Environmental protections
February 12, 2016

President Obama will designate three new national monuments in Southern California's desert Friday, expanding federal protection to 1.8 million acres and making the Southern California expanse the world's second largest wildlife preserve. The three new monuments, the Mojave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument, will connect three areas already under federal protection and 15 designated wilderness areas, The Hill reports.

Obama's designation of the land, which comes at the urging of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, will double the amount of land he has set aside for conservation during his presidency. He has protected more acres of land and water than any other administration to date. "The effort to preserve the California desert has been a long one, and today is a major milestone," Feinstein said. "The California desert is a national treasure. This designation only reaffirms that fact."

Obama is traveling to Palm Springs, California, Friday to make an official announcement. Becca Stanek

September 28, 2015

New Zealand is set to create a marine sanctuary in the South Pacific that covers 620,000 square kilometers (240,000 square miles) — an area about the size of France.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be about 620 miles off the northeast coast of New Zealand, and is home to thousands of species of whales, dolphins, seabirds and turtles, as well as the world's longest underwater volcanic arc and the second deepest ocean trench. The future sanctuary "is one of the most geographically and geologically diverse areas in the world," Prime Minister John Key said Monday. Scientists often find new marine species in the area, and with the sanctuary designation, fishing and mineral exploitation will be forbidden, Agence France-Presse reports. With this addition, there will be 3.5 million square kilometers (1.35 million square miles) of protected areas in the Pacific. Catherine Garcia

June 29, 2015

China is getting serious about protecting the environment and expects its citizens to follow suit — or pay the price. China's Environment Minister Chen Jining told parliament on Monday that Chinese police arrested thousands of people suspected of committing environmental crimes in the last year. Jining reported that, in total, 2,080 criminal cases were handed over to the police by environmental protection departments in 2014. Moreover, an estimated 3,400 companies and 3,700 construction sites were found to have violated environmental laws last year, and more than 3,100 workshops had to be shut down because of violations.

These arrests and crackdowns on businesses are all part of China's newly declared war on pollution, which the country has allocated $1.58 billion in special funds to control. Part of this dedication to saving the environment, however, includes the country's new power to impose unlimited fines and jail sentences on citizens that repeatedly commit environmental crimes. Becca Stanek

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