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Clean Air Victory: Power Plants Can't Fix Pollution by Paving Roads

In an important victory for common sense and clean air, the Center for Biological Diversity has won a lawsuit striking down a California policy saying that coal-fired power plants can keep polluting the air as long as they pave some county roads. That's right, the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District decided in 2007 that power plants and other industrial polluters can continue to spew mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, fly ash, and other toxins as long as they reduce dust pollution by paving nearby dirt roads. It gets worse: The district avoided having to explain its bizarre logic by illegally exempting its decision from the state's main environmental and land-use law, the California Environmental Quality Act. The Center -- and now the courts -- objected, striking down the decision unless and until its adverse impacts on the environment and human health are revealed to the public through a full environmental review.

Peruse our press release and learn more about our work to uphold the California Environmental Quality Act.

Goshawk Listed as Endangered Species (Sort of)

The Center's 14-year campaign to protect the old-growth-dependent goshawk from logging reached a milestone this week, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally proposed to list the Queen Charlotte goshawk as an endangered species in Canada. The rainforest bird has declined dramatically as ancient forests have been clearcut in coastal British Columbia.

The bad news is the Queen Charlotte goshawk also lives in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, where it is similarly declining due to American-style clearcutting. By excluding the Alaska population from protective status, the Fish and Wildlife Service is giving a green light to the destruction of America's premier rainforest.

The worse news is that the Obama administration used a controversial Bush policy to shore up its sleight-of-hand trick. Where's the change, Obama?

Check out our press release and learn more about the Queen Charlotte goshawk.

California Hauled Back to Court for American Pika

Refusing to stand by while the American pika suffers due to climate change, this Wednesday the Center for Biological Diversity, represented by Earthjustice, brought California back to court to demand the species be considered for state protection. Although the science clearly shows the pika is in great danger due to global warming, the California Fish and Game Commission has now twice denied the Center's petition for pika protection -- and we've now twice sued.

Pikas, small rabbit relatives living in California's high mountains, are cold adapted and can die when exposed to 78-degree Fahrenheit temperatures for just hours. Climate change is also altering their habitat, hindering feeding and shelter. Thanks to Center work, the pika is already on its way to federal Endangered Species Act protection.

Check out our press release and learn more about the American pika.

Arizona Species Defended From Brainless ORV Planning

To protect one of the Southwest's most important wetlands from off-road vehicle destruction, last Friday the Center for Biological Diversity and Sky Island Alliance warned the feds not to let a computer program determine the fate of Arizona's Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. The Bureau of Land Management's new plan to manage off-road vehicle routes in the area uses a computer program called the Route Evaluation Tree. Unfortunately, it's unclear whether the program -- which employs yes-or-no questions to decide on maintaining current vehicle routes and opening new ones -- asks questions like, "Does this route run through endangered species habitat?" or "Is this route damaging a stream?" The Gila Box plan threatens protected species including the Gila chub, southwestern willow flycatcher, and Chiricahua leopard frog.

A recent Center-won lawsuit shows that the Bureau used a similar computer program in the California desert and illegally failed to minimize off-road vehicle damage. Says the Center's Cyndi Tuell, "We want the feds to use the best available science in travel-management planning -- not a computer program that doesn't care about the environment."

Check out our press release and learn more about travel-management planning.

NRA Attacks Center Campaign to Save Condors

Just weeks after filing court papers to intervene in the Center for Biological Diversity's lawsuit to stop the shooting of wolves, the National Rifle Association is trying to stop the Center's lawsuit to save condors from being painfully killed by lead poisoning.

The Center has sued the Bureau of Land Management to ban the use of lead bullets in condor habitat around the Grand Canyon. Since lead-free bullets are readily available, there is simply no reason to expose condors (or any other animal for that matter) to lethal levels of lead poisoning. Simple, right? Not according to the NRA, which thinks it has a God-given right to spew lead into our public lands and waters regardless of how many species (including humans) it poisons.

Learn more about California condors and our campaign to get the lead out of their habitat.

Take Action: Save Florida Panther From Oil Drilling

If you thought the Florida Everglades' Big Cypress National Wildlife Preserve was safe from destruction, you'd unfortunately be wrong. Though it was saved in the '70s from becoming an international "jetport" -- and turned into a preserve, where endangered Florida panthers roam -- more than 23,000 acres of the preserve are still owned by Miami-Dade County, and commissioners have been considering whether to allow oil drilling there to fund the expansion of the Miami International Airport. Thanks to public outcry, Miami's mayor pulled the oil-drilling idea from the table at this week's county commission meeting. But the issue isn't dead, and we need to keep the pressure on Miami-Dade to make sure the county knows we won't let Big Cypress become an oil field.

