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Conservation and animal-welfare groups today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect imperiled mammals and birds from two deadly pesticides used to kill coyotes and other predators. The suit seeks common-sense mitigation measures to prevent exposure of the poisons to nontarget predatory and scavenging animals, including grizzly bears, Canada lynx, wolves and California condors.
"We hope our lawsuit spurs reform of these barbaric tactics used to poison wildlife," said Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at the Center. "These dangerous pesticides need to be banned, but until then, they shouldn't be used where they risk killing wolves and other endangered wildlife."
The EPA has registered the pesticides at issue -- sodium cyanide and Compound 1080 -- for use by "Wildlife Services," the predator-control arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as by state predator-control agencies in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Texas.
M-44 devices propel lethal doses of sodium cyanide into the mouths of animals lured by bait, while Compound 1080 is used in "livestock protection collars" strapped onto the necks of sheep and goats that often graze on public lands. The collars contain bladders filled with liquid poison intended to kill coyotes.
"These indiscriminate poisons pose enormous risks to native wildlife, domestic dogs and all of us who use our public lands," said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. "It is long past time that we end both the misguided scapegoating of carnivores and the use of these deadly poisons."
These pesticides pose the highest risk for endangered wildlife capable of triggering the devices, such as grizzly bears and wolves. Secondary exposure through Compound 1080-poisoned carcasses can also kill imperiled scavengers like California condors, bald eagles and spotted owls. According to data compiled by Wildlife Services, M-44 devices last year killed 13,860 native animals, mostly coyotes and foxes. In 2015 the devices poisoned nearly 385 nontarget animals, including a wolf, opossums, raccoons, skunks and family pets.
"The EPA considers both of these toxicants Category 1 poisons -- the most deadly. The use of these horrific, indiscriminate pesticides by taxpayer-funded federal and state agencies must end immediately," said Anna Frostic, senior wildlife attorney at The Humane Society of the United States. "These agencies cannot prioritize the mass slaughter of wildlife ahead of their legal obligation to protect endangered species -- as they've done here."
Impacts of these pesticides on endangered wildlife have not been analyzed since the Service prepared a "biological opinion" in 1993. The lawsuit, brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals, should spur the Service to recommend additional measures to protect endangered wildlife, such as restricting use of the pesticides where the endangered animals live.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.(520) 623-5252
"Until Davos attendees start talking about taxing the rich, the entire gathering will remain a very public example of how out of touch they really are."
A group of more than 200 millionaires from 13 countries published an open letter Tuesday calling on world leaders gathered in Davos to tackle skyrocketing inequality by taxing rich people like themselves, warning that extreme concentrations of wealth at the top are "unsustainable."
"We are living in an age of extremes," states the letter from global millionaires, which was hand-delivered to World Economic Forum attendees. "Rising poverty and widening wealth inequality; the rise of anti-democratic nationalism; extreme weather and ecological decline; deep vulnerabilities in our shared social systems; and the shrinking opportunity for billions of ordinary people to earn a livable wage."
"Why, in this age of multiple crises, do you continue to tolerate extreme wealth?" the letter asks. "The solution is plain for all to see... Tax the ultra-rich and do it now. It's simple, commonsense economics. It is an investment in our common good and a better future that we all deserve, and as millionaires we want to make that investment."
The letter comes on the heels of two analyses detailing how the global rich have captured a disproportionate share of the wealth generated in recent years with the help of policies that often allow them to pay a lower tax rate than ordinary workers, who are bearing the brunt of price increases, falling real wages, and economic instability.
According to a study published Monday by Oxfam International, the global 1% took in $26 trillion of the $42 trillion in new wealth created since 2020, nearly twice as much as the share grabbed by the bottom 99%.
A separate analysis released Tuesday by the Patriotic Millionaires, the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies, and Oxfam found that billionaire wealth has soared by 99.6%—around $5.9 trillion—over the past decade.
The analysis estimated that "an annual progressive wealth tax of 2% for those who have a net wealth of $5 million or more, 3% for $50 million or more, and 5% for those with more than $1 billion" would have produced $1.7 trillion in revenue in 2022 alone, a sum that could be used to fund critical anti-poverty, climate, and healthcare initiatives.
