Brian Smith's Blog Posts

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Brian Smith's 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.


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.

Brian Smith is a Campaign Manager who learned the importance of protecting healthy soil, clean water and the climate while growing up on a farm in the Central Valley. When Brian's not busy helping people to understand the interconnectedness between the planet and people, he enjoys exploring California's endless state parks, hunting for old punk rock records or pampering his cat, Angie. He's lived car-free for more than a decade and hopes to return to that lifestyle once his new knees are up (and running). Brian's wife Susan is a hospital chaplain and when they say goodbye in the morning, she says, "Save the planet." He replies, "Save the people."

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06 August 2009, 11:33 AM
As climate change evidence mounts, some are planning to "adapt"
Are you ready for the summer?

We learned recently that the Bush administration kept photographic evidence of climate change from the American people. The pictures from US spy satellites were declassified by the Obama White House. The anti-science bias of the last administration continues to shock.

As proof of global warming mounts, California is preparing for decreased snow pack in the mountains, flooding on its coast, raging wildfires, and increased infectious disease in cities.

A new report predicts – and warns that the state must adapt to these unstoppable consequences. The report, 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy, is still in draft form and open for public comment for the next 45 days. It is the nation’s first such official effort to delineate and plan for impacts associated with global warming.

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17 July 2009, 4:54 PM
Earthjustice employees offer their views on biking to work

The new book Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities has been warmly received by the cycling community. Musician/artist/cyclist David Byrne called it, "...great ammunition for those of us who would like to see American cities become more bike-friendly" in his New York Times book review.

Author Jeff Mapes, senior political reporter at The Oregonian, told the crowd at a recent book reading in San Francisco that his identification as a cyclist came late in life, during the time when Portland, Oregon was becoming the Amsterdam of the United States. After riding to work through America's bike Mecca, Mapes would joke to his co-workers "I Lost 15 pounds Commuting to Work, Ask Me How." But it's no joke, as recent research suggests, not surprisingly, that walking or biking to work is linked with better fitness.

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17 June 2009, 12:33 PM

Earthjustice was thrilled this month when a strong new set of rules was issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect California’s endangered salmon species. We've working to protect California salmon since the 1980s and the new biological opinion is a huge step in the right direction.

But some people just hate good news about the environment.

The conservative, anti-environmental operation known as the Pacific Legal Foundation is pushing Governor Schwarzenegger to ask Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to remove protections of California's native fish species by calling out the "God Squad." The God Squad (officially the Endangered Species Committee) is a rarely used provision of the Endangered Species Act that allows species protections to be overridden by a government panel that would essentially play God and exterminate a species in the name of economic necessity.

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30 April 2009, 2:24 PM

Growing up in California's San Joaquin Valley, we spent our summer days at the community swimming pool and on the soccer field. Playing outside was one of the joys of growing up in a region where the days are warm, the grass is green and the sky is clear.

These days, elementary schools in the valley fly color-coded flags to alert parents of "bad air days" when their children should be kept indoors. Childhood fun in the valley is not what it used to be.

Despite recently approving a $857,500 public relations campaign to say otherwise, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District received yet another failing grade by the American Lung Association this week in the 2009 State of the Air report.

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13 March 2009, 11:52 AM

Earthjustice staff scientist Anna Cederstav gives children advice about how to become an environmental scientist at IndyKids.

"Anna makes sure the lawyers get their scientific facts straight!"


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12 March 2009, 10:55 AM
State Fish and Game Commission votes to grant candidate status

Reversing its August 2008 decision, the California Fish and Game Commission recently voted to grant candidate status to the Pacific fisher under the California Endangered Species Act.

This begins the review process to determine if full protection is warranted.

Earthjustice and our colleagues at Center for Biological Diversity have worked to protect the fisher for many years, so this policy reversal is very good news.

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06 March 2009, 2:05 PM

We are thrilled to announce that "due to current economic conditions and increasing regulatory uncertainties," LS Power pulled the plug on the proposed White Pine coal-fired power plant near Ely, Nevada this week. The company will instead focus on delivering renewable power to cities, including Las Vegas.

While economic conditions look bad for any new power project, what may be less clear is which "regulatory uncertainties" LS Power references.

Well, we have a hunch.

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24 February 2009, 5:41 PM

The lungs of America got two big breaks this week with court rulings that protect them from air pollution emitted by power plants, factories, and diesel trucks.

And there is a strong hint of more to come.

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case defending an ill-conceived cap and trade system for emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic and other pollutants from the nation's coal-fired power plants. Earthjustice and our clients had argued that such a system would create toxic hot spots in regions across the nation.

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02 February 2009, 10:37 AM

Northern Californians have recently launched two grassroots efforts to oppose a proposed peripheral canal that would divert water from the Sacramento River and send it around the West's largest estuary to irrigate large industrial farms in the Central Valley and Southern California.

On January 17th, Water4Fish held a panel discussion at the International Sportsmen's Expo in Sacramento.

The panel, "Salmon: Recovery or Extinction," addressed the recently the released draft biological opinion which found state and federal water pumping plan are "likely to jeopardize" Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon, spring run Chinook, Central Valley steelhead and green sturgeon populations.

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27 November 2008, 7:00 AM

Joe Klein (author of Primary Colors, the scathing send-up of the Clinton years) gives President Bush quite a valedictory send-off today in the pages of TIME magazine.

Besides distaste for President Bush's "intellectual laziness," Klein lists a number of environmental actions that could be taken now in the final weeks of the Bush administration. Sadly, none of these are expected to happen.