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This column by Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen appeared in Alternet.

Americans who love to grumble about regulations now have some they can cheer about. The New England Journal of Medicine is reporting that we now live an extra five months, thanks to regulations that have cleaned up air pollution over the last few decades.

In a devastating blow to the mountains, streams and people of Appalachia, today, federal judges ruled in favor of a mountaintop removal mining case.

As a result, mining companies can conduct mountaintop removal mining operations without minimizing stream destruction or conducting adequate environmental reviews. The Appalachian community will now—more than ever—be dependent on President Barack Obama to fulfill his campaign pledge to stop this terrible practice. Earthjustice remains on the front lines of this struggle and will continue fighting to preserve our mountains and waters.

(UPDATE: Since this was posted, more than 21,000 Earthjustice supporters sent comments to the Minerals Management Service opposing expansion of oil and gas exploration in the "Polar Bear Seas.")

The Beaufort and Chukchi seas are home to one in five of the world's remaining polar bears. That's why these icy waters north and west of Alaska are often called the Polar Bear Seas.

Lots of eyes rolled two years ago when San Francisco banned plastic grocery bags, but milllions of saved bags later, the experiment has swept across America, into many foreign countries and may soon take root in the nation's capital.

A Washington, D.C. councilmember has proposed legislation aimed at reducing the amount of trash that falls into the city’s Anacostia River, where an estimated 40 percent of trash pulled out of the river is plastic bags. The San Francisco bag-ban has translated to 5 million fewer bags a month. The bags are now outlawed in South Africa and Bangladesh. Ireland imposed a tax on plastic bags in 2003, leading the public to almost entirely use cloth totes.

One of my favorite memories is of being in Brighton, England, in June 1985 when the International Whaling Commission, after a struggle that lasted well over a decade, adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling, to last for at least five years. It has lasted for almost 24 years, but now seems in jeopardy of being fatally watered down.

After cancelling oil and gas leases in Utah last week, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar is strongly hinting that he might do the same with a crown jewel of Colorado -- the Roan Plateau. The Roan is a rippling expanse of natural riches that rises dramatically 3,000 feet above a plain in the state's northwest quadrant.

The Roan was leased off for oil and gas exploitation last August despite massive public outcry from a remarkably diverse group of folks, including hunters and fishers, Republicans and Democrats, locals and people from across the country, and of course dedicated environmentalists. Salazar, then a U.S. senator from Colorado, was among those urging the Bureau of Land Management to not proceed with the lease sale.

Now, as boss of the BLM, Salazar is in position to put money where his mouth was last year -- $113 million in lease payments already divvied up between the state and feds. But it's a pittance compared to the priceless wilderness qualities that would be displaced by industrial drilling operations.

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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.