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Center Fights for Endangered Species Act in Congress

The Endangered Species Act is under heavy fire again in Congress -- and this week, Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kierán Suckling testified at a half-day hearing on the successful law's alleged failings, led by Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee who are gunning for the Act.

Suckling presented data showing the Act is a broad success -- saving 99.9 percent of species from extinction and putting 93 percent on the road to recovery -- and, along with others offering evidence of the Act's excellent track record, made a powerful case for keeping the Act intact. Yet many committee members maintained a hostile posture, suggesting the battle has just begun.

Chairman Doc Hastings vowed to call for more hearings, and right-wing members of Congress are teeing up anti-wildlife bills that will have disastrous consequences for rare animals and plants across the country unless we stop them. We'll send you bulletins from the front lines, tell you when action is needed and keep fighting for the Endangered Species Act and the species it saves.

Watch a video of Tuesday's congressional hearing and learn more in our press release, where you can read Suckling's testimony.

Arizona's Bald Eagles Win New Chance at Protection

After a rollercoaster-ride seven years, since the Center for Biological Diversity and allies first petitioned for federal protection of desert nesting bald eagles, the bird finally has a shot at new safeguards. The majestic desert eagle is distinct from other bald eagles not only in terms of where it lives but also in its behavior and genes: No other bald eagle population nests in Arizona's harsh conditions of high heat and low humidity -- or suffers such high mortality due to development, water projects, grazing, off-road vehicles and more.

But when American bald eagles were declared recovered and removed from the endangered species list in 2007, so were the desert nesters -- despite scientific evidence of their unique biology and peril.

The Center went to court to earn back protections for the desert nesting bald eagle in 2007 -- successfully -- but we had to sue once more last fall when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service again denied the eagle the Endangered Species Act protections it needs to survive, letting developers and other interests get the better of the bird. Now a judge has ruled that the agency must revisit its decision -- yet again. This time it had better make the right call.

Read more in the Verde Independent.

CO2 Emissions Take Biggest Leap in History

To any who thought the small dip in carbon emissions during the recession would last: Think again. Not only is that 1.9 percent reduction a distant memory, but we way more than made up for it in 2010. According to a new analysis by scientists at the Global Carbon Project, last year our CO2 emissions rose by a scary 5.9 percent -- the biggest jump in recorded history.

The United States, the world's second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, spewed out 1.5 billion tons last year. With output like that, we have little hope of escaping runaway climate change that would destroy the world as we know it. But instead of drastically cutting our emissions, the Obama government is dragging its feet while the Clean Air Act, our best existing tool to regulate emissions, is under brutal attack in Congress.

The Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute is working hard to fight global warming and save plants and animals -- and people -- from it. You can help: Sign up to be a Clean Air Advocate now. Then read more about the new emissions analysis in The New York Times.

Save Arctic Wildlife From Oil Drilling -- Take Action

With the Obama administration planning an expansion of offshore oil drilling in the next five years, wildlife is in great danger from oil spills -- and the Center for Biological Diversity needs you to speak up to help them. Apparently the administration has swiftly forgotten the devastation of Deepwater Horizon and plans to open vast new areas of the Arctic Ocean, Alaska's Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling. The plan doesn't adequately protect marine life, and of course the result of the oil drilling is more greenhouse gases pumped into our atmosphere.

If this plan goes through, Arctic species like polar bears and walrus would face the triple whammy of habitat disturbance, intensified global warming melting their sea-ice habitat and the unacceptable risk of an oil spill in icy waters, where it would be impossible to clean up. We can't let that happen.

Please take action now to voice your opposition to risky ocean drilling.

Political Grandstanding Delays Protections for Rare Lizard

Two weeks before vital Endangered Species Act protections were scheduled to go into effect for the dunes sagebrush lizard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a six-month delay. It's fairly clear the agency caved to political pressure from Big Oil and its friends in Congress opposing protection, including Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.). Unfortunately, this small, sand-loving creature can't afford more delays.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies petitioned to protect the lizard back in 2002, and finally, nearly a decade later, the Service proposed that action -- only to stall once again. There's no reason not to move forward. Big Oil's claims that protecting the lizard will hurt the economy have been utterly debunked: The Center just released a report that found that lizard habitat makes up less than 2 percent of the entire Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas. As our Taylor McKinnon said: "The oil and gas industry is not in danger of extinction. This lizard is."

