unEARTHED, the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.


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.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
04 September 2009, 1:40 PM
Appeals court lays down the law in Kane County, Utah

We like to think of our national parks as places that are protected for generations, where outside the visitor center and a few heavily used trails, the vistas, the streams and the wildlife are there now as they have been and ever will be. But some of the West's most iconic parklands—Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Death Valley, Glen Canyon, Yosemite—have been under assault in recent years.

Those assaults come from a few renegade counties deciding that the Park Service can't protect rivers, habitat, archaeological sites and wilderness by closing old cattle trails and streambeds to dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles. The counties claim they own highway rights to these rough tracks under a repealed, 19th Century law known as R.S. 2477.

Earlier this week, a court of appeals ruling turned back one of these assaults in a way that will make sure parks across the West are a little better protected.

1 Comment   /  
View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
03 September 2009, 5:01 PM
Gifted composer transcribes "outsider" music
Atigun Gorge, in the foothills of Alaska's Brooks Range. Photo: USGS

John Luther Adams is at times a challenging composer. An unabashed admirer of avant-garde music, Adams has crafted pieces during his decades-long career that ask a great deal of the listener. But the rewards are commensurate with the challenge.

Adams' unique vision provides intrepid listeners with an opportunity to transcend the sounds he creates by inhabiting them fully, thereby connecting to something much larger than the notes and textures he selects. In many cases, the larger something that Adams seeks to conjure—often quite successfully in my humble opinion—is the great Alaskan wilderness. Listen to excerpts of his work. 

View Bill Walker's blog posts
03 September 2009, 2:43 PM
Pipeline would bring 450K barrels of dirty Canadian crude a day

Native American and environmental groups filed suit Thursday in federal court in San Francisco challenging a proposed tar sands oil pipeline that would bring the dirtiest oil on Earth from Canada to the United States.

The U.S. State Department’s approval on Aug. 20 of Enbridge Energy's Alberta Clipper pipeline permits 450,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day to be pumped from northern Alberta to Superior, Wis., for refining.

Tar sands oil is dirtier and, over its lifecycle, emits more global warming pollution than any other type of oil. Tar sands development in Alberta is creating an environmental catastrophe, with toxic tailings ponds so large they can be seen from space, and plans to strip away forests and peat lands of an area the size of Florida.

10 Comments   /  
View Tom Turner's blog posts
01 September 2009, 11:36 AM
Right-wing bloggers stretch the right to say what you think
Dr. John Holdren

I am pretty much a First Amendment  purist. With narrow exceptions (yelling fire in a crowded theater and so forth) freedom of speech should not be limited, as odious as it can sometimes be.

But sometimes I wonder.

Through the miracle of Google Alerts, I have been following the coverage of John Holdren, science advisor to President Barak Obama, and an old friend. John's resume is unassailable—president of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Professor at Cal and Harvard, head of the Woods Hole Biological Lab, prolific author, and on and on. He was and is perfect for the job, and is a reason to hope that the new administration will pay real attention (rather than just lip service) to science in making big and serious decisions.

If you depended on Google for your news of Dr. Holdren, however, the picture you get is of a raving fascist, a madman, a devil in human garb. It makes me wonder about free speech, in this case propagated mostly by wing-nut blogs.

1 Comment   /  
View Bill Walker's blog posts
01 September 2009, 11:26 AM
House bill would allow old, dirty coal plants to keep polluting
Navajo Generating Station, Arizona

The attorneys general of five states are urging Senate leaders to strengthen the federal climate bill by requiring cleanup or closure of dirty coal-fired power plants, preserving state authority to set stricter clean air standards than in federal law and ensuring that citizens can sue to enforce the bill’s provisions.

The letter was sent even as Democratic leaders in the Senate announced they are postponing consideration of the bill until later this year because of the political logjam over national health care reform.

“We believe that passage of a [stronger] bill . . . will build upon the efforts of states to address climate change, and by demonstrating the nation’s commitment to achieving carbon reductions, will put the U.S. in a stronger position in negotiations on a new international climate accord in Copenhagen later this year,” said the letter, sent Aug. 31. 

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 September 2009, 10:16 AM
Federal judge continues to ponder injunction request by Earthjustice
First wolf killed in Idaho hunt. Photo released by Idaho Fish and Game.

Wolf hunting began this morning in Idaho, as a federal judge continues to consider an urgent request by Earthjustice and allies to halt the hunting. A young female was reportedly the first wolf killed.

Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold argued Monday for an injunction to stall hunting in both Idaho and Montana as part of a lawsuit seeking to restore protection of the wolves under the Endangered Species Act. Protections were removed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Idaho is allowing 255 wolves to be killed, and Montana 75.


View Tom Turner's blog posts
01 September 2009, 9:26 AM
Water interests want Salazar to dust off rarely used species provision
Photograph By Roderick Divilbiss

As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the water buffaloes try to use our drought crisis to pave the way for diverting more precious Sacramento River water to Los Angeles and, especially, San Joaquin Valley growers with their lovely subsidies, some of the same interests are asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to empanel the God Squad.

The Squad, formally known as the Endangered Species Committee, can override the Endangered Species Act in time of great emergency, and the Pacific Legal Foundation argues that the biological opinions that order more water for salmon and smelt, constitute just such an emergency for agriculture. The salmon opinion, in fact, says that not only are protected salmon at risk from not enough water--but Puget Sound killer whales are,too, since the salmon are an important part of theiir diet. PLF has its work cut out for it.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
28 August 2009, 2:59 PM
Once reviled and feared, nuke power is now being mulled

In the 'seventies, when nuclear power plants prompted demonstrations from San Luis Obispo to Upstate New York, the concerns were all about accidents (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island), low-level radiation from normal operation of the plants, what to do with the waste, and the fact that the federal government had to underwrite liability insurance. In the end, it was simple economics that was largely responsible for the demise of the industry (no new plant has been built for more than 25 years).

1 Comment   /  
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
27 August 2009, 4:57 PM
Earthjustice experts offer answers and insights

Two experts on the plight of West Coast salmon fielded questions during a 30-minute online question and answer program with dozens of Earthjustice supporters. Attorney Mike Sherwood and media expert/former commercial fisherman John McManus offered insights on matters ranging from dams on the Klamath River to the proposed Peripheral Canal in the Sacramento Delta. Read the full transcript here.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
27 August 2009, 2:35 PM
California's heartland looks to new industries to diversify economy
Solar panels

The San Joaquin Valley is facing hard times.

A new economic report by the University of the Pacific found that the ongoing drought caused 6,000 fewer agricultural jobs in the San Joaquin Valley, representing $170 million in employee compensation. But that number was far overshadowed by the housing downturn, which caused 47,000 lost construction and real-estate-related jobs, or $1.8 billion in employee compensation.

Seeking a solution, the tiny town of Mendota on the west side of the valley recently discovered an alternative to dependence on construction and agriculture. The light at the end of the tunnel may be their most abundant resource: sunlight.