The Center for Biological Diversity recently filed a scientific petition to protect 3.4 million acres of Florida panther habitat -- including Big Cypress land -- this September; in the same month, we sued to expand habitat protections for the critically endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow, which also depends on the preserve for survival.

Now, we're asking you to sign our petition to Miami's mayor to ensure there's no drilling in Big Cypress -- now or ever.

Then read more in the Miami Herald.

River Otters Reintroduced to Rio Grande

With the help of New Mexico Friends of River Otters -- a broad collaboration including the Center for Biological Diversity -- six spunky river otters were just released into New Mexico's Rio Pueblo de Taos, near its confluence with the Rio Grande. A mother and her two yearlings were among the most recent otters to join the 10 reintroduced to the Upper Rio Grande last fall. All 16 otters are participants in a decade-long effort to restore the lively mammals into their native habitat in the Upper Rio Grande and the Gila River.

The Southwest's native Sonoran river otter was driven extinct by hunters and water pumping, severely disrupting the balance of our desert river ecosystem. As a top-level predator, river otters influence the entire food chain of river systems. The reintroduced otters were caught in Washington state, flown into New Mexico by plane, and released on Taos Pueblo land. Otter releases will continue this fall into the Rio Grande -- and next fall into the Gila River -- until a self-sustaining population of these buoyant, sociable animals has been established.

Read more in the New York Times.

Save Coal River Mountain From Dirty Coal

What could be worse than blasting the top off an ancient mountain to get at dirty coal? How about if it's the highest peak ever to lose its top for mountaintop-removal coal mining and only 200 yards from a coal slurry dam holding 8 billion gallons of toxic sludge above a community? Coal River Mountain was the only intact mountain left in Coal River Valley, West Virginia, and coal giant Massey Energy has already begun blasting it away. Massey plans to annihilate 6,600 acres of forest and fill in 18 streams with toxic mining waste for the project.

Take action today to ask the White House and EPA to intervene and save Coal River Mountain. Then read more in the Charleston Gazette.

Extinction Crisis Ad in Production -- Thanks to Your Help

With thanks to support from our members, the Center has just wrapped up our film shoot for the soon-to-be-released television PSA that will inform the public about the frightening realities of the extinction crisis. Right now we're in the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years, and it's the biggest problem life on Earth has faced since the loss of the dinosaurs.

We now go into editing and production, but couldn't wait to share some previews and spread awareness about the countless animals and plants we could lose if we don't act now to curb habitat destruction, pollution, global warming, consumption, and overpopulation. So check out our slideshow, then read about the IUCN's latest list of species threatened with extinction in the Independent.

A Race Against Time for Predators: Listen to Biodiversity Briefing Now

The Center for Biological Diversity is famous for our devotion to all imperiled species, from the charismatic polar bear to the little-known Peck's cave amphipod. But saving predators is a key part of our work because of their tremendous role in ecosystem health. Unfortunately, all top-level predators throughout the lower 48 are either extinct, gone from large areas, or surviving at such low numbers they can't fulfill their proper ecological function. And the Obama administration has not been helping.

In the latest of the Center's quarterly "Biodiversity Briefing" series, Executive Director Kierán Suckling talks about predator ecology and our recent work for predators across the country, from our petition to protect 3.4 million acres of habitat for the Florida panther to our work to help restore and recover jaguars in the United States to the ongoing battle to protect gray wolves -- and keep them protected -- in the northern Rockies, Midwest, and Southwest. As Suckling says: "If we're even hoping to restore not just wildlife species but ecosystems to health, were going to have to get back the predators. . . . We've got a lot of work ahead of us."

To find out more, listen to a clip of the briefing. For information on how you can join the Center's Leadership Circle and be invited to participate in Biodiversity Briefings live when they happen, email Development Director Jennifer Shepherd or call her at (520) 396-1135.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Queen Charlotte goshawk by Craig Flatten; coal-fired power plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Adilettante; Queen Charlotte goshawk by Craig Flatten; American pika (c) Larry Master/; southwestern willow flycatcher by Rick and Nora Bowers; California condor juvenile courtesy USFWS; Florida panther courtesy USFWS; river otters courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Dimitry Avovtsev under the Creative Commons attribution license; Brushy Fork slurry impoundment by Vivian Stockman, flight courtesy Southwings; jaguar courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Cburnett under the GNU free documentation license; gray wolf by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS.

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