justice and frontline groups in calling on congressional leaders to oppose this giveaway.
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Threatened Corals
This week the Center launched a lawsuit against NOAA Fisheries to force it to protect 20 Caribbean and Indo-Pacific coral species, including pillar and lobed star corals. Following a Center petition, in 2014 the agency declared the corals “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act — but it’s never made the protective regulations they desperately need to survive, including bans on trade.
Climate change has already wiped out about half of coral reefs worldwide, as elevated ocean temperatures cause bleaching — when hard corals lose their colorful, symbiotic algae — and ocean acidification makes it harder for them to build skeletons. Meanwhile the global aquarium trade pushes these extraordinary symbionts even closer to extinction, and the United States is the world’s largest coral importer.
“Prohibiting collection and import of threatened corals is the bare minimum that federal officials should be doing to protect these amazing creatures,” said Center attorney Emily Jeffers. “They need the strongest safeguards available.”
Help our fight for corals and other species with a gift to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.
Speak Up for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Named for its “staircase” of stunning rock cliffs, Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is an amazing, 1.87-million-acre wild landscape. It protects world-famous geological formations, rare dinosaur fossils, cultural sites, and a staggering array of biodiversity. Among others, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bears, more than 200 bird species, and 600 bee species call this place home.
Now that the monument has been restored to its original boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management is developing a new plan for managing these vast public lands. The agency is taking comments from the public — and that’s where you come in.
Tell the BLM to prioritize conservation and biodiversity protection in the new management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Feds Urged to Greenlight Okefenokee as Global Site
Along with 32 other groups, the Center sent a letter Tuesday urging Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to authorize the continent’s largest blackwater swamp, the precious Okefenokee straddling the Georgia-Florida state line — which the secretary just visited — in its bid for World Heritage listing.
World Heritage status would help protect the Okefenokee’s precious animals and plants for future generations; it would also increase opportunities for growth in sustainable tourism for the region.
“The Okefenokee is like no place else on Earth,” said Elise Bennett, our Florida director. “It’s a unique and beautiful wetland that’s home to an astounding quantity and diversity of species, from prehistoric-looking Suwannee alligator snapping turtles to wizened wood storks.”
Suit Filed to Save Rare Red Squirrels in Arizona
The Center and allies recently sued to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Forest Service to save imperiled Mount Graham red squirrels in southeastern Arizona from extinction.
Although the Endangered Species Act requires protection of these little squirrels, the agencies refuse to acknowledge that they’re in extreme jeopardy from recreational cabins and an abandoned camp in the squirrels’ best remaining habitat. The squirrels, who weigh only about 8 ounces, have survived on Mount Graham since the glaciers receded more than 10,000 years ago.
“These cabins and other structures should’ve been removed decades ago, but now the animals are clustered in tiny, isolated pockets of what little canopied forest remains,” said Center cofounder Robin Silver.
Agreement Spurs EPA to Take Steps on Smog
Under a legal agreement with the Center and allies, the Environmental Protection Agency has downgraded the smog pollution rating in portions of five states from “serious” to “severe.” That’ll trigger action to reduce the dangerous levels of smog pollution.
The areas — ranging from New York and New Jersey to Dallas and Denver — have some of the nation’s worst air quality, with ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, at levels that are unsafe for human health, wildlife and plants.
“Recognizing these areas have a severe smog problem marks an important step forward,” said Ryan Maher, a Center attorney. “Now it’s time to quickly put concrete plans in place to fix it.”
Take Action for the Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona protects one of North America’s most biodiverse deserts and its wildlife, including imperiled Sonoran pronghorns and lesser long-nosed bats.
But despite the Bureau of Land Management’s own finding that target shooting harms native species, Indigenous sites and human health, the agency bowed to gun-group pressure by allowing target shooting on 90% of this precious place. Now it’s littered with toxic, spent lead ammo and old appliances used as makeshift shooting targets. Bullets have blasted through centuries-old saguaros and ancient petroglyphs alike.
Center staffer Russ McSpadden documented some of the heartbreaking damage — check it out on Facebook or YouTube.
Luckily, there’s one more day for you to help: Before the end of Sept. 23, urge the BLM to end target shooting in this magnificent monument.
Patagonia Founder Gives Company to Climate Fight
A foundation established by outdoor apparel company Patagonia will donate some $100 million a year to combating climate change, it announced this week. Its founder, Yvon Chouinard, has given away his family’s ownership of the company to dedicate its profits entirely to the climate crisis — an extraordinary move.
That funding, said Center Director of Programs Peter Galvin, should go to grassroots groups on the front lines of activism — a giving philosophy consistent with Patagonia’s history. Rather than making donations to politicians or “milquetoast” outfits committed to compromise, Peter told reporters, Patagonia’s foundation should continue directing its giving toward “forward-looking, radical organizations” like Extinction Rebellion and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
Revelator: History and Conservation
Saving endangered species sometimes means knowing where they used to live — before scientists started studying them. For that, we need historical ecologists.
In a new study, two of these scholars used 275-year-old notes to gain new understanding of the historical range of critically endangered angel sharks.
Read more in The Revelator. And don’t miss the free e-newsletter bringing you each week’s best environmental articles and essays.
That’s Wild: One Bird’s Nonstop 8,000-Mile Journey
Bar-tailed godwits are long-legged, reddish wading birds who make the longest known nonstop migration of any land birds, powered by continuous flapping — no restful soaring.
This month and next, tens of thousands of godwits are making their annual journey from Alaska to New Zealand and Australia without stopping to eat, drink or rest. The whole epic flight, regardless of weather, takes just eight to 10 days.
Last year a tagged bar-tailed godwit set a record for the longest known godwit migration — nearly 8,080 miles — after bad weather pushed him to a more distant landing spot in Australia. He flapped his wings for 237 hours without stopping.
Read about the amazing adaptations that make this possible in The New York Times.
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Photo credits: Kierán Sucking arrest courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; pillar coral by Mark Peter/Wikimedia; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument courtesy BLM; wood storks by Andrea Westmoreland/Wikipedia; Mount Graham red squirrel by ggalice/Wikimedia; smog by Jonathan Geiger/Flickr; screenshot from video by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; smokestack by Tom Burke/Flickr; angel shark by Dan Meineck; bar-tailed godwit by J.J. Harrison/Wikimedia.
Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702