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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 805, Dec. 17, 2015

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Plan to Strip Wolf Protections Cut From Budget Deal -- Thank You

Gray wolfWe breathed a huge sigh of relief Tuesday night with news that provisions meant to strip federal protections from wolves in four states were not included in the final budget in Congress. That move would've been a disaster, ending Endangered Species Act protection in Wyoming, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin -- pushing aside decades of work to recover wolves there.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been on the front lines in the fight against these anti-wildlife measures since the very beginning, and we never let up. Thanks to all our supporters who made phone calls, sent letters and otherwise raised their voices for wolves.

We'll savor this victory as the year comes to a close, but we know the fight for wolves will continue in 2016. The same vicious attitudes that drove the potential budget riders to end wolf protections will be back at the local, state and federal levels -- and we'll be there to fight back every hour and every day. We'll need you with us. Please consider donating to our Endangered Species Defense Fund. Your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar until Dec. 31.

Congress Pushing to Lift Crude Export Ban -- Take Action

Fracking illustrationOf course it wasn't all good news in the budget deal this week: The congressional bill includes a horrendous rider to lift the ban on exports of crude oil. The move comes less than a week after the close of global climate talks in Paris. If approved, ending the export ban will open the door to a devastating increase in drilling, fracking and greenhouse gas pollution.

In fact, ending the export ban would likely increase domestic oil production by more than 3 million barrels a day, according to a Center for American Progress estimate. As a result America would lose more than 100 square miles of land a year to drilling and oil infrastructure, face explosive risks from the annual transport of enough oil to fill 4,500 fire-prone rail tank cars, and, ultimately, suffer the release of more than 500 million tons of additional carbon pollution per year. That's equivalent to building about 135 dirty coal-fired power plants.

If you haven't already, call your senators and the White House to halt this disastrous plan.

Scientists Ask California to Label Atrazine Products as Toxic

Northern leopard frogAbout 80 million pounds of the toxic pesticide atrazine are used in the United States each year, threatening our water supplies. The pesticide is also linked to thyroid cancer and birth defects in people, as well as chemical castration -- even when the toxin is at very low levels -- in frogs.

On Monday Dr. Tyrone Hayes, a prominent pesticide researcher -- along with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists California Chapter, representing thousands of members, and many other scientists -- called on California officials to protect residents from products containing the chemical (long banned in Europe). The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Environmental Health sent a separate letter expressing our concerns.

The scientists criticized California's recently proposed "safe" threshold for atrazine because the state relied almost entirely on an unpublished 1996 study funded by the pesticide industry. More recent, independent studies indicate that the threshold proposed by the state fails to provide adequate protections from this toxic pesticide.

"California has discounted high-quality research in favor of an industry-funded study," said Dr. Nathan Donley, a Center scientist. "The state must reverse course and use the best available science to inform this important decision."

Read more in our press release.

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The Upshot of Paris: Global Agreement Doesn't Go Far Enough

Eiffel TowerWe can say this for the global Paris climate talks that wrapped over the weekend: They got the world talking about the climate in earnest and highlighted the growing power of a global movement for climate justice.

But the plain truth is that Paris didn't produce the strong, just and binding treaty we need to protect the planet's most climate-vulnerable people, and our very web of life, from climate chaos. While the agreement acknowledges the need to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the pollution-cutting pledges in the deal won't get us anywhere near that critical goal.

We won't stop pushing for what's right to stem the climate crisis.

"It's up to the American public to enforce their government's international climate promises back home," said the Center's Kassie Siegel, who was part of our team in Paris. "It's on us to compel our government to keep fossil fuels in the ground, ban fracking, and get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Closed-door climate negotiations can't achieve what we can in town halls, courtrooms and in the streets."

Read more about our thoughts on the Paris agreement in our press release.

Imperiled Blackbirds Win Protection in California

Tricolored blackbirdFollowing Center petitions, the California Fish and Game Commission has declared tricolored blackbirds a candidate for protection under the California Endangered Species Act. The birds will now enjoy the Act's protections for a year while the commission decides whether to add them to the state's official endangered species list.

Tricolored blackbirds -- unrelated to common blackbirds -- have red-and-white patched wings (on males) and form the largest colonies of any North American land bird. In the 19th century some colonies contained more than a million individuals, which someone described as darkening the sky "for some distance by their masses" -- much as passenger pigeons did once, before they were driven extinct. Although tricoloreds haven't disappeared yet, over the past 70 years habitat destruction has slashed populations to a fraction of their former enormity.

We petitioned to protect the tricolored under both the California and federal Endangered Species Acts in 2004, petitioning California again -- on an emergency basis -- last year. The state on Friday finally acknowledged the bird's urgent danger.

Get more from KCET.

Stop the Biggest Oil Train Terminal in North America -- Take Action

Oil trainIn the wake of Keystone XL's rejection, oil companies anxious to reroute their toxic assets have set their sights on pushing crude by rail in the Pacific Northwest. One company, Tesoro-Savage, is planning to build the continent's largest oil train terminal in Vancouver, Wash. (apparently the Paris memo didn't get through). If approved, it would bring to port 360,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and North Dakota.

That's nearly half of what the entire Keystone XL pipeline would have carried. We have to stop this project in its tracks.

The alarming safety record of these mile-long trains means that an explosive derailment is often a question of when, not if. In the past three years there have been 11 oil train accidents in North America, and the government's weak response to these wrecks inspires no confidence.

Act now to urge Washington's officials to reject this dangerous proposal and focus instead on becoming a hub for clean energy.

Take Action

Will You Fight for Our Oceans? -- Sign Up Today

Biscayne National ParkOceans activists, we need your help. The Center's team of lawyers, scientists and campaigners is looking for supporters with a love for the big, deep blue who are ready to pledge their commitment to defend corals, whales and sea otters.

Our oceans are in crisis. Plastic pollutants now outnumber plankton, oil spills continue to foul our coasts, and marine wildlife populations are collapsing. And looming over it all are the game-changing forces of ocean acidification and global warming.

Countering these threats requires fearless action. That's why the Center is taking to the streets and amplifying grassroots calls to halt offshore drilling and fracking and stem the tide of plastic flooding our seas.

To keep the pressure on and push decision-making, we're building a network of activists across the country willing to make phone calls to representatives, participate in social media blasts, show up at public hearings, and make noise at rallies. That's where you come in.

Ready to get involved? Sign up now to become an Endangered Oceans Activist.

Wild & Weird: How Likely Are You to Have a White Christmas?

Snowy owlAre you dreaming of the climatological probability of at least 1 inch of snow being on the ground on Dec. 25, more commonly referred to as a white Christmas?

You're in luck! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a new map showing the most likely places in the lower 48 to experience a Yuletide winter wonderland, based on a dataset of three decades of historical norms.

According to the NOAA there are only about a dozen places in the United States that can boast a 100 percent historical probability of Christmas snow.

See what they are and learn more from the NOAA.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Gray wolf courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Retron; fracking illustration courtesy Flickr/Jared Rodriguez, Truthout; northern leopard frog courtesy Wikimedia/Brian Gratwicke; wolves by John Pitcher; Eiffel Tower courtesy Flickr/Yann Caradec; tricolored blackbird courtesy Flickr/Tom Benson; oil train courtesy Flickr/Roy Luck; brown bear (c) Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity; Biscayne National Park courtesy NPS; snowy owl courtesy Flickr/Dave Inman.

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Center for Biological Diversity
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