Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nature and the Law: Center for Biological Diversity continues to work the courts

The conservation strategy adopted by the Center for Biological Diversity revolves around bringing the courts to bear on the issues that seem to have been ignored and to put the feet of government agencies to the fire when it appears they are not fulfilling their responsibilities and obligations. It is a strategy that certainly keeps the Tucson, Arizona-based nationwide organization busy.

Turning attention towards the predicaments of cats in the United States (wild, not domesticated) and a few other animals, here's what Executive Director Kieran Suckling and his staff have been up to:

Historic Suits Defends 214 Rare Species From Pesticides
"In the most comprehensive legal action ever taken to protect wildlife from pesticides under the Endangered Species Act, the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America sued the Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to determine whether hundreds of approved pesticides harm already-imperiled species around the country.

The lawsuit names more than 200 species in 49 states -- from the Florida panther to the Chiricahua leopard frog to the Alabama sturgeon -- that wildlife officials and scientists say are threatened by pesticides. Our lawsuit challenges the EPA for not consulting with wildlife agencies before approving more than 300 pesticides. 'For decades, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the disastrous effects pesticides can have on some of America's rarest species,' said the Center's Jeff Miller."

Read more in a Center for Biological Diversity
press release.

Lynx to Earn More Protected Habitat
"The feds will likely protect more habitat for the stealthy Canada lynx, one of North America's most imperiled predators; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dropped its appeal of a federal court decision last summer that said the agency's 'critical habitat' designation for the lynx was too paltry.

Only about 1,000 Canada lynx remain in the United States, and about half of them are in Montana. After a lawsuit in 1994 by the Biodiversity Legal Foundation (now merged with the Center for Biological Diversity) and allies, the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000 designated the spotted silver cat as 'threatened' under the Endangered Species Act. But even after a Center lawsuit overturning a previously inadequate critical habitat decision, the agency failed to base its designation on areas where lynx currently roam, leaving out habitat key for recovery (especially in Colorado). The latest development means the Fish and Wildlife Service will reevaluate how much critical habitat it will assign to this rare and mysterious forest cat."

Read more in the Helena Independent Record.

Suit Filed to Block Loan to Proposed Minnesota Mine
"The Center for Biological Diversity and four partners on Tuesday sued Minnesota's Iron Range Resources Board over its $4 million loan to PolyMet Mining Company, which has proposed the state's first open-pit sulfide mine. The state agency's loan is premature and illegal under state law because the proposed mine is still going through the required environmental review process. The mine site is in the Superior National Forest, within the Lake Superior watershed.

PolyMet's proposed mine would destroy hundreds of acres of high-quality wetlands, violate water-quality standards for hundreds to thousands of years, and eliminate two square miles of protected 'critical habitat' for imperiled lynx and wolves. The draft environmental impact statement for the proposal was deemed "environmentally unsatisfactory-inadequate" by the EPA, triggering the need for a supplemental draft analysis that is still months from completion."

Read more in the Duluth News-Tribune.

The Center for Biological Diversity wants people to realize that the legal process can be a very productive tool in building conservation awareness. The latest edition of their newsletter, Endangered Earth, recaps many of their 2010 accomplishments and lays out the organization's objectives for 2011. You can download it by clicking here.

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