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Great Lakes Wolves Back on Endangered List

Fulfilling a court order won by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday formally put the Great Lakes wolf back on the endangered species list. This marks the third time the Center has overturned premature decisions to declare the Great Lakes wolf "recovered" and allow state agencies to kill them.

A court order in our case to return Rocky Mountains wolves to the endangered list and stop their killing could be issued any day. Meanwhile in the Southwest, the Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting a review of the Mexican gray wolf recovery program in response to our petition asking that the program be reformed from top to bottom.

Read more in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


Three Million Acres Sought for Florida Panther

To save the endangered Florida panther from a sea of encroaching sprawl, the Center for Biological Diversity today submitted a scientific petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking the designation of 3 million acres of protected critical habitat.

While the human population in Florida has soared to 18 million people, the majestic cat has declined to just 100-120 individuals ringed by roads, shopping malls, and housing developments. It was saved from extinction by being placed on the endangered species list in 1967, but its habitat has never been protected and the species is leagues away from recovery.

"There is a very small window of opportunity to save the panther," said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. "If we don't map out and permanently protect all lands necessary for the great cat's survival and recovery immediately, it will go the way of the dusky seaside sparrow and Caribbean monk seal -- two Florida species that went extinct in our lifetime."

Read more in the Palm Beach Post.


Obama to Limit Auto Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Raise Gas-mileage Bar

In a historic step toward cleaner energy, this Tuesday two federal agencies announced details of the first national plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, light trucks, and SUVs under the Clean Air Act -- in fact, the first national plan to regulate these emissions period. Together, those three classes of vehicles emit almost 60 percent of U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the new plan would reduce greenhouse gases by 950 million metric tons and save some 1.8 billion barrels of oil over these vehicles' lifetime. The plan also increases the vehicles' national gas-mileage standards by about 5 percent per year, with the standard reaching 35.5 mpg for model year 2016. The move comes after the Center for Biological Diversity and allies won a landmark 2007 court victory overturning the Bush administration's ridiculously lax fuel-economy standards for model years 2008-2011. Still, the standards proposed by the new plan fall far short of what Europe, Japan, and China have in place already.

Read more in The New York Times.


11,000-acre Mine Stopped in Arizona

Thanks to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, this Monday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a massive land trade that would have turned 11,000 acres of public land over to the infamous Asarco corporation to mine without regard for federal environmental laws.

The Bureau of Land Management had agreed to trade the public lands for 7,300 acres of private land so the company could expand its already massive Ray Copper Mine in Arizona. The appeals court, however, agreed the trade was "arbitrary and capricious," saying the agency should take a "hard look" at the environmental impact.

Get more from the Environment News Service.


Email Activists Save Desert Tortoises

Thanks to opposition by the Center for Biological Diversity and more than 23,000 of you supporters, the Bureau of Land Management last Friday paused its plan to move 1,000-plus endangered desert tortoises. Hundreds of tortoises died during a relocation effort last year to make way for the expansion of the Fort Irwin Army base. The Center stopped last year's project with a lawsuit, but this year was able to save the tortoises by mobilizing thousands of people to protest. Thanks to all of you who wrote emails and made calls.

Unfortunately, Fort Irwin plans on ignoring the Bureau's decision and wants to move 90 desert tortoises this month, if it can get U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval. Stay tuned for more Mojave machinations.

Read more in the Press-Enterprise.


Top Climate Scientists: 350 ppm or Doom for Climate, Oceans

As we approach the upcoming United Nations meeting in Copenhagen to strike an international climate treaty, some of the world's most prominent scientists are warning that current climate bills are insufficient to stop runaway global warming. Setting a goal of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide to 450 or 550 parts per million, as the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would do, will have catastrophic impacts. We need to decrease the level to 350 ppm or less. It's currently at about 385 ppm.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the press last week that "what is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target." Meanwhile, a United Nations project to quantify the financial costs of climate change on nature concluded that current climate targets aren't enough to save the world's coral reefs.  "There's evidence that current levels of CO2 are already causing damage to reefs," said Alex Rogers of London's Institute of Zoology. "Stabilizing at anything more than about 350 ppm will lead to further destruction, and really we need to be aiming for zero emissions."

The Center for Biological Diversity is pushing hard to improve the deeply flawed climate bill and convince political leaders to let scientists rather than industry lobbyists guide national and international climate policy. Our community letter to the Senate, urging senators to set a 350 ppm target in the upcoming Senate global warming bill, has been endorsed by more than 350 organizations and is being personally delivered to senators nationwide. We're also gearing up for an exciting project for 350.org's International Day of Action on October 24 -- and we want you to be a part of it, so stay tuned.

Read more in the UK Guardian and Johannesburg Mail & Guardian.


Should We Dump Verizon? Vote Today.

Verizon Wireless has finally responded to the Center for Biological Diversity and CREDO's massive mobilization campaign calling on the company to withdraw its sponsorship of the Labor Day rally supporting mountaintop-removal coal mining, denying global warming, and attacking environmentalists as "extremists."

Eighty-one thousand email complaints later, Verizon wrote the Center to say its rally sponsorship was "not an expression of support for mountaintop removal coal mining or in opposition to climate legislation." Unfortunately, the not-so-apologetic apology was issued after the rally was over. And the Center isn't about to ease up on holding Verizon to its stated environmental responsibilities. Over the last three weeks, dozens of national articles and blogs about Verizon's rally support -- and the threats to endangered species and our planet from destructive coal mining -- have kept the media buzzing.

And the latest buzz is about asking our grassroots base, which pays our phone bills: Should we dump Verizon and find a more environmentally responsible phone company?

Vote today -- the polls close on Friday. And tell your friends to vote, too. We want Verizon to know that tens of thousands of potential customers are watching them closely and letting their opinions be known.

Read more in The New York Times.


Feds Vow to Get Cracking to Protect 251 Species

Facing a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit and 250-plus species languishing without protection, the Obama administration has finally promised to put the "candidate list" backlog on the front burner. Essentially a waiting list for species in need of Endangered Species Act protection, the candidate list contains species that have been found to merit protection but were punted aside due to "higher priority" federal actions. Nearly 100 species have been on the list for more than a decade and 73 have been waiting for more than a quarter-century. A Center report shows that between 1974 and 1994, systematic delays -- including lengthy waits on the candidate list -- contributed to the extinction of 83 plants and animals. To prevent the extinction of more, in 2005 the Center sued the Bush administration to protect 283 candidate species.

Now, the Obama administration has said it will boost funding for the federal endangered species program and will use new techniques, like protecting numerous ecosystem-sharing species at a time, to ramp up protections for the 251 current species-in-waiting. But new techniques and money won't fix the problem if the administration isn't truly committed to protecting species. Let's hope it has its priorities straight.

Read more in The New York Times.


Nominate Your Favorite Eco-Villain for the Rubber Dodo Extinction Award

It's time to hand out the Rubber Dodo Award to the person who's done the most to drive imperiled species extinct in 2009. The 2008 award went to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for taking potshots at polar bears, beluga whales, walruses, and any other endangered species that walked, crawled, or flew in her direction. The 2007 award went to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for setting a new record in failing to protect any endangered species at all for two years.

Who'll win the dubious honor in 2009? Help us decide by voting for one of our picks, or nominate your own favorite eco-villain. Here are our top four candidates:

- Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy
- Michael H. Winer, portfolio manager of Third Avenue Real Estate Fund (TAREX) and leader of Tejon development
- Idaho Governor Butch Otter
- Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe

Visit our Rubber Dodo Web page and vote or nominate today.


Kierán Suckling
Executive Director


Photo credits: Florida panther courtesy USFWS; gray wolf courtesy USFWS; Florida panther by Larry Richardson, USFWS; exhaust pipe courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Steevven1; bighorn sheep courtesy Corel Corporation, USFWS; desert tortoise by Beth Jackson, USFWS; elkhorn coral (c) John Easley, DeepSeaImages.com; mountaintop removal site courtesy Wikimedia Commons/JW Randolph; Oregon spotted frog by Kelly McAllister, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; rubber dodo.

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