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Poll: Americans Want Congress Out of Keystone Decision

Keystone pipelineA new national poll commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity finds that most Americans (53 percent) don't want congressional intervention in deciding on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline -- and even more (62 percent) don't want "eminent domain" to be used to build the pipeline on private land. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, comes as the U.S. Senate is poised to decide on Keystone during ongoing budget negotiations -- a step that would bypass environmental review and require that the pipeline be built without more study.

Our polling found another powerful narrative, too: Sixty-eight percent of those who voted for President Obama in November opposed the Keystone pipeline, while 76 percent say they're concerned about the project's impact on climate change and the environment.

Any way you look at it, the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas (carrying dirty tar-sands oil) is bad news for wildlife, our climate and ultimately the future of the planet. We're mobilizing citizens to speak out about this disastrous project; stay tuned for how to get involved.

Read more about our poll in Politico.

Calif. Bill Would Ban Lead Hunting Ammo -- Take Action

California condorA new bill in California would remove toxic lead from hunting ammunition and provide important protections for people and wildlife. Assemblyman Anthony Rendon's bill to require nonlead ammo for all hunting in California, A.B. 711, was made public this week; a hearing is expected next month. The Center for Biological Diversity, which has been working for a decade to get lead out of hunting ammunition, is supporting the bill. If you live in California, we need you to speak out for it.

Lead that's left in the wild takes a deadly toll on wildlife, poisoning and killing bald eagles, endangered California condors, swans, loons and millions of other birds yearly. It also poses significant health risks to people eating wild game. A new national poll commissioned by the Center finds that 57 percent of Americans support requiring a switch to nontoxic hunting bullets.

Hunters in much of central and Southern California have been hunting with copper and other lead-free ammunition since 2008, when state regulations required use of nonlead hunting ammo in California condor range. Rendon's bill extends the protection from lead poisoning to all wildlife in the state and safeguards human health.

Read our press release, and if you're a California resident, take a moment to voice your support for the bill.

Center Rallies Against Pacific Northwest Coal Exports

Coho salmonThe Center for Biological Diversity joined hundreds of activists who rallied on the steps of Oregon's capitol last week against a proposal that would turn the Pacific Northwest's Columbia River into a railroad and barge thoroughfare for millions of tons of coal headed to Asia.

Center staff and volunteers joined with allies in the Power Past Coal coalition to demand that Oregon reject permits for coal-export terminals. The proposed terminals would export coal mined in Montana and Wyoming and transported by train and barge through Oregon and Washington -- putting salmon, other endangered species and human communities at risk from coal dust, diesel particulates and other pollutants. And then, of course, there's the climate-change catastrophe of shipping Powder River Basin coal to Asia.

Oregon is expected to decide on the coal-export terminals later this year; we're working with a broad coalition of groups to keep coal off the Columbia River.

Read more in The Skanner.

Bills Seek to Halt Calif. Fracking to Protect Water, Air and Climate

Fracking rigThree California assembly members -- Richard Bloom, Holly Mitchell and Adrin Nazarian -- are introducing a trio of bills to halt hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state while the threats it poses to the environment and public health are studied. Using huge volumes of water mixed with sand and dangerous chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas, fracking -- so far unregulated and unmonitored by the state -- has already been deployed widely: More than 600 wells were fracked in California in 2011 alone.

The move to halt fracking, supported by the Center for Biological Diversity and numerous other groups, reflects growing public concern about fracking's threats to people, wildlife and the climate. All three bills seek to limit destruction as oil companies gear up to frack the Monterey Shale, a geological formation that holds an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil and lies beneath some of the state's most important farmland and wildlife habitat.

"We applaud these legislators for their leadership in protecting California from a dangerous fracking boom," said the Center's Brian Nowicki. "State regulators have shrugged off fracking's dangers, so it's up to lawmakers to stop oil companies from polluting our air, contaminating our water and undermining our fight against climate change."

Learn more about the Center's fight against California fracking.

50 Cities to Obama: Use Clean Air Act Against Climate Chaos

Polar bear cubsIt's the biggest milestone yet in the Center for Biological Diversity's ambitious Clean Air Cities campaign. Fifty cities across the nation have passed resolutions urging the federal government to use the Clean Air Act ambitiously -- and quickly -- to halt otherwise irreversible climate catastrophe, from city-swallowing sea-level rise to polar bear-killing sea-ice melt to coral reef-obliterating ocean acidification. Cities that have heeded the Center's call to action include Los Angeles; Nashville; Washington, D.C. -- and now our 49th and 50th municipalities, San Leandro, Calif., and Newton, Mass.

Joining our cause is especially urgent: The Obama administration is reportedly considering putting off or weakening a key Clean Air Act rule aimed at cutting greenhouse gas pollution from new power plants. Congress is also once again taking aim at the Clean Air Act's authority to reduce carbon pollution through an amendment inserted into the latest budget debate.

