2019: Important Wins and Unflinching Resistance

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Red wolf
Center for     Biological     Diversity   

A Year of Light in Times of Darkness

What a year.

At the same time the United Nations was warning that 1 million species are in danger of extinction, the Trump administration was gutting provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

And as the climate crisis deepened, Trump and other deniers did their best to stand in the way of real action.

But we are all better than that, stronger than that. The Center for Biological Diversity has filed 179 lawsuits against Trump so far. We're not alone in standing up to the abuse of power. All over the planet, people are fighting for the future.

Global heroes like Greta Thunberg, inspiring millions to call for action on climate change, are standing up. Local heroes like Texas shrimper Diane Wilson, who led a citizen suit to hold a massive corporate polluter accountable for its mess, are standing up.

We want to thank you for standing up too. All the victories you see below aren't just ours, they're yours. Thanks for being with us. As always, we're grateful for your support.

polar bear

Curbing the Climate Crisis

The Center's Climate Law Institute won a major victory this year when the California governor launched new protections from oil industry pollution and announced an ambitious strategy to phase out oil production in the state. We launched a bold, 10-point plan, endorsed by 500 groups, for the next U.S. president to phase out fossil fuels — a plan that's garnering increasing media attention as the weeks pass.

We continued to fight in court against almost every Trump rollback of rules and regulations intended to curb climate change and supported youth climate strikes around the country. We also fought for climate justice at the United Nations climate summit in Madrid.

Southern resident killer whale

Protecting the Big Blue

It was a busy year for our Oceans team. We helped win a proposal to protect more than 175,000 square miles of habitat for endangered Pacific humpback whales — and Southern Resident orcas' entire West Coast range. In California we reached an agreement shortening the commercial crab season and encouraging the use of ropeless fishing gear that will save many whales from entanglement and death.

We forced the Trump administration to delay, and possibly abandon, a massive expansion of offshore oil leasing; launched a national, 300-organization campaign demanding the EPA impose strict new rules on plastic polluters; and filed lawsuits over harmful Arctic oil projects and drilling impacts on Gulf of Mexico wildlife.

Mountain caribou

Saving Endangered Species and Their Homes

The Center's mainstay has always been preventing extinctions. When the Trump administration disastrously weakened the Endangered Species Act this year, we went to court immediately to defend the Act, which is vital to biodiversity conservation.

We won bans on the trapping of Humboldt martens in Oregon, beavers in California, and the use of cyanide traps on 10 million acres in Wyoming. We secured final federal protection for Barren's topminnow, two glacier-dependent stoneflies, and southern mountain caribou. And we nailed down court-ordered dates for protection decisions on 16 species that have been in limbo, as well as for critical habitat designation for four mussels, two garter snakes and Mt. Graham red squirrels in Arizona.

Sage grouse

Defending America's Public Lands

Protecting public lands from private plunder and industrial desecration, we defeated a Trump push to expand drilling, mining and livestock grazing across 51 million acres of greater sage grouse habitat in seven western states. We helped win a court decision halting construction of the massive Rosemont open-pit copper mine in southern Arizona, habitat for jaguar and other endangered species. And we blocked oil drilling and a pipeline in California's Carrizo Plain National Monument, home of the springtime "super bloom," as well as condors and San Joaquin kit fox.

We also blocked oil and gas leasing in Nevada's Ruby Mountains, a majestic sky island that sustains the state's largest herd of mule deer, and old-growth logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the nation's largest temperate rainforest.


Safeguarding Public and Environmental Health

Our Environmental Health program was resolute in 2019 defending the vulnerable — from the tiny pollinators that are so vital to our crops and ecosystems to human communities exposed to pollutants and chemicals. We sued the Trump administration over its approval of a new bee-killing pesticide, sulfoxaflor, for use across 200 million acres of crops; we secured an agreement forcing the EPA to assess the threats posed by eight commonly used pesticides to endangered species.

We also published a peer-reviewed study in Environmental Health revealing U.S. use of 85 pesticides outlawed in the European Union, China or Brazil. And we forced the nation's largest dairy-producing county — Tulare, California — to reduce emissions and improve oversight of air pollution and greenhouse gases from livestock.

