unEARTHED, the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Blogs


    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Earthjustice on Twitter

Featured Campaigns

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 Sarah Burt's blog posts
04 June 2009, 3:35 PM
 

Canada's vast boreal forest (named for Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind) covers more than a third of the country's total landmass and is a larger ecosystem than the Amazon. In addition to providing habitat for a diverse range of species including moose, lynx, grizzly bears and over 3 billion birds, the peat bogs and wetlands of the boreal forest are among the planet's most effective carbon sinks.

But a persistent thirst for dirty fuels threatens to irrevocably harm the boreal forest and chain us further to an unsustainable energy future.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Bill Walker's blog posts
04 June 2009, 1:06 PM
Homemade solar charger alters the equation

The 30 million Americans who bought an iPhone or iPod Touch last year know all too well how often they need recharging. One of them, Jerome Kelty, worried about the harm that's doing to the planet.

Kelty, 41, of Lafayette, Colo., calculated that charging those units every other day for a year would put more than 30 million pounds of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, into the atmosphere. So he bought a portable charger kit and with a few simple tools, in less than an hour, modified it to run on solar power. The homemade device charges his iPod Touch in a few hours without batteries or plugging it in, and will work with most other devices with a USB port.

Now Kelty's invention has won a national contest for the best energy-saving idea.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
03 June 2009, 1:44 PM
 

And here I thought the bankruptcy of General Motors might start to spell the end of outrageous profligacy. That is to say, news reports that GM would shut down its Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer divisions and start up a new high-mileage, low-emission model sounded like steps in the right direction. Especially as regards the Hummer.

But wait a minute. An Associated Press story June 3 reports that Hummer is being bought by a Chinese company that heretofore has made only cement mixers and tow trucks. And the small company is not equipped to actually manufacture the gas-guzzling behemoths (the Chinese name of the Hummer is "Bold Horse," according to the AP) in China, so will keep production in the U.S.

That seems like a pretty crazy idea, especially with gas prices zooming upward again. Will the world ever wake up? Let's just give the Hummer a dignified funeral (OK, undignified would be just as welcome) and get on with it.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
02 June 2009, 2:23 PM
Obama administration goes along with Bush-era policy

Two months ago, the Obama administration stunned the environmental community by removing northern gray wolves from the Endangered Species list. In doing so, the administration went along with one of the more onerous acts of the Bush administration. It also was the first major departure by the administration from the pro-environment path it had been on since Obama took office.

Conservation groups took a while to catch their collective breath and pull together the right response. Today, with a strong legal case in hand, Earthjustice led the groups into court—for the second time in a year—with a lawsuit challenging the delisting decision.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Tom Turner's blog posts
01 June 2009, 3:05 PM
 

The wonderful and valuable High Country News has published a very instructive buttal and rebuttal that arise from an article in the print version of the paper that analyzed the long-running struggle over four power dams built on the lower Snake River in the 1960s. Those dams and their reservoirs have long been criticized by scientists and conservationists as inimical to the survival and recovery of once-stupendous salmon runs in the Columbia basin.

(The dams have also been the subject of a long litigation campaign by Earthjustice and its allies, who would like to see the dams removed, or at least breached.)

The Bonneville Power Administration, which operates the dams, has fought vigorously to keep the dams, even arguing in court papers that the structures have been in place so long that they’ve become a permanent, all but natural, fixture in the river, like boulders or eddies.

BPS’s Gregory K. Delwiche wrote a long and fairly sober answer to Ken Olsen’s original piece, that makes good sense—until you read Olsen’s reply. It’s a fascinating exchange, worth taking the time to read. I pretend no particular expertise in this debate, but one of Delwiche’s assertions caught my eye: In response to the claim by Olsen that BPA’s practice is to use all the water in the river for power generation, Delwiche wrote,

The federal agencies operating the hydro system never put "every drop of water" through turbines. It is common practice to spill water around turbines for fish. In 2008, for example, BPA spent $275 million buying replacement power to make up for power not generated at the dams because water was being diverted for fish.

