Key Report: Hundreds of Native Bee Species Buzzing Toward Extinction

by JULIE FIDLER – One species is already presumed to be extinct. The Center for Biological Diversity has published a first-of-its-kind comprehensive review of more than 4,000 native bee species in North America. The report indicates that more than half the species with sufficient data are declining. Nearly 1 in 4 is racing towards extinction due to increased pesticide and other factors. Of the 1,437 species with sufficient data, the nonprofit found that 749 were declining. An additional 347 (24%) of the species are imperiled and at risk of extinction. The center presumes that the species lacking sufficient data are presumed to be at risk of extinction as well. The author of the report, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement: “It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming.” All of the bee...

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Coalition Takes Trump’s Order to Pillage Public Lands for Coal to Court

by Andrea Germanos – “This isn’t putting Americans first, this is putting corporate polluters first.” A day after President Donald Trump “took a wrecking ball to U.S. action on climate change” with an executive order that included lifting his predecessor’s pause on new federal coal leases, a coalition of groups has filed a legal challenge to stop the widespread damage the rescission would bring about. Opening public lands to coal leasing, say the groups, which include Citizens for Clean Energy, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife, serves only to fatten the coffers of coal executives, rip off taxpayers, befoul the air and water, threaten wildlife, and fuel climate change. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Earthjustice. The pause, which the Obama administration put in place in 2016, was to conduct a review of the program to ensure that it offers “a fair return to taxpayers and reflect...

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Oklahoma Bar Launches Investigation to Determine if Trump’s EPA Chief Lied Under Oath

by Nadia Prupis – EPA chief told Congress he only conducted official attorney general business on professional email account, but document dump showed otherwise. The Oklahoma Bar Association on Thursday opened an investigation into whether Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt lied to Congress under oath. Pruitt has been asked to respond to the inquiry, which will look into possible ethics violations stemming from his confirmation hearing in January, when he testified that he only ever used his professional email account to conduct official business while serving as Oklahoma attorney general. Following the investigation, the association’s Professional Responsibility Commission will determine whether to take disciplinary action against Pruitt. The probe was launched in response to a formal ethics complaint (pdf) filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and University of Oklahoma law professor Kristen van de Biezenbos. Pruitt’s testimony was proven false after a lawsuit filed in February by...

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Senate Confirms “Worst, Most Dangerous Administrator in EPA History”

by Andrea Germanos – With fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt now in charge, now ‘begins the fight of a lifetime to protect public health, our environment, climate stability, and even the simple sanctity of the EPA itself.’ Portending risks to “the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we love,” the U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 52-46 vote comes a day after an Oklahoma judge said Pruitt was in violation of the state’s Open Records Act and ordered the release of thousands of emails between his office and fossil fuel companies. Senate Democrats said that warranted a delay on Pruitt’s confirmation, but Republicans pushed the vote ahead. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.) joined Republicans to vote in favor of Pruitt; thus, wrote Esquire‘s Charles Pierce, “we must assume that two Democratic...

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Climate Catches ‘Huge Break’ as Shell Calls It Quits in the Arctic

by Jon Queally – At least for the “foreseeable future,” the oil giant will put a hold on its offshore drilling in Alaska after finding insufficient deposits In what environmental campaigners are calling “a huge break” for the Arctic region and by extension the world’s climate, the Royal Dutch Shell oil company announced on Monday it would end its exploratory drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea after disappointing results from its controversial operations in the Alaskan waters that took place this summer. In a corporate press statement released Monday, the company said that its drilling vessel—located approximately 150 miles offshore and in about 150 feet of water—had “successfully” drilled an exploratory well to the depth of 6800 feet. Though the company claimed it “found indications of oil and gas,” it said the amount was “insufficient to warrant further exploration” and said the prospected site will now be “sealed and abandoned.” Further,...

