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For Nathan Piengkham, a member of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the personal journey toward becoming a water protector started with a felled cedar. “We were gifted a giant cedar log from the Quinault area,” he explained, referring to a part of coastal Washington that is home to the Quinault Tribal Nation. Once he and other carvers had transformed the log into a traditional dugout canoe, they took it out onto local rivers, marking the first time in about a century that members of the tribes had engaged in this practice.

Gutting this landmark conservation law, which has saved 99 percent of the species it protects, is a terrible idea.

Recently, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing to discuss “modernizing” the Endangered Species Act. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the committee chair, has long made it a priority to weaken this landmark conservation law, so savvy observers regard this rush for so-called “reform” as a thinly veiled attempt to gut the act.

Instead of making an effort to better protect our nation’s wildlife, the Senate appears to be taking us in the opposite direction. This is an early attempt to wriggle out of the government’s legal responsibility to prevent extinction.

The Stream Protection Rule is obliterated, creating a tougher fight ahead for communities near coal mines

“This is the last thing in the world I thought I would be doing at my age,” says Ron Burnett, a conservative and Rust Belt native who is nearing 70.

Burnett is an unlikely opponent of a coal mine. But when he first learned that a massive open-pit mine was proposed a stone’s throw from his home in Alaska, he started to warn his neighbors.

“Where I come from, there’s 1,500 miles of dead water,’” Burnett says. “People can’t drink it. The fish die. It’s real bad.”

Joseph Rank/Jantoo

Editor's note: The Obama  administration’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced today that it will deny six pending permit applications to conduct airgun seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean. Earthjustice has worked for years to oppose harmful seismic blasting, which is used to search for oil and gas deposits under the seafloor. For whales and other marine mammals that rely on sound for survival, this extreme noise pollution can have deadly consequences.

With more Washington farmers moving from barges to rail to ship crops, the call grows to remove dams on the Snake River and restore the dwindling salmon population.

It’s harvest time, and Bryan Jones’ farmhouse is filled with guests who have traveled to eastern Washington to lend a helping hand.

“We’re harvesting winter wheat,” he says.

It’s a hot, dry mid-July day. Thanks to extra sets of hands from family members, Jones guesses the wheat will be harvested in just a couple days. Soon after, they’ll start collecting the mustard crop.

John Crux/Shutterstock

It wasn’t especially charismatic, just a small rodent, scurrying around on an extremely limited patch of habitat on a low-lying island on the surface of the Great Barrier Reef. Yet the disappearance of the Australian Bramble Cay melomys made headlines this summer—because scientists deemed the critter, also known as the mosaic-tailed rat, to be the first mammal to go extinct as a result of manmade climate change.

offshore oil field

Time is running out for the public to tell the Obama administration to protect our oceans from future offshore drilling. People celebrated World Oceans Day with film screenings, beach cleanups, festivals and special events at aquariums. This global celebration of the briny deep also happens to arrive just as Earthjustice and our partner organizations are entering the final push against federal plans for new offshore oil and gas leasing.

Glenn Nagel/iStock

Scientists believe it takes around two million years for a new species to come into existence. Species extinction, on the other hand, can occur in the comparative blink of an eye. Unfortunately, North America’s imperiled flora and fauna aren’t getting the help they need from congressional leaders in Washington, D.C., putting more and more species under threat.


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.