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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 748, Nov. 13, 2014

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Court Rejects Shell's Lawsuit Against Center -- Thank You

Polar bearsA huge victory against Big Oil: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals just struck down a lawsuit filed by Shell against the Center for Biological Diversity and 12 other environmental groups that have been fighting for years to keep oil drillers out of the Arctic. The decision this week should end a lawsuit filed in 2012 by the oil giant after we stopped Shell multiple times from drilling in fragile ecosystems, putting polar bears, walruses, seals and whales directly in harm's way.

Shell's lawsuit was a blatant attempt to intimidate all of us fighting for the Arctic and the species that rely on it. We're happy to have this ruling in our favor, and we'll be redoubling our efforts to keep the Great North safe from those wanting to exploit it for profit.

Thanks so much to all of you who donated for our legal defense in this case. We share this victory with you.

Read more in Alaska Dispatch News.

Lawsuit Fights 38 Years of Delay for Southwestern Wolves

Mexican gray wolfFor nearly 40 years, the Southwest's population of endangered Mexican gray wolves has been without a federal recovery plan, which acts as a blueprint for rebuilding it to sustainable levels. In the absence of that plan, there are just 83 wolves (and five breeding pairs) in the wild, and they remain at serious risk of extinction.

On Wednesday the Center and allies -- including a retired federal wolf biologist -- sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to finalize a recovery plan for these wolves, some of the most endangered mammals in North America. Also on Wednesday the Center released a report, called Deadly Delay, outlining years of foot-dragging and appeasement of states and others with no interest in allowing more Mexican wolves on the landscape.

"It's shameful that the very people charged with recovering our wildlife have turned their backs on these beautiful creatures, leaving them to battle inbreeding and a host of other threats pushing them to the brink of extinction," said the Center's Michael Robinson.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times and check out our report in our press release.

Suit Targets Secretive Decision to Ramp Up Tar Sands Transport

Canadian oil pipelineThe Center went to court Wednesday, along with our conservation and tribal allies, to fight the U.S. State Department's secretive approval of a plan to allow Canadian oil giant Enbridge to nearly double the amount of tar sands oil in the Alberta Clipper pipeline.

The approval this summer happened without public notice and without legally required reviews meant to protect air, water, wildlife and public health.

The scheme would put the Alberta Clipper pipeline -- which runs from Alberta, Canada, through Minnesota to Superior, Wisc. -- on par with the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, significantly ramping up the amount of dirty tar sands moving into the United States. If the Obama administration is serious about tackling the climate crisis, it can't be approving these kinds of disastrous projects, which only make things much, much worse.

Read more in the Star Tribune.

In Hawaii's Colorful Reefs, a Harrowing Death Knell

Hawaiian corals and fishIt's no secret that the world's corals are in trouble. And right now in the waters surrounding Hawaii, some of the rarest corals on Earth are getting hammered. In recent weeks warming ocean temperatures have set off widespread bleaching. Some corals will survive, but others -- especially those barely hanging on -- will be a step closer to extinction.

The Center has been working for years to save corals from bleaching and ocean acidification. As the Center's Miyoko Sakashita points out in a new op-ed, we're happy to see new federal protection for 20 species of corals, but there's much more work to be done.

"It's easy to turn a blind eye to what's happening, especially because it's taking place out of our daily vision in places where few of us will ever see in person," Miyo writes. "But our negligence of the plight of corals -- willful or not -- will come at a steep price, exacted in the loss of the magical undersea worlds that we allowed to disappear."

Read Miyo's piece in The Huffington Post and learn more about our work to save corals.

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U.S.-China Climate Deal Raises Hopes and Tough Questions

SmokestackA new U.S.-China climate deal announced this week is making headlines around the world. It's good news that the planet's two largest carbon emitters are working together to cut pollution, but the deal also raises tough questions.

Under the plan the United States will cut carbon emissions by about 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. And China has, for the first time, set a date -- 2030 -- for its emissions to peak and start to fall.

This historic step shows that climate activists are making a difference, and it disproves claims that U.S. action is meaningless because China is doing nothing to fight climate change. But the deal isn't binding, and the emission cuts just aren't ambitious enough to prevent a climate catastrophe.

"We need stronger, binding pollution cuts to preserve a livable planet," said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center's Climate Law Institute. "As the world's largest cumulative carbon emitter, the United States has a special obligation to support U.N. efforts to cut planet-warming pollution. The critical question is whether this announcement will be the first step toward the U.S. finally agreeing to a fair, binding and science-based climate treaty in Paris in 2015."

