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Texas Salamanders Get Endangered Species Act Protection

Georgetown salamanderTwo central Texas salamanders are the latest animals to benefit from the Center for Biological Diversity's historic agreement to speed up protection decisions for 757 species. The Georgetown and Salado salamanders have been on the waiting list for protection for years, and need clean, well-oxygenated water to survive. They're threatened by pollution, habitat disturbance and a growing human population.

"Saving these salamanders will also protect the precious springs that give drinking water and recreation to Texas communities," said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center attorney and biologist who works to save imperiled amphibians and reptiles.

Our 757 species agreement has already yielded Endangered Species Act protection for 107 species and proposed protections for another 28.

Read more in the Austin American-Statesman.

With No Killing Over Cattle, Oregon's Wolf Population Triples in Three Years

Gray wolfOregon's wolf population has tripled since the end of 2010, according to an annual wolf population estimate the state released Tuesday. The new estimate of 64 wolves represents a threefold increase from an estimated 21 wolves at the end of 2010.

In 2011 the Center and allies filed a legal challenge against the state for killing wolves over conflicts with livestock; that suit ultimately resulted in new rules for the use of nonlethal methods to reduce those conflicts. While the suit was pending, the state could not kill wolves for wolf-livestock conflicts, so the use of nonlethal methods surged. As a result, even as the wolf population has tripled, conflicts have not increased -- and in some instances have decreased -- and no wolves have been killed over livestock conflicts.

"Though wolf recovery in Oregon is still in its infancy, it's real cause for celebration that the wolf population has tripled," said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center. "Oregon's shift to more balanced strategies to manage wolf-livestock conflicts has created a landscape where these magnificent animals can begin to thrive. The state has a golden opportunity to build a national model for wolf recovery."

Read more in our press release.

Nebraska Court Ruling Raises Big Questions for Keystone XL -- Take Action

Whooping craneThere was major news out of Nebraska last week in the fight to stop Keystone XL: A state district judge struck down a law that allowed the governor to decide what route the controversial pipeline would take in the state. That means there's now no approved route for Keystone XL across Nebraska, according to an attorney who sued over the state law on behalf of three landowners.

Although the decision is being appealed, it raises big questions about the future of the project. Still, TransCanada and the oil industry will stop at nothing to get this dangerous pipeline built -- so please, take action today and tell Secretary of State John Kerry that you don't think Keystone XL should be approved.

Read more in The Washington Post.

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EPA Asked to Halt Dumping of Fracking Chemicals in California's Ocean

Sea otterThe Center filed a legal petition with the EPA this week to stop oil companies from dumping toxic chemicals from fracking directly into the ocean off California. About half the oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel discharge some or all of their wastewater into the sea; right now the oil industry has federal permission to dump more than 9 billion gallons of wastewater a year directly into California's ocean.

Our petition seeks to modify that permit to halt that discharge and urges the EPA to develop national guidelines for offshore fracking pollution.

"It's disgusting that oil companies dump wastewater into California's ocean," said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center. "The toxic chemicals used for offshore fracking don't belong in the ocean, and the best way to protect our coast is to ban fracking altogether."

Get more from KCET News.

Giant Grand Canyon Trees On the Chopping Block -- Take Action

Ponderosa pineThe old "yellow-belly" ponderosa pines of the Grand Canyon's majestic North Rim may soon get cut down if we don't act fast. A timber sale in northern Arizona's Kaibab National Forest proposes to log more than 1,000 of these rare and beautiful trees, many of which were already tall two centuries ago.

The sale would be bad news for many people who visit this world-renowned place every year -- and for the animals that depend on the trees to survive, including northern goshawks and other raptors. But it's not too late to stop these yellow-bellies from being razed: The Forest Service hasn't yet auctioned them off to a logging company.

Take action now to urge the Kaibab National Forest supervisor to stop the proposed "Wild Buck" timber sale and focus instead on thinning smaller trees that have been allowed to crowd the forest due to fire suppression.

Then check out an op-ed by Center scientist Jay Lininger.

Bill Introduced to Stop Fracking in California, Prevent Fracking Pollution

California condorAs the Golden State struggles with a crippling drought, state Sen. Holly Mitchell has introduced a bill that would impose a moratorium on fracking and protect people and the environment from pollution caused by this dangerous form of oil and gas extraction.

An escalation of fracking in California is threatening the state's water supplies, since the huge quantities of water used to frack wells become so contaminated they have to be removed from the hydrological cycle. Fracking chemicals can also pollute rivers, streams and aquifers -- and of course, fracking can release huge quantities of methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Endangered species like California condors and San Joaquin kit foxes also live in places where fracking is likely to expand, and face both direct and indirect harm.

"Senator Mitchell deserves applause for working to protect Californians from fracking pollution with a bill that stops the use of this toxic technique," said the Center's Brian Nowicki. "To safeguard our air, water and climate, Sacramento legislators should move quickly to pass this badly needed bill."

Read more in this Reuters story.

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Petition Aims to Keep Genetically Engineered Crops Out of Wildlife Refuges

BeeOur national wildlife refuges should be sanctuaries for wild animals, not testing grounds for agricultural experiments. That's why the Center joined a host of allies Tuesday in filing a legal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban the use of genetically engineered crops and neonicotinoid pesticides in all national wildlife refuges.

Genetically engineered crops contaminate wild plants and natural crops and are often created to be resistant to pesticides. Many GE crops (like corn, canola and soybeans) are also treated with a type of pesticide called neonicotinoids, which are highly toxic to pollinators and one of the leading causes of the current bee colony collapse.

If wildlife refuges are going to continue performing their vital role for plants and animals, we need to keep dangerous elements out.

Read more in our press release.

Wild & Weird: Let Them Eat Frack

Water towerExxon CEO Rex Tillerson loves a good frack. The process has helped his multinational corporation become one of the largest producers of natural gas in the world, and Tillerson has argued publicly that fracking is safe and that regulations on the industry unnecessarily hinder his company's operations.

But wait. Why's this famous frack-booster now part of a suit to keep fracking out of his rich Dallas suburb? Is it because he's coming to terms with the fact that pollutants like chlorides, barium and strontium leaked from an Exxon subsidiary facility into a tributary of the Susquehanna River basin in Pennsylvania in 2010, poisoning drinking water? Is it because he's having second thoughts about how natural gas drilling is destroying Texans' air quality?

Fat chance. No, Tillerson and his co-plaintiffs are just worried that construction of an unsightly water tower -- to be used to "sell water to oil and gas explorers for fracking shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks" -- will mar the view near their home.

Maybe a free pizza will make the pain go away. Read more in the Dallas Observer.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: San Joaquin kit fox (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Georgetown salamander by R.D. Bartlett; gray wolf courtesy Flickr/Francis Danforth; Nebraska sign courtesy Flickr/Jimmy Emerson; sea otter courtesy Flickr/Mike Baird; ponderosa pine courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Mitch; California condor by Isaac Hsieh; bee courtesy Flickr/Joe Philipson; water tower courtesy Flickr/mlhradio.

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Center for Biological Diversity

P.O. Box 710

Tucson, AZ 85702