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A young male monk seal was rescued in the reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Monk seals are listed as an endangered species. Koa Matsuoka / NMFS

Oil Industry-Funded Republicans Launch Effort to Gut Endangered Species Act

Senate Republicans will hold a hearing Wednesday to begin attempting to gut and repeal the Endangered Species Act. This is the first hearing on the act to be chaired by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo), who has voted against the Endangered Species Act and protecting endangered species at every opportunity since 2011.

"The clear intent of this hearing is to begin the process of gutting the Endangered Species Act," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Senator Barrasso's callous attack on this crucial environmental law is totally out of step with the strong majority of Americans who support the Endangered Species Act. Without the Act we wouldn't have bald eagles, grizzly bears or many other wildlife species we all cherish."

The Endangered Species Act has saved more than 99 percent of species under its protection from extinction and put hundreds more on the road to recovery. Scientists estimate that without the act, 227 species would have gone extinct by 2006.

The act's impressive track record of success is even more remarkable given that Congress only provides approximately 3.5 percent of the funding that the Fish and Wildlife Service's own scientists estimate is needed to recover these species. Meanwhile Sen. Barrasso's war chest has been enriched by the oil and gas industry to the tune of $1.72 million since 2012.

"With 1 in 4 endangered species receiving less than $10,000 a year toward their recovery, the Endangered Species Act needs more funding, not baseless attacks from Senate Republicans," said Hartl. "Oil companies may be keen to gut and repeal this vital protection for imperiled wildlife, but the American people don't want our nation's most effective conservation law shredded to profit the petroleum industry."

Since Republicans retook the House of Representatives in January 2011, they have launched more than 230 legislative attacks on endangered species. In just the past two years, congressional Republicans have introduced more than 133 separate pieces of legislation and amendments designed to eliminate protections for endangered species or weaken the act itself. Most recently Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, admitted to the public that his goal was to invalidate the Endangered Species Act in its entirety.

Two in three Americans want the Endangered Species Act strengthened or left alone, according to a 2013 poll.

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Scientists have been shocked at the depth and size of the Amazon reef. Greenpeace

Amazon Reef: BP Drilling Plans Dealt Another Blow by Brazilian Regulator

By Joe Sandler Clarke, Unearthed

BP's plans to drill for oil near a huge coral reef in the mouth of Amazon river have been dealt a further blow after a regulator questioned the company's environmental risk assessment.

Ibama, Brazil's federal environmental agency, rejected an environmental study from the British oil giant, further delaying the company's plans to drill in the region.

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Judge Stops Walmart Shopping Center From Being Built on Endangered Florida Forest

Environmentalists cheered after a Miami district court judge issued an emergency injunction on Friday to stop bulldozers from razing a stretch of endangered pine rocklands—one of the world's rarest forests, and home to species found nowhere else on Earth—to make way for a Walmart shopping center near Zoo Miami and Everglades National Park.

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However, the official number of deaths, which critics say is suspiciously low considering the damage from the storm, is coming under some scrutiny: both a Center for Investigative Journalism report published Thursday and a New York Times review of mortality data published Friday estimate the actual death toll to be closer to 1,000.

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WATCH LIVE: Can the Courts Bring About a Climate Fix? Three Judges Are About to Decide

By John Light

Editor's note: Watch the oral arguments live beginning at 1 p.m. EST above.

Three judges in San Francisco potentially have the power to decide how the U.S. government deals with climate change. Monday, 21 young Americans will make the case that President Trump has endangered their future by aiding and abetting the dirty industries responsible for the global crisis. And they will argue that they can hold him legally accountable.

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As world leaders and global financial institutions gather for the One Planet Summit on Dec. 12 in Paris, civil society groups have come together under the Big Shift Global campaign to underscore the massive finance gap remaining to shift away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, in line with the aim of the Paris agreement on climate change to limit warming to below 1.5°C.

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Monsanto Giving Cash to Farmers Who Use Controversial Pesticide

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Receding ice cover in the Arctic ocean could produce more droughts in California, according to a new study.

Published last week in Nature Communications, the study found that sea ice loss in the Arctic—of the proportion expected in coming years—could set off an atmospheric effect that will steer precipitation away from California. Notably, the study linked Arctic sea ice loss with the development of an atmospheric ridging system that also played a central role in the state's 2012-2016 drought.

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