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California Backs Down on Carbon Credit for Clearcuts Policy

In response to a letter from the Center for Biological Diversity, this month California proposed to withdraw a ludicrous policy that would grant carbon credits to logging companies for chopping down carbon-absorbing trees. The California Air Resources Board's adoption of the "Forest Project Protocol" would allow forest landowners -- even clearcutters -- to accumulate credits for CO2 stored in trees and forest products, and eventually would let polluters buy those credits instead of reducing their own greenhouse gases. The Board will vote on withdrawing the protocol at its meeting today.

"We commend the Air Resources Board for acknowledging that it needs to address the environmental consequences of this misguided forest policy," said Kevin Bundy, an attorney at the Center. "It is critical that the state not offer carbon credits for business-as-usual management by timber companies or, worse, encourage clearcutting and other destructive logging practices while doing nothing to address the immediate impacts of climate change."

Check out our press release and learn more about clearcutting and climate change.

5,000 Oppose Measure That Would Kill Pacific Salmon

In defense of the largest estuary on the West Coast, last week the Center for Biological Diversity mobilized more than 5,100 comments -- from California alone -- against a proposal that would strip federal protections from endangered salmon in and around the San Francisco Bay-Delta fishery. Senator Diane Feinstein, under pressure from thirsty agribusiness, has proposed to introduce language into Senate legislation that would divert Northern California water from the salmon fishery to Central Valley farmers -- a move that could force the fishery's closure and scrap thousands of jobs. The proposal would also scrap Endangered Species Act protections for the salmon and likely hurt other endangered fish like the delta smelt, Sacramento splittail, and green sturgeon.

A big thanks to you all.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle and if you live in California, take action against the bill yourself.

EPA Petitioned to Save Climate From Soot

To help rescue our Earth from one of the most potent -- but least publicized -- global warming-causing pollutants, this week the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to set limits on black carbon, a/k/a "soot." Generated from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass, black carbon is a solid particle that warms the atmosphere because its dark color absorbs heat -- both when it accumulates in the air, raising the air's temperature, and when it lands on snow and ice, accelerating melting. Black carbon also has profound effects on public health, causing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year.

Because black carbon stays in the atmosphere for less than a month, reductions in its emission mean immediate payoffs for both the climate and people and buy critically needed time to achieve the deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gases that are ultimately necessary to avoid climate catastrophe. The Center's scientific petition asks the EPA to set limits on black-carbon pollution on sea ice and glaciers under the Clean Water Act, the first step toward reducing black-carbon emissions from diesel engines and other sources that are contributing to the rapid loss of sea ice and glaciers.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

"Solar Revolution" Proposed in Congress -- Help Us Support It

A new bill proposed in Congress by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders would call for 10 million new solar rooftop systems and 200,000 new solar water-heating systems by 2020, to be built for homes and organizations across the nation with the help of a government tax rebate. The aptly named "10 Million Solar Roofs and 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act" would install 30,000 megawatts of new capacity over the next 10 years.

Unlike industrial-scale solar projects -- which, when poorly sited, can irreversibly harm wildlife and wild spaces and often require new long-distance transmission lines -- rooftop solar by definition only occurs in already developed areas. It's the greenest form of green energy.

Read more in the Burlington Free Press and take action now to tell your senators to support Sanders' bill.

Study: Grand Canyon Uranium at Dangerous Levels

Last week the U.S. Geological Survey released a series of studies confirming that uranium mining is contaminating the Grand Canyon watershed. Elevated uranium levels found in wells, springs, and soil consistently exceed natural levels around old mining sites -- sometimes by as much as 10 times -- even at an old mine actively flaunted by the Bureau of Land Management as a model of good mine reclamation. Elevated uranium levels were also detected at the Arizona 1 mine, which the Bureau is planning to let reopen, without updating '80s-era environmental reviews. And 15 springs and five wells showed uranium concentrations greater than the Environmental Protection Agency maximum for drinking water -- very bad news indeed for both the area's human residents and local endangered species like the humpback chub and razorback sucker fish.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies are now in court to stop the reopening of the Arizona 1 mine. Our litigation has already helped spur a landmark federal proposal to protect 1 million acres surrounding Grand Canyon National Park from uranium mining for 20 years -- the reason this study was done in the first place.

Read more in the Arizona Daily Sun and visit our new Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Web page.

Lead Poisoning Kills Three Condors, Four Eagles; Poisons Grizzly Bears

We're sad to report that three endangered California condors -- a female, her yearling chick, and a young male -- have died of lead poisoning in northern Arizona. Two of the birds foraged extensively in Utah and likely were poisoned there by feeding on animals shot with lead bullets. California has made significant progress in banning lead bullets, and Arizona has made some, but Utah lags far behind in addressing the problem.

