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Here's the latest on the Obama administration's approach to oil drilling in the Arctic seas.

In July, a court agreed with Earthjustice lawyers that a hastily approved federal oil development plan for the Chukchi Sea is illegal. The court said the Interior Department simply ignored gaps in scientific data about the natural areas and wildlife about to be disturbed by drilling rigs without making any attempt to determine whether the missing information might be important or could be obtained from other sources.

Interior and its Minerals Management Service (renamed to escape the stigma of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) readily admit that they don't know much about almost every species of sea bird, migratory water fowl, seals and whales, not to mention polar bears, that would be affected by oil and gas development in the Chukchi.

Rather than take the hint, however, Interior now takes the position that oil drilling should go forward anyway because they would have approved it regardless of the scientific data. Interior Sec. Salazar's recent directive that the department's decisions be based on the best science available, rather than political pressure, seems not to have reached BOEMRE's Alaska office. We'll help get the word to them.
 

Since Earthjustice attorneys won a court decision in August ordering the federal government to once again extend Endangered Species Act protections to wolves in the northern Rockies, state governments have been busy trying to come up with ways to kill wolves anyway.

Today, six months from the day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded 42 miles off the Louisiana shore, much is still unknown about the effects of the nation's biggest oil spill, which gushed for 95 continuous days and spilled nearly 200 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. (See a visual timeline of the oil spill.)

European homeowners, especially those in Germany and Spain, may be ahead of America when it comes to switching over to rooftop solar electric panels, but Hawaii is on its way to catching up.

That's because the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission just this week ordered the biggest utility company in the islands to start paying homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar panels that are feeding electricity into the grid. This is good news for everyone.

The EPA committed to set these new limits after Earthjustice, representing Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper, sued in 2008.

It turns out that these former secretaries are at drastically at odds with public opinion. The EPA reports that it has received 22,000 public comments on the proposed new nutrient pollution standards, and 20,000 of those comments were in support of the standards.

An estimated 20 percent of Atlantic bluefin tuna, spawned this year in the Gulf of Mexico, died because of BP's oil spill according to an assessment based on satellite images.

The European Space Agency, in league with the Ocean Foundation, reached that conclusion after collecting satellite images and other data from the start of the spill on Apr. 20 until Aug. 29. The nearly-200 million gallon spill occurred at the height of the spawn and affected one of two areas in which the tuna spawn.

Already under great stress because of overfishing and the impacts of longline fishing, the oil spill has put the tuna in such peril that the National Marine Fisheries Service is conducting its own year-long study into whether it should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
 

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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.