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With the election of Barack Obama, our nation's long, dark environmental night appears to be ending. By all early indications an era of opportunity will replace eight years of opposition in which Earthjustice was forced to play a mostly defensive role.

This is the moment we've been waiting for, and with your continued support, we are set to pursue ambitious goals on behalf of the environment.

So what will this incredible development mean for the earth? Time will tell, of course, but we here at Tom's Turn are quite optimistic, both because of and in spite of what was said in the campaign.

Have they no shame? (Hint: No.)

We speak of the current band of varlets and scoundrels just ending their eight-year reign of terror in our nation's capital. With both presidential candidates lambasting Mr. Bush and his henchmen daily, the lame ducks are hell-bent on wreaking as much havoc as they can in these last not-quite-three-months of their joyride.

So the fate of the Roadless Rule is now in the hands of three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, at least its immediate fate, following a hearing this week in San Francisco.

The Forest Service, represented by the Justice Department, wants the three judges to overturn a Sept. 2006 decision that found the rule the Bush administration cooked up to replace the original rule illegal.

Energy conservation is the biggest, cheapest way to avoid building new power plants and significantly fight global warming. And it offers powerful economic benefits, as California has found through aggressive programs that have created 1.5 million jobs while cutting energy bills by $56 billion since 1972.

Moreover, energy conservation is something individuals can help with by simply turning off lights, driving less and wearing sweaters.

Most environmentalists believe that nature has a right to exist for its own sake, but that's not how the law works in our country.

In the United States, nature is defensible only if a human will miss the forest, species, or clean water when it is gone. To use the law, a human must first prove harm to their person.

If that proverbial tree falls in the woods and no human cares, no laws were broken. But if a tree falls and the hiker who depended on its shade is harmed, the U.S. legal system may provide some relief.

I just finished a year-long appointment on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change. We released a blueprint that, if put into action, would make Florida one of America's most aggressive states in tackling climate change.

We studied the gamut: alternative energy sources, vehicle emissions, landfill gases, forestry practices, building construction, electricity demand you name it.

The result is an ambitious set of reforms which we believe would cut Florida's greenhouse gasses 34 percent by 2025.

The late Dan Luten was sneakily brilliant, somewhat iconoclastic, and possibly a maverick had that word not been so debased lately. In his fifties, he left a job as a chemist with Shell Oil to teach geography at Cal and became deeply involved in conservation. He served on the board of Friends of the Earth, which is how I got to know him pretty well.

One bon mot he tossed off that stuck with me was, "The country does not exist to serve its economy."

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne didn't like the law that required him to promptly protect public lands around the Grand Canyon from uranium mining.  So he's getting rid of it. Citizens have only a few days to express their opposition.

With less than 100 days left in its life, the current administration has its hands full.  The economy is on its scariest roller-coaster ride in generations. And we're still fighting two wars.  You'd think the administration would be too busy to do anything else.

Chevron has long been a leader in image advertising, spending an immense amount of money on print and television ads explaining to the public just how utterly wonderful the company is. Years ago, their tag line was "People Do," in answer to rhetorical questions like, "Do people really care what happens to our precious wetlands? People do." These tended to appear when the company was angling for permission to drill wells in sensitive marshes.

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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.