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House Bill Attacks Historic Agreement to Protect Hundreds of Endangered Species

The Center for Biological Diversity's decade-long campaign to protect 1,000 of the country's most imperiled species came under attack by Congress this week. Right-wing members of the House of Representatives have attached a rider to the Interior Department's 2012 budget bill banning it from adding any plants and animals to the endangered species list, even if they will go extinct as a result. The rider does, however, provide plenty of money to remove species' protections.

The cynical House move comes just as the Center and another conservation group are nearing the end of negotiations to move more than 800 species toward protection under the Endangered Species Act including the wolverine, walrus, Mexican gray wolf, mountain yellow-legged frog and Pacific fisher.

The rider is not a done deal yet, though; it still has to get through the Senate and be signed by the president. The Center will fight all the way through to kill this outrageous rider before it kills America's wildlife.

Bill Also Disaster for Climate, Arctic, Grand Canyon and More

Besides halting efforts to protect thousands of imperiled species, the House's radical new spending bill would have many more devastating effects on critical environmental protections. Among other atrocious actions, the bill would exempt big polluters from greenhouse gas pollution limits, speed up dangerous offshore drilling in the Arctic and kill a proposed ban on new uranium mining on 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon.

"This bill is a house of horrors for anyone who values a sensible approach to protecting wildlife and the environment," said the Center's Bill Snape. "Americans are counting on the Senate to take a more reasoned approach and do what's right in this spending bill."

Check out our press release.

First-ever Sea Turtle Habitat to Be Protected off West Coast

In a big win for endangered leatherback sea turtles, the Center for Biological Diversity has reached a settlement requiring the feds to protect "critical habitat" for leatherbacks off the West Coast by Nov. 15. After the Center and allies sued to gain more habitat protections for this big-flippered, far-traveling turtle, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed last year to set aside more than 70,000 square miles of waters of its habitat off California, Oregon and Washington. But the agency never made its proposal final -- hence our suit. Once approved, this area will represent the first sea turtle habitat ever designated in ocean waters off the continental shelf.

The largest of all sea turtles, leatherbacks can grow to be nine feet long and 1,200 pounds. They also make the longest-known migration of any living marine reptile, twice a year travelling 12,000 miles from their Indonesia nesting grounds to U.S. Pacific waters, where they eat up to 30 percent of their body weight in jellyfish every day.

Read more in The Washington Post.

Efforts to Protect Sea Turtles From Gulf Fishery Win Ground

In another Center for Biological Diversity sea turtle victory, this week a Florida court ruled that the feds violated the law when they failed to address sea turtle killings by the bottom longline fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last year, the National Marine Fisheries Service weakened rules meant to protect sea turtles from the fishery, which snags and drowns hundreds of them. The turtles suffered another blow with the disastrous BP oil spill. The Center and allies had already sued the Fisheries Service to protect loggerhead sea turtles from longline fishing, as well as to get more help after the spill. But the Service held fast to its weakened rules, which allow the injury or killing of more than 700 loggerheads through 2011 and another 600 thereafter every three years -- more than seven times as many as the fishery was previously allowed to capture or kill. Loggerhead sea turtles, with their heart-shaped shells and unique, powerful beaks, don't deserve to die by longline hook. Now they could get a new chance at swimming in less dangerous waters.

Read more in our press release and learn about loggerheads.

EPA Must Act Against Aircraft Emissions

The skies may be getting a little more climate-friendly. After a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, a judge this week ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must determine whether greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft are harmful to humans. Once the agency concludes that they are, it must act to reduce them. Planes spew a staggering 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions connected with U.S. transportation -- and their worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are expected to more than triple by mid-century.

To address the CO2 emissions from the transportation sector from sources other than cars, in 2007 and 2008 the Center and allies petitioned the EPA to regulate emissions from planes, ships, and nonroad vehicles and engines under the Clean Air Act. When the agency failed to respond, we sued last year. Now, by denying in part the EPA's motion to dismiss our lawsuit, the court has found that the agency must take action. The parts of our suit dealing with pollution from ships and nonroad vehicles and engines will also move forward.

Read about it in the Courthouse News Service. Then learn more about our work to combat aircraft and ship emissions.

Suit Filed to Save Western Bats From Disease

White-nose syndrome has already killed more than 1 million bats in the eastern United States, and it's vital that the disease not gain a foothold in the West, where the damage would be devastating. That's why, on Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Land Management for giving a special permit to the National Speleological Society to guide trips into two caves in Colorado later this month as part of its annual convention.

In issuing the permit, the BLM ignored recommendations from state wildlife officials in Colorado who said allowing caving expeditions into those caves would increase the risk of spreading white-nose syndrome. The disease, or the fungus that causes it, has already shown up in 19 states and four Canadian provinces. In some caves, mortality rates are 100 percent. The Center has already petitioned to prohibit all-but-essential human travel into bat caves to stem the spread of the disease, and we're determined to keep white-nose from wiping out bats in the West.

