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Center for Biological Diversity

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Massive Coal-fired Power Plant Permit Pulled

In response to an appeal by the Center for Biological Diversity, the federal Environmental Appeals Board has rejected a Bush-era permit approving a massive new coal-fired power plant. The proposed 1,500-megawatt Desert Rock plant in northern New Mexico would have emitted hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases over its 50-year lifespan, contributing significantly to drought and global warming. It would have also polluted streams inhabited by endangered species including the Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker. The EPA will be under heavy pressure by the coal industry to reissue the permit, but the Center will watchdog the process to the end.

Read more in the Arizona Daily Sun.


Bush-era Off-road Plan Rejected for Millions of Mojave Acres

In response to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, this Monday a federal judge threw out a Bush land-management plan that would be detrimental to millions of public acres in California's Mojave Desert. The judge found the West Mojave Plan illegal for favoring off-road vehicle use -- thousands of miles of routes -- over the protection of precious desert resources and endangered species like the Mojave fringe-toed lizard. The plan blatantly failed to minimize off-road routes to limit environmental damage; inadequately analyzed off-road vehicles' effects on air quality, cultural and environmental resources, and sensitive wildlife; and failed to look at the impact of cattle grazing on sensitive desert soils.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.


974,000 Roadless Acres Saved in Southern California

Thanks to toil in court by the Center for Biological Diversity and others, this Tuesday a judge ruled that management plans for Southern California's four national forests didn't do enough to protect the forests' wildest landscapes. The judge agreed with the Center and allies, represented by Earthjustice, that the U.S. Forest Service had illegally failed to assess the damage to 974,000 roadless forest acres that would suffer the consequences of road building and other development allowed by the plans. The ruling gives a second chance to numerous Southern California endangered species, including the California condor, arroyo toad, and steelhead trout.

Read more in the Press-Enterprise.


Ice Seals Slide Toward Solid Protections

In a big win for three Arctic seals being driven to extinction by global warming, the Center for Biological Diversity has obtained a legal settlement requiring the Obama administration to speed up action on our petition to put them on the federal endangered species list. The administration will determine whether the spotted seal warrants protection by October 15, 2009 and the ringed and bearded seals by November 1, 2010.

Leading the environmental movement's effort to save endangered species from global warming, the Center launched the Climate Law Institute and opened an Alaska office to focus on Arctic mammals and birds on the front lines of the climate crisis. As Rebecca Noblin, an attorney in our Anchorage office, told the Associated Press: "Global warming is wreaking havoc on the Arctic ecosystem. An entire ecosystem is rapidly melting away, and we risk losing not only the ice seals but the polar bear and walrus as well."

Get more from the Associated Press.


Senate Climate Bill: Clean Air Act Saved, Emissions Cap Way Too High

This Wednesday, the Senate released its long-awaited global warming bill designed to rein in the greenhouse emissions causing global warming. The good news is that the Senate listened to tens of thousands of activists like you who demanded that the Clean Air Act exemption included in the House bill be stripped from the Senate version. This was one of the Center for Biological Diversity's top legislative goals because a strong Clean Air Act must be an essential part of any comprehensive climate change policy.

The bad news is that Kerry and Boxer appear to be just delaying the addition of a Clean Air Act waiver as a bargaing chip. Asked why his bill didn't gut the Act, Kerry responded: "Because I think that we need to have some negotiating room as we proceed forward here. We'll see where we get as we come to the table."

The worse news is that the Senate bill will not cut carbon dioxide emissions deep or fast enough to prevent runaway global warming. It requires only a 20-percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, while climate science shows that we need to slash emissions by 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 to have any chance of ratcheting back atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million.

That's the magic number: 350. Stopping global warming requires we bring the carbon dioxide level back down to the 350 safety zone.

Get more from the Environment News Service and visit our 350 or Bust Web page to learn more about why life on Earth requires us to meet the 350 goal.


Manatees to Get New Habitat Safeguards After 30 Years

To save the endangered Florida manatee, which is losing habitat to booming development and water quality to pollution -- when it's not being run over by motor boats -- the Center for Biological Diversity and allies are pushing the federal government to update its 30-year-old habitat protection plan. This Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made an initial positive finding on our petition, setting the stage for vastly improved manatee protections.

The manatee project is part of a broader Center campaign to save endangered species from the massive population boom eating up Florida's last wild places. Earlier this year, the Center won 1.9 million acres of critical habitat off the Florida coast for the elkhorn and staghorn coral, and two weeks ago, we filed a legal petition to secure 3 million acres of protected habitat for the endangered Florida panther.

Read more in the Miami Herald.


100 Parks, 150 Species Saved in California -- Big Thanks

After months of threats to close up to 100 California state parks due to budget woes, last week the governor announced that all 279 of the state's parks will remain open. Thanks go out to the Center for Biological Diversity's California e-activists, who sent more than 3,500 letters requesting not to close the parks -- home to more than 150 at-risk species, from elephant seals to red-legged frogs to Peninsular bighorn sheep. A leaked legal memo from state parks' own lawyers showed that California could be sued for failing to protect closed state-park land for a variety of reasons, including failing to protect listed species. But since there will still be staff cutbacks, shorter hours, and longer seasonal closures at some parks, risks to species and habitats may remain. The Center will continue our work to make sure protections for California state-park species stay in place. 

Read more on the announcement in the San Francisco Chronicle and hear some thoughts on how budget cutbacks may affect the parks from the Los Angeles Times.


Tejon Ranch, Condors Need Your Help Now

Time's running out to help the Center for Biological Diversity save precious condor territory on Tejon Ranch, California's biggest and most biologically diverse swath of privately owned land. Next Monday, county supervisors will vote on a plan for the sprawling development Tejon Mountain Village, to be built on top of federally protected habitat for the severely endangered California condor and scores of other rare species. Now's the time to tell Kern County, California to preserve, not destroy, condor habitat on Tejon Ranch. The Center has been saying all along that the 270,000-acre ranch should be forever protected as a state or national park.

Take action for Tejon Ranch now, and find out more about our campaign to save the ranch.


Help Protect Virgin Islands Haven

The small, uninhabited island Thatch Cay is one of the last undeveloped swaths of land in the U.S. Virgin Islands -- but it may not stay that way for long. Developers plan to spoil the island with a luxury resort complex, complete with hotel and housing, tennis courts, human-built beaches, a helicopter landing pad, and more -- which will bring with them roads and pipelines that will further degrade land and marine habitat. The Cay is home to a wide variety of endangered species, from loggerhead sea turtles to humpback whales to the Virgin Islands tree boa.

Take action now to help preserve this unique island treasure and the plants and animals it harbors.


Bid With Your Lid for the Center

This fall through its Profits for the Planet Program, eco-savvy organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm will donate a portion of $100,000 to the Center for Biological Diversity, based on the number of votes we get from people across the country. In October Stonyfield yogurt lids will display a message about the Center and two other nonprofits; every time you lick the lid of a Stonyfield yogurt cup, you can read about the Center and our co-competitors, then vote with a simple click or use the codes from your yogurt lids to cast multiple votes for one of us -- and ahem, we hope that's the Center. Voting ends December 15, 2009.

Look out for the Center on Stonyfield lids in grocery stores nationwide starting today, and bid here now while you work up an appetite. Once you have a code to enter, bid here.


Kierán Suckling
Executive Director


Photo credits: bearded seal by David S. Isenberg; razorback sucker by Mark Fuller, USFWS; fringe-toed lizard courtesy USFWS; arroyo toad (c) Jason Jones; ringed seal courtesy National Marine Mammal Laboratory; power plant by Philip J. Redman, USGS; Florida manatee courtesy Sirenia Project, USGS; Peninsular bighorn sheep (c) Chrisopher Christie; California condor courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Chuck Szmurlo under the GNU free documentation license; Thatch Cay by William B. Folsom, NOAA; logo courtesy Stonyfield Farm.

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