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Shell Oil's Arctic Drilling Gets Green Light -- Take Action

Polar bear

In a terrible blow to our climate's health, the federal government granted Shell Oil its permit to start oil drilling in Alaska's Chukchi Sea last week -- and the company's first drillship has now arrived in the Arctic. The Center for Biological Diversity and allies have rebuffed Shell's attempts to drill there since 2007; this year alone more than a million people took action to protest Big Oil's presence in the increasingly fragile region. But as Center Alaska Director Rebecca Noblin said in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, "The Obama administration is bending over backward to give Shell what it wants."

The day after President Barack Obama approved initial drilling in the Arctic, the Environmental Protection Agency also issued an air-permit waiver letting Shell breeze past clean-air standards. In June the corporation requested a threefold increase in nitrogen oxide emissions and a tenfold increase in harmful particulate matter emissions.

Shell may have ignored pollution safeguards, but no one can ignore the dangers of drilling in the Far North. It's impossible to clean an oil spill in the Arctic's icy waters and harsh weather: Hundreds of polar bears, migratory birds and whales are now in imminent peril.

Take action to demand the Obama administration refuse Shell's request for a drilling-season extension, read more of the Bloomberg Businessweek article and watch this video of Shell's drillship arriving in the Arctic.

Suit Filed to Stop Lead Poisoning in Arizona Forest

Bald eagle

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies sued the U.S. Forest Service yesterday for failing to protect wildlife in Arizona's Kaibab National Forest from toxic lead, which enters the food chain when animals like eagles, northern goshawks, ferruginous hawks, ravens and endangered California condors in Arizona scavenge on lead-shot carcasses and fall victim to lead poisoning. Tremendous support from Center members this summer helped make this suit possible -- thank you.

The U.S. Forest Service allows hunting with lead bullets on public lands despite the requirements of a federal law that dictates proper disposal of hazardous materials. People who eat lead-shot game are also at risk.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been promoting, but not requiring, nonlead ammunition for big-game hunting in Arizona. There are more than 100 varieties and calibers of nonlead bullets, produced by 14 manufacturers, readily available to Arizona hunters; the vast majority of hunters using copper ammunition say it's just as good as -- or better than -- lead versions.

Read more in our press release and find out why it's so important to get the lead out.

Rediscovered Bay Area Plant Wins Safeguards, Proposed 300 Acres

Franciscan manzanita

One of San Francisco's most important biological discoveries -- a single Franciscan manzanita plant found in 2009 after the species was presumed extinct in the wild for six decades -- will gain Endangered Species Act protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Tuesday. The Service is also proposing to protect more than 300 acres of critical habitat for the plant, in 11 different areas of the city, to aid recovery and reintroduction.

The previous last-known wild specimens of San Francisco's namesake manzanita had been rescued by heroic botanists for nursery cultivation in 1947, just before bulldozers destroyed their last habitat.

The Center for Biological Diversity joined the Wild Equity Institute in petitioning to protect this beautiful and rare shrub just after that single wild manzanita was found. With its new federal protection, the manzanita, which has small, oval leaves and bulbous flowers, finally has a shot at survival and even recovery. "This will bolster efforts to preserve the last remnants of San Francisco's biological heritage," said the Center's Jeff Miller.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle and learn about Bay Area protection.

Washington Wolves Back on Kill List

Gray wolf

Following two livestock deaths due to wolves last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ended its brief wolf-killing reprieve -- brought by pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies -- and is now gunning to wipe out as many as four wolves in the state's Wedge pack. The agency aims to break up the pack, one of only eight in the state struggling to return decades after a broad-based federal extermination campaign drove wolves out.

This past December the state's Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a "Wolf Conservation and Management Plan" for Washington that outlines steps for the recovery and management of the state's wolves -- such as resolving conflicts over wolf livestock depredations using nonlethal means, almost none of which were used before the state decided to kill members of the Wedge pack. The Department of Fish and Wildlife already killed one female from the pack last month.

Read more in our press release and learn about the Center's mission to restore gray wolves to suitable habitat throughout the lower 48.

Lawsuit Launched to Save Marine Life From Deadly Calif. Fishery

Loggerhead sea turtle

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies today have filed a notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service for letting California's drift gillnet fishery continue -- even though it often catches and kills marine animals like endangered sperm whales and leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles protected by the Endangered Species Act.