"Until Davos attendees start talking about taxing the rich, the entire gathering will remain a very public example of how out of touch they really are."
With the exception of a few high-profile moments—such as historian Rutger Bregman's viral 2019 rant on the prevalence of tax dodging and world leaders' refusal to address it—the topic of taxation has largely been sidelined at Davos, an annual gathering of corporate and political elites that often produces splashy rhetoric but no concrete action.
Abigail Disney, a documentary filmmaker and member of the Patriotic Millionaires, said Tuesday that she has "been to Davos" and "sat in the same room with some of the richest and most powerful people in the world as they talk about how they can make a difference, so I can say this with firsthand experience—Davos is a farce."
"Until Davos attendees start talking about taxing the rich, the entire gathering will remain a very public example of how out of touch they really are," said Disney, a signatory of the new letter to Davos attendees.
Another signatory, Patriotic Millionaires chair Morris Pearl, said that "the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos has become largely irrelevant, little more than an exercise in self-congratulation for the world's elites to convince themselves that they're making a difference."
"They refuse to accept an obvious truth—the cause of inequality is the rich getting richer and richer without paying any taxes," Pearl added. "If the world leaders and billionaires at Davos want the world to start taking them seriously, they need to earn that respect. That starts with taking inequality seriously, and taxing the rich."
Read the full letter (the list of signatories is here):
For the Attention of our Political Leaders attending Davos:
We are living in an age of extremes. Rising poverty and widening wealth inequality; the rise of anti-democratic nationalism; extreme weather and ecological decline; deep vulnerabilities in our shared social systems; and the shrinking opportunity for billions of ordinary people to earn a livable wage.
Extremes are unsustainable, often dangerous, and rarely tolerated for long. So why, in this age of multiple crises, do you continue to tolerate extreme wealth?
The history of the last five decades is a story of wealth flowing nowhere but upwards. In the last few years, this trend has greatly accelerated. In the first two years of the pandemic, the richest 10 men in the world doubled their wealth while 99% of people saw their incomes fall. Billionaires and millionaires have watched their wealth grow by trillions of dollars, while the cost of simply living is now crippling ordinary families across the world.
The solution is plain for all to see. You, our global representatives, have to tax us, the ultra-rich, and you have to start now.
The current lack of action is gravely concerning. A meeting of the 'global elite' in Davos to discuss "Cooperation in a Fragmented World" is pointless if you aren’t challenging the root cause of division. Defending democracy and building cooperation requires action to build fairer economies right now—it is not a problem that can be left for our children to fix.
Now is the time to tackle extreme wealth; now is the time to tax the ultra-rich.
There's only so much stress any society can take, only so many times mothers and fathers will watch their children go hungry while the ultra-rich contemplate their growing wealth. The cost of action is much cheaper than the cost of inaction - it’s time to get on with the job.
Tax the ultra-rich and do it now. It's simple, common-sense economics. It is an investment in our common good and a better future that we all deserve, and as millionaires we want to make that investment.
What—or who—is stopping you?
"Fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production, knowing full well that their business model is inconsistent with human survival," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a scathing address to corporate and political elites in Davos on Wednesday, ripping fossil fuel giants and governments for expanding oil and gas extraction in the face of increasingly devastating climate chaos across the globe.
"The science has been clear for decades," Guterres said at the World Economic Forum, an event attended by the top executives of major oil and gas firms including Chevron and BP. "I am not talking only about U.N. scientists. I am talking even about fossil fuel scientists."
Guterres was referencing a peer-reviewed study published last week showing that ExxonMobil—one of the world's largest oil companies—accurately predicted planetary warming in its internal models as early as the 1970s, even as the company's executives publicly denied the reality of climate change.
"Just like the tobacco industry, they rode roughshod over their own science," Guterres said Wednesday. "Some in Big Oil peddled the big lie. And like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held to account. Today, fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production, knowing full well that this business model is inconsistent with human survival."
"This insanity belongs in science fiction, yet we know the ecosystem meltdown is cold, hard scientific fact," the U.N. chief continued. "We must act together to close the emissions gap. To phase out coal and supercharge the renewable revolution. To end the addiction to fossil fuels. And to stop our self-defeating war on nature."
