Two Lawsuits in 24 Hours to Stop Arctic Drilling

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Arctic fox
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Back to Back: Two Lawsuits to Save the Arctic From Drilling

The Trump administration is pushing hard to open the Arctic to oil and gas drilling — and we're fighting back.

On Monday the Center for Biological Diversity and allies filed suit to block a plan to open more than a million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing. Industrializing this pristine area would cause irreparable harm to one of the world's most important wild places and its wildlife, including polar bears, caribou and Arctic foxes.

Not even 24 hours later, we and our partners were in court again, this time suing over the Trump administration's plan to lease out more than 18 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, a wild Arctic landscape that deserves protection, not exploitation.

"The Arctic is one of the most remarkable places on the planet and it's unforgivable that the Trump administration is trying to turn it into an industrial zone," said the Center's Kristen Monsell.

You can help: Speak up now to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Mount Charleston blue butterfly

Three New Lawsuits Take Flight

We launched three separate lawsuits this week on behalf of western creatures that fly: spotted owls and giant flies in California and butterflies in Nevada.

With allies we sued the Trump administration over its failure to protect California spotted owls. Their populations, in the Sierra Nevada, are in alarming decline, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's denial of protection to them in late 2019 directly contradicts its own science. Also in California the hummingbird-like San Joaquin Valley giant flower-loving fly has been eradicated from 99% of its native range — so we filed notice of our intent to sue for the unusual insect's survival.

And in Nevada we gave notice, for the second time, of our intent to sue to prevent the extinction of a beautiful butterfly called the Mount Charleston blue, threatened in its small remnant habitat by a ski-resort expansion.

Plastic beach trash

Take Action: Cut the Production of Single-use Plastic

California state legislators are poised to vote this week on two landmark bills — S.B. 54 and A.B. 1080 — that would at last tackle the plastic-pollution crisis.

Our oceans are drowning in plastic, and frontline communities are forced to breathe toxic air emissions from the plants that make it. These bills would reduce throwaway plastic packaging and products by 75% by 2032, incentivizing reusables and reducing the environmental burden on communities.

Plastic produced today will still exist hundreds of years from now, which is why these bills target plastic pollution at the source. Write your legislators and urge them to vote yes on this bold legislation.

Wolf

We're Suing to Protect Alaska's Wolves and Grizzly Bears

In June the Trump administration made a rule allowing more hunting and trapping on national preserves in Alaska. It greenlights the use of unsporting methods like baiting bears with bacon grease and donuts, as well as killing wolves and pups asleep in their dens.

By reducing the number of predators, it aims to artificially inflate prey populations, such as moose and caribou, for hunters to kill.

We can't allow this outrageous, inhumane targeting of ecologically important animals. So on Wednesday the Center and 12 partners filed a federal lawsuit to restore Obama-era protections for Alaska's wildlife to national preserves managed by the National Park Service.

"Wolves and grizzlies, and the national preserves in Alaska where they live, are national treasures that deserve protection," said the Center's Collette Adkins.

Learn more and help us protect wildlife with a donation to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Border wall

John Oliver, the salty host of Last Week Tonight, tore into the border wall in a furious but hilarious exposé that aired last week, calling it "destructive, pointless, ineffective, racist, weak." Look for a shoutout to the Center at the 8:52 mark.

Green sea turtle

Wins for Pangolins, Green Sea Turtles and More

Every day an imperiled species goes unprotected brings it closer to extinction. That's why the Center works to make sure the government doesn't drag its feet on protection decisions. And in the past 10 days, our legal work brought progress in that arena to three kinds of animals and one plant.

For pangolins, the world's most trafficked mammals, we won an agreement from the Fish and Wildlife Service to decide on Endangered Species Act protection by next June. For critically endangered North Atlantic right whales, we won a deadline of May 2021 for new regulations to prevent the animals from getting entangled in fishing gear, which can be deadly. For threatened and endangered green sea turtles, we won an agreement that federal agencies will propose critical habitat by June 2023.

And following our lawsuit, the Service proposed protecting the marrón bacora, a flowering shrub found only in dry forests on St. John, Virgin Islands, and identified 2,549 acres of potential critical habitat.

Sunflowers

To Keep the Air Clean for 152 Million, 26 Suits So Far

What's more important than the air we breathe?

Over the past six years, the Center has filed 26 lawsuits fighting to cut air pollution for 152 million people in the United States — nearly half the country's population.

Our legal work in 34 states (and counting) is mainly aimed at forcing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do its job in making sure states put plans in place to address smog, soot, sulfur dioxide and other dangerous pollutants.

Now this work is more critical than ever. Study after study shows air pollution makes COVID-19 even deadlier. But there's still work to be done. Learn more about our latest air-pollution lawsuit.

The Revelator: 'Forever' Chemicals in Ocean Wildlife

Royal terns flying over marbled godwits

A class of dangerous chemicals known as PFAS — designed for their durability and impermeability, to be used for weatherproofing clothes, smothering fire, and lining cooking pans — are showing up throughout the bodies of marine animals, from seabirds to manatees and dolphins to polar bears. This week The Revelator takes a look at their ubiquity — and their possible impacts.

Read the story and sign up for The Revelator's weekly e-newsletter.

A Board Game for Quarantined Animal Lovers: Endangered

Endangered board game

Whether you're at home with your family or with just a houseplant, we bet everyone reading this will love Endangered, a new board game. Made for one to five players, it uses role-play and real-world extinction threats to show how much cooperation, strategy and luck it takes to save species like tigers or sea otters.

We can vouch for Endangered's accuracy, since its creator consulted Center lawyers and scientists along the way — and is a proud Center supporter.

Read a review, buy the game and sign up to get free, limited-edition role-playing cards to use while playing. You can also check out this video and donate to help the creator launch an expanded game with more species.

Leopard slug

Wild & Weird: How Leopard Slugs Mate

Individual leopard slugs have both male and female sex organs, and though they can self-fertilize they seem to prefer company. By night they climb up a tree, rock or fence post and lower themselves on a tether of slime, entwining their bodies.

Why hang upside down? Gravity helps the slugs lower their penises, which can expand to be as long as their bodies and emerge through an opening on their heads. When mating's done they go back up the slimy trapeze, with the second one consuming it on his/her/their way.

Watch video of leopard slugs mating on Facebook or YouTube and learn more at the BBC.

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Photo credits: Arctic fox by Jonatan Pie/Unsplash; Mount Charleston blue butterfly by Sky Island/Flickr; plastic trash by Bo Eide/Flickr; wolf by ardise/Flickr; border wall by Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity; green sea turtle by Nicole McLachlan/Wikimedia; sunflowers by aaamsss/Flickr; royal terns flying over marbled godwits by Diana Robinson; Endangered board game courtesy Grand Gamers Guild; leopard slug by mtsofan/Flickr.

Center for Biological Diversity
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