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There’s one thing 2022 has made clear: If we’re going to tackle the extinction emergency and climate crisis — and save life on Earth — half-measures and business as usual won’t cut it. This moment calls for bold, far-reaching ideas and the drive to realize them.
That’s why the Center for Biological Diversity just launched an ambitious petition to bring back jaguars to the American Southwest. Our vision for jaguars — like our visions for gray wolves and California grizzly bears — is to return them to their ancient homelands wherever suitable. In doing that, we restore the wilderness character of the ecosystems these majestic creatures once sustained.
Nothing less than grand solutions will ensure a living future for the wild.
Read on for some highlights of our wins this year — which we couldn’t have achieved without you.
To help us win next year too, contribute to our Saving Life on Earth Fund. Give now and your donation will be matched.
Saving species from extinction is the Center’s core mission and always will be. In 2022 we won lifesaving Endangered Species Act protection for 45 species, including tricolored bats, lesser prairie chickens, foothill yellow-legged frogs, and Hermes copper butterflies. We secured more than 2 million acres of critical habitat for 28 species, including Canoe Creek mussels, Louisiana pine snakes, eight Florida plants, and Panama City crayfish.
We also fought for endangered species by curbing blinding resort lights on Maui to help baby sea turtles and Hawaiian petrels; protecting diamondback terrapin turtles from crab traps; and pursuing protection for southern bog turtles, ghost orchids, Railroad Valley toads, and other species on the brink.
The Climate Law Institute
The Center’s pathbreaking climate program won a historic, decade-long fight to protect emperor penguins jeopardized by Antarctic sea-ice loss.
We also scored preliminary protection for Temblor legless lizards — sand-swimming California reptiles imperiled by oil and gas drilling — and fought for candy darters, brightly colored Appalachia fish put at risk by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. After a court halted federal approval of the pipeline over its threats to the darters, we fought off Sen. Joe Manchin’s attempts to greenlight the project in Congress.
Alongside environmental justice leaders, the Center helped win the nation’s largest health-and-safety buffer between new oil and gas drilling and California communities. And after decades of pressure from frontline activists and our team, Los Angeles voted to phase out oil and gas drilling over the next 20 years. Both moves represent key protections for people and wildlife in one of the largest oil-producing states.
Keeping People and Wildlife Safe From Toxics
We scored a decisive victory when the Environmental Protection Agency, infamously negligent on pesticides, agreed to an ambitious workplan to protect endangered species from these poisons — a first. The major wins we’ve racked up in court have made the EPA change course: We forced it to act on certain pesticides detrimental to native pollinators like Fender’s blue butterflies, and our case on ultra-toxic atrazine secured key waterway protections. Our work on pesticide-infused dog collars, reported to cause terrible harms, prompted congressional hearings and continued public pressure on the EPA.
Internationally, we held a historic anti-factory-farm meeting in Mexico with communities, tribal leaders and advocacy groups from across the Americas. Working closely with Indigenous youth, we helped get an injunction against mega-factory farms for pigs in the Yucatán. And in the United States, we achieved an agreement forcing the EPA to bump up the smog threat level for Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, New York City and Denver — which means healthier air for 27.5 million people.
People, as well as other animals and plants, need protected public lands more than ever. So the Center is working to safeguard 30% of lands and waters for wildlife by 2030, as well as to kick damaging fossil fuel exploitation, timber-cutting, and livestock grazing out of vulnerable U.S. wildlands.
This year we secured a grazing ban across 33,000 acres of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in California — a major win for sage grouse and other species. We launched the Climate Forests campaign, backed by more than 120 other groups, calling for the Biden administration to protect mature and old-growth forests from logging.
In Arizona we got cattle ejected from 100 miles of the wild and scenic Verde River and its tributaries and won a long-running court battle to protect more than 30 miles of desert oasis from grazing in the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area.
Our Energy Justice program worked unflaggingly this year to make sure the transformation to greener power sources brings greater equity and possibility to folks across the country who’ve been sidelined and sickened for decades by the fossil fuel industry. We pushed President Biden to use the Defense Production Act to jumpstart our clean energy transition and urged him to use his climate emergency powers; we challenged utility attacks on solar power at the national level, with the Federal Trade Commission, and pushed Tennessee Valley Authority and California's Newsom administration to massively deploy rooftop- and community-solar programs rather than centralized energy.
