Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend Update: wolves, corals, and more. . .

Here is a Weekend Update on several direct or related issues that have appeared in previous posts - some good, some not so good. Click on the subject heading to see the original posting.

Wolves - Endangered Status:
This past week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the Great Lakes wolf back on the endangered species list. This action bodes well for the pending court action to place the nearby Northern Rocky Mountain wolves residing in Idaho and Montana, which are currently subject to state-sanctioned hunting, back on the list also.

Copper Mine Expansion Stopped:
An Appeals Court voided a land trade between the Bureau of Land Management and the Asarco Corporation which would have traded 7,300 acres of private land for 11,000 acres of public land destined to allow the expansion of the Asarco copper mine. The court ruled that the trade was "arbitrary and capricious" and did not consider the environmental impact. Verizon Wireless gave a tepid response to 81k email protests regarding their support of a pro-mountaintop-removal mining rally held this past Labor Day, claiming the sponsorship was not an expression of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Desert Tortoise Relocation Thwarted:
Due in large part to public protest, the Bureau of Land Management halted the controversial relocation of over 1,000 desert tortoises, originally as part of an expansion of the Fort Irwin Army base. Relocation efforts in the past have proven fatal for many of the tortoises, but Fort Irwin is hoping to get approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move 90 tortoises, thereby defying the Bureau's action.

CO2 at 350 ppm Emphasized by UN Scientists:
Member scientists of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change again emphasized the need to establish a level of 350 parts per million for carbon dioxide emissions as the base level if we are to make any real progress. They warned that any legislation, like the current U.S. global warming legislation being considered, that sets CO2 limits above 350 ppm will lead to catastrophic effects on coral reefs and other ecosystems. The U.S. bill, passed by the House, sets the limit at 450 to 550 ppm. Over 350 organizations have urged a level of 350 ppm to be the goal in the U.S. Senate's version of the bill.

Endangered Species Waiting List:

And, as a final aside, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, there is a waiting list for species in need of Endangered Species List protection. Held back because of bureaucratic inefficiency or "higher priority" federal programs, the list includes 100 species that have been waiting for more than a decade and 73 have been waiting for more than a quarter-century. And apparently this bureaucratic quagmire has contributed to the extinction of 83 plants and animals between 1974 and 1994. The new Obama administration has said it will address a current backlog of over 250 species, but the proof will lie in the results.

Thanks to the proactive Center for Biological Diversity for the photos and info.

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