While gillnet fisheries generally target swordfish and tuna, animals like whales and sea turtles often get caught in their nets, which stretch more than a mile in length. Every year California's fishery kills or injures more than 130 protected whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions, plus thousands of sharks and fish -- almost all of which are dumped back into the ocean. Our notice asks the government for specific emergency rules to help safeguard sea life, as well as a comprehensive study of the fishery's harm to endangered animals and their federally protected "critical habitat."

Read more in our press release and learn about the Center's fight against deadly fisheries.

Colossal Mojave Water Grab Countered in Court

Desert tortoise

Nearly 63 percent of the lower 48 states are in the grip of drought. So what about all those thirsty Southern California suburbs popping up -- their lawns, their swimming pools, their water parks? A major water-grab project thinks it has the answer: It'll pump 16 billion gallons of water per year from the Mojave Desert all the way to Orange County, taking water away from an underground reserve near the town of Cadiz -- and away from desert animals like the desert kit fox, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, desert bighorn and desert tortoise, which need their water to survive. Desert tortoises have roamed the arid lands of California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah since the Pleistocene. 

A similar project was rightly rejected a decade ago, but the water grab's proponents are at it again -- and this time, their plan has been approved.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been an outspoken opponent of this misguided project. Last week, in an effort to stop the Cadiz water grab from sucking the desert dry, we filed a lawsuit against it.

Get more from Southern California's PBS station and learn about our work against the Cadiz project.

Center Op-ed: New Mileage Rules . . . Not Gonna Save Us


When President Obama announced new, stricter fuel-efficiency rules for cars and light trucks last week, some green groups applauded; but the Center for Biological Diversity reacted with an opinion piece explaining why the new standards simply fail to meet the extremely urgent challenge of climate change.

Certain "flexibilities" in the standards mean they won't reach their supposed maximum gas mileage of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 -- more like about 47 mpg, which is below standards the European Union, Japan and China have proposed for 2020. The standards also provide incentives to keep building large, gas-guzzling vehicles. With the effects of climate change already being felt across the world, we need to take long, fast strides -- not baby steps -- toward reining in our greenhouse gas emissions, to which cars are a major contributor.

Center Attorney Vera Pardee's op-ed -- "Five Dirty Little Secrets Behind the U.S. New Vehicle Mileage Rules" -- covers all these issues and more. Read it in The Huffington Post and post it on Facebook.

"Outlaw" Arizona ORV Party Will Cost Taxpayers, Wildlife

Off-road vehicles

Despite urgent concerns raised by the Center for Biological Diversity to the U.S. Forest Service, a big six-day off-road vehicle event aptly named the "Outlaw Jamboree" went ahead this week in Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest without the environmental analysis required by federal law.

The bash threatens to damage valuable habitat for Mexican spotted owls and Mexican gray wolves; and because the Forest Service failed to require organizers to buy a permit for this event, U.S. taxpayers will bear the costs of the agency's monitoring and law-enforcement.

"It's absurd that people who simply want to hike in the woods on open trails and educate themselves on native wildlife like wolves are forced to obtain expensive permits, while this large-scale, commercially sponsored event is blithely allowed to skirt the laws that protect our shared resources," said the Center's Cyndi Tuell. 

Read more in our press release and learn about the Center's work to curb ORV destruction.

Wild & Weird: Boy Strikes It Rich With Cetacean Regurgitation

Sperm whale tail

Little Charlie Naysmith could be 60 grand richer after finding a piece of whale puke washed up on the shores of Hengistbury Head in southern England. As it turns out, the yellowish, waxy barf, which Charlie first took for a rock, is in great demand in the perfume industry: His one-pound piece is worth an estimated $63,000. Called ambergris, the substance, spit up in the ocean by sperm whales, is used to prolong the alluring scent of many perfumes -- a classic eau de upchuck.

So what will the 8-year-old do with all that money? Charlie's dad says his son is a nature lover and is considering building a shelter for animals -- a happy ending to this magical tale of rags to regurgitation.

Read more about Charlie's discovery at the Daily Echo.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Bald eagle courtesy Flickr Commons/Wes Gibson; polar bear (c) Brendan Cummings; bald eagle courtesy Flickr Commons/Pen Waggener; Franciscan manzanita courtesy National Park Service; gray wolf courtesy Flickr Commons/USFWS; loggerhead sea turtle courtesy Flickr Commons/mattk1979; desert tortoise courtesy Flickr Commons/sandman; tailpipe courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Steeven1; ORVs courtesy Flickr Commmons/B A Bowen Photography; sperm whale courtesy Flickr Commons/doublebug.

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