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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Protecting Rice's whale, others, on 50th anniversary of Endangered Species Act

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Thursday, December 28, 2023   

Wildlife experts are spotlighting the Rice's whale, which was classified as its own species in 2021, as one of many reasons to preserve the Endangered Species Acton its 50th anniversary.

Since it was signed into law in 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the act has been one of the world's most important conservation laws. Experts said the decades of work done to preserve various wildlife is needed for the recently identified and endangered Rice's whale, the only baleen whale making the Gulf of Mexico its full-time home, just 60 miles offshore from Pensacola.

Jane Davenport, senior attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, said thanks to the act, scientists can work to secure critical habitat to preserve the fewer than 100 Rice's whales remaining.

"We are not going to let species like the Rice's whale go extinct," Davenport vowed. "It's just a really exciting development but also a cautionary tale that we can't let these species slip through our fingers without doing everything possible to save them."

Rep. Garret Graves, R-Louisiana is leading legislation, House Resolution 6008, to restrict the Rice's whale's designated habitat, claiming in a statement, "to confront the Biden administration's most recent effort to restrict American energy production in the Gulf of Mexico."

Davenport called Graves' legislation a "Graves mistake" for undermining the "country's bedrock wildlife protection laws." She pointed out protecting endangered wildlife does not have to be a one-or-the-other type choice.

"We can either have oil and gas or we can have large whales. We can either have military training exercises or we can have whales. We can either have commercial fishing and recreational boating or we can have whales," Davenport outlined their opponents' position. "That's just a false dichotomy, and on all of those fronts."

The fossil fuel industry opposes measures such as slowing ship speeds in critical whale habitat and excluding the habitat from oil and gas extraction. The affected habitat, located along the continental shelf break, constitutes only about 8% of the total acres available for leasing.

Disclosure: Defenders of Wildlife contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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