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Not to reveal my age or anything, but Tuesday's was the eleventh inauguration held since I went to work for the Sierra Club. Over the next 40 years, it was always monumentally frustrating that concerns for the earth were almost altogether missing from the rhetoric during the campaign and especially the inaugural speeches.

Until now.

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

There is just a huge amount of joy and tears in this crowd. I am in an area jampacked with people from all around the country who had been working on the Obama campaign. They had waited since the crack of dawn in really cold weather. We all thought we wouldn't get in. But despite all that, people are totally happy and cooperative with each other.

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from Washington, D.C., where he is attending the inauguration of Barack Obama and events surrounding the inauguration.

Since 1969, I've been on the Washington Mall as a citizen expressing my political beliefs—demonstrating against the wars on Vietnam and Iraq, joining the March for Women's Lives. I've been on the Mall as a citizen awed by the power of the memorials, felt the place as a temple of much that is great in this country.

I've never been here as a citizen for an outright, unabashed celebration. People all acknowledge the hard times we are in and the challenges we face, but want to celebrate right now.

The celebration is also fueled by our joy at finally coming to the end of the Bush/Cheney years; the end of an administration that has run roughshod over our rights as citizens, trampled our standing in the world, wrecked our economy, and put deregulation and fossil fuel production at the top of their "environmental" agenda.

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from Washington, D.C., where he is attending the inauguration of Barack Obama and events surrounding the inauguration.

During the inaugural opening ceremony, among the many themes of American greatness that were touched was the American invention of preserving wilderness and majestic places for all of the people, not just for royalty or the wealthy. Lincoln's proclamation protecting Yosemite Valley, Teddy Roosevelt's monumental land and forest conservation were highlighted.

Not mentioned: the last eight years of policies to remove such protections and turn national treasures over to the oil and coal industries. How fitting and marvelous that on Saturday, as the Inaugural began to unfold, a federal judge in Washington blocked the Bush administration's last such attempt, ordering that gas leases in the red rock canyon country of Utah not be awarded and putting the issue into the hands of the new President.

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from Washington, D.C., where he is attending the inauguration of Barack Obama and events surrounding the inauguration.

The very cold weather this morning doesn't seem to bother anyone—crowd dancing, waving, cheering, hugging. Everyone is part of something much bigger than they ever expected. The city is crackling with energy.

Friends are running into old friends and making new ones. Yesterday, store clerks and cab drivers were not hesitant to pronounce their happiness that there were only 24 hours left of this long eight years.

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from Washington, D.C., where he is attending the inauguration of Barack Obama and events surrounding the inauguration.

This inauguration coincides with the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King's 80th birthday, and the connections between his work and vision and the election of Obama are everywhere: an opening ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial where the "I Have a Dream" speech was given in 1963; the "We are One" theme of the opening ceremony, people of all kinds from all over the country.

Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal wrote:

A long-oppressed people have raised up a president. It is moving and beautiful and speaks to the unending magic and sense of justice of our country.

Magic ... there is no better word for what is going on.

I am in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of Barack Obama and will be making blog reports once the ceremonies begin. This is an historic occasion for the nation and for anyone who cares about the environment, and it has special significance for me because of my early career in North Carolina, defending African-Americans against discrimination.

Full circle time, in a sense. The establishment of this organization was sparked, in part, by a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club in 1969, challenging a ski resort proposed for a valley in the Sierra Nevada called Mineral King. The club had no objection to skiing per se, but this was to be a humongous affair that would have completely overwhelmed the valley and its wildlife and largely wrecked it for hiking, camping, and backpacking.

Earthjustice press secretary Raviya Ismail was at today’s (Jan. 12) U.S. Supreme Court hearing on whether the Clean Water Act allows Coeur Alaska’s Kensington Mine to fill Lower Slate Lake in Alaska with mining waste – killing all aquatic life. Earthjustice attorney Tom Waldo argued to protect the lake. The high court decision, expected by June, could determine whether waterways throughout the nation may be likewise filled and killed. Here is Raviya’s report:

This morning, the US. Supreme Court heard arguments from Earthjustice about why the Clean Water Act should not be interpreted to allow mining companies to dump mine wastes into our nation's streams, rivers and lakes. A mining company attorney told the court that an Alaskan lake would be better off in the long run after a mining company dumped its tailings into it, killing all the fish and most other life. Justice David Souter described that logic as "Orwellian." We will be blogging after the arguments are concluded. Read the entire transcript of today's Supreme Court hearing on the Clean Water Act.

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