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On Dec. 11 the federal Superfund program turns 30. Which means? Time for cupcakes!

Actually, the cupcakes arrived early -- on Wednesday -- when environmental groups including Earthjustice delivered the treats to lawmakers on the Hill with this request: reinstate “polluter pays” fees in time for the birthday.

The federal program funding cleanups at toxic sites began on Dec. 11, 1980, when President Jimmy Carter signed legislation creating the Superfund program.

Let's face it, the U.S. is awash in pesticides and some are quite deadly to America's wildlife.

The Environmental Protection Agency is the government group responsible for signing off on pesticides before they are allowed for use and is supposed to stop the really bad ones. In going about this task, the EPA historically only looked at the pesticide's effects on people and have done a poor job.

They've also ignored each pesticide's effects on wildlife.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission filed court papers arguing that they shouldn’t be held accountable for the steep population collapse of river herring and shad.

There’s just one problem with that argument: according to law, both agencies are responsible.

New Yorkers should be proud of their lawmakers today.

On their first day back in session, members of the New York State Assembly voted to approve a temporary moratorium on the controversial form of gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." (No word on whether Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind" was blasting in the halls of the Capitol during the late-night vote.)

In a bold and precedent-setting move, Costa Rica has prohibited all future open-pit metal mining! Environmentalists are celebrating the passage of the new law, which—approved unanimously by the Costa Rican Congress—establishes Costa Rica as a country that is "free from open-pit metal mining."

Costa Rica is the first country in the Americas to recognize the severity of the environmental and economic harms caused by open-pit mining, and to say no to future open pit mines.

My friend Ken Brower has a fascinating piece in The Atlantic Monthly for December on the visionary astrophysicist Freeman Dyson. Ken has known Dyson for years and wrote a wonderful joint profile of Freeman and his then-estranged son, George, titled The Starship and the Canoe.

As Ken writes, Dyson belongs in the same company as Einstein and other certifiable geniuses for his contributions to physics and other fields, including medicine.

But Dyson is also a climate denier, arguing that global warming won't be all that bad. Ken evidently saw Freeman being interviewed by Charlie Rose, spouting all this indefensible claptrap, and couldn't let it pass. It's a fascinating piece with plenty of useful observations. I recommend it.

Today, in the midst of Thanksgiving, we invite you to spend a minute and 17 seconds with us as we honor the many Earthjustice supporters responsible for significant achievements this year on behalf of people, wildlife and the wild places we all love.

We've put together a simple, elegant video story of four of those achievements. As one of our supporters—or perhaps someone who might become one—you should instantly see how powerful and important that support is.


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.