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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S 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.

View Bill Walker's blog posts
07 August 2009, 12:41 PM
People don't feel a sense of urgency, says report.
Source: Dan Wasserman, Tribune Media Services

Maybe what Jim Inhofe needs is a good therapist.

Inhofe, R-OK, is notoriously the Senate's global warming denier-in-chief. But why? Maybe because he gets big campaign contributions from oil companies. Or maybe he has deep-seated control issues, and the prospect of global warming makes him feel helpless.

That's one explanation suggested in a new report by the American Psychological Association (which of course doesn't specifically discuss Inhofe) on why, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, many Americans are skeptical or deny the existence of global warming.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Tom Turner's blog posts
06 August 2009, 3:59 PM
Everyone wants credit for the roadless victory
Photo: John McCarthy/TWS

It's a given that when something momentous happens, something good, that is, that the group of people claiming credit for the outcome will be rather large. So it is with the recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finding the Bush Roadless Repeal Rule illegal and reinstating the original Roadless Rule nationwide. And, to be sure, there's plenty of credit to go around—to the Heritage Forests Campaign, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and many others.

Mostly, however, credit and praise go to the doughty band of Earthjustice attorneys who have fought to defend the rule for the past eight years, along with Marty Hayden, the VP for Policy and Legislation, who helped in the creation of the rule long before it got to court. The attorneys, who deserve a place in someone's hall of fame, are Kristen Boyles, Tim Preso, Jim Angell, Tom Waldo, Doug Honnold, Todd True, Greg Loarie, and Patti Goldman. Another, who worked for Earthjustice in the 1990s, is Claudia Polsky, who argued on behalf of the states of California, Oregon, Washington, and New Mexico from her position in the California attorney general's office. Also Niel Lawrence of NRDC and Pat Parenteau of the Vermont Law School. Thanks and congratulations all around.

Oh wait. Never mind. Here's the guy who deserves all the credit.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
06 August 2009, 11:33 AM
As climate change evidence mounts, some are planning to "adapt"
Are you ready for the summer?

We learned recently that the Bush administration kept photographic evidence of climate change from the American people. The pictures from US spy satellites were declassified by the Obama White House. The anti-science bias of the last administration continues to shock.

As proof of global warming mounts, California is preparing for decreased snow pack in the mountains, flooding on its coast, raging wildfires, and increased infectious disease in cities.

A new report predicts – and warns that the state must adapt to these unstoppable consequences. The report, 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy, is still in draft form and open for public comment for the next 45 days. It is the nation’s first such official effort to delineate and plan for impacts associated with global warming.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
05 August 2009, 2:25 PM
Another (welcome) twist in the Roadless saga
Patrick’s Knob roadless area in Montana’s Coeur D’Alene Mountains. (Credit: © Terry Glase)

When we last visited this story, the original Roadless Rule, issued at the tail end of the Clinton administration, seemed to be in effect in some parts of the country, not in others, and the court ruling that reimposed it was still under legal challenge by the Forest Service.

The situation was clarified to a great degree today, with a unanimous ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a lower court ruling, which had found a substitute rule put forward by the Bush administration illegal and reinstated the original rule throughout the country except for Alaska and Idaho.

This is tremendous news, and should be a powerful encouragement to the new administration to do whatever is necessary to protect roadless areas throughout the land.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
04 August 2009, 11:11 AM
Water revolution is using locally available water

One of the grandest victories scored by environmental types in California has been the battle to save Mono Lake at the eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada. Owens Lake, to the south, was obliterated by users in the Los Angeles basin, who simply appropriated virtually all the water that once flowed from the mountains into the lake (the easiest and most entertaining way to brush up on this story is to see the movie Chinatown).

The same thing was happening to Mono Lake, but a landmark lawsuit brought by the Audubon Society and a tenacious campaign by a tiny outfit known as the Mono Lake Committee stopped L.A. in its tracks, and Mono is more than holding its own.

