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Plastic pollution
Center for     Biological     Diversity   

Ban Sought on Petrochemical Plants' Plastic Pollution

Outdated rules allowed plants that make plastic from fracked natural gas to discharge 128 million pounds of pollutants into U.S. waterways last year. That included more than 77,000 pounds of the most toxic pollutants — and the plastics industry is aggressively expanding. That's why the Center for Biological Diversity and 279 other groups filed a legal petition Tuesday demanding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set strict new water-pollution limits on industrial plants that make plastic.

"The EPA shouldn't let petrochemical polluters spew one more ounce of plastic pollution into our rivers and oceans," said Julie Teel Simmonds, the Center attorney who authored the petition. "We need rigorous new rules to control this growing threat to public health, marine life and the climate."

Get more from Julie's op-ed in the Houston Chronicle. And support our petition by sending a letter to the EPA urging it to protect people and wildlife from plastic pollution.

Mountain lion

Center Op-ed: SoCal Needs to Save Its Last Mountain Lions

Some populations of Southern California's mountain lions are in deep trouble. They could go extinct in just over a decade if we don't improve connectivity and inbreeding worsens, writes the Center's Tiffany Yap in the San Diego Tribune. These cats face lethal threats like vehicle strikes, habitat fragmentation from sprawl, and plummeting genetic diversity. Two brother cougars who were familiar to scientists, for instance, were both killed in the Santa Ana Mountains — one hit by a car, the other poisoned by a carcass laced with an illegal pesticide.

That's why the Center and allies have petitioned California to protect these beautiful cats under the state's Endangered Species Act.

Read Tiffany's op-ed.

Patrick Donnelly

Our Nevada Director: How We Fight Climate Change

"The climate crisis is here, and we must meet it with radical change in how we do business." Our Nevada State Director Patrick Donnelly appeared last week on Nevada Politics Today to talk about fighting climate change in this state and beyond. Find out what he had to say about solar power, nuclear power and greenhouse gas emissions — including those from cows — in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Based in Las Vegas, Patrick spends much of his time traveling the Silver State — from surveying habitat for the rare Dixie Valley toad to attending committee hearings in Pioche and Battle Mountain and leading journalists on tours of Monitor Valley's wild desert backcountry. Whether covered in mud or decked out in a suit, he's on the front lines of the Center's efforts to protect Nevada's rare species, public lands and water.


Colorado's Greenhouse Gases Down

A new report shows that Colorado's greenhouse gas emissions are down. But to reach the carbon-reduction goals the state set for itself, we need to do more to cut back on carbon.

"Colorado's still a pretty heavy fossil fuel state," said Robert Ukeiley, a Center attorney based in Boulder. "We have a long way to go and not a lot of time to do it." Robert says he hopes people see the economic opportunities in a transition to renewables. Wind and solar energy provide "good family wage-paying jobs, a lot of capital and huge increases in the tax base."

Get more from The Denver Post.

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

In Arizona and New Mexico, Cows Are Ruining Rivers

In 1998, after legal action by the Center, the U.S. Forest Service agreed to keep cattle out of vulnerable streams in the Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila national forests. These forests harbor endangered species like southwestern willow flycatchers and loach minnows, which were being harmed and killed by cows stomping fragile streambeds and fouling the water.

But we did surveys recently — and learned the cattle aren't being kept out of creeks at all. We notified the agency we'll sue if it doesn't keep its promises and clean up its act right away.

"We found cows, trampled streambanks, and water polluted with feces on nearly every mile of stream we looked at," said Center Senior Attorney Brian Segee. "The Forest Service is failing to protect endangered animals that rely on these rivers and streams for their survival."

Read more in the Arizona Daily Star.

Environmental Justice North Carolina roadshow

North Carolina Energy Justice Coalition Kicks Off Roadshow

Hundreds of participants came out for Monday's kickoff of Energy Justice North Carolina's roadshow in Asheville.

Energy Justice North Carolina is a coalition of 14 organizations, including the Center, fighting to bring clean-energy choices to all North Carolinians and end Duke Energy's decades-long monopoly on electric power in our state.

Duke pollutes communities through improper handling of toxic coal ash. It's worsening the climate crisis by blocking large-scale renewable-energy deployment while pursuing fossil fuel projects. It's ramming the dangerous fracked-gas Atlantic Coast pipeline through three states, including North Carolina. And all the while, it's raising rates on customers.

You can fight Duke Energy by signing this petition, which will also let you receive announcements for upcoming roadshow events. Next stop: Raleigh on Aug. 28!

Gray wolf

Washington's Wolves Deserve Better Than Bullets

Northeast Washington's wild public lands are full of rocky slopes and forested valleys: perfect habitat for our state's endangered wolves.