"We are flirting with climate disaster. Every week brings a new climate horror story. Greenhouse gas emissions are at record levels and growing."
Guterres' address came shortly after the International Energy Agency said oil demand is likely to rise to a record 101.7 million barrels a day this year due to a number of catalysts, including a "faster-than-anticipated reopening of China" and a "somewhat improved economic outlook."
Hundreds of fossil fuel giants around the world, meanwhile, are "taking active steps to bring 230 billion barrels of oil equivalent of untapped resources into production before 2030," according to one recent analysis, imperiling hopes of slashing carbon emissions and curbing the runaway warming that is fueling increasingly catastrophic extreme weather events. Last year was one of the hottest years on record—and the hottest year on record for the world's oceans—as greenhouse gas levels continued to surge.
The oil and gas industry's climate-wrecking expansion plans are made possible by generous funding from large financial institutions such as Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America, which have pumped billions into fossil fuel projects over the past two years even as they advertise their ostensibly climate-friendly net-zero pledges.
"More and more businesses are making net-zero commitments," Guterres said in his speech Wednesday. "But benchmarks and criteria are often dubious or murky. This misleads consumers, investors, and regulators with false narratives. It feeds a culture of climate misinformation and confusion. And it leaves the door wide open to greenwashing."
"The transition to net zero must be grounded in real emissions cuts—and not rely on carbon credits and shadow markets."
Later this year, Guterres is set to convene what he described as a "no-nonsense" Climate Ambition Summit in an attempt to jumpstart global climate action following two failed U.N.-hosted conferences—and ahead of COP28, which will be overseen by the head of the United Arab Emirates' state-run oil company.
"We are flirting with climate disaster," Guterres said Wednesday. "Every week brings a new climate horror story. Greenhouse gas emissions are at record levels and growing. The commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is nearly going up in smoke. Without further action, we are headed to a 2.8-degree increase and the consequences, as we all know, would be devastating. Several parts of our planet will be uninhabitable."
"And for many," he added, "this is a death sentence."
"Instead of holding Big Oil executives accountable for price gouging consumers at the pump, the committee will be dominated by the interests of extractive industries," said one government transparency advocate.
A leading government accountability watchdog on Tuesday called out leaders of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives while revealing that the 21 GOP members appointed by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to the Natural Resources Committee took a combined $3.8 million in campaign contributions from Big Oil.
Oil and gas industry contributions to the 21 right-wing lawmakers range from more than $850,000 for Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana—the nation's third-biggest fossil gas producer and a top-10 oil-producing state—to $18,800 for Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia, according to Accountable.US.
"The new MAGA-controlled House Natural Resources Committee aligns much closer with violent anti-public land extremists like the Bundys than they do with most Americans," the group said in a statement, referring to former President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" 2016 campaign slogan and the Nevada family that perpetrated an armed confrontation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over unpaid cattle grazing fees.
Of the Republicans on the committee, five outright oppose federal public lands, most have demonstrated support for election denial, and all have supported policies to expand industry-friendly federal leasing to Big Oil and other extractive sectors. While nearly all of the members have received donations from oil and gas companies, several have personal financial conflicts of interest in the form of either spousal employment or stock holdings.
"Big Oil's investment is already paying off," said Jordan Schreiber, director of energy and environment at Accountable.US. "McCarthy and his MAGA allies wasted no time delivering results for their wealthy industry donors, placing nine of the most extreme anti-conservation members on the House Natural Resources Committee."
"Instead of holding Big Oil executives accountable for price gouging consumers at the pump, the committee will be dominated by the interests of extractive industries, enabling them to push bills that stymie cost controls, and clear the way for multibillion dollar corporations to exploit the American people's land for private gain," Schreiber added.
In addition to highlighting the money that the lawmakers have taken from the fossil fuel industry, the new report notes relevant actions and remarks, from Graves describing President Joe Biden’s climate plan as "ushering in a Soviet-style state" to Rep. Harriet Hageman of Wyoming comparing conservation efforts to dictators starving and killing people, claiming that "it's about controlling people through controlling the food supply."