Win for Hawaii Beaches in the Fight Against Plastic Pollution

Endangered Earth: The weekly wildlife update from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Beach plastic
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Hawaii Must Clean Up Plastic at Two Polluted Beaches

In February the Center for Biological Diversity and allies sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency so that it would make Hawaii do a new accounting of plastic pollution in its waters. Now the EPA has decided two heavily polluted areas in the state, Kamilo Beach and Tern Island, are harmed by that pollution. The agency's regional administrator has ordered Hawaii to include them in water-quality management plans to reduce the impact of plastic pollution.

"Kamilo Beach is notorious for being covered in plastic, and this EPA finding will push state and federal agencies to face that reality," said Maxx Phillips, the Center's Hawaii director. "Ocean plastic pollution is a crisis here in Hawaii. It chokes wildlife and carries toxins onto our beaches and through our food web. Hawaii's Department of Health is now being forced to finally address this threat."

Read more at Honolulu Civil Beat.

Coronavirus nurses

Take Action: Stop Utility Shutoffs and Protect Workers

As the coronavirus pandemic surges, our nation is suffering a loss of life and livelihood that’s unprecedented in recent history, with people of color disproportionately harmed. Millions of families risk eviction or utility shutoffs because they can't afford to pay, and essential workers risk dying because they still don't have personal protective equipment.

In May the U.S. House of Representatives moved to address these problems by passing the Heroes Act, which would enact a nationwide moratorium on utility shutoffs and evictions and provide $3 trillion in COVID-19 relief. Now we have to make sure that the Senate follows suit and bails out families and frontline workers, not corporate America.

Tell your senators that these protections must be included in the next COVID-19 relief package.

Bighorn sheep

Desert Refuge Protected for Now — Thank You

Nevada's Desert National Wildlife Refuge is safe for the moment, after a congressional amendment from Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford blocked plans to hand over half of it to the military.

More than 20,000 of you spoke up after our emergency action alert earlier this month. Thank you for taking action.

The refuge is the largest in the lower 48 and home to rare and threatened species like bighorn sheep and desert tortoises. The Democratic-led House Armed Services Committee earlier this month greenlighted giving 850,000 acres of the refuge to the Air Force for use as an industrial training center.

We're glad to see the new amendment that blocks this land grab — but this fight may return later this year. We'll keep you posted.


This spring the Center launched a series of "Saving Life on Earth" webinars featuring staff discussing key areas of our work: the borderlands, wolf conservation, the future of climate activism, the dangers of the wildlife trade, and more. These online events are a great opportunity to learn more about what we do and meet our experienced, passionate staff.

Find videos of all our webinars (scroll down on this page to the section titled "Speaker Series") and look for our next conversation in August.

Coal mine

No New Coal Mining on Public Lands

The Center and partners launched a new legal challenge on Monday to the Trump administration's 2017 decision to open millions of acres of public lands to new coal leasing and mining. That decision ended an Obama-era leasing moratorium that had protected public lands from new coal strip mines and had protected water, air and climate from coal-mining pollution.

"Quitting the coal habit is essential to our survival," said Center attorney Michael Saul. "We're demanding a thorough and honest review of the costs of the federal coal-leasing program, which is decades overdue."

Learn more from the Missoula Current.

2017 Lassen pack pup

Wolves were once common along the West Coast of the United States, but decades of extermination programs to appease the livestock industry drove them out in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Wolves are finally returning to California, and in happy news the state's only known wolf family, the Lassen pack, has produced its fourth litter of pups. Eight new little ones give hope to everyone who wants to see wolves reestablished in the places these beautiful animals once called home. Get more from USA TODAY.


Defeat of Trump Administration's War on Methane Rule

In 2018 a broad coalition, including the Center, challenged the Trump administration's gutting of an important rule requiring Big Oil to take reasonable measures to stop waste of fossil gas on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management made the rule in order to reduce pollution from methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Now a federal judge has reinstated the critical 2016 methane-waste rule — a third defeat for the current administration's campaign to suspend, delay or repeal the rule. It will go back into effect in 90 days.

"We're grateful that the courts continue to reject these unscientific, indefensible attempts to give fossil-fuel companies a license to pollute," said the Center's Michael Saul.

Read more in the Carlsbad Current Argus.

Golden eagle

Suit Challenges Monster Mega-warehouse in California

The Center and allies just sued the Southern California city of Moreno Valley for approving a mega-warehouse project as destructive as it is massive.

About the size of 700 football fields, the 40-million-square-foot World Logistics Center would worsen already poor air quality and exacerbate climate change, generating 400,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution. It would also harm imperiled animals and plants in the nearby San Jacinto Wildlife Area, including the Los Angeles pocket mouse, California golden eagle and San Jacinto crownscale.

"It's disappointing to see Moreno Valley officials repeatedly disregard this massive project's enormous threats to the climate, wildlife and local residents," said attorney Aruna Prabhala, director of the Center's Urban Wildlands program.

Get more from Courthouse News Service.


New Aircraft Pollution Rules Are Too Weak

The Trump administration just proposed long-overdue rules to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from aircraft — but they don't do anything to address the climate crisis. Even the EPA says it doesn't expect the rule to result in emissions reductions.

The proposal likely comes in response to a recent legal notice from the Center and allies threatening to sue the administration for delaying legally required rules to reduce greenhouse pollution from aircraft.

"Those standards are just a joke," the Center's Clare Lakewood told The New York Times. "They don't require any meaningful emissions reductions."

The Revelator: We Need to Take Better Care of Fish Habitat

Bluefin tuna

According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, the United States is falling far short in managing the essential fish habitats that support life in our waters — and keep our fisheries viable. That's dangerous for fish populations, ecosystems and our food system.

Read about it in The Revelator and sign up for The Revelator's e-newsletter.

Blanding's turtle hatchlings

Wild & Weird: Adorable Endangered Turtles Released Into Wild

Behold endangered Blanding's turtle hatchlings taking their first leaps, steps and swims into the wild on Facebook or YouTube.

These turtles can live as long as 80 years, but predation, disease, habitat destruction and collection by humans have driven their population to the brink. In response to a 2011 petition by the Center, Blanding's turtles received protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

In 2012 the Center and several renowned scientists and herpetologists, including E.O. Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy, filed a formal petition seeking Endangered Species Act protection for Blanding's turtles and 52 other of the nation's most threatened amphibians and reptiles.

Although these turtles aren't yet protected at the federal level in the United States, they're protected by several state laws.

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Photo credits: Hawaii beach plastic courtesy Raftography Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii; nurses during COVID-19 courtesy U.S. Army; bighorn sheep by Renee Grayson/Flickr; borderlands webinar courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; coal mine courtesy BLM; 2017 Lassen pack pup courtesy USFS; fracking by Daniel Foster/Flickr; golden eagle by Jon Nelson/Flickr; aircraft by Ethan McArthur/Unsplash; bluefin tuna courtesy NOAA; Blanding's turtle hatchlings by Jared Green/USFWS.

Center for Biological Diversity
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