What he didn’t say, and what I know only because of where I work, is that the spilling of water to aid salmon downstream migration came only with a court order, issued by Judge James Redden. Take a look. It’s fascinating stuff.

Meanwhile, Judge Redden has just written to the BPA urging prompt and vigorous efforts to reform river management. One might guess that he’s closer to Olsen than [the BPA guy] in this matter.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
28 May 2009, 2:09 PM
 

A press release came across my screen Wednesday afternoon announcing that a judge had found that Glen Canyon dam's operating scheme is illegal, since it doesn't do enough to protect endangered fish in the river.

That's putting it mildly.

That dam destroyed the most beautiful, spectacular canyon country on the face of the earth. Or if not destroyed permanently, certainly ruined it for those of us living now and for many generations into the future. The gentle wilderness of Glen was simply unmatched anywhere, its sandstone grottoes and fern draped side canyons. Some of us were lucky enough to have seen it before the waters of what Ed Abbey called "Lake Foul" buried Glen under hundreds of feet of water and began filling it with silt.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
27 May 2009, 5:08 PM
 

Road construction in national forests can harm fish and wildlife habitats while polluting local lakes, rivers, and streams. The Roadless Area Conservation Rule—which was made on the basis of extensive citizen input—protects 58.5 million acres of national forest from such harmful building. I will be proud to support and defend it.

—Senator Barack Obama, 2008

Both as a senator and as a candidate for the White House, President Obama was forthright in his support for the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forest lands.

The rule was established by President Bill Clinton in 2001, but severely undercut by the Bush administration—freezing its implementation, not defending it against industry court challenges, finally effectively repealing it by making it a state-by-state option that left roadless areas vulnerable to local political pressure.

View Jessica Lawrence's blog posts
27 May 2009, 1:53 PM
 

Wildlife Quiz: What river valley has the most important habitat for grizzlies, wolves, wolverines and lynx in the Rocky Mountains?

Hint: The river forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park, and straddles the Canadian/US border between British Columbia and Montana.

Answer: The Flathead River.

The Flathead was recently named British Columbia's most endangered river, and the fifth most endangered river in the United States.

Why? British Columbia's land use plan ensures that mining for coal and minerals can trump all other land uses in the Flathead valley.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
26 May 2009, 3:51 PM
 

Have you been following our Name That Fish contest? As part of our Cleaning Up Mercury, Protecting Our Health campaign, we just rechristened the Bluefin Tuna as “Blue Infection Tuna.” The timing couldn't be more perfect... a new Federal study was just released this month on the alarming mercury levels in tuna and other fish in the Pacific ocean.

YubaNet.com reports:

A landmark study by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and universities in the U.S. and Australia has, for the first time, documented how escalating mercury-laden air emissions, chiefly from coal-fired electrical power plants in Asia, are being transformed into methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin that is increasingly polluting the North Pacific Ocean and contaminating tuna, swordfish and other popular seafood.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Ray Wan's blog posts
25 May 2009, 10:36 AM
 

By now, we've all heard the same merry-go-round arguments about why the U.S. can't afford aggressive measures to develop clean energy and tackle climate change. And most of those arguments revolve around that other behemoth-of-a-superpower: China. We can practically roll the stats off our tongues: China's now the #1 emitter of greenhouse gases. China is building one coal-fired power plant a week. If China doesn't clean up its act, why should we?

Now, I've been to China, and yes the pollution in some parts is as bad as you have read. L.A. smog is terrible, but I don't remember the last time I couldn't see farther than 2 city blocks in L.A., and that was exactly what happened during one of my days in Beijing. But behind all the haze, a clearer picture is emerging that the developing giant may actually be undertaking some surprisingly aggressive actions to lower its carbon emissions and promote cleaner energy.