Lead poisoning is the leading cause of death in California condors and threatens many other species as well. This winter four bald eagles in southern Alberta, Canada, died from lead poisoning; two of the birds had lead concentrations five and nine times the fatal level. And a recent study in Yellowstone showed that grizzly bears have high blood-lead levels during hunting season from feeding on wounded elk shot with lead bullets.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been working to get the lead out in the United States since 2004, when we and allies filed a landmark petition that led to the required use of nonlead ammunition for hunting throughout the condor's California range. Now we're in the thick of a campaign to require nontoxic, lead-free bullets for hunting throughout the entire country, for the safety of condors, eagles, and all other wildlife -- as well as for human health.

Get more from the Calgary Herald and the Los Angeles Times.

Bill Would Ban Lead Bullets in California Wildlife Preserves

In the latest victory against lead poisoning in California, yesterday Assemblymember Pedro Nava announced the introduction of Bill 2223, which will ban the use of toxic lead shot in California's 627,000-acre network of designated state wildlife areas. While the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting has been banned by federal law, lead ammunition for upland game is currently allowed in most state wildlife areas -- and that lead often ends up contaminating wetland ecosystems. "We need to get lead out of wildlife areas," said Nava. "It makes no sense to allow people to leave poisonous material in our state parks."

Assemblymember Nava is also the author of the landmark Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act, which requires nonlead ammunition throughout the California range of the endangered California condor -- and which the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for in 2004.

Learn more about the Center's Get the Lead Out campaign.

Desert Nesting Bald Eagles Denied Federal Protection

In a devastating blow to eagles in the Southwest, today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially announced that desert nesting bald eagles in Arizona's Sonoran desert aren't "significant" enough to deserve Endangered Species Act protection. When bald eagles nationwide were declared recovered in 2007 and removed from the endangered species list, unfortunately desert nesting bald eagles were also removed -- robbed of protections even though they're still under dire threat from development, dams, stream dewatering, grazing, ORVs, and other activities. No recognized bald eagle expert agreed with the 2007 removal of protections from these desert eagles, and no expert agrees with today's decision.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been campaigning to earn the desert eagles -- genetically distinct from bald eagles nationwide -- their own much-needed Endangered Species Act status since 2004, and we won't let them slip through the cracks now.

Check out our press release and learn more about our work for the desert nesting bald eagle.

Save Arizona Forest From ORVs

Northern Arizona's spectacular Kaibab National Forest, bordering the Grand Canyon, is under siege by off-road vehicles and too many roads -- but the U.S. Forest Service has so far ignored recommendations by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies for a road system that benefits species and habitat. Instead, the Forest Service is allowing hunters vehicle access across the forest to pick up downed game for up to a mile from any road. The problem? Since the area has so many roads, it's impossible to get more than a mile from an open road in any direction, outside a wilderness area, within the forest's boundaries.

Roads on the Kaibab are a major cause of erosion that contaminates the Verde and Little Colorado river watersheds, including habitat for the imperiled desert nesting bald eagle and endangered fish like the razorback sucker. The Center's recommended alternative would reduce road density to one mile of road per square mile of land, as well as preventing off-road driving to pick up downed game and to camp. And there's still time to encourage the Forest Service to take our proposal to heart -- but we need your help.

Take action now to save the Kaibab from destructive vehicles and read more in the Arizona Daily Sun.

Endangered Species Condoms Have Nation Buzzing

The Center for Biological Diversity launched our Endangered Species Condoms project on Valentine's Day to great fanfare and overwhelming enthusiasm. The condoms feature catchy slogans, artwork representing six different species, and information on how they and other animals and plants are threatened by unsustainable human population growth. More than 5,000 people have volunteered to distribute the free condoms in their communities -- and the demand has already far exceeded the entire initial production of 100,000 condoms. Needless to say, we'll be producing more shortly.

The media response nearly matched the enthusiasm of the volunteers: "Endangered Species Condoms" now generates 300,000 Google hits. Highlights included coverage by USA Today, an Associated Press article that was picked up in hundreds of outlets across the country, numerous radio and TV talk shows and newscasts, and various articles featuring interviews with local volunteer distributors. The condoms have already generated media in such far-flung places as Brazil, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom. On the Web, Endangered Species Condoms have appeared on hundreds of blogs, including the New York Times, National Geographic, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and Boing Boing.

The project has been generating lead paragraphs such as, "Looking to go wild in the bedroom? Try some endangered species condoms on for size." And then there were enthusiastic quotes, like this one from the director of a major zoo: "There are few things that people like more than sex and saving animals. Combine the two, and that's a home run in my book."

Check out our Endangered Species Condoms Web site now and read what USA Today had to say.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: California condor courtesy USFWS; clearcutting courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Tero Laakso under the Creative Commons attribution license; chinook salmon courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Josh Larios under the Creative Commons attribution license; soot courtesy USEPA; solar panels courtesy NPS; Grand Canyon courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Luca Galuzzi under the Creative Commons attribution license; Gray Lodge Wildlife Area courtesy California Department of Fish and Game; California condor juvenile courtesy USFWS; desert nesting bald eagle by Tom Gatz, USFWS; Kaibab National Forest courtesy NPS; coqui guajon rock frog design by Lori Lieber, artwork donated by the Endangered Species Print Project.

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