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Tea Party Bill Aims to Eviscerate Endangered Species Act

American crocodileJust in time for the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act -- the landmark law that's brought creatures from condors to crocodiles back from the brink of extinction -- Tea Party senators have proposed a bill that would obliterate the law.

The bill's most extreme provision would require that every five years all protected animals and plants be removed from the endangered species list, eliminating all legal protections. No matter how close to extinction it might be, every single species would then have to wait until Congress passed a joint resolution renewing its protections under the Act for another five years. Among the bill's sponsors are Tea Party darlings Rand Paul and Mike Lee.

"This bill would devastate species protections and open the door to log, mine and pave some of the last places on Earth where these animals survive," said the Center for Biological Diversity's Brett Hartl. "It's a boon for profiteers like the Koch Brothers but will rob every American who values wildlife and wild places."

Read more in our press release.

This Thanksgiving Tell Obama: Pardon the Polar Bear, Stop KXL

Pardon the Polar BearEvery morning since Nov. 21, Center staff have risen with our own Frostpaw the Polar Bear to stand outside the White House bearing an urgent message for the president: Don't just pardon a turkey; pardon the polar bear.

President Obama can "pardon the polar bear" by taking action on climate change and rejecting the destructive Keystone XL pipeline. So we've been at his gates posing for photos with visitors next to Frostpaw and an Obama cutout, holding signs with lines like "Mr. President, I Beg Your Pardon."

Frostpaw also helped the Center lead anti-Keystone rallies on the West Coast this week, greeting Obama as he visited Los Angeles and San Francisco, accompanying hundreds of activists. (Yes, Frostpaw can be in two places at once -- he's a genius at particle physics.)

Read more at our Pardon the Polar Bear website and sign our online letter asking Obama to pardon the polar bear this Thanksgiving. You can also check out a photo album of Frostpaw's exploits on Facebook.

Historic Time for Species Waiting for Protection: Backlog Hits Record Low

Miami blue butterflyFor the first time since the 1970s, the number of plants and animals on the waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection has dropped below 150 -- largely due to our 2011 agreement requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to speed protection decisions for 757 species. The Service recently released a tally of the 146 current "candidates" (species that are known to need protection but haven't been given it): 94 animals and 52 plants. This is in contrast to 283, the number of candidates at the time of the Center’s second suit to save them in 2005.

In the past year dozens of critically imperiled species have received final protection -- including flowers, damselflies, mussels, butterflies and giant salamanders -- totaling 81 species that were awarded binding Endangered Species Act protection in fiscal year 2013.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service deserves credit for the excellent progress it's making," said Tierra Curry, a biologist at the Center. "We urge Congress to designate the funding for endangered species recovery that the Service desperately needs to accomplish its goals."

The vast majority of the 146 species still on the candidate list will receive proposals for protection in the next three years.

Get more from eNews Park Forest.

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On #GivingTuesday, Double Your Impact for Wildlife

OcelotOn Tuesday, Dec. 3, the Center is joining more than 6,000 other nonprofits and charities in a call to action to change the calendar and celebrate a day dedicated to giving this holiday season. It's easy to get caught up in the shopping craze -- #GivingTuesday is a day to give back.

The Center is fighting in the courts and organizing thousands of our supporters to speak up to protect wolves, polar bears, hellbenders, burrowing owls and more. For a look at some of the many species we're working to save, watch this Center-produced video featuring the work of renowned wildlife photographer Joel Sartore.

For #GivingTuesday, a longtime champion of wildlife has generously agreed to match your donations to the Center to double the lifesaving impact of every dollar during this holiday season. Stand with us on #GivingTuesday by making a donation to help protect, preserve and recover our country's most vulnerable species.

Center Billboard: "Don't Frack L.A.'s Future"

Don't Frack L.A.'s FutureA new Center billboard warns Los Angeles that fracking and other dirty forms of oil production pollute California's air and endanger children's health. Featuring a picture of a baby in a gas mask, the billboard reads "Don't Frack L.A.'s Future" and directs readers to a special website we launched this week.

The billboard follows a Center report showing that thousands of tons of toxic air pollutants, including formaldehyde and hydrochloric acid, have been used at oil and gas wells in L.A. and Orange County. Our ad is part of a campaign to persuade Gov. Jerry Brown to halt fracking and convince L.A.-area air officials to protect people and the environment from oil industry pollution.

Urge a halt to fracking in California, attend upcoming hearings if you live in the state and check out our Fracking Pollutes California website.

Center Ups the Ante in New Downtown D.C. Office

U.S. CapitolThe Center has been stationed in the nation's capital for a while. But now we've taken a step up (OK, a lot of steps up) to the 13th floor of a sunny high-rise in a brand-new office right in the heart of Washington, D.C. We're just blocks from the White House, where Frostpaw's "Pardon the Polar Bear" vigil is being held -- our new location is already helping us advocate for species and the climate.

