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Sunrise in the Great Smokey Mountains, Tennessee.

With about fifteen months left in office, the Obama administration is facing big decisions in what is likely to be one of its last major initiatives on coal mining, clean water and climate—the Stream Protection Rule. The rule is an overhaul and update of the environmental standards for coal mining, including mountaintop removal mining, an extremely destructive practice that is flattening Appalachia. Global coal prices are low, so the pace is somewhat slower than usual, but the destruction continues.

A coal plant on the Ohio River near Cincinnati Ohio USA

Earthjustice attorneys have spent the past six weeks in Columbus, Ohio, litigating against proposals by two major utilities to force customers to prop up eight outdated power plants—seven coal and one nuclear—for the next 15 to 35 years. Proposals by FirstEnergy and American Electric Power (AEP) could cost customers billions of dollars while guaranteeing profits for corporate shareholders who should instead be investing in clean energy resources.

Arctic wolf

Recently, Shell announced to the world that it will end offshore drilling in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean for the foreseeable future. In addition, the Obama administration just announced that it will cancel upcoming oil and gas lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. It also denied requests for the extension of leases currently held by Shell and Statoil in the Arctic Ocean.

Dolores Huerta and Edward James Olmos

This is a guest post by Irene Vilar. She is the founder of The Americas for Conservation and the Arts, the mother organization of The Americas Latino Festival, and the first nonprofit literary agency in the U.S., Vilar Creative Agency, dedicated to the dissemination of minority literature of the Americas.

Este blog está disponible en español aquí.

The Port of Oakland has already rejected a similar proposal for a bulk coal export facility.

Oakland, California, long overshadowed by its neighbor across the Bay, San Francisco, has recently emerged as a magnet for young technology companies and progressive green businesses.  Now, a private developer’s backroom deal with Utah coal-producing counties may sign the city on to house the West Coast’s largest coal export terminal, throwing Oakland back into the dark ages by shipping an outdated and dying commodity.

Wangan and Jagalingou people protest against the Carmichael coal mine.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Wangan and Jagalingou people have lived in the flat arid lands of what is now the central western part of the state of Queensland, Australia.  

For the Wangan and Jagalingou, their land and waters embody their culture. As their senior spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba, says, “Our land is the starting point of our life. It is where we come from and who we are, and it teaches us how to belong. We are connected to our land and everything on it—our animals, plants and waterholes all have a special place in our culture.”  

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.

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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.