Sunflowers and solar

Tackling Population Growth and Overconsumption

The Center's innovative Population and Sustainability program continued its outreach with new partnerships and publications. In our advocacy for a healthier, greener and more humane food economy, we released an analysis of the environmental impact of food served at events and the potential savings of a shift to plant-based menus. We also led an international call to action for world leaders to address meat and dairy consumption in their emissions-reductions targets.

Tackling overconsumption of goods and energy, we partnered with the University of California, Davis, to publish a groundbreaking study on 20 commonly overlooked benefits of distributed-solar energy. And we launched a practical, first-of-its-kind "Wildlife-friendly Wedding Guide" to help couples celebrate sustainably. We also marked a milestone: 1 million Endangered Species Condoms given away to make the connection between human population growth and wildlife extinction.

Mountain lion

Conserving California's Urban-wild Interface

Our work to reduce the impacts of runaway development on wildlife and the climate saw several wins this year. In the realm of destructive water use, we beat back California's "twin tunnels," which proposed diverting water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, endangering salmon, steelhead and delta smelt. And we stopped Cadiz, a water-mining project that would have depleted an ancient desert aquifer and built a 43-mile-long-pipeline through the Mojave Desert.

We also halted a vineyard, which would have torn out more than 14,000 trees in Napa County, through a courtroom victory; reached an agreement with the city of Fontana to protect habitat for California gnatcatchers and reduce pollution from a new warehouse complex; and successfully advocated against a harmful project that threatened mountain lions, western pond turtles and key wildlife corridors in Southern California.


Beyond Our Borders

Wildlife know no political borders, and our International program works to ensure that species, no matter where they live, get the protection they need. This year in Mexico, we released a groundbreaking scientific report documenting plastics found in fish stomachs in major Mexican seafood markets. We prompted the listing of Mexico's Gulf of California World Heritage Site as "in danger" because of threats to vaquita, the world's most endangered porpoise.

We also successfully advocated for trade protections for giraffes, sea cucumbers, tarantulas and other wildlife under the CITES treaty — and forced the Trump administration to move forward on protections for giraffes and emperor penguins. We also sought trade sanctions against Canada for killing endangered right whales in crab fishing gear.

Center activists

Mobilizing the People

With a failure of leadership at high levels, it's more crucial than ever that we rally members of the public to advocate vocally for what they believe in. After the Trump administration launched its unprecedented attack on the Endangered Species Act this year — partly in response to our campaign to get the word out — 800,000 comments were submitted opposing that attack.

We gathered more than 53,000 handwritten comments urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep protection for gray wolves in place, and we submitted more than 650,000 digital comments. Nationwide, we — and our members and activists — held more than 500 events calling for protecting endangered species and sent more than half a million individual texts in support of the wildlife and wild places we're fighting for.

Bengal tiger

The Revelator: Digging Deep Into Tough Topics

This year The Revelator, the Center's environmental news and ideas initiative, dug deep into difficult topics like the extinction crisis, environmental justice and the perils of plastic pollution. Along the way our writers uncovered unexpected solutions, tackled hidden problems and revealed the machinations of the Trump administration — news you won't find anywhere else.

The Revelator published dozens of commentaries from experts in conservation around the globe, and through it all, we continued to give voice to the peoples and species most in need of protection.

Check out The Revelator's most challenging essays and most-read articles of 2019.

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Photo credits: Red wolf by laura-kali/Flickr; polar bear by Alan D. Wilson/Nature's Pics Online; Southern Resident orca by Miles Ritter/Flickr; mountain caribou by ThartmannWiki/Wikimedia; sage grouse courtesy USFS; bee by Artur Rydzewski/Flickr; sunflowers, solar and rainbow by Aozora UmiDaichi/Flickr; mountain lion above Los Angeles courtesy NPS; giraffes by Hendrik Terbeck/Flickr; Center activists courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; Bengal tiger by Bernie Catterall.

Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702
United States