So a big thanks to all our Clean Air Advocates and participating cities -- but if your hometown isn't on our Clean Air Cities list, please use our Clean Air Cities Take-action Toolbox to get it there now, before it's too late.

Endangered Mussels Win Reprieve, Tenn. Coal Plant Still Dangerous

Pink mucketAfter legal pressure from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the Tennessee Valley Authority has decided not to shut down the most productive hatchery in the country for rearing endangered pink mucket mussels. The Cumberland River Aquatic Center, at the 50-year-old Gallatin Fossil Plant, had been proposed for closure to make room for expansion of the power plant.

Freshwater mussels like pink muckets filter water constantly and play an important role in improving water quality throughout the Southeast. Unfortunately 75 percent of the region's mussels are now at risk of extinction, which is why the rearing facility is so important. Despite our triumph in saving this special nursery in Tennessee, the dirty Gallatin plant will undergo an expensive retrofit to let it continue to burn coal.

"It's a bittersweet victory that TVA has agreed to save the aquatic center but continues to burn filthy coal," says Center biologist Tierra Curry. "Saving the mussel nursery is obviously the right thing to do, but continuing to burn coal threatens the survival of mussels -- and people -- everywhere."

Read more in eNews Park Forest.

Court Hears Arguments on Whether EPA Must Protect Endangered Species From Pesticides

Black-footed ferretA federal district court in San Francisco heard arguments Friday in the most comprehensive legal action ever brought under the Endangered Species Act to protect endangered species from the harmful chemicals in pesticides. The Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network are challenging the EPA's failure to assess the impacts of hundreds of pesticides on more than 200 endangered and threatened species, including Florida panthers, California condors, piping plovers and black-footed ferrets.

"We're trying to make sure the EPA does its legal and moral duty to make sure harmful chemicals aren't sprayed in the same places where these vulnerable wild animals are trying to survive," said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center.

A series of lawsuits by the Center and allies has forced the agency to consult on the impacts of scores of pesticides on endangered species, mostly in California; the current suit is the first with a nationwide scope. The presiding judge told attorneys he was initially inclined to grant the EPA's motion to dismiss the suit, but after hearing arguments from both sides Friday, including from the Center's Collette Adkins Giese, the judge said his ruling wouldn't be issued anytime soon.

Read more in The Washington Post.

Feds' Refusal to Protect Rare Dunes Sagebrush Lizard in Texas Will Face Court Challenge

Dunes sagebrush lizardThe state of Texas won't let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review its agreements with local landowners detailing what protections they're putting in place for imperiled dunes sagebrush lizards. And yet the agency declined to protect the lizards last year because, it says, Texas' plans are somehow adequate. So last week the Center for Biological Diversity and partners filed a notice of intent to sue the Service over its negative decision.

In 2010 the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect the lizard as endangered but withdrew the proposal 18 months later, arguing in part that a conservation agreement with Texas made a listing unnecessary. That agreement only vaguely describes the conservation actions required of participants, allowing concrete measures to be spelled out in certificates between participants and the state. But Texas has prevented federal wildlife officials (or any member of the public) from looking at these certificates, leaving scientists in the dark as to what actual steps are -- or aren't -- being taken to protect the lizard.

"With the survival of the dunes sagebrush lizard hanging by a thread, the Fish and Wildlife Service shouldn't have relied on paper-thin promises from the Texas Comptroller's Office to deny protection to this disappearing animal," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center.

Read more in the Albuquerque Journal.

Wild & Weird: Elderly Research Chimps Get First-ever Glimpse of Sky

ChimpanzeeMore than 100 government-owned chimpanzees from a laboratory in Louisiana, many of whom have suffered a lifetime of invasive biomedical research, are now transitioning to "retirement." The Center for Biological Diversity found a heartrending video of these elderly chimps exploring their newfound (relative) freedom at Chimp Haven, a sanctuary for biomedical research chimps no longer undergoing experiments.

The process has been a long time coming; many of the chimps are now more than 50 years old, and -- habituated to a caged existence for all of their lives -- hadn't ever before seen sunlight or touched bare earth.

In 2011 the Institute of Medicine issued a report concluding that most research on chimpanzees is unnecessary. It recommended that the vast majority of government research chimps be fully retired.

Check out the video for yourself.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: bald eagle courtesy Flickr/Kristen Ortwerth-Jewell; Keystone pipeline courtesy Flickr/shannonpatrick17; California condor courtesy Wikimedia Common/Chuch Szmurlo; coho salmon courtesy Flickr/Dan Bennett; fracking rig by Rose Braz, Center for Biological Diversity; polar bears courtesy USFWS; pink mucket by Craig Stihler, USFWS; black-footed ferret courtesy USGS; dunes sagebrush lizard courtesy USFWS; chimpanzee courtesy Flickr/Kevin Case.

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