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John Luther Adams is at times a challenging composer. An unabashed admirer of avant-garde music, Adams has crafted pieces during his decades-long career that ask a great deal of the listener. But the rewards are commensurate with the challenge.

Native American and environmental groups filed suit Thursday in federal court in San Francisco challenging a proposed tar sands oil pipeline that would bring the dirtiest oil on Earth from Canada to the United States.

The U.S. State Department’s approval on Aug. 20 of Enbridge Energy's Alberta Clipper pipeline permits 450,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day to be pumped from northern Alberta to Superior, Wis., for refining.

The attorneys general of five states are urging Senate leaders to strengthen the federal climate bill by requiring cleanup or closure of dirty coal-fired power plants, preserving state authority to set stricter clean air standards than in federal law and ensuring that citizens can sue to enforce the bill’s provisions.

Wolf hunting began this morning in Idaho, as a federal judge continues to consider an urgent request by Earthjustice and allies to halt the hunting. A young female was reportedly the first wolf killed.

Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold argued Monday for an injunction to stall hunting in both Idaho and Montana as part of a lawsuit seeking to restore protection of the wolves under the Endangered Species Act. Protections were removed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Idaho is allowing 255 wolves to be killed, and Montana 75.

 

As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the water buffaloes try to use our drought crisis to pave the way for diverting more precious Sacramento River water to Los Angeles and, especially, San Joaquin Valley growers with their lovely subsidies, some of the same interests are asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to empanel the God Squad.

The Squad, formally known as the Endangered Species Committee, can override the Endangered Species Act in time of great emergency, and the Pacific Legal Foundation argues that the biological opinions that order more water for salmon and smelt, constitute just such an emergency for agriculture. The salmon opinion, in fact, says that not only are protected salmon at risk from not enough water--but Puget Sound killer whales are,too, since the salmon are an important part of theiir diet. PLF has its work cut out for it.

In the 'seventies, when nuclear power plants prompted demonstrations from San Luis Obispo to Upstate New York, the concerns were all about accidents (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island), low-level radiation from normal operation of the plants, what to do with the waste, and the fact that the federal government had to underwrite liability insurance. In the end, it was simple economics that was largely responsible for the demise of the industry (no new plant has been built for more than 25 years).

Two experts on the plight of West Coast salmon fielded questions during a 30-minute online question and answer program with dozens of Earthjustice supporters. Attorney Mike Sherwood and media expert/former commercial fisherman John McManus offered insights on matters ranging from dams on the Klamath River to the proposed Peripheral Canal in the Sacramento Delta. Read the full transcript here.

The San Joaquin Valley is facing hard times.

A new economic report by the University of the Pacific found that the ongoing drought caused 6,000 fewer agricultural jobs in the San Joaquin Valley, representing $170 million in employee compensation. But that number was far overshadowed by the housing downturn, which caused 47,000 lost construction and real-estate-related jobs, or $1.8 billion in employee compensation.

More than two-thirds of fish tested by the federal government between 1998 and 2005 are contaminated by mercury at levels exceeding EPA standards according to a recent report.

Contamination is widespread, the report said, coming from various sources depending on geography. Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury, although 59 of the 291 streams studied may have been affected by gold and mercury mining. The highest mercury levels were found in the south and southeast-North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana, while elevated levels were found in mining areas of the West and watersheds in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

In 2008, Earthjustice successfully appealed an EPA rule favorable to industry which would have allowed dangerous levels of mercury to persist. We’re waiting for the Obama administration to make good on its promise to introduce new power plant emission regulations.

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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.