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Elvia Vasquez

This is the sixth blog post in a series of personal stories from farm and agricultural workers, illustrating the need for stronger worker and safety protections against pesticide exposure. To get beyond the statistics of 10,000–20,000 pesticide poisonings on farms a year in this country, we go to the frontlines, beginning in California.

chemicals

After years of waiting, the EPA has announced it will update regulations of chemicals used in response to oil spills. This update couldn’t come soon enough. After all, as the world’s largest oil producer, it’s unlikely that the United States has seen the end of oil spill accidents.

An adult delta smelt.

The delta smelt is a fish that grows to no more than three inches in length, but over the years this threatened species has made big headlines in California’s dusty, water-rights battleground. One congressional representative, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), is even on record as calling the smelt a “stupid little fish” that doesn’t deserve water (see video below). Recently, the Supreme Court dismissed such narrow-minded claims by denying a Big Ag-led attack against the smelt.

Steller sea lion

Recently, Earthjustice filed suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service on behalf of Greenpeace and Oceana for allowing industrial fishing in protected areas of the western and central Aleutian Islands. The regulatory agency’s decision doesn’t bode well for the endangered western population of Steller sea lions, whose numbers remain abysmally low thanks to decades of intense fishing in the area. 

A Mexican gray wolf.

For three decades, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has allowed politics to trump science in its efforts to recover the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf in Arizona and New Mexico. As a result, the agency’s track record on restoring this iconic animal to the wild under the Endangered Species Act has been marred by years of delay and false starts, leaving this subspecies on the brink of collapse. Despite these challenges, conservationists vow to keep fighting on the wolves’ behalf and Earthjustice is now leading their efforts.

Capitol Building

As a child, I loved helping others. The desire to aid those around me seemed to be an offshoot of my upbringing as the daughter of a church pastor, affectionately referred to as a “Preacher’s Kid” or “PK.”  To some this may seem to be a huge negative, implying rigid constraints and structure, but as a “PK,” I was taught to live a life committed to sincere service to others.

Everglades National Park

The most popular thing on the entire statewide ballot in 2014 – more popular than any candidate or issue – was the Land Acquisition Amendment to our state Constitution. We know all too well that Floridians are perennially divided on so many votes, but this one was a landslide, approved by a whopping 75 percent majority.

Now that we've got the Land Acquisition Amendment on the books, we citizens need to watch closely to make sure that special interests and their politician friends don't try to make an end-run around the voters' will.

passenger pigeon

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction. It’s unbelievable that a species whose flocks were once large enough to block the sun is now completely gone, but that is the reality of human impact on the natural world.

The extinction of the passenger pigeon is more than a sad story about a species of birds, however. It is also a frightening example of what our future could hold if we don’t value our natural heritage.

Oil wells near La Habra, 1920s

This week, residents of La Habra Heights, California, rang in the New Year with a victory that ensures the small town will have a fair chance at banning new oil and gas drilling come election time in March. 

La Habra Heights, located in Los Angeles County, is known for its scenic beauty and canyon living. The area is also at the center of major expansion plans for oil and gas operations and the potential proliferation of new, unconventional techniques like fracking and acidization in the region.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.