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The West Virginia Wake-up Call Over ‘Bomb Trains’

by Jared Margolis – The derailment and fiery explosion of an oil train in West Virginia this week was a frightening reminder of the dangers these trains pose every day along thousands of miles of track across the United States. And it’s only getting worse. Since 2008, oil-by-rail transport has grown 40-fold and we’ve seen a troubling spike in oil spills, derailments and environmental devastation. We’ve yet to see federal regulators respond to these escalating risks. That needs to change. What happened in West Virginia (and a similar explosive derailment of another oil train in Ontario two days earlier) will be repeated unless the Obama administration puts a moratorium on oil trains and takes step to ensure these trains can operate in a way that protects people, wildlife and the environment. A new study by the Center for Biological Diversity, where I work, uncovers striking new details on the broad range...

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Federal Protection Sought for Iconic Pollinators ‘In Deadly Free Fall’

Groups urge Endangered Species Act protection for monarchs suffering from assualt as a result of genetically engineered crops dominating Corn Belt by Andrea Germanos – The alarming decline of the monarch butterfly population necessitates federal action to save the iconic orange and black pollinators. Such is the urging of the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, joined by the Xerces Society and monarch expert Dr. Lincoln Brower, who sent a petition (pdf) Tuesday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the butterflies. Over the last two decades, the groups say, population has plummeted by more than 90 percent. To put that “staggering” figure in perspective, Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that “in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio.” The request...

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Feeding GMOs to Wildlife and Spraying Bee-Killing Pesticides at National Refuges to End

By Nicole D’Alessandro, EcoWatch – For nearly 10 years, two nonprofits filed lawsuits, and used legal petitions and countless administrative actions to stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in its tracks. The issue that Center for Food Safety and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) took with the FWS? The regular use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in national refuge farming programs — which ultimately interfere with the very plants and animals the refuge system is designed to protect. Today, the FWS announced in an internal memorandum that the agency will ban neonic pesticides and phase out GE feed for wildlife by January 2016. “GE crops and toxic pesticides violate the basic purposes of our protected national lands,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “We applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service for recognizing what our legal challenges have repeatedly stated and courts have repeatedly held: that they must...

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SCOTUS Further Weakens EPA Power to Regulate Greenhouse Gases

Ruling issued Monday cuts back already ‘soft’ regulatory measures under the Clean Air Act By Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday placed further limits on the Environmental Protection Agency’s already-modest power to regulate power plant and factory emissions of greenhouse gases. SCOTUS ruled in a 2007 case that greenhouse gases emitted by new motor vehicles constitute pollution that is subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. Under this act, any polluter that emits more than 250 tons of a recognized pollutant must acquire a permit before expanding or modernizing. The EPA interpreted the 2007 ruling to mean that greenhouse gases emitted by stationary facilities — including power plants and factories — are also subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. The agency raised the threshold for regulation of stationary facilities to 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year — a move it said was designed to...

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2 Million Animals Killed by Federal Wildlife Program in 2013

 New numbers reveal a 29 percent increase since 2012 Wildlife Services, the highly secretive arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has released new data showing that the agency killed more than 2 million native animals during the last fiscal year. The new numbers reveal a 29 percent increase in the program’s killing, up almost a half-million animals since fiscal year 2012, despite an increase in public awareness. Wildlife Services target animals deemed as pests by powerful special interests groups from the agribusiness, hunting and livestock sectors, according to Center for Biological Diversity. “Wildlife Services has long been out of step with the values of Americans, and the new figures make clear it has no interest in changing,” said Amy Atwood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which petitioned to reform the program last December. “These appalling new numbers show that Wildlife Services is simply thumbing its nose at the growing number of...

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‘The Cause Is Us’: World on Verge of Sixth Extinction

Species loss soaring at ‘pace not seen in tens of millions of years’ Andrea Germanos, staff writer – A new study showing that the human activity has driven current rates of species extinction to 1,000 times faster than the natural rate is “alarming” and “should be a clarion call” to work towards greater conservation efforts, an environmental group charges. The study, published Thursday by the journal Science and led by conservation expert Stuart Pimm, also warns that without drastic action, the sixth mass extinction could be imminent. From habitat loss to invasive species to climate change to overfishing, humans are contributing to the plummet in biodiversity. “This important study confirms that species are going extinct at a pace not seen in tens of millions of years, and unlike past extinction events, the cause is us,” stated Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity, who was...

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