Terry Winckler's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Terry Winckler'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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S 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.

Terry Winckler is Earthjustice's Editor and resident wordsmith who edits and produces our blog, online monthly newsletter and quarterly print magazine. His appreciation for all that is wild began as a child when he would spend countless hours outdoors, gazing at fireflies on soft summer nights, or listening to his father's tales of the vast primeval forest in Canada's North Woods. Terry's heroes include saints, do-gooders, champions of the underdog, free spirits and nature lovers. In his free time, he enjoys engaging with his spouse and children, eating fistfuls of peppermint stick ice cream and spinning a good yarn.

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27 October 2009, 3:28 PM
How much is Obama doing to reverse Bush's toxic tide?

Earthjustice has begun tracking the Obama administration's progress in rolling back eight years of environmental assault by the Bush administration. We've created a chart that grades President Barack Obama on how well he's done. After reading the chart, come back to this blog post and provide your own comments. We'll be updating the report card as actions warrant.

 

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27 October 2009, 11:16 AM
President hands out grants, hints at clean energy system
Photo: NASA/DSMP

President Barack Obama handed out a passel of money today for "smart grid" projects, much of it going towards house electrical meters that can be controlled by power companies. The meters allow companies to manipulate how much electricity each house uses at any given time -- useful in times of power shortages and for being able to shift power from where it's least needed to where it's most needed. The grants also went to  modernizing various components of the grid to make it "smarter."

The federal stimulus grants, while not directly funding clean energy alternatives, are aimed at improving how the nation uses our current electrical transmission set-up, so that such alternatives as solar and wind can be more easily integrated. To emphasize the smart grid connection to alternative energy sources, the president made the announcement while standing in a new, Florida solar energy "farm." Legal efforts by Earthjustice paved the way for the facility.

Clearly, this is just a start towards a highly sophisticated electrical distribution and consumption system. To that end, a Wall Street Journal graphic illustrates a "smart grid city" experiment being conducted in Boulder, Co. In the experiment, smart metering in connection with solar powered battery storage allows total manipulation of a house's electrical input and appliances, even to the extent that the house could be feeding the power grid.

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26 October 2009, 4:06 PM
President tours nation's largest solar energy plant

Two years after Earthjustice successfully fought Florida Power and Light's plan to build the nation's largest coal plant near Everglades National Park, the state is taking a giant leap forward toward clean energy.

Today, President Barack Obama is touring FPL's new DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia —the largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.

"Instead of having a dirty coal plant to provide power, we have clean solar energy," said David Guest, managing attorney for Earthjustice in Florida. "It is gratifying to know that Earthjustice helped change public policy and moved our state to more common-sense technology. We are finally putting the sunshine back in the Sunshine State."

In June 2007, Earthjustice gathered evidence and experts which helped convince the Florida Public Service Commission to consider the full costs associated with polluting coal plants. It was the first time that global warming played a role in a PSC decision, and the first time in 15 years that state regulators rejected a new power plant.

At 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.—Nevada's Nellis Solar Power Plant.
 

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21 October 2009, 4:41 PM
Earthjustice will work with other agencies to prevent drilling

This week, the federal Minerals Management Service issued a disappointing decision to approve plans by Shell Oil to drill for oil and gas in Alaska's Beaufort Sea—starting next summer.

There are a number of steps and permits for Shell to navigate before drilling begins, but this action sets the stage for large-scale industrial drilling just offshore of the Arctic refuge, directly in the migration path of endangered bowhead whales. An oil spill in these icy waters could not be cleaned up.

With this decision, MMS repeats past mistakes by its failure to properly address the potential for massive environmental consequences, said Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe. A spill would be devastating for people, wildlife and the environment. Earthjustice stopped a similar Shell drilling plan in that area two years ago, winning an injunction from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the basis of MMS's shallow analysis of impacts.

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16 October 2009, 4:51 PM
Online chat with Earthjustice set for Tuesday morning

Join a 30-minute online chat about black carbon with Martin Wagner, head of Earthjustice's global warming work, this Tuesday (Oct. 20) at 11 a.m. Pacific Time. You can do it on your personal computer at home or at work. For details and to register, go to this website.

Black carbon—sent aloft in the smoke streams from cooking fires, factories and such industrial equipment as diesel trucks and generators—settles on glaciers and in the Arctic, warming and melting the ice. It is considered one of the worst climate change pollutants, and one of the easiest to deal with.
 
 

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09 October 2009, 1:30 PM
Savage Rapids dam comes tumbling down today
Drift boat shoots whitewater created by removal of Savage Rapids Dam

Today, the Savage Rapids dam—reputedly the worst killer of Rogue River salmon—died a well-deserved death at the hands of those who spent decades seeking its removal. Heavy equipment removed the last barriers, fully opening a channel for river and fish to flow through.

For Earthjustice attorney Mike Sherwood, who watched today's demolition, this is a sweet day. He spent years litigating its removal on behalf of WaterWatch of Oregon. "This is a great day for the Rogue River, and for its coho and steelhead," Sherwood said.

Here's an eyewitness report on the demolition.

 

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09 October 2009, 10:26 AM
Could this strengthen his hand on U.S. climate change policies?
Photo: Reuters

A lot of surprise—including from President Barack Obama himself—greeted today's announcement that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, he's only been in office nine months. But, the Nobel committee said it isn't achievement so much as the hope of achievement that Obama has brought to the world, especially when it comes to climate change:

"Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting."

This award could encourage Obama to actually lead the U.S. delegation two months from now when it heads to Cophenhagen for the world climate summit. Who knows, he might even arrive with something from Congress in his back pocket.

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01 October 2009, 1:55 PM
Ice-free summers add to existing pressures on bears

Darkness and, with it, ice, are returning to Arctic Ocean waters after an ice-free summer that allowed two commercial ships to voyage across the top of the world. This is the second consecutive year that global warming unlocked these waters. Scientists believe the freeze-melt cycle will continue—and that, says The New York Times, is bad news for polar bears:

While open Arctic waters could be a boon for shipping, fishing and oil exploration, an annual seesawing between ice and no ice could be a particularly harsh jolt to polar bears.

As Earthjustice has consistently pointed out, Arctic polar bears already are stressed and threatened by industrial activity, and we are fighting to keep oil drilling from expanding into the bears' habitat. The growing impacts associated with climate change make our efforts even more essential.

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30 September 2009, 2:59 PM
Decision triggers environmental scrutiny of 79 mining permits

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken another positive step towards reining in the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining.

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22 September 2009, 1:42 PM
Agreeing with Earthjustice, court restores Endangered Species protections

Yellowstone's grizzly bears are back under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, thanks to a federal court decision overturning Bush-era directives.

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