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New Report: Fracking Boom Raises California's Earthquake Risk

Fracking reportOil companies are increasing California's earthquake danger by injecting billion of gallons of oil and gas wastewater into underground wells near active earthquake faults around Los Angeles, Bakersfield and other major cities. A fracking boom in California will make the risk from earthquakes more severe for the millions of people who live near active faults.

That's the conclusion of a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks and Clean Water Action. The report, On Shaky Ground: Fracking, Acidizing and Increased Earthquake Risk in California, is the first ever to analyze oil and gas wastewater and earthquake risk in the Golden State.

"An oil fracking boom in California could raise the risk of devastating earthquakes in some of our biggest cities," said report coauthor Shaye Wolf, the Center's climate science director. "State officials are ignoring the problem, but as risky new oil-production techniques spread, we could see trillions of gallons of wastewater shot into the ground near active faults. We need to nip this danger in the bud by halting fracking and acidizing."

Read more in our press release.

More Than 2 Million Join Call to Stop Keystone -- Thank You

Keystone XL protestBy the time midnight rolled around last Friday night, something incredible had happened: More than 2 million people had sent Secretary of State John Kerry an urgent message against the Keystone XL pipeline.

More and more Americans are speaking out against the senseless damage Keystone XL would do to our climate, wildlife, air and water. Thanks to all of you who submitted your comments to the State Department.

The State Department's review process will wrap up soon, and the decision will be put in the hands of President Obama -- who needs to hear from all of us that the pipeline should be rejected. Stay tuned for how to speak up again.

Learn more on our anti-Keystone campaign page.

Washington Wolf Pack Numbers Up, Wolf-livestock Conflicts Down

Wolf pupsOn Saturday Washington state announced its wolf population has now grown to 13 packs and five breeding pairs, with a minimum estimated 52 wolves. The state's wolf recovery has largely been driven by federal Endangered Species Act protections: The reintroduction of wolves in adjacent Idaho led to wolves dispersing into Washington. Notably, even though wolf population and pack numbers have increased, wolves were involved in far fewer conflicts with humans and livestock in 2013 than in the previous year. Nonlethal conflict-prevention methods are paying off.

Wolves are protected under federal law in the western two-thirds of Washington and under state law everywhere else, which helps prevent poaching and encourages ranchers to take preventive action to protect their livestock.

"Wolves are a resilient species, and they can make it if people are tolerant. But wolf killing is still a big risk and can have a huge impact on a population," said Amaroq Weiss, the Center's West Coast wolf organizer. "These beautiful, ecologically important animals continue to need strong state and federal protections to fully recover in Washington."

Read more in our press release.

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Protection Sought for Rare, Silvery Plant in Oregon and California

Silvery phaceliaSilvery phacelia is a beautiful, white-flowered shrub whose leaves are coated in hairs that help keep off salt from its seashore environment. But this plant isn't just pretty; it's also critical to its ecosystem, its flowers a rich source of nectar and pollen for native bees where it grows along the coast of southern Oregon and Northern California.

The silvery phacelia is in the forget-me-not family, and the Center and allies are making sure it's not forgotten. Last week we petitioned to protect it under the Endangered Species Act to help ensure its survival, which is now threatened by off-road vehicles, development and nonnative beach grass taking over its turf. There are now only about 30 surviving populations of the plant.

"Silvery phacelia is a unique part of the natural heritage of our coast," said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center. "But we could lose it forever if we aren't careful. Endangered Species Act protection is the best hope for protecting this beautiful plant for future generations."

Get more from KCET News.

Reward Increased to $20,000 for Information on Poisoning of Scientist's Dog

NyxoThe Center and allies have increased to $20,000 the reward we're offering for information about the death of a Northern California dog owned by a leading researcher studying how the controversial rat poison brodifacoum affects endangered species.

Nyxo the dog, who died Feb. 3, belonged to Dr. Mourad Gabriel, who has been investigating how brodifacoum threatens wildlife like Pacific fishers and northern spotted owls. A necropsy revealed Nxyo had eaten brodifacoum, along with some red meat.

