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Center for Biological Diversity

No. 824, April 28, 2016

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Our Report: Rooftop Solar Blocked by Sunny States With Bad Policy

Rooftop solarSome of the sunniest states in the country are actively blocking rooftop-solar development with bad energy policy, according to a Center for Biological Diversity report released Tuesday.

The 10 states highlighted in Throwing Shade: 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin -- account for more than 35 percent of rooftop-solar technical potential in the lower 48 states, but only 6 percent of total installed capacity.

"Thanks to weak and nonexistent policies, the distributed-solar markets in these states have never been given a chance to shine," said Greer Ryan, sustainability research associate with the Center and author of the report. "By blocking solar expansion, states are blocking our transition to the cleaner energy system that's needed to stave off the worst impacts of climate change and protect our health and future."

The report assigned a policy "grade" to all 50 states and recommended policy changes for the worst offenders against solar potential.

Check out our press release and see how your state fared.

Reward for Red Wolf Killer Comes Too Late

Red wolfThe feds have just offered a $2,500 reward for information aiding the arrest of someone involved in killing an endangered red wolf. But the reward does the opposite of showing dedication to red wolf protection -- because it's too late to matter.

The wolf killer now being hunted actually shot the animal six months ago, and at least seven other red wolves were killed in 2015; yet this is the first time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has offered a reward in the past year and a half since it began dismantling red wolf recovery, including law-enforcement efforts to guard the species.

Red wolves are among the world's most endangered carnivores, with only 45 wild individuals remaining. Earlier this month the Center sued to force the Service to release information on its decision to abandon their recovery.

"By waiting until the trail has gone cold to take action, the Service is pandering to special interests opposed to wolves instead of doing its job to protect them," said the Center's Brett Hartl.

Read more in our press release.

Presidential Candidates Asked for Positions on Public-lands Fossil Fuel Leasing

Oil derrickThe Center has issued a questionnaire to all major presidential candidates asking if they support ending federal fossil fuel leasing on public lands and oceans -- and, if so, how soon they'd take steps to do it. It also asks them to detail other measures they would take against the climate crisis.

Climate change is the most urgent and far-reaching problem of our time, and the American public deserves to hear specific plans from all presidential candidates. The role that America's public lands and oceans play in fossil fuel development and pollution has become a key point in climate discussions. This is a chance for all our potential presidents to weigh in.

Read the questionnaire.

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Feds Refuse to Protect Habitat for Northern Long-eared Bats

Northern long-eared batAlthough northern long-eared bat populations have declined by a shocking 90 percent in their core range, the Fish and Wildlife Service this week said it won't protect any of the bats' key habitat.

Northern long-eared bats were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2015 in response to a 2010 Center petition. The Service initially proposed to protect the bats as "endangered," but, following intense pressure from industry, backpedaled and listed them as "threatened" with a special rule allowing ongoing habitat destruction. These forest-dependent bats have been decimated by the invasive and deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome, and they're still threatened by habitat loss from logging, mining, oil and gas development and other activities.

"If you don't protect the places endangered species live, it becomes that much harder to save them," said the Center's Tanya Sanerib. "This is yet another instance where the Fish and Wildlife Service has gone out of its way to appease special interests rather than protect our most vulnerable animals."

Get more from Reuters.

A Strong Show of Support for Public Lands -- Thank You

Public lands eventFrom Oregon to Arizona to California and beyond, America's public lands got some serious love for Earth Week. The Center and a coalition of groups hosted events across the country last week to celebrate public lands and call for them to remain in public hands.

We're raising our voices following the armed occupation of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January and a raft of congressional bills that attempt to turn public lands over to those who want to simply use them to profit from logging, grazing, mining, drilling and development.

Our public show of support is a key step in making sure our lands remain protected for generations to come. Check out this photo gallery from recent events, sign our petition, and keep the movement growing by using #ProtectPublicLands on social media.

Suit Challenges Extension of Four Corners Coal Mine, Power Plant

Four Corners power plantThe Center last week joined Navajo, regional and national groups to challenge a federal plan to allow 25 more years of coal pollution at New Mexico's Navajo Mine and Four Corners Power Plant.

The approval comes as the coal industry crumbles, renewable energy business booms, and the power plant's coal pollution is hurting people and wildlife living in and around the San Juan River. In granting the extension, the Interior Department not only failed to thoroughly analyze potential impacts on the environment, public health and endangered species -- it also refused to explore clean-energy alternatives.

"Coal pollution is making people sick and driving endangered fish toward extinction," said the Center's Taylor McKinnon. "Now's the time to begin transitioning to clean, renewable energy."

Read more in the Farmington Daily Times.

Take Action

"Save the Frogs" Day Is Here -- Hop Into Action

Green tree frogFrom frogs and toads to newts and salamanders, amphibians worldwide are facing a profound, human-driven extinction crisis, with almost half of all these species in decline and a third threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, pollution, climate change, invasive species and exploitation. This is terrible news, especially since amphibians play important roles in the places they live and serve as valuable indicators of environmental health. If frogs ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

That's why the Center is working to stem the problem through our Amphibian and Reptile Campaign, but we need your help -- your enthusiasm and your commitment.

In honor of Save the Frogs Day on April 30, a global celebration of amphibian education and conservation, please join us in pledging to make a change to help reduce threats to some of the Earth's most delicate and delightful critters.

Center Hits Milestone of 1 Million Supporters

Polar bear graphicSince our modest beginnings in the wilds of New Mexico, the Center has grown -- a lot. This week our following reached 1 million supporters.

Our supporters and members are crucial to our success. They sign petitions, write letters, make phone calls, attend protests and speak at meetings across the country as part our movement to protect wildlife and public health, curb pollution and preserve public land. Supporter momentum has spurred major victories in recent years, contributing to the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, sharply curtailing fracking in California, keeping oil companies out of the offshore Arctic, and helping us secure protection for more than 550 species and 470 million acres of habitat.

We couldn't do the work we do without you, so here's a big thanks for helping us get here -- and most importantly, for fighting the good fight at our side.

You can help us reach more supporters by forwarding this email to your friends and encouraging them to join our e-network.

Wild & Weird: Will the Real Funky Chicken Please Stand Up? -- Watch Video

Sage grouseSpringtime in the sagebrush country of the western United States is a beautiful thing. Wildflowers pop their waxy blossoms; wet meadows bustle with flitting birds; the bizarre "bosom-displays" of the amorous male greater sage grouse burble across the steppe.

With air-filled, yellow chest sacs throbbing and thrusting for the attention of females, the courtship dance of the dandy grouse is part obnoxious and part exquisite. Add to the display a starburst of tail feathers, and these guys start to look like avant-garde turkeys -- performing what we might call nature's version of the dance known as "funky chicken."

Unfortunately greater sage grouse are in trouble: Habitat loss and fragmentation due to cattle grazing and oil and gas development continue to threaten their survival and recovery.

Watch our video of male greater sage grouse as they dance like nobody's watching.

Kieran Suckling

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

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Photo credits: Rooftop solar panels by Paul Riismandel/Flickr; red wolf by Steve Hillebrand/USFWS; oil derrick by Steve Lyon/Flickr; northern long-eared bat by Brandon Keim/Flickr; #ProtectPublicLands event photo, Center for Biological Diversity; Four Corners power plant courtesy EPA; tree frog by Taiwan Awei/Flickr; polar bear by Pete Spruance/FPWC; sage grouse by Alan Krakauer/Flickr.

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