Read more in our press release, check out the Center's Save Our Bats campaign and tell Congress to help bats now.

Times Square Ad Links Extinction and Overpopulation

Monday, July 11 is World Population Day, so what better place to spread the word about overpopulation driving species extinct than one of the most crowded places in the country? On Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity launched a new public service ad in New York City's Times Square broadcasting the link between unsustainable human population growth and the rapid disappearance of plants and animals around the globe. With arresting images and straightforward text, our ad starkly illustrates the cause and effect:

Too many of us. Not enough room for them. Human population growth is driving species extinct.

Tens of millions of people will see the 15-second spot, which is airing once an hour on CBS's Super LED Screen, a 520-square-foot television on 42nd Street in the heart of Times Square Plaza. It's important to highlighting the issue now: The planet's population is expected to hit 7 billion this fall.

See the PSA for yourself and learn more about the effects of unsustainable population growth. Then check out more on World Population Day.

Save Washington Waters -- Fight Ocean Acidification

Carbon dioxide pollution is making our oceans more acidic, endangering the entire marine food web by preventing many marine animals -- from plankton to corals -- from building their protective shells.

In the first-ever lawsuit to address ocean acidification, the Center for Biological Diversity forced the Environmental Protection Agency to take steps against it -- like requiring the state of Washington to evaluate acidification's effects on its coastal waters. But Washington decided to deny the problem, even as its wild oysters are collapsing.

Take action now to tell the EPA and Washington they need to move -- and move fast -- to protect our oceans and the wildlife they contain. Share the alert with your friends and learn more about the Center's fight against ocean acidification.

Center Lawsuit Unravels Developer's Fraud

A legal victory by the Center for Biological Diversity to halt a megaresort near California's Joshua Tree National Park recently resulted in another surprising turn: The mastermind behind the doomed development was convicted of fraud and tax evasion. For years this developer, Michael Krzyzaniak, lied to investors and the public about the future of the Palmwood resort near the city of Desert Hot Springs -- including the fact that environmental issues might get in its way. But after the Center and allies sued to halt the project due to its greenhouse gas emissions and wildlife impacts, Krzyzaniak's house of cards toppled. In a win for the climate, wildlands and rare species like bighorn sheep and burrowing owls, a judge rejected the resort proposal.

This marks the latest bit of news after part of the proposed Palmwood project was permanently protected from bulldozers as a wildlife preserve.

Get more from the Star Tribune or the FBI.

Another Pipeline, Another Spill -- Take Action to Prevent the Next One

As if anyone needed another sign about the dangers of oil, a broken Exxon pipeline spewed 42,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River in Montana last week. Now the Yellowstone, the longest free-flowing river in the United States, will suffer the same kind of poisonous consequences that plagued the Gulf of Mexico from last year's spill (as well as the Kalamazoo River, where a burst pipeline fouled the waters with oil).

And yet, the Obama administration appears poised to approve a plan to build the massive, $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, which would daily carry more than 29 million gallons of one of the dirtiest and most greenhouse-intensive fuels in existence -- crude oil from Canada's tar sands -- across six states and nearly 2,000 miles to Gulf of Mexico refineries. We can afford neither the emissions nor the oil spills that will inevitably result from this absurd plan.

But President Obama has the power to stop it. Take action now to tell him to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, tar-sands oil and more oil spills.

Wild & Weird: "Singing Penis" Gives Tiny Bug Mighty Sound

There are some pretty loud little insects out there, from crickets to mosquitoes to cicadas. But can you guess which animal on Earth is the loudest for its body size? The tiny male water boatman, a two-millimeter aquatic bug whose courtship songs reach an average of 78.9 decibels -- comparable to the noise of a freight train.

And can you guess how this miniscule male makes such a racket? With its penis, which it rubs rapidly against its abdomen in a process called "stridulation."

Most of the mating call never reaches human ears because the boatman lives underwater. But for females of the species, it's the kind of call of the wild that's impossible to ignore.

Get more from BBC News.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr Commons/Wendell Reed; gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Martin Mecnarowski; Grand Canyon courtesy Flickr Commons/Mordac; leatherback sea turtle courtesy Wikimedia Commons/GIMP Photo Libraray; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr Commons/Brian Gratwicke; aircraft pollution courtesy Flickr Commons/Angelo DeSanto; little brown bat with white-nose syndrome by Ryan Von Linden, New York Department of Environmental Conservation; overpopulation courtesy iStock/mura; sea otter courtesy NPS; burrowing owl (c) Robin Silver; Yellowstone River courtesy Flickr Commons/misternaxal; water boatman by Jerome Sueur, MNHN.

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