Center for Biological Diversity


Donate today to support the Center's work.

Take action now.

Emperor penguin

Bookmark and Share


Million-Acre Ban on Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Upheld for 2011

On Monday a temporary ban on new uranium mines on 1 million acres of the Grand Canyon's precious watershed was extended until the end of the year by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He also announced his support for a more permanent, 20-year ban across the same area -- though the secretary has not yet committed to the long-term rule. The 2011 ban and the proposal for a 20-year ban apply to both new claims and new mining on some existing claims. 

The announcement quells fears that a two-year halt on mining issued by Salazar in July 2009 would expire, opening the door to new mining development. Public lands around Grand Canyon National Park have recently been a hotbed of new uranium mining that threatens to industrialize iconic wildlands and poison the canyon's groundwater. The Center for Biological Diversity has long fought new mining around the Grand Canyon, which would blight stunning and often sacred wildlands and destroy endangered species habitat.

Read about the decision in The New York Times, and find out more about the Center's campaign to keep uranium mining out of the Grand Canyon here.

Rare Flying Squirrel Wins Back Protections

After nearly three years, the West Virginia northern flying squirrel is back on the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service late last week reinstated Endangered Species Act protection for the squirrel after a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies. Though the unique squirrel's survival is threatened by logging, development and climate change, the Fish and Wildlife Service stripped it of protections in 2008 -- clearly going against the recovery plan drafted by the agency itself laying out criteria for determining when the squirrel will no longer need federal protections. To get the squirrel back on track toward recovery, we sued the next year -- and the court ruled in our (and the squirrel's) favor.

The West Virginia northern flying squirrel is a small, nocturnal mammal with skin flaps under its arms that let it "fly" through the air from tree to tree in high-elevation forest habitat -- habitat that is fast disappearing as climate change warms the mountaintops. Flying squirrels are the planet's oldest line of modern squirrels, and the Center is determined to help them survive.

Read more in The New York Times.

Suit Launched to Reduce Climate-warming Black Carbon

Black carbon, a solid particle formed from the incomplete burning of fossil fuels, biofuels and biomass, is one of the largest contributors to global warming. But the Environmental Protection Agency has ignored its duty to combat this potent pollutant. So this Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue.

We first asked the EPA for action against black carbon -- also called soot -- last year, when we formally petitioned the agency to set water-quality criteria for it under the Clean Water Act. Our petition aimed to protect sea ice and glaciers from the devastating impacts of black carbon: When soot lands on white ice and snow it darkens it, thereby making it absorb more heat and melt faster. Black carbon also warms the atmosphere by trapping heat when it floats in the air. The silver lining on this black cloud is that because black carbon stays in the atmosphere for less than a month, reducing it yields immediate environmental and public-health benefits. The EPA could and must win quick advances in the climate change fight by taking quick action against this particulate.

Read more in the Alaska Dispatch.

Speak Up for a Future With Wolves -- Take Action

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to take wolves off the endangered species list in the Great Lakes states, removing their protection and raising the risk of dramatically reduced populations in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Center has opposed the delisting; the move is simply premature until state management plans for the species are strengthened.

Meanwhile, the Service has also announced that wolves in the Northeast, long thought to be gray wolves, are in fact a separate species, the eastern timber wolf. The agency says it will consider whether this wolf deserves endangered species protection, but in the meantime proposes to delist all the wolves that may be found throughout 29 states, since they would not be the protected gray wolf species. The Center disagrees: Protections should not be removed while the agency studies the question.

Speak up now for keeping current wolf protections in place and developing a national plan, as proposed by the Center last summer, to recover wolves. Then read more about the Center's campaigns to protect gray wolves.

Dangerous Double-whammy: Overpopulation, Climate Change

When it comes to feeding the world, climate change and the rapid growth of the human population are a dangerous combination. A recent report in The New York Times points out that as the demand for more food increases to feed our expanding population, climate change is impeding yields of several staple crops. "Experts say that in coming decades, farmers need to withstand whatever climate shocks come their way while roughly doubling the amount of food they produce to meet rising demand," reads the Times story.

We expect to see more of these complex problems arise as the world's human population continues to skyrocket and the margin for the world's resources continues to shrink. The United Nations predicts we'll hit 7 billion this fall on our way to 10 billion by the end of the century. Human population growth drives consumption of our planet's natural resources, which in turn competes with the needs of other animals and plants around the globe. The Center for Biological Diversity's groundbreaking overpopulation campaign has helped start the conversation, but, as the latest news reveals, there's urgent need for global action on this crucial issue.

Read more in The New York Times and find out how you can help on our overpopulation website, where you can also sign up for Pop X, the Center's monthly newsletter about human overpopulation and the species extinction crisis.

300 Groups Urge President Obama to Pledge Veto of Attacks on Clean Air Act

More than 300 groups -- faith, youth, indigenous, health, environmental-justice and conservation organizations from around the country -- led by the Center for Biological Diversity and partners sent a letter to President Obama this week urging him to pledge a veto of any legislation that would weaken the Clean Air Act, the nation's most important tool for fighting pollution and curbing global climate change.

