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A lot of surprise—including from President Barack Obama himself—greeted today's announcement that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, he's only been in office nine months. But, the Nobel committee said it isn't achievement so much as the hope of achievement that Obama has brought to the world, especially when it comes to climate change:

"Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting."

This award could encourage Obama to actually lead the U.S. delegation two months from now when it heads to Cophenhagen for the world climate summit. Who knows, he might even arrive with something from Congress in his back pocket.

In his final years of life, David Brower spoke of the need for Global CPR (conservation, preservation and restoration). What a shame Dave is not around to witness a few major river and stream restoration projects that are upon us.

 It is shameful that Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson is siding with the state’s worst polluters to fight against cleaning up algae-choked waters poisoned by agricultural runoff.

There are toxic algae blooms all over the state, water treatment plants are closing due to nutrient poisoning, and yet Bronson directs the state to work for the polluters and against the people. 

Darkness and, with it, ice, are returning to Arctic Ocean waters after an ice-free summer that allowed two commercial ships to voyage across the top of the world. This is the second consecutive year that global warming unlocked these waters. Scientists believe the freeze-melt cycle will continue—and that, says The New York Times, is bad news for polar bears:

While open Arctic waters could be a boon for shipping, fishing and oil exploration, an annual seesawing between ice and no ice could be a particularly harsh jolt to polar bears.

As Earthjustice has consistently pointed out, Arctic polar bears already are stressed and threatened by industrial activity, and we are fighting to keep oil drilling from expanding into the bears' habitat. The growing impacts associated with climate change make our efforts even more essential.

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken another positive step towards reining in the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining.

Today, the EPA declared that all of the 79 permits it was reviewing would violate the Clean Water Act and must undergo more in-depth environmental assessment by both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. This is a welcome action that Earthjustice called for two weeks ago.

Now, the two agencies have 60 days to review each permit. We can't imagine that they can reach any other conclusion than that these mines will cause irreparable harm to the waterways, land and communities of Appalachia. The permits must be denied, and beyond that, the Obama administration should follow up by reinstating and enforcing clean water rules gutted by the Bush administration.

Imagine a day when expectant parents can paint their nurseries, stock them with playthings and baby supplies, and do it all with the security of knowing that each and every chemical in those products has been tested for health effects and found safe for their newborn.

Last night, the Obama administration got us one step closer to that shimmery non-toxic future.

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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.