unEARTHED, the Earthjustice Blog

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 Terry Winckler's blog posts
04 February 2009, 4:37 PM
 

In those cold days of last December -- as Bush feverishly tried to finish crippling the nation's environmental protections -- the new day promised by Obama seemed only a flicker at the end of an 8-year tunnel.

After today's news out of Utah, that flicker is looking more like a flare. Interior Sec. Ken Salazar announced the cancellation of oil and gas leases on 110,000 acres of public land abutting some of the West's purest wilderness. Aside from validating Earthjustice legal action challenging those leases, the cancellation could be interpreted as the first sign of Obama turning back the Bush tide.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
03 February 2009, 10:24 PM
 

When one hears the phrase "Boy Scout," one picture that comes to mind is a bunch of youngsters out in the woods, around a campfire, enjoying marshmallows as well as nature.  One might assume that on top of "trustworthy," "obedient," and "brave," Boy Scouts might also put protection of the Great Outdoors among their values.

A recent investigative series has thrown some cold water on that notion, however, exposing activities of some scouting groups that are cringe-inducing.  One piece has a part of the scouting organization clearcutting lands to make profits, just like the boys in Big Timber have been doing for years.  Another piece has another scouting group killing threatened salmon to fill a lake for recreation, and then using their political muscle to avoid any penalties.

There's no doubt that many individual scout troops are doing important things for the youngsters involved, and that the volunteer parents who make the organization work are conscientious caring folks who are trying to help boys become responsible adults.

And any organization that needs money to keep its work going and that supprts a large bureaucracy  like the Scouts is likely to have its problems.  Heaven knows us folks in the Environmental Movement have been known to not always "be the change" we want to see in the world.  (Please don't make fun of my gas guzzling hybrid SUV.)

The Scouts could use the airing of their dirty laundry to say "Whoops!  We could do a lot better."  Sadly, it seems the national headquarters of the BSA is choosing to hunker in its bunker, issuing a press statement that in part shoots the messenger: "We are extremely disappointed that [Scouts'] efforts have been portrayed in such a negative light." 

That doesn't exactly seem like the "brave" response.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
03 February 2009, 6:24 PM
Sunflower jolted back to life

Contradictory actions by the coal industry this week illustrate how treacherous the road is to a clean energy future for America.

On Tuesday, to our delight, developers of the proposed Highwood coal-fired power plant in Montana surrendered and announced that they would instead build natural gas and wind-powered generating plants. The credit for this should go to Earthjustice attorneys Abigail Dillen and Jenny Harbine, whose two years of legal action against the plant obviously paid off.

Also on Tuesday, Michigan's governor made it clear that her state was becoming a coal-free zone and gave coal developers marching orders to look at alternative energy.

But sobering news out of Kansas on the same day cut our victory dance short.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
03 February 2009, 5:56 PM
 

After writing a blog item about the storied Mineral King valley, I crafted an essay about it for the High Country News. The news is that it is about to be declared America's newest wilderness. Here's how I started the HCN article:

"A half-million abandoned mines litter the American West, many dribbling poisons into rivers and streams. But after more than a century of healing, one such place is poised to become one of America's newest wilderness areas. It's a testament to the resilience of nature and the vision of the people who fought to preserve it."

Read the full HCN story.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
03 February 2009, 11:54 AM
 

When the history of our times is written, I bet the nomination of Sarah Palin for vice president will be seen as one of the more bizarre political aberrations in American history, which has already had plenty. One would think that the resounding repudiation she and Senator McCain suffered in the general election would have chastened both, but while the senator has been mostly dignified and supportive of the new administration, Gov. Palin rumbles along as if she should be taken seriously. I mean, what’s up with that?

I’m off on this rant because of a guest opinion piece by the governor that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (which should know better) on Feb. 1. The subject is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The governor is unhappy that a bill has been introduced to end forever the effort to let the drillers into the coastal plain in search of crude oil.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
02 February 2009, 10:37 AM
 

Northern Californians have recently launched two grassroots efforts to oppose a proposed peripheral canal that would divert water from the Sacramento River and send it around the West's largest estuary to irrigate large industrial farms in the Central Valley and Southern California.

On January 17th, Water4Fish held a panel discussion at the International Sportsmen's Expo in Sacramento.

The panel, "Salmon: Recovery or Extinction," addressed the recently the released draft biological opinion which found state and federal water pumping plan are "likely to jeopardize" Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon, spring run Chinook, Central Valley steelhead and green sturgeon populations.

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View Bill Walker's blog posts
30 January 2009, 1:09 PM
 

First the bad news. Over the last decade, hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies from all over the world have clearly established a direct link between dirty air and increased risk of death from lung disease. In 2002, for example, California state scientists estimated that microscopic particles of airborne soot from auto exhaust cause more than 9,300 deaths in the state each year. That's more Californians than die from AIDS, homicide and traffic accidents combined.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
29 January 2009, 1:45 PM
 

We haven’t gotten much good news out of the Environmental Protection Agency for eight years, but suddenly the news is huge... so big that it deserves an exclamation mark. Bear with me as I wend my way towards the punch line.

President Obama and the new folks he's put in charge at EPA are now reconsidering a Bush-era decision to let a monster coal-fired power plant operate without controlling its prodigious C02 emissions. The proposed plant, called Desert Rock, would pour air pollutants over Navajo communities in New Mexico, and 12.7 milllion tons of C02 into the atmosphere each year. C02 is the world’s biggest contributor to global warming.

The EPA, under Bush, said that's OK.

It’s not OK under Obama.

View Emma Pollin's blog posts
26 January 2009, 1:02 PM
 

"Toxic emissions" sounds like a precocious 10-year-old's euphemism for cattle reek, but that's how the term is applied in last week's press release on factory farm exemptions. Presumably because he wanted to go out on a wafting cloud of the odor, Bush tried to make it easier for factory farms to release unsafe levels of these emissions into neighboring communities without notification. It was one of our former president's final acts in office, and Earthjustice is hot on the case.

California's Central Valley is the capital of industrial agriculture, and on the big road Southern Californians call "The Five," you can experience those toxic emissions firsthand. At certain spots along "The Five," a sickening odor invades the car. You may suspect your travel companion and passive-aggressively roll down the window, but once you notice the sea of cows ahead, the window goes back up quick. The smell precedes the cows by a good mile or so. And if it's that traumatic to whiz past doing 80 mph, imagine working at the feedlot or living nearby.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 January 2009, 11:21 AM
 

I joined Tuesday's huge crowd in Washington to witness the inauguration of our 44th President. The people who traveled from all over the country had worked to elect Barack Obama and create a community of hope, optimism, and readiness to tackle the challenges, and that spirit pervaded the Mall.

For me, as for so many, a big part of the amazement and deep joy that I experienced was because our nation had elected an African-American as our president. The ideals and the movement that made Barack Obama's election possible stretch back to the American Revolution, through the Civil War and the great social movements of the 20th century—steady, hard work to broaden our democracy and push it to live up to its founding ideals. Obama didn't create this movement; it created the opportunity that he and his unique talents have stepped into.

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