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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 798, Oct. 29, 2015

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Bacon, Ham, Sausage Classified as Carcinogenic -- Take Action

Mexican gray wolfBefore you take that bite, consider: The United Nations' World Health Organization this week classified the consumption of processed meats like bacon, ham and sausage as carcinogenic to people -- and red meat as probably carcinogenic. The new report places processed meat in the highest category of agents classified as "carcinogenic to humans," alongside cigarettes, alcohol and asbestos.

The news has additional implications in California. Under Proposition 65, the WHO decision should trigger a similar classification of these meats in California, requiring products containing them to be sold with a label warning that the products are known to cause cancer.

"The World Health Organization has put these meats in the same category as cigarettes in terms of the death and danger they deliver," said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Now, California must follow suit with public health warnings on the label. And it's no surprise: The science has been clear that these meats are bad for people, not to mention for wildlife and the planet."

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle and then sign our petition urging California to classify these processed meats as carcinogenic following the WHO's findings.

Polar Bears on the Front Lines -- Join Our Live Webcast From the Arctic

Kentucky arrow darterIt's been more than seven years since polar bears became the first mammal protected under the Endangered Species Act due to global warming (the result of a 2005 petition by the Center and subsequent lawsuits filed with allies).

So ... how are these bears faring today?

Join the Center and Polar Bears International on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 1:30 p.m. Central for a special live-streamed "Tundra Connections" webcast from the shores of western Hudson Bay in Canada, as top polar bear scientists and advocates discuss these questions and more -- most specifically, What can we do to help these bears fare better, using existing laws and policy? The panel will feature Geoff York, the senior director of conservation at Polar Bears International; Marc-André Dubois, who coordinates the World Wildlife Fund's Global Arctic Programme; and the Center's own Climate Law Institute Director Kassie Siegel, author of our famous polar bear petition.

Register now, watch Kassie's webcast at 1:30 p.m. Central on Nov. 3, and learn about other Tundra Connections webcasts.

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Wildlife From Toxic New Pesticide

Beauty productsThe Center is headed to court over the Environmental Protection Agency's approval of a new fungicide that's highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. The EPA in August gave broad approval to this pesticide, called benzovindiflupyr, for use on most crops, including cereals, corn, vegetables, fruits and turf grass.

Here's the problem: The EPA recognized that the pesticide could harm wildlife and "critical habitat" protected by the Endangered Species Act, but the agency approved it for use without consulting with expert wildlife agencies, as required by the Act. The EPA also allowed the use of benzovindiflupyr without properly examining its impact on imperiled bee populations, specifically ignoring studies indicating that fungicides may severely impact native bumblebees.

This week, the Center notified the EPA of our intent to sue over its approval.

"The EPA has a legal -- not to mention moral -- duty to protect our water and wildlife from pesticides," said the Center's Stephanie Parent. "Instead, though, it has rubber-stamped its approval on yet another dangerous new pesticide."

Read more in our press release.

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Help Us Stop This Outrageous Project in the Arctic -- Take Action

Rubber Dodo AwardJust when we thought offshore oil drilling in the Arctic was done and we could breathe easy, news has resurfaced about the so-called "Liberty" project off Alaska's coast. But with your help, we can stop this dangerous project in the Beaufort Sea before it threatens wildlife and lights the fuse on a 150-million-barrel carbon bomb.

A company called Hilcorp wants to build a huge artificial island and a 5-mile pipeline in churning seas that are prime polar bear habitat. Offshore oil drilling is inherently dangerous, and an oil spill would be impossible to clean up in the Arctic Ocean.

Before regulators consider allowing construction of this island of oil rigs, they need to hear from you. Urge the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to reject this dangerous project and instead put us on a course toward the clean energy future we all need and want.

Nearly 300 Black Bears Killed in Florida Hunt

Southwestern willow flycatcherIt's safe to say that last weekend was the deadliest two days in decades for Florida's black bears. The state's black bear hunt -- the first in 21 years -- claimed nearly 300 bruins. The Center and allies fought for an emergency stop to the hunt, but the state wildlife commission was determined to make it happen.

It's estimated there are just 3,000 to 3,500 Florida black bears left, yet the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the sale of more than 3,778 permits and a limit of 320 bears. These bears are already facing intensifying threats like habitat degradation and collisions with cars, so the hunt may be devastating to their population.