"Although the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate death remain unclear, we demand justice for this malicious poisoning and condemn the use of violence to silence any scientist, researcher or citizen whose work aims to conserve wildlife," said Jonathan Evans, our toxics and endangered species campaign director.

Read more in our press release.

Lawsuit Fights to Save California River, Wildlife From Sprawling Development

California red-legged frogNewhall Ranch, which we've been fighting for years, is one of the largest housing developments ever approved in California and would transform more than 2,000 acres from rugged open space and agricultural land into a sprawling, unsustainable city. The Center and allies just sued two federal agencies over their granting of permits for the massive project, which stands to harm a wide range of rare and endangered species, from California condors to red-legged frogs to steelhead trout.

Newhall Ranch was conceived in the 1980s and would include nearly 20,000 housing units spread throughout the fragile landscape of the Santa Clara River Valley, requiring extensive modification of the river and its floodplain. Besides damaging habitat for a wide variety of fish, birds, amphibians and plants, the project will also likely damage American Indian burial sites, sacred places and cultural natural resources.

"These federal permits pave the way for the destruction of the Santa Clara River, one of the most endangered rivers in America, by bringing massive development within the river's floodplain," said John Buse, a senior Center attorney.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

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BLM Misses Mark on Sage Grouse Protection -- Take Action

Greater sage grouseNew draft plans from the Bureau of Land Management reveal an uncertain future for the West's most famous dancing bird. Although impressive in geographic scope -- since the BLM promises to revise land use on 60 million acres -- the plans fall far short of what's needed to protect the greater sage grouse and, in some cases, they entirely ignore scientists' protection recommendations.

An expert panel convened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified key threats to the sage grouse, including invasive plants, energy development, livestock grazing, wildfire and agriculture. Maybe the memo to the BLM got lost in the mail?

Along with sage grouse, more than 350 other species call the sage steppe home, including pygmy rabbits, golden eagles, pronghorn and mule deer.

Please -- let's make sure that neither we nor our children have to witness the last dance of these extraordinary birds. Act now to urge the BLM's director to protect the greater sage grouse and its habitat using the best available science.

Center Nominated for Social Progress Award

Yellow-billed cuckooOver the past 25 years, the Center for Biological Diversity has helped secure federal protections for more than 500 animals and plants, from Alameda whipsnakes to yellow-billed cuckoos, as well as protected habitat across more than 200 million acres. Now the work of the Center's Endangered Species Program has been nominated for a "CLASSY Award," which recognizes champions of social progress. Our endangered species program is one of five nominees for a CLASSY in the Land, Wildlife & Urbanization category.

A panel of judges will soon choose the final winner; meanwhile, we're charmed to be on the list of contenders. Stay tuned for the results and learn more from the Collaborative Exchange.

Wild & Weird: April Showers Bring ... Genghis Khan

Genghis KhanAt its peak the vast, horse-powered military of the Mongol Empire (1206-1368) controlled the most geographically expansive empire in all of history, stretching from Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, and from Siberia to Southeast Asia. But how'd the Mongols take over so much of the world so quickly? A new study based on tree-ring samples from ancient Siberian pines in central Mongolia suggests warm weather and rain.

The report, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that in the years immediately preceding Genghis Khan's rule, a period of tribal disarray, the steppe region suffered intense drought. But then, coinciding with the meteoric rise of the empire, Mongolia witnessed a climatic shift involving rain and warmth to a degree never experienced in the region before or since. That rainfall brought unprecedented growth in plants, namely grasses. The theory is that grass abundance allowed the Mongols to increase the horsepower that overwhelmed their enemies across the known world.

Read more in USA TODAY; then check out this time-lapse map of the extent of the Mongol empire.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Fracking rig courtesy openclipart/cybergedeon; fracking report cover courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; Keystone XL protest by Chelsea Tu, Center for Biological Diversity; wolf pups courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; silvery phacelia courtesy Oregon Wild; Nyxo courtesy Mourad Gabriel; California red-legged frog; greater sage grouse courtesy Flickr/Dan Dzurisin; yellow-billed cuckoo courtesy Flickr/nebirdsplus; Genghis Khan courtesy Flickr/Ludovic Hirlimann.

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Center for Biological Diversity

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