The Clean Air Act has come under heavy attack in Congress this year. Already several bills have attempted to limit EPA's ability to address greenhouse pollution -- even though scientists say we need to move quickly to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions in order to preserve a healthy climate. As attacks on the Act continue, it's vital that Obama stand strong and not give into polluters' demands.

Read our press release and see the full list of the more than 300 organizations that signed the letter.

You can help too by signing up to be Clean Air Advocate and urging policymakers to protect our air and climate.

Washington State Ignoring Dangers of Acidic Oceans

Ocean acidification is already having disastrous consequences, including in the waters of Washington state. Billions of young oysters there have been killed, and rising acid levels in the state's waters threaten to unravel the marine food web. Yet just last week, the Washington Department of Ecology, in releasing its proposed list of polluted waters, refused to acknowledge the sensitive young oysters suffering from ocean acidification.

A successful Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency had compelled Washington state to consider the effects of ocean acidification, but the latest decision simply ignores the problem. Seawater is becoming more acidic as it absorbs more and more carbon pollution. Around the world, oceans have become 30 percent more acidic over the past century, and the problem is only accelerating as the world becomes more industrialized and our resource consumption skyrockets. Ocean acidification impairs some marine species' ability to build the protective shells they need to survive. And in fact, wild oysters in Washington have failed to reproduce over the past six years. That's why we must start addressing this issue now -- before food webs begin falling apart on a larger scale.

Read more in our press release and learn more about ocean acidification on our website.

Suit Fights Feds' Policy Damaging Species' Habitat in California

Trees and shrubs that grow along levees in California's waterways can provide shady, complex habitat for chinook salmon, steelhead trout, birds like southwestern willow flycatchers and dozens of other imperiled species. That's why on Monday the Center for Biological Diversity and partners filed a lawsuit challenging a new federal policy requiring flood-control districts to strip away vegetation from levees in California.

After Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the blanket requirement to cut away trees and bushes on and within 15 feet of levees, despite science showing that trees can help stabilize levees. The Corps never evaluated the impacts the policy would have on endangered species in California and, in fact, the move has been opposed by most local flood-control associations and state agencies, which say that implementing the new policy would be expensive and  environmentally damaging, and it could even put public welfare at risk. Our suit fights the Corps' "one-size-fits-all" approach to levee safety in the hopes of protecting those species that have come to rely on the vegetation around California's levees.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Petition Seeks Stricter Mercury Limits for Seafood

Seafood consumption is still the top source of mercury exposure in the United States. That's why on Monday the Center for Biological Diversity and our partner petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to do more to protect consumers from mercury in our seafood.

Swordfish and tuna are often sold with hazardous levels of mercury -- a problem that the FDA needs to step in and fix. A recent study found over one-third of U.S. mercury exposure comes from eating tuna. Mercury contamination of seafood is a widespread public-health problem, especially for women of childbearing age, pregnant and nursing women and children; mercury ingestion can lead to memory loss, developmental and learning disorders, vision loss, heart disease and, rarely, death.

Among other things, the Center and friends are seeking more stringent mercury limits in commercially caught fish. Our petition would also require the posting of signs warning consumers of the danger of mercury in fish.

Find out more at

Wild & Weird: Polar Penguin Vacations on New Zealand Beach

An emperor penguin, native to the icy reaches of Antarctica, apparently took a 2,000-mile vacation to Kiwi-land this week, making a cameo appearance on a New Zealand beach. It was the first confirmed sighting of an emperor in the area in 44 years -- since 1967. The penguin, whose species starred in the popular movie March of the Penguins, is believed to be about 10 months old and 32 inches tall and may have been searching for squid and krill when it got lost.

For now, the wayward penguin is plump, healthy and seemingly happy. But he can't drink saltwater forever, and plus he's eating wet sand. In the words of Colin Miskelly, a curator at the Museum of New Zealand: "It doesn't realize that the sand isn't going to melt inside it. They typically eat snow, because it's their only liquid."

Here's hoping the wanderer gets home safe. Read more about him here and watch a BBC video of the surprise visit here.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: emperor penguin courtesy Flickr Commons/landuffy; Grand Canyon courtesy Flickr Commons/Mordac; nothern flying squirrel courtesy Flickr/Brad Barrett; black carbon in iceberg by Mark Dennett, NOAA; Great Lakes gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Sakarri; crowded beach courtesy; clean air courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Fir0002; Olympia oyster courtesy Flickr/stonebird; chinook salmon courtesy Flickr Commons/Josh Larios; tuna courtesy NOAA; emperor penguin by Michael Van Woert, NOAA.

This message was sent to .

The Center for Biological Diversity sends newsletters and action alerts through Let us know if you'd like to change your email list preferences or stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us.