U.S. craving for energy drives wildlife toward extinction: Report

Posted Jan 21, 2012 by Lynn Herrmann
America's craving for energy is an increasing challenge in protecting the world's wildlife, our "irreplaceable natural heritage," with much of the blame given to the fossil fuel industry, recipients of massive government handouts, a new report shows.
Fueling Extinction: How Dirty Energy Drives Wildlife to the Brink, reveals the top 10 U.S. species (including one plant) whose very survival is directly threatened by developing, extracting, transporting and consuming fossil fuels.
The report, released just a day after President Obama put a temporary halt to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline which would run from Alberta, Canada to refineries near Houston, Texas, was created by a coalition of conservation and environmental groups who were asked the basic question: “What have we gained from our nation’s unquenchable appetite for fossil fuels?”
Species were nominated for inclusion in the report by coalition members. Those species submissions were then reviewed by a panel of scientists, judged and voted on.
“America’s outsized reliance on dirty and dangerous fuels is making it much harder to protect our most vulnerable wildlife,” said Mark Salvo of WildEarth Guardians, a coalition member, in a statement. “We should not sacrifice our irreplaceable natural heritage in order to make the fossil fuels industry even wealthier.”
America consumes around 22 percent of global oil supplies, while sitting on just 1.5 percent of proven oil reserves, and according to the report
The oil and gas industry is subsidized with huge tax breaks and numerous loopholes. Taxpayers will hand out nearly $100 billion to oil and gas companies in the coming decades.
The report devoted a section on each species, with information on its general background, its range, remaining numbers, conservation status, and the specific threat being caused by fossil fuel development.
Although each species’ circumstances differ, each story is similar, with fragile ecosystems being destroyed for U.S. energy security or sacrifice “at the altar of US consumer demand,” Common Dreams states.
The list ranges from relatively unknown to large and majestic. Included are the Tan Riffleshell, (a small freshwater mussel whose range is found only in five eastern U.S. rivers), the Kentucky Arrow Darter, Graham’s Penstemon (flower), the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, the Whooping Crane, the Wyoming Pocket Gopher, the Spectacled Eider, and the Bowhead Whale (whose reported range is exclusively in the Arctic waters and is among the oldest mammals on earth).
The Polar Bear received the ‘activist’s choice award’ from voting members because it was the species they were “most concerned about.”
Each of the species on the list have one thing in common: fossil fuels, including the oil and gas industry. The report does not back away, and states shale oil and gas development (fracking), tar sands development in Canada, coal mining and mountaintop removal in Appalachia are all responsible for the pressure being placed on the list’s species.
These diverse species all have at least one thing in common,” states Mitch Merry of the blog Stop Extinction. “They're being driven closer to the edge of extinction by our nation's continued reliance on energy sources produced in the age of dinosaurs.”