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.

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 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 >>
View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
17 April 2013, 12:20 PM
Unrestrained thirst puts Colorado atop American Rivers' threat list
Management of the Colorado River remains an engineering task that seeks to wring as much water as possible out of its banks. (David Morgan / iStockphoto)

The Colorado River has been called the lifeblood of the west; it defines our geography, sustains our fish and wildlife, feeds and powers our cities. Without it, our lives and heritage would be fundamentally different—which is why Earthjustice and the conservation community have fought for years to preserve and protect this great river.

But, the thirst for Colorado River water is proving too great.

Today, American Rivers, a national river conservation organization, named the Colorado its most endangered river for 2013. This dubious distinction was well earned as decades of damming, diversion and domestication have left the river that carves the Grand Canyon a ghost of its former self.

87 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Tom Turner's blog posts
16 April 2013, 6:05 PM
Under pressure from Earthjustice and others, senators seek to rein practice in
An almond farmer watches oil wells that have sprouted near almond orchards in the Central Valley town of Shafter, CA. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)
See photo essay »

As reported in the current issue of Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine, oil fracking has become big news in California, where the practice is conducted in the shadows and is essentially unregulated—the Wild Wild West, if you will. (See: Extreme Energy: Out of Control Out West)

That may be about to change.

At least 10 bills have been introduced in the state legislature since the Magazine came out; three would impose moratoriums to halt fracking until regulations can be put in effect. Others would require disclosure of the chemicals being used, mandate groundwater monitoring before and after fracking operations, and classify wastewater from the fracking process as hazardous waste. A state-court lawsuit by Earthjustice is working its way through the system, and a federal court just ruled that failure by the Bureau of Land Management to study the environmental impact of fracking is illegal—but the judge declined to rescind the permits, so the practice continues.

15 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
16 April 2013, 2:41 PM
Washington Post story highlights threats from flame retardants
Chemicals like those used in flame retardants in household furniture often escape as vapor or airborne particles. (PSR LA)

Next time I sit down on a couch, I’m going to think twice. Turns out that simple action can accelerate the release of flame retardant chemicals, which are harmful to human health. And no one should think they are safe from these chemicals: this Washington Post article cites a CDC test analyzing blood samples from 2003 and 2004, finding that 97 percent of Americans carry flame retardants in their blood.

These chemicals are present in a wide array of household products and have been linked to cancer and developmental, neurological and reproductive problems. Flame retardants are used in building materials, electronics, furnishings (including those used by infants and children such as nap mats), motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics and textiles. Also, there is strong evidence that for many uses—such as furnishings and infant and children’s products—there’s no proven fire safety benefit from the use of flame retardants.

View David Guest's blog posts
12 April 2013, 3:47 PM
Toxic algae, caused by runoff, found in mammals' stomachs
The manatees in the Indian River seem to be eating algae because a huge 2011 algae outbreak killed most of the sea grasses. (Shutterstock)

Florida tourism promoters are always looking to get stories in the newspaper to lure northern tourists—and their vacation cash—down here. But a recent story in the New York Times wasn’t what they had in mind.

“Florida Algae Bloom Leads to Record Manatee Deaths,” read the national headline on April 6, in the middle of prime winter tourist season.

Endangered manatees have been dying by the hundreds on both the east and west coasts. The tally is at 340 and rising. No one has pinpointed the precise cause, but the likeliest is toxic algae, the kind that’s fueled by sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution.

6 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Shirley Hao's blog posts
11 April 2013, 5:22 PM
The (at least) 62-year-old mother keeps calm and carries on
Wisdom, back for her shift of chick rearing duties, preens her chick while her mate feeds at sea. March 7, 2013. (J. Klavitter / USFWS)

Over the years, many a leg has flitted from one fashion trend to the next, from flaring bell bottoms to form-fitting skinny jeans. But for the past six decades, one mother has stuck to just one style of leg-wear: a bird band. And it’s helped to tell an incredible story.

When the Laysan albatross known affectionately as “Wisdom” returned to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge last winter, she gracefully flew right into the record books. Banded by a scientist on his first trip to Midway in 1956 as she was tending to her egg, Wisdom is at least 62 years old and far beyond what’s thought to be the average 12–40 year lifespan for a Laysan. In fact, Wisdom is the oldest documented living wild bird today.

And she’s not taking her golden years lying down: in February, she, once again, became the proud mother of a new chick. This 8-pound bird has been flying the Pacific and raising young for longer than many of the scientists observing her have been alive.

View Holly Harris's blog posts
10 April 2013, 12:30 PM
Big Oil company won't drill in 2014, following Shell's lead
The Arctic is home to a rich variety of marine life, such as beluga whales. Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

The Arctic Ocean got a reprieve and Big Oil got its latest reality check, today, when ConocoPhillips admitted it's not ready to drill in the Arctic Ocean. After Shell’s summer of accidents and near-misses, a blistering report from the Department of Interior, and now ConocoPhillips’ admission, it is time for the Obama administration to recognize our country’s Arctic offshore oil and gas program was premature. The administration’s “all of the above” energy policy is ignoring the uniqueness of the Arctic region and failing to appreciate the harsh conditions Big Oil will have to be able to endure to drill for oil in Arctic Ocean.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
10 April 2013, 12:13 PM
Senator's eighth attempt to replace outdated TSCA law
Sen. Lautenberg: "It’s time to break away from the chemical industry lobbyists and listen to concerned parents, pediatricians, and nurses who are demanding change."

Americans need a law that will keep them safe from toxic chemicals—before they are allowed to enter the market.

And that’s why we should be thanking Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

Today, Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), joined by 27 other senators, introduced the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2013,” a landmark bill that seeks to protect families in America from exposure to harmful chemicals.

Sen. Lautenberg has been dogged in his determination to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, an outdated chemical policy. He has sponsored this legislation numerous times during his Congressional career. His proposal would strengthen the authority of the EPA to learn more about the safety of chemicals and limit their use if they pose a threat to public health and the environment.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
09 April 2013, 8:58 AM
Gina McCarthy is a sound choice for the job
McCarthy will be a vital player in the effort to protect our families and environment.  (EPA)

This week a Senate committee will hold a nomination hearing for Gina McCarthy to replace Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Gina McCarthy, the EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, is a sound choice for the job. Given her background and experience, the Senate should move expeditiously to confirm her.

For more than 25 years Gina McCarthy worked with politicians from both parties, including a stint as Gov. Romney’s energy and climate advisor in Massachusetts. In 2009 Republican and Democratic senators easily confirmed McCarthy by a voice vote to head the clean air division of EPA.

Gina McCarthy is a dedicated environmental professional with a history of working on difficult issues including climate change. We share her vision of an energy-efficient economy which creates sustainable jobs.