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.


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.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
15 May 2008, 1:41 PM

As everyone knows by now, the administration has moved to give Endangered Species Act protection to the polar bear—sort of. The bear goes on the list, but there a big footnote that says that energy development can proceed unhindered. Interior Secretary Kempthorne proclaimed that the Endangered Species Act must not be used to combat global warming.

Various forces, including the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, pledged to contest the listing in court. To have any hope of success, they'll need some tame scientists on their side. Read on.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
12 May 2008, 2:50 PM

Drink? Or drive? That may sound like questions to ask a a prospective designated driver before a night on the town. It may soon be the stark choice faced by an entire region.

That's because Shell Oil is planning to build giant oil shale extraction plants in western Colorado. The dirty little secret of oil shale development is that it takes huge amounts of electricity to bake rocks to turn shale into oil. Huge amounts. So much that Shell may have to build ten or more new natural gas (or coal) fired power plants to assist in turning rock to oil.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
08 May 2008, 10:11 AM

We are strictly nonpartisan and apolitical here at Tom's Turn, so we will be naming no names today.

Let's put it this way. Two powerful and influential figures with overweening political ambition have suggested that the federal government should suspend federal gasoline taxes between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year to provide some relief to people suffering from soaring prices.

A brilliant idea it is, for sure. The figure I heard as I rode to work this morning (on my bike, ain't I noble) was that this magnificent gesture will save the average American driver just under $30, which isn't even a whole tank of gas. And here I thought the whole idea these days was to discourage the burning of gasoline and other fossil fuels, which are warming us up and driving us broke.

I'm personally of the opinion (this is just me; don't holler at Earthjustice please) that gas should be at least $10 a gallon, with most of the money diverted to support mass transit and other good public purposes. I'm also inclined to suggest looking into a way to stop Big Oil from bleeding the public with obscene profits going to their executives and shareholders.

1 Comment   /  
View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
06 May 2008, 3:22 PM

Advocates for off-road vehicles (ORVs) — dirt bikes, three-wheelers, and all-terrain vehicles — like to say that their recreation is all about the three F's: "family, freedom, and fun."

Now they've decided to add "lung disease" to the list.

In California, a 48-square-mile area of Bureau of Land Management Lands known as "Clear Creek" apparently has rather dirty air when the soil gets kicked up by ORVs. The area is loaded with naturally occurring asbestos, a mineral that has tiny fibers that can lodge in lungs and cause cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency recently finished a multi-year study in which it concluded driving in the area five times over 30 years could lead to lung cancer, as the L.A. Times reported.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
01 May 2008, 3:24 PM
The Wayne Newton Theory of Bad Decisionmaking

In the late 1980s, the country celebrated the 200th anniversary of our most important legal text: the U.S. Constitution.

To do so, a commission was established, headed by respected former Chief Justice Warren Burger. And to lead a celebration in Washington, D.C., an equally distinguished American was chosen: Wayne Newton.

Wayne Newton!!?? The original Las Vegas lounge lizard? What were they thinking?

View Tom Turner's blog posts
28 April 2008, 11:39 AM

We don't get very many comments here at Tom's Turn—please comment!—so when we do, we pay attention. To this one, for example, from Brenda Hixenbaugh:

"Considering the track records of certain officials, isn't it time that we get people elected who are directly connected to all of this planet's and our needs? Surely there are a great number of environmentalists who are qualified for all of these jobs, up to and not excluding the presidency?"

A very good question. The answer, of course, is yes and no. Politics, as they say, is the art of the possible, the art of compromise. As my mentor, Dave Brower, always said, environmentalists ought to be nearly absolute in their policies and positions and leave the compromising to the politicians.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
22 April 2008, 3:26 PM

Over the last few months, I visited two of our flagship National Parks — Death Valley in California, and Zion in Utah.

Both share some of the less-than-inspiring features of many national parks: the miles of paved highway, the acres of park land devoted to borrow pits, maintenance yards, employee housing, and snack bars, and the occasional hordes of tourists on paved trails talking on cell phones or plugged into iPods in an apparent effort to distract themselves from the scenery. "Front country" is not always a pretty sight.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
17 April 2008, 4:12 PM

"Some courts are taking laws written more than 30 years ago to primarily address local and regional environmental effects, and applying them to global climate change. The Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act were never meant to regulate global climate change." —George W. Bush, April 16, 2008

The Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act—enacted with bipartisan support and signed by a Republican president, Richard Nixon—were most definitely not meant "to primarily address local and regional environmental effects." The statement makes no sense.

1 Comment   /  
View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
17 April 2008, 3:28 PM

The Navajo Nation — America’s largest Native American reservation — has breathtaking scenery, disheartening poverty, and a lot of sunny, windy days. So it was good news both on and off the Rez that the Nation has contracted with an East Coast renewable energy firm to build 500 megawatts of wind power generation there.

The bad news is that the Nation’s leaders appear to be still wed to a mercury-spewing, global warming nightmare of a coal-fired power plant known as Desert Rock. Just days before the Nation signed its contract for wind power, it sued the EPA for not taking time to carefully review the air permit for the coal plant.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 April 2008, 10:59 AM

No matter what the president said Wednesday about his global warming commitment, many of America's governors aren't buying. Long ago they gave up hope of White House leadership on the subject and have taken matters into their own hands.

Today, the governors are meeting at Yale to discuss ways they can combat global warming that directly affect their states. At the heart of their discussions are greenhouse gas emissions, from vehicles and coal-fired power plants, that the administration refuses to control or won't let states control.