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Patti Goldman's blog

The fireball that followed the derailment and explosion of two trains, one carrying Bakken crude oil, on December 30, 2013, outside Casselton, N.D.

Forty-seven people, including a four-year-old child, died in July 2013 when a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac Mégantic, Quebec. Sixty-three tank cars derailed and of these, 59 punctured or ripped open and spilled oil, which ignited, exploded and destroyed the downtown. This catastrophe awoke the public to a 4,000 percent increase in the amount of crude oil shipped by rail and the incredible dangers posed by these crude oil trains to communities. 

Harvested snap beans.

This week marks the official end to the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of genitalia-altering pesticide residues on snap beans. Numerous published studies by an EPA scientist found that rats fed vinclozolin in utero had feminized genitalia with malformations like vaginal pouches, undescended testicles, and malformed penises. Yet the EPA ban did not happen on its own.

Ten years ago, my family saw firsthand the power of the Endangered Species Act in action. We were backpacking in the Grand Canyon and a California condor soared overhead. The sheer size of his wingspan was awe-inspiring. As we rounded the next bend, there sat the condor at the side of the trail, a marvel to behold.

This is my first day back in the office after a week rafting and hiking in the Grand Canyon, a week spent marveling at the canyon’s majesty and trying to grasp its lessons of the earth’s history. The canyon wren serenaded us each day, and cicadas and fluttering bats each night. We floated through layers of time, eventually reaching Pre-Cambrian schist and granite, the bowels of the earth.

Twenty years after we settled our first lawsuit in Florida, one thing is crystal clear: Without litigation, the Everglades would be left with whatever protection the agencies and the Florida Legislature would be willing to provide under pressure from Big Sugar and other powerful polluters. In other words: not much.

Forty years of environmental progress is under attack today by a vote in the House of Representative on a stop-gap funding measure to keep the federal government running.

Unfortunately, that measure—called a continuing resolution—is loaded with amendments and provisions that would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, and seeks to override the rule of law at every turn.

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