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It's a rare thing to encounter good news regarding climate change. Which is exactly why a bit of hopeful writing from Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute caught my attention. Brown's post, titled "U.S. Headed for Massive Decline in Carbon Emissions," contends that the U.S. has entered a new energy era characterized by declining carbon emissions. Do tell, Lester.

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is Climate Change. Here's my pitch for an immediate step that could be taken to reduce the production of greenhouse gases significantly, while promoting good health; improving the economy in rural America; and reducing cruelty to animals. In fact, this suggestion is so logical that it's a travesty that I have to suggest it. It makes Sarah Silverman's recent hunger-ending proposal look paltry in comparison. Here's my suggestion:

What a difference a year makes! Or maybe not.

Last year, the oil and gas industry and its supporters were spending tens of thousands of dollars in Colorado to attack some modest proposals to protect the state's property owners and public health from the natural gas boom that was consuming the western part of the state.

It is hard to imagine anyone defending the polluters that are turning Florida's waters green and slimy. But, hey, money talks.

At long last, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is agreeing to set legal, enforceable limits on such nutrients as phosphorous and nitrogen, which are poisoning Florida's public waters. EPA's historic decision settles the lawsuit we filed in July 2008.

Despite the insistence of multi-billion dollar ad campaigns from the coal industry, “clean coal” simply does not exist.

Even when scrubbers are installed to filter air pollution from coal-fired power plants, the mercury, selenium, and other toxic heavy metals released by coal combustion have to go somewhere. Sadly, too much pollution is ending up in America’s rivers and groundwater.

This week, the New York Times’ excellent series "Toxic Waters" takes a look at the dangers of shifting coal pollution from air to water.

Earthjustice was more than a little surprised to hear that a regional office of the Tongass National Forest is moving ahead with plans to open a roadless area in America's largest temperate rainforest to logging. The Central Kupreanof timber sale project, would carve 15 miles of new roads and log 1,339 acres of old growth forest.

But this is not a done deal. As the press release from the regional national forest office admits…

"The Final EIS is being released without an accompanying Record of Decision (ROD) in light of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary's memorandum dated May 28, 2009, which stated the Secretary reserved decision-making authority over construction and reconstruction of roads and the cutting, sale or removal of timber in Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA)."

Earthjustice attorney, Tom Waldo called the news, "a reckless action by local officials in the Tongass National Forest…The Secretary of Agriculture should just say no to this project."

The final decision now sits on the desk of Agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack.

The signs of greening are everywhere. Paris has thousands of bicycles for rent—with the first half hour free (Velolib, it's called), and there's hardly anywhere in the city you can't get to in a half-hour. There are bike lanes as well, though they're in the middle of the sidewalks, so you must be alert. Almost no bike riders wear helmets for some reason ; maybe it's the great health-care system. Cars in general are tiny, though there are way too many. Stores are full of « bio » (organic) products of all sorts.

The talk is all of Obama's Nobel prize, with people here as preplexed as everywhere else at the timing. Obama himself is wildly popular, seemingly with nearly everybody. It's quite refreshing not to be ashamed of being an American again after the past eight years' nightmare. We send the best and will try to write again (from Turkey next time) soon.
 

Today, the Savage Rapids dam—reputedly the worst killer of Rogue River salmon—died a well-deserved death at the hands of those who spent decades seeking its removal. Heavy equipment removed the last barriers, fully opening a channel for river and fish to flow through.

For Earthjustice attorney Mike Sherwood, who watched today's demolition, this is a sweet day. He spent years litigating its removal on behalf of WaterWatch of Oregon. "This is a great day for the Rogue River, and for its coho and steelhead," Sherwood said.

Here's an eyewitness report on the demolition.

 

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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.