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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 803, Dec. 3, 2015

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Landmark Court Win Knocks Back Massive Sprawl Development

Unarmored three-spine sticklebackA massive victory in California: The state Supreme Court on Monday struck a severe blow to the proposed Newhall Ranch mega-development project near Los Angeles in a case filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies.

We've been fighting this project for many years. It would create a new town of more than 60,000 residents on a 12,000-acre site that includes a 6-mile stretch of the Santa Clara River, Southern California's last major free-flowing waterway -- home to rare species like the unarmored threespine stickleback and southern steelhead trout. It would also create new greenhouse gas emissions roughly equivalent to 260,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

In 2011 the Center and our partners sued over the project's climate and wildlife impacts, and the case eventually went to the state's highest court.

"This is a tremendous victory for the climate and California's protected wildlife," said the Center's John Buse. "This decision means public officials have to show their work in determining whether massive new development projects will interfere with the state's climate goals. The court also gave one of California's rarest fish, and all other fully protected wildlife, a reprieve from eviction in the face of ever-encroaching sprawl."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

In Paris, a Push for Real Action on the Global Climate Crisis

Eiffel TowerThe world's leaders are in Paris to discuss the climate crisis, and so is the Center: Our team arrived over the weekend and will be at the United Nations Conference of the Parties 21 for the duration.

We'll be part of several events at the Paris talks, including one panel on cutting aviation emissions and another focusing on keeping fossil fuels in the ground, especially those extracted via fracking. We're also part of visible demonstrations outside the conference aimed at pushing world leaders to take action equal to the magnitude of the crisis.

"President Obama and other leaders must make bigger, bolder moves in Paris and beyond to keep our planet from plunging off the climate cliff," said the Center's Kassie Siegel from Paris. "The United States and other rich nations have to make more ambitious cuts to the pollution pouring out of our smokestacks and tailpipes. We've also got to stop America's frenzy of fracking, drilling and mining and leave most fossil fuels in the ground, where they can't damage our climate."

Read more on our new webpage To Paris and Beyond, where you can also follow the Paris negotiations on Twitter.

Win: EPA Revokes Approval of Dow's Dangerous 'Enlist Duo' Herbicide

CornIn response to litigation by public-interest groups including the Center, the Environmental Protection Agency says it will revoke approval of the herbicide "Enlist Duo" because its combination of chemicals may be significantly more harmful than initially believed.

Approved by the agency just over a year ago, Enlist Duo is a toxic combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D that Dow AgroSciences created for use on the next generation of genetically engineered crops, designed to withstand being drenched with this potent herbicide cocktail. The EPA's reversal came after its failure to consider the impacts of Enlist Duo on federally protected plants and animals was challenged by an environmental and food-safety coalition.

"We're so glad the EPA has recognized the error it made in approving Enlist Duo and reversed course," said the Center's Lori Ann Burd. "By acknowledging that the combined effects of pesticides are much more dangerous than each individual pesticide in this toxic soup, the agency is taking an important first step toward better protecting people, waterways and wildlife."

Get more from NPR's "The Salt."

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The Next 'Keep It in the Ground' Rallies: Join Us in Reno and D.C.

We're taking the fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground to every corner of the United States, city by city, state by state. Next week, as the president negotiates an international climate deal in Paris, his administration will auction federal fossil fuels in Reno, Nev., and Washington, D.C. Can you join us in protesting them?

Here's why: If we're serious about fighting climate change, we must stop committing new fossil fuels to industry when we've already leased more than can be burned. Halting new fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans would keep up to 450 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution out of our atmosphere. We protested at a lease sale in Colorado last month and are taking on two more next week: Reno on Dec. 8 and Washington, D.C. on Dec. 10.

We'd love to have you stand with us. RSVP for the rallies in Reno and Washington, D.C. And if you can't make those, join our partner for a national call-in day to the White House on Dec. 7, and help draw attention to the hypocrisy of holding fossil fuel auctions while trying to reach a climate deal.

Help Save the World's Only Red Wolf Population -- Take Action

Red wolfThere's only one population of red wolves left on the planet -- and we need your help to save them. Red wolves were reintroduced onto 1.7 million acres of federal, private and state lands in northeast North Carolina in 1987 after predator-control programs decimated their wild populations. The recovery program has been a success so far, but now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to abandon it based on misinformation from a select few opponents.

