We Halted Drilling in the Arctic

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Blocked: Drilling in Western Arctic

On his way out the door, former President Trump rushed through a permit allowing ConocoPhillips to start a massive oil and gas drilling project in the pristine, culturally important landscape of the Western Arctic. The Center for Biological Diversity and partners sued — and as a result, a court has temporarily stopped the construction.

ConocoPhillips' "Willow" project would consist of five drill sites, a processing facility, up to 386 miles of pipelines, nearly 40 miles of new gravel roads, seven bridges, an airstrip, hundreds of miles of ice roads, and a gravel mine. It would be built in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, public lands that provide essential wildlife habitat for polar bears, migratory birds, caribou and other iconic species. And it would permanently jeopardize the health and traditional practices of nearby Indigenous communities.

"The courts need to keep rejecting the Trump administration's reckless approach to approving Arctic drilling projects," said Center attorney Kristen Monsell.

We'll continue fighting this project and other Arctic drilling with everything we've got. Support our work with a donation to our Saving Life on Earth Fund.

Gypstack

Take Action: Protect the Public From Radioactive Waste

Across the United States, fertilizer is made by strip-mining phosphate rock, then turning the phosphate into phosphoric acid. This creates radioactive waste called phosphogypsum.

Phosphogypsum is stored in giant piles stretching for hundreds of acres and reaching hundreds of feet into the sky. These "gypstacks" threaten communities in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The Center and allies just petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to increase federal oversight of the safe treatment, storage and disposal of phosphogypsum and process wastewater.

You can help: Sign our citizens' petition to protect communities from this radioactive waste.

Wolves

Here's what a snow day looks like for wolves in Yellowstone National Park — watch our new video on Facebook or YouTube.

Preble's meadow jumping mouse

Lawsuit Filed to Save Rare Species From Dangerous Soot

The Center just filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit to protect endangered animals and plants from dangerous soot pollution. We're challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's failure to assess harm to rare species when setting national air-pollution standards.

Also called "fine particulate matter," soot comes from mining, drilling and burning coal, oil, and methane gas. It's been linked to harm of all kinds of endangered species, including whooping cranes, desert tortoises and small mammals like the critically imperiled Preble's meadow jumping mouse.

"The EPA ignored the law when it failed to make sure soot in our air and water won't drive endangered species to extinction," said Center attorney Robert Ukeiley. "We're going to hold it accountable."

Smokestacks

New Bill Would Have Biden Declare a Climate Emergency

Three lawmakers have introduced a bill — the National Climate Emergency Act of 2021 —that would direct President Biden to declare a climate emergency. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), say we need a national mobilization against the crisis now.

This follows Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's call on national television for Biden to address climate change using emergency powers that offer more flexibility than legislation alone to address the climate crisis.

As Jean Su, the Center's energy justice director, told Common Dreams: "By declaring a climate emergency, President Biden will be able to redirect military funds to build clean energy systems, marshal private industry for clean technology manufacturing, generate millions of high-quality jobs, and finally put an end to dangerous crude oil exports."

Monarch butterfly and wolf

Now's the Time to Save Monarchs and Wolves

For U.S. wildlife, writes David Axe at The Daily Beast, the four years of the Trump administration were four years too many — and now President Biden has inherited some wildlife crises that need immediate attention. He can still stop monarch butterflies from going extinct and gray wolves' recovery from reversing: All he needs to do is give the monarchs Endangered Species Act protection. And let the wolves have theirs back.

Image of director and families from To Kid or Not to Kid film

To Kid or Not to Kid: Join Us for a Film and Discussion

Even with access to contraception, deciding whether and when to have children is anything but simple. To Kid or Not to Kid is a new documentary that explores family planning, the decision to be child-free, and how those choices are connected to the environment.

The Center has teamed up with filmmaker Maxine Trump to offer a free screening of her documentary, plus a discussion about it.

To watch the film, sign up anytime Feb. 11–14. You'll get a link to watch it for free Feb. 11–18. Then join the filmmaker and Center staff for a Saving Life on Earth webinar on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET. We'll discuss how to support those deciding whether and when to have children and how to advocate for universal access to all contraception methods.

You have to register to participate in the webinar, so sign up and then check your email for a link. We hope you can join us for this special event.

The Revelator: Decolonizing Species Names

New Caledonia

What's in a name?

If it's a species name, writes Revelator editor John Platt, the answer could include paternalism, colonialism, sexism and racism — whether it's North American birds named after "ethically dubious researchers and historical figures" or unique island animals named after colonizers who never set foot on their land.

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

Spinach

That's Wild: Spinach Sends Emails

While some humans are still struggling with Zoom, it turns out spinach has already learned to send emails.

In a 2016 study now trending on social media, MIT researchers embedded carbon nanotubes in spinach leaves — which, when the plants' roots sensed explosive compounds in groundwater, sent a signal to a camera that triggered it to email the researchers.

This news has left many speculating about the implications of a plant communicating by email. Will spinach start mailing you its favorite memes?

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Photo credits: Polar bear by NPS/Climate Change Response; phosphogypsum waste stack used with permission; wolves courtesy Yellowstone National Park; Preble's meadow jumping mouse courtesy USFWS Mountain-Prairie; factory smokestacks by Ben Reierson/Flickr; monarch butterfly by docentjoyce/Wikimedia; gray wolf by Steven Westphal/Flickr; To Kid Or Not To Kid courtesy Helpman Productions; New Caledonia by Chris Hoare; spinach by lorika/Flickr.

Center for Biological Diversity
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