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Fog Over Hot Pond, BLM Battle Mountain District. Chip Carroon / BLM Nevada / Flickr

Massive Fracking on Nevada Public Lands Sought by Trump Administration, Conservation Groups Launch Legal Protest

Three conservation groups filed an administrative protest Monday against an enormous Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction, scheduled for Dec. 12, that would allow fracking on more than 600 square miles of Nevada public lands. The 388,000 acres in eastern Nevada includes important regional springs and groundwater and critical habitat for imperiled species.

The protest—filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, WildLands Defense and Basin and Range Watch—says the BLM has violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act by failing to analyze the risks of drilling for oil and fracking with dangerous chemicals on such a massive scale. Development of these parcels, one of the largest fracking plans in the country, could contaminate ground and surface water, threaten endangered species and cause irreparable harm to the global climate.

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A logger climbs down a mountainside while working on Admiralty Island in the Tongass National Forest. Michael Penn

National Forests, Endangered Species Under Attack as House Republicans Pass Reckless Logging Bill

In a partisan vote, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that would devastate national forests by gutting endangered species protections and rubber-stamping huge logging projects. The final vote was 232 to 188.

HR 2936, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), also limits public comment and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Under the guise of reducing forest fires, the bill would increase unfettered logging across national forests and public lands, increase fire risk and harm forest health, while doing nothing to protect communities.

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Animals
A short-finned pilot whale hangs lifelessly in a California drift gillnet. NOAA

Whales, Sea Turtles Threatened by Trump Administration Proposal

The Trump administration proposed a rule Tuesday to federalize regulation of drift gillnets used to catch swordfish on the West Coast. The rule would end California's right to prevent the deadly entanglements of sea turtles, whales and dolphins in these underwater, mile-long nets.

The Obama administration last year proposed a rule that would shut down the fishery for two years if two large whales or sea turtles were harmed by the nets, but the Trump administration withdrew that proposed rule in June. Legislation to phase out drift gillnets was introduced in California in 2014 and 2016, and the new federal rule would preempt such efforts in the future.

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Campact / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

European Parliament Votes to Ban Glyphosate in 28 Countries

The European Parliament, representing 28 countries and more than 500 million people, voted Tuesday in support of phasing out glyphosate over the next five years and immediately banning its use in households.

"The European Parliament has correctly acknowledged the magnitude of glyphosate's risks," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Now European regulators charged with protecting human health and the environment must follow the parliament's brave leadership and phase out the gross overuse of glyphosate."

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Trader Joe's Stops Buying Mexican Shrimp After Pressure to Protect Vaquita

Conservation organizations announced Wednesday that Trader Joe's has declared it will stop buying shrimp from Mexico. The popular grocery store chain's decision follows pressure from organizations behind the Boycott Mexican Shrimp campaign, launched earlier this year to save the vaquita, the world's smallest porpoise, from decades of decline due to entanglement in shrimp fishing gear.

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Thomas A. Jefferson

Mexico Launches 'Risky' Vaquita Roundup to Prevent Extinction of Tiny Porpoise

Wildlife officials in Mexico next week will attempt to capture and protect some of the last vaquita on Earth in a desperate effort to save these small porpoises from extinction. The operation in the Gulf of California, scheduled to begin Oct. 12, will use trained U.S. Navy dolphins to locate vaquita, whose numbers have dwindled by 90 percent in the past five years. Fewer than 30 remain alive today.

"We support this last-ditch effort to save the vaquita from extinction, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse to allow fishing to continue in its habitat," said Alex Olivera, the Center for Biological Diversity's Mexico representative. "These beautiful animals deserve to live free in the Gulf of California, but that will never happen until the Mexican government eliminates the illegal gillnet fishing that has driven these porpoises to the very brink of extinction."

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Monarch butterfly. St. Louis Zoo/Christopher Carter

House Republicans Advance Five Bills to Cripple Endangered Species Act

In party-line votes, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, led by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), advanced five bills today that would hamstring the Endangered Species Act and condemn hundreds of species to extinction. The legislation can now move to the full House floor for further consideration.

In December, Rep. Bishop stated that his goal was to repeal the act in its entirety. These bills represent the foundation of this longstanding goal.

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Senate Bill Aims to Strip Protections From 1,098 Endangered Species Including Utah Prairie Dog, Florida Panther

Republican U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah introduced legislation this week that would strip federal Endangered Species Act protections for animals and plants found in only one state. Known as intrastate species, such imperiled animals and plants make up the majority of the 1,655 species protected under the act.

The legislation is backed by extreme anti-wildlife organizations that oppose the protection of the Utah prairie dog, an animal only found in Utah. In addition to ending protections for the prairie dog, the legislation would terminate protections for all 1,098 intrastate species, including 497 species in Hawaii, 234 species in California, 86 species in Florida and 20 species in Utah.

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House, Senate Committees Attack Environmental Laws Using Wildfires as Pretext

Two congressional committees will hold coordinated hearings Wednesday to push partisan legislation designed to weaken environmental laws on public lands.

The House Natural Resources Committee will use the pretext of "catastrophic" wildfires to build support for legislation by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) that would curtail protections for endangered species and limit science-based review of environmental harms to expedite logging projects.

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