There are only 50 to 75 red wolves in existence, and shooting by hunters is still the leading cause of their deaths.

The Center has cosponsored a campaign and website to correct misinformation about red wolves and educate the public about the economic and ecological benefits they bring to locals within the recovery area. We're urging those who live and work within the five counties where red wolves live to sign a petition supporting having them on their lands; supporters in other parts of the country should also write to the Service speaking up for the wolves.

These special wolves deserve a chance to thrive and survive in the wilds of North Carolina. Learn the truth about red wolves and take action at our new site.

Give More Greenly With Our Giving Guide

Green tree frogAh, December. This month will be chock-full of commercials and junk mail about holiday shopping and what everyone's buying, buying, buying. On Black Friday alone U.S. consumers spend tens of millions of dollars on products to kick off the shopping season. Imagine the massive carbon cost to the planet from producing, shipping, advertising, distributing and consuming those products -- it's not pretty.

That's why the Center has created the 2015 Greener Giving Guide, a resource on how to give more greenly this holiday season, including tips for nonmaterial gifts (like a Center membership) and a few other ways to help save wildlife as you make your holiday-giving selections.

Check out our Greener Giving Guide now.

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One-third of World's Cactus Species Threatened With Extinction

Golden barrel cactusA report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature reveals cacti are among the world's most threatened organisms. Out of 1,478 species evaluated in the study, published in Nature Plants, 31 percent were found to be endangered, under pressure from agriculture, urban development and harvest for trade and private collections.

The research identified hotspots of endangered cacti from southern Brazil and Uruguay north to Mexico. Salvador Arias, cactus curator at the National Autonomous University of Mexico's botanical garden, said the situation is "alarming."

Cacti are important elements of arid ecosystems, often crucial sources of food and water for desert wildlife and of nourishment and building materials for desert-dwelling people.

Read more at ABC News.

Just Released: Our Fall Membership Newsletter

Fall 2015 NewsletterWant to know the latest, greatest Center actions before we head into the new year? Read the fall 2015 issue of our print newsletter, Endangered Earth, as an online PDF for easy viewing. This edition covers our quest to save African elephants and stem the ivory trade, our victory in California over bobcat trapping, winning 6,712 square miles of habitat protection for Hawaiian monk seals, and a bounty of other stories.

Each print newsletter includes pieces written by the staff closest to highlighted campaigns, plus a message from our executive director. 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. Call us toll free at 1-866-357-3349 x 311 or visit our support webpage to learn more and make a gift.

Read a PDF of our fall 2015 issue now.

Wild & Weird: At 64, World's Oldest Tagged Bird Returns to Midway

Laysan albatrossWisdom, a Laysan albatross, was first tagged for study by scientists in 1956, at Midway Atoll -- a former U.S. military base in remote northwest Hawaii that's now a national wildlife refuge. She recently returned to Midway Atoll to lay an egg at the grand old age of at least 64 -- with an estimated 6 million miles of flight to her credit. Before now, no one has known how long Laysan albatross live; Wisdom's life has much to tell us about her species.

These seabirds, which have a seven-foot wingspan, were hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that killed an estimated 110,000 Laysan and black-footed albatross chicks -- about 22 percent of the year's young -- at Midway. At least 2,000 adults were also killed by the tsunami that washed over the area's three low-lying atolls. Long-line fisheries and accelerating sea-level rise, both in the United States and internationally, also threaten these far-flying birds.

Read more about Wisdom at The Guardian and learn about the Center's victory requiring the 2017 cleanup of toxic, lead-based paint contaminating Midway Atoll, which is killing an estimated 10,000 Laysan albatross every year.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Unarmored threespine stickleback (c) Warwick Sloss; Eiffel Tower courtesy Flickr/David Meenagh; corn courtesy Flickr/Richard Saxon; wolves by John Pitcher; "Keep It in the Ground" rally by Suchat Pederson; red wolf by John Froschauer, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium; green tree frog courtesy Flickr/Will Brown; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; golden barrel cactus courtesy Flickr/Tracy Rhodes; newsletter courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; Laysan albatross courtesy Flickr/Michael Lusk.

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