It's not good terrain for grazing cattle, but the livestock industry insists on letting its herds loose there. As a result state wildlife managers have gunned down nearly two dozen wolves to placate ranchers who refuse to share our collectively owned landscape with these magnificent animals.

Washington residents have spoken out loud and clear in defense of wolves — 71 percent of people polled say they support wolf recovery here. Now Gov. Inslee needs to rein in his Fish and Wildlife Department to make sure no more wolves are killed.

Get more from this op-ed for The Reflector by Sophia Ressler, Center attorney and Washington state wildlife advocate.


Courtroom Roundup: A Week of Fights and Wins

On Tuesday our attorneys went to court seeking an order to halt bulldozers from breaking ground on the Rosemont copper mine in Arizona, which threatens to destroy habitat for rare wildlife including jaguars. Keep watch for our update on the judge's decision.

We also launched a lawsuit against the Trump administration for failing to give severely imperiled dunes sagebrush lizards the Endangered Species Act protection they need.

And we had critical wins in two previous lawsuits. Our suit for Southern Resident killer whales has forced the National Marine Fisheries Service to update its "biological opinion" on these endangered orcas — the first step toward minimizing the harmful impacts of Pacific salmon fisheries on their survival and recovery. Another suit has prompted the feds to examine harm to whales and other imperiled wildlife from drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. That could mean better protection for sea turtles, whales and other imperiled species.

Endangered Species mural and creators

Endangered Species Mural Honors Mexican Wolf and More

We just unveiled the 21st installment of our Endangered Species Mural Project: an 18-foot-tall, 75-foot-wide painting of five of New Mexico's most imperiled animals.

Designed by summer-campers and interns with the Mimbres Regional Arts Council's Youth Mural Program — and overseen by artist Roger Peet with local coordinators Alison Philips and Dianna Ingalls Leyba — it covers two walls at Western New Mexico University in Silver City.

This massive mural features the Mexican gray wolf, one of the world's rarest mammals, and four other species native to the Gila Wilderness: the Mexican spotted owl, Gila trout, Gila mayfly and narrow-headed garter snake.

Our Endangered Species Mural Project unites artists, scientists and organizers to bring endangered wildlife onto the streets of communities nationwide.

'Overwhelming Joy': 1,000th Condor Chick Hatched

California condor chick

California condors once teetered on the brink of extinction, with only 22 wild individuals left in the world in 1982. But thanks to a captive-breeding program — and the protections of both federal and state endangered species laws — North America's largest bird has been making a slow recovery.

Last week the species hit an incredible milestone: The hatching of its 1,000th chick since the breeding program's launch.

Get more from Smithsonian.

This Land: New Book Exposes Threats to the Wild West


If you're a lover of wilderness, wildlife and the American West, journalist Christopher Ketcham's new book should be required reading. In This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism and Corruption Are Ruining the American West, Ketcham weaves together 10 years of reporting and decades of adventuring into a deeply political and deeply personal call to save the West's public lands.

Read a review at The Revelator. And don't forget to sign up for The Revelator's weekly newsletter.

Here's a Bad Idea: Letting More Beavers Be Killed in Wyoming


If beavers got more protection, writes the Center's Andrea Santarsiere in the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Wyoming's rivers, fish and fly-fishermen would all reap the benefits. Instead the state is planning exactly the opposite: to let more of these industrious natural engineers, who keep rivers healthy, be trapped for their pelts around Jackson Hole.

Read Andrea's op-ed.

American pocket shark

Wild & Weird: The Discovery of a Glow-in-the-dark Shark

A team of scientists has identified a new species in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico: a rare pocket shark that looks like a miniature sperm whale and oozes glowing liquid to attract prey. It's been dubbed the American pocket shark (Mollisquama mississippiensis).

In the entire history of fisheries science, this is only the second time a pocket shark has been captured or reported. The last time was in 1979, when a different species (Mollisquama parini) was caught in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Find out more about the tiny shark at USA Today.

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Photo credits:
Plastic pollution courtesy Ocean Blue Project, Inc.; mountain lion by mtsofan/Flickr; Patrick Donnelly by Chris Mixson; Colorado by John Tolva/Flickr; Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest by Alan English/Flickr; Environmental Justice North Carolina roadshow by Jean Su/Center for Biological Diversity; gray wolf by Lou Gold/Flickr; Sombra the jaguar courtesy BLM; Endangered Species Mural and creators by Jay Hemphill; California condor chick by Joseph Brandt/USFWS; logging by Dyan Bone/USFS; beaver by Lois Elling/Flickr; American pocket shark by Michael Doosey/ Tulane University.

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