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Eco Kudos: Center’s Michelle Harrington Honored With Verde River Civic Award 

When towns and outlying communities in north-central Arizona wanted to pipe water from the headwaters of the Verde River, Michelle Harrington, river conservation manager with the Center for Biological Diversity, was there to stand up and speak out for the imperiled species most likely to suffer from reduced river flows, including the desert nesting bald eagle and the endangered spikedace minnow. Michelle’s dedication has earned her top plaudits from the Verde River Citizens Alliance: on December 15, she received the organization’s annual civic award for her outstanding contribution to the preservation of the Verde River. Congratulations, Michelle, and thanks for all your hard work.

Learn more about the Center’s Verde River campaign and read about the Verde River Alliance and its yearly civic award.

Maine and Delaware Petitioned to Halt Ocean Acidification

On December 13, the Center requested that the states of Maine and Delaware declare their coastal waters impaired under the Clean Water Act as a result of ocean acidification. As it absorbs ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide, the ocean is rapidly becoming more acidic, and worldwide, ocean acidity has increased by roughly 30 percent due to human sources of carbon dioxide. If ocean waters within the states' jurisdiction are deemed impaired, then each state will have the authority to regulate the carbon dioxide polluting their coastal waters. Under the Clean Water Act, the states must consider ocean acidification data that the Center submitted and determine whether ocean waters should be included on the list of impaired water bodies for 2008.

"Ocean acidification is quietly altering the fundamental chemistry of the world's oceans," said Miyo Sakashita, staff attorney with the Center. "We must act now to prevent global warming's evil twin, ocean acidification, from destroying our ocean ecosystems." You can read more about the acidification process and how it's affecting our oceans in Common Dreams.

Center for Biological Diversity Granted Amicus Status in Fight to Protect Endangered Wolves

On December 4, a U.S. district court granted the Center “friend of the court” status in a case seeking to retain protection for gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit challenges the Bush administration’s most recent attempt to weaken and remove protection for the wolf.

“The gray wolf is gone from 95 percent of its range in the lower 48 states,” said Amy Atwood, staff attorney with the Center. “Although wolf numbers have increased in a few states, it is too soon to abandon their recovery in the many states that have habitat where wolves could thrive once again.”

Rather than retaining Endangered Species Act protections, the Service has simultaneously created and delisted a “distinct population segment” of gray wolf that resides in the western Great Lakes region. The agency has similarly proposed to draw a circle around wolves in the northern Rockies and remove their protection. Such actions on behalf of the Service effectively abandon all protections for the species and undermine wolf recovery throughout the majority of its range in the contiguous United States.

High Expectations: Conservation Groups Urge Environmental Protection Agency to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Pollution From Aircraft

On December 5, the Center, a gaggle of other green groups, and states and municipalities including California, Connecticut, and the city of New York petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to address the effects of vast amounts of greenhouse gasses spewed into the atmosphere by the world’s aircraft. Air traffic currently accounts for 12 percent of the United State’s transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions, and the United States is responsible for nearly half of all aircraft carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

These petitions are the first step in a process requiring the agency to evaluate current impacts of aircraft emissions, seek public comment, and either develop rules to reduce  emissions or explain why the agency won't act.

Read more in the SFGate, Bloomberg, and USA Today.

Global Warming Affecting Alpine Butterfly, Frog, and Mammal Species

Though polar bears and penguins are getting most of the global warming press these days, other plants and animals are also feeling the heat. Hidden in crags and anchored on thin vegetation are a multitude of alpine species worldwide struggling to make it on vanishing habitat. In Spain’s Sierrade Guadarrama Mountains, butterflies that once flourished at lower elevations are now found at higher and higher elevations, while harlequin frogs in the mountains of Costa Rica are succumbing to fungus that now thrives on warming mountainsides. In the United States, the rabbit-like American pika is retreating further upslope to escape the rising temperatures of lower elevations.

Learn more about the escalator effect and other unsung species struggling against global warming in an  informative Nature article that mentions the Center and highlights the American pika.

Holiday Gift Ideas From the Center For Biological Diversity

Give a gift membership. If thoughts of bumper-to-bumper traffic, crowded shopping malls, and seemingly endless
to-do lists leave you feeling overwhelmed and eager to hibernate straight through to Groundhog Day, steer clear of the fray and give a gift that matters with a Center for Biological Diversity gift membership.

The Center’s Curt Bradley beams 100-percent eco-coolness.

Or, give friends and family Center merchandise as a way to show the world that you care about endangered plants and animals.

This season, we have a great collection of new hats and T-shirts to share with you. Whether you’re looking for comfy organic cotton shirts—even available in youth sizes—or something else for you and your friends, we’re happy to let you know what’s in stock, take your order, and send it out just in time for Christmas. Email our membership team or give us a toll-free call today at 1-866-357-3349.

A hat and T-shirt shining with our new logo will leave you and your loved ones glowing with super eco-savvy hip-ness this holiday season.

“It’s, it’s Sewage Water”

In an unusual legal twist, the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing a March, 2007 legal victory won by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Flagstaff Activist Network, and the Yavapai-Apache, Navajo, Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, and White Mountain Apache Tribes. The groups successfully argued that a ski resort's plan to spray treated sewage water on federal lands in order to make artificial snow is a violation of Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The sewage would have been sprayed on the awesome San Franciso Peaks which are sacred to 13 tribes.

In oral hearings on December 11, at least one of the judges was baffled when a government lawyer argued that the water was not sewage:

Judge: "What I don't understand is why would the government go ahead with something like this and take this sewage water and use it to make snow? If it's a holy place, that's got to be terribly offensive to people. How could we do that?"

McFadden: "Well your honor, first of all, this is not sewage water. The treatment renders it completely distinct."

Judge: "It's sewage water. It's, it's sewage water."

McFadden: "It was at one time. At the point that it is treated, it is no longer sewage water."

Judge: "No, it's still, it's still sewage water."

The entire hearing can be heard at, click on the "Audio Files" box at left, then enter 06-15371EB as the case number.

Too Easy Being Green? Paris Hilton Pledges to Turn Water Off Before Leaving Home

Is it just me, or have the standards for being green slipped a notch or two lately? Celebutante, Paris Hilton revealed last week that she not only switched to energy-safe light bulbs and bought a hybrid car, but in a remarkable show of sacrifice, pledged to turn off the TV and running water before leaving the house. Perhaps Paris is positioning herself as a contender for the 2008 Goldman Prize.

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