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 August 2009, 4:57 PM
Earthjustice experts offer answers and insights

Two experts on the plight of West Coast salmon fielded questions during a 30-minute online question and answer program with dozens of Earthjustice supporters. Attorney Mike Sherwood and media expert/former commercial fisherman John McManus offered insights on matters ranging from dams on the Klamath River to the proposed Peripheral Canal in the Sacramento Delta. Read the full transcript here.

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20 August 2009, 2:29 PM
Legal action to target tar sands project from Canada into U.S.
Satellite aerial image of tar sands in Canada's Alberta province. Image: Google Maps

Call it a no-brainer—today's decision by environmental and Native American groups to oppose a pipeline that would move the dirtiest oil on Earth into the United States from Canada.

Earthjustice attorney Sarah Burt, speaking on behalf of those groups, vowed to take legal action challenging the State Department for permitting the Alberta Clipper pipeline to carry Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta to Wisconsin.

"The State Department has rubber-stamped a project that will mean more air, water and global warming pollution, particularly in the communities near refineries that will process this dirty oil," Burt said.."The project’s environmental review fails to show how construction of the Alberta Clipper is in the national interest. We will go to court to make sure that all the impacts of this pipeline are considered."

 

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17 August 2009, 2:04 PM
EPA and Obama can still stop destruction of lake
Photo: Pat Costello, courtesy of Lighthawk

Last Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers quietly gave Kensington gold mine permission to kill an Alaskan lake with mine tailings. It's disappointing for those of us who've been fighting for years to keep this lake—and the Clean Water Act—from being trashed.

Technically, the Corps had every right to grant the permit. So spoke the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year in a narrow ruling that said a Bush-era twist of the Clean Water Act allowed a slurry of toxic, chemically-processed mine tailings to be defined as "fill." Fill, such as rock, has long been legal to place in our waterways under permits issued by the Corps.

Earthjustice, which argued against the permit in court, was disappointed by the ruling, but had good reason to believe the dumping would not be allowed.

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12 August 2009, 12:21 PM
Although public favors bill, Senate is consumed with health care

If the latest Zogby poll is right, Americans have taken a green flip-flop in favor of Congress acting on climate change. The poll says 65 percent of us feel that way, and even believe that jobs growth is tied to clean energy investment.

Most politicians guide their votes on the basis of public opinion, so this would seem a good omen for the climate legislation passed earlier by the House into Senate hands. The "American Clean Energy and Security Act" is in part based on the premise of creating economic growth by fighting global warming.

Trouble is, the Senate is too fixated on health care reform right now to feel any wind shift on climate change. Nor is the Obama administration able to take quality time off from that ruckus to rouse action on ACES. It's supposed to be taken up early next month, but most political wags think it is on a slow, slow track. The hoped-for December deadline for a full Senate vote is in jeopardy.

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03 August 2009, 2:02 PM
Government has right to force environmental review, says legal action

A troublesome new chapter has opened in the matter of Sunflower Electric's attempt to more than double the electrical output at its existing coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kansas.

After digging through 10,000 pages of documents, Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman discovered that Sunflower in the past had defaulted on its debt service payments to the federal government, and that as a consequence the federal government now has effective oversight over Sunflower's business decisions, including the attempted expansion of its existing plant.

That means that you and I and all other American taxpayers have a major stake in how that plant performs, financially and environmentally. We have long known that the expansion was a thoroughly bad idea because of the enormous amounts of greenhouse gases it would produce for decades. The revelation of Sunflower's indebtedness to the public could be a key to stopping the expansion.

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22 July 2009, 10:38 AM
Editorial backs up Earthjustice call to defend bill against coal lobby

The New York Times, in an editorial today, zeroed in on a coal loophole that must be fixed in the House version of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill.

Echoing comments by Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen, the Times called on the Senate to impose greenhouse gas emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants, which were deliberately excluded from those standards in the House bill. Because of what the Times called "wheeling and dealing," those plants—which are the dirtiest coal polluters—would not be subject to the Clean Air Act.

Legislation aimed at controlling climate change can't work if it doesn't control the biggest contributors to climate change. We all need to get this common sense-message across to senators who even now are being wheeled and dealed by coal industry lobbyists. To speak out, go to the Earthjustice action alert page. It's a quick, easy, and effective way of joining the debate.

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02 July 2009, 3:07 PM
Sunflower Electric must apply for new air permit

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has thrown a wrench into the expansion of Sunflower coal-fired power plant in Kansas. It's the first hopeful sign out of that state since its new governor cooked up a deal allowing the expansion in May.

In a letter this week, the EPA told the state and Sunflower Electric that it must apply for a new air permit before building a massive, dirty 895MW coal-fired power plant. Agreeing with a position taken by Earthjustice, the EPA said Sunflower must submit new environmental analyses addressing hazardous pollutants, dirty particulates and the possibility of cleaner technology than may exist today.

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16 June 2009, 1:48 PM
 

It's as close as our own backyards, as far away as the Arctic. It's affecting birds, boys, butterflies and bugs. Creeks are feeling it, and the oceans, too. It's here, it's now, and mostly it's caused by humans.

It's global warming and we have to take immediate, powerful counter measures to prevent massive planet-wide consequences, warns the federal government in a chilling report just released today.

Thirteen federal agencies and the White House collaborated in the study, which was put together by the United States Global Change Research Program with oversight from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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02 June 2009, 2:23 PM
Obama administration goes along with Bush-era policy

Two months ago, the Obama administration stunned the environmental community by removing northern gray wolves from the Endangered Species list. In doing so, the administration went along with one of the more onerous acts of the Bush administration. It also was the first major departure by the administration from the pro-environment path it had been on since Obama took office.

Conservation groups took a while to catch their collective breath and pull together the right response. Today, with a strong legal case in hand, Earthjustice led the groups into court—for the second time in a year—with a lawsuit challenging the delisting decision.

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15 May 2009, 11:25 AM
 

Last November, as Barack Obama won the election, we recommended a list of "easy things" the new president could immediately do to cement his promises about being a pro-environment president. This is our second update on how he's doing.

The new president's greatest achievement clearly is the abrupt reversal of the Bush-era philosophy favoring those who devour our natural resources for short term gain. He also has taken major steps towards restoring integrity to our regulatory agencies, potency to our environmental laws, and respect internationally for our country's leadership.

Nonetheless, the administration has taken some actions—for example, the delisting of northern gray wolves—that are deeply disappointing. Some of the administration actions, notably with regard to mountaintop removal mining, fall short of being complete solutions. Likewise, there remain significant environmental challenges yet to be addressed.