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Unearthed blog editor, wordsmith, and all around superdad Terry Winckler gave me a hard time this week for being an "elitist" urban bike commuter. We had a good laugh over the use of the word. It got me thinking. What does the term "elitist" really mean these days?

Many of us, self included, have long lamented that environmental issues never play much of a role in presidential elections. I firmly believed that if Al Gore had stressed some of those issues in 2000 he'd be the one now winding up his second term. John Kerry likewise, maybe.

Well, now we've got a campaign where the environment and energy are front and center and we’re getting hammered.

What do San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, and Chesapeake Bay have in common? They provide a distinctive signature to some of America's greatest cities, of course. Residents and visitors to San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore and Washington love to walk along, play beside, and boat across these waters. All three have storied histories and strong citizens' organizations fighting to protect and restore them.

Jamie Saul is a young lawyer, a graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland and one-time law clerk in the Seattle office of Earthjustice. As he entered his third year of law school, he applied for a position in the Department of Justice in order, as his application said, to "serve as part of the team charged with enforcing the world's most comprehensive environmental laws, and with defending the crucial work of our environmental and resource management agencies," a thoroughly noble sentiment for a lawyer at the beginning of his career.

He didn't get the job.

They tell Colorado that proposed regulations will cripple the local economy, but investors are told that profits will still boom.

Doom? Or boom? Is it the best of times? Or the worst? The oil and gas industry is saying it's both. But they're very careful about who receives which message. And the truth is a lot closer to one message than the other.

A few months ago, we told you about the Lafarge cement kiln in Ravena, NY giving itself an environmental award, despite being the largest mercury polluter in the state. Well, it looks like Lafarge may actually reduce mercury emissions according to new plans to update their plant. Construction, however, won't even start until 2013.

Unfortunately, Lafarge doesn't seem to be doing this to be a good neighbor; they claim the decision came from "a broad set of business considerations." We definitely encourage cleaning up this plant, but the proof is in the pudding. As our attorney Keri Powell said, we'll continue to "make sure the pollution controls they install will be sufficiently protective."

Stay tuned for more updates on this kiln and our work to clean up mercury pollution across the nation.

I just returned from a week in Pinedale, Wyoming, where my fiancé’s great-uncle, Grant Beck, an 82-year-old local and long-time ranching celebrity of southwest Wyoming, has owned and operated a ranch for 63 years.

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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.