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Wildlife Icon Makes Top Ten List - New Concerns for Whooping Cranes

January 19, 2012

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Whooping cranes have landed on a new list highlighting 10 species deemed at risk because of fossil fuel development, storage and transportation. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would run along the bird's migratory path. Although President Obama's rejection of the project permit on Wednesday is considered a victory by conservationists, the company has announced it will reapply.

Wildlife biologist Jan Randall, professor emeritus of biology at San Francisco State University and a fellow of the California Academy of Science, served on the scientific advisory board that selected the 10 species. She says the Keystone pipeline inevitably would bring toxic waste ponds, spills and power lines - all of which would be bad news for whooping cranes.

"They're threatened where they reproduce, they're threatened in their winter grounds, they're threatened where they migrate. There are all kinds of threats along the way."

Other species on the list, which comes from the Endangered Species Coalition, include greater sage grouse, the Arctic's bowhead whale and speckled eider, and a flower that only grows on oil-shale soils.

The bottom line is that people, plants and animals are getting the short end of the stick from the fossil fuel industry, which continues to enjoy record profits, Randall says.

"Fossil fuel exploration and extraction - it's just so pervasive. I'm afraid a lot of people think that if it's in the ground we have to get it out. You have to think of the alternatives."

The report calls for more investment and innovation into energy sources that are renewable, economically beneficial and not environmentally destructive.

The full report, "Fueling Extinction: How Dirty Energy Drives Wildlife to the Brink," is available at http://fuelingextinction.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - SD