We also played a leadership role — three times — in killing Manchin’s dirty deal, which threatened to rush destructive fossil fuel development through Congress. We stood strong as one of the only national environmental groups to oppose the Inflation Reduction Act’s giveaways to Big Oil and, at the climate convention in Egypt, helped secure the Biden administration’s first announcement supporting the phaseout of fossil fuels.
In our work to make life more livable for people and other animals in California, where human expansion over the landscape is rapid and intense, we halted destructive developments throughout the state that would threaten wildlife, worsen the climate crisis, and increase the risk of wildfire — including Guenoc Valley in Napa County and Fanita Ranch in San Diego County.
We sponsored and helped pass the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act, which requires California to improve wildlife crossings for vulnerable animals like mountain lions, desert tortoises, and California tiger salamanders. And we put a stop to shortsighted water projects like Del Porto dam and Cadiz water pipeline, which would’ve damaged ecosystems and communities.
The Center had a great run in 2022 in our longstanding fight for healthy oceans. We won multiple court victories to save endangered North Atlantic right whales from deadly lobster-gear entanglement and ship strikes. And we won a preliminary victory seeking expanded habitat protections for North Pacific right whales — the world’s most imperiled whale population, with only 30 animals left.
We made important progress defending humpbacks and other endangered whales from ship collisions off California’s coast, secured an agreement with the federal government to study how oil drilling harms whales and other marine species, and successfully defended our victory on Pacific offshore fracking against efforts to overturn it.
The Center’s work across the world secured Endangered Species Act listing deadlines in 2022 for giraffes and seven foreign bird and butterfly species put at risk by U.S. trade.
Our groundbreaking undercover investigation into Mexico’s heartbreaking pet trade showed how imperiled sloths, monkeys and parrots are openly marketed on social media — shedding light on the underground digital wildlife economy driving species toward extinction.
We also documented foreign nations’ extensive bycatch of dolphins and whales ahead of next year’s requirement that the United States ban foreign seafood that doesn’t meet strong U.S. marine mammal protection standards. And based on our petition, the U.S. government made its first-ever environmental trade complaint under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement over Mexico’s failure to the save vaquita porpoises, the world’s most endangered cetaceans.
Population and Sustainability
As the world population hit 8 billion, the Center made a powerful media push connecting unsustainable human population growth with the wildlife extinction crisis. During the White House conference on hunger, nutrition, and public health, we sent the Biden administration 10 executive actions it can take now to align its nutrition and climate goals.
Also this year we launched an educational webinar series and website debunking myths about how cattle grazing impacts wildlife and the environment and building a case for a transition to plant-based foods. And we issued a report on the connections between reproductive health, environmental toxicity, and capitalism that’s being used to educate healthcare professionals.
In our multiple campaigns to protect carnivores across the United States — and help restore them to their former homes — the Center secured a landmark ruling this year that restored federal protection to gray wolves outside the northern Rockies. We also sued to win back Endangered Species Act protection for the Rockies wolves who are still in the crosshairs in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.
We made things better for bears by convincing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider bringing grizzlies back to the North Cascades and by saving Washington’s black bears from inhumane spring hunts.
And of course, we filed our groundbreaking petition to reintroduce jaguars to New Mexico and protect 14 million acres of Southwest habitat for these beautiful cats.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
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Photo credits: Jaguar by Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr; leatherback sea turtle by GTN NERR/Flickr; emperor penguins by Siggy Nowack/Pixabay; Fender's blue butterfly courtesy ODOT; sage grouse courtesy USFS; rooftop solar by Ulrike Leon/Pixabay; desert tortoise by Brad Sutton/NPS; North Atlantic right whale courtesy NOAA; giraffe by Stefan Krause/Wikimedia; Earth courtesy NASA; gray wolf by MTSOfan/Flickr; sunset by Edward Adams.
Center for Biological Diversity
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