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 David Guest's blog posts
17 June 2009, 3:26 AM
 

A disappointing decision by the federal appeals court in Atlanta will legalize pollution in many American drinking water supplies, and we have the former Bush administration to thank for it.

The case goes back to 2002, when we sued, on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, to get the South Florida Water Management District to stop pumping contaminated drainage canal water into Lake Okeechobee, one of the biggest drinking water sources in Florida, and the second biggest lake in the United States. For years, the district has been disposing of contaminated runoff from urban areas and industrial-scale sugar and vegetable farms by "backpumping" its untreated waters from drainage canals into Lake Okeechobee.

Since the Clean Water Act doesn't allow anyone to add pollutants to lakes and rivers without a permit that limits pollutants to safe levels, we argued that the Water District needed a federal permit to pump filthy water into the public lake.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
16 June 2009, 1:48 PM
 

It's as close as our own backyards, as far away as the Arctic. It's affecting birds, boys, butterflies and bugs. Creeks are feeling it, and the oceans, too. It's here, it's now, and mostly it's caused by humans.

It's global warming and we have to take immediate, powerful counter measures to prevent massive planet-wide consequences, warns the federal government in a chilling report just released today.

Thirteen federal agencies and the White House collaborated in the study, which was put together by the United States Global Change Research Program with oversight from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
16 June 2009, 11:07 AM
Is technology going to lead the green revolution, or hinder it?

Biking in to work the other day I heard an underwriting pitch from IBM, touting its new campaign, or slogan, or website, call it what you will, for "A Smarter Planet." Oh boy. Now we're going to teach the planet new tricks, show it where evolution has fallen short.

Don’t you guys get it? It's not the planet that lacks smarts, it's the human race. We should learn from natural systems, pattern human society on systems that work, are sustainable and don't foul their own nests. (Semirelevant aside: Paul Hawken just gave a lovely commencement speech to a group of graduates in Portland. Among many interesting things he said was, Do you realize that humans are the only species on the planet that do not have full employment? Worth pondering. The whole speech is quite wonderful and uplifting in fact.)

View Tom Turner's blog posts
16 June 2009, 10:54 AM
America's special rainforest remains in a state of regulatory limbo

The Ketchikan newspaper just published a long editorial titled "We Love Surprises," urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to surprise them and approve some new roads and timber sales in the Tongass National Forest despite the recent directive that suggests the administration is planning to take a year or two to study the situation and decide whether to make the 2001 Roadless Rule permanent.

The editorial makes it sound as if the only thing at stake is the very survival of Southeast Alaska. The piece also makes it sound as if the environmental movement is all powerful and dictating how the Obama administration acts in these matter.

If only that were so.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
12 June 2009, 11:45 AM
 

Remember "Healthy Forests"? This was one of the euphonious program names hatched by Karl Rove or another of the Bush wordsmiths to mask a real purpose. There was also the Clear Skies Initiative, which actually aimed to weaken the Clean Air Act.

Healthy Forests argued that the best way to control wildlfire and protect rural communities was to thin the forests of dead brush and sick trees, such growth having accumulated to dangerous levels owing to decades of fire suppression.

Fair enough, but many scientists and environmental advocates argued that Healthy Forests was really a smoke screen (forgive me) aimed at obscuring the fact that much of the planned "thinning" would be far from human settlements and would in fact involve logging big, living, valuable trees.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
09 June 2009, 11:08 AM
 

Biking in to work the other day I heard an underwriting pitch from IBM, touting its new campaign, or slogan, or website, call it what you will, for "A Smarter Planet." Oh boy. Now we’re going to teach the planet new tricks, show it where evolution has fallen short.

Don’t you guys get it? It’s not the planet that lacks smarts, it’s the human race. We should learn from natural systems, pattern human society on systems that work, are sustainable and don’t foul their own nests. (Semirelevant aside: Paul Hawken just gave a lovely commencement speech  to a group of graduates in Portland. Among many interesting things he said was, Do you realize that humans are the only species on the planet that do not have full employment? Worth pondering. The whole speech is quite wonderful and uplifting in fact.)

So I went to the IBM site for the smarter planet and it’s not as bad as I feared.

3 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Anna Cederstav's blog posts
08 June 2009, 2:11 PM
 

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet Don Federico, a Panamanian fisherman who has spent more than 26 years at sea and has thousands of stories to share. He told us what it was like when he first began fishing:

"We saw dolphins, whales, sharks and turtles everywhere. Out of ignorance, the fishing boats would catch and kill upwards of 300 dolphins per day, and the children would play with turtle eggs on the beaches."

Now, less than three decades later, Don Federico explained that there is none of that.

Even in isolated areas, it's a huge event when tourists spot a whale or a dolphin. Turtles no longer come to nest on our beaches, and shark finning is decimating local populations. The fish you could previously catch in a couple of hours, now take weeks of time for a fishing boat to collect.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Tom Turner's blog posts
08 June 2009, 12:12 PM
 

The San Francisco Chronicle carried an extensive package of opinion this weekend (Sunday, June 7) on energy and global warming and the economy that's worth a look-see.

They led with the head of Chevron, possibly because he was outnumbered, out-argued, and out flanked by what followed. His piece (read it for yourselves) was empty, vapid, and one wonders who in the PR department pulls down six figures to write this pap. "We must work together," "we're all on the same side," and like that.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
05 June 2009, 10:39 AM
 

When the U.S. EPA proposed to cut mercury, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid and other toxic air pollutants from cement kilns, we cheered. When they announced plans to hold public hearings in Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington DC to hear from the public about why clean air is important, we got to work.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
04 June 2009, 10:50 PM
 

Back in my early days at Earthjustice I got into an argument with a colleage that has stuck with me ever since. She (no names) observed that if we—the movement in general—conceded that restoration of damaged ecosystems is possible that we'll never be able to protect forests, wetlands, parks and the like because developers could simply say they'll eventually restore the land to its former glory.

In fact, we have a case before the Supreme Court at this very moment, where a mining company says not to worry that its tailings will kill all life in Lower Slate Lake in Alaska—they'll put it all back together, better than ever, when the mine eventually closes.

Sure. And what's lost in the mean time?