John McManus's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

John McManus'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.

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22 February 2013, 11:24 AM
Earthjustice urges California PUC to consider storage systems
Battery systems would store surplus renewable energy when it’s produced for use later.  (LBNL)

Most people know that solar and wind energy is only generated when the sun shines or the wind blows. This leaves potential power gaps at times of no sun or wind. One of the Holy Grails of renewable energy has been storage systems (think battery here) that can store surplus energy when it’s produced for use later.

Various technologies are being explored, and widespread use should not be far off. With the current move from fossil fuel to renewables, we need to push utilities now to acquire storage. If we don’t, their tendency is to stick to business as usual, which favors burning fossil fuels.

Earthjustice is currently before the California Public Utility Commission, arguing the need for such storage. We’re careful not to tell the PUC or utilities what type of storage they must have, only that they must have it.

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05 February 2013, 12:34 PM
It took 12 years to finally win Endangered Species Act protections
Less than 300 wolverines are thought to remain in the lower 48. (USDA)

Last Friday, the federal government proposed to protect wolverines as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Wolverines are the biggest member of the weasel, mink, marten and otter family, but they don’t act like good family members—they are loners who cover huge ranges usually high in mountain ranges above tree line up in the rock, ice and snow.

No one knows how many wolverines still exist in the 48 contiguous states but their number is estimated to be less than 300, most living high in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho and the North Cascades of Washington. A few individual wolverines are scattered through California, Oregon and Colorado.

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31 January 2013, 11:17 AM
Manufacturer refused to comply with measures protecting children, wildlife

There’s a dangerous type of mouse and rat poison on the market that when eaten by the rodents, causes them to bleed to death internally. Problems arise when the poison sometimes finds its way into the hands of kids or pets or moves up the food chain from rats and mice to foxes, bobcats, owls and the like that pounce on sickly rodents.

Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie sent a letter to the State of California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation in December asking the state to order the stuff off the market. The state has yet to respond but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now says it will start the process to ban forms of the poison used in the home that lack tamper-resistant packaging. While EPA is taking a significant step in the right direction, more needs to be done to protect children and wildlife.

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30 January 2013, 3:08 PM
State is leading the way to a national clean energy future
Solar panel installation in Hawaiʻi.

Clean energy future—you hear the term a lot these days. Can we really get there? The answer is coming into focus in several places in the U.S. and it’s a resounding yes!

Hawaiʻi is charging ahead with rooftop solar energy systems. Just this week we are getting word that a major obstacle to more rooftop installation there has been resolved. Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake emerged after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations to announce a deal whereby Hawaiʻi’s main electric utility company, known as HECO, will devote resources over the next two years to smooth the way for more rooftop solar.

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30 December 2012, 8:57 PM
Wolf OR7 has successfully lived in northeast corner of state
OR7, seen from a distance. (Richard Shinn / DFG)

Last Friday, California’s only documented wild wolf, a young male known as OR7, officially hit the one-year mark since his arrival in the Golden State. OR7 crossed into California on Dec. 28, 2011 northeast of Dorris, a small town in Siskiyou County.

Before OR7 arrived, the California Department of Fish and Game reports, the last confirmed wild wolf was killed in 1924, in Lassen County, not far from where OR7 spent most of the last year. We know what day he entered the state because his radio collar transmits his whereabouts. We also know he was born to a pack in eastern Oregon and the migration trail to California.

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18 December 2012, 1:56 PM
Pediatrics group urges heath professionals to take the lead

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on the government, schools, parents and medical professionals to take concerted action to protect children from pesticides.

The 60,000-member physicians organization is worried about the growing body of scientific evidence that links these toxic chemicals not only to obvious poisoning but also to subtle health problems kids can be particularly vulnerable to.

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11 December 2012, 4:10 PM
Earthjustice seeks better labeling of seafood to protect consumers
Consumers should have easy access to information about fish species with elevated mercury content. (NIH)

A new report has some not-so-great news for those who love to eat fish. Mercury is turning up in fish from all over the world—and coal is one of the main culprits.

Coal burned in power plants releases mercury, basically dissolved in smoke, that later settles out over the land. It typically falls out of the atmosphere within 30 miles or so of where it was burned and then finds its way into soil and runoff that eventually end in the oceans.

In July of 2011, Earthjustice filed a petition on behalf of Dr. Jane Hightower, the Mercury Policy Project and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, asking the Food and Drug Administration to post signs near market seafood counters and on seafood labels to warn consumers about mercury in fish.

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11 December 2012, 12:06 PM
Earthjustice and allies fight back
Chicken manure and other pollutants end up in protected creeks, rivers and streams. (USDA)

Recently the EPA ordered an industrial animal factory in West Virginia to clean up massive amounts of chicken manure and other pollution lying around the ground, lest they end up in local streams after it rains. The farm refused to get a permit to address the pollution, so the EPA is in court—with Earthjustice on its side—to force the issue.

Arrayed with the farm against the EPA are the American Farm Bureau Federation and West Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. They know that that EPA’s permit stance here could translate into similar permit requirements for thousands of other industrial animal factories that similarly pollute creeks, rivers and streams coast to coast.

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28 November 2012, 2:58 PM
Earthjustice will act to protect them
L87, a southern resident orca, breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background.  (Susan Berta / Orca Network)

A far right anti-environmental group based in Sacramento, California is trying to get federal Endangered Species Act protections removed from a small extended west coast family group of killer whales.

This group of killer whales, or orcas, is known as the southern residents because they spend much of their time residing in coastal waters between Washington and Canada’s Vancouver island. They feed almost exclusively on salmon, which is indirectly what’s got them in trouble with the anti-environmental Pacific Legal Foundation. They eat salmon not only in Washington waters, but as far south as California when salmon mass there in the spring.

Federal regulators curtailed fresh water diversions to large agricultural operations in the desert on the west side of California’s San Joaquin Valley, in part to save the salmon eaten by the whales—both for the sake of the threatened salmon, and for the whales. The Pacific Legal Foundation and other anti-environment groups (including one headed by a former Bush Administration wildlife official) found a few irrigators there who were willing to ignore the needs of the orcas in order to get more water diverted.

Because these groups and the irrigators live more than a thousand miles from where the killer whales spend most of their time, no one should be surprised they aren’t all that concerned about the whales.

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17 August 2012, 12:27 PM
Wyoming gray wolves may lose endangered species protection
Many of those responsible for the anti-wolf policies in Wyoming today basically wish for the return of the days when virtually no wolves occupied the northern Rockies landscape. (U.S. FWS)

The Associated Press reports that the federal government will abandon its protections for Wyoming wolves by August 31—if not sooner—leaving the wolf’s fate in the hands of the “Cowboy State.”

This has wolf supporters worried.

The state plans to immediately allow wolves to be killed at any time by most any means in about 85 percent of the state, no license required … and they can kill as many wolves as they want. The other 15 percent of the state won’t be much friendlier. There, hunters will need a license to kill wolves, unless they plan to kill wolves on the pretense of protecting property. Again, such killing is unlimited.

January catch of Forest Service hunter T.B. Bledsaw, Kaibab National Forest, circa 1914. (Arizona Historical Society)

January catch of Forest Service hunter T.B. Bledsaw, Kaibab National Forest, circa 1914.
The Obama Administration is finalizing a plan that throws most of Wyoming back to the days when wolf massacres nearly wiped out wolves in the lower-48 states. Don’t let history be repeated. Take action today!
(Arizona Historical Society)
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