Read more in our press release and learn about our campaign to save the dunes sagebrush lizard.

Stop Flaming Gorge Pipeline, Save Suckers and Chubs

Utah's Green River is the key to recovering four species of endangered fish in the Upper Colorado River Basin: the humpback chub, razorback sucker, bonytail chub and Colorado pikeminnow. As goes the Green River, so go the fish -- and now all are threatened by one of the most absurdly destructive water projects in the West's history: the Flaming Gorge pipeline. A Colorado developer wants to pump 81 billion gallons of water per year from the Green River to Colorado's Front Range, some 500 miles away, for lawns, golf courses and urban sprawl. The project is exactly what a river already stressed by water extraction, energy development and climate change doesn't need -- and it would effectively end the recovery of the four endangered fish.

But the deal isn't done yet: The Federal Energy Regulation Commission is considering a preliminary permit for the project right now, and our input can sway its decision. Take action today to help save four cherished fish from one of the biggest water boondoggles in the history of the West.

In Memoriam: Elden Hughes, California Desert Protector

We were saddened this week by news that Elden Hughes, a great conservationist who spent his career fighting to protect California's Mojave Desert and other areas, has died at 80. Hughes helped pass the landmark 1994 California Desert Conservation Act, which created San Bernardino County's 1.6-million-acre Mojave National Preserve; led the Sierra Club in winning federal "scenic" designations for the Tuolumne, Merced and Kings rivers; and helped the nonprofit Wildlands Conservancy complete a massive land-buying program to protect lands across the West -- among many other environmental feats. He was a special champion for ancient, imperiled Mojave desert tortoises -- even once taking baby tortoises to D.C. to inspire protection for the species.

Hughes was a great friend and mentor of the Center for Biological Diversity. "He was a brilliant strategic thinker and took us under his wing early on, showing us his total support, gave great advice and he had one of the cleverest and wittiest senses of humor of anyone I've ever met," said Center cofounder Peter Galvin. "His work accomplished more for the California desert than perhaps that of any other single individual. He'll be missed in so, so many ways. He was a real giant among us."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times and learn about the desert tortoise and Mojave Desert.

Give Greener With Our Giving Guide

The next few weeks will be full of commercials and junk mail about holiday shopping and what everyone's buying. On Black Friday alone, U.S. consumers spent tens of millions of dollars buying new products to kick off the shopping season. Imagine the massive carbon cost to the planet from producing, shipping, advertising, distributing and consuming those products . . . wow.

That's why the Center for Biological Diversity has created the 2011 Greener Giving Guide -- a resource on how to give greener this holiday season, including exclusive tips for nonmaterial gifts (like a Center membership) and other ways to help save wildlife as you make your holiday-giving selections.

Check out our Greener Giving Guide now.

Wild & Weird: Weta You See This Giant Bug

One of the world's biggest bugs was recently found in a tree in New Zealand, and photos of it have been buzzing around the Web all week. Entomologist Mark Moffett found the cricket-like critter, called a giant weta, on Little Barrier Island and snapped photos of her munching a carrot. She weighed as much as three mice and had a seven-inch wingspan.

"She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away," Moffett said. "She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn't want to risk indigestion."

Read more in The Huffington Post.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Florida panther courtesy Flickr/danbodenstein; Kierán Suckling; bald eagle (c) Robin Silver; power plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Adilettante; Pacific walrus by captain Budd Christman, NOAA; dunes sagebrush lizard courtesy USFWS; humpback chub by George Andrejko, Arizona Game and Fish Department; desert tortoise courtesy Flickr/Averain; green presents courtesy Flickr/moofbong; giant weta.

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