The leader of the committee for most of the '80s and '90s was Martha Davis, energetic, tough-minded and tireless. Now, in a heartening twist, Davis has taken over as manager of water policy for the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, and is revolutionizing water management in the arid south.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
04 August 2009, 8:40 AM
Warfare training facility near Florida runs through right whale territory

 Right whales are called such because years ago whale hunters thought these particular whales were simply the "right" ones to hunt. Their distinct V-shaped blow of water alerted whalers, and their habit of swimming near the surface made them easy targets.

Now, decades later, these endangered whales are swimming into danger again because of their propensity to swim near the surface.

The latest obstacle: the U.S. Navy plans to construct a massive Undersea Warfare Training Range (often referred to by its cumbersome acronym, UWTR) directly in the calving grounds of right whales in a 644-square mile plot of ocean off the coast of Florida.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
03 August 2009, 2:02 PM
Government has right to force environmental review, says legal action

A troublesome new chapter has opened in the matter of Sunflower Electric's attempt to more than double the electrical output at its existing coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kansas.

After digging through 10,000 pages of documents, Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman discovered that Sunflower in the past had defaulted on its debt service payments to the federal government, and that as a consequence the federal government now has effective oversight over Sunflower's business decisions, including the attempted expansion of its existing plant.

That means that you and I and all other American taxpayers have a major stake in how that plant performs, financially and environmentally. We have long known that the expansion was a thoroughly bad idea because of the enormous amounts of greenhouse gases it would produce for decades. The revelation of Sunflower's indebtedness to the public could be a key to stopping the expansion.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
31 July 2009, 2:43 PM
Congressman receives forged letters urging "no" vote on climate bill
Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA)

Like many of his colleagues, freshman Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA) received thousands of letters, emails, and faxes about the American Climate and Energy Security Act (a.k.a. the Waxman-Markey climate bill). That's nothing unexpected in and of itself. But it turns out that some of those letters were appalling forgeries.

The Charlottesville Daily Progress, which broke the story, reports that an unnamed employee (now ex-employee, supposedly) of a D.C. lobbying firm called Bonner & Associates sent a letter to Rep. Perriello from a non-existent employee of Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit group that works with the Charlottesville, VA hispanic community. The letter, which included the nonprofit's logo, urged Perriello to vote "no" on the legislation.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
30 July 2009, 1:27 PM
They knew about the threat for 20 years, but did nothing
Tennessee coal ash spill site

It’s been seven months since a billion gallons of coal ash burst through a failed construction dike in Harriman, Tennessee, covering 300 acres, destroying homes, flooding properties and poisoning rivers and wells. According to a recently released report, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The Inspector General for the Tennessee Valley Authority, which owns the Kingston Fossil Plant and its accompanying coal ash impoundment, reported this week that TVA “has failed for more than 20 years to heed warnings” that might have prevented this spill from happening. This revelation, revealed at the third congressional hearing since the spill, shows that TVA ignored repeated warnings from its own workers in 1985 and again in 2004 that the coal ash site was a public health hazard.

And there’s more:

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
28 July 2009, 1:45 PM
Satellite images show alarming loss of Arctic summer sea ice
Arctic sea ice. Photo: USGS

On July 15th, the Department of Interior, at the urging of the National Academy of Sciences, released hundreds of satellite images that show the impact global warming is having on the Arctic. Though the images have been public for almost two weeks, the story they tell hasn't lost any of its potency. They are a strong indication that the Arctic—a true natural and international treasure—is changing rapidly, perhaps irrevocably.

The Guardian reports that more than one million square kilometers of Arctic sea ice were absent in 2007 compared to 2006. For scale, that's an area significantly larger than the entire state of Texas (a little less than one-and-a-half Texases, to be exact). One pair of images, taken above the town of Barrow, AK in July of 2006 and 2007, clearly shows this dramatic loss of summer sea ice.