The Center and our allies in Florida will continue the fight to protect these amazing bears. Stay tuned for how you can help, and read more in Politico.

U.S. Climate Negotiators Must Back Airplane Pollution Cuts -- Take Action

Olive Garden signThe world can't fight climate change without cutting planet-warming pollution from two of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions -- airplanes and ships.

But these massive polluters are getting a free pass at the United Nations climate talks. The latest version of the negotiation text being prepared for this year's climate summit would let airlines and shipping companies skip the Paris climate goals.

The plan would turn responsibility for solving the climate threat from ships and planes over to two industry-friendly organizations that have already failed for years to address their pollution. Our planet will pay the price: By 2050, without strong action, global aviation carbon emissions will likely triple and shipping pollution could rise 250 percent.

The Obama administration must take a stand to protect our climate. Act now to urge Todd Stern, the State Department's special envoy for climate change, to support meaningful action on airplane and ship pollution at the Paris summit.

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Lawsuit Launched for Rare Nevada Fish

Columbian white-tailed deerThe Center has filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management for allowing groundwater pumping that could dry up the springs and aquifers sustaining one of Nevada's rarest fishes, the Moapa dace.

Despite recent groundwater-pumping tests showing that the species could be driven extinct by more groundwater pumping, the feds have failed to reconsider approvals for projects that include increased pumping -- simply to feed golf courses, swimming pools and other urbanization in Las Vegas and Coyote Springs. This will dry up the dace's only habitat in the headwater springs of the Muddy River in the Moapa Valley Wildlife Refuge.

This olive-yellow, 5-inch fish was considered common upon its discovery back in 1938, but from the 1950s to 2010, its population dwindled -- mostly because of water withdrawals for development -- to only 697 recorded individuals, which were then hit by a devastating fire on the Muddy River.

Now, having been protected under the Endangered Species Act for more than four decades, the dace is showing a modest population increase -- and the Center isn't about to let more pumping reverse that to a devastating degree.

Read more in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Last Chance to Vote: Who's 2015's Worst Eco-Villain?

Car seatTime is running out to cast your vote for the worst of the worst for 2015 -- the person or entity that really went hell-for-leather this year to destroy wild places, drive species extinct, and tear apart the cultural and biological diversity crucial to our survival.

The Center established the Rubber Dodo Award in 2007 as a way to spotlight the year's worst eco-villain. The award, named after one of the most famous extinct species on Earth, is given out annually. It does not come with a cash prize. Previous recipients of this prestigious faux-accolade include the deadly wildlife-killing program known as Wildlife Services, the infamous Koch Brothers, Sen. James Inhofe and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

This year's nominees are Sen. John McCain, Exxon, Monsanto, Volkswagen and Cliven Bundy. Voting closes Friday at midnight.

Learn more about why each made it to our Dodo list and cast your vote for the worst.

Wild & Weird: A Punxsutawney Caterpillar?

Giant pouched ratThe groundhog Punxsutawney Phil may be America's most famous animal meteorologist, but he certainly isn't the only one. In Avery County, N.C., residents gather every October to learn the winter prognostications of a "woolly worm."

Shuffling through cotton-candy and funnel-cake vendors, residents bring their pet woollies -- the caterpillars of the Isabella tiger moth -- to the annual Woolly Festival where, in fierce competition, the critters race each other up 42-inch pieces of string. The fastest woolly is then presented to the official "worm interpreter," who examines its 13 segments -- which, according to legend, correspond to the 13 weeks of winter. After the winning worm's color segments are officially inspected (none are killed or cut apart), each week of winter weather is forecast to the crowd.

This year Twinkle Toes -- who hails from Green Mountain, N.C. -- beat out Chopper and Speedy in the final race. Based on Twinkle's segments, the region will experience a few weeks of blistery snow, followed by a mild winter.

Read more about weather-predicting woollies in The Guardian.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Woman courtesy Flickr/Ben Raynal, design by Center for Biological Diversity; polar bear courtesy Flickr/Alan Harper; sign courtesy Flickr/jetsandzeppelins; wolves by John Pitcher; polar bear courtesy Flickr/Elizabeth Haslam; black bear courtesy Flickr/Bob Jagendorf; airplane courtesy Flickr/dsleeter_2000; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; Moapa dace courtesy USGS; Rubber Dodo Award courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; woolly caterpillar courtesy Flickr/The Last Cookie.

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