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Some top stories from the last two weeks at Earthjustice...

A full blue moon brought us into this new year and decade.  

Perhaps a new year will mean new policy for mountaintop removal mining. Thus far, the Obama Administration has continued to allow companies to destroy mountains, streams, and communities. Could a new article in Science help change its position?

 Many still wonder what exactly happened at the Copenhagen climate conference. Attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal reviewed what went down, the role Earthjustice played in the negotiations, and the way forward for climate progress.

The way forward for the PATH (Potomac-Appalachia Transmission Highline) project was successfully blocked with help from Earthjustice. Turns out the massive Big Coal transmission line simply isn’t needed to the degree its proponents claimed.

 America’s largest temperate rainforest, the majestic Tongass of Alaska, is a resource we do need. Earthjustice filed a lawsuit last week to protect the National Forest under the Roadless Rule. The Bush Administration “temporarily” exempted it back in 2006.

 Dec. 22 marked one year since the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Power Plant flooded 300 acres of shoreline, and more than 25 homes, with toxic coal ash.

 Reflecting on the changing environmental movement, Patti Goldman reviewed some of Earthjustice’s efforts over the past year to help people most impacted by environmental degradation.

While it may seem obvious, especially with coal companies completely burying streams and routinely poisoning drinking water supplies, an article in the scientific journal Science shows clear scientific evidence that mountaintop removal mining destroys streams and poisons communities.

The single biggest air polluter in the entire state of Washington is the state's one and only coal-fired power plant. The operating permit for the coal plant, which is in Centralia, was recently renewed without needed upgrades to protect the air and the people living nearby who breathe it. Earthjustice attorney Janette Brimmer has been working hard to get the permit pulled back and updated with better pollution standards to clean up the air.

The new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, is on a mission to change the face of environmentalism. 

She speaks as a daughter whose mother was flooded out of the 9th Ward by Hurricane Katrina and who “can now make as compelling an argument as any wetlands expert about the need to protect and preserve wetlands.”  She speaks as a mother of a son with asthma who may not be able to go outside when ozone levels are high.

If you looked to the night sky on New Year’s Eve, you may have wondered if the new decade was being ushered in with a full moon. Indeed, your eyes did not deceive you—and not only was the moon full, but it was blue, a feat worthy of the oft-used phrase "once in a blue moon."

(Editor's note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are back from two weeks of long hours and hard work deep inside the world climate conference at Copenhagen. In their final report, Martin goes behind the headlines to describe and explain how the conference really worked and why it shouldn't be dismissed as a failure. Amid the disappointments, there was progress, he says, and opportunities that must be seized.)

The Tongass National Forest is a sight to behold. From a boat you can watch bears fishing at the mouths of streams and eagles flying through pristine old-growth forests. This natural beauty is what makes America's largest temperate rainforest such a draw. Ecotourism, hunting, and fishing trips, are building a new economy for the people of Southeast Alaska.

As many of us brave planes, trains and automobiles to travel home for the holidays, this weekend, a group of four African northern white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) were also (ancestrally) homeward bound—though under a more somber air than befits the holiday season.

I remember my first thought when I read the papers on Dec. 23, the day after one of the biggest environmental disasters in our nation's history: "This is only the beginning."

The stories about the spill came out like the spill itself: slow at first, then in a huge, sudden avalanche of sad details. 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Power Plant burst through a dam near Harriman and spread over 300 acres of pristine shoreline along the Emory and Clinch Rivers.

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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.