Center for Biological Diversity

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Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Biological Diversity logo.jpg
Abbreviation The Center
Formation 1989
Type NGO
Purpose/focus Protection of endangered species
Headquarters Tucson, Arizona
Website biologicaldiversity.org

The Center for Biological Diversity (Center), based in Tucson, Arizona, is a nonprofit membership organization with approximately 625,000 members and online activists, known for its work protecting endangered species through legal action, scientific petitions, creative media and grassroots activism. The Center has offices and staff in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Illinois, Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, Florida and Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1989 by Kieran Suckling, Peter Galvin, Todd Schulke and Robin Silver.[1]

Background[edit]

Given a small grant by the Fund for Wild Nature, the organization started in 1989 as a small group by the name of Greater Gila Biodiversity Project, with the objective to protect endangered species and critical habitat in the southwest.[2] The organization later grew and became the Center for Biological Diversity. Kieran Suckling, Peter Galvin, and Todd Schulke founded the organization in response to what they perceived as a failure on the part of the United States Forest Service to protect imperiled species from logging, grazing, and mining. As surveyors in New Mexico, the three men discovered "a rare Mexican spotted owl nest in an old-growth tree",[1] but their discovery was overshadowed by Forest Service plans to lease the land to timber companies; Suckling, Galvin, and Schulke believed that it was within the Forest Service’s mission to save sensitive species like the Mexican Spotted Owl from harm, and that the government had shirked its duty in deference to corporate interests.

Suckling, Galvin and Schulke went to the media to register their outrage; the old-growth tree was allowed to stand, and this success led to the founding of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Initially, the Center focused on issues specific to the Southwestern United States, but today its mission encompasses far-reaching problems such as global threats to biological diversity and climate change. One of the Center's biggest recent victories was in 2011, when it reached a historic legal settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service compelling the agency to make progress on protecting 757 imperiled but previously neglected animals and plants. The Center employs a group of paid and pro bono attorneys to use litigation to effect change, and claims a 93 percent success rate for their lawsuits.[1]

Press[edit]

On 13 June 2007, the Center spoke out against a Bush administration proposal to reduce the protected area for spotted owls in the United States Pacific Northwest. According to Noah Greenwald, the group's representative in the Northwest, the proposed habitat cut is "typical of an administration that is looking to reduce protections for endangered species at every turn." Greenwald said that the rollback is part of a series of "sweetheart deals," in which the administration settles an environmental lawsuit out of court and, "at the industry's wishes, reduces the critical habitat." According to the Center, the move conforms to a broad trend that includes at least 25 earlier Bush administration decisions on habitat protections for endangered species. In those cases, the protected areas were reduced an average of 36 percent.[3]

On 16 December 2008, the Center announced intent to sue the United States government for introducing "regulations... that would eviscerate our nation’s most successful wildlife law by exempting thousands of federal activities, including those that generate greenhouse gases, from review under the Endangered Species Act." The lawsuit, which is critical of U.S. Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and President George W. Bush, was filed in the Northern District of California by the Center, Greenpeace and Defenders of Wildlife. According to the Center, "The lawsuit argues that the regulations violate the Endangered Species Act and did not go through the required public review process. The regulations, first proposed on August 11th, were rushed by the Bush administration through an abbreviated process in which more than 300,000 comments from the public were reviewed in 2-3 weeks, and environmental impacts were analyzed in a short and cursory environmental assessment, rather than a fuller environmental impact statement."[4]

August 26, 2009 letter with 300+ Groups Ask Senate for Stronger Climate Bill, included the Center.

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