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U.S. Papal Visit

It was still dark when I left home for the Moral Action on Climate Justice rally last month. With my hands around my coffee cup and a climate change poster under my arm, I walked along streams of people who were making their way to Capitol Hill to claim their spot on the lawn. Colors radiated across the sky by the time I got to the rally. Streaks of purple and orange washed over the silhouette of the city like a Monet painting. It felt as if the day was already preparing itself for the arrival of Pope Francis.

As the Climate Summit in Paris approaches, there is reason for hope that the world is finally getting serious about cutting its carbon emissions.

What accounts for President Obama’s reportedly high spirits on his recent visit to the Arctic, ground-zero for climate change? As the president is acutely aware, there is nothing good about melting ice caps and thawing permafrost. Maybe it was just the great outdoors. Or maybe he is feeling hopeful that we can still save the planet.

Split view of clear and hazy days in Shenandoah National Park.

If you climb the mountain, you want to see the view.  That’s why the Clean Air Act includes a special program to cut haze and protect visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. 

States whose air pollution impacts parks submit plans to the EPA. These plans are supposed to protect the view, and protect health, too. The plans require advanced technology to cut pollution, and a long-term strategy that will restore natural visibility. 

Ana Alicia Torres Aguirre hugs Earthjustice attorney Andrea Delgado.

The people who grow and harvest our food will be better protected from pesticide exposure within the next year or so, thanks to an updated Agricultural Worker Protection Standard that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced earlier this week. Though the new standard isn’t perfect, it was welcomed by farmworker advocates from across the country who will be better protected on many fronts, as long as the states responsible for implementing and enforcing the new rules do their job.

The best news is:

The United Nations recently adopted an oceans goal for the first time to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

Oceans need lawyers, but they also need storytellers. If no one knows about the threats facing the world’s oceans—or the success of efforts to conserve ocean life—it’s much harder to get lawmakers, donors and the public focused on preserving the abundance of the seas for future generations. With this in mind, Earthjustice has teamed up with the Smithsonian Institution’s Ocean Portal to showcase how communities around the world use the law to protect coral reefs and fisheries and cut pollution.

Raising existing dams and plans to build more could imperil California’s salmon population.

California’s persistent drought has prompted elected officials, agency decision-makers and the concerned public to consider seriously innovative ways to stretch our finite water resources. The state is beginning to implement legislation that for the first time regulates California’s groundwater reserves. There is also encouraging discussion of measures such as requiring more efficient irrigation systems, treating more wastewater for reuse and capturing urban stormwater runoff.

A coal ash spill on the Dan River in North Carolina in 2014.

It’s no surprise that Duke Energy’s legendary coal ash problems don’t stop at the North Carolina border. As you may remember, Duke pleaded guilty to nine criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act as a result of a massive coal ash spill in 2014 and mismanagement of dozens of ash ponds in North Carolina.

The rare supermoon lunar eclipse incited wolf howls from a crowd of San Francisco sky-gazers on Sunday night.

The other night I stood with a few friends and about 100 other people at an overlook in San Francisco’s Presidio to watch the rare blood moon eclipse. Right as the orange moon emerged above the cloud line over the Bay, some people across the way raised their heads and let out a howl. Soon the whole mass of strangers, toddler-age to seniors, joined together in a chorus of wolf cries as the moon passed through the Earth’s shadow.

Power plants are the largest source of toxic water pollution in the U.S., but the EPA has issued new regulations that will require power plants to use affordable, state-of-the-art technologies to reduce their pollution.

We don’t use phones, drive cars or fly airplanes that were built based on 1982 safety standards, so why should we allow power plants to dump poisons into our waters under such outdated standards?

Today, the EPA took an important step toward updating these standards by issuing requirements that power plants use affordable, state-of-the-art technologies to reduce their pollution—or eliminate the pollution altogether where feasible. 


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.