Our office overlooks Franklin Square Park -- and if we squint out a window we can see the top of the Washington Monument. More importantly, we're moments away from the Capitol, where big decisions are made. Ironically the place is on K Street, famous for hosting the offices of high-priced lobbyists for Big Industry. But never fear -- success hasn't stolen our souls. Our office isn't fancy, and we got a great deal on it. We even share the building with such other nonprofits as Teach for America.

As our our D.C.-based Public Lands Director Randi Spivak says, "We're the Davids to K Street's Goliaths."

Read about the long road we've taken from our scruffy origins nearly 25 years ago.

Take Action

Share Some Holiday Cheer -- Give Out Endangered Species Condoms

Endangered Species CondomsWhat better way to ring in the holidays than by handing out Endangered Species Condoms to your friends, acquaintances and coworkers?

By New Year's Eve the Center will have given away half a million of our (free) Endangered Species Condoms as part of our Population and Sustainability Program. But we need your help. We're looking for 300 volunteers of all ages to help us distribute condoms -- at places ranging from office parties to church gatherings, as ice breakers or stocking stuffers. If you want to be a volunteer distributor, please sign up today. The deadline is Friday, Dec. 6.

Be a part of our 50-state network and help give out condoms this season. Imagine the conversations you can have once you hand someone a package asking them to "Wrap with care, save the polar bear." Every one of those chats is a chance to link runaway human population growth and overconsumption to the species extinction crisis.

Sign up today to make Endangered Species Condoms part of your holidays as a volunteer distributor. And while you're at it, read this Huffington Post op-ed on the festiveness (or not) of lab-grown meat, written by the leader of our population and sustainability team, Stephanie Feldstein.

Lawsuit Filed to Save San Diego's Vanishing Burrowing Owls and Wetlands

Burrowing owlFollowing outrage within the environmental community last year over a report documenting the destruction and poisoning of burrowing owl homes at Brown Field Municipal Airport near San Diego, the Center and allies filed a legal challenge last Thursday to a city development proposal that would destroy sensitive wetland and burrowing owl habitat at the site.

Development at Brown Field would evict the largest known burrowing owl colony in San Diego from its nests. These unique creatures have been all but eliminated from the area by urban development -- as have the vernal pools that would also be sacrificed. The county has lost about 98 percent of its vernal pools, home to rare species like the San Diego fairy shrimp.

"San Diego rejected simple steps to protect sensitive wildlife at Brown Field from recklessly being paved over," said Jonathan Evans, a Center attorney. "Until San Diego follows its own policies to protect our rare and vanishing wildlife, and fixes the broken parts of its conservation program, we'll be forced to take them to court."

Read more in our press release.

Help Could Be Coming for Bigeye Tuna -- Take Action

Bigeye tunaThe Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is meeting next week in Australia to talk about one big issue: Pacific bigeye tuna. Overfishing is pushing these tuna to the brink of extinction and destroying their ocean ecosystems, and the commission is set to discuss possible solutions.

The most common way bigeyes are accidentally caught is with fish-aggregating devices, huge rafts of netting and other materials that float in the ocean for months at a time, indiscriminately attracting schools of fish (and sometimes abandoned to become marine debris). When these nets target other types of tuna, they also sweep up bigeyes by mistake -- which are then canned and sold for less than a dollar a pound.

Some bigeye tuna (only the largest, most mature) are caught purposefully, with longlines set out for hours dangling hundreds of hooks. Unfortunately, longlines catch plenty of other sea life that is later discarded, dead or maimed.

Please take action now to urge the U.S. delegation at the commission next week to control the commercial fishing that threatens to destroy our oceans. 

Wild & Weird: The Shopocalypse and the Earthalujah Revival

Reverend BillyPreachers thundering out messages of damnation and salvation to passionate crowds have a long, storied history. Theirs is a fire-and-brimstone tradition that lives on in modern America -- for instance, in the wild-eyed sermons of a certain "Reverend Billy."

Accompanied by his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, the good reverend rails against the evils of corporate greed and consumerism and the damage being caused to the planet as a result. He likes to preach to large crowds on Black Friday in order to deliver them out of the "Shopocalypse" and into a more sustainable "life after shopping." Rev. Billy performs credit card exorcisms, connects consumerism to climate change, and asks, "What unsustainably produced sweat-shop items would Jesus buy?"

He's been arrested more than 70 times delivering his message in major shopping centers from Times Square to Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

But you don't have to be one of Rev. Billy's congregants to think about boycotting Black Friday this year and saying no to rampant overbuying. Check out his website and watch this interview

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Frostpaw by Valerie Love, Center for Biological Diversity; American crocodile courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Charlesjsharp; Pardon the Polar Bear by Chelsea Tu; Miami blue butterfly by Jaret C. Daniels, McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity; ocelot (c) Joel Sartore; portion of "Don't Frack L.A.'s Future" billboard by Center for Biological Diversity, original baby photo (c) Mattner; U.S. Capitol courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Architect of the Capitol; Endangered Species Condoms design (c) Lori Lieber and artwork (c) Roger Peet; burrowing owl by Alan Vernon; bigeye tuna by James Watt, NOAA; Reverend Billy image courtesy Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping website.

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Center for Biological Diversity

P.O. Box 710

Tucson, AZ 85702