Read more in The New York Times.

Generation Wild: New Center Website Calls Youth to Action

PronghornIf we're going to save wildlife and the planet, we need everyone with us. Especially young people.

The Center's new site for Generation Wild has tons of easy-to-read info on conservation, from the very basics to an in-depth list of actions where young people can make a difference. Are you a young person who wants to be in on, or even lead, the next big movement to save the natural world? Take our pledge.

The site also has tons of videos, interactive maps, free species ringtones, coloring pages for youngsters and a page full of cool species facts. (Did you know fairy shrimp breathe through their legs?) And remember: This is just the site's launch, so stay tuned for lots more stuff to be added.

Parents and teachers should definitely check out this page, too.

Join Generation Wild now.

Lawsuit Filed to Save Walruses From Oil Drilling

Walrus and calfA coalition of groups, including the Center, sued the Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday over a rule allowing oil companies to harm imperiled Pacific walruses in crucial feeding areas during Arctic Ocean oil drilling, which could begin as early as next year.

Pacific walruses are already imperiled by global warming rapidly destroying their icy Arctic home. These walruses depend on the region's disappearing ice for resting, raising young, feeding and avoiding predators. But as climate change is melting this ice, walruses have been recently forced ashore -- in fact, just a few weeks ago there was a massive haul-out during which 35,000 walruses crowded together on the Alaskan coast because there wasn't enough ice to hold them.

Now, in addition to habitat destruction due to climate change -- which is largely caused by burning fossil fuels -- walruses will be directly assaulted with oil operations that may chase them away from foraging areas, trigger stampedes and cause deafening seismic blasts. Drilling also risks catastrophic oil spills impossible to clean up in Arctic conditions.

Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune.

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Op-ed: The Population Wake-up Call

Rotary telephoneIn a recently published study, two Australian researchers ran scenarios from the mundane to the apocalyptic to see what might be in store for the human population by the end of the century. The results were grim -- in one example even if a global pandemic wiped out 2 billion people, there would still be 8.4 billion by 2100.

The authors and the mainstream media concluded that population advocacy "is not a quick fix for environmental problems," and therefore conservationists should focus efforts on curbing consumption instead. So what should've been a wake-up call -- proving we've ignored population growth for too long -- became a snooze button to keep ignoring it.

And one troubling scenario was left out of the study: What would happen if we stopped talking about population altogether? In a Huffington Post piece this week, the Center's population and sustainability director answers that question. Spoiler alert: Ignoring population growth would definitely be bad news for people and the planet.

Read more in The Huffington Post.

Just Released: Our Fall Newsletter

WolverineThe Center's fall print newsletter is out, with an online PDF for easy viewing.

This issue includes pieces about our historic win for loggerhead sea turtles (more than 300,000 square miles protected as critical habitat), our new fight to save wolverines, and why some of the Center's top leaders were arrested in New York City at the game-changing People's Climate March.

We make our members-only print newsletter available to our online supporters as a thank-you for taking action -- but please consider becoming a member today and helping us even more. Simply call us toll-free at 1-866-357-3349 x 311 or visit our membership webpage to learn more and make a gift.

Read the fall 2014 issue now.

Wild & Weird: 17 Lions Defeated by Porcupine -- Watch Video

PorcupineA lion attack often goes like this: Several lionesses encircle a chosen target in the night, their body language purposefully casual; one lioness closes in slowly, and then comes a sudden leap with bared teeth and claws and a powerful blow that disables the prey. This mode of attack might be the same for an elephant, a zebra or even a giraffe, and it's one of the reasons lions are called the kings (and queens) of the jungle.

You'd think 17 hungry lions circling a porcupine would mean the end of the poor critter. But as a new video by a gamekeeper in South Africa shows, you might be wrong.

Watch this video of a tenacious porcupine fending off an entire pride of lions, and read more at The Independent.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Polar bears courtesy Flickr/jidanchaomian; Mexican gray wolf courtesy deviantart/lynnkitchell; Canadian oil pipeline courtesy Flickr/rblood; Hawaiian corals by Greg McFall, NOAA; wolves by John Pitcher; smokestack courtesy Flickr/Senor Codo; pronghorn courtesy Flickr/mnchilemom; walruses by Chad Jay, USGS; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; rotary telephone courtesy Flickr/Halans; wolverine by Igor Shpilenok; porcupine courtesy Flickr/Arthur Chapman.

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