Skip to main content

Ted Zukoski's blog

Aspens in Gunnison National Forest.

Autumn’s beauty was on full display in Colorado’s aspen forests late last month.

So was the Obama administration’s schizophrenic approach to climate and public lands policy.

In late September, I was fortunate enough to spend a day each hiking through two roadless areas—Pilot Knob and Sunset—managed by the Gunnison National Forest.

It was a good day in court for Earthjustice and our clients after four years of fighting to protect the roadless forest in western Colorado from a coal mine that would deal a double whammy of damage through road construction and millions of tons of climate pollution. 

The Sunset Roadless Area is a 5,800-acre area within the Gunnison National Forest that provides great backcountry hiking and hunting, as well as habitat for goshawk, black bear, elk, and the imperiled lynx.

Hikers enjoy the the Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area, a 11,175-acre roadless area near Butte, Montana. The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule protects wild national forests and grasslands from new road building, logging and development.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be done protecting Forest Service roadless areas because they were all protected? If you have followed the tortured history of President Clinton’s national Roadless Area Conservation Rule—which Earthjustice defended for more than a decade, with success—you’d be forgiven for thinking that 2001 rule settled the matter.

The oil and gas industry in Colorado has a new script to disparage efforts to move towards a clean energy future. And one of their friends—Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper—appears to have gotten the memo about how to belittle those trying to limit the damaging impacts of dirty energy.

Take statements made two days apart by the president of the Colorado Petroleum Association and Gov. Hickenlooper. Both men responded to efforts to limit the damage caused by fossil fuels.

President Obama is good at bold words, and he’s delivered quite a few of them on the need for action on climate change in the last nine months. There was his speech upon being re-elected; his 2013 State of the Union (in which he promised to act unilaterally on climate change if Congress wouldn’t); and most recently his speech at the Brandenburg Gate in which he rightly labeled climate change “the global threat of our time.”

It's hard to know, sometimes, who to trust with America’s wildlife.

For the most part, wildlife is managed by individual states, which do some good science and issue tags for hunting licenses. They are also, theoretically, on the front lines of ensuring that wildlife species don’t get into such trouble that the federal government needs to step in under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act.

Pages

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.