Jul 24, 2014

Endangered Earth: Obama OKs Airgun Blasts in Whale Waters

From: Center for Biological Diversity <bioactivist@biologicaldiversity.org>
Date: Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 12:08 PM
Subject: Endangered Earth: Obama OKs Airgun Blasts in Whale Waters

Center for Biological Diversity
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Obama Administration to Whales: You Go Deaf, We'll Get Oil
North Atlantic right whaleImagine this: Someone moves into your neighborhood and then, every 10 seconds, proceeds to fire off an airgun that's louder than a jet engine. It goes on for weeks or months at a time. Some of your neighbors go deaf; others perish.

If you're a whale, dolphin or sea turtle living off the Atlantic Coast, the Obama administration has made that nightmare a reality. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management just opened up offshore waters from Delaware to Florida to oil and gas exploration and approved a controversial technique for conducting seismic surveys: blasting ultra-loud noise guns that send sound waves through the water to help find oil and gas.

The guns generate incredibly loud sounds that reach more than 250 decibels (a jet engine's around 140 decibels). That level of noise causes hearing loss and even death in marine mammals like whales and dolphins; it disrupts whole underwater webs of life.

The government has acknowledged that these noise blasts will hurt as many as 138,000 marine mammals, including some of Earth's last remaining Atlantic right whales (of which only about 500 remain in the wild). Stay tuned for how you can help.

Read more in this Huffington Post op-ed by the Center for Biological Diversity's Miyoko Sakashita.

Suit Launched to Save 14,000 Acres of Condor Habitat
California condorPrecious habitat for one of the world's most endangered birds, the California condor, is in imminent danger. The Center and American Indian allies have filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its approval of a so-called "habitat conservation plan" that would allow the destruction of 14,000 acres of federally protected, key condor habitat in Tejon Ranch, California's largest privately owned swath of nontimber land and a biodiversity hotspot. Destruction of the habitat has been approved for the construction of a resort development called Tejon Mountain Village.

For more than a decade the Center has been the most uncompromising environmental group in the fight to save Tejon Ranch and its condors from destruction.

"Tejon Ranch is critical to the survival of California condors, but only if it's not turned into tennis courts, swimming pools and parking lots," said the Center's Adam Keats. "Rather than enabling sprawl development, the Fish and Wildlife Service ought to be doing everything it can to protect the few pieces of remaining condor habitat that are left."

Read more in our press release.

Lawsuit Seeks to Protect Hudson River Wildlife From Oil Trains
Atlantic sturgeonTwo years ago hardly any highly explosive crude oil was being shipped by rail along the Hudson River in New York. Now about 3 billion gallons a year go through, mostly from the Bakken fields around North Dakota. But the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Coast Guard haven't updated their spill-response plans to protect people and wildlife living along the river. So this week the Center sued the EPA and the Coast Guard to spur them to get their plans up to snuff.

At least 17 endangered and threatened species call the river home, including Atlantic sturgeon, sea turtles and piping plovers.

"With little public scrutiny or input, there's been a massive increase in transport of highly flammable crude oil by rail and barge, which puts communities, rivers and wildlife in danger," said the Center's Mollie Matteson. "We have to take immediate action to make sure these rare and marvelous creatures aren't casualties of a reckless industry."

Get more from the Courthouse News Service.

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One Florida Drilling Project Dead, Another Threatens Big Cypress -- Take Action

Florida pantherEarlier this year we asked you to speak out against drilling in South Florida's sensitive lands and to tell decision-makers not to grant the Dan A. Hughes Company's request to drill -- and last week the Florida Department of Environmental Protection slammed the brakes on the Collier County project and revoked the permit.

While this project may be dead, the battle for South Florida's wildlands has not yet been won. Big Cypress National Preserve is now under threat. Although the preserve has historically accommodated some oil development, there's a new proposal to conduct seismic testing on one-third of the area's 729,000 public acres. Seismic surveys using huge trucks can cause significant environmental damage: Trees and other vegetation will be removed, water flow will be disrupted, visitor access will be reduced, and noise from helicopters, vehicles, engines and generators will disturb wildlife, including the highly imperiled Florida panther.

Act now and tell the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service to protect this preserve for the last wild Florida panthers and to say no to massive oil exploration and development.

California Red-legged Frog Is Latest State Amphibian
California red-legged frogState flags, flowers and birds -- sure. But did you know that almost 20 U.S. states have official "state amphibians"?

Thanks to a campaign initiated by our friends at Save the Frogs and helped along by the Center, California has just become the newest state with an official amphibian: our dear (and rare) California red-legged frog.

This species -- the largest native frog in the American West and the star of a celebrated Mark Twain story -- has been a strong Center focus for more than 20 years. Since suing in 1992 to earn Endangered Species Act protection for this black-speckled, pink-bellied, five-inch frog, we've been in and out of court to ensure it received sufficient protected habitat (1.6 million acres in 28 counties). Most recently we won a settlement requiring the feds to better protect this frog from seven common pesticides known to be highly toxic to amphibians.

"We're hopeful this unique frog's rekindled celebrity status will bring new attention to its plight," said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center attorney dedicated to saving rare amphibians and reptiles.

Get more from CBS News.

21 Protesters, Including Center Staffer, Arrested at Utah Tar Sands Site

Fracking rigAt a mine near Vernal, Utah, on Monday, the Center's No Tar Sands Campaigner Valerie Love -- along with 20 other protesters -- was arrested by the Uintah County Sheriff's Office and spent 24 hours in jail for blocking operators' access to mining equipment. The protest was at a tar sands strip-mining site in the eastern part of the state, where a company called U.S. Oil Sands is beginning work on Utah's first major tar sands mine. Protesters associated with Utah Tar Sands Resistance had entered a fenced enclosure, hung up banners and secured themselves to machinery.

Thirteen people were arrested for locking themselves to equipment (including Valerie); an additional six were arrested after sitting in the road to prevent the removal of those being taken away in two police vans. Two of the protesters arrested were injured.

"This could be the first large-scale tar sands strip mining in the Unites States, and this filthy industry threatens our air, water and wildlife," said Valerie. "We staged our protest on behalf of the millions of people who will be affected by this dirty fossil fuel mining. Over 40 million people and many wildlife species depend on this watershed. We need to say no to tar sands mining."

Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune.

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New Regs Aim to Rein in Snowmobiles -- Take Action
Snowshoe hareAfter years of unconstrained use, there's new hope that noisy, polluting snowmobiles will finally be brought in check on our national forests. The U.S. Forest Service recently released a draft of proposed rules that will require management of these vehicles -- but now we need you to contact the agency to make sure the new rules will protect wildlife.

Like ATVs, snowmobiles can be very destructive to forests -- as the names that describe their activities imply: When snowmobilers go skipping, carving, ditchbanging and boondocking throughout our public lands, they disturb critical habitat for threatened species and scatter snowshoe hare, lynx, wolves and caribou. For these shy animals, the stress of cold temps and scarce food is enough to bear without having 500-pound machines tear through their homes at speeds commonly ranging between 60 and 120 mph.

The Forest Service has a duty to protect wildlife on our public lands -- and that means consistently managing snowmobile use according to science.

Act now and urge the agency to limit snowmobiles to designated trails and institute a "closed unless posted open" policy across the national forest system.

Just Released: Our Summer Newsletter
Summer 2014 newsletter We're happy to share the summer 2014 issue of Endangered Earth, the Center's print newsletter, as an online PDF for easy viewing. Inside you'll find info on lots of predator action, including our petition to greatly expand grizzly bear recovery across the West; the finalization of 764,207 acres of protected habitat for jaguars; our petition against Wildlife Services, a USDA program that kills millions of animals yearly including wolves, coyotes and mountain lions; wolves winning state protection in California; and even how people eating sustainably can help rare predators survive and thrive in the wild.

And of course we cover other hot topics, from fracking, Keystone XL and crude-oil rail transport to water conservation. You can also read about our Urban Wildlands program's landmark defeat of the Kern Water Bank, which has been trying to privatize California water.

Each print newsletter includes special pieces written by the staff closest to the campaigns we highlight, plus a message from our executive director. We make our members-only print newsletter available to our online supporters as a thank-you for taking action -- but please consider becoming a member today and helping us even more. Simply call us toll-free at 1-866-357-3349 x 311 or visit our support Web page to learn more and make a gift.

Read the summer 2014 issue now.

Wild & Weird: Can Human Engineering Save Us From Us?

Rather than attempt to reshape the world to keep pace with human consumption, suggests Matthew Liao, director of New York University's bioethics program, maybe humanity should embrace the popular bumper-stickerism "Be the change you wish to see in the world" at the genetic level.

Liao suggests that by engineering future humans to be 6 inches shorter and 25 percent less massive, our species' environmental footprint could be greatly reduced. He also recommends "artificially inducing intolerance to red meat," correctly noting that "18% of greenhouse emissions come from livestock farming, so if we ate less meat we could greatly reduce our environmental impact."

A less immodest proposal: Instead of making ourselves into Frankenhumans, how about we just find tasty alternatives to red meat and use a bit of birth control? We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Wearing socks with sandals is a good first step.

Read more at BBC News.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Atlantic spotted dolphins courtesy Flickr/Willy Volk; North Atlantic right whales courtesy Wikimedia Commons/NOAA; California condor courtesy Flickr/M.K. Campbell; Atlantic sturgeon courtesy Flickr/vastateparksstaff; wolves by John Pitcher; Florida panther courtesy Flickr/Tambako the Jaguar; fracking rig courtesy Wikimedia Commons/BLM; California red-legged frog; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; snowshoe hare courtesy Flickr/NPS, Jacob W. Frank; grizzly bear courtesy Flickr/Shane Lin; sandals courtesy Flickr/Tony Alter.

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Center for Biological Diversity
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