unEARTHED, the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Blogs


    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Earthjustice on Twitter

Featured Campaigns

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 Liz Judge's blog posts
24 April 2013, 9:48 AM
Unanimous panel of judges rule for EPA in coal industry lawsuit

Great news!

Yesterday, citizens in Appalachia celebrated a huge victory in their fight to protect their families and communities from harmful mountaintop removal mining. In a sharp 15-page ruling, a panel of three Republican-appointed judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld the Environment Protection Agency’s veto of the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine, the largest proposed mountaintop removal mine in West Virginia. Earthjustice, along with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, represented a handful of community and citizen groups in this case.

This court decision comes after 15 years of court challenges by community groups whose members were in fallout zone of the proposed mine. It’s a precedent-setting decision and historic: The Spruce Mine permit is the first mountaintop removal mining permit ever challenged in courts.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Grand Chief Ruth Massie's blog posts
24 April 2013, 7:34 AM
Grand Chief Ruth Massie shares eyewitness account of climate change
"We are witnessing the strangest of weather patterns." Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

Our homelands—the Arctic wildlife and ecosystems that are the foundation of our culture and traditional ways of life—are fast changing. Arctic warming has made the weather, the condition of the ice, and the behaviors and location of fish and wildlife so unpredictable that our Elders no longer feel confident teaching younger people traditional ways. If we cannot effectively pass on our traditional ways to the younger generations, we fear for what will happen to our culture.

We know that a significant cause of these changes is black carbon, or soot, a short-lived climate pollutant which contributes significantly to the rapid warming and melting across northern Canada—our homelands. Black carbon pollution is also a health issue; soot emissions degrade the air quality in the North. Scientists believe reducing these emissions one of the best ways to slow warming and melting in the Arctic in the coming decades.

That’s why the Arctic Athabaskan Council is taking action today by filing a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
23 April 2013, 7:56 AM
One option protects waters from toxic pollution; other options fall far short
Power plant water discharges are filled with toxic pollution.  (EPA)

Coal-fired power plant pollution is contaminating our water, not just our air. Here’s how: when plants install scrubbers and other emission control devices onto smokestacks to capture air pollution, the chemical waste they pull from the air is then discharged into our waterways.

Not good.

This discharge contains mercury, arsenic, selenium and other toxic chemicals that can cause neurological and developmental damage, harm unborn fetuses in utero, damage internal organs, and cause cancer. Coal plants are the number one toxic discharger into our country’s waterways, yet the Environmental Protection Agrency has not reviewed clean water regulations for this industry in more than 30 years.

Until now.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
20 April 2013, 12:59 PM
Investment in biodiversity yields tourism riches
A three-toed sloth in Costa Rica's Cahuita National Park. (Nathan Dappen)

This month, I had the very good fortune to visit Costa Rica, home to some of greatest biodiversity in the world. In this tiny nation, plants and animals from temperate North America and from tropical South America mingle in habitats at different altitudes (including active volcanoes and rain forests at the beach)! I marveled at hundreds of leaping dolphins, huge rain forest trees with rich canopy life, miraculous birds, sloths and anteaters.

Not surprisingly, Costa Rica is an increasingly popular travel destination, especially for nature-oriented visitors. Of course, rampant tourism can ruin natural landscapes and in so doing, wreak havoc with local communities that depend on those landscapes, which is why early on many Costa Ricans made sustainability a primary focus. The country has been preparing itself for two generations, establishing and protecting national parks and other preserves, training young people as scientists and guides, and developing a sustainable travel ethic. It's a model that Mexico could follow, instead of proceeding on a path of destroying some of its most remarkable ecological treasures for short-term gain.

12 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Tom Turner's blog posts
19 April 2013, 12:24 PM
It took one tough attorney and many years to finally build tunnel solution
An aerial shot of the new tunnel bypass near Devil's Slide. (© 2010 California Department of Transportation)

The first responsibility of a physician is to do no harm. The first responsibility of an environmentalist is never to accept a dumb solution to a problem when a better solution is available.

Case in point: Devil’s Slide south of San Francisco, a stretch of Highway 1 that would crumble into the Pacific every 10 years or so during a big storm. Rebuilding was time-consuming and expensive. The state of California sought a more permanent solution—and seized on one that ignited two decades of opposition resolved only when a doughty Earthjustice attorney finally stepped in.

5 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
19 April 2013, 12:22 PM
DOE releases new distribution transformer standards
Although the electricity used by any one transformer is small, the losses add up on a national scale.  (iStockphoto)

In 2007, we filed a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's weak energy efficiency standards for electricity distribution transformers, those gray boxes mounted on utility poles that power all our homes and businesses. The results of that lawsuit are new standards from the U.S. Department of Energy that were published in the Federal Register on Thursday. The standards were updated as part of an agreement settling that lawsuit. Along with Earthjustice, parties to the suit include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and several states.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
18 April 2013, 4:54 PM
4 ladies take on 1,000 miles to spread the word about climate change
View from the top of Hawk Hill, after a steep climb of 1,100 feet.

In just one month's time, 190 riders will cumulatively bike a total of 60,000 miles to spread the message: climate change is the most urgent problem we face today, and it’s up to us to take action. Our 4-woman team with the alias of “Lean Green Two-Wheeled Machines” will be riding on behalf of Earthjustice, a recently added beneficiary of the fundraising efforts associated with the ride. In December, Earthjustice became one of the 30 teams participating in this 5-day bike journey, thanks to a recent partnership between Earthjustice and Climate Ride. Both non-profits focus on inspiring and empowering citizens to work toward a sustainable and clean energy future.

Throughout this biking journey, we hope to demonstrate that daily changes in our routine can drastically reduce our carbon footprint. By altering our lifestyles, we can make a big difference.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
18 April 2013, 3:20 PM
Three years after Gulf oil spill, Big Oil remains absent from Arctic
Earth Day is observed on April 22 each year to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Perhaps you’ve already read the good news by our crackerjack Alaska attorney Holly Harris, who reported that ConocoPhillips is the latest Big Oil company to postpone drilling in the oft-treacherous waters of the Arctic Ocean. Shell previously announced it was abandoning plans to drill there this year.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
18 April 2013, 10:02 AM
Feds, locals don't always have wildlife's best interests at heart
The imperiled Gunnison sage grouse. (FWS)

It's hard to know, sometimes, who to trust with America’s wildlife.

For the most part, wildlife is managed by individual states, which do some good science and issue tags for hunting licenses. They are also, theoretically, on the front lines of ensuring that wildlife species don’t get into such trouble that the federal government needs to step in under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act.

There is a constant tug-of-war between the locals and the feds, and it might be tempting to say those who love vibrant wildlife populations should favor one over the other.

But it’s not always easy to pick.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
17 April 2013, 2:55 PM
Massive development could kill desert ribbon of life
Rich ecosystems flourish around the San Pedro River.  (Jeff Kennedy / USGS)

The upper San Pedro River valley in Arizona is the epitome of the Wild West. Open and arid, stretching north from Mexico and lying in the shadow of the rugged Huachuca Mountains, the valley looks much the same as it did more than a century ago when miners and settlers uneasily shared the land. It is a place where the long shadows at sunset bring visitors back to a long-past time.

Cutting across that mythic landscape is the treasure of the valley, the San Pedro River, last free-flowing river in the desert Southwest. A remnant of the formerly extensive network of desert riparian ecosystems, the river has dwindled in recent decades as development moved into the valley. And now the San Pedro may be drained to feed a proposed mega-development.

27 Comments   /   Read more >>