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Last week, a federal judge struck down a Trump administration action that abrogated an agreement under which no mining would occur in the habitat of the threatened greater sage grouse. While the judge’s decision doesn’t reinstate the Obama-era ban, the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management must reevaluate the efficacy of mining in the region. The move comes after the Trump administration rolled back protections for several endangered species, including the gray wolf, in its last days. The National Audubon Society predicts that a global average increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius would result in the greater sage grouse losing about 60% of its habitat. In addition to climate change, the species is also greatly threatened by industrial development.
Why This Matters: In the midst of a global biodiversity crisis, the Audubon society reports that two-thirds of North American birds are at risk of extinction due to climate change. Birds are a very literal canary-in-the-coalmine said Brooke Bateman, Ph.D., the senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society. “Birds are important indicator species because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too.” Once millions strong, the greater sage grouse population is now under 500,000, and their habitat is shrinking every year. This is why the proposal that President Biden supports to protect 30% of our land by 2030 is so important.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill struck down the Trump administration’s decision to allow mining on 10 million acres of land across 6 western states, citing that the cancellation of the ban was arbitrary and failed to properly consider the impact on local wildlife. Advocates hope that the Biden administration will reinstate the original ban on mining in the region. Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director at WildEarth Guardians expressed optimism, “we are hopeful that the new Biden-Harris administration will take the biodiversity crisis seriously and see this decision as a step toward getting greater sage grouse the protection they need in order to thrive.”
Since the cancellation of the ban in 2017, no mining projects have begun in the region, but mining companies are displeased with the reversal all the same. National Mining Association spokesperson Conor Bernstein said that the original ban was unreasonable. “We still firmly believe that the science and the evidence in front of the agencies led them to the right conclusion,” he said of the Trump decision. If that’s true, then Biden’s team, led by some of the best and brightest when it comes to climate, should come up with the same decision, but something tells us that they’ll side with the courts on this one.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer As the world warms, it’s not just people who are feeling the heat. Bats are also susceptible to extreme heat, and overheated bat boxes can be “a death trap,” the Guardian reports. In the wild, bats move between rock and tree crevices in search of a perfectly moderated temperature. […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new report entitled The World’s Forgotten Fishes from the World Wildlife Fund has found that there has been a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of all freshwater fish species coming perilously close to extinction. The statistics paint a sobering picture: 26% of all critically […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Move over Dolly, there’s a new clone in town and her name is Elizabeth Ann the Black-Footed ferret. You read that right; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on Thursday that it had successfully cloned the first U.S. endangered species. Elizabeth Ann was born on December 10, […]
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