President Trump, You're On Notice

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Gray wolf
Center for     Biological     Diversity   

Launched: Lawsuit Against Trump for Endangered Species

On Tuesday the Center for Biological Diversity launched a lawsuit against President Donald Trump for illegally ordering federal agencies to harm wildlife. No other president has used executive powers to incite others to violate environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act — so we've taken unprecedented action.

Our suit challenges Trump's recent executive order directing all federal agencies to exploit the Endangered Species Act's emergency provisions to rubber-stamp the approval of fossil fuel pipelines, oil and gas drilling, and other routine infrastructure projects.

"Inciting federal agencies to violate the Act is part of a pattern Trump's displayed throughout his presidency," said Kierán Suckling, the Center's executive director. "He's encouraging officials to ignore the rules and obey his whims. But he's not above the law."

Get more from The Hill and support this work with a donation to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Pesticide spraying

Court Says Dicamba Is Unlawful, Trump EPA Flouts Ruling

Last week the Center and allies won an enormous victory over poisons in our environment. A federal court ruled that the Trump administration was wrong to approve Monsanto's notoriously drift-prone pesticide dicamba for use on genetically engineered soy and cotton. The ruling makes its sale and use illegal.

The court said dicamba has caused "unprecedented damage" in the past few years, which has "torn apart the social fabric of many farming communities." Dicamba drifts where it isn't supposed to go, killing millions of acres of soybeans as well as vegetables, fruit trees, gardens and residential trees.

But Trump's EPA chief, Andrew Wheeler, promptly issued an order that allows continued use of the pesticide through July 31 — most of the summer growing season.

"Trump's EPA is blatantly, shamelessly refusing to enforce the law," said Lori Ann Burd, the Center's environmental health director. "It's dictatorial and destructive, and it'll hurt a lot of farmers and a lot of wildlife. We won't let it stand."

Read more at the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

George Floyd Rally

Join Us to Talk About Justice, Race and the Environment

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more have sparked a long-needed reckoning over personal and systemic racism, police violence and inequality in America.

Join us later today for our next Saving Life on Earth webinar to discuss justice, police brutality, diversity and biodiversity, and the importance of aligning the environmental movement with the struggle against racism. The presentation will include the Center's Executive Director Kierán Suckling; Jean Su, director of our Energy Justice program; and the Center's North Carolina State Campaigner Jovita Lee.

Sign up for today's discussion at 4 p.m. Pacific / 7 p.m. Eastern.

Florida bonneted bat

Lifesaving Critical Habitat Proposed for Florida Bat

In response to a legal agreement with the Center and allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed protecting 1.5 million acres of critical habitat for Florida bonneted bats. The bats' forest and wetland homes in South Florida have been plowed over and sprayed with pesticides for decades.

"Critical habitat," a term defined in the Endangered Species Act, refers to geographic areas that contain features essential to the conservation of an endangered or threatened species and that may require special management and protection.

Learn more about this important step forward for these ornately eared bats.

Black bear

Win in Washington: Feds to Curb Wildlife Killing

Thanks to an agreement just signed with the Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program will curb its killing of cougars, bears and other wildlife across Washington state. It will also restrict use of pesticides and lead ammunition. Cruel leghold traps and strangulation snares will be banned on a national wildlife refuge and in several national forests.

"The measures we've put in place will stop so much wildlife from suffering and dying needlessly," said Sophia Ressler, a Center attorney. "This win is the next step in ensuring proper protections for our river otters, black bears and other wildlife."

Learn more.

Sonoran Desert

The Trump administration wants to build a border wall across the terminus of the 800-mile-long, federally protected Arizona Trail. A 30-foot steel barrier could soon rip through the rugged Huachuca Mountains, stopping migrating jaguars and ocelots in their tracks and changing the experience of hikers forever. Matthew Nelson, executive director of the Arizona Trail Association, reveals what's at stake in our latest #BorderViews video available on Facebook and YouTube.

Snowy owl

Bird-killing Plan Makes Way for More Corporate Polluters

In 2017 the top lawyer at the Interior Department — a former Koch Industries employee named Daniel Jorjani — undid decades of enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by letting companies kill birds indiscriminately at industrial sites. With a lawsuit pending against this policy by the Center and allies, the Trump administration has now issued a draft "environmental impact statement" to paper over this disastrous plan.

Since then the illegal activities of utilities across the country have killed birds of all kinds. Power lines have electrocuted bald eagles, snowy owls and other raptors. Oil spills have killed shorebirds. Landscapers in San Diego reportedly threw live mourning dove chicks into a tree shredder. All without consequences.

Read more in The Hill.

Monarch butterfly

The Keys to Ending Wildlife Extinctions

A piece in Vox this week — reporting on a paper that confirmed species are disappearing hundreds or thousands of times faster than the natural background rate — dives into the biological richness of life on Earth at this moment, why we're on the brink of losing it, and how we can solve the problem.

"We can definitely make a difference. We can slow the pace of extinction," the Center's Noah Greenwald, who wasn't involved in the study, told Vox. "We know how to do that. We can set aside more area for nature."

Read the article.

Revelator: The New Language of a Warming, Drying World

Lake Mead

The warming and drying caused by climate change are obvious in the Colorado River Basin, where it has half-drained Lake Mead and Lake Powell. But this "creeping, permanent dryness," says The Revelator, isn't confined to the Southwest — and it's less like a drought than a "megadrought" — part of a process of "aridification."

Historically, megadroughts have been linked to societal collapse. And "aridification" is when a megadrought turns permanent.

Read more and follow The Revelator on Facebook and Twitter.

Illustration Ernst Haeckel

Wild & Weird: This Sea Creature Is a Climate Hero

The giant larvacean — a gelatinous marine animal about the size of a human heart — lives inside a large, inflatable, intricate structure of mucus. A new study shows that in addition to protecting the animal, this "snot palace" also efficiently sequesters carbon dioxide.

A team of scientists scanned the larvaceans to create a 3D model of the mucus structures, which revealed their advanced architecture and helped scientists understand how the animals pump water through them, filter out particles, and feed.

Once their mucus houses get clogged with carbon-rich particles — every 24 hours or so — the creatures discard it and make new ones. The discards sink to the seafloor, keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

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Photo credits: Gray wolf by Per Harald Olsen/NTNU; pesticide spraying courtesy USDA; George Floyd rally by Anthony Crider/Flickr; Florida bonneted bat courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; black bear courtesy USFWS; Sonoran Desert by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; snowy owl by Brent Eades/Flickr; monarch butterfly by Dendroica/Flickr; Lake Mead by righthererightnow/Flickr; detail of illustration interpreting ascidians by Ernst Haeckel.

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