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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 800, Nov. 12, 2015

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Oregon Strips Wolf Protection, Fight Will Head to Court

Oregon wolvesThe Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Monday voted to end protection for wolves under the state's Endangered Species Act -- even though there are just 83 wolves in the state, living in only 12 percent of suitable habitat. That's not nearly enough to call these majestic predators "recovered" in their state.

Some 22,000 Center supporters and other allies submitted comments against this premature plan to remove the wolves' state protections, and several top biologists declared the plan "fundamentally flawed." But the wildlife commission did it anyway -- defying the law, public opinion and science. We plan to challenge the commission in court.

"This is a purely political decision made at the behest of livestock and hunting interests," said the Center's Amaroq Weiss. "Oregonians expect more from their state government."

Read more in Amaroq's op-ed, published in Eugene's Register-Guard, and consider donating to our Predator Defense Fund.

A Victory to Savor: Keystone XL Rejected -- Thank You

FrostpawPresident Obama on Friday rejected the Keystone XL pipeline -- an incredible victory for our climate, wildlife and the millions of you who raised your voices against this disastrous project. We hope that you took some time to savor this historic win.

Just a few years ago, the pipeline was thought to be a done deal, one more oil industry project that couldn't be defeated. That was before we came together to build the most powerful climate movement the United States has ever seen. Since the pipeline was proposed, thousands of people have been arrested at the White House in peaceful protest, tens of thousands have participated in "No KXL" rallies in all 50 states, millions have sent comments in opposition, and numerous farmers and tribes along the proposed route have united to protect their lands.

All of us won because together we stood strong to defeat this pipeline, sending an unmistakable message demanding a healthy, livable planet for all -- and sane energy policies that put people and the planet before pollution and profit.

Thank you for your part in this victory. Check out this video and listen to this story on National Public Radio.

Tomorrow Is World Vasectomy Day -- Will You Get Whacked for Wildlife?

Get Whacked for WildlifeDid you know World Vasectomy Day is tomorrow? The Center is encouraging men to pledge their willingness to get the procedure -- and we'll even send you a free "Get Whacked for Wildlife" T-shirt featuring a cartoon of a polar bear carrying a pair of scissors.

"Choosing to have fewer or no children is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint, but right now men are often left out of that conversation," said Leigh Moyer, our population organizer. "If we want to leave room for wildlife on an already crowded planet, we need to get men more involved in preventing unplanned pregnancies."

World Vasectomy Day was founded in 2013 by filmmaker Jonathan Stack and urologist Dr. Doug Stein to heighten awareness of, and increase access to, the procedure. In honor of World Vasectomy Day, the Center also covered the costs for 20 vasectomies at two New York City clinics.

Pledge to "get whacked for wildlife" and learn how to get your free T-shirt.

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L.A. Sued for Racially Discriminatory Oil-drilling Rules

Los Angeles family living near fracking rigThe Center joined Youth for Environmental Justice and South Central Youth Leadership Coalition -- representing many plaintiffs in their teens -- to sue Los Angeles for letting oil companies drill hundreds of wells near neighborhoods without properly assessing their health and environmental risks.

The suit also charges L.A. with creating weaker oil-drilling protections in areas where most residents are people of color. For example, the city requires west-side sites to use relatively clean, quiet electric drilling rigs -- but in the black and Latino neighborhoods of South L.A. and Wilmington, it allows loud, polluting diesel rigs that fill nearby homes with toxic fumes. The city has also required soundproofed-facade buildings surrounding drill sites near homes in West L.A., but not in South L.A. or Wilmington, where residents must endure diesel rigs' deafening din.

Said the Center's Maya Golden-Krasner, "It's tragic that city officials are doing so little to protect communities of color from hazardous oil operations -- which don't belong in any neighborhood."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

New York Times Op-ed: Obama Should Let Fossil Fuels Lie

Keep It in the Ground rallyIn the wake of President Obama's Keystone XL announcement, The New York Times on Wednesday ran an op-ed column by Center staff writer Lydia Millet asking the president to go further and use his authority to keep new fossil fuel leases off our federal public lands. Citing a report commissioned by the Center and Friends of the Earth, Millet pointed out that even without action by Congress, the president has the authority to stop new leasing of public lands -- mostly in the interior West and offshore -- to oil, gas and coal interests.

It's a move that would keep some 450 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere, while also helping to preserve wild places and the animals and plants whose survival depends on them.

We're taking that message to the street too. Dozens of protesters joined us this morning in Colorado calling for a halt to an oil and gas auction there. We've got similar rallies set for upcoming auctions in Salt Lake City, Reno and Washington, D.C.

Read the op-ed now and check out this gallery of photos from this morning's protest in Colorado.

Stop Zoo Imports of Wild African Elephants -- Take Action

Swaziland elephantThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced plans to import 18 African elephants, torn from the wild in Swaziland, to serve a life of captivity in American zoos. But the southern African country only has 39 elephants in total -- so the proposal will cut the nation's elephant population by nearly half.

This is preposterous, and we can't let it go one step further. At a time when African elephant populations are plummeting due to the ivory trade, stripping live elephants from the wild for display in the United States fails to reinforce the reality that conservation -- not trade -- is what elephants desperately need.

Act now to urge the Service to abandon its woeful import plan. It's time to raise a ruckus and encourage the agency to keep the "wild" in wildlife.

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More Than 1 Million Speak Out to Save Oak Flat, Sacred Apache Land

Oak Flat marchThe Center and allies have submitted petitions with the signatures of more than a million people to Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) in support of the bill he introduced to save Oak Flat, sacred Apache land in Arizona's Tonto National Forest.

This hallowed place -- public land that harbors a diverse ecosystem and unique array of species -- was traded away last December in an underhanded deal by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to facilitate a massive copper mine. The mine, the largest copper-mining project in North America, would devastate the beautiful site.

The 1 million signatures were presented last week at the House Natural Resource Committee forum on protecting sacred American Indian sites, hosted by Ranking Member Grijalva.

"The fight to save Oak Flat will succeed," said the Center's Randi Spivak. "People nationwide are outraged and won't let our public lands and American Indian sacred sites be destroyed for profits."

Read more in our press release.

Ban New Offshore Drilling on the West Coast -- Take Action

Platform Holly in Southern CaliforniaThe U.S. West Coast is famous for its scenic beauty, from San Diego's popular surf spots to the lush coastal bluffs of the Pacific Northwest. Yet for too long, Southern California has been sullied by aging offshore drilling rigs that regularly spew oil onto these otherwise pristine beaches and pollute the waters with toxic fracking waste. This has to change, and now is the time to do it.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and other Democratic senators have introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act to spare future generations the perils of this reckless form of fossil fuel extraction. It would ban new offshore oil and gas leases along the entire West Coast, preventing future presidents from submitting to the pressures of Big Oil to drill into new ocean ecosystems there. Climate scientists say we need to keep most existing oil and gas reserves safely in the ground to avoid the most dangerous climate change scenarios -- so banning new offshore leases should be a no-brainer.

Act now to tell your members of Congress that you want to see the West Coast protected.

Wild & Weird: The Late Night Acrobatics of a Skunk -- Watch Video

Spotted skunkLike most skunks, the spotted skunk -- a native of North America -- packs a mighty malodorous weapon in its subcutaneous anal glands. But this spotted stinker is significantly smaller than its striped cousins and purely nocturnal. You aren't likely to run across one in the wild. And that's kind of a shame, because spotted skunks are also terrifyingly adorable acrobats.

As a pre-stink-spray attempt to ward off danger, spotted skunks stamp their feet rapidly, then leap into a series of handstands, their tail and legs pulsing frantically to what can only be described as the beat of a lunatic drum.

Take a look at this spotted skunk doing a handstand dance, videotaped not far from the Center's headquarters in Tucson, Ariz.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Oregon wolves courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; Frostpaw courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; polar bear image courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; wolves by John Pitcher; Los Angeles family near fracking rig courtesy Flickr/Sarah Craig, Faces of Fracking; Keep It in the Ground rally courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; Swaziland elephant courtesy Flickr/Valerie Hukalo; Oak Flat march courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Southern California oil platform courtesy Flickr/Glenn Beltz; spotted skunk courtesy Interior Department.

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Center for Biological Diversity
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