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Polar Bear Habitat Protection Goes to White House

In response to a legal settlement won by the Center for Biological Diversity, this Monday the Interior Department sent a polar bear habitat-protection proposal to the White House for review. The proposal should be made public later this month and must by finalized by next June. We expect it will encompass millions of acres of sea-ice in Alaska threatened by global warming and oil and gas exploration.

The Center won Endangered Species Act protection for the polar bear in January 2008, then secured an agreement to protect its habitat. We're now pushing to increase its protected status, develop a recovery plan, and strike down a Bush-era policy (adopted by the Obama administration as its own) banning federal agencies from reining in greenhouse gas pollution on the bear's behalf.

Read more in The New York Times.


5,855 Square Miles Protected for Sea Otter

In response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, this Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected 5,855 square miles of Alaska's coastal waters as "critical habitat" for the endangered Alaskan sea otter. The resplendent-furred creature, federally protected thanks to a Center petition, has been declining fast due to global warming and overfishing, and it's threatened by proposals to open Bristol Bay in the Bering Sea to oil development. While the new habitat protections are a great step, they don't protect deeper waters and areas further from shore that the otter needs. The Center will make sure those areas are protected so the playful mammal can recover.

Get more from the Associated Press.


Obama Targets Big Oil, Big Coal With Clean Air Act

Showing anew the Clean Air Act's crucial role in fighting climate change, last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed another step toward curbing greenhouse gas pollution under the Act. The proposal will require big industrial facilities that annually emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas to get construction and operating permits covering those emissions -- which must show the use of the best emissions-control and energy-efficiency measures. This is a good step, but the administration should be moving more quickly to make full use of the Clean Air Act now. The Center for Biological Diversity (and you, our supporters) worked hard to tell the Senate to maintain the Clean Air Act in its climate legislation -- and it did. But the Act could still be gutted in the final version of the bill.

Read more in The New York Times and take action to make sure the Senate bill is as strong as it can be.


Suit Brewing to Save Penguins

This week the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network put the Interior Department on notice that we're soon to sue over its refusal to protect the emperor and rockhopper penguins. The emperor is threatened by the loss of its melting sea-ice habitat, as well as declining food availability in the warming ocean off Antarctica. Krill, an essential food source for both emperor and rockhopper penguins, has declined by as much as 80 percent since the 1970s. But after the Center petitioned to protect 12 of the world's most imperiled penguins -- including emperors and rockhoppers -- the Bush administration declared global warming impacts too "uncertain" to warrant emperor protection, also denying safeguards to the northern rockhopper and most southern rockhoppers.

Read more in E & E News.


Sprawl Threatens Condor, Center Threatens Developer

Hours after California's Kern County Board of Supervisors approved the building of two new cities (that's right, entire cities) smack in the middle of essential condor habitat, the Center for Biological Diversity began preparing legal briefs to save the endangered California condor and one of the last unprotected wilderness areas in Southern California.

Tejon Mountain "Village" and its 3,450 housing units, 160,000 square feet of commercial space, two golf courses, and 750-room hotel is slated to destroy thousands of acres of a federally protected condor reserve. Our suit will challenge both the project's wasteful water plan and its devastating effect on the condor, one of the world's most endangered creatures.

Read more in the Bakersfield Californian.


Overpopulation, Not Endangered Species, Drove Georgia Water Crisis

One the biggest endangered species controversies of 2008 involved the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's efforts to keep enough water in the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers to keep endangered species alive during an intense drought. The purple bankclimber mussel, fat threeridge mussel, and Gulf sturgeon have all been pushed to the edge of extinction by dams and water diversions. With water levels at a historic low in Lanier Reservoir, Georgia politicians went to the White House and Congress to exempt themselves from the Endangered Species Act in order to keep more water in the reservoir for urban use and very little in the river for endangered species.

Governor Sonny Perdue said that the federal government had created a "manmade drought" with its environmental policies. Little did he know how "manmade" the drought really was. A scientific paper published last week determined that the Georgia drought was not at all unusual in historical terms and would certainly occur again. What is unprecedented is massive, unsustainable population growth. Georgia grew from 6.5 million people in 1990 to 9.5 million in 2007, overwhelming the water availability during normal drought cycles. "The root of the water supply problem in the Southeast is a growing population," the scientists wrote. And if the overpopulation problem continues to grow to 10.5 or 12.5 million people, the crisis caused by the next "manmade" drought will be even worse and endangered species will -- as always -- suffer the worst consequences.

Read more in The New York Times.


Unleaded Condors: Center Initiative Taking Hold in Utah

Utah is now considering a program that would encourage hunters to use nonlead ammunition in habitat for the endangered California condor, whose biggest threat is lead poisoning from hunter-shot carcasses. Arizona already has such a program, complete with vouchers for free nonlead ammunition, and there's about a 70-percent compliance rate among the state's hunters. But the Center for Biological Diversity knows that's not good enough. Utah, Arizona -- and better yet, the whole country -- should go completely nonlead for the health of condors, golden eagles, other wildlife . . . and humans, too: A study has found that about a third of sampled deer burgers consumed by people were tainted with lead.

Thanks to work by the Center and allies, in 2007 California banned nearly all lead ammo in the state's condor range. We hope Arizona and Utah will soon follow suit.

Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune.


Study: Dead Trees Don't Make Wildfire Worse

A groundbreaking study on Southern California wildfire, co-authored by the Center for Biological Diversity's expert mapper Curt Bradley, shows that forests with trees killed naturally by beetles and drought won't burn any more severely than areas with fewer dead trees. The study directly counters claims by the timber industry and forestry officials that dead trees helped cause recent devastating Southern California fires. The study also challenges long-held assumptions that harvesting dead trees is necessary to reduce fire severity.

Read more in the San Bernardino Sun and check out our press release, where you can read the study itself.


Stop Junk Mail, Save Species

The average adult receives 41 pounds of postal junk mail every single year. Getting those worthless ads, catalogues, and sweepstakes letters to your mailbox involves a lot of cut-down trees, burned coal, wasted water, and climate-dooming greenhouse gases. And that thing about you having already won 10 million dollars? Not true. Even Ed McMahon couldn't beat the odds.

Unburden your mailbox with a quick trip to 41pounds.org -- a nonprofit that stops 80 to 95 percent of junk mail from ever being stamped with your address -- and help save species at the same time. Because now when you use 41pounds.org, you can designate more than a third of the fee to go to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Reclaim your mailbox with the Center and 41pounds.org today.


Kierán Suckling
Executive Director


Photo credits: sea otter courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Mike Baird under the Creative Commons attribution license; polar bear (c) Larry Master/masterimages.org; Alaska sea otter courtesy NOAA; power plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/luchegorsk.ru under the Creative Commons attribution license; emperor penguin; Tejon Ranch (c) Andrew Harvey/visualjourneys.net; Lake Lanier courtesy Wikimedia Commons under the GNU free documentation license; California condor courtesy Arizona Game and Fish; polar bear by Pete Spruance; San Bernardino National Forest by Monica Bond